Artistic integrity?

Absolutely_Fabulous_The_Movie.jpgLet’s be honest, the recent “Absolutely Fabulous” movie is shit and it would never have been made unless Jennifer Saunders was on-board and the ageing premise was still unsurprisingly riding on the original success of the TV series. Which was how many years ago?

And yet the script is peppered with catch phrases well past their sell by date and based around a cock and bull story about the supposed demise of Kate Moss, who, let’s face it, is no stranger to the artificial celebrity lifestyle which is so far removed from normality.

And, yes I understand the entire premise is a pastiche. I got that memo. But talk about flogging it to death.

However, could the same be said about a number of projects – both now and in the past? This is not a new approach. “David Brent – The Movie” was recently released and J.K. Rowling has also released her latest book based on the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. Both of which are accompanied by the usual PR bullshit blurb from the author stating the usual claptrap, “I wanted to see where he’d got to on his journey…” Yada yada. The smell of filthy lucre more like.

And have you seen the “comedy” series “Josh” on the telly? Absolute drivel and it’s only getting air-time because comedian Josh Widdicombe is on every quiz show going and is therefore “popular”. Either that or he’s got an extremely good agent. There are many other examples.

Whilst there are plenty of new ideas being broadcast on telly and the bigger screen, the broadcasting companies rely too heavily on past glories. And consumers constantly fall for it.

To Kindle or not to Kindle?

amazon-kindle-logoI remember a world before Kindle, or any of the other handheld e-readers that are now available. Content can now be downloaded and be available to read virtually instantaneously.

In a previous post , I spoke about the merits of on-line access to your favourite reading material, but I remember having a conversation with a colleague at work about Amazon, probably about a year after the site had launched. That’s 20 or so years ago.

He stated that he preferred to go into a bookshop to either find the particular book he was after or to just simply browse, and he had a point. He then added that he couldn’t see the point of Amazon or any other online book retailers as they wouldn’t last long and would soon go the way of the dinosaurs. Well, obviously he was wrong and very short sighted in his view of on-line shopping.

I received a Kindle as a present some years ago and as I thanked the person who gave it to me, I gently pointed out that I preferred published words: either in a book or a magazine or newspaper. Of course I read stuff online but my preference is for the old style. Which is ironic considering I worked in the online industry for a number of years.

My views haven’t changed. I prefer paper, interspersed with some online viewing. The best of both worlds.

Hackneyed phrases.


As writers we are constantly told that we need to find and use our own voice. Good advice; who wants to write like someone else? Well quite a few actually. Whenever the next “big thing” arrives and sets a trend it doesn’t take long for the many copycat issues to arrive on the book shelves.

But are we all guilty of using well versed hackneyed phrases in our writing?

News journalists – usually in print and especially in the red tops are probably the most guilty. Though to be fair, they do need to tell a story (and it usually is just that, with little or no truth) with a certain amount of brevity.

So next time you find yourself writing any of these phrases in your copy then “have a word with yourself.”

  • “The late great” Were they great? They may be dead, but that doesn’t indicate their “greatness” – whatever that might mean.
  • “It’s been a privilege and a pleasure” – it probably hasn’t been.
  • “The tragic” – usually associated with an early death of the subject being reported on. What’s the tragedy?
  • “Her indoors”. Simply insulting and misogynistic bullshit.
  • “I look forward to seeing you”. They probably don’t.
  • “She who must be obeyed”. Oh for fucks sake. Get a grip.

I’m sure you have plenty of other examples you can tell me about? Please leave a comment below.


img_7831Most of us have been affected by death. And of course, we all will eventually.

During my time here on earth, my parents and grandparents have died, numerous aunts and uncles have gone and one of my brothers and my best man have left us. The older you get the more the grim reaper pays a visit. But I think I’m fortunate that the stench of death has largely passed me by.

Yesterday, Monday 3 October 2016 at 11am we lost our gorgeous boy Puppy. After a discussion with the vet, he was put to sleep as the diagnosis wasn’t good which would have meant palliative care and we obviously wanted what was best for our pet.

Puppy had the most beautiful face and markings. Julie knew him for 14 years. I knew him for five and he bought continuous IMG_7823.PNGjoy into our lives.

During his later years he wasn’t as lively as he used to be (it comes to us all) but he liked nothing better than regularly jumping into Julie’s lap and snuggling. Julie enjoyed this too. Enormously. As did I, as I observed the obvious mutual affection between them both.

Puppy wasn’t as keen on jumping into my lap and on the rare occasions he did, I felt enormously privileged that he’d chosen to spend time with me. But we did have the “strokey thing”. That was ours.

People who don’t have pets probably don’t understand how it feels when one dies. It’s “just an animal?” No it’s not. He was a member of our family and we shall both miss him hugely, as will his brother Kitten.

Puppy is a cat.


Overcome your fears.

Overcome fears.jpgIn one of my other jobs, the one that pays some of the bills, I serve customers. I provide them with what they want by way of being there when necessary to help them choose what they want and to take their money off them when they’ve chosen. It’s called retailing. Nothing too scientific or onerous about it.

In my other job, the one that pays nothing, I also provide people with what they need. By using coaching techniques I provide people with the opportunity to make decisions about their life and the ability to choose a path they’ve probably always wanted but maybe have not been able to clearly articulate or determine before. This provides me with a rewarding feeling and it also obviously helps the individuals concerned.

One of the fears I have about writing is rejection. Or being criticised. Apparently this is common amongst writers – new and established and it’s something any writer, who wants their work to be read, needs to overcome.

So, as I mentioned recently, I’ve entered one of my short story’s into a competition. The results will be published on 1 November 2016. That’s one step taken to overcoming my fear. Many more to go.

So whilst I won’t (or don’t wish to) necessarily conquer the world, overcoming one of my writing fears is underway.


imageOne of the people I currently work with in food retail is about to leave and go to work in the customer care department for a major clothes retailer. She will be responsible for answering customer queries and complaints, via e-mail and social media channels.

Putting aside the fact that her customer care skills are negligible and she has a reputation, of her own making, of hating each and every customer that walks into the store, it’s difficult to work out how she managed to get this new job. She obviously has a good interview technique.

When I asked her what she was going to be doing in her new role she outlined the duties and stated “I could ring them [customers] up, but that isn’t going to happen. Jeez no. Can’t stand the fuckers so I definitely won’t be speaking to them on the phone. It’ll all be done behind a screen.”

Later that day she mentioned that her spelling was rubbish and I pointed out she could use spellchecker (a cop out and it doesn’t encourage people to improve their abilities but is available to the lazy) and she nodded knowingly comforted by this fact.

I then asked what her grammar was like. She looked at me with a very confused look on her face. “What’s grammar?” she asked. I explained what it was and cited some examples. She replied “Oh, I’ll use a grammar checker as I have no idea what the difference between there, their and they’re is and can’t be arsed to learn.”

Let’s see if she passes her probation period. And I think the retailer needs to review its recruitment processes.

In the meantime I’m going to apply for the recently advertised position of brain surgeon at my local hospital. How hard can it be?

Competition time.

CompetitionI’ve just submitted my first entry into a short story writing competition. It’s a proper writers competition and everything.

I haven’t done it for the prize money, but if I do win it’ll help pay to attend the additional prize of a writers retreat. In Ireland. That’ll do for me.

The deal is that there will be no personal feedback on submitted entries, but that’s OK.

I’ve met a deadline and as all writters know, this is one of the basics of writting. As is proper spelling. And grammar.

I’ve got the first prize in the bag, no probs.