Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet

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Murderous Reviews: The Dark Vineyard – Martin Walker (Bruno #02) – (2009)

The Dark Vineyard (Bruno, Chief of Police #2)

Bruno is another of my favourite detectives. St Denis, in the Dardogne, is a French kind of Midsomer, and St Denis happens to be the domain of Bruno, Chief of Police, a fit young police chief who, between hunting, raising hens, making omelettes and training the local rugby team, somehow finds time to solve crimes and have a complicated love life.
It must be the French air.
An arson attack on an unsanctioned experimental GMO farm generates an investigation by a Brigadier as it appears there was government involvement in the farm. Meanwhile American investors are planning to buy half the valley to mass produce cheap wine. Things get complicated when the chief arson suspect is found dead and Bruno finds himself torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool, as Shakespeare once said.
I recently criticised a novel which was set in London, but if you didn’t know London, you’d be no better off after reading the book. It might as well have been Hull or Omsk.
Here the setting is so well realised that I ache to be there. It is a separate character in the novel. I want to be invited to Bruno’s dinner where one eats the birds that Bruno shot himself, wiping the plate with fresh bread to make way for the next course and drinking a fantastic variety of local wines.
I don’t care if I’m in line for murder. I am seduced by the writing and the characters and the place.
More Bruno… and more wine please.

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Feeling the Pull of the Fringe Magnet

If you are in Edinburgh, Try this out.

melaniebranton

I’m taking my first full-length spoken word show to the Edinburgh Fringe in August (see Forthcoming Events page for details) and I’m going to try to blog about how it’s going, starting from now, when I’m about a month into full-time, serious preparation.

In many senses, my expectations are modest. I know, for instance, that I’m not going to make any money. Edinburgh is always just a very expensive holiday. I’m going with PBH’s Free Fringe, an organisation which doesn’t charge for venue hire, but also doesn’t charge audiences to watch (although a bucket is passed round at the end, so they can pay you if they want to). While this eliminates the single biggest cost of taking a show to the paid Fringe (if you’re paying for venue hire, you can be looking at anything between £300 and £2000 a week), all the other costs involved (accommodation, travel, printing…

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The Writing Routine

I find that I have got into a regular writing routine, which is good. It’s a minimum of an hour a day, but at weekends and days off from paid work can stretch to three or four.
There’s often an additional hour writing in bed before I go to sleep. This is dangerous territory, albeit very rewarding, since although it is quiet and I am relaxed enough for creative thoughts to flow I have been known to wake up with my face in a notebook and ink all over my nose.
Today I spent some time in Caffe Nero which, it being Ramadan, was mostly abandoned. Two customers including myself. There were some people sitting outside in the sun but I suspect most of them hadn’t bought any coffee.
Oddly, this made me feel slightly less relaxed. I find when I am thinking I tend to unconsciously study other people and when there are not enough to make it worthwhile I feel oddly frustrated on a level that nibbles at the toes of my conscious self.
Additionally, if you stare too long at one person it usually ends up with angry words or an offer of dinner. Dinner would be nice but it’s not really practical at 3.30 in the afternoon.
As I mentioned, Ramadan plays a part in this drought of customers since two of the coffee shops I regularly frequent are in areas with muslim communities. For a month every year therefore I can have a much larger selection of tables. I shall focus on this benefit and soldier on.


Facebook Ranting

I have recently been, at least on Facebook, very political what with the UK having an election imminent and have probably, I am thinking, annoyed a good few of my Facebook friends.
What I tend to forget, which seems absurd on the face of it, is that Facebook is not a diary and I am not just venting my frustration to myself.
For those of you not in the UK, I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the political background, suffice to say that my views are to the left of most people I know. In brief, I think Conservatives are evil, corrupt and need to be wiped from the face of the political map. Some of you may disagree and feel that they need to be wiped from the face of the Earth. That is your right, and I respect it.
My father dabbled in Communism for a while before settling on Labour. Local political figures used to drop round to our house in North Wales, at which my mother and I were banished to the back-kitchen, much to her displeasure. ‘They always come round when there’s a good film on,’ she would say, but not until she was sure the whistle of the kettle would keep her words from being overheard. Having said that, my father was not really an influence. I always found his judgment suspect as he was also an unshakeable Creationist who believed the whole Adam and Eve thing which logically I could never see as being remotely possible as an actual true event, even as a child. I came to Socialism (and indeed atheism) through my own experience and convictions.
So, I’ve been posting anti-Tory posts mostly, I am now suspecting, as a form of self-exorcism of my frustration and anger. It can be a cathartic experience, but there’s the danger it’s just as likely to piss lots of people off. So… sorry about that.
I should be attempting to engage and educate people I guess, but I suspect nobody takes a great deal of notice of what I say anyway.
That’s probably a good thing. One of my first acts as World Leader would be to ban the manufacture of strawberry jelly babies, which I believe to be the Devil’s own confectionery. Nasty little pink bastards. I generally bundle them up in a jiffy bag and post them back to Bassetts Head Office without a stamp.
If that had been in the UKIP manifesto they’d have been in government by now.


Welcome

Welcome.

I’m hoping to use this blog as a kind of notebook for ideas and suggestions as well as a platform for discussion on topics of interest. We’ll see how that goes.

No doubt there’s an awful lot more that I can do here than I appreciate at present, so please bear with me if this first post is a trifle brief. Believe me, I can whinge at length, if only to myself.