Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Palm Whale

This is the only painting I've ever done. Well, the only painting I've done in the past twenty years. I never planned to paint it, I went to visit my friend Sarita and we ended up messing about with paints. Not very good, is it? In fact I feel sorry for any wall it hangs on... But it does convey a maritime theme and serves as another excuse to mention my forthcoming Postmodern Mariner book. Hurrah for that!

I have decided (in literary terms) to finally turn my back on Wales. Does that sound pompous? I hope so. In the past month I have had lots of story acceptances from various publishers around the world. I am due to appear in a great number of anthologies later this year, particularly in America. I also had one set of rejections: from a Welsh literary magazine. Now I'm not overly sensitive about rejections: nobody who wants to succeed in the writing world can afford to be precious about bounced work. It's just part of the business. But this particular rejection has goaded me into thinking carefully about why I am so eager to be recognised in Wales.

Why indeed? I have been chasing success in Wales with a pathetic desperation... WHY??? It's time to end this ridiculous obsession. Never again will I give first refusal to Welsh publishers (who pay less anyway and have a much smaller readership). From now on, my work goes only where it ought to go. One day Wales will come running after me... on its little stumpy legs!

By 'Wales' I don't mean the handful of good independents -- like the publisher of my own Postmodern Mariner (have I mentioned that book yet???) -- but the mainstream press, the 'New Welsh Review' and its ilk.

Anyway... the sun is out more and more these days. I went for an amazing walk in the Gower with Miss Frisbee Girl and she showed me a path I never knew existed. We sat on the cliffs overlooking the sea and watched a fabulous sunset. Then it got cold. Sometime very soon I am going in search of Prometheus Teddy and I'm taking my camera with me to prove he exists. If he's not still there, no-one else will ever believe in him!

Friday, March 23, 2007


Occasional Nostalgic Interlude (2)

I have been adding photos to my Flickr Account and one set of photos I recently found was of the old Cherokee plane I took my flying lessons in, a cosy Piper Warrior II with a 160 hp Lycoming O-320-D3G piston engine. On my first lesson I flew from St Helier in Jersey to Swansea, but without taking off or landing! That was in 1998, almost nine years ago! On another jaunt I remember flying over Snowdon and the Menai Suspension Bridge, weaving between the clouds. Flying is lovely, but expensive! I have no idea when I'll be able to afford to do it again, unless I build my own craft. What I want is a Fokker Dr.1 triplane!

Last night I went for a walk along the beach with Miss Frisbee Girl. The sunset was amazing, certainly the best I've seen this year, and the weather was perfect, without any wind or rain at all! A cargo ship sailed towards the docks and shone bright gold as it caught the slanting rays of the sun. It looked as if it was importing sunlight into Swansea! Then it occurred to me that it probably really was doing that! We get so little sunlight that we have to import it from abroad. Later I saw it sailing back out, a shadow against the gleaming water, having delivered its cargo safely and filled its hold with darkness! The stars were also amazing!

Monday, March 19, 2007


Chatanooga Atchoo Atchoo!

Those curious Finn-Brit Players are doing their thing again -- in fact they've already done it. But there are two more performances before the thing is done for. Odd pun there somewhere, don't know where... Anyone in the vicinity of Café Engel, Aleksanterinkatu 26, Helsinki, on the nights of March 21 or March 28, will be able to catch what they missed on March 14 -- in other words a varied and splendiferous program including pieces by me. Oh lovely! The theme of the show is 'Dreams & Travel'... Zoë Chandler, Queen of Finland and funniest blog writer ever, will also be performing some of her own work. Should be good; certainly it is far away, at 60°10′N 24°56′E!

People around me are collapsing with colds and flu. So far I have avoided sneezing, coughing and snivelling! Last week I was tricked into thinking that spring was on its way -- I even arranged a frisbee extravaganza with Miss Frisbee Girl on the beach, but all in vain... Massive black clouds returned to dominate the Swansea sky. You call them 'clouds'; I call them rascally argosies of moisture! Today I got hammered by sleet on my way to work. Boppo! Yes I have a new job at last, it's easy and well paid, so probably won't last long.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Altitude Sickness at Sea Level...

One of the funniest novels in the English language is unquestionably The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman. First published in 1956, it concerns the misadventures of a British climbing expedition as it attempts to reach the top of a secret 40,000½ foot high mountain. Think Monty Python, Ripping Yarns, Spike Milligan, J.B. Morton or Maurice Richardson to get an idea of the flavour of this book. It is absurdist satire in the best tradition: deadpan, highly inventive and just plain silly.

To my shock I discovered that Wikipedia has nothing at all to say about W.E. Bowman (I have come to regard Wikipedia as the fount of all knowledge). By chance I managed to get in touch with Bowman's son and we plan to remedy this lack and write a Wikipedia entry together. I was also astonished -- rather more than I ought to be -- to learn that Bowman lived in Swansea during the Second World War! This photo shows my own copy of Rum Doodle next to a glass of mocha in my favourite local coffee shop. The tiger belongs to Monica.

