Month: April 2013


Today’s photographs are in my back ‘garden’ on an alternatively sunny/cloudy day at 10.15am, chilly but the wind has gone and there is some gentle spring warmth in the sun. I was inspired (a bit) while sitting at the computer writing words about Vincent back in 1968 visiting St-Jean-De-Monts. I am listening to Phillip Glass’ music for Koyaanisqatsi, quite wonderful and I began to think about new growth, the renewal process, change. So went out of the back door and took these. Odd mix really as the section I am writing is about closure and suppression!





April cricket

I walked up through the fields towards Sandyford where I took the photographs in the heavy frost a couple of months ago. These were taken today at about 1pm on a very chilly, bright and very blustery day. It had only just stopped raining but the clouds had scooted onwards.




Loan deal


Today’s photograph is a self-portrait with Rosie Garland’s book The Palace of Curiosities on a bright cooler blustery day in Tunstall and taken just after midday. Some of you may have read my interview with her a few blogs back , if not then I urge you to, since then she has been nominated for Desmond Elliott Prize for first novels.

I had just picked the book up from Tunstall Library, having ordered it the other day. Luckily we still have a library service even though many branches have closed and the books on display have been cut drastically, I normally have to order books I want from the stacks or like this from new. The history section in Tunstall now seems only to have books on Hitler and memoirs from soldiers in special units (I know, The Report is based around the Nazi’s but it is more than war porn).

You may think that as an old friend of Rosie I should have gone out and bought the book, certainly if I had been still working then I would have, but I am now in the bottom 1-2% and in poverty (in cash terms). However, ordering books for libraries is equally as important as buying them. Authors get paid rights, but more than that a greater number of people may read a book than otherwise would. I regularly order new books and hopefully add to the Library’s collection.


I know that when I go into Tunstall Library the first thing I see are two stands of new books, I always look and very often find books I would never have looked for on the main shelves, for instance that is the way I found Orkney by Amy Sackville and The Devil’s Footprints by John Burnside, each wonderful writers who I now want to read everything they have written and will write in the future.

New books keep the libraries alive. The most depressing thing we hear is when the local authorities state that a library or wherever was closed because no-one used them, it is an excuse to cut what in the UK is our most important and precious arts facility.

I like buying books, but except for second hand bargains do not have the funds to do so. For me and millions of others a library is a vital resource. So please, if you are a member of a library go and order Rosie’s book or any book that friends have written or you think can add to the artistic life of your community! Eventually one by myself…

Also today I put a couple of pages of Working up on Wattpad.


I would advise that the language is strong, nasty and the ‘imagery’ quite disturbing, but it is not gratuitous, what I am writing about is taken from conversations and observation, to write otherwise would make the scenes unreal. I would love to have some feedback and will add more.

Get yer tackle out…


Today’s photograph is of a shop in Tunstall, taken at 9.15am on a dull mild overcast day. It is typical of the haphazard sort of place Tunstall is. Those boards come down a bit later to reveal a window display of guns and fishing tackle. Fishing is very popular, there are pools all over the place, some old marl holes (the name for where they used to dig for clay) others associated with the canals and the park. It is an odd thing this wish to go and kill things for no good reason but sport, I would if necessary kill for food, but I have no wish to kill or maim for no reason other than to prove to myself I can do it. But I know how many enjoy fishing and used to see them in the park surrounding the lake as I walked Milo. Is it also a wish for the solitary life, a quiet contemplation, which I can get from reading, but they need an activity?  

I certainly don’t get that from writing or creative work, for me it is a time of personal angst, frustration and annoyance, usually because I do not have the tools to create what I can see or hear in my mind but then does not appear on the screen or paper. Maybe I need a character who goes fishing to try and see inside the mind, the next ‘adventure’ for Vincent!

Also did a black & white version, perhaps more fitting for the subject, but you do lose that lovely colour of the brick in this area, something I really notice when I go to other parts.




