Thursday, 21 August 2014

SORRY - TEMPORARILY CLOSED!


Off tomorrow on hols, back in a week or so's time, maybe a bit longer if an Icelandic volcano goes pop - which is something I'm hoping if it does happen at least has the courtesy to wait until I get out of the country!

Bardarbunga - sounds like something a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle might shout.

Plenty to read, some hopefully I can do some catching up,

See you all in a bit

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

2 BY CHARLES WILLEFORD

One of my favourite authors and I have had these on the shelves for about 15 years and still haven't read them. Crazy? Maybe, but I'm still saving them until the mood takes me, because once they are read a part of them disappears. I enjoy the anticipation of cracking open a favourite author's books, not as much as reading it, obviously, but enough to prolong the moment for a year or two longer.

Willeford achieved some commercial success quite late in his writing career with his Hoke Moseley books, at least one of which was a film with one of the Baldwin boys (never seen it).
1. Miami Blues (1984)
2. New Hope for the Dead (1985)
3. Sideswipe (1987)
4. The Way We Die Now (1988)





There was an unpublished Moseley, Grimhaven  - parts of which formed one of the later series books. Grimhaven will in all probability never be published, but there are bootleg copies circulating. I think I have read most of his work and have the majority of it saved for re-reading. Just waiting on someone to give me a big lottery cheque so I can retire and read, or conversely awaiting the invention of the 48 hour day, 10 day week of which 3 are mandatory reading days!

Charles Willeford 1919-1988











The Shark-Infested Custard

They are just four regular guys by the pool: ex-cop Larry 'Fuzz' Dolman, airline pilot Eddie Miller, salesman Don Luchessi and drug company rep Hank Norton. They live in a 'singles only' Miami apartment block. They like regular-guy things: booze, broads, cars, and a good card game.

The Shark-infested Custard is a startlingly amoral update of Dumas' The Three Musketeers set in 1970s Miami. As our four male swingers commit increasingly barbarous crimes it becomes clear that their only guiding principle is not to get caught - by adhering to the 'all for one, one for all' maxim.


Willeford joyfully applies the scalpel to the vacuous heart of male America, where being one of the guys is always going to be more important than mere life and death.



The Second Half of the Double Feature

In this new collection of short stories, vignettes and autobiographical sketches-many previously unpublished-Charles Willeford, author of Miami Blues and The Burnt Orange Heresy creates a mosaic of the absurdities of life in the 20th century. From a malicious grandmother to prophetic depictions of the power of reality television, with his wry humor and sudden shifts to violence, Willeford seduces, amuses and repeatedly surprises you. This expanded hardcover edition adds Willeford's complete published poetry, as well as nearly 50 previously unpublished poems. "No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford" -Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

DIETRICH KALTEIS - RIDE THE LIGHTNING


Synopsis/blurb……..

A fast, powerful read full of action, twists, and dark humour
Bounty Hunter Karl Morgen goes after Miro Knotts on a skipped bond, finding the dope dealer wrapped around an underaged girl at a rave in Seattle. Dragging Miro in the hard way gets Karl's licence revoked, while Miro gets off with a suspended sentence. Karl then finds work as a process server in Vancouver, thinking it's the kind of place where people settle things with middle fingers instead of guns.

But the city is teeming with two-bit criminals, drug dealers, and gangsters, and Miro seizes an opportunity to settle his score with Karl while working a major drug deal. What follows is a ride through Vancouver's underbelly with a cast of characters whose ambition exceeds their criminal acumen. With dialogue that crackles on the page, Ride the Lightning introduces a new voice in crime fiction featuring grit, realism, and a comedic touch.

Ride the Lightning encapsulates all the things I love about my reading……….characters, setting, story, pace, humour and a level of violence. I may be in a minority but I love meeting low-level criminals in my fiction…….drugs addicts, car thieves, pot growers, bouncers, enforcers, strippers, bikers – basically all round scumbags and losers. To me this type of person is a hundred times more interesting than the straight Joe – boring 9 to 5 office dude who goes home at 5.30 every evening to the wife and the home cooked meal. Who wants to read about themselves?

