Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

A point of view

Reflections

Reflections at the end of the day

Book Reviews.

Probably the biggest disappointment regarding a book review I had was reading a particular Booker Prize winning novel,. It was an acclaimed comedy, the trade reviews were ecstatic. I wasn’t able to buy it when first published so was over the moon after finding a copy in a charity shop a year or two back.

I should have been warned, just short of halfway into the book was a train ticket, used as a bookmark it seemed. The train travelling reader had apparently not finished the book, not even it seemed reached the halfway stage. Undeterred  I started on this worthy tome; my word was it hard work. They say that some comedy is elusive, after reading the whole book, I can honestly say that I have never encountered such elusive comedy. Wherever it is lurking it certainly isn’t within the pages of that book. I freely admit that some of the prose was good, excellent in places, though never outstanding. There are probably more copies of this book in charity shops with train tickets lodged within the pages than laughs that have been extracted from them.

I am someone who writes but not yet an author.

I take heart from the fact that I can write better comedy than a Booker Prize winning author, not only do I find my own stuff funny, other people do to.

The best comment I had was from a lady who said, “I nearly wet myself laughing when I read your story”.

Was it a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes with the Booker judging panel ? Because someone said it was funny, did they feel it was their own inadequacy that stopped them seeing the jokes and felt they had to pretend it was funny even vote for it?

Many other readers of the same book share my opinion, judging by their comments, “it isn’t funny.”

All judgement is subjective, reviews are only the opinion of the person writing it and are only that, an opinion.

On the plus side my copy only cost me 50p.

Rudi Jennings

Rudi Jennings at Whittlesey Library

Rudi Jennings with his book The Last Myon at Whittlesey Library

 

A few weeks ago in August I had the opportunity to meet the author Rudi Jennings at Whittlesey library. Rudi is a local author living nearby in Wisbech, at present, he grew up near there. Writing  is fitted around running his pest control business. Rudi draws on his experiences in the personal protection service to give colour and to inform his plots. His first book The Last Myon has  been snapped up and published by Olympia Publishers, a truly remarkable result for a new author. A new book is underway, a stand-alone novel following on from his first.

I was able to ask Rudi how he writes and where his inspiration comes from The Last Myon or to be more precise its first few chapters were the result of a dream. His writing takes the form of, in his words pasting ideas on a storyboard linking the characters piece by piece until the individual characters and their actions form a complete cohesive story. A trip to Tesco’s provided the diversion needed to enable him to resolve a problem with his plot which had dogged him. I suppose, every little helps.

He writes as ideas come to him during the day, recording his thoughts on scraps of paper or emailing them to himself. Breaks and lunchtime provide Rudi with writing opportunities during his working day. Once home from work, the scraps of paper are collected then filed or pasted onto the story board.

Rudi’s first book is an interesting read, the characters we have been introduced to will no doubt grow and develop in future work. There is the implied promise of a series with these characters featuring in the world Rudi has created for us.

Keen that children are encouraged to not only acquire the love of reading and books but also stimulated to write themselves, Rudi has visited local schools to promote this message. He is hoping that children become inspired to record their thoughts, share their experiences and  tell the stories within them.

Joyce

I wrote this piece as an entry for a flash fiction competition. A member of our writing group asked me if it was autobiographical, apart from the reference to Jimmy Mack all of it is the product of my imagination.

 

Do girls still dance around their handbags? Wondering, seeing again, remembering fondly the long-legged girls of my teens… Joyce would dance around her handbag with girlfriends in a circle, or sometimes in a line, to Jimmy Mack or Heatwave. All I could manage was a slow cuddle around the dance floor with her as When a Man Loves a Woman played. My efforts to dance more energetically or remotely in time with the music, were a lost cause.

Joyce was petite, pretty, bubbly, kind, and altogether lovely; I couldn’t believe my luck when she agreed to go out with me. We were together for a few months after leaving school – both fifteen. Joyce worked in a grocer’s shop; I was an apprentice car mechanic.

