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Monday 21 March 2011

Theakston Crime Fest 2011

I'm so looking forward to this and yet, despite the detailed programme, I can't really imagine what it would be like to be in the midst of it - a wonderful position to be in. I've booked my flights from Belfast at the very criminal time of 7am on the outward leg but since the first event of the festival doesnt take place until 8pm, I'll have some decent shut-eye before then.

Harrogate - venue of the 1982 Eurovision song contest did you know. I remember because I was a strange child with very few distractions in those sepia tingled halcyon days of 3 television channels and when we really did give a shit about who won the Eurovision.

If anyone out there in blog and twitter lands are going, it would be good to meet up to discuss where we're at with our writing and also go 'urgh, you're nothing like as handsome/beautiful in your photo' after the second glass of red.... 

I'm putting together the final touches of my plot to my second novel. I can't say too much about my first novel as its currently with an agent as I'm tring to get a conventional book deal with it  - best not to spook it or tempt fate but all I can say is that it's a crime novel set in Chicago.

The next one however is set in Dublin where the main protaganist is ex Garda (Police) private eye, born in Northern Ireland and with a neurotic family background. I'm also putting together a collection of short stories for ebook-only sales sometime between May-July 2011.

The Tenant - By Roland Torpor

Written in 1964, this book has since been adapted for the eponymous motion picture directed by Roman Polanski in 1976. You will not find this book under the Horror section – yet it's one of the most blood chilling books I've read. Set in suburban Paris, it tells the story of a young man who moves into an apartment which is being rented by a young lady who lies dying in hospital. It is assumed she will die which indeed she does. The young man, Trelkovsky is subsumed surreptitiously into a Kafka-meets-Camus world where slowly and bizarrely, his identity and very sense of self melts and morphs into that of another. The pillars of the law and medicine are off no help to the helpless Trelkovsky as he vainly battles to keep himself sane within what is a self contained world of pettiness, spite, lies and illusion ; veritable webs that are woven slowly all around him that both trap and entice him.

Horror and existentialism aside, the book does give a little glimpse into the socio economic world of France and perhaps most of western Europe. The apartment block is owned by one man. We always hear about how our continental neighbours rent and not have the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic obsession with home ownership. Yes, someone up the chain owns the title deeds and it seems they're all in the hands of a few. Also, the characters we meet do not work in what we consider highly paid jobs yet they can afford to rent their own apartments and believe me, the French know how to build apartments. They're not the jerry-built lego-meets-studwall-flimsiness we know and loathe in UK/Ireland. They're the real solid deal. They're like solid one-level houses that live in the air. Also, everyone seems to afford to eat out all the time. Renter do seem to have better protection and rights that they do in the UK/Ireland however – all except for our hero Trelkovsky who really could have done with some legal and paranormal advice but alas, he sacrificed himself for our own yen to be chilled in that evergreen 'thank feck that not's me, my life isn't bad after all' school of why-we-like-to-be-scared.

A great read and thoroughly recommended

Thursday 17 March 2011

Marc Almond and Jeremy Reed at Wilton's Music Hall, London : March 12th 2011

We snaked our way in the dark and dim, winding and wet laneways and alleys from Tower Hill tube station, up past St Katherine's Dock and down the infamous Cable Street and then down Grace's Alley to reach our destination. The streets were desolate except for a couple of guys who shouted across the road


'Are you from round here'?

Well I wasn't but I wished I was so I said something like 'No but can I help?'
"Do you know where Wilton's is?"

I smiled and replied 'Marc Almond?"

Icebreaker or what!

That warm feeling of finding fellow traveller rushed back to all of us and the four of us all walked together to Wilton's, floating on our verbal exchanges of mutual fandom and admiration for, who is, Britain's and even arguably, the world's greatest living torch singer.

We reached Wilton's Music Hall. Have you ever seen the movie the Queen of the Damned, the movie that a hybrid of the Anne Rice novels The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned itself? Remember the vampire bar, the Admiral's Arms that was set in a very lonely derelict corner of the decaying docklands? Well, that's exactly the setting and mood of Wilton's Music Hall ( It really is in the arse of nowhere but like all gems, best found and never forgotten when found in the junkyard and not the jewellers. The music hall is on the site of a Victorian sailor’s pub and the interior put me in mind of a derelict church – with a bar.

