Thursday, 29 December 2011


I have just returned from a great break in Bruges.  Imagine being in a country where they brew 1130 different beers, make the most exquisite fries served with curry mayonnaise, and delicious chocolate shops are on every corner.  I thought I had died and gone to Heaven!  Seriously though, for a writer of medieval stories, Bruges is a fascinating place, which has barely changed in hundreds of years.  Due to their conservative nature, the residents of Bruges eschewed the Protestant revolution, and so became a backwater after once being the centre of the cloth trade.  Beautiful old buildings abound, including a complete "beguinage" - the residence of an order of women who chose to live a life in a female community without taking vows as a nun.  Even now, the enclosed district is only available for women to rent.
I also visited Ypres and Ghent, and on Christmas Day made a side trip to a World War One cemetery. It was very sobering to see thousands of small white headstones, many of which had no name on them - simply "A soldier of the Great War".  It was saddening to see all those young men who lost their chance of a life, and reminded me of John Lennon's words - "War is over, if you want it".  I recalled that incident when at Christmas 1914, soldiers from both sides emerged from the trenches and sang songs and played football, only to return to killing each other.  "War is over, if you want it".  If only.

Friday, 2 December 2011


I seem to have written an awful lot recently about matters publishing, so I will provide some personal news.  I have been living in Cyprus for the last seven years, coming originally for the good weather and low cost of living, which stretched my money a little farther.  Since joining the EU, Cyprus costs have been escalating, and although the tax system places a smaller burden on my funds, the benefits are consequently equally small.  I have also come to dislike the summer weather, which is humid and enervating.  It also seems to last longer now than it used to.  I have decided to return to the UK therefore.
My wife and I have had a flat in Hastings for a couple of years, and we are now going to use it as our home base.  The town is lively and full of opportunities, and lies close to Gatwick airport, and London.  It will be a good jumping-off point for other places, when the English weather does not suit.  I will miss a lot of friends in Cyprus, particularly the ones I made through Stage One - the drama group that was my mainstay on the island.  But I have other drama groups to occupy my time in Hastings, and I will return to Cyprus and see the plays that Stage One put while we have our villa there.
As for writing, I am now beginning what I think will be the final Falconer story.  I want to give him a fitting send-off, as he has been my companion for nearly twenty years.  Who knows, though?  Sherlock Holmes came back from the brink (not that I am comparing my meagre talents with Conan Doyle's), so Falconer might also.  The thing is, I made the mistake in the early Falconers of adding a final section that told the readers what happened eventually to the principal characters.  And now I am stuck with it!  Oh well, here goes.