‘Summer’ is here!


I’ve been away for a while, so I’d better explain some stuff.

My ‘write as you go’ serial stories (two so far) have proved popular reading on this blog and I want to do more, but time management is a problem.  I want to prepare those finished titles;  ‘A Place that was Ours’ and ‘Nowhere Lane’ for publication as books, revamp my Kindle page and to start experimenting with a vlog – three projects which, against the background of other summer commitments, demand rather more hours than my day can provide.  So…

Up comes the serialised version of my book ‘Hallbury Summer’!

‘Summer’ is a thriller that has enjoyed very little exposure, yet it is one of my favourite pieces of work and deserving of more.  Here is the ‘blurb’:

Beneath the blistering sun a village sleeps, while unheard and 
in a dark place a woman is ritually murdered.
Hallbury will remember the day Joseph Palliser came home.
Emma who loved him when he left ten years ago would discard her marriage to be with him; the furiously independent Sophie could so easily fall victim to his feckless appetite. But Joseph has secrets neither can know, and he has only to turn over a stone or two to find the village has secrets too; secrets that are dangerous to learn.
Hallbury Summer is a tale of a serene English village, a village with a primal, lethal heart. 
It is a place where Joe Palliser perfectly belongs.

Beginning from tomorrow, an episode a week will be available to read here, completely free.   I will be serialising the whole book, so I hope you won’t think of this as a ploy to persuade you to buy the original, but there will be certain differences in the blog edition; I will not, for example, be able to follow the original book ( bit.ly/Hallbury ) chapter for chapter – the episodes will be adjusted so each provides a hook to the next.   There are also one or two semi-erotic passages that will have to be moderated a bit!

So, tomorrow, then!  Barring computer crashes or other natural disasters, ‘Summer’ will be here.   I do hope you’ll join me!

Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Ostrich


There’s no putting it off, no burying your head in the sand.  It’s time.

Reach into the back of the narrow cupboard, scrabble determinedly among the boxes of forgotten essentials – those things you swore you couldn’t live without, ten years ago; untouched since then, save in the cause of this one annual mission.

No, no you don’t want them – the sandwich toaster is probably too rusty to be considered hygienic now, those surgical stockings have a vaguely unsavoury air, and the  collapsible Zimmer frame – well, that never was a good idea.

No, these boxes, these deeply buried caskets of history; these are what you seek.  Entombed within them are the recorded embarrassments of a decade, the memories of a generation.

Out they must come, regardless of strained shoulders, moted eyes or shattered nerves:  out, damned reindeer onesie with the indelible stain of wine; out, festive sweater with the moth- perforated sleeves!  Let the dusty sepulchres disgorge their gold and silver glittery guts and the green and tangled wires display their tiny coloured bulbs for one more desperate, plaintive display.  Bring forth the coloured balls, the battered seraphim with their trumpets bent, the dangly gleamers and the strangly streamers.

It is Christmas.

The halls must be decked with holly, the windows sprayed with sticky snow.  The innocent spruce you murdered in its infancy must be nailed to that special piece of wood left in the garden by mistake.  Woodlice, unhomed, seeking cover beneath your couch must wait for the plate of minced pies laid carelessly upon the floor.   Impaled now, the tree’s sad corpse shall be shrouded in precious colours and gaily flickering lights, and though it may be no more than a skeleton by the Great Day, only sad needles piled about its feet will bear witness to its decomposition.

The fairy, of course, is greatest and last.  Poor Gladys, though.   Strapped by her knickers each year for twenty years to as many different treetops, will her stoicism survive another season of goodwill?

As you perform the ritual do you catch her eye, are you touched by a savourimagesBDDUCP91 of her suffering? You wonder, does she share your festive spirit?

Yet custom must be observed:  your tree bejewelled before the speculative eye of the cat, food prepared before the ravenous dreamings of the dog.   Ladders must be climbed, curses uttered, A & E Departments attended. all in the name of the Winterfest, and there is no alternative, save social ostracism and offspring misery.  Stomachs may grumble, purses may squeak and balloons may pop;  you may even need a second mortgage, but you must conform.  You must endure ten hours of  Grandpa’s explanation of chaos theory  as it affects brussels sprouts, Grandma’s nostalgic belief that things were better ‘in the war’, cousin Tom’s vicious racism and Sister-in Law Bernice’s outrageous capacity for Sangria.   Yes, it is Christmas!

And when the day is past – when the tree lies where Grandpa fell on it, the dog has returned most of its turkey titbits to the Persian rug and Bernice has finally stopped snoring:  when that ludicrously expensive early learning toy stands neglected in a corner while your youngest is upstairs playing happily with the box –

“He’ll grow into it.”

When Tom’s fourth Def Leppard CD has at last run its course, then you can relax upon the dry part of your couch and be satisfied you have done your part.  You might spare a thought for Gladys thankfully limping back into obscurity, but your dreams will be all of repacking boxes.

Compliments of the season, everyone!