I reached the grand age of sixty.

I know I’m hardly any different to how I was yesterday, but it still feels a bit weird.  We shall see how things progress…


Even Faster

I’m into the last two weeks of my fifties and it’s more than a little scary.  In a week and a half’s time I will turn 60.

I’ve been dreading this for months, but now it’s almost upon me I just want to get it over with in a way that involves the minimum of fuss.

It’s funny, I look in the mirror and see the grey hairs.  I feel the aches and twinges that never used to be there.  I know that, factually, this is my age.  But my mind feels more creative than it ever has before.  Admittedly, my forgetfulness is pretty bad at times, but that aside I still feel excited about new projects and ideas.

I hope the creative side of me never falters.

Drawing and Painting

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing and painting lately, most of it digitally using Photoshop and sometimes ArtRage.  It often feels like the perfect accompaniment to my writing and at others it can be a little bit of a distraction, but I feel that my artistic skills are improving all the time and the temptation to spend a lot of time on it is almost irresistible.  Still, being professional means concentrating on the paying work as a priority and I’m thankful that I have the ability to do that.

However, here’s a picture I did just yesterday, based on the view from our bedroom window.

Mist in Pocklington 2

Mist 3s

Happy New Year!

I’ve been neglecting this blog again and as I’m rapidly approaching sixty I think it’s way beyond time to begin updating more often again.

So, let me start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

New Year 2017-18s

A bit of an eyeful


My right eye has suddenly reminded me of why I started this blog and I shouldn’t neglect it like I do.

I’ve always been a bit funny about my eyes, protective of them in strong ways because I’ve always been convinced that the majority of what makes me a writer and artist is in the way I see things.  So I’ve always updated my glasses regularly and the thought of wearing contacts has always made me shudder.  I like that my glasses are a small barrier in front of my eyes.

Then, on Sunday evening, after attending a lovely family barbecue in the afternoon, this huge, weird floater appeared in my eye and stayed in the centre of my vision, wafting about strangely as I moved my eye about.  All kinds of horror thoughts went through my mind so the first thing on Monday I phoned up the doctor for an emergency appointment and after seeing me she phone up the eye clinic at York hospital and got me an appointment that afternoon.

It was quite a bit of a wait for everyone who attended, but most took the delay very well.  Except for one little boy who said he was bored, to which his mother replied, “Well, let that be a lesson not to poke your toys in your eye again.”  I guess some kids need to learn to be protective of their eyes the hard way.

The doctor who eventually saw me was very thorough with his examination and declared that there was no damage to the retina, which was a huge relief, and that I had something called Posterior Vitreous Detachment.  This is where the gel inside the eye pulls away from the retina and creates this strange floater.  Apparently most people get this at some point in their later years and it rarely leads to anything more serious and usually settles down fairly quickly.  I just have to put up with this floater until it does so.

I know I’m no longer young, but this feels like a harsh prod with a pointed stick to point out that my body is beginning to get old even if my mind doesn’t feel like it is.

Beyond the personal reminder that I must look after myself better, I’m also fully aware of the importance the NHS plays in all our lives and how much worse off we’d all be if it were gone.  Which makes me angry that the Tories and their cronies are doing their best to destroy it and our lifeline to a healthy future.

I dread to think what I would have done if there was no NHS and my eye condition had been more serious than it is.


A little bit Ziggy



David Bowie is dead.


Both my heart and mind are struggling with this fact.  How can he be dead when I have a new album to listen to?  How can he be dead when all I see online this week are posts that link to his many powerful performances?  How can he be dead when he’s been an important part of my life for nearly forty three years?

I never met him and only saw him perform live once, but, like many other people throughout the world, as this week has proved, David Bowie is a dear friend who had no knowledge of my personal existence.  A friend who spoke to me intimately with every song he wrote.


In 1973, my parents bought a record player for the first time ever.  I was fifteen and had hardly given music any thought.  I was aware of the stuff they played on the radio, but just as background, and knew that friends talked about music without connecting to anything they said.  Until this point I’d been more interested in the Apollo Moon landings and reading science fiction.

With a record player in the house, here was a new toy to play with.  But what should I buy?

Initially, I think I only chose Life on Mars? because of the title’s science fiction implications, only realising later it was about something very different, yet the music and lyrics drew me in and my love of Bowie began.

At first it was a slow burning relationship.  The next two singles I bought were Stuck in the Middle by Stealers Wheel and Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group, which was the start of my eclectic taste in music.

Then a few weeks later, while on a family holiday, I spotted the Space Oddity album and bought it immediately, even though I couldn’t play it until we all returned home.  Again, the implication of science fiction teased me, along with an interest in hearing more by this man.  This was a time, of course, before the internet and the only way to hear music you wanted was by luck on the radio, by owning the records or by having friends who owned them.

However, being shy back then, I didn’t have many friends and none of them had any Bowie records.  But curiously, I found myself making more friends in the coming months through a mutual interest in Bowie’s music.  I think it’s fair to say that in this respect alone, he had a life-changing impact on my life.

More albums were added to my collection – The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane; all brilliant, all so different from each other.  His almost eclectic approach to music seemed completely fitting.

My love of his music was both fulfilling and left me yearning for more (even now, this is true) to the point where, when Diamond Dogs was released, I got to the record shop just as they were opening the delivery and my copy was the first out of the box.  I was the first of my friends to buy it.  I think I played it virtually non-stop for months and it still remains one of my favourite albums.

Plenty of people claimed to hate Bowie at that time and I was laughed at for wearing T-shirts with his image on or for having my hair cut in the Ziggy/Aladdin style (though sadly not dyed orange), yet I enjoyed the fact that these people didn’t like the same music as me.  And in spite of my shyness I had a way to be a tiny bit extrovert – I could be a little bit Ziggy.

My musical tastes developed and broadened – Pink Floyd, Queen, Alex Harvey, for example – but Bowie kept delivering the goods with more variety.  Young Americans, Station to Station, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters were all excellent in their own ways.  New lyrical styles and a number of instrumental pieces saw him develop as a songwriter and a musician.

In spite of this, and although he wrote a number of great songs, Bowie didn’t put together an album that felt like an album (as opposed to a collection of songs) until Outside came along in 1995 and suddenly the old magic was revived again.  An album to compare with the likes of Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs in its conceptual themes.

It felt like my friend had come home to me and the cooling of my love for his music and lyrics had never really left at all.  It still burned like a beacon.

It’s now over twenty years since Outside was released and we’ve had a number of other excellent albums since then.  I’ve been dabbling with musical compositions during this time and I’ve become a professional writer, neither of which would likely have been possible without the ongoing influence of a man who came from humble beginnings yet had such powerful visions that he shone like the star that he is and always will be.

I’ve only listened to the new album a few times since it was released, but already I find that the title track, Blackstar, is lodged in my mind.  And I love that a Bowie track still has the power to do this.  It is a very fine last album.

David Bowie is dead.

I am sad but still so in love with his music.  When I see the wonderful outpourings of love on the internet this week, I realise I have millions of friends who I will likely never get to know or even meet, but our mutual interest in the music of Bowie will always bind a little part of us.

In some ways I’m still the shy teenager who bought Life on Mars? but I’m also much more than that.  And today I’m also feeling a little bit Ziggy.

Thank you, David.


Moss Garden_s2
Moss Garden (for David)