Today’s photograph is of dandelions on a patch of ‘garden’ at the end of Bond Street in Tunstall, taken at 11.30am on a bright, mild spring-like day. I took about four photographs, increasing the contrast for this and using the rudimentary flash. This lessened the quality of the image, but highlighted the shapes, abstracting forms. The only editing I did was to make the image smaller for placing onto here.

Dandelions have a strange part to play in our culture. They are an annoying weed and yet they are a most beautiful yellow and green with far more interesting leaves than most flowers. They can live almost anywhere, my blog the other day had one growing in the wall, and they can be used for food and drinks. They are everywhere careful gardeners don’t want them.

I remember coming home from work and my then father-in-law had spent all day going round my lawn digging out dandelions, the lawn looked like someone had sprayed a machine gun over it, he then bought me a book on how to have the perfect lawn, I never read it. He always inspected the garden whenever he came muttering about how I didn’t look after it. Yet I thought it looked interesting. Different tastes.

Legend – Rosie Garland (aka Rosie Lugosi)

An interview with author, lead singer, performer, host, poet, icon, blogger and legend – Rosie Garland (aka Rosie Lugosi).


Hello Rosie, I am very pleased you have given your time to answer some questions. We’ve known each other for some time and worked together quite a few times as well. What has always amazed me is that you have so many different aspects to your work. You write in your name Rosie Garland, in fact as this is going on this blog your new novel The Palace of Curiosities is the No.1 Bestseller in Waterstones Manchester; you write and perform as your alter-ego Rosie Lugosi; you are the lead singer of The March Violets; you are a Goth icon; a legend in the world of burlesque; star of Woman’s Hour and women’s magazines.


Your (Rosie Garland) new novel The Palace of Curiosities is now out and it has been fascinating following your ‘getting published’ travails in Mslexia, can you tell me something about that?

The short answer is that I’d pretty much given up on novel-writing. I’d been with a literary agency for twelve years, and had written four novels for them. But however hard I tried (and did I try), however hard I worked on editorial suggestions, nothing seemed good enough. I had twelve years of publishers telling me it’s not what we’re looking for, could you rewrite it completely so we can still say we don’t want it?

To say it was a surprise to win the Mslexia novel competition and then get a two-book deal with HarperCollins is the understatement of the decade. Quite simply, I’ve had my confidence restored, and no, I haven’t given up.

You also have a collection of poetry being published based around the cancer you suffered from and defeated. How do you feel about revisiting what must have been a terrible time for you?

I am very aware that to write about cancer is to stand on the shoulders of giants like Julia Darling. I wasn’t planning on writing about throat cancer – but the poems started bursting out and demanded to be written! Equally, I never thought that anyone would want to read them, let alone publish them. But Holland Park Press were positive from the start – the result is my latest collection ‘Everything Must Go’.

One thing that I love about your work is how inclusive it is. You are a great compere, not an easy thing to do. What are your tips for tentative readers/performers?

Thank you! I can only suggest things that worked for me – I am aware they may not work for everyone. One size most definitely does not fit all! First of all, and last of all: read. Then read some more. Go to events and discover the pleasure of hearing others’ work. Buy their poetry pamphlets and/or badger your library (if you are still blessed enough to have one) to order them. This way you find out what’s out there AND you support other writers. Check out open-mic events and try out your own work. Link up with others in the ‘real world’. The internet is great – but you can lose touch.

And believe in yourself, even when (especially when) things are tough.

You are a part of post-punk Gothic legends The March Violets. What was it like reforming and how have things changed for the band in the reincarnation?

In 2006 original band members Si, Tom and myself got in touch, and there was some on-off talk of a reunion. But we had no idea if anyone out there was interested. After all, it had been 25 years since the last March Violets gig. We were understandably cautious: so decided to record some new tracks, do a one-off show in 2007, and see how it was received. It was an astonishing success. To this day we haven’t seen or heard a bad review. Or even a lukewarm review. That’s a hell of an achievement – and a clear message that people are pleased to see us back. Very pleased.

