Thursday, October 31, 2019

Move Close To The Fireplace.

Winter is coming, which it is, and isn't any sort of reference to Game of Thrones.

It's getting colder, the days are getting shorter with dark mornings, and the leaves are falling. I've already had a couple of icy mornings where I've had to scrape the windscreen. Firewood has been delivered, which means the Chateau Cameron is cosy in the evenings, and we're eating more soups and stews than in the warmer months.

Christmas, as a festive season, seems more real here.  Growing up in Australia, Christmas always seemed out of place. I remember watching The Proposition, the Nick Cave film, a few years ago. It's a gritty Australian 'western' and is very much a commentary on the hostile landscape and environment in which the colonists and convicts lived. Here's the thing - they simply didn't belong, and I seem to recall dialogue along those lines. One scene that stands out is the family trying to have a traditional English Christmas lunch in 40c heat while being swarmed by flies. It belongs firmly in winter, and is very much a northern hemisphere festival.

Oh, and that in no way, shape or form suggests I never enjoyed Christmas in Australia.

But once again I am reminded of Marigold by Steeleye Span. (From the Sails of Silver album)

When the marigold no longer blooms
When summer sun is turned to gloom
See the forecast winter snow
See the evergreen that lonely grows
Move close to the fireplace
Neglect the garden
See the ground harden
At a ghostly place
The golden summer sun is silver now
The fruit has fallen from the bough
The season moves to chestnut time
Toffee apples, treacle and mulled wine
Quilts and furs and woolens gay
You wrap around you
But the cold confounds you
On an autumn day
Stout and strong the walls of home and hearth
Curtains drawn against the draft
The rake has reaped, the blade has mown
Nights draw in to call the harvest home
The quiet of a heart at rest
In peace abounded
By love surrounded
Here the home is blest

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Publishing Again.

Did I mention I have a new story coming out? I'm just not sure when.

I sold it earlier this year, and I think I blogged about it at the time. It's a good fantasy story - which isn't a genre into which I delve all that often. I originally wrote it for a themed anthology - unfortunately, I had missed the words "urban fantasy" in the original guidelines, and there was nothing urban about this fantasy. Once the submission period had closed, I realised my error. I emailed the editor, apologised, and asked for the piece to be withdrawn.

At least I looked like a good guy in front of that editor.

It's had some close calls at some really good markets - received positive personal feedback at a pro-market, but never quite got there. Until this sale.

The editor likes it. He told me so. He also suggested it might end up in either an anthology in October, or a magazine in January. Well, it's almost October, and I haven't heard anything, so I guess we'll see it at the beginning of next year.

Keep your eyes out. I'll let you know when it's out.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


As a Beatle freak, I'm sure many expected I would rush to the cinema to see Yesterday, the latest Danny Boyle film. I love a lot of Danny Boyle's work - Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and even caught his stage production of Frankenstein in London.

The cinema is no longer the cheap pastime it once was,  and so I save my trips to the cinema for the spectaculars, those films which need to be seen big. Star Wars movies are a prime example. Unfortunately, everything about Yesterday screamed 'Saturday Afternoon DVD'. I had only seen a couple of reviews, had no spoilers, but the marketing and the one short clip I saw on TV suggested this had little to do with the Beatles.

I waited. And I'm glad I did.

It was pleasant enough, or as Douglas Adams might have said, mostly harmless - a straightforward rom-com with some Beatles music as background. The writer, Richard Curtis, made no attempt to explore the social implications of a world without the Beatles. Even when the main character (and I've forgotten his name) goes to visit John Lennon, they spend seeming hours walking on a beach discussing a quiet life. Not once does he ask if he played music, wrote songs, ever played in a band, knew a guy called Paul. Not once.

Much like the guys in Coldplay, Ed Sheeran seems like a nice guy, but, unfortunately, he can't act. In much the same way Coldplay's music doesn't appeal to me, neither does Sheeran's. His songs are nowhere on the same level as anything by the Fab Four.

I guess my biggest concern was that nothing else in this parallel universe seemed different. While the Beatles didn't create the 60s, they certainly surfed the crest of the wave - appearing as though responsible for much of the change that occurred. But surely there would have been other differences if they never existed.

Would music have developed the same way without their influence?  Remember, at that time bands didn't write their own material, and guitar groups were on their way out.

Another point. Everyone seems to pause when hearing a Beatles song for the first time - overcome by the instant brilliance. Much of the Beatles music is contextual, rooted solidly in the time it was written and recorded. Would those songs still have the same impact if they were new nowadays? And that main guy (still can't remember his name) goes from playing empty pubs to festivals in what seems a few weeks.

Overall, a pleasant little film. Curtis and Boyle could have been more insightful and incisive but chose to play it safe. Not one I'll be adding to my Beatles collection, or ever watching again.