Dietrich Kalteis nails it in his first book.

Characters – tick….. all interesting, funny and entertaining. Not many are sympathetic or likeable, but enough of them so you know which side you’re rooting for.

Story – tick…. drug dealers, some looking to move up, some looking to get out at the top of the game, one with skewed objectives and firmly fixated on revenge and an ex-bounty hunter looking to settle in, find a bit of romance and perhaps deliver some payback if the opportunity arises.

Setting – tick, Seattle and Vancouver – two places I’ve never visited, two places I’m unlikely ever to visit, two places I feel like I’ve been to thanks to the author.

Pace – tick…. there’s a cadence to the narrative that keeps the story ticking along….short, snappy chapters, that constantly changes the focus of the reader, before a fitting climax.   
  
Humour – tick….. great scenes, great dialogue – whether it’s a mother and daughter arguing over using college funds for a boob-job, or our bounty hunter chatting to the criminal king-pin whilst he basks on a nudist beach applying oil to his wrinkly bits.

Incredibly difficult to believe that this is a first novel. Mr Kalteis has acquired himself a reader for life.

5 from 5

Dietrich Kalteis has a website here.

Many thanks to Jenna at ECW Press and Dietrich for sending this one to me. ECW’s website is here. Ride the Lightning is recommended and available!   
     


Monday, 18 August 2014

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH ALAN JONES

Scottish author and man of mystery - Alan Jones whose debut book The Cabinetmaker was kind enough to humour me when I tossed him my questions regarding his reading and writing habits.


Alan's website is here.

My review of The Cabinetmaker is here.




Is the writing a full-time or a sideline-passion-hobby? What’s the day job?

I have a full time job. Due to the gritty nature of my writing, I don't want to offend any of my customers, so at present I wish my identity to remain hidden from view. I absolutely love writing, and would give up my day job if I had a successful book. I'm not naive enough to expect this to happen, but it would be nice if it did.  I'd say it's not the money, but that's not entirely true. If I wasn't be any worse off, that would be enough.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Realising that although I am not the finished article, I can write interesting and compelling narrative and dialogue.

From start to finish how long did The Cabinetmaker take from conception to completion?

About ten years. About 90% of it was written in the last one of those years. Getting started and believing I could write was the biggest things.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

It varies enormously depending on work etc.  I keep my ipad by my bed, and about a third of my writing happens if I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.

Do you insert family, friends and colleagues into your characters? Would they recognise themselves?

I don't think so, but there are a lot of characters I've come across over the years that I've adapted for my books

Are there any subjects off limits as far as your writing is concerned?

Anything to do with the paranormal. I'm just not interested. Although there is the odd book (or film) that I will read or watch eg Carrie where I can suspend disbelief for a while.

What are the last three books you’ve read?

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas Home, Holes by Louis Sachar and Natural Causes by James Oswald. I enjoyed them all.

Who do you read and enjoy?

A bit of everything. I've purposely didn't read any Scottish Crime before writing my first book so that I could have my own style, good or bad.  I love Irvine Welsh, but many authors I keep on my bookshelves are not recent. John Updike, Nicholas Monsorrat, James Clavell, John Irving, Neville Shute, John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, Martin Amis, William Boyd, Ian Fleming and some sci-fi from Asimov and John Wyndham. Other than that, I dip into a random selection of books that I pick up here and there. I find myself reading a little less since I have started writing in earnest over the last few years. Just a time thing, really.

Do you have any literary heroes?

Irvine Welsh. I think he's a genius.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

The Shawshank Redemption

Favourite activity when not working?  

I'm torn between football, furniture-making and going out in my boat, but I've recently had to pack in the football at the age of 53 with a recurrent ankle injury, so I suppose one of the other two.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

My second book is with 12 proof readers at the moment. I'm still tinkering with it, re-editing and re-editing. I am hoping to publish it by Christmas.

If I check back in a couple of years’ time, where do you hope to be with the writing?


