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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Explanation required

December 11, 2017 1 comment

I have just noticed an item on sale on Amazon. This is its description:

‘Motion Activated Toilet Seat Night Light’

 

I kid you not. It begs all sorts of questions, not least, what colour is it?

Categories: General

Christmas

December 9, 2017 2 comments

Thanks to all those who’ve explored Bob Skinner’s distant future in Skinner’s Elves. Last time I looked it stood at 399 on the overall Kindle sales list, a number I find both gratifying and astonishing.

Categories: General

The Man

December 3, 2017 1 comment

Getting in the way of work, yes, even on a Sunday, ‘Versatile” by Sir George I-Van Morrison. He surely is, for on the same day, he released a blues set called ‘Roll with the Punches’, 31 tracks in total. The Man is, not to put too fine a point on it, still fucking brilliant; in fact I’ve never heard him sing better . . . even if he will never be John Coltrane.

This gives me hope, for he was born in the same year as me, on a birthday he shares with my wife.

Categories: General

Elfin

December 3, 2017 2 comments

Thanks to everyone who has sampled ‘Skinner’s Elves’ since it was published two days ago, and thanks also to the generous reviewers.

I note that it’s number 75 in one of the Amazon category rankings. For a short story, that looks pretty good.

Categories: General

Pleased

November 30, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m gratified by the pre-order response to Skinner’s Elves, the Christmas short story that I announced a couple of days ago, and which publishes on Amazon Kindle tomorrow, December 1. it’s only 6,000 words long but it tries to stand convention on its head, by beginning  with a solution and ending with a mystery.

Enjoy. It’s for you.

Categories: General

For those who can’t wait . . .

November 27, 2017 1 comment

I’m happy, and a little surprised if I’m honest, to announce a new arrival that wasn’t even a twinkle until a week ago. With very little encouragement, and with Christmas in mind, I have put together a 6,000 word Bob Skinner short story, set 24 years in the future. Its title is ‘Skinner’s Elves’, and it will be published on Friday, December 1, exclusively as an ebook, in the Amazon Kindle store. It’s available for pre-order now.

It sounds like a story for children, but it isn’t. In a real sense, however it’s a tale about children and the power they have to help us overcome, and to emerge from, the deepest despair.

Categories: General

Anomaly

November 7, 2017 1 comment

The Paradise Papers are great fun, and they’re a welcome break from lunging, almost deniable knee-touching and elected representatives knifing each other. However the tabloids, with one notable exception, seem to be ‘avoiding’ an inconvenient truth. Tax avoidance isn’t illegal. In fact it’s an industry that could as easily be described as Tax Management. The system under which it thrives is put in place by governments, and can be changed at their instigation. So don’t blame Lewis, HM, or the people from Mrs Brown’s Boys. Blame Philip Hammond, George Osborne, Alastair Darling, Gordon Brown and all the Chancellors before them, who developed the tax framework and have been content to live with it.

That exception I mentioned? The Daily Mail, which seems entirely disinterested in everyone else’s story of the day. Could it be that the editor has been warned off by the proprietors? If so, why?

Categories: General, Politics

Secret no longer

October 19, 2017 16 comments

Great day in our house; ‘State Secrets’, the 28th Bob Skinner mystery, is published, officially, in hardback, trade paperback, and ebook formats.

Happy to say it’s flying off the shelf and melting the Internet.

Categories: General

God’s in His heaven . . .

September 3, 2017 Leave a comment

Lunch today with more than a little nostalgia; the Finlay family are back in the Waterside Bistro, Haddington, on the banks of the other Tyne. Jim is there too, in support of his sons, who are the new face of this business. Everything was just like old times, 30-odd years ago, including the quality of the food.

Welcome back, you’ve been missed.

Categories: General

Order, order

September 2, 2017 Leave a comment
Categories: General, Pics

Hear, hear

September 2, 2017 2 comments

Also available to download.

Categories: General, Pics

Bob Who?

August 31, 2017 5 comments

Over the last 24 years I have appeared at more public events than I can remember, in eight nations, on three continents. My favourite part is always the Q&A section when the audience talks to me, rather than the other way around. Beyond a doubt one question has been asked more times than any other, so often that it’s pretty much obligatory at gigs.

‘If Bob Skinner is ever made into a TV series, who do you see as Bob?’

Over the years I have offered many answers. This thing has been going so long that when it started people were talking about Iain Glen as Andy Martin! Sean Connery, Liam Neeson, Idris Elba, John Hannah, (no kidding, Ian) Patterson Joseph, Clive Russell, Iain Glen as Bob Skinner, they’ve all been put out there. For a while I would suggest Peter Capaldi to audiences. Almost invariably they laughed. Then ‘The Thick of It’ happened and they stopped laughing. Mr Capaldi is too old now, so he has dropped off at my list.

To tell you the truth, I’ve never had a favourite. There has never been a stand-out candidate in my eyes. When Skinner did have a close shave with Yorkshire TV, they were thinking of David Morrissey as Bob. That might have worked, but it never happened.

But now, after all these years, I do. The scales have fallen from my ageing eyes.

My ideal Skinner has been around for a while, but nobody has picked him out, not even me, until very lately. Maybe a production company will have the same vision that I have. Step forward Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound . . . in real life, Rory McCann. He’s a big bloke, a genuine Scottish actor, hugely recognisable thanks to ‘Game of Thrones’ and he’s just the right age.

