One Hand…

“One hand washes the other and both wash the face.”
 Spanish Proverb                            

This blog post is an unashamed plug for some Unbound projects that I am supporting. Unbound gave me a chance and I’d like to see others get a chance too.

This anthology contains short pieces by various and gifted writers on what it means to be different, and how difference and variety are things which enrich our lives, rather than things to be feared. Contributors include, amongst others Salena Godden, AL Kennedy and Matt Haig.

Net profits from the book will be donated to the charities Refugee Action and Stop Hate UK

 Borrowed: Shona Kinsella (Ed.) 

Eight authors from eight locations come together to tell the stories of one small-town library and its patrons and staff. Contributors to this collection are among the best of Unbound’s debut and previously published writers; Shona Kinsella, Ian Skewis, Claire Patel-Campbell, Lou Allison, Stevyn Colgan, Paul Holbrook, Elena Kaufman and Erinna Mettler.
The royalties from this book will all be donated to World Literacy Foundation.

Glarnies, Green Berets & Goons: Julie Warren.

Subtitled “The Life and Legacy of Larry Stephens” Julie’s book will reveal the story of the man without whom we might never have heard of Tony Hancock, Peter Sellers or Spike Milligan. A biography of a fascinating man, who served as a Marine Commando during WWII, this book promises to be a treat for Goons fans all over the world. 
The older amongst you (okay, us) will remember the title of an Agatha Christie novel whose title is now “And Then There Were None”. Damon L. Wakes’ book is an intriguing  distillation of Christie’s murder mystery into a tense, hard sci-fi thriller.
Well researched and based on current scientific principles and thinking, you’ll find no magic space dust here, just a taut and unusual whodunit. 
Well, there you go. Four to choose from. Pre-order these books as a Christmas gift for a loved one or treat yourself. Why not?

A Blindefellows Chronicle – A Book Review

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Auriel Roe’s episodic novel is old-fashioned in the nicest possible way. Imagine a kinder, less cynical rendition of the school in Waugh’s “Decline and Fall”. Imagine Stalky & Co’s school moving with the times. In some ways reading A Blindefellows Chronicle is a sort of Goodbye, Mr Japes. None of these is any bad thing.

As a former boarder, albeit at one of the last state grammar schools, in an equally small and isolated school, I recognised many things in this book. This is a tribute to Auriel Roe’s imagination, research or experience, and most certainly to her writing skill.

The chronicled-style, skipping on a few years at a time, made me invest a great deal of emotion in the characters, good and bad. I was always trying to second guess what would happen in the next chapter. It also brought home to me how much England has changed in my lifetime.

But best of all, “Blindefellows” (the book is destined to be referred to by aficionados in this way, surely?) is funny. Wryly, sharply and dryly – funny, all the way to an end which has that much-maligned quality “pathos”.

I recommend this book very highly and hope to read more from the author sometime soon. 

An unusual book in so many ways, not least for naming a character “Mafalda” which will have raised a smile among anyone who has spent time with Latin Americans.


If you’re of a certain age, the song would have gone through your head. We all like to think we have a local. If you’re partial to a convivial glass, that is. I don’t have a local bar any more. The one at the end of the road is all locked-up with a tenant living in the upstairs flat. Someone is still paying the lease on the building, but whatever rent is coming in will not cover that, for sure. I used to go to a place in town quite often. Eventually I remembered the names of the staff. As usual that was their cue to leave. I’ll bump into them in other bars in town, of course. Most people in the pueblo know who Professor Longhair is. Some even say “Es autor. ¿Sabes?” It’s fame of sorts. Because they assume – since I am a guiri– that I won’t understand a word they say, they are quite uninhibited in what they do say. The saying goes that one shouldn’t listen to private conversations, for one might not like what one hears. That hasn’t been true for me so far. It’s just as well, Andalucians do not whisper.

Winter has come, here in the sunny South. Shopkeepers mention the weather, shivering in their overcoats, gloved hands counting out change. Then they’ll mention the snow in the town only a couple of years ago, the first time for 50 years.Children were clad in overcoats on top of pyjamas and taken out to stand in the flakes. Some stayed up until 2 in the morning just to throw snowballs. Just goes to show, the unusual is better than “the usual”.