Joyce was adopted. The relationship with her adoptive parents wasn’t good; boyfriends weren’t allowed to visit her home.

One dark Friday night Joyce disappeared. There was no trace of her after that.

It left me heartbroken. The only information I had was that she had been seen at the station boarding a London train alone, with just a suitcase. A letter from her arrived a month later, apologising for the sudden departure and saying she would be in touch when things had sorted themselves out. There was no return address.

I heard nothing more, and a year later Rose entered my life. We fell in love and married – and were happy until Rose died suddenly last year.

I turned Joyce’s new letter over in my hands, wondering what to do next. Fifty years is a long wait to get in touch. Now it is my turn to pack a suitcase and catch a train to London. Perhaps in a few days we will return together, there is a lot to talk about.

 

 

Some of you may not be familiar with Jimmy Mack.

A guest post on the Whittlesey Wordsmiths Blog

I was asked to start what will hopefully become a discussion on the Whittlesey Wordsmiths blog about writing. As a member of this group I have been helped by their support and privileged to meet a group of very talented individuals. Hopefully some of this talent will rub off on to me, they can spare a bit.

Any way the piece is on the blog please take a look and add your two pennyworth or more.

Here is the link:

Writing

 

Delivering the News

A version of this article was published in Best of British Magazine in their Past Remembered section. A first for me, being paid for something written by myself.

 

I was about or just under thirteen years old when starting my first newspaper round in Huntingdon – a morning round, using a Pashley small front-wheel large-basket trades bike. A Sunday round was added next, in a different part of town. At that time there was competition for paper rounds, even waiting lists. My evening round was the most interesting. The morning and Sunday rounds I delivered for a newsagent but the evening round was my first taste of self-employment.

An older lad leaving school gave me the round. The papers were bought direct from a wholesaler and sold to the public. In 1964 the gross profit per paper was one penny – the old penny: large and 240 to the pound.

The wholesaler used an office at a garage and taxi company’s in Ferrar’s Road. It was situated in the back corner of a rectangular cobbled yard, the house at the front was the garage owners’. There were workshops down one side of the yard, a high wall along the opposite side. The back of the yard, away from the house, had more buildings and an arch with a driveway underneath leading to lock up single garages rented to the public.

The office contained a desk, a typewriter and chair, two largish tables, two more chairs, a telephone, tea-making facilities, also a large machine for printing Stop Press onto the papers. The evening papers sold by my wholesaler were London papers – The Evening News and The Standard. He was also the local wholesaler for a few magazines, one of which was Private Eye, a good read even then.

After finishing school, dropping my things at home, and collecting the trades bike, it was off to the wholesalers. There I collected about a dozen papers before cycling to the railway station. In the station I sold papers to waiting passengers – at first on the platform nearest the ticket office then, crossing the footbridge to the northbound platform, to commuters waiting there. When the express train from London arrived – I can’t remember whether, at that point, they were still steam or early diesels – the papers were collected from the guard’s carriage. The two bundles were carried back over the bridge – Evening News on my right shoulder, Evening Standards in my left hand – heaved into the basket of my bike, and I would be off.

There was a steepish hill out of the station to George Street but after that it was downhill leaving George Street, to use a short cut down cobbled Royal Oak Passage to the High Street. The passage had a central gutter then with an iron drain about halfway along. One day the bike’s front wheel caught in the drain, catapulting me over the handlebars. The bike stood on its end, the heavy papers pinning the basket to the ground.

Royal Oak Passage Huntingdon

Royal Oak Passage as it is now the central gutter and drain have both gone

Once through the passageway, my journey would continue up the High Street to the wholesaler’s delivering the papers to the office.

Premises in Ferrars Road Huntingdon.

P Cumberland DN The wholesalers were in the far right-hand corner of the outbuildings painted white. The house at the front belonged to the owner of the garage.

