Tag Archives: I

I, Writer … #18

I, Writer … #18

Total Global Nuclear War in a Waste-Paper Basket …

Many years ago, before Twitter was an egg and trolls were just annoying creatures with nothing better to do than scare the living daylights out of unsuspecting travellers, I wrote to several well-known British daily newspapers. I was trying to sell them articles about all manner of things from the price of fish to the likely consequences of total global nuclear war. I didn’t hold out too much hope of getting anything published but these things must always be attempted in any event.

Anyway, just in case my efforts weren’t accepted (and believe you me, they weren’t) I had adopted a face-saving ploy. This ploy was absurdly simple and centred on the subject of waste disposal.

I told them – “If, in the unlikely event you choose not to snap this article up and prefer instead to dispose of it in the time honoured fashion, then the very least you can do is to tell me what colour waste paper bins you have in your editorial offices.”

I thought this to be a perfectly reasonable request.
Did they take me up on this ? Did they hell!  No replies. Nothing. 

Well, except the dear old Daily Telegraph. They actually wrote back to me. “Thank you for your article. Unfortunately we are unable to accept non-commissioned pieces at this time. As to your request. The waste bins in our offices are a nice shiny blue. We have also recently acquired several new paper shredders. We wish you every success for the future.”

Well at least they bothered.


I, Writer … #17

I, Writer … #17

Much of a dayness (Part Two)

(Click here for Part 1 in case you missed it)

So here I am back at the table tapping this post on to my Kindle notepad. It’s almost 2 pm. and the wind sounds pretty wild out there. I always seem to hit a tiredness barrier at this time of day. Sometimes I just go and lie down for an hour in graceful surrender. Or I may go out for a walk and try to blow the cobwebs away.

Our cottage is situated in the beautiful village of Turnberry on the west coast of Scotland. It’s only a few minutes walk from the beach. Tell you what. I’m going for a stroll. Why don’t you come along and I’ll show you around.

This is the view from just outside the cottage. There’s usually cows and sheep grazing in the field opposite. Just cows today though. Beyond the dunes is the beach. Maybe the sheep have gone in for a quick dip.

This little path leads to the sea. I feel a poem coming on.

I must go down to the loo again
To the lonely loo and the flush
And all I ask is a nice warm seat
And a spikey toilet brush

Ah, they don’t write ’em like that anymore.

Half way down the path we are always greeted by a horse. So we give him a pat and a few handfuls of grass. He is very friendly. We don’t know his name as yet. But, if I had to go through the desert on a horse with no name, I would definitely choose this delightful fellow. I am reliably informed that ‘grass’ is actually drug slang for cannabis and ‘horse’ is a term for heroin. But, for the avoidance of doubt, in this particular neck of the woods, grass is grass and a horse is a horse. And a tax return is something you rip up and throw in a bin.

This is Turnberry Beach. Mainly folk walking their dogs come here plus some tourists. We’re heading for the lighthouse in the distance.

Here I am adopting my favourite windswept and philosophical pose. My wife has another name for it. Scruffy.

This is my favourite part of the beach. The island on the left is called Ailsa Craig. It is volcanic in origin. It has a long and fascinating history and  I really must tell you about it one day.

A little climb up and we can see Turnberry Point Lighthouse. It was designed in 1873 by brothers Thomas & David Stevenson. They designed over thirty lighthouses in and around Scotland. Thomas Stevenson also had a son, Robert Louis Stevenson who was the author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Close by the lighthouse are the fragmentary ruins of Turnberry Castle, birthplace and childhood home of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.

During both World Wars, an aerodrome was constructed at Turnberry and used  to train pilots in the arts of aerial gunnery and combat. I love this picture of a squadron of Sopwith Camels flying past Turnberry Point Lighthouse in 1917.

Turnberry is also very famous for its golf courses and many world-class tournaments have been held here. Personally, I really can’t see the point of the game. Maybe I should give it a go, but not at £350 a round, which is what they currently charge here.

Legend has it that, in the Summer of 1297, Robert the Bruce played a round of golf here on this very course with his good friend Sir William Wallace. They were about to tee off when, without warning, the English King Edward arrived with his army. He ordered his archers to release a hail of arrows before sending in his heavy cavalry which chewed up the playing surface something awful. History doesn’t record what happened next. Probably something like …

BRUCE: Hey Edward. Bugger off back to England ye big hairy jessie.
EDWARD: No. I am going to take over your entire porridge factory.
WALLACE: You and whose army!
EDWARD: Well, my army actually.
WALLACE: Fair point.
EDWARD: Look. I feel a bit bad about disturbing your game. So can I suggest we have a battle somewhere.
BRUCE: That’s a great idea Ed. Let’s meet at Bannockburn in June 1314.
EDWARD: I’ll just have a look in my diary. Yes, that’s good for me.
BRUCE: Excellent. I’ll get my people to talk to your people and they can iron out the details.
EDWARD: Well, I’ll be off then. Cheery bye.
BRUCE: Hey Wallace! Did you just kick your ball closer to the hole while I was chatting to Ed ?
WALLACE: Er … No. Are you suggesting that I was cheating.
WALLACE: You’re asking for a hammering ya wee scunner.
BRUCE: Go boil yer arse ya glakit bastard.

It is said that the Bruce’s ghost haunts Turnberry golf course to this very day. So anyway. I cut across the green behind a crowd of lunatics and head for home. Ah, I have one more treat for you.

