Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Candi’s book launch

Just to let you all know, Tindal Street Press is hosting a book launch for Candi Miller’s latest book, Kalahari Passage.

It is taking place at Waterstone’s book shop, 128 New Street , Birmingham at 7pm, on Thursday, 1st of September.

If you would like to go along please could you contact Rikhi Ubhi on 0121 773 8157.

Or e-mail Rikhi - rikhi@tindalstreet.co.uk


Saturday, 27 August 2011


I read an article the other day that said that women’s’ waistlines were now on average 6 inches bigger than in the 1950s. I can well believe that is true - If you watch films from the post-war era people looked a lot shorter and thinner than they do now. This was because the population had suffered communal food deprivation. The effects of rationing meant that people did not have a lot to eat and fat and sugar were rare treats.

We now have abundance and easy access to tasty food in mammoth quantities. The result is that we have become a nation of gluttons, encouraged by the food industry and supermarkets. If people were suffering rationing now there would not be an obesity epidemic – so it is all down to availability and portions sizes.

Helping people not to become obese is a challenge. I think that there needs to be a radical shift in society to make the food industry downsize our ‘portions’ and offer realistic ones rather than jumbo supersize things. (I bet George Osborne would love to levy a ‘fat’ tax on people who are overweight – he could rake in millions).
Smaller plates and bowls might help.
So might education in schools - teaching children how to cook proper food and not rely on microwave convenience food and the chip shop.

Yes – I’m a glutton too and guilty of living to eat, so I sympathize with anyone who loves food too much and has an expanding waste line.

What do you think – should people be allowed to get fatter and fatter?
Is obesity a matter of our own personal responsibility?
Or do we need a radical shift as a society in our attitude to food?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


I’ve spent the last few weeks grappling with the concept of what constitutes a good short story. This is in preparation for my forthcoming MA as short stories seem to be a major component of the modules I’ve chosen.

I’m still bogged down by the mammoth reading list and finding some of the short stories challenging to say the least because they are not the sort of thing I enjoy or would read by choice. (I prefer to read light-weight chick lit and escapist stuff with happy endings and my writing style probably reflects my innate superficial proclivities).

Jackie Kay said in Mslexia that the best short stories should be ‘unnerving’ – but at this stage in my writing career I can’t say that I am drawn to ‘the unnerving’ and I’m still suffering the toxic after-effects of William Burroughs’s psychotic snippets in Naked Lunch.

Do you agree with Jackie Kay - should short stories be unnerving?

What do you think a ‘good’ short story should be like??

What is your favourite short story and why???

In my research on the subject of short stories I came across these suggestions on the link below – and you can access the podcasts too.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Rail fares

Just to add to our general misery, there are plans to increase rail fares. How will we ever have a decent public transport system and get cars off the roads if the average person cannot afford to travel by rail?

I was in Belgium recently and was impressed by the clean, frequent and cheap bus service. Their rail service was also exemplary – the trains were clean and on time, and there were plenty of seats for everybody. So why have we in the UK got to put up with over-priced, overcrowded, dirty trains with stinking bogs occupied by a constant stream of fare dodgers. Our trains can never be guaranteed to run on time because of the thousand and one excuses that are trotted out like 'cows on the line' or 'signalling failure'.

If you are fed up with all this then there is a petition you can sign – link below, and there will also be a rally on Tuesday morning 16th August in London out side Waterloo station.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What can society do?

People are asking themselves what has gone wrong with our society to spark the riots we have seen over the past few days.
I was horrified by the total callousness of these 'rioters' who stole from an injured man and left him there. They reminded me of the worst type of school bully -  showing no compassion for others and swaggering off with their cronies. What has caused their lack of morals and compassion?

Do these people come from homes where parents have abused or neglected them, and this is all they know – or are they just psychopaths?
What can be done to stop the rot??

Any suggestions???

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Progress report

I’ve made a start on the reading list for my MA, having had a massive cull to make space for the 80+ books I’ve ordered. I’m a very slow reader (because I like to linger over words – no, I’m really a bit thick and I have to read slowly to make sure I’ve grasped the gist of things). Also, I’ve had to shelve any delusions about writing novel number two this holiday because of the frightening volume of reading I need to do.

It is my own fault – I got side tracked by Mr. Wroe’s Virgins and Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber and I’m looking longingly at Neil Gaiman’s oeuvres that I would rather be reading.

I have read three and a half books so far. I enjoyed James Kelman’s gritty Scottish Selected Stories, and Helen Simpson’s Hey Yeah Right Get a Life. I struggled with Jim Crace’s Quarantine – it was well written, but I found it unsettling because its content thwarted my assumptions and was unpleasant in parts – I won’t spoil the ending in case anyone plans to read it.

The best one so far is Tim Winton’s The Turning – it is excellent. His writing is superb, precise and concise, his characters are compelling and the setting (Perth, Australia) is wonderful.

I’m impressed with the reading list so far.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


I was shocked to learn today that one of my childhood heroes has become a violent thug. The villain in question threw a pizza at Paul Daniels.

Paul Daniels ended up being hospitalized due to an eye injury and had to cancel his gigs.

Who committed this dreadful act – yes, it was Sooty!