The Stop Press news would be received by telephone and transcribed in shorthand by the wholesaler’s secretary, the garage owner’s wife. The news was typed up onto a Roneo stencil, a narrow strip that looked like carbon paper perforated at one end. The stencil was loaded onto a drum at one end of the Stop Press machine, the papers placed onto a shelf at the other end then fed onto a conveyer by hand. The conveyer  passed papers under the rotating drum, which printed the news updates onto each paper in turn.

As soon as a dozen papers were printed. I would take them to a nearby factory – The Silent Channel – this company made rubber mouldings and also the guide channels for vehicle windows, cycling around the factory to sell as many as papers as possible before returning to the wholesalers to collect the rest of my papers. The other distributor at the wholesalers had driven off by then in his Austin A30, delivering papers to local newsagents.

Pashley trades bike

Pashley Trade’s Bike

The basket would be reloaded then I would head for the home of my assistant Stephen. His was the original round acquired from my predecessor. When he had his papers it was off again, next stop French’s offices and hostel. French’s were building London overspill estates, enlarging Huntingdon. After selling papers around their premises I delivered my own round, looking out for new prospective customers at the same time. A small John Bull printing set enabled me to produce advertising cards for evening paper delivery services, posted through the letter boxes of new arrivals, followed up with a call, which often gained new customers. The business was given to Stephen when I left school aged fifteen keeping a Sunday round on for a few years afterwards. I have a Sunday paper round now, have had for fifteen years or so, but in a different town. I am probably now the oldest paper boy in the Fens

Whittlesey Wordsmiths

Lattersey Nature Reserve Whittlesey the walkway in Autumn

The walkway at Lattersey Nature reserve the beauty of this scene constantly changes with the seasons

Whittlesey Wordsmiths are fortunate to have within their ranks, two published authors, winners of fiction writing prizes, a very able editor/ proof-reader  and a talented biographer.

Set up under the Whittlesey U3A umbrella this local group meets monthly at the Scaldgate Centre in Whittlesey. Meetings are held every first Thursday of the month from 11am, anyone is able to attend a free taster session but will need to join the U3A to become a member of the group, the fee is £3 per meeting to cover venue costs.

At recent meetings we have been fortunate to have had presentations by two local authors on the intricacies of publishing a book, both in print and online. The talks were informal, informative and very instructive. Thank you Stephen Oliver and Stuart Roberts. Like many commonplace objects that successfully manage their function, we ignore the container, giving it little or no regard but delight only in its contents. In the same way that we ignore the jar the jam arrives in, caring little for its design, construction and functionality, so it is with a book. We care little for the printing unless the quality is so bad it makes reading difficult, little for the binding (unlike Samuel Pepys) but only on the written words within.

Publication, its details, fonts, layout, sizes, printing, copyright and a myriad other things, though only covered briefly, were for most of us a completely new field.

A current project is to produce a collection of work by the Wordsmiths in time for Christmas, these talks were a help in focussing attention on the job ahead. The content is being assembled with ease from the increasing pool of talent, that is the group. The hard work will probably be assembling it into a finished product, not the filling but the container.

All time Lowe a review

All Time LoweAll Time Lowe. Written by Stuart Roberts

I had the privilege of reading the first novel by a locally based author and a request for my thoughts.
It is always difficult to invite criticism of your work, knowing that from personal experience. Whilst my work involved selling products I had designed and made, writing a book is equally as difficult. No one should underestimate the mental and emotional effort required together with dogged determination to turn an idea into a finished written work.
Stuart’s first book, a supernatural thriller, is a damn good read, in fact, it is a really very damn good read, I consumed it in less than a day finding it difficult to put down. Most of my reading is either detective fiction or espionage thrillers so was unsure whether something that wasn’t within those genres would work for me. The story centres around two men from different backgrounds thrown together by circumstances into, for them the alien environment of a mental health ward. The edgy story twists and turns before reaching a nail-biting conclusion.
I look forward to seeing more work from this very talented man and hope a second novel is underway.

I have had an email asking me to put a link in my post from someone who would like to get a copy, so for them and anyone else interested.

All time Lowe a review

 

And a link to his website

https://stuartrobertswrite.wixsite.com/mysite-1

 

 

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