As a teenager, it became quite apparent to me and many others that I would probably become a wordsmith rather than a musician. Clearly, playing the first few chords of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water on a borrowed guitar would not suffice. Frustrating yes, but it still didn’t stop me from always dabbling with music when I had the opportunity. That will never stop!
In the mid-1980s I was reunited with an old mate, Mick Magic as he endearingly calls himself. We had previously met in the 70s as teenagers in a first-floor coffee lounge called Galini’s in Camberley at the top of the High Street. It was at a time when we considered ourselves to be the new Bohemians. Poetry was our currency and music, a vital backdrop. Alan Guest, Sean Duffy and Jeremy Goodwin are other writers who I remember frequenting the smoky haze after all the pubs had shut for the night.
By 1987, Mick had married the lovely Shona, and they had teamed up with Jay and Kate to form Magic Moments at Twilight Time (MMATT). Their music was unique, keyboard, synth and some guitar. On some tracks, sound effects with quirky voiceovers by an animated three-eyed alien baby called Albert. "What?"
I first saw them playing live by chance at the White Hart pub in Frimley and followed them around for the next couple of years.
In the following months, I formed a collaboration with Mick and Shona who had expertly set a number of my poems to music on cassette tape. The Wedding, Preconception and A Short Time Beside You, with the latter being performed live on stage at the Green Peace Festival in Surrey in September 1987.
The whole experience inspired me to get involved with music a bit more and along with keyboard maestro, Paul Wells, I formed a partnership to form Leviathan. We were short on numbers, and even secured the services of a shop-front mannequin to make it look like we had a female singer. The project was very short-lived, but we did go on to get some great reviews for our EP cassette War Torn and Ravished. Local pop columnist Adrian Creek even compared us to Tangerine Dream in his weekly Pop Scene slot in the Aldershot News, the best-selling local rag at the time.
As an aside, in 1988, one of my few songs, The Unheard of War was performed; live at the St Jame's Tavern, in London's Picadilly by the Irish trio Giro Junction. Sadly, all three members, Tommy, Joey and Lee have all since passed away.
Getting back to MMATT, I remember waking up on New Year’s Day 1988, at Mick and Shona’s place in Farm Court, Frimley. It was a surreal morning following a party that had gone on to the early hours with a number of us drunk and badly hung-over souls scattered across the wine-soaked front room floor.
That was the morning I knew my life had to change for the better. (I still doubt if it ever did!)
Since the 1980s, most recently as Magic Bullet, Mick has valiantly kept the band’s music alive with recent digitisations. It can now be easily found across the internet today.
“Here, give this one a try, I think you'll probably like this, the gentler side of the Bullet...” Morning Mist Over Parrox Hall Farm
out Mick's website @ MickMagic.net
4 February – 8 April 2021
Due to the current Covid19 situation, it has become increasingly clear that I will be unable to host a physical book launch and signing for ‘Jude & Bliss’ anytime soon. Nothing like a friendly gathering in a cosy pub, with a crowd of good people, as previously.
However, with this rapidly increasing age of the internet and modern technology, the way books are marketed is changing. Unlike conventional book tours, a blog tour is a virtual tour on several relevant blog sites hosted by professional and renowned book critics, whose opinions and Amazon/Goodreads reviews, often dictate what happens to books in the international sales and rating charts.
A virtual book blog tour consists of lining up a series of book bloggers to spotlight and/or review a newly released book and conduct author interviews during a time frame that corresponds with the release of a title. It is, as the name suggests, the internet version of an old-fashioned, in-the-flesh book tour.
Independent authors, like myself, are finding this comparatively new concept of book promotion quite valuable. It is hoped this will give ‘Jude & Bliss’ some extra exposure. I wrote it, I published it, and now I owe it to myself to get as many people as possible to know about it!