I enjoyed the Homecoming gig in 2007.  A lot.  Hundreds of people, all happy to see us back on stage, and none of them shy about showing their appreciation.  What’s not to like?

And now we have produced an album – of completely new material. It’s out now!

Your work seems to offer people a glimpse of freedom, whether that is an ability to enjoy one’s sexuality and sensuality, or, enabling people to be open to the lives and feelings of others. Where do you think that comes from as many performers just think of themselves?

I’ve said this before – but central to my work is the idea that I’ve always written about outsiders; whoever they might be. I’m interested in characters who won’t (or can’t) squeeze into the one-size-fits-all templates they have been provided, and the friction that occurs when they try. I know that comes from always having been an outsider myself. I want to find out what’s going on in there. And celebrate it, proud in the face of the overwhelming sludge of ‘normality’.

What is it like to have your book published by a major publisher? Few of us will have that feeling. From the photographs on FB the other day, you look delighted and more.

It’s more than a dream come true – it feels like a dream state. I’m going through what I call the ‘Dallas moment’ (for those who watched the original series). Any moment now, Bobby Ewing is going to come into the shower and tell me that the past year has been a dream. Pinch me!

However, I know that I’ve worked very hard to get to this point. I’m not a flash in the pan. This novel is neither the first nor the only thing I have written. I am proud of the fact that the Mslexia novel competition was judged anonymously, so I was rated on the quality of my writing not because of connections in the industry. This is why competitions can be so encouraging – there’s no ‘old boys’ network’.

Is there anything else you would like say?

I’m working hard on Novel #2 of the two-book deal I mentioned above! You can follow my adventures on my website, or drop by on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you Rosie

Some You Tube links to Rosie Rosie reading Donors Card, a poem from Everything Must Go live reading The March Violets

*photograph of Rosie by Rachel Saunders

Doors of perception

I am trying to make sense of Traitor to the Cause. I have not ‘chaptered’ it even though it is a set of events in one persons’ life which will make a whole one day. I have now over 80,000 words, so today I will separate each event and create a separate file for them, it will make finding bits easier. I think it will all be in sequence even though I am writing it as if Vincent (the character) is looking through various boxes of photographs. So it may end up jumping all over the place. In sequence would make it easier for a reader, jumping all over the place more like Vincent sitting in his room just picking up a box. However (unlike me) Vincent keeps detailed records, anyway that is a problem to solve probably around this time next year when all the writing is completed.

Whilst pondering on this Oskar suddenly went mad outside, which usually means someone is at the gate and I have to go and save them from his totally manic jumping up at them. When I opened the kitchen door I saw this –


I had no idea the lamp-post bent over for checking. What seemed solid was not. Makes sense really, but made me think how important a sudden change in perception is in writing.

Wasn’t it Raymond Chandler who said if you are stuck in the plot have someone walk into a room with a gun. It is a good metaphor and one which I like about the books of Iris Murdoch. She used this technique where you would read about a group of people who would have relationships, develop their careers or families, have issues of faith both in God and politics, then suddenly an event would happen like the violent death in The Book and the Brotherhood, which calls into question all the characters’ beliefs and relationships. She uses her novels to investigate questions of moral philosophy, but whether it is this sort of novel or a sparse thriller the effect is the same. Sometimes we need to jerk the reader from what they think they know and expect.

In Traitor I am doing that by using a lot of real people amongst the stories (I will probably end up being sued if ever it is published I am sure). Hitchcock used this device in his films, it was how he disturbed the viewer, took them off guard.

