40 Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day: A Poem

I wrote this poem in the days following Remembrance Sunday, which this year fell on 12th November.

 

Remembrance Day

November morning, near one hundred years since it all fell quiet

The city centre occupied by tourists, shoppers, poppy-wearers

Cold air invades hats, scarves, coats.  Shops offer warmth from overhead heaters.

The threat of Christmas is tangible now.

 

The department store speakers make their announcement close to the hour

Shoppers, entrenched in aisles, finger handbags, gift sets.  Buyers shuffle in the queue.

The radio switches to the BBC.  A presenter speaks the Queen’s English

As the bells begin to chime.

 

Silence falls.

Hats are removed and held like prayers.  Eyes cast to the floor.

Somewhere, a phone dings, apologetic.  Then quiet.  Somewhere else, the rustle of clothes hangers.  Voices outside raise and fall as their owners pass the door.

After a minute (and with a minute still to go), the checkout bleeps again, bleeps again, like radar.

 

Then the radio resumes its crackling Queen’s.  Shoppers reprise their plans for the season.

The silence is observed.  The remembrance is forgotten.

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39 On Folk Horror2

On Folk Horror

Folk horror is something of a retrospective tag for a brand of (mostly British) horror.  Although it is mostly affiliated with a clawful of early 70s horror films, it was 2010 before British screenwriter and horror aficionado Mark Gatiss popularised the term in referring to a trifecta of films with an emphasis on witchcraft, superstition and the British landscape.  The term has gained notoriety since then and many modern writers, filmmakers and musicians have made a conscious effort to tap its rich aesthetic.  I’m one of those writers.

Folk horror really speaks to me.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small English village; maybe it’s because I love nothing more than strolling through the countryside and letting my imagination run wild.  But I find rural English horror pleases me on a good few levels, and I enjoyed throwing my own hat in the ring with my most recent book Harvest House.  Here are some of my thoughts on why I like folk horror and why I find it horrifying, together with some signposts to exploring folk horror for yourselves. (more…)

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37 Open Mic

How to Talk to Musicians at Open Mic

I stopped by my favourite pub a few weeks ago for an after-work pint or two.  Halfway through a glass of Downland’s I noticed all the new arrivals turning up with guitars.  Some customers had ukuleles and one had a banjo.  Halfway through my third pint I had my first go on a cajon.  I loved it.  Now I want a cajon*.

I’ve been to a few open mic nights since, chipping in on a borrowed cajon and sometimes on full drum kit.  It’s good fun; you get to meet like-minded people and see some proper talent.  But there are some rules to stick to if you fancy giving open mic a go.  Here’s a useful guide on…

 

How to Talk to Musicians at an Open Mic Night (more…)

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36 American Gods

Why I Won’t Be Watching American Gods

I first read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in my late teens.  It was winter time and I fitted it in between college classes and bus stops and it struck such a chord with me.  The book is full to bursting with rich imagination, and images from that first reading that have stuck with me ever since.  Which is why I won’t be watching the new TV adaptation of the book. (more…)

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35 On Stephen King

On Stephen King

I just enjoyed a city break to Budapest. It was fantastic; great sights, great bars, great beers. I recommend it. But for my two nights in Hungary I was dogged by a monster, a monster that stalked me, never farther away than the snatch of its claw. It got its teeth into me while I waited for my flight at Gatwick Airport and wouldn’t let go until I defeated it. The monster’s name was Cujo. (more…)

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34-the-resolutions-2017

The Resolutions: 2017

Well, as per tradition, it’s time to plan my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017.

I’m a great believer in self-development, which is why I like to take this opportunity to look back on what I tried to achieve in the last year – and to see how far I got!  I think that setting clear, quantifiable targets and letting others know you’ve done so is a fantastic motivator for actually doing them.  But it’s by seeing how (or if…) I’ve achieved them that helps me see where I’d like to push myself next. (more…)

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33-writing-a-novel-the-finish-line

Writing a Novel: The Finish Line

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and I’m sorry.  But I’m sure you’ll like what I’ve been up to: finishing my novel.

 

Back in March I talked about Writing a Novel: The Midway Point.  Midway wasn’t a bad estimate; I started After Life (yes, we have a title now) last November, and I finished the first draft on the last day of July.  Of course, writing a novel isn’t like competing in a race –  it’s like a triathlon, and there a few finish lines to make it through.  But first thing’s first: let me tell you all about finishing my novel. (more…)

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