Wednesday, 15 April 2020

LOCKDOWN! - a force for good?

LOCKDOWN! – a force for good?

How is everyone in these strange times? For my 100th post I thought I write something a little different and reflect what is happening currently. 

When I was younger – it seems so long ago now – my reading of choice was mainly science fiction. I devoured books by Arthur C Clarke: The City and the Stars, A Fall of Moondust, Rendezvous with Rama and of course, the magnificent, 2001 A Space Odyssey. But I particularly enjoyed J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, The Drought and the Wind from Nowhere. At the time I just thought they were thoroughly good reads but now realise they were way ahead of their time. What I find extraordinary is how, in this age of uncertainly, how prescient many of them were.

Who would have predicted, even a few months ago, the state the whole world is in? We are faced with a faceless ‘enemy’. Not some alien from outer space but a fast-moving malevolent force that strikes indiscriminately. No one knows how, or even when, this pandemic is going to end. Up until recently the news has concentrated on numbers – of those infected and deaths – but is now starting to focus more on individuals and the human tragedy. For me, this is really bringing the gravity of the situation home. So far, none of my relatives or close friends have succumbed to the disease but I wonder if it is just a matter of time.

On the positive side, many aspects of life have changed for the better. The skies are clearer, there is less pollution and, thankfully, nature seems to be carrying on in its usual rhythm. Many of us are forced to spend time at home, with our families, which may well cause stress and strife but, hopefully, will bring us closer together with a greater understanding of each other. More people seem to be taking the trouble to exercise, which can only be for the good. I just hope that, when all this is over and we return to some semblance of normality, we have learned from it and make the world a better, more considerate, place to live in.

Sunday, 29 March 2020



Fishermen's rail track and hut - Dungeness

You'd think that in these straightened times I'd be cracking on with writing the next instalment of the adventures of DI Sonny Russell and his loyal terrier, Aggie. Well I should be. But... some sort of ennui has set in and, in the evening, when I'd normally lounge on the sofa with the laptop, I seem to be gorging on crime dramas on Netflix or BBC iPlayer. I doesn't mean that I'm not thinking about writing - I am - it's just that I'm not actually doing it although I have started.

Old bridge over the Royal Military Canal at Appledore

But that's part of the problem. I've started not one, but two books. One, provisionally titled BLOOD IN THE GARDEN, is planned to be the fifth in the DI Russell series set in the 1950s. The other, THE WRONG CAR, is my attempt at writing a contemporary story, more in keeping with the current trend for grittier, up to the minute writing. My dilemma, as well as a general laziness, is choosing which one to continue with. 

Netherwood House, Hastings
Last home of Aleister Crowley

I seem to be developing a following for my 1950s series and have sold 1/4 of the first print run of my new novel, BLOOD ON THE CARDS, plus the kindle sales have been encouraging. So perhaps I should stick to this and trust that the momentum continues. However, like most writers, I would like to sell more books and wonder if I should be writing in a style that's currently in vogue.

Suggestions would be gratefully received. The photos I've used above are from scenes in BLOOD ON THE CARDS which is available from me or on Amazon.


Sunday, 15 March 2020



Aleister Crowley 1912

In BLOOD ON THE CARDS*, the fourth in my DI Sonny Russell crime novel series, one of the characters recalls meeting Aleister Crowley.

