Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Using the iphone to blog

Just discovered that I can blog on the phone! How cool! It's probablynot ideal to be fair, but it's rather a novelty I have to say. 
I've not blogged for some time now, largely because time has run away with me. Trying to make a living, earn some pennies and stay sane (as well as fed!) is not easy. However, I hope soon to take possession of a second hand laptop which should make life a bit easier. I'm getting a bit impatient now, so HURRY UP SIMON! 

Friday, 22 February 2013

I know, I know, I haven't been on here or written a blog for some time now.  It's called 'this blog is too time consuming'!

However, I can report that I have added some more to my novel.  Not much, but some more of the plot is gradually unfolding.  It's taking time I appreciate that, but Rome was not won in a day.... I keep telling myself!

The plot itself is extremely complicated, so I am having to make some alterations to simplify it a bit, otherwise it would go on forever.  Not only is that boring, but it's hell to write as well.  Also I have a dilemma still, do I write in colloquial English, Middle English, modern English or a mixture of all.  In fact, my characters are mostly Scottish, but someone said to me 'oh yes that's all very well, but it just sounds so 'twee'.  

If I don't include some Scottish in it, will the reader be able to pick up the atmosphere; notice the difference between the upper and the lower classes, or even realise that it's set in Scotland?    Answers on a postcard please.......

Monday, 10 September 2012

Review of Lyndsey Jones's play 'Martini Bond: Her search for the spy who loved her mum

Bond’s Martini is seriously shaken in this spoof of the famous James Bond stories.


In spite of the stifling heat of the upstairs ‘theatre’ in The Camden Head public house, this new comedy by erstwhile Financial Times journalist, Lyndsey Jones, was a resounding success.  The story comprises the long lost daughter of spy, James Bond, who embarks on a half-hearted search to find the man who loved her mother; or perhaps she may just cut her losses and go shopping instead!  Like her famous father, Bond embarks on a dangerous mission to save the world from evil villain Franken von Banken and her henchwoman Menopausal Ninja.  Martini’s ‘bond girl’ Suzi Bazooki faithfully follows Martini on her mission to break Banken’s silence and reveal the secret of her activity with villainous DNA and the god particle. Unlike James, Martini does not embark on sexual adventures with any of her co-stars; this is a woman on a mission who is not sidetracked by the opposite sex; the difference, arguably, between a woman and a man.  Her focus remains solely on the mission in hand suggesting that the female gender is far more likely to achieve her goal than a sex-obsessed, chauvinistic male. 


It would be easy to suggest that Jones is encouraging the use of outdated female stereotypes; Martini searching for the father figure in her life as though she is not complete without him; Menopausal Ninja; the very word menopause suggesting an older, irate, irrational woman, but in fact what Jones’s play does exactly the opposite.  Bond’s image is shattered as Martini shows that a ponytail-shaking, attractive female can face adversity and conquer evil just as well as a man, even if she cannot drive!  Surely one of the last female taboos is the menopause, yet Jones brings this condition to the fore shattering images of an embittered, sexless and unstable ‘lady of a certain age, so often seen in Disney characters.’  Ninja is not irate, she’s not irrational; she’s ironic, she’s interesting and most of all she’s funny; it works!  Jones also tackles the very relevant question of the consequences of James Bond’s womanising.  The woman he impregnates is literally left holding the baby whilst he ‘gets off’ scot free.  Martini’s ‘couldn’t care less if she finds her father’ mirrors her father’s equally ‘couldn’t care less if I father a child’ attitude. 


Hilarious references and to the titles of Bond movies had the audience groaning in unison winning myriad fans for this excellent female Bond.  The gags were well placed and cheekily served with hints of smiles, seductive sideways glances, unimaginable in a male Bond, and the idea that the actors were having great fun in this performance in spite of sweating like sauna cleaners in boiler suits.  It is said, usually by men, that women do not make good comedy actresses as they are afraid to make fools of themselves, however, this could not be further from the truth as far as lead actress Clare Jones is concerned.  She delivered her rendition of Martini Bond with absolutely the right dose of enthusiasm, side-splitting humour and robust vigour, enhanced by the attractive(!) orange hi-visibility jacket, worn by Jones with such aplomb; this lady is no fool.  The ‘props man’ gave such a side-splitting rendition of a bottom-thumpingly accurate speed boat ride that the reality of the tightly packed, heat-stricken room was momentarily forgotten as the audience was transported to the open sea.  One could almost feel the wind in one’s hair.


Julia Collier was excellent as Miss Pennypincher and Franken von Banken, changing her persona as easily as most people change their underwear; unlike Miss Moneypenny, Collier’s Pennypincher was neither phased by nor attracted to any of the male characters, this was one lady who was remaining firmly on her feet.  James Edenborough well cast as bumbling ‘B&Q’ head of small arms and gadgets, clearly working with very limited resources in bleak, austerity ridden Britain.  Juliet Holding had the tough job of changing from seductive bond girl to Banken’s henchwoman to ‘M25’ head of MI6.  Whilst her acting was excellent the toughness of her job was reflected in her soft-voiced delivery making it difficult to hear her against myriad whirring fans.  Given this was the first night, always tough in theatreland, Holding no doubt will raise her game in subsequent performances, and as the weather cools she will no longer need to be fighting the fans; well not the electric ones anyway.  Each changeover to the next scene was a slick as could be expected in a tightly packed first floor pub room.  There was never too much space between the scenes to induce either boredom or the losing of the plot.  This is a play well worth seeing; to coin a phrase ‘an hour is not enough,’ this is a play which can and should be given full on theatre treatment. Extra props and more room to do the job would see this play develop beautifully.  Well done Jones, we look forward to the next one!


