My Dad Loved a Western…


Well, he did. In the early 70’s “The Big Film” would be on ITV at the weekend, in the evening. Most likely it would be a 10 to 15 year old western. They were not – and perhaps still aren’t – high art: they were oaters, horse operas. I admit it, I love(d) them too; Rio Bravo, The Searchers, The Comancheros, The Big Country, Shenandoah: big Technicolor®, Cinemascope® movies. How are you not going to paint in broad strokes on that kind of canvas? And the soundtracks, half the time by Dmitri Tiomkin (I always thought he was secretly a Bert Higgins from Dulwich),  were bombastic stuff too.

Anyway, today I watched “Chisum”, a late-ish film in the John Wayne canon. Perhaps you don’t know, but this is a film with one of Hollywood’s favourite Cowboy characters – no, not John Chisum – Billy the Kid, William Bonn(e)y Jr. Chisum’s portrayal of Billy is no great shakes, there’s one particularly ham-fisted scene which closes with Billy holding a six-gun in his right-hand and a bible in his left*. Hokey isn’t the word. One interesting thing about Chisum’s Billy is that he was played by Geoffrey Deuel, brother of Pete D(e)uel , who himself played Hannibal Heyes in TVs Alias Smith and Jones.  The word/phrase that sums up this film’s Billy is “Two-Dimensional“.

Anyway here, in no particular order, as they say, are some other  celluloid Billys, including the word/phrase that sums their particular Billy up, for me.      *see title below

The Left-Handed Gun


Paul Newman, practising for Cool Hand Luke, Hombre, and Hud. Pretty much the same performance in all three.  Word/Phrase: Cool.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Pat-Garrett-Et-Billy-Le-Kid_3957_4ea6179b2c058837cb004533_1320373982My favourite Billy film, James Coburn is fantastic, Kristofferson almost manages to act AND… well, come on, you know who did the soundtrack (we’ll forgive him his acting) and what the most famous music from that soundtrack is, don’t you? Word/Phrase: Mythic.

Young Guns


Oh, dearie, dearie me. Least said soonest mended. Word /Phrase: Silly Billy.

Dirty Little Billy


This is my second favourite, probably the most likely version to resemble the truth, if I’m honest. Word/Phrase: Iconoclastic

Do feel free to comment.

To Hull and Back

Those who have been following this blog for a while may remember a post written last December wherein I outed my bookshelves as institutionally sexist. I resolved to even up the score. Having looked at reviews and what I have read over the last 10 months I have just begun to chip away at the iceberg. Anyway, my latest read was “Sour Fruit” written by Eli Allison and published by Unbound.

sour fruit eli allison As you might guess from the pun in the title above, Sour Fruit is set in and around Hull. It is Hull (and Kingston-Upon-Hull) – but most definitely NOT as we know it. Sour Fruit’s Hull is set in a dystopian, but not too distant future. Like most of the best Sci-Fi , Sour Fruit’s possible future is not so difficult to extrapolate from our own present. Eli creates a veritable hell-on-earth showing where some of today’s attitudes and dogma might lead.

I’m sure you’re thinking “Gee, sounds boring and depressing, I could read 1984 if I want that.” If you are you’ll miss out on the gloriously foul-mouthed Onion, Sour Fruit’s protagonist. Funny, fierce and – as we all are, inside – fragile, Onion carries this book through its thrilling journey on her narrow shoulders. Right alongside the massive chip.

Despite all of that Eli Allison managed to make this reader think about society’s disenfranchised, immigrants, the poor and our treatment of them without banging him over the head with one of the (truly hideous) Nails’s hammers. Ah yes, the villains: horribly believable, not for the squeamish and therefore superbly delineated by the author. One last word on the characters. Jacob reminded me of Caractacus Pott and Professor Branestawm with a touch of Bakunin hidden in his past. If that doesn’t make you want to pick this book up, I don’t know what will.

“Did Something Happen? Something Is Always Happening.” Henning Mankel

elawrieAnd the something that is happening now is the publication of “Last Night I Met John Adcock”, my very first collection of poetry published by Cerasus Poetry. 72 pages of not quite heart-on-sleeve poetry covering a range of styles and subjects. £7.99 for the real deal of a solid book available from here. Those of you more inclined to the virtual experience can scroll down a little further and get an e-book version for £3.99. You will be treated to some Deleted Scenes which never made the Print Edition and – though I say so myself – some were very difficult to leave out. This E-book is NOT available on Amazon, although the print version is, if you prefer to buy your books that way.

The image above is from the rear cover. The front cover looks like this (just in case you’re interested).That’s the Burberry Arcade you can see, and I still haven’t been there.


The quote in the title above is from Henning Mankel’s The Troubled Man: something IS always happening, isn’t it?

Anyway, do at least check out Cerasus Poetry’s site. If you don’t fancy my poetry why not try S J Howarth’s “Painting for Lemonade” a little further down the page?

Thank you for reading this far.

Así Soy, Un Terco Sin Parangón*


Yes, that’s me, just left Spain after 15 years, so I’m off to the Cervantes Institute tomorrow to do 9 weeks of a 10 week Spanish course. Why would anyone do that?

A good question. One reason is to undo all the damage 15 years of listening to Andaluz, or the particular variations of said dialect prevalent in the towns of Alhaurín and Coín, has done to my intelligibility. And yes, I have been told (already) that I speak ‘un español muy “andaluzado”‘. Another reason is to get a qualification that I can show to someone to prove I have achieved a reasonable competency in Spanish. A third reason is, you know, perhaps it’ll help me get a job. Can’t live off writing, not many can or do. So I might do some teaching, tutoring, that kind of thing, whether the taxman will make it worthwhile doing so remains to be seen. If I can’t earn the price of one good night out a week, I might not bother. Finally, I don’t do boredom very well. Anyone who served with me during my 23 years in the RAF can probably attest to that.

Nimrod R1 cabin

That is me on the right of the picture…



No Good Deed’s crowdfunding is at 66% after 6 months so I’m hopeful that within 12 months it will be fully funded and the hard work of making it into a real book will start. I’m hoping the designer of Gibbous House’s cover will be working on the sequel’s too, but who knows what may happen in 6 months time?

Speaking of Unbound I have several books to read and review, including “The Second Death of Daedalus Mole” by Niall Slater. However, before all that I will be reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s final part of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books tetrology; “The Labyrinth of Spirits“. I don’t think I’d have ever tried to get published at all if it hadn’t been for reading Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind all those years ago.

Gosh, what a boring blog post! Well done if you got this far. Here is my idiosyncratic rendition of the title….

* “That’s me, a right contrarian!” (or even “contrary ‘un”). ” Purists might prefer “I’m like that, wilful beyond compare.”