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Monthly Archives: March 2021

office dog

Every office needs one of these.

Another example of sleeping dogs and what we should encourage them to do.

Little Blade

Nearly got a workable draft. Should be done with it in a few days.

Then I’ll let it sleep for a few months. Enjoy the summer. Work on something else. I’ll return to it later in the year for the big redraft.

It’ll be out in 2022.

Mr. G

I spotted my old PE teacher, Mr. G, again the other day.  He was walking down a street near where I live. I think he lives nearby.

When I was a kid he seemed to be a huge, hulking figure, he was as tough as oak roots, with a beard and a gnarly Glaswegian accent. He ruled the lessons through his sheer presence – he controlled thirty teenage boys in a lesson that might involve football, rugby, cross country running or even ‘pirates’, a game that would be highly illegal today and would get the teacher sacked on the spot. He had presence, and his toughness was legendary, he had hands like shovels, and we’d heard numerous stories of him getting in nightclub fights on weekends. He was uncomprising bordering on brutal, but we always knew he was fair and we loved him.

Seeing him in the street, I realised that he must be in his late 60s now, and I’m as tall as him, though perhaps my hands aren’t as huge as his, but still, I wouldn’t dare speak to him. I’m afraid that if I did introduce myself, he’d look me up and down with his furrowed brow, and say, “James Ross, aye, ah recognise you. You were an idiot then, and you’re an idiot now.”

I dare say he’d be right.


sleeping dogs

Lishman veers more towards conspiracies than me. He sees the lockdown as part of the great reset* and our willingness to embrace the lockdown is a sign of cultural weakness. I’m not convinced. I think the English, on being presented with a crisis of one sort or another, just shrug, mumble, ‘ok then’ and do whatever needs to be done, while getting on with their day.

It don’t mean we’re cowed, or weak, or even that we’re easy-going, it’s simply means that we’re pragmatists. We do what needs doing, when the need (or the opportunity) arises. Commentators go on about or our supposed obsession with The War,  but they forget that we kicked Churchill out of office the moment war ended. Likewise, despite decades of propaganda, we kicked out the bureaucrats of the EU the moment we got the chance. We aint sentimental.

Despite our seeming docility, we can be ruthless. A guy I know who served in an elite Norwegian special forces unit said of his counterparts in other countries, that the Americans were extremely tough, likewise the French and the Australians, but that the English were the most friendly. Then he added that the English were also the ones most likely to take you out with a sharp knife, without the least fuss, and smile at you as they did.

I suspect that our attitude to lockdown is part of the same behavioural trait. We’re descendents of vikings, the archers of Azincourt, and the Tommy at Mons, but given the choice, we’ll choose our home comforts.

We’re sleeping dogs, and we like it that way.



*I do think Bill Gates’ desire to seed the air with chalk dust is next level-stupid (though I’m going to use that general idea as a plot point in a story I’m writing – the uber-nerd in the story is going to drop graphene, not chalk, however). Volcanoes do that sort of thing as a matter of course, and they usher in terrible winters, crop failures, and mass-starvation. But in proposing this, Gates is gulty of good old-fashioned hubris, not conspiracy.


oh dear

Sunshine, no wind, mild temperature: planned to cycle to Jarrow to meet Lishman for a Greggs coffee (the luxury!) and a chat.

Then, asthma.

Grrrr! I’m plagued with stupid shit.

I’ll get out later.



Yesterday I was thinking, does a story exist independent of me discovering it and writing it down? I tried to persuade myself yes. I tried to persuade myself that I’m just a mapmaker in an unknown world, recording terrain that already exists, discovering a world already inhabited.

But no, it’s not that.

Neither is it simply that I’m inventing stuff from scratch, stuff that never existed before. It’s something else altogether.

Schrödinger’s novel. It exists and it doesn’t exist. My writing it down, or not writing it down, simply proves that fact.


I was struggling to widen the narrative with book I’m working on, Little Blade, the second book in the Jago trilogy. There’s a linear progression, it makes sense, and the ending works, but I didn’t feel it had enough depth, enough detail as to the whys and the wherefores.

So I paused, and began to discuss the characters with myself. Where, or indeed, who, is the centre of balance?

I’ve almost ready to answer that question, and when I do, I’ll be able to complete a more complete draft than the rough one I have right now.

new note

I drove down to Leeds today to pick up my alto sax, Miyagi, after it had been serviced by Ollie C. It’s a battered old thing but it sounded great, and it was the first time I’d blown a note in months, so a double win.

I. Can’t. Wait. to play again.

I’ll have to be careful though, cos I know there are people who would fine me lots of money for playing music in public that makes people feel good.

He’s back, and all ready to go.


It’s taken a year but I think the lockdown is finally beginning to affect my sleep. It’s not that I cant get to sleep, it’s more that I keep waking up. There’s not enough stimulus in my day to process, therefore no reason for me to dream, and I keep bobbing up to the surface.

Roll on the end of LD.

Good news: the archery club is starting up again next week. Then the brekka club begins to meet. And busking will begin within a month, hopefully, though my sax is currently in Leeds being serviced.

Then maybe I’ll do enough during the day to require sleep at night.


I’ve got a very rough draft of Little Blade completed and at the moment I’m re-sequencing the chapters. Essentially it’s a bridging novel the middle book in a trilogy, between the first, Jago and the third, Harm’s Way, and it has to tick certain boxes while also setting up the terms of the final book.

It also has to stand as it’s own story.

The story is constructed of twin narratives based around the character of Jester Scout. The first narrative is set in present-day, and describes his recovery from an almost fatal attack, and his struggle to decide whether to stay in this comfortable world or go back to his home and be with his people. The second narrative tells of his childhood as a foundling and how he grows to be the person he is now. There’s also an ongoing discussion, in both parts of the story, of Jester’s personal darkness, which developed as a result of his trauma. Jester is not a good guy, and he’s not bad, he’s dangerous but loyal, and there’s an ongoing debate about which aspect of him dominates, the dark or the light.

The two narratives meet at a certain point, I’ve pretty much got the end written, and it’s probably going to be a coda to the novel itself. I dunno. Maybe. I have a few chapters I might discard too, and other chapters that need further development.

It’s fun, sequencing the major points of a story, spotting holes, spotting plot points that can be discarded. When it’s done, the editing will proceed. Then repeat until finished, or at least until it’s ready to be abandoned.