When is an author

Publishing is changing.
Danuta Kean recently wrote a piece on the trend towards not paying writers which included this sentence:

Thanks to the rapid growth in blogging and self-publishing – neither of which provide much reward for practitioners (81% of bloggers earn less than $100 a year, while half of US self-published writers earn less than $500 from their books) – the professional status of writers has been eroded, lending credence to the idea that practitioners do it for love not money and that freelancers bring easily replicated skills (they do not, see Danuta’s Guides).

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On bands that aren’t quite …

Every so often you come across a band whose passion and simple joy in the act of creation render criticism of any technical deficiencies moot, whose internal coherence drives them forward as one. It’s one of those ironies of life when the band you’re sent to review really aren’t that band. Continue reading

A book in hand …

Ok, so I published another book – Black Box, a collection of short stories from the dark to the whimsical and back again. It’s available as an e-book and as a c-book (c for carboniferous), just like my last book, Slender Threads. I’m not so interested in their relative subject matter as I am in their formats, and how they’ve fared in the (relative) marketplace. Continue reading

Black Box

Black Box is a collection of stories that were written between 1998 and 2011. I’m not exactly prolific. They cover a wide range of topics while never straying far from ‘the’ question. From hangovers to Faustian bargains, the stories are often about stories. And some of them are true. Cover by Helen Masacz.

Available now on Amazon in e-book and c-book formats and in the US at the createspace store.

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One fine day in the year of the bush

Good god, the Guardian’s back to its old, reactionary, hairy old ways. Emer O’Toole is making money for old (if short) rope in today’s piece about bloody pubic hair. I thought this hoary old crap had been dealt with after Bidisha’s appalling piece on the same subject (with the same metaphor) back in whenever (see To shave or not to shave) but no. it’s back. And it’s stupider than ever. Continue reading

The Turing Test

So. Finally a decision is made about Alan Turing. It’s such a pity it’s the wrong one: divisive, insulting and, though few seem to notice, homophobic.

He should not have been pardoned. Now, before you get all shouty, ranty and insulting on my ass, let’s get one thing straight: I am in no way homophobic. I shouldn’t have to point this out but so many seem to think this action a good thing that I fear the emotive muscle has been overstretched. We saw this when bin Laden was murdered. Let’s consider how laws, ultimately, operate. Continue reading


There comes a time in the careers of certain people when they hold the whole world in the palm of their hand – or, at least, it must seem like the whole world. Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, has just arrived at that point following the massive success of his song Let Her Go. This tune, while being nowhere near his best (as anyone who knows the 2007 album Wicked Man’s Rest will attest), has that elusive quality shared by Mr Blaunt’s You’re Beautiful: it’s a song that gets to the heart of what women want to hear. Continue reading

Brighton Acoustic Guitar Festival – The Brunswick, Hove

If we ignore the fact that it’s in Hove, and it’s arguable whether eleven acts makes a festival, we’re left with the relentless march of the ‘percussive acoustic guitar’ style, an affectation shared by each act, for better or for worse. The problem I have with players like these has been well-documented, by me, and it ought to be pointed out that two of the very best exponents of this style, the late Eric Roche and the very much alive-and-gigging Thomas Leeb were, at one point, both students of mine. I didn’t teach them anything about the acoustic guitar, but that’s another matter. But I heard them develop, and I jammed with Eric on occasion, so I do know how this stuff works, and my standards are high – impressing me ain’t easy. To be fair, I doubt many of the players here give a rat’s arse what I think but that’s another thing entirely. Continue reading