Saturday Sonnet #5

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friday

In hindsight, some despair is evident,

But, hey, what else are you supposed to do

when pheromones, it seems, are heaven sent,

and order you, put bluntly, to go screw?

Whilst every single Gay in London town

Comes freshly from the Spa or from the Gym,

you squeeze into your jeans, perfect your frown,

and go into the night in search of him.

Then end amidst the throng on Compton Street

At sometime near approaching kicking out

To find a man with size eleven feet

And money left to stand for his own shout.

Though his Trainers are hotter than his form

you bed him; any old port in a storm.

A little of what you fancy does you good.

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So last weekend, before I went to visit the Haslemere Charter Fayre my friend Viv of the fannyandjohnnymummyandme blog, who is one of the nicest people you can know – and the best cook I have ever met – gifted me two jars of marmalade: A Black Cherry one, which I’ve swirled through some Lebanese Yoghurt, and served with smooshed* figs and  slivered almonds, but which was consumed so quickly that I forgot to take a picture of it, and a Blood Orange and Campari Marmalade that is one of the best I have ever tasted.

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Here it is last night, served on a nutty, rich, almost musty rye bread from Bread of Heaven in Haslemere, and with a sliver of the most intense, salty creamy rich Stilton from the Haslemere Cellar.

I’m not even attempting to calculate the points in this. Sometimes, a little of what you fancy does you good.

(*What? ‘Smoosh’ is a word. ‘Cos I say so. I – after all – am an author, and words is what I know. Innit) and

All-Male H.M.S. Pinafore – Reviewed

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All-Male H.M.S. Pinafore

Hackney Empire

Saturday 30th April 2016

5stars

There’s a tradition, particularly in British schools, of same-sex productions of the works of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

Generations of boys and girls have blasted out “Three little maids,” “A policeman’s lot,” and “I’m called little buttercup” in school gymnasia, village halls and scout huts over the years.

But Sasha Reagan and the team at the Union Theatre in London’s Southwark have taken this concept and, over the past decade or so, refined it into a unique art form.

To date, they’ve produced all-male versions of The Mikado, Iolanthe The Pirates of Penzance and – now- of HMS Pinafore.

The production, this time, takes place in the bowels of a warship in World War II, meaning that, for the first time this viewer recalls, the all-male aspect is not simply accepted, but justified as the piece is turned, effectively, into a play-within-a-play. A step which, whilst it adds a touch of nostalgic melancholy – the sailors, awaiting battles that they may not survive, removed from their loved ones, and reliant on each other to a level that breaks down the traditional British reserve – isn’t entirely necessary.

Continue reading All-Male H.M.S. Pinafore – Reviewed

Saturday Sonnet #4

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For Rebecca Chance, who asked for it…

Death of a DIva

My life, it seemed, had ended on one day
Until I came across a certain bar
And thought that I could turn the grim to gay
Which thus explains why we are where we are.
My star turns life’s been ended premature
And PC Plod has got me in the frame
And e’en my best friend is no longer sure
If I deserve to keep my own good name.
Add to the mix a Gangster who’s intent
On making my life hell if he’s involved
And plots galore both obvious and bent
And – for my sake – this mystery MUST be solved.
The end, now that you’ve had this little look?
Alas, you’ll have to buy the dam-ned book

My book Death of a Diva is out now from Fahrenheit Publishing.

To buy it, click here.

Saturday Sonnet #3

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She thought that all I did was to keep house
That she could waltz right in and take my man
from me and I’d stay silent as a mouse.
That I’d fight back was never in her plan.
And yet how could I not when all I knew
was heading West with Laura and her hair
of yellow and her sparkling eyes of blue,
her scarlet nails and fashion savoir faire.
But then she learned: You cannot run in heels,
as I slid up the gear lever to “Drive.”
It took me hours to scrape her off the wheels.
Laura’s no more; this mouse is still alive.
She lies beneath the sod, and moulders now;
But then, she always was a rotten cow.

My book Death of a Diva is out now from Fahrenheit Publishing.

To buy it, click here.

Featured Author

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So, I was the featured author on Charlie Cochrane‘s blogs this week.

The first time – apart from a Fahrenheit chat when Death of a DIva was released – that I’ve been interviewed.

Typically, I agonised over the answers – do I want to appear pure comedy and silliness and risk not being taken seriously, or do I come across like a high brow Salman Rushdie and talk endlessly about my craft in tones that suggest I’d be happier doing the grouting, but that writing is a vocation for me, like, y’know, working with lepers is for other people..?

