Friday, 9 December 2016

2016 Memoriam: March

1st March 2016 – Louise Plowright, 59

Stage actress who became better known to TV audiences for her role as Julie Cooper in Eastenders.

“Having created the role of Tanya (for which she received an Olivier award nomination) in Catherine Johnson’s Abba musical Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1999, she graduated to leading lady Donna the following year and remained with the show until 2004.In 2006 she was seen as Phyllis in Follies (Royal Theatre, Northampton) and on tour as the Baroness in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, reuniting with Catherine Johnson in 2009 to play the mother in her disturbing exploration of incest and child abuse, Suspension, at the Bristol Old Vic Studio.The same year she appeared in Oklahoma! for Chichester Festival Theatre and White Christmas at The Lowry, Salford.” Michael Quinn, The Stage obit, 8 March 2016

Thursday, 8 December 2016

In Memoriam: February 2016

3rd February 2016 – Mark Farren, 33

Irish footballer who played over 200 league games for Derry City from 2003 to 2012, and won the Irish Cup twice with them. He suffered a brain tumour in 2010, but returned to play football, including a ten goals in fifteen games stint at Glenavon before his cancer returned.

“The word legend is often over used to describe people but in Derry City circles Mark Farren was a true legend.The clubs all time highest goal scorer in the league of Ireland Mark, was an inspiration both on and off the pitch. Mark also played with Finn Harps, Monaghan United and Glenavon, but it is with Derry City that he really made his mark both on the field of play and in the supporters’ hearts. Off the pitch Mark also worked with the Football in the Community group at Derry City, coaching many young people and instilling in them a love for the game and the principles required, at times, to turn their lives around.”
Derry City official website

Monday, 5 December 2016

2016 Memoriams: Alan Rickman

 Alan Rickman, aged 69

 (Justin Hoch [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

“Rickman was one of those actors who brought something special to every film he did — you never got the sense that he was trying to merely get the job done. My usual trick when interviewing actors was to go out of my way to take them seriously — even if the movie or show wasn't all that great, you had to respect their professionalism. Rickman was the only case in which this didn't work for me. Not to take anything away from the other actors, but it was clear with Rickman that he expected quite a bit more. And of course I walked out of the hotel with miles and miles of respect for the man, whose reputation, at that point already massive, only grew.”
Matthew DeBord, Alan Rickman was the toughest actor I ever interviewed – and the smartest, UK Business Insider, 16 January 2016 

Friday, 2 December 2016

2016 In Memoriam: David Bowie

David Bowie, aged 69

(By Photobra|Adam Bielawski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

In Memoriam: January 2016

2016, hasn't it been shite?

I mean, there are people I'd have liked to spend more time on this year, who got a bit lost in the shuffle, because there's over 500 of these...

Year End Memoriams for January 2016 (and a few from 2015 we only found out about once New Year had passed...)

As with years passed, we take the time to remember those who have left us in the previous twelve months.

(Note - All quotes are italicised and sourced to their authors, except Telegraph obits, as they don't credit their own writers. As in previous years, this is a non-profit memorial with quotes used strictly for critique purposes.)

To repeat the drill, for those new to this:

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Loose recipe: Chili Pasta Bake

So, in recent years I've been aiming to expand my cooking capabilities. I come from a long line of good cooks, and I had wondered if I had the cooking genes hidden away. Well, so far, I've yet to kill anyone with my food, and I've advanced from switching on a microwave, to actual meals. Most of which seems to settle around what Sadie likes.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The 100 Greatest Ghost Stories (Part 4)

 The final twenty-five! It's the final countdown! (Oh great, now Shim will be singing Europe for days...)

Anyhow, a whole bunch of stories from The Big Five (James, Benson, Blackwood, Hartley and Burrage) fight out for the top spot, alongside one or two tales by lesser known writers which should be far better known.

The top slot won't be a surprise to anyone who knows me, but there are some fantastic stories in this final list which I heartily recommend.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The 100 Greatest Short Ghost Stories (part 3)

50. Algernon Blackwood - The Willows

There was a radio DJ once, possibly Tiger Tim, who said of the band Big Country that "listening to their music was like someone had opened a window on a drafty day". Blackwood's writing has much the same effect, steeped in the culture and climate of his locations, and so ethereal, that our characters are haunted by the gloomy outdoors long before any spirits appear. Here we never see a ghost, and indeed, we never get a character's name, and yet the anxiety and trepidation build. Our two men take a trip down the River Danube, and find themselves by the Austria/Hungary border. Now this area takes in Slovakia as well, but we're most likely talking about the area running along the border of the two countries south of Bratislava.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The 100 Greatest Short Ghost Stories (part 2)

At these times, I am reminded of the warning words of one M.R. James:

"What tosh, by the way, critics do write. Here I find a passage quoted from one Loveman(2) who says "In Poe one finds (it*) a tour de force, in Maupassant a nervous engagement of the flagellated climax. To Bierce, simply & sincerely, diabolism held in its tormented depths a legitimate and reliant means to the end". This appears to me to have no meaning."
M.R. James, in letter to Nicholas Llewellyn Davies, 12 January 1928, reproduced by Jack Adrian and reprinted by Rosemary Pardoe.

More of my own "tosh" follows...

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The 100 Greatest Short Ghost Stories (Part 1)

There was a problem with writing up a countdown of the M.R. James Collected Ghost Stories. It was akin to open Pandora's Box, when I mentioned it to Mandy, she said "Yeah but he's not your favourite writer, is he?" She Who Must Be Obeyed is of course right, and I alluded to it earlier, but then this made my rather list orientated brain wonder how a ranking of *all* the great short horror I've read would look.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

M.R. James

What a year 2016 has been. Are we still here?

Jon Kaneko-James suggested that I do some Hallowe'en style writing, and, being out of practice due to ill health, I've reverted to the list. It been the October month, I was thinking about ghosts, as you do, and thinking about ghosts drags me, as usual, to M.R. James.

“I assume, of course, that the writer will have got his central idea before he undertakes the story at all. Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage. It is not amiss sometimes to leave a loophole for a natural explanation; but, I would say, let the loophoole be so narrow as not to be quite practicable.”
M.R. James