Rum Doodle has been translated into Danish, French, Italian and Spanish, but a Portuguese edition doesn't yet exist. Hence I have recommended it to Livros de Areia. They might take it, they might not, but that's not my decision. If they do take it, I will have done another service to the furtherance of grandly comic literature. Well done, me!

Monday, March 12, 2007


Supper and Dinner but no Breakfast...

Having completed The Postmodern Mariner more quickly than anticipated -- in one month instead of a year -- I have been lately pondering my writing schedule for the remainder of 2007. The Clown of the New Eternities is my main priority, followed by a novella called The Once and Future Peasant, but I also want to start work on another novel, Wuthering Depths, even if it only means constructing an outline... And there are a few more short stories to finish before getting my teeth into any of these bigger projects!

As always new ideas keep jumping into my head. The latest one is Suppers Around the Periodic Table, a book of stories in which all the chemical elements are personified, with endless possibilties for symmetrical and tricksy structure. The number of protons in the nucleus of each respective atom, for instance, might determine the number of characters in that particular story, or the number of situations or sub-plots, etc. 'Hydrogen' and 'Helium' would be very short and simple stories, whereas 'Ununhexium' and 'Ununoctium' would be extremely complex and highly artificial. ('Ununseptium' could be represented by a blank page).

I also think it's time I considered producing a non-fiction book. The title I have in mind is Dinners With Strange Ladies ('strange' as in not-well-known-to-me, rather than odd!)... The plan is that I travel Europe meeting ladies in different countries and going out for dinner with them... I might use my forthcoming Portugal/Spain trip to kickstart this project. To make my task easier I am currently using MySpace to make contact with many strange ladies along my route in those two countries. I have mixed feelings about MySpace, but it has allowed me to listen to a lot of great music, both from established and unsigned bands, and I have already met a few ladies from there for real.

Friday, March 09, 2007


In Soviet Russia the gigs play YOU!!

I repaired my digital camera yesterday -- by 'repair' I mean that I went out and bought some batteries for it. It has been sitting unused in its box for more than 2½ years. I was pleased to find lots of photos on it that I took in 2004 and never transferred to a computer. Photos of Lowri, Catherine, Thomas the Cat and a pair of Armenian puppets I had forgotten all about! The above photo does NOT show the puppets...

Once more armed with my little magic box, I went to the Tav to document (in a highly amateurish way) two gigs -- Frictionless Man (see image) and Satori. It was an interesting night. Both bands played well. I met Sally from Cilycwm*, Hannah, Bob and Neil, all in different parts of the room, and I drank maybe too much beer. Also, to my shame, I smoked an 'après-gig' cigarette or two. A one off, I assure you, as I'm not going back to that habit!

I imagine I am going to become a right little nuisance with my new(ish) toy. Anticipating this, I have opened a flickr account here, where I will doubtless show off all my photos, until I get bored and look for something else to amuse me...

I've been having a sort of clandestine fling with a person who isn't single and I think that came to an end last night, which is probably a good thing. I find life complex enough already without too many shenanigans... Having said that, shenanigans can be fun. I'm undecided on the matter. OK, shenanigans are great! Did I ever sign a contract stating that I have to be consistent?

* The second person I've met for real thanks to MySpace, about which I'll have more to say in the future...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


My Good (Not Amazing) News

...and my good but not amazing news is that my application for a bursary from the Welsh Academi was successful. I have been awarded £920 to help pay for research for the completion of my big novel The Clown of the New Eternities. Although this was the smallest sum awarded to any of the applicants, it's still remarkable that the Welsh Arts establishment have decided to give any amount of money to a writer for the completion of a non-realistic work...

The novel is question has been gestating for a long time. It consists of three linked parts, each of which is made up of other linked parts. The form of the entire work is extremely complex, as is the plot -- in fact this book utilises dozens of sub-plots, all of which come together at the climax... I'll have a lot more to say about the book in the near future. For the meantime I'll settle for outlining the three component parts as follows:

The Darktree Wheel
(i) Flintlock Jaw
(ii) Percussion Cape
(iii) Gatling Gums
(iv) Mortar Baby
(v) Matchlock Smith



The second part, Eyelidiad, was published as a slim book by Tanjen Ltd in 1996. The first part, The Darktree Wheel, was published in 1998 as part of the Ministry of Whimsy's Leviathan #2 project. Ghoulysses is the part that has been giving me problems because of its intricate structure and the abstract concepts that fuel its dynamic. I believe I have cracked those problems now, and I believe that the entire finished novel will be my magnum opus. Well we'll see!

Friday, March 02, 2007


Occasional Nostalgic Interlude (1)

Until a few days ago I had lots of photographs of girlfriends with whom I was miserable, but none of my lovely little Lowri, who made me genuinely happy. Now I have one and the balance has been somewhat restored. It is almost two years since we moved out of our house in Cwmdonkin Terrace* and in that time a lot of things have happened. But we are good friends again and always will be. Apart from being utterly lovely, she made the best guacamole in the world. She was my favourite girlfriend and is now my favourite ex. My forthcoming Greek book is dedicated to her, partly because she is part Greek, only 1/8th though, evenly distributed...

* Near the house of the overrated Dylan Thomas.

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