I have outlines/ideas for half a dozen books. I'm trying to hone my literary skills and produce the best books I can.  I'm hoping they will be good enough for people to turn round and say they are worth reading. And help me retire early and write full time.  But I know it's a long shot!

Many thanks to "Alan" for taking time out to answer my questions. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

2 BY PETER CORRIS

Peter Corris is another author whose books I buy when I see then never read. He's an Australian author who has written about 40 Cliff Hardy PI books since the first one, The Dying Trade was published in 1980. I must have about a dozen or so of them scattered on the shelves.

He's written about 3 other series characters, Browning (7 books), Ray Crawley (6), Luke Dunlop (3) plus around half a dozen standalones and maybe 10 non-fiction books.









I'll stick with the Hardy books I have for now and will read them in no particular order as its madness for me to even consider embarking on  reading my way through a 40 book series start to finish, when I don't own most of the books and I'm guessing half of them are scarcer than rocking horse pooh and would need to be located somewhere on the other side of the world. Don't let me stop you reading your way through them though!


Peter Corris' website is here.

Cliff Hardy is described on Corris's site as.....Cliff Hardy, born and raised in working class Maroubra, ex-army, law student dropout, insurance company investigator turned Private Eye, has a love-hate relationship with his time and place. He embraces the best aspects of Australian life - the tolerance, the classlessness, the vigorous urban and rural culture - while despising the greed and the conservatism that are constantly threatening to undercut what he sees as "real Australia".

Inevitably drawn into the ambit of the people he deplores, Hardy struggles to resolve his cases while remaining true to his own threatened values. The professional challenges spill over into his personal life where he is never on firm ground.

SAVING BILLIE


Private investigator Cliff Hardy tackles one of his most difficult cases yet in this gripping detective novel that finds him in the far southwestern suburbs of Sydney. When a journalist hires him to find Billie Merchant, a woman with incriminating information about media-giant Joanas Clement and who is being tracked by both Clement and Clement's rival, Barclay Greaves, Hardy must work hard to stay one step ahead. After Hardy tracks her down, he must juggle her self-destructive behaviors while negotiating his escape from Clement and Greaves. Set against the backdrop of a federal election campaign, all outcomes are uncertain in this gritty, action-packed story full of colorful characters and close calls.






THE UNDERTOW

Frank Parker, retired senior policeman and Cliff Hardy's long time friend, has a problem. A case from early in his career involving two doctors, one of whom was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill the other and went to gaol for the crime, is coming back to haunt him. The convicted, now dead doctor may have been innocent, and Parker had been the lover of the beautiful Catherine Castiglione, the doctor's wife. Hardy tracks back through the now ageing names and faces, trying to tease out the truth. If the doctor was set up, who was responsible and why? Along the way Hardy encounters dodgy plastic surgeons, a broken-down ex-copper, a voyeuristic cripple and a hireling who wields a mean baseball bat. A charismatic player is the son of Catherine Castiglione, a super-bright charmer, who just may be Frank Parker's love child. Animosities, arrogance and ambition create a spider's web around the violence that breaks out as Hardy searches for the spider.

Monday, 11 August 2014

ALAN JONES - THE CABINETMAKER


Synopsis/blurb….

The Cabinetmaker, Alan Jones’ first novel, tells of one man’s fight for justice when the law fails him. Set in Glasgow from the late nineteen-seventies through to the current day, a cabinetmaker's only son is brutally murdered by a gang of thugs, who walk free after a bungled prosecution.
It’s young Glasgow detective John McDaid’s first murder case. He forms an unlikely friendship with the cabinetmaker, united by a determination to see the killers punished, their passion for amateur football, and by John’s introduction to a lifelong obsession with fine furniture.

This is the story of their friendship, the cabinetmaker’s quest for justice, and the detective’s search for the truth.

This unusual crime thriller contains some Glasgow slang and a moderate amount of strong language.

For a Slang Dictionary, a Cabinetmaking Glossary, an interactive map and much more, go to www.thecabinetmaker.info

My 3rd read of the month and the 3rd new-to-me author also.