- The Writing Desk
11 February - Candlelight Reading
18 February - Let Your Words Shine…
25 February - Oh look, another book!
4 March - The Whispering Bookworm
11 March - Zoe’s Art, Craft & Life
18 March - The Historical Fiction Blog
25 March - Historical Fiction With Spirit
1 April - B for Book Review
8 April - Emma Lombard’s Official Blog
Many people believe writing is only for authors, journalists, poets, bloggers etc., but it is there for all and if you suffer from a mental health issue, it can help. I have touched on my need for the therapeutic use of writing since I was around fifteen years old and most recently amplified this during the current coronavirus pandemic on local radio. I believe we all come into life as potential writers and, as that famous saying goes, everyone does have a book in them, even if it is just their own story.
Writing is beneficial because it can be therapeutic. Writing can harness our thoughts and feelings and act as a filter for the parts inside our minds, which we may choose, or not, to share and discuss.
Most of us speak in jingles, not complete sentences. In conversation, we are often interrupted. Whilst writing, we can, through creativity and imagination, complete a sentence and ultimately a whole story or poem. You will feel a sense of achievement or self-satisfaction—something you may not realise in everyday life, for example.
Writing is an escape from reality. It has many genres and styles and is *FREE*.
You may not think you are a writer. Don’t worry. Practice! You don’t even need to share your writing. Write a letter to yourself. Invent a character. They will become your friend.
By writing, you will discover your inner self. You will find yourself speaking through your written words via an alternative dimension. You will even become the protagonist in your own story. In a sense, you will discover who you really are. When writing, you will believe some other entity is controlling you. You will discover this is your sub-conscience, your creative soul inside you!
You can choose your comfort zone. Explore the genres until you find the one you want. If you don’t have the confidence to speak out loud, either to just one person or a crowd, writing will give you the vehicle to move forward. You can become an expert on your chosen subject by writing non-fiction. You can become the master of an invention by choosing to become a fiction author, for instance.
What you write will become your identity, especially if you decide to publish. It will give you self-esteem and give you a healthier mind, body and spirit connection. You will find yourself creating a strong relationship between your inner profile and your body’s outward movement.
We all have emotions; a large number of us suffer from mental health issues. There are fears and worries, even memories that cause, stress, anxiety and depression. Writing can steer us away from these and offer some much-needed respite from our day to day demons.
Writing can be a career or just a part-time hobbyist occupation. It can be incredibly powerful when wishing to express yourself. Embrace it and remember, writing is therapy, and it could just save your life!
Did you know Mal runs a FREE low key ‘Writing as Therapy’ workshop? If you would like to learn more, send an email to email@example.com
Anyone who has read 'Jude & Bliss' would have seen the reference in my author note to Emily Jane Popejoy, a young girl from Bagshot, Surrey who left her family home to take up a position in domestic service at a prestigious address in Victorian London.
I first became aware of Emily’s plight in 1994 when I visited the Surrey Heath Museum’s stand at the annual summer fayre in Bisley. The story somehow stuck and eventually proved to be the inspiration behind my latest novel.
Emily Jane, known locally as just Jane, was the sixth child of George Popejoy, a carpenter, and his wife Rose, of Jenkins Hill, Bagshot. Like many young girls across the country, on leaving school she went into domestic service, eventually taking a position with a Mrs Camilla Nicholls at 14 Pitt Street, Kensington in 1896.
It was clear I could never fully base my new book on Emily's 19th-century situation. The real facts were unclear and there were also the moral implications to consider. I had to respect her immediate family and their descendants, as well as her legacy which is now a strong part of Surrey folklore.
‘Jude & Bliss’ draws on the worst-case scenario, indeed, during my research, I discovered numerous young girls and women had suffered abuse and had even died at the hands of their employers. Fortunately, but far too late for some, government legislation was put in place just after the turn of the century to prevent further exploitation by those employing domestic servants. 'Jude & Bliss', is just one girl's tragic story. BUY NOW
As stated in the synopsis, ‘Jude & Bliss’, is NOT for the faint-hearted.