Supporting Marc Almond was the wonderful poet Jeremy Reed ( who performed with his trip-hop accompaniment/partner The Ginger Light. I had never seen or heard such an imaginative manner of the performance and portrayal of poetry – and I have been to quite a few poetry evenings let me tell you but for some reason, I can't actually remember any of them. This is something I doubt I'd ever say about Jeremy Reed however. Born in Jersey and formerly an acolyte and under the patronage of Francis Bacon no less than, he has been described as the David Bowie of the poetry world. A former winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize for Poetry, he has written over 40 books of poetry and literary criticism. He cut a dash on stage, black beret, and red scarf and every so often would scatter silver glitter over his head like confetti. The music would not have been out of place in a Future Sound of London CD. It was atmospheric and sending and was set to the wonderful Soho poem Nifty Jim.

 A treasure of a cultural find and Jeremy Reed is certainly a seam of culture I will be mining and seeking out for a long time to come.

And then the main act, Marc Almond himself. The audience, a veritable mixture of Gutterhearts and Cellmates (a true fan-gang never dies, we merely lie in wait for the next gig), trendies, Goths, untrendies and ultrafashionable peacocks gave Mr Almond a rapturous reception. The set was an acoustic affair, piano, guitar, harp (played by the wonderful Baby D, ex Anthony and the Johnsons ) of Marc's solo work plus a few well chosen covers too. Very few if any of the songs on the set list would be that well known but only to aficionados but aficionados we all were. No Tainted Love in sight but we didn't mind. I won't bore you with song titles of songs that you may not know. Sometimes the fourth wall was broken by Marc coming down from the stage and performing up and down the aisles. He did say that he felt overwhelmed by the acute reverence he was getting from the audience hence the assuaging of heavy vibes by being physically present in the midst of said worshippers.


God, if you are reading my blog, take note. It worked wonders for Marc Almond.


What really electrified the audience was Marc's acappellas of self penned Soho songs that sounded almost like folk songs. In fact, I did think they were folk songs but the lyrics belied that illusion. Lyrics of 'Billy Fury' and 'Jukeboxes' are not the stuff of Fairport Convention. I later found out that these were written and recorded only recently and are only available on CD as part of Jeremy Reed's poetry anthology Piccadilly Bongo. Songs such as Eros and Eye, Soho so Long brought shivers to many a timber in the audience's spines.


The evening ended with a standing ovation and an encore of the seminal Marc Bolan classic Hot Love which went down like a firestorm.


An amazing, enigmatic, beautiful, imagination-firing evening of delight and discovery. The whole evening lasted over 3 hours and I wanted every second to flow like frozen treacle. I was sorry that it ended but the art, in combination with the venue was a potent fusion ; an alloy of art itself.

Sunday 6 March 2011

If you want to post a link to a website directly from iPhone's Safari browser, just follow the instructions below courtesy of'tweetie:'+window.location

Tweetie Bookmarklet

These instructions will help you make a handy bookmarklet so you can send links from Safari to Tweetie, have them automatically shortened, and added to a compose view ready for tweeting.

Step 1: Bookmark This Page

Tap the plus button at the bottom of the screen, then select Add Bookmark.
add bookmark
Name your bookmarklet something cool, like "Post with Tweetie", save it in your "Bookmarks" folder. Then tap Save.
save bookmark

Step 2: Edit The Bookmark

Tap the Bookmarks button at the bottom of the screen.
open bookmarks
Find the bookmark you just made (you probably called it "Post with Tweetie"). Tap Edit, then tap on the bookmark itself.
You now need to modify the bookmark URL. Tap the URL field (it begins with "http:"), then remove all the text before the word "javascript". Position the cursor right before the "j" as shown below, then delete till the beginning of the line.
edit bookmark start
The finished URL should look like this:
edit bookmark finish

Step 3: Use The Bookmarklet

When you're surfing the web and want to tweet a link, just tap the bookmarks button, then tap "Post with Tweetie". The current link will be sent to Tweetie, automatically shortened for you, and added to your compose view, all ready for tweeting. Pretty cool, eh?