A fairly interesting crime novel which is narrated by our detective McDaid. The murder of a young student, Patrick Hare is McDaid’s introduction to life in Glasgow CID. McDaid quickly decides that the manner and culture of the team, he’s been attached to doesn’t sit right with him…… brutality, abuse, a flagrant dis-regard for procedure and corner-cutting…..all abhorrent to our new detective.  Viewed as an outsider and mistrusted, McDaid is assigned photocopying duties of the paperwork and acts as family liaison with Patrick’s parents.

The case is apparently solved when a local gang are arrested and a confession follows. In the mean-time McDaid has become particularly close to Patrick’s father, Francis. This is the start of a burgeoning friendship which spans the following quarter of a century. John and Patrick have a common interest in football and McDaid almost assumes the mantle of surrogate son as he develops a passion for furniture making under Francis’ tutelage.

Re-winding slightly, our murder defendants get acquitted due to the laziness and incompetence of the investigating team and despite their obvious guilt. Our narrative outlines this and McDaid’s police career. We span 25 years, we follow the pair as they play football and Francis teaches John as much as he can about his cabinet-making craft. We follow the lives of the various police officers involved in the bungled investigation into Patrick’s death and we pick up on the lives and deaths of the accused as one by one they meet an untimely demise.

Overall a quirky tale, narrated in a slightly unusual fashion, which I’m not sure I completely bought into. I found the rationale-denouement slightly implausible and there were elements within the narration particularly when McDaid became more physically involved with Patrick’s ex-girlfriend that would have been better served either being left well alone, or conversely a more explicit detailing might have read better. The halfway there nudge-nudge style kind of felt a bit of a cop-out (no pun intended).            

I enjoyed the development of the friendship between John and Francis and his mate on the force, Andy. The footballing aspects were more interesting to me than the depiction of a cabinet-maker’s craft, though at no time did the description of the wood-working descend into tedious detail and bog down the tale. 
   
Enjoyable enough overall. Probably a 3.5 so I’ll be rounding it to a 4.

The author was kind enough to send me a copy in return for an honest review.



Saturday, 9 August 2014

2 BY GERALD PETIEVICH

Gerald Petievich was an author I discovered back in the late 80’s, early 90’s on one of my twice yearly jaunts up to London’s premiere crime fiction bookshop – Murder One.







He had 8 books, including 3 with Charlie Carr, a Treasury agent between 1982 and 1991. Then there was a 12 year gap until Paramour in 2003 and then nothing since. I wonder why…. (bloody Blogger persists in mucking around with my format!)







Petievich’s website is here.

I did try and get my wife to read one of these the other night as she was looking for her next book. I read the first page to her in bed, followed by a random page from the middle of the book – no cigar, she wasn’t having it. No accounting for taste really. Reading the Publishers Weekly review below – scant praise – I recall enjoying Earth Angels better than that; a future re-read will hopefully confirm.


Money Men

Charlie Carr is Petievich's ruthless T-Man, a hard-nosed detective in the gutsy, no-nonsense tradition of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. In Money Men, Carr is hot on the trail of two thugs who have gunned down a young undercover agent - a torturous trail that will lead from the smoke-filled hangouts of sordid Chinatown, to a desperate scheme to steal counterfeit money from counterfeiters themselves, and finally, to a brutal blood-drenched confrontation in a magnificent penthouse overlooking the streets of LA's seamy underworld.





Earth Angels

A Los Angeles drug squad crosses the line separating justice from crime in an attempt to break the backs of the city's notorious Chicano gangs

Publisher's Weekly

The author of the brutally violent To Live and Die in L.A. turns the trick again in this grisly novel that begins with the accidental murder of a little girl. L.A. detective sergeant Jose Stepanovich heads a newly formed four-member anti-gang unit striving to neutralize gang activity that has been polluting the barrio of East L.A. for generations. An innocent bystander, the girl is killed by an errant bullet fired during gang drive-by. Unfortunately, since evidence is hard to come by, and witnesses harder still, the unit fails to solve the crime. When one member of the elite unit is murdered during another drive-by, Stepanovich and his remaining cohorts take on both gangs. Many gory deaths later, Stepanovich has been transformed into the beast he once hunted. Petievich's graphic descriptions of the violence and of a gang psychology that leans heavily on retribution and machisimo are the only saving elements in an eminently predictable storyline littered with one-dimensional characters. The reader is hard pressed to feel any emotion for the players in this saga of violence, in which texture is substituted for depth.