How about it?

Categories: General

Savage

August 31, 2017 1 comment

Finally got round last night to watching the Oliver Stone film adaptation of ‘Savages’, by Don Winslow. (Do not be misled by a book with the same title,  published recently by someone who either didn’t do his research properly, or did, if you get my drift.)

* Health warning *: there is a horrific beginning, and seriously graphic violence throughout. (Oliver Stone does not do subtle.)  That said, somehow it all blends into a logical and very satisfying conclusion. The Blu-Ray includes an uncut version; I chose the theatrical version, but I plan to watch the other, not because I’m a sadist and want even more blood, but to see whether the endings are the same.

‘Savages’ is one of the few Winslow novels I haven’t yet read, but I decided to do the movie version first. Now I will find it difficult to read the original without the presence in my head of the magnificent Benicio del Toro, who steals the film out from under a very fine cast.

Around ten years ago, I read that Robert de Niro had acquired the rights to ‘The Winter of Frankie Machine’, another of Winslow’s ‘surfer’ novels, maybe his best. I thought even then that he was too old for the title part, so it didn’t surprise me when it was never made, but good news, the project has resurfaced, with William Friedkin hired to direct. News also that Fox have bought the rights to ‘Power of the Dog’ and it’s sequel ‘The Cartel’, to be produced by Ridley Scott.

Categories: General

The future?

August 23, 2017 1 comment

On the road in L’Escala this morning I travelled for a while behind a Tesla model S, all-electric, with Dutch plates.

Baking hot morning, but all the windows were open. Was this because the driver had switched off the air-con to save battery power? Whatever it made me wonder about the practicality of electric vehicles as they stand. My bruv-in-law has a Nissan Leaf, and is very pleased with it, but there is little need for air-con in Wooler, and he doesn’t test its range. Great, no doubt, for commuting, as long as the owner has charging facilities at home. But for a journey from Spain to Holland?

Tesla’s site suggests that some configurations can achieve a range of up to 400 miles, at 55mph with the air-con off. Switch it on and go a little faster, make allowances for an extravagant driving style, and that declines rapidly.

I have to admit that I’d fancy one of the beasts myself, but I doubt that I’d be bringing it to Spain. I hope that Mr Hollander has his return journey planned very carefully, and knows exact where the charging points are.

Categories: General

No!

August 17, 2017 3 comments

I’ve just finished the best new read I’ve had this year, ‘Fatal Sunset’, the sixth in a brilliant series of crime novels featuring anarchist Valencia detective, Chief Inspector Max Cámara, the creation of my friend Jason Webster.

I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Jason a few years ago, at Bloody Scotland. We’ve kept in touch and since then I’ve been following his career and that of Max, with great interest. There are three essential elements in crime fiction, location, characterisation and plotting, and Jason scores top marks in all three.

Each of the Cámara novels is a work of art, and there is very little that’s predictable in any of them, but the ending of ‘Fatal Sunset’ took even me by surprise.

Will there be another? Only Jason knows that, but hopefully his ever growing army of fans, will persuade him, and his fortunate publishers, that there must.

Categories: General

Tasteless

July 5, 2017 1 comment

BBC Breakfast this morning made a child survivor of Grenfell Tower cry on camera then broadcast it, with the participation and apparent approval of her father.

The point being?

Categories: General

Empathy

Portugal forest fires: Three days of mourning for 62 victims

Categories: General

The Queen’s (hidden) Message

June 17, 2017 5 comments

HM got it right again. There is a sombre national mood, after the Westminster Bridge attack,  Manchester, London Bridge, and now the Grenfell Tower fire. Tragedies, all of them, occurring against the background of the most divisive und ultimately pointless General Election campaign in living memory.

At a time when we should be drawing together as a nation, we are being driven apart by the continuing political shambles and the petty point scoring that goes with it. That’s why this morning I find myself contemplating the unthinkable.

Nobody wants another election right now. Very few really want to see the Conservative Party doing a cheap deal with the fundamentalist wing of Northern Irish politics to retain a Commons majority. Therefore, given everything that has gone on recently and given what is to come in the near future, I wonder if the time has come to seek stability through a government of national unity, with the Tories and Labour declaring a truce and burying their differences for the period of a five year parliament, tackling the Brexit negotiations as a nation rather than a faction, and pursuing an agenda for all the people not simply for those on whatever side of the political divide comes out on top.

I don’t imagine that Mrs May would head such a government. She’s a busted flush. Neither could Jeremy Corbyn because he didn’t win the seats. But I could see him as deputy Prime Minister, behind a sensible, strong and acceptable Tory leader, for example, Michael Fallon. McDonnell as Chancellor, no. Vince Cable? Maybe. Home Secretary? Boris? Why not?

In five years normal hostilities would resume, but one would hope with the various parties showing more respect for each other than we have seen in the last two months.

Off the wall thinking, I know, but has its time come?

Categories: General, Politics

Update

June 12, 2017 2 comments

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This needs updating; delete ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’, insert ‘Tory’ and ‘Labour’. This year the principle should be the  same.

Categories: General, Pics, Politics

Bye

June 11, 2017 3 comments

I’ve just deleted Facebook from my phone. The thing has become toxic. When you waken up on a Sunday and find a bloke who took the Daily Express shilling for years banging on about pro-Corbyn polls, it’s time to go.

Categories: General, Politics