Why I Hate Your Novel


  1. Italics. I know you’re going to flashback or flash-forward  or go inside a character’s head and I’m not interested. It takes me out of the story and gives me back nothing but boredom.
  2. Letters and diary entries – unless you’re a truly great writer (for whom none of these hates apply) – it’s boring. In fact it’s beyond boring – I suspect you’re doing it as an easy way of padding out your dwindling plot.
  3. Present tense. I know I’m not there. Unless you’re a genius – you will not convince me I am there. You’re ruining your own magic.
  4. First Person Present Tense – ditto – double, quadruple, infinite times.
  5. Pure filth – some people like it, I don’t.
  6. Using the voice of a child… esp. if it’s about grief. What is this, the Victorian Age? Do not lisp your sentiment at me, I’ll want you to die.
  7. ISSUES esp. aimed at teens. This isn’t Biker Grove. You’re not subsidized by a charity – sod off with that miserable, soul-crushing sanctimony.

Other than that – it’s fabulous, darling!

My Granny’s Flat

download (2)

For some reason I’ve been missing my Gran & Grandpa’s flat in Knightswood, Glasgow, recently.

I miss the mix of 1970s/80s tat and heavy Victorian-ish wooden furniture. And the way it smelt of fags & a coal fire. And the way it was always Sunday, and I played 2nd World War spies in the garden and Cleopatra or Jane Eyre or The Little Princess was on the television.

I miss the hay-wain, the flamenco dancer and the green lady.

I miss the dolly toilet roll cover, the shire horse ornament & the Nessie

I miss the Island of Adventure (not so much – it’s in my room), the reader’s digest, and the bible.

& I miss James Last, Mantovani and Glen Miller.

The Chocolate Apple!

Before the Chocolate Orange – which is normal and natural – in 1926 Terry’s of York created THE CHOCOLATE APPLE !?! Which is clearly an abomination that would shock the Kirk Sessions.

Also THE CHOCOLATE LEMON – which is disgusting.

And The Chocolate Greengage… which is unbelievable.


A Traveler In A Dish Of Pain

I’m miserable about being OLD… I’m not actually old – I’ve just reached that age where I realise death is inevitable and not a remote melodramatic thing that might happen if no one likes my selfie on facebook.

I mean we’re for it. We’re doomed. We’re on a conveyor belt of relentless decay.

You will not escape.

So in a shallow and perverse way – this very sorrowful poem – by a young man whose unfair era murdered him before his time – cheered me up.

Chidiock Tichborne was a 24 year old Catholic who became involved in the Babington Plot to free Mary Queen of Scots, then imprisoned in England. Along with seven of his fellow conspirators he was eviscerated, hanged, drawn and quartered.  Their fate aroused so much sympathy that the seven remaining conspirators were hanged. Which is rather more gruesome and depressing than it seemed in one of my favourite childhood books Alison Uttley’s ‘A Traveler in Time’.

My Prime of Youth Is But A Frost of Cares

by Chidiock Tichborne

Written in the Tower of London on the Eve of his Execution. 


My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain.
The day is gone and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
My youth is gone, and yet I am but young,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen,
My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I lookt for life and saw it was a shade,
I trode the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I am but made.
The glass is full, and now the glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

Scandinavian Easter Witches

I had no idea that Scandinavia has a tradition of Easter witches… apparently – like Halloween – Easter is time when bad witches are thought to consort with the devil.

Somehow – from that – has sprung a tradition of young girls dressing as witches (in mainly quite pretty ‘peasant’ clothes) and people often send greetings cards with witches in the picture.

Hamster Language

My beloved hamster Endeavour really did communicate through these noises & actions – and because I was impressed – I’m recording them here for future Ethologists:

ack ack ack = my bedding is in disarray, I am unhappy.

ACK! = I was arranging my bedding, put me back in my cage.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK = the roof of my bed has come off, do something!

Filling bed with sawdust = my bed is stinky, I require fresh bedding…

Squeak, Squeak, Squeak = the slide has fallen off my platform, assist me to put it back up.

Banging a food bowl = I’m a free animal, remove me from this prison.

Hanging from the bars at the top of the cage – if you don’t immediately remove me from this cage I will fall & die & guilt will haunt your every waking hour.

Climbing into an exercise ball = I want to be in my exercise ball, close the lid.

Banging into things while in an exercise ball = I’m bored of this exercise ball, open the lid.

Falling asleep = put me back in my bed.

A desperate look while climbing = assist me to climb this item of furniture.

Head stuck in bedding or sofa, back legs waggling = I’m in a predicament, remove me at once.

Furious face, using back legs to kick bedding over her bed – I’m cold, put the heating on.

Look of alarm, then slowly moving away = AAAARRRRGGGHHHHH, it’s Scuttler, the spider!

Banging sandpit = these conditions are unacceptable, clean my sandpit.

Grooming = it will take me half an hour to prepare to leave my cage, do not shut the door.

sniffing along the open cage door – I might be going to bed, or I might not be, don’t close the door until I’ve made up my mind.

Darting = I will chew that wire & nothing will stop me.

Scenting = what are these non-me smells I keep encountering?

Paw on hand = who are you? You haven’t fed me for at least 10 minutes.

Squeaky Squeak Squeaky Squeak = unhand me, I wish to go in this direction.

Fast Waddling = I think I saw a crumb fall on the carpet, I will reach it before the hoover.

SQUEAK! = I’m missing, retrieve me.