ROBERT SILVERBERG - PICKUP


Synopsis/blurb….

A crime noir gem from 1964 by Science Fiction Grand Master Robert Silverberg.

Love 'em... and leave 'em. That is small-time criminal Jimmy Henstall's first rule in life, as he travels all over the country, going from one woman to another, and robbing gas stations and stores for money.

After a painful break-up with Maureen, the woman he loved for years, he now makes women fall in love with him, and then leaves them heartbroken just the way he was.
Until he meets Helena, the passionate blonde, in a hotel bar, and the table gets turned...

My second recent read from newish kids on the block, 280 Steps after last month’s amazing The Red Right Hand. Pickup has an interesting introduction which provides some background on the author’s history in the genre of racey-titillating pulp paperbacks.

Pickup was a quick read, done in a few hours. Our main character, Jimmy we soon discover is not likeable or sympathetic; he’s a cold-blooded killer who is looking out for only one person. Whilst he’s despicable, he’s never less than interesting to read about. A small part of me has some sympathy for him as we discover his back story, but when the real Jimmy Henstall emerges from under his mask of normality that soon wanes.

Fifty years on from its original publication the sex scenes here are a wee bit tame by today’s standards. Still fun to read though.

The storyline followed a similar path to another book I read last month – John Lutz’s debut The Truth of the Matter. A little bit of deja-vous for me but enjoyable nonetheless.

Robert Silverberg is much better known for his science fiction/fantasy books. A website dedicated to his writing is here.

4 from 5


Thanks to Kjetil at 280 Steps for this one. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

JOHN FUSCO - DOG BEACH


Synopsis/blurb…..

Acclaimed screenwriter John Fusco’s thriller follows the exploits of Louie Mo, once Hong Kong’s greatest stuntman turned Los Angeles knee-breaker, as his latest target unexpectedly casts him in the role of a lifetime.

Leaving behind a successful career as a stunt double in Hong Kong to escape entanglements with the Chinese mafia, Louie Mo now makes his living in Los Angeles as a hired knee-breaker, putting fear into the hearts of people reneging on payments to investors.

Troy, an aspiring director with NYU credentials and encyclopedic movie knowledge, is beginning to realize that he’s made a deal with the devil by agreeing to direct a film for producer Avi Ghazaryan. When Avi’s sketchy investors hire Louie to scare Troy into finishing their movie, Troy’s reverence for film and keen eye save him from a beating when he recognizes Louie Mo as the stunt man extraordinaire he once was and begs Louie to take the lead role in the movie based on Troy’s own pet screenplay.

For Louie Mo, this chance at redemption might be his last. As his past catches up with him and his body becomes ever more broken down, he teams up with Troy in a race against the clock—and the bad guys—to pull off an impossible film of epic proportions.

Dog Beach is a fast-paced, smart, and hilarious thrill ride. Equal parts dark satire and high-velocity action novel, it's perfect for fans of Elmore Leonard and Don Winslow.

The first read of the month and a cracking start. 5 stars and it doesn’t get any better than that.

240 pages, so not over-long, great pace, plenty of action, one of my favourite settings – LA, with a bit of the action flipping back in time to the equally exotic setting of Hong Kong. Our story focuses around Troy, a young ambitious film-maker in the middle of his latest flick. A visit from a Chinese leg-breaker sent to put the frighteners on Troy, has Troy all of a flutter. His erstwhile attacker is someone he recognises from the Hong Kong film world. All of a sudden Troy and his gang of cohorts are running in a different direction with a new film project and Louie Mo as the star.