In the end, I went with “Just tell the fucking story, Derek, and stop over thinking,” which – I think – worked well.

I want to thank Charlie for being such a lovely person, and for questions that made me go “Oooh, I don’t have  a glib answer ready for that.” I’m looking forward to reading some of her mysteries now.

The interview is here, if you’d like to read it, and you can buy Death of a Diva (a 5* book worth every penny of your money) here, if you haven’t already.

 

Guest author – Derek Farrell

Saturday Sonnet #2

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I don’t wish death on any living thing,

But find it hard to know that Bowie’s gone.

That Prince no more will dance and play and sing,

While Bashir Al Assad goes rolling on.

Yet I’ll still play “Let’s Dance,” and “Kiss” Out LOUD

Not read Mein Kampf from first page to the last

Or watch Kim Jong Rant at a frightened crowd;

These hate details all fade into the past.

For though our monsters loom and always will,

In shadows they are doomed to spend half-life.

Our heroes bask in light, and always will:

Their work – they joy they give – defeating strife.

When death comes we can not escape its pains,

The beauty that we make alone remains

My book Death of a Diva is out now from Fahrenheit Publishing.

To buy it, click here.

Saturday Sonnet #1

“There’s something wrong with Sandra,” said her mum

As Sandy Sat and hugged a Prada Bag

“She’s quiet nowadays; morose and glum

And has a tendency to lose her rag.

Since Yves, that French boy, left, she’s been this way

Cos she’s a Francophile and he was Male

But like I told her: ‘All French men are gay,

Or short and bald’; but that’s another tale.

Well, since this boy was really rather tall

And had a head of dark and wavy hair

It stood to reason he was gonna fall

For Pete and his 900 meter stare.

A man bag? Check. And cheeks made up rosy?

We’re talking more La Cage less Sarkozy.”

My book Death of a Diva is out now from Fahrenheit Publishing.

To buy it, click here.

Our Sunrise

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So we woke at 0600 this morning to sit in the half light on a deserted beach and listen to the South Pacific Crashing on the shore, and hissing as it dragged back out, pulling shingle with it.
It was cool, but not cold, and we chatted for a few minutes before falling silent, and just…. Being in the moment.
And, at 0630, almost to the minute predicted, the sky, which had been slowly changing from grey to pink-tinged edges filled with baby blue hope, burst into flames, and we saw the sun rise.
There’ve been others before, and there’ll be others later, but this one was all ours, and felt very much like the opening of a whole new chapter…

The First Draft Lesson

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This week’s been an interesting one for my writing.

I write crime fiction, which I think is heavily reliant on plot, and as a result, before I start writing, I always have a plot (and several sub-plots) mapped out, from beginning to end.

I write a detailed sketch of some scenes that means I’m doing little more – when I get to them – than adding in adjectives and adverbs (which, in editor mode, I will delete in the first draft), and funny lines or character quirks as I come to them.

Then, by the time I’m writing the book, I can let my imagination run riot, creating new scenes, comic asides and expanding on the characters (which are based on character sketches that also run to over a dozen pages) safe (sort of) in the knowledge that I won’t end up hopelessly lost or backed into a corner by a rambling subplot.

The sketch for the book I’m currently writing runs to 48 pages, and yet, still, some days feel like carving basic shapes out of marble using a toothpick.
So this week, between Hong Kong and a small town South of Auckland, in weather ranging from freezing fog to stone-splitting sunshine, has been like this:
This is hard.
This is shit.
This is easy but shit.
This is a first draft; it’s meant to be shit.
This isn’t bad.
This is shit again.
This is actually really good.

And then, today: This is so good I never want to stop.

But I did, because the sun was shining, I had the cutest kid to play with, my hosts had been super kind, and because I didn’t want to become known as  the unsociable writer who came to dinner and never spoke to anyone and because, of course, I’m on holiday, and I know – now – that I can get back to that place.

Eventually.

The lesson – which I shouldn’t really have needed to be reminded of – is the oldest one of all: First drafts are allowed to be anything from Genius to Shockingly Bad. What they are not allowed to be is unfinished.

I’m closer than ever to having a finished first draft, and though I know that some of what went before will need reworking (or, possibly,even jettisoning) I’m going to focus on that finish line, just ahead, and waiting to be crossed.

Then, the real work can begin.