Mountain Wilderness






Thumbs up – more great responses to ‘Thumbs’

Obviously, there is no ‘amazon blurb’ for this YET!

There are many dragons, a young girl who is a thief, another big thief and his helper, a nasty Duke with a palace, a young illuminated manuscript scribe who works in a library with a nasty boss, a girl residing within a dragon, gargoyles, an abbess in an abbey, soldiers, battles, dungeons…it’s got the lot!

The book got a ‘Thumbs up’ (‘scuse appalling pun!) from Book Circle, despite the fact that it wasn’t a favourite genre of some members (no one thought it was ‘beastly’).

Many of us thought it would also make a tremendous film, or animated film.

Everyone enjoyed the actual story and would be avidly awaiting the sequel, which we people were pleased to hear was in the pipeline.

There were many instances of writing which were very pleasing to the ear.
One of my favourite passages was:

‘Hidden from the harshness of the day’s sun at the back of the Dragon’s Claw, dark deals are done every day.  A package changes hands across one of the tavern’s tables’.

It was more like poetry than prose with its use of repeated sounds (alliteration, consonance and assonance spring to mind from my dark and distant English Lit-studying past).

We liked the fact that Fee’s female character was strong and a little cheeky and Book Boy’s was rather more sensible and sedate. If written in past decades, we felt the two characters would have been ‘t’other way round’, and whilst not exactly wanting the young female readers to use Fee’s thieving ways as a role model, it was refreshing to have a lot of the action led by the feisty female character.

We all want signed copies when it’s published, Andy!

São Paulo Rain

I was digging through my notes and found this piece of travel writing from a business trip a couple of years ago that I had totally forgotten  about. I had arrived early for a week of meetings and found myself, unusually, with time on my hands to explore. São Paulo is a megacity and from my hotel, all I could see were tower blocks and antennae disappearing into the smoggy distance. The business district had very little to offer for a sightseer but I couldn’t let that put me off.

São Paulo. A local bar.

Sunday, in one of the rare low rise areas in this business centre. I look inside and see children laugh at the joy of being centre of attention, friends put the world to rights and call others to see what they’re up to later, young women gesture intently and pull back their hair or point at each other as they talk and eat. There are groups gathered at the outside tables and someone juggles oranges, while someone washes down the sidewalk. Couples ignore each other while they tear their food apart or kiss hungrily without pausing for breath. The traffic thunders through the intersection behind me; there is a water shortage but enough petrol to put thousands of cars on the road and dozens of helicopters into the sky.
The food beckons and smells rich with garlic so powerful that it reaches the other side of the street. The waiters smile and compare notes and reprisals as they dance between the bar and the tables in their whiter than white tunics with frothy beers in small tumblers, replenished without asking. I take a table. There is the chatter and clatter that marks out any great restaurant, because the atmosphere brings out the best in people. The sounds are peppered with a lone, jarring, American accent as he tells her how great he is, mistaking volume for passion, instead of listening to her. A football match plays silently on a screen like a big green cartoon as the local team wins half-heartedly.


The waiter brings me the idiots menu and still don’t understand what’s there and I’ve forgotten everything but “Agua” and “Obrigado” and smile and nod and wonder if it’s okay to say “Bem” or “Bom”. Instead, I stick to my best Idiot English and he brings the frothy beer. I have a wonderful view from the corner of the room, close enough to the open doors to hear the world roar past and to take pleasure in the jokes that I cannot understand. My food arrives and I have ordered enough to feed a small army.

A few minutes into this carbfest it grows dark outside and a rainstorm bursts out of nowhere. I am glad, the prophecy was that if I wandered alone I would be mugged or get wet. Wet is better.

Cleverly placed plastic sheets appear like magic and screen the patrons on the pavement who can still sit in the relative cool and stay dry. They are oblivious to the downpour.

I make only a small dent on the many dishes and eat until I am so full I can barely move. I settle the bill, embarrassed that I have no small change to make the tip meaningful. The waiter seems to understand this part of my Idiot culture and is philosophical but returns to the bar to plot his revenge with the others.

I know that I should head back across the road but I am, as always, distracted by the television, a Sunday evening extravaganza that looks like a dizzy blend of pop music, travel journalism, celebrity interviews and about a hundred scantily clad dancing girls, all presented by a man who looks like he’s very close to his fifth heart attack. Even without the sound on I know that it is a concoction of sheer brilliance and the girls smile and hope for that man to drop dead on camera to make it all worthwhile. It will give them a moment of fame that being groped by him has yet to provide. Keep smiling.

I can’t stay.

I have to run the gauntlet, dodge the many cars and muggers. There’s something very tempting about the cooling rain and I don’t have far to go.

And I had the foresight to bring a hat to Brazil.

February 2016

Tiamat the dragon


In Ancient Babylon, Tiamat is a symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos and often identified as a sea serpent or dragon.

She takes on the form of a massive sea dragon and brings forth monsters, including the first dragons, whose bodies are filled with “poison instead of blood”.

She is slain by the storm-god Marduk.

“And the lord stood upon Tiamat’s hinder parts,
And with his merciless club he smashed her skull.
He cut through the channels of her blood,
And he made the North wind bear it away into secret places.”



A lizard-headed diety.


An Ancient Egyptian deity represented as a human with a crocodile head, associated with power, fertility military prowess and healing.

Sobek’s fierceness warded off evil and defended the innocent.

Specialised priests served Sobek as “prophet of the crocodile-gods” or “one who buries of the bodies of the crocodile-gods of the Land of the Lake”.

 The temple at Kom Ombo was called the “house of Sobek”.

Crocodiles are reptiles that belong to the group ‘crocodilians’, large animals with long, lizard-like bodies with short pairs of legs and long snouts, tough, scaly hides and sharp teeth.

The reviews are still flooding in…

“Just finished Thumbs and…headline is I absolutely loved it!
Cracking pace, lovely characterisation and a really rich, visceral and believable reality.
A right page turner, and an immersive and involving world. Lovely job! “
Dan Parkinson – Brand Strategist, London

“Well done. Its such a great story well written.”
Debbie – Education & Literacy Consultant, West Sussex.

“You’ve rewritten it? But I liked the last draft! And my younger brother loved it, too.”
Sam – Creative Director, New York.

“Correction. “Bloody loved it.””
James – IT Consultant, London

…and finding a silver lining amongst the rejection letters…

“We enjoyed your writing…”

“I was intrigued by the concept…and I’ve enjoyed reading. I really feel that you write well …some of your descriptions are lovely!”

(Please add “But…” at the end of these.)