Fusco writes great characters. Troy is likeable, idealistic, obsessed and a little bit na├»ve. Louie Mo is interesting and determined; there’s an air of sadness and regret about him as he stoically drags his past around with him, whilst resigned to a life as an enforcer for low-level crims. We get the back stories of our dynamic duo, which adds substance to our tale without interrupting the narrative.

Troy’s posting of a preview scene on You Tube of his proposed Louie Mo blockbuster, brings parts of Louie’s past back into the present and ratchets the tension. The supporting cast, especially Louie’s driver, the mysterious Dutch are interesting and funny. Fusco also has some fun with his dialogue and banter, particularly with Louie at times failing to grasp intent in conversations with his less than perfect English. Great dialogue, great action, satisfying conclusion. Quite cinematic, whether our screenwriter author has one eye on a screenplay for this, I don’t know. I’d watch it.

All in all, extremely satisfying. 

5 from 5
       
I have John Fusco’s previous book on the piles somewhere – Paradise Salvage. Originally published in 2001, I hadn't quite realised it was that old. Fusco's website is here.


I got a copy of this one via Edelweiss – Above The Treeline site (similar to Net Galley) - their website is here.

Dog Beach was published in July (hardback) and in kindle format in September.


Thursday, 7 August 2014

INSPIRING BLOG AWARD


Moira at Clothes in Books was kind enough to recently nominate me for this award. Our reading tastes are quite dis-similar and we can often go a week at a time without ever finding a book in common on each other’s blog, but it does make it all the more interesting for me when our tastes do then coincide. Even if the books mentioned aren't always suitable for each other, we do have a bit of banter and some good-natured teasing. Cheers – Moira!  
  
So: Here are the rules of the award:

Thank and link to the person who nominated you. (Done see above!)

List the rules and display the award. (Done)

Share seven facts about yourself. (Hmm….. what’s the difference between a fact and an anecdote? What’s the difference between 7 and 8? See below anyway)

Nominate other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated (originally specified 15 blogs, but I think it’s better to leave it to the blogger) (Any blog on the sidebar can consider themselves duly nominated)


Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you (Done)

FACT-FILE

1. I'm left-handed.
2. I drink coffee - black in the day-time and tea in the evenings, strong but go easy on the milk.
3. I don't like heights, more specifically heights from ladders. I think I would be okay looking out of a skyscraper window.
4. I have one tattoo and no piercings.
5. I met my wife at work and there is such a thing as love at first sight, for me anyway.
6. I am a morning person, I'd rather get up at 4am and be in bed at 10pm than the other way around.
7. I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

BORING ANECDOTES 

St. Colman
My full name is Colman Michael Keane and I was born in Dublin in 1963. Family folklore has it that I was supposed to be christened Michael Colman, but my father deliberately registered the names the opposite way around, wanting his son to be named Colman Michael. An uncle always called me Micky-Col as a child, so there is obviously an element of truth there. Despite Colman being an Irish saint from County Cork, it is an uncommon name and caused me more than a few difficulties and moments of awkwardness growing up and even into adulthood.

Presenting myself late at a training course once, I was asked my name, only to be told by the lecturer in front of the whole class – “That’s not a name, what’s your name?” Apparently she knew better than I what my name was, despite having worn it for over 40 years at that particular time. I think I have I always dreaded introducing myself to new people as a consequence. My wife calls me Col (pronounced Cole), my kids call me boring!  

Colman mac Duagh died on October 29th 632, the same day I was born (if not the same year).

St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh




I used to be a proper little thespian in primary school. On the stage I have performed as Bob Cratchett, Agamemnon and Widow Twankey. After progressing to secondary school and becoming more aware of the opposite sex, I suffered with an acute lack of confidence and never trod the boards again, dahling!
















First week at secondary school in 1975, I had my nose broken by a friend’s school bag. I think him swinging it around like a helicopter propeller at warp speed didn’t help. I had it set but the cast moved, so for 40 years I have been able to smell around corners with my crooked conk! At the risk of boring you even further, I did have a second operation in the early 90’s to have one of my nasal passages chiselled out as it was almost closed. Mildly successful and the only time hand on heart I can say I have had cocaine up my hooter. It was poked up on rods as part of the pre-op as apparently it helps inhibit blood loss. 

