 Russell opened the book again. On the frontispiece he read, “Illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris”. ‘Golly’ was that her? A real lady.’
‘She certainly was. We got chatting and she confided in me. She’d been friends with Crowley for years, apparently. As far as I could make out she was some sort of disciple and had followed his teachings on something called, I think, Thelema. Some mumbo jumbo, anyway. He had come to live in Hastings - she’d heard he was ill and had travelled down from London to check on him. Apparently he was dirty and neglected so she arranged for a nurse to look after him. Anyway, she asked if I was interested in old books. I wasn’t going to turn down a chance to meet him so I said yes. He was in lodgings at Netherwood House on The Ridge in Hastings and I visited him there.’
‘What was he like?’
‘He was an old man by then. Early seventies, I think. He wasn’t well, coughed a lot and looked pale and drawn. I understood he was addicted to heroin. But there was something in his eyes. I don’t know, a darkness or something. His room was number 13…’
‘Of course.’
Pike nodded. ‘Despite being near the end he still had a huge presence.’
‘What did you talk about?’
‘Nothing of consequence, as I recall. Chess – he was member of the local club; hadn’t ever been beaten, apparently. The weather – he found the climate in the South good for his bronchitis. Lady Frieda showed me some books that he wanted to sell. They were old but there was nothing particularly special so I offered a few shillings, which she seemed happy to accept.’
‘Is that how you came by this?’ Russell tapped the book.
‘Oh no.’ Pike leaned forward, his eyes sparkling. ‘He gave it to me.’
‘How come?’
‘Before I left, I went over to say goodbye – he was sitting in a large wing chair. He grabbed hold of my hand – almost pulled me on top of him. I was amazed at his strength – he looked so feeble. He stared into my eyes. I can’t tell you how it felt. Creepy I suppose. Strangely compelling. Then he relaxed his grip and said: “You must have this,” and gave me the book. I heard that he died not long after.’
‘Is he buried somewhere nearby?’
‘No, no. The people of Hastings thought he was evil so he was cremated in Brighton.’

I became interested in him and his influence and did quite a bit of research about him - what I believe they call in university, reading around the subject. Although he died in 1947, he fascinated many who followed including Jimmy Page of the band Led Zeppelin.

Jimmy Page with twin-necked Gibson

In 1969 he became intrigued by Crowley and his cult Thelema. So much so that it is rumoured that two of the occultist's sayings, Do As Thou Wilt and So Mote It Be are carved into the outro tracks on the vinyl recording of Led Zeppelin III. He became even more involved as evinced in the next album, Led Zeppelin IV, where the band members are represented by magic symbols in the inner cover.

Led Zeppelin IV

Page collaborated with a filmmaker, Kenneth Anger, who practiced 'Magick' as set out by Crowley. Later the two fell out and Anger was said to have put a curse on the band. Not long after singer, Robert Plant and his family were nearly killed when their car went over a cliff in Greece, causing them to cancel the rest of the band's tour they were on. In 1977 Plant's son died. Page didn't attend the funeral which almost caused the break-up of the band. 

The Beatles - Abbey Road

I watched an interview with Jimmy Page. Hesaid Zep weren't the only band to be affected with conspiracies. On November 9th 1966 a rumour spread that Paul McCartney was dead and had been replaced by someone who had won a lookalike competition, know as Billy Shears. (Billy Shears is also mentioned in the opening to 'A Little Help from My Friends' on the Sergeant Pepper album.) Absolute rubbish, of course, but the rumour spread and stayed for a long time. It gained more traction when the wonderful abbey Road Album came out and featured the Beatles crossing the road outside the recording studio and Paul is pictured barefoot. Even before that on the track, Glass Onion on the White Album John Lennon sings, ‘here’s another clue for you all, The Walrus is Paul’.

BLOOD ON THE CARDS is currently with the printer and will we available soon.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020



Continuing the theme of interesting photographs I've been looking back through my files and thought a sequence of rusty pictures might be fun. It might seem strange but I love old rusty objects, whether abandoned machinery, or just objects accidentally left to decay. I hope you enjoy the pictures.


Thursday, 27 February 2020



I love seeing the huge stone stacks that appear at regular intervals on 'my' beach. I've met the chap who skilfully builds them, knowing that quite soon someone will come along and knock them over. He just loves building them and can't stop doing it. Others make smaller stacks and every so often - when it's not windy - I make my own rock balances. I only ever use three rocks but get great satisfaction in getting them to balance. Aggie is always with me but, as you can see, she finds them a bit of a yawn.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020



As the rain hammers down on the studio roof I thought I'd post a few more of my 'arty' pictures from a cheerier times.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020



As my last blog, SEA CHANGE, was well received I thought I'd post another set of photos from my library. This time featuring the sky. We get some fabulous huge skies here on the edge of the Marsh, every day is different and there are regular, wonderful sunsets.