Friday, 18 January 2019

'Sir Robert's Gargoyle' is in Cosy Crime anthology

I'm very pleased to say that my story 'Sir Robert's Gargoyle' is included in the latest of Flame Tree's beautiful hardback anthologies.

Just for once this is a story in which the protagonists are perhaps not in what you would call the first flush of youth. Well, an occasional hooray for us oldies is not out of place. Adventures like this are still possible!

This latest volume in the series is packed with armchair detectives, murders in the vicarage, family secrets unravelling in gossipy ears, and the ingredients of a genteel bloodbath in an otherwise delightful village. Contains a fabulous mix of classic and brand new writing, with contemporary authors from the US, Canada, and the UK.

Classic authors include: Arnold Bennett, Ernest Bramah, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Conan Doyle, Andrew Forrester, R. Austin Freeman, Anna Katherine Green, Maurice Leblanc, Arthur Morrison, Baroness Orczy, Catherine Louisa Pirkis, Edgar Wallace, Israel Zangwill, G.K. Chesterton.

Contributions by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Joshua Boyce, Sarah Holly Bryant, Jeffrey B. Burton, C.B. Channell, Gregory Von Dare, Amanda C. Davis, Michael Martin Garrett, Philip Brian Hall, E.E. King, Tom Mead, Trixie Nisbet, Annette Siketa, B. David Spicer, Nancy Sweetland, Louise Taylor, Elise Warner

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

R.I.P. Mac 2012 – 2019


A rapid decline, the result of an unexpected onset of liver disease and jaundice, resulted in our much-loved Dogue de Bordeaux, Mac, having to be put to sleep today at the age of six.

He arrived as a rescue in October 2016 and by the sheer force of his sunny personality and devoted loyalty brought joy back into our home and our hearts.

Mac enjoyed having a large garden and being taken on country walks every day. Before long he was an experienced marsh dog, as witness the photograph above.

As John Oaksey succinctly put it, “One of the worst things about being human is you outlive so many good horses and dogs.”

Strangely enough, we never seem to learn from days of sorrow such as this. We always know we will put ourselves through it again and again. Our animals are a major part of our life and it is impossible to imagine things being otherwise.

The years of happy companionship live in the memory long after the acute sorrow of loss fades, which is as it should be.

Farewell, Mac. And thank you.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Why has no-one mentioned the enormous benefits of EU membership?

One of the most disappointing things about the 2016 Referendum campaign was the failure of Remainers to enlarge upon the alleged benefits of EU membership. Instead, the whole thrust of their campaign was negative- threats of cataclysm should the British electorate be foolish enough to vote to leave. Most of these dire predictions were patently absurd, apparently leaving even the PM embarrassed. Where the harmful consequences were real, they were insufficiently widely applicable for most voters to care.

It may be of some interest that the term ‘Project Fear’, used to describe this negative campaigning, had actually been coined two years earlier by Scottish nationalists to describe the unionist campaign during the independence referendum. In both cases the campaign against change took a negative form, leaving optimism almost entirely to the advocates of breaking away. In both cases the response to expressions of aspiration was yet more negativism: you’re lying, you’ll never be able to do that, etc. In both cases, the reaction of floating voters who might have been persuaded either way was to swing away from the negative campaign and towards the positive one. Essentially, it seems, British voters really don’t take kindly to threats.

When I observed the line the establishment, who were almost all Remainers, were taking in 2016, I couldn’t believe they were doing it again. Had they learned nothing the first time? Had they perhaps not noticed that negativism and threats had gone over like a lead balloon in Scotland? If they’d set out to maximise the vote against the status quo, they couldn’t have picked a better tactic. Moreover, given that the status quo wasn’t really available in a rapidly-integrating Europe where the UK needed opt-out after opt-out, the plan was even less intelligible second time around.

I am driven to the conclusion that the establishment has so little practice in explaining themselves positively because political correctness blocks all discussion of alternative views. Bien-pensants regard their own way of thinking as so obviously correct that they think even the dimmest fellow-citizen must necessarily see it too. They take their self-righteousness so completely for granted that they never have to produce reasons why they are right and their opponents are wrong. As J S Mill predicted, they have lost the art of crafting rational arguments. When they do finally encounter opposition, all they can do is hurl ad hominem abuse.

In short, the reason no-one mentioned the alleged enormous benefits of EU membership was that no-one in a position to influence the debate could remember what they were.