Frantic scratching – I’m trapped in a box, let me out.

Banging food bowl, then reversing away from hand = I’m still sleepy, but require more food.

Throwing food out of cage = this is boring, I need variety.

Sitting on table = BRING ME A SNACK!

Climbing into cage & going into bed = that’s enough activity for today, please put the light out & be quiet.

Furious face with screwed up eyes (while in bed) = STOP THIS RELENTLESS NOISE!

Furious face (while in bed) = it’s morning, where is my toast?

And tons of other things – she was ALWAYS saying something.


The suicide of Brenda Leyland – after a media monstering – took me back to 2007 when I used to comment fairly relentlessly about the McCann media coverage on the website Anorak.


I wasn’t interested in the true crime aspect – but I did chat to commenters who were… They were nicer than me – even the ones who thought the McCanns were murderers. They had the ability to empathise with the missing child at the heart of the story whereas I could never get past the ludicrous press coverage. I was the first one to label us pro and anti McCann while trying to explain why we were slagging each other off so viciously to a confused newbie.

I was very fond of whoever we all were – even the trolls, flamers and sock-puppets. We were essentially Live Tweeting Martin Brunt and Kay Burley on Sky – the first time I was aware of rolling news. We had no narrative consistency and no spin… if Martin looked tired, we said he looked tired, if Gerry was playing tennis we wondered why he was playing tennis…

I was intent on deconstructing the press, others were intent on solving the disappearance, some were caught up in the soap opera, some felt their opinions weren’t being reflected in the newspapers, some were already steeped in establishment conspiracy theories and after the McCanns hired Labour Party media monitor Clarence Mitchell they were added to a list that even in 2007 included Jimmy Savile and Elm Guest House (I thought the theories were entertainingly loopy – but it seems half of them were grimly true).

The McCanns were famous on an unprecedented scale for a crime story. Their life stories were serialised in The Mirror. They went on lecture tours.  They met the Pope. A lot of us tried to pin down the hook. Was it class? Was it Kate’s beauty? Was it religion?

It was probably just the mystery. Not just the mystery of Madeleine. But the mystery of Kate and Gerry – as people they’re hard to read. Even harder when they come packaged by a P.R. machine.

When the first wave of intense publicity started to wane (after about a year) I had nothing left to say… I forlornly moved on to digital spy… but the true crime fans and the hardcore pro and anti factions moved on to private forums, YouTube and finally twitter – arguing about the case and everyone involved in intricate detail… It’s not sad, lonely, sick or twisted. It’s sociable, crusading and less damaging than a red top screamer.*

But it’s also libelous and contested… It appears that some pros (who may be paid) gave a dossier about the antis (who have many threatening and insulting tweets aimed at them) to the police and Sky News… and this led to Martin Brunt door-stepping Brenda… which led to her suicide… Because she’s nicer than me… She wouldn’t think he was merely chasing ratings and filling time with hypocritical hyperbole… She’d feel humiliated, cornered and in danger.

*The tabloids are still claiming she sent 4,220 hate tweets to the McCanns in one year… She tweeted on the subject 4,220 times… Behold the taste and sensitivity here :


Institutionalized oddity :  


Enemy-making capacity:



British Journalism has hit a new low-point.

Yesterday Brenda Leyland died by suicide after being hounded all day on Sky news for tweeting negative things about the parents of missing UK child Madeleine McCann.

Her suicide is still being reported in the context of her being a ‘twitter troll’.

Her tweets are critical – they might even stretch to libel – but there are no death threats or direct addresses.

And this is ‘non-evil troll’ Carole Malone on Brenda Leyland in The Mirror (when – as far as we knew – Brenda was still alive) :

One of these trolls, Brenda Leyland, is a church-going 60-something divorcee who lives in a pretty village in the Home Counties. She looks like a perfectly respectable woman. But of course she isn’t.

She’s a cowardly bully who hides behind her smart front door and spews her bile in secret because she doesn’t have the guts to do it in public.
This piece of work was sending up to 50 texts a day to the McCanns. But when Sky News cameras approached her she wasn’t quite so brave.
She looked like a frightened rabbit (typical). But as she was running away (also typical) she said she thought she was entitled to do what she’d done.
Really? She thinks she’s entitled to threaten, hound and bully the innocent? Is that because her own life is so lonely, so miserable, so poisoned that she wants others to suffer the same. Or is she just a twisted, fecked up bitch who gets her kicks from hurting people.

Well, newsflash for these sickos – you guys aren’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to Kate and Gerry McCann. The very worst thing that could ever happen to them already has. And they will for ever have to live with that. I truly hope all the people in that dossier are prosecuted and I hope Sky continue to confront and identify every one of them. We should all know what a black heart and a twisted mind looks like.

These idiots need to know they can no longer hide behind false names to peddle their bile.

Let’s see how brave and opinionated they are when their evil is made public alongside their names and their faces.

The rest is here : http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/madeleine-mccann-internet-trolls-devoid-4379575  (UPDATE – it was removed – probably for being disgusting). 

Carole feels entitled to call someone a ‘fecked up bitch’ in a national newspaper while raging about unquoted ‘texts’.

It’s true that people need to think more before they publish online. It’s not a private chat – even a direct message could end up public – but the press needs to stop using ordinary – often vulnerable – commenters to fuel a big crime/sport/celebrity story… especially when their own comments are just as hate-filled, misinformed, inflammatory and ‘possibly’ criminal.