Martini Bond: the hunt for the spy who loved her mum can be seen next at The Broadway theatre, Barking, from September 20th to 23rd, 9.15pm. Tickets cost £7.50 or £12 for a two show deal, which also includes the premiere of London Ballet Company's 00 and His 7. Martini Bond will also be live streamed online: tickets cost £2.99.
To book, go online to: spy-who-loved-her-mum/ or call 020 8507 5607.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Awards ceremonies: And the best newcomer is…

Firstly, thank you to Lyndsey Jones for nominating me in the 'Awards Ceremonies'.   Lyndsey's blog is    I'm not at all sure I have this right, there must be an easier way to link back to someone's blog page.  Google blogging does not make it easy, and the recent changes are just dreadful.  Anyway, I digress.

Secondly, seven things about myself in readiness for the 'Tell me about yourself' Award. 

not much to tell really,

1.  I have recently acquired a smart phone, an iphone to be precise.  I do like it, it has features which are extremely useful, but I do miss the old features from my Nokia, such as smiley faces in texts,... sad

2. I consider myself to be a writer and academic before a jewellery maker, the jewellery brings in a little cash that's all.

3.  I hate football

4.  I'm pale and pasty because I don't like the sun very much

5.  I'm a lot overweight, probably due to too much red wine and an enforced sedentary lifestyle.

6.  I absolutely love singing

7.  I am now a doggy hotel, no I'm not that overweight, I board doggies.

now for the links to other blogs.  I only have three followers, so I'm pinching some of Lyndsey's!



ok a bit random, but truly nice people and some interesting blogs.



@thewritinghall  Diane Hall, freelance copywriter

ooops that's eight, but I had to include Diane as she's a lovely person.

right, so over to someone else and their seven revelations, they're bound to be way more interesting than mine!

All for now


Monday, 11 June 2012

School's Out

Well, school is pretty much finished now and most of my students have disappeared over the last two weeks.  Double whammy really because it means I no longer have a regular income being a private tutor, however, it does mean that I get my evenings back which is nice. 

This year I have had two English language students, as opposed to the English Literature ones I normally take.  This has been a huge learning experience for me, and whilst I always maintain that I learn a lot from my students, this has been unprecedented.  Funny how you think you've been there and done it, and usually ironed the T-shirt something crops up to totally surprise you.

Particularly hard is the A2 'Language Exploration' paper.  Not because exploring language itself is boring particularly or hard for the most, but the repetition becomes quite tedious.   Also, with literature, the mind can wander, explore identity, psychology, gender issues, structuralism and so on, and endless possibility of ideas to stretch the mind making the subject interesting and very rewarding; in my book anyway.

Talking of my book, the departure of my students means that I can now concentrate more on my own studies and writing, in between making a living at other things.  I'm looking forward to posting more extracts from my novel without a name, so do please keep checking back for those.  I will get it finished, promise, I really will and with any luck published (lots of luck probably!).

Thank you for reading and please leave any comments and pass details to your own followers, I need more readers  :)


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

New Ideas on which to blog

The one thing I really really miss is writing about novels, poetry and prose; analysing them and writing comment about them.  Does that make me sad?  well yes it does at least in the sense of sorry I don't get so much opportunity these days, if not in the sense of 'what a geek!'  So.... I have decided to analyse and critique various novels and things on this blog. 

My own favourites are the novels of the nineteenth century, but I have analysed a lot more besides with my various students over the years, but that is all.  I don't get the chance to write about them.  If anyone has any suggestions about what they would like to see, then please feel free to bring them up.  In the meantime, I will start re-reading my favourite books and let you have some literary criticism on them.  (Can one say that, oh well I suppose it's too late, as I already have!)

My first novel will be Sense and Sensibility, the lovely story of Elinor and her, slightly crazy, sister Marianne who both look for love, find it and treat it, and indeed, are treated by it, in very different ways.  Marianne who is wild and passionate is finally, and nearly fatally, tamed by a horrendous illness that sees her personality changed.  Her wild love for an unsuitable young man, who deceives her in the worst possible way, gives way to a far more sensible and mature love for an older man.  My question here is, is youth bad for love?  Do the characters have to experience wild and, blatant disregard for society, before they can sensibly settle into a married life which society finds acceptable?

Find out in my next blog when I will give my viewpoint on the whole matter of Austen's kind of love.


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Not written a thing!

It's that time of year when the students are pulling me all ways, not literally you understand!  The last two weeks of cramming for the Os and A levels has started.  I'm indulging in lots of literary activity, but sadly it's not my own.  Still after this period is over, I should be in a position to continue the novel and take up with Barbara, Agnes and Euphame once more.

I have to say though it was lovely to be asked to help with an essay on Jane Eyre this morning and, similarly, to revisit Sense and Sensibility with an A level student last week.  It felt like a sort of 'coming home', how sad is that?   It really was going back to my comfort zone (odd given that before 2001, I would have run a mile from analysing and writing about any of this 'stuff').  It also made me realise just how much I had actually learned at university, particularly during my Master's degree.  See... not at all wasted!

Still the ideas for the continuing story of the witch trials are flying around my head.  This will be boosted by a trip to Edinburgh and Haddington in about two weeks, when I hope to complete the research and fill in some gaps.  (Note to self; when writing a historical novel, next time choose somewhere a little closer to home!)

There we are, watch this space for more updates on the trials.  I now have blogger on my iphone, if only I could get it to work!