Saturday Photograph


Today’s photograph was taken at 10.45am, on a sunny, mild Spring day. It is through the window I photographed and appeared in my blog from a few days ago Punk Puritanism (, a derelict kiln factory, wouldn’t it make a wonderful sculpture studio…

That’s it for today but look out next week for an interview with the legendary performer, poet and lead singer of The March Violets, Rosie Garland (aka Rosie Lugosi) who has a new novel The Palace of Curiosities out now!




This is my favourite teapot, photographed at midday on a sunny mild day.

It is some sort of steel, pressed out to make it look like a fancy china one. The handle and knob on top are made I think of Bakelite. From what I can work out it has been in the family since the 1930’s and more than once was scheduled for throwing out, I have saved it a number of times. It was the teapot we used at the caravan my parents bought in about 1960 at Llysfaen near Colwyn Bay on the North Wales Coast, and features in one of my poems. When we were there we drank Gold Crown tea, which was from Liverpool and unavailable in Stoke-on-Trent. It was perfectly matched with the local water.

Why this one? I have a few others, a Royal Albert china teapot decorated with pale pink roses; a cream coloured Wedgwood one; a traditional round brown teapot. I used to own a deep brown teapot  which held nearly 20 cups, useful when descended upon by many people. But none have brewed tea quite like this one, especially when it hasn’t been cleaned out for a couple of months. I rinse it out, but only clean when the strange filter gets too bunged up, then for a short period the tea tastes different.

I remember getting some builders in at my old house, they literally had to raise up a corner which had dropped due to a very old pipe cracking underneath. These two were well into their sixties, never seemed actually to work, but got the job done in time. They could talk about anything and everything and when my mother visited us had long talks about Stoke-on-Trent in the 30’s and 40’s, they told me they had built the original dressing rooms at Vale Park. They had a teapot with such a build up inside you only had to pour water in to get a cup of tea!

People look quite oddly at me for still using a teapot. Everyone seems to make tea in a mug/cup, that to me is one of the pointers towards the end of civilisation. Tea needs to breathe and brew, I don’t like very strong tea, but I like flavour.

My teapot is a part of me, whenever I go away I miss it, in fact I have been known to take it with me! Now writing this has made me want another cup, so sorry to the pottery industry my use for decades of a steel teapot has meant that I am not regularly buying new ones, you can blame the decline of the pottery industry on my shoulders, but this is the one for me, if I had one of those funerals where objects are put alongside the dead to take to another world, this would be one of them!

Not much to say today…


Not much to say today.

I’ve written that before in this blog, or nothing to say, and put up a photograph taken on the day or as in the last few days, some old ones. Living on my own there is loads to say and for 99.9% of the time no one to say it to, hence the sub-line of this Blog – it’s better than talking to the dog.

I had not noticed the power of that phrase, ‘not much to say today’ until I read it in a blog that I follow.

What does it mean?

Do our perceptions take a break?

Do our thoughts think just about whether to buy green or orange washing up liquid?

Our minds continue a dialogue within ourselves even when we are asleep. Do those people who go in for intense meditation really reach a state of emptying their mind of that voice, or is a voice just telling them all the other voices have left the building!

For those of us who are writing stories those voices are invaluable, various parts of our mind are telling us things from memory, from experiences, from our senses and on good days these gather together, mesh together and we can create our couple of thousand words for the day!


So meandering on with not much to say brought some thoughts along about Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. Reading it was one of the great experiences of art in my life, a second reading confirmed that. However I was thinking about how it could be written today. It was a motif for the sickness of Europe before the First World War, the characters were living apart from the world on a Swiss Alp, their lives internalised and community self centered. Now, the multitude of characters would have access to phones, internet and a myriad of personal devices, their lives would not be dominated by the petty squabbles and long conversations over second breakfast, but by external forces, quite the opposite of the original. So if trying to get the same feel as the original today one would have to begin – “We have no signal!”.

They would then have plenty to say to each other.


Today’s photographs are taken at the back of the flat. Spring is now coming, these were taken at midday, a mild, breezy and interchangeably sunny day.