To be a writer, one has to write.

When I first became interested – or rather when I first became determined –  to write a book, I signed up to several free mailing lists. These provided courses and encouragement to novice writers – such as myself, or so I thought. Over the course of the last year, I have lost count of the number of times I have hit ‘delete’ to clear the weekly supply of help. These posts seem to be aimed at some section of the writing community that wants to write a book, but doesn’t know how! With two now in print, though probably not up to Lee Child standard, I think I am over that first hurdle. Yet, for some reason, I don’t want to unsubscribe. Just receiving these e-mails acts as encouragement enough, reminding me to buckle down and start tapping those keys again.

I’ve just responded to one such e-mail which asked why I hadn’t signed up to an offered course, and gave a multiple-choice questionnaire; Did the topic not meet my requirement? Was it scheduled as a bad time for me? Would I prefer a different format – an online course or a book? Did the cost not seem worth it? Uncharacteristically, I actually responded because in doing so, I was answering these questions for my own purposes. In my response, I said that the questions had forced me to look again at why I write. And the answer I came up with is that it is a release. There’s a book by James Patterson wherein one of the characters is compiling a movie in his head. He sees his actions as being part of his film. I am not quite like that, but I do find myself thinking of plot lines and characters almost continually. A news report on television might throw up an idea. A picture of an interesting face, a view, anything can make me start compiling a scenario in my head.

Of course, the trick is to get these things down on paper (or into the computer). Usually, the resulting story in my mind is too short, or the idea is not suitable for extrapolation into a full-blown novel. In these cases I may content myself with a short story, but often they end up as just a couple of lines in my ‘Odds’ folder where they will probably stay until being dusted off and used in something larger.

Why did I write this blog entry? Well, in order to become a writer, one has to write. I think Steve King is reputed to have come up with that one, but really, it’s just common sense. One of the suggested ways of overcoming what some people call ‘’Writers Block’ is to just write about something – anything – just so you don’t give up! The worst thing is to feel all ideas have dried up and end up staring at an empty sheet – or computer screen – thinking there’s nothing to put down. There is, and this is proof!

Thanks for putting up with this chunk of self-administered therapy!


Pantomime Tickets


Do you feel that these days we are in danger of losing sight of our original goals, or that those original goals have lost their glister through well intentioned but vigorous polishing?

Over Christmas I witnessed something where the original objective appeared to have become lost. It involves that wonderful conundrum, parking.

Where we live is in the suburban commuter belt for London, and not too far from our local railway station.

Over the years, our station had lost its goods yard to car parking for commuters who had responded to the call to ‘Let the train take the strain’. Now, because of the need for more housing to accommodate yet more commuters, the station car parks are being turned into houses. But where do those letting the ‘train take the strain’ park?

They do the only other thing available to them, and park in local side streets. This enrages the residents who find strange cars arriving silently and unnoticed in the morning, staying all day and leaving equally silently in the evening. Under resident pressure, a ‘Parking Control Zone’ is created. Now, cars that are left on the street during a magic mid-day hour, receive tickets and fines. (Hopefully large enough to avoid it becoming a legitimate business expense!) Signs go up on lamp posts to notify of the timing of this magic hour, (12.00 to 13.00 Monday to Friday). Residents move more freely.

We now come to the serious foot shooting injury that could have led to a lynching. Those of a nervous disposition be advised and look away.

Monday the 26th and Tuesday the 27th of December; Boxing Day and the Christmas Bank Holiday arrive and so do friends and relatives to share in the festivities with their loved ones. While they eat, drink and become ever more merry, a scavenger comes prowling, looking for scraps he can pull from the festive tables. He slinks up and down the road almost invisible  in his urban camouflage, placing not cards of good cheer, but plastic bags containing parking tickets on every car that is present within the magic hour!

Because of a desire to keep the area comparatively free of commuter vehicles during the working week, a pantomime is played out each day with residents moving cars from one street to another at various times of the day. When a friend parks at the wrong time, a shout of “Look behind you” can often be heard! But on this occasion, the Whitehall Farce like rushing around didn’t happen, which meant the very people who should have benefited from these parking measures, found their festivities tarnished by the mean-spirited ghost of Scrooge Parking Services, enforcing the words, but not the intention, of the sign’s “No parking between the hours of 12.00 and 13.00 MONDAY TO FRIDAY”.

Because we are now living in a far more litigious age, where we can no longer work to the ’spirit’ of the law but have to be explicit, the expression ‘Working Week’ would probably not suffice. Are we then to be faced with the prospect of road signs that will have to read:

“No parking between the hours of 12.00 and 13.00 Monday to Friday unless;

a, the Monday is a Bank Holiday;

b, the Tuesday is an extra bank holiday;

c, you have a resident’s permit available from the council offices (currently closed for the bank holiday) or

d, you are using your vehicle to box in the car belonging to the parking warden (who apparently has carte blanche to flout all the imposed rules and park wherever and whenever he wishes), thereby preventing him from leaving or issuing any more tickets until all the other neighbours have been advised and moved their cars, and those who have been ticketed have had the opportunity to put to him their side of the story.”

We didn’t see him on Monday 2nd January!

Ever thought of becoming a writer? I did – and did!


I believe that everybody has thought about becoming a writer at some stage of their life. I remember being given the task of writing a story when I was in infants school. Obviously one of the first lessons in composition! The story I wrote was incredible! It covered about ten lines in my exercise book, was started in my neatest handwriting but trailed off into something more akin to my handwriting of today, and was submitted to my publisher (the teacher) on deadline. I was convinced that a career in writing had started right there. The next lesson involved plasticine, and my career as a sculptor had begun! After that we had to draw something and I drew a car. My career as a designer had begun!

I think you can see where this is going. The point is that I am sure we might all have been something different in our lives, but for the throw of the dice and our commitment. Obviously, ability plays a considerable part, but I am sure that any creative person, in any discipline where they feel comfortable and given the right inspiration, stimulation and commitment, could achieve anything!

For my part, I used writing to explore my emotions as they applied to events that were happening around me. These became in effect, elaborated ‘Dear Diary’ anecdotes. Eventually these anecdotes became the basis of random pieces with re-engineered endings along the ‘what-if’ route. It was then that I realised that I had already started writing fiction!

However, the epiphany came when I retired and found I could ‘legitimately’ spend time at the keyboard, writing. My objective isn’t to find fame and fortune (though one, other or both would be nice), but to exorcise my need to write. It is a less physical, creative outlet than building and as such better suits my years. (Visions of Winston Churchill, wrapped in a coat and seated at an easel in front of the wall he built at Chartwell, spring to mind.) He too wrote, but I am afraid the erudition of his volumes may never find its way into mine! However, I will not let that dampen my spirit, and it shouldn’t dampen the spirit of anyone who wants to tell a story or express themselves in print.