Archive for October, 2015

My book’s cover

October 25, 2015

A slight deviation from the usual stuff in this blog entry, which is all about my forthcoming book “Time Travelling WIth A Hamster”.
51dN8Fp1CdL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Reason being, that the UK cover is now available for anyone to see on (rather than just being my phone’s screen saver for the past few weeks), and I think it’s brilliant.  Two people have now mentioned that it reminds them of the cover of “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time”.  (Naturally, i blush even to have mine mentioned in the same breath, even if it’s got nothing to do with the contents of the book.)  I’m not sure if they are alike, but perhaps it’s the white-on-blue thing?curious

Anyway, it’s by a very talented artist called Tom Clohosy Coyle, and you can see more of his work here

I don’t mean to sound smug or anything, but seeing a book I have written coming together like this has to be one of the most exciting times of my life, up there with getting married, having children and learning to like beer.

There is no guarantee, of course, that anyone’s going to buy it, or even like it.  But somehow, at the moment, that doesn’t seem to matter so much.


The Cereal Killer of Harvest Festival

October 19, 2015

Harvest festival in a Costwolds country church: what could be gentler, or more traditional?  A lovely way to spend an hour on a Sunday morning, contemplating the divine with smiling locals as autumn sunshine slants through the Norman arched windows and the small congregation shakily warbles the familiar strains of “We plough the fields and scatter…”

Et cetera.

You get the idea.


And so it was yesterday.  Exactly like that.

Until the fellow in a royal blue dog-collar started his “Harvest Festival Show-N-Tell” service.

By the time we got to the bit of the service that I know as the “prayers of Intercession” (the bit that includes “Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer”) we had already endured his sermon (or “Talk” as it was called in the order of service, as if “sermon” was too off-putting) which involved a bicycle lamp to represent the sun, a watering can for the rain, a bag of soil and – bafflingly – a wooden train set and a box of Lego.  Something about God being an enthusiastic builder?  Can’t really remember.

Anyway, come the prayers and he brings out another bag of props.  “I need some volunteers for this bit,” he said hopefully and after some cajoling, four unwilling parishioners went to the front where, from the shopping bag, they were each handed a box of breakfast cereal.


“Today,” gushed the reverend, “We celebrate God’s gift of food, especially the cereal crops that are grown all around us here, so I thought I’d adapt the names of these breakfast cereals into our prayers.”

Each volunteer’s prayer was written on the back of the box.  The first, an elderly lady,  held hers up and quavered:

“Dear Lord.  Help us to be grateful for the gifts you grant us, to be satisfied with your bounty and not to Krave for more.”

Yes: it was a box of Kellog’s Krave.  Next up was a box of Cheerios.

“Dear Lord.  Some people in the word do not have enough to eat.  Help us to share your precious gifts so that they may say ‘cheerio” to famine.”

swear I am not making this up.  Ask Mrs W.  She was there as well, solemnly intoning “amen” with the rest of us at the end of each asinine prayer.

It went on, and got even worse.

“Dear Lord, thank you for putting food on our plates and for “alpen” us to appreciate your great works.”

“Dear Lord, help us to be free from sin so that we are sh-ready to enter your kingdom.”

The vicar wrapped it all up with, “Finally Lord, we ask this in the name of your son, out Special K-ing” and he pronounced it like that: “special kay-ing”.

Footnote: The Church of England in the UK is in precipitous decline and has been for decades.   In 1983, 40 per cent of British people described themselves as Anglicans.  By 2004, this was down to 29 percent.  It’s now 17 percent, and if the current rate continues, then by 2033 there will be no one at all in our Anglican churches.  What could possibly account for this, I wonder?

Give this a few seconds…

October 9, 2015

…and when the penny drops, you’ll LOL.  Proper LOL as well, not what LOL usually means which is “I smiled inside a bit”.

It’s funny all the way through as well.

PS I have been practising “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a piano solo for, ooh, twenty years now.  I can do it with the music in front of me, but where’s the fun in that?  It’s not actually all that difficult, though the guitar solo towards the end is fiddly on the piano (probably even harder on the guitar, but it’s Brian May so it’s probably a piece of cake for him).  It’s remembering all the different chords and tricky bits that’s hard.

It’s six minutes long, don’t be harsh.

Geordie Haka

October 5, 2015

Apologies if I am late to the party and you’ve already seen this…

There are some great Geordie expressions included in it, my personal favourite being “geet fat knacka” which my brother and I used to call each other.  (Who am I kidding with the “used to”?)

Incidentally, for some reason this inserted video has now been deleted three times.  I have no idea why.  If it doesn’t play, just go to Youtube and search for “Geordie Haka”.

And according to my sister (who wrote a short piece in the Guardian about it yonks ago) the “Wheese keys are these keys” bit is/was used as a jibe against Sunderland supporters, apparently mocking their slightly different pronunciation.  Tsk.  Mackems, eh?

(By the way – shameless and loosely-connected plug alert – There is quite a bit of Geordie in my new book “Time Travelling With A Hamster” (Harper Collins, Spring 2016) which is set in the north-east, but none of it as broad as this.  I wanted to give a flavour of the accent, rather than go all Irvine Welsh and transcribe a whole dialect.)

If you want to, you can pre-order it at Amazon.  Just saying.