I bought my first suit in 1984 from Mister Byrite for £15 for my sister’s wedding after being nagged by the family. The following day after Mum, Dad and my two sisters had been to a family friend’s wedding (I wasn't invited!) the dress code was changed to top hat and tails. Cost me more to hire at £20 than my redundant suit cost.












I once streaked down Grant Road in Croydon in the early hours of a Sunday morning to win a £20 bet. Fortunately the locals were all asleep. To cut a long story short I had been watching football with my two friends - West Ham v Luton in the afternoon and after the game we were walking away from the ground. I put my hands into my pockets and when I took them out a £20 note came with them and I kid you not, dropped to the floor and a gust of wind took it down a roadside drain. I was a student at the time and needed to recover my loss.


                                                                       



According to my children, in the mid-70's I actually looked like a girl! You decide.

It didn't stop various immigration authorities allowing me to travel for the following 10 years on this passport photo though, even if they did confiscate my dress!














When we last went abroad for a family holiday a couple of years ago to Lanzarote, I left the family at the luggage carousel to collect the suitcases, while I went over to the car hire company to collect the keys and sort out the paperwork for my pre-booked hire car. After a few minutes of conversation in Spanish between the two ladies working behind the plexi-glassed booth, culminated in them rolling around the floor in hysterical laughter, it transpired I had booked my car for collection alright….but in Tenerife………. a totally different island about 200 miles away! F***ing hell! They quickly sorted us out a replacement but not before my youngest daughter had come across to the desk to see what the hold-up was. Unable to avoid relating details of my faux-pas, I am mercilessly reminded of this every so often by my family! 

Distance from Tenerife TFN to Lanzarote ACE  170 miles 273 kilometers 147 nautical miles








Latest amazing fact about me is that I am currently only about 78% of the man I used to be back at the end of February. Turning 50 last year was a wake-up call that I took a few extra months to respond to. With an ever-expanding waistline and a more sedentary role at work than previously, my weight has gradually crept on over the years. Growing up, you would have found more meat on a butcher’s pencil than on my slender frame. Passage of time, lifestyle, family, work and general contentment culminated in me topping the scales at 16 stone on February 27th. Ideally I ought to be around the 12 stone mark, though you would have to rewind back more than half my life to catch me at that weight.


5 months on, I’m 12 and a half stone and am feeling a little bit pleased with myself. I bought a pair of trousers at the weekend with a 32 inch waist, something that hasn’t been possible since I know not when. I joined a slimming club, encouraged to do so by my family. It was a bit daunting seeing as I was for the most part the only man among a class of upwards of 30-odd women, but enough was enough. Hopefully I can shift the last half a stone, but if I don’t it’s not a big deal, as I’m in a better place now than I was some months ago. I run 3 times a week – about 3 miles a go. It’s at the stage where I have started to enjoy it, as opposed to enduring it. I’ve had 2 hip operations in the past 10 years or so, so the extra weight wasn’t helping a problem that has been temporarily repaired as opposed to permanently fixed. I hope in a year’s time I can still report that the weight is about the same.    




Tuesday, 5 August 2014

JULY ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY... SOME OF AT LEAST

Well I added a few titles to the shelves already on a family weekend away at Lowestoft. There was also a promotion mid-way through the month with Free Digital Book Day, which saw me add 4 more to the pile. So in the normal course of events I did what I usually do and bought a few more anyway. As long as I live to the grand old age of 165, I should eventually get around to reading what's on the pile.

Here's some of what came in.......
Praised by Lee Child

New author to me.

A 2nd full length novel of hers to read.

Intriguing cover attracted me.

1st Edward X Delaney book - 1969.

1st or 2nd in a series of 2!

New author to try for me.

Probably not crime, but I'm interested.

Prashant's fault!

A freebie on Am UK

Another new author.

Canadian crime.

Another Konstantin novella 

Different type of book to his usual stuff.