Pic: Emily Popejoy's grave & memorial at Bagshot Cemetery
I was very saddened to learn of the passing of fellow Woking author, Toby J. Cole early in September this year. Toby leaves behind a wife and three adult children.
Toby Cole and I never formerly met; however, we did correspond via email and social media and he kindly afforded me a complimentary copy of his debut novel, Beyond the Pales back in 2014. The book is a crime thriller set predominately at Brookwood Cemetery, and in and around Woking, Surrey. Toby who lived near me in Knaphill also penned a collection of short stories entitled The Assassination of Hilary Mantel.
The Booker Prize winner, Mantel lived in a penthouse at the former Brookwood Hospital in the village, indeed, “just a stone’s throw,” from where Toby lived.
Toby spent the first six years of his working life as a registered nurse before joining the Metropolitan Police. Later in his career, he conducted police mentoring in Iraq and armed protection in Afghanistan. Like myself, he took up story writing after taking early retirement.
If you live in Woking and enjoy reading books set in and around the local area, then Beyond the Pales is for you.
About the book: Why is a Forensic Anthropologist murdered in the largest cemetery in Western Europe? Detective Superintendent Pandora Kingdom needs to find out and fast. As well as battling the killer, she has her own demons to deal with. She lost her arm and leg while police mentoring in Afghanistan. Does she still have the strength for the hunt? Assisted by Steve Bridger, an MI5 agent, Guy Hobbs a History professor and the ghost of the soldier who died when she was blown up. She soon finds out that she has choices to make and needs to know who is really on her side. The killer’s trail leads to a secret research laboratory in Porton Down where the victim worked. Is she following the right trail? What experiments are really going on in the woods there? Why does a police inspector kill himself? and what is the link that leads her back to Brookwood Cemetery, as the body count begins to rise. A cemetery that holds a quarter of a million dead souls holds many secrets. What do an order of Orthodox Monks guard so carefully? What are the fields of graves and mausoleums hiding within them? What is driving the killer on? Pandora Kingdom thinks she knows. Does she have the strength left to risk everything? Or have the parts of herself, left on the dusty fields of Afghanistan, taken more than she can give.
Kirkus Review: A debut crime thriller in which a forensic scientist is found murdered in England’s enormous Brookwood Cemetery. Pandora Kingdom is a talented homicide detective in Surrey, England. She’s also a double amputee, having lost an arm and leg to a bomb in Afghanistan. Over 20 years solving murders, however, has made her a tough, go-to detective, so she’s assigned to the case of Susan Thompson. The victim, a forensic scientist with an interest in body decomposition, was found in Brookwood Cemetery. She was shot in the head and her hands were nailed to a gravestone. At the crime scene, Pandora teams with MI5 agent Steve Bridger, who informs her that Susan researched, among other things, how chemical weapons affect pig corpses (since it’s illegal to use human bodies). Eventually, the investigators learn that Susan was fairly promiscuous - with both men and women - and enjoyed living beyond her means. Large money transfers in and out of Susan’s bank account and a storage unit (filled with strange, telling contents) point toward why someone might have killed her. But as fresh bodies begin piling up, the case assumes greater urgency. Did Susan die for the selling of government secrets, angering a lover or both? Debut author Cole begins this new crime series in a striking locale and imbues the narrative with generous historical and police procedural knowledge. The immediately likeable Pandora thrives in a male-dominated field without being completely humourless, like when she asks, “Are you checking out my wooden leg Mr. Bridger?” There’s also a touch of whimsy in scenes when she speaks with the ghost of a soldier named Daniel Sutton. And while the trope of a promiscuous victim is familiar, Cole handles it with subtlety. The narrative’s main flaw is that the punctuation occasionally slips (“What is with, the red tape?”). These moments don’t detract from a smartly paced tale, however, thick with chilly ambience and some thoroughly shocking deaths. The second volume will be eagerly awaited. A truly instructive debut characterized by heart, wit and restraint.
You can find the book on Amazon HERE