Yes, Turnberry is also the location of the Trump Turnberry Hotel & Golf Resort. It is a magnificent building dating back to 1906. I haven’t seen our Donald here recently. We are saving up to go and buy a glass of tonic water and a packet of pork scratchings  in the bar.

Well, that’s us back at our wee cottage safe and sound. Hope very much you enjoyed the stroll. I bid you a fond farewell and hope to see you again very soon.

I, Writer … # 16

I, Writer … # 16

Much of a Dayness (Part 1) … a.m.

I have been living in Full-Timeness for a little over a year now.
It’s hard to describe a typical day but with images taken here I will try.

At some point in the early morning I rise. This generally consists of a somewhat unwilling transition from horizontal to vertical. I open the blind and look out through the window just to make sure I’ve not been spirited away to the Village during the night.

I blink my eyes a few times. Everything looks normal. That’s definitely the garden out there. Good. I knew it wouldn’t let me down. Now I won’t have to answer any stupid questions about why I resigned. Not that I did. The security services are a bit neurotic about things like that. No. I went easy like a good man should.

Breakfast consists of a mug of tea, some sort of fruit and a Weetabix. Look, I am not going to show you a picture of a sodding Weetabix. Use your bloody imagination.

Also, at this time of day, there are people I am contractually obliged to communicate with. I therefore give my beautiful wife a good morning kiss. That is very easy as she is the love of my life.

There are plenty of important things I must do during the day. Rephrase. There are plenty of things I could be doing. Ought to be doing even. And if I could work out exactly what they were, together with the order I should be doing them in, then I probably wouldn’t be doing them in any case. It’s a pointless exercise. If the roof caves in then I will look at the sky. And if the sky caves in then I’ll just go back to bed.

But I must write. That is paramount. I work on a table in a cosy room next to the kitchen. I have a butterfly mind and find it very difficult to concentrate. But once I get going the time goes like a dream. At the moment I’m working on several things: some articles about our somewhat lengthy sojourn on the wonderful island of Corfu, a detective book and a poem about Scottish Independence. Maybe I should write a novel about a Scottish detective who goes for a holiday on Corfu … (???)

It is 1 pm. Where has the morning gone ?

I,writer # 16 … Naming Pens

I,writer # 16 … Naming Pens


Hello dear reader(s) …

This is not a post about pen names. If JK Rowling wants to call herself Robert Galbraith then that’s absolutely fine by me.

No. This is a post about naming pens. I am fully prepared to admit that this may sound a bit confusing. It may seem like I am splitting hairs but I’m not. Honestly. Sorry to be so annoyingly pedantic.


Even the computer seemed to be scratching its head in puzzlement. You know the form. I tried entering ‘naming pens’ into my friendly neighbourhood search-engine and it absolutely insisted on giving me results for pen names.

I also tried ‘my pen is called ...’ and I got some very useful results like 5 penis facts from NHS Choices and Question: Is my penis normal ?


Naming pens means pen naming …


Some years ago I read that the author Thomas Hardy was in the habit of personally engraving the bone handle of each of his dip-pens with the name of the text it was used to write. His desk is currently on display at The Dorset County Museum and the very pens he used to write Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure are there as well.


Thomas Hardy at his desk


Thomas Hardy’s desk showing his dip-pens with engraved bone handles.


I write notes and first drafts in longhand on lined paper with a black Bic Cristal biro. I only use one biro at a time. I will not start using a new biro until the previous one is completely empty. I give each biro a name which I cellotape onto the plastic barrel. Each one is named after a spacecraft. I like to think of the ink in the tube as a wonderful type of rocket writing fuel that pushes me onwards towards new frontiers.


I am currently using Ranger 4. Launched in April 1962, it was the first spacecraft of the United States to impact another celestial body.


I keep all the empty biros in a special tin. They have worked hard for me so they deserve a little respect. After all – each one has written for over 2 miles without fail.



I, Writer … # 15

I, Writer … # 15





I’d answered an advert online.

Ghost Writer required. Hours to suit. Reasonable rates.

Excellent conditions. A job for life.


So, there I was, in a cemetery, leaning against a tombstone taking dictation from Dearly Departed. We’d worked out a series of alphabetic taps and scrapes. Not Morse code exactly but near enough. I won’t bore you with the details at the moment. Suffice to say, it worked. Dearly Departed had an eternity and I had time on my hands.

My spirited friend, who I shall now refer to as DD, had always wanted to write a novel. It’s never too late in my opinion. And besides, literature from the Great Beyond is always so classy. 

The opening sentence had been very tricky …

I am damned.

Good. Quite good. A little bit more perhaps …

I am so damned.

Yes. Quite punchy. Very modern. Really down with the lit kids. But it sounds just a bit dark and final …

I am so damned sexy.

And that was it. Game on. Once we’d gotten into the literary flow of things, there was no stopping us. 


A best seller on at least two planes of existence is not to be sniffed at. The royalties were unpredictable. But, when Death acts as both your literary agent and editor-in-chief, it’s best not to argue too much. And there are other things worse than death.

Anyway, once the word was spread throughout several Hereafters, my services were in great demand and I had more work than I could handle.

OK. Back to the online advert. I had been in a bit of a fix …



I, Writer #14 … Routine thoughts at 3 a.m.

I, Writer #14 … Routine thoughts at 3 a.m.



I, writer # 13 … Am I just being bad ?

I, writer # 13 … Am I just being bad ?