Nothing says Christmas like rubber eyeballs


Image: Pixabay


It’s a bit late in the day to be writing a blog post. Late for me, anyway.

You see, I’ve been out this morning, trawling the high street, eschweing the decadent comforts of online shopping to rub shoulders with the Great Unwashed, the Great Impolite – the Great ‘Getting in my sodding way when I want a look at that vegan, gluten-free, flavour-free cookbook / rubber eyeballs on that shelf’*. 

Yes, I was Christmas shopping.

It can be a painful experience, can’t it? Especially when you have a couple of really important people to buy for and no idea exactly what they want.

It feels a little like a marathon, or a trek through the wilderness, where, overcome by the weight of novelty slippers in the shape of Darth Vader, chocolates resembling reindeer droppings and boas of tinsel as thick as your arm, you begin to over heat.

The blowers are pumping hot air into every store and you’ve worn your winter coat even though it’s an unseasonably warm December day, and you can’t take it off because you’ve nowhere to stow it. And you become so hot and weary and hassled and distracted by all the lights and tinny carols, you are in serious danger of making some rather poor decisions …

Wonder if Auntie Doreen would like a Russian Roulette game with chilli chocolates. How about a knitted willy warmer for Uncle Fred – just his colours …

Needing sanctuary, I ran for the safe haven of Waterstones, probably the UK’s largest surviving book chain.

I wanted the soft lighting, the dark bookshelves, the low music and hushed voices …

I found a pimped-up bookstore with a sofa-strewn cafe where ‘Science’ and the ‘Arts’ used to be, an entire section selling readers’ accessories (magnifying glasses, bookmarks, tiny lamps you clip to your book or your nose or wherever) and what can only be described as a toy shop attached to ‘childrens’  literature’.

It was bright, lively – humming with people. There was a school trip camped out in the cafe trashing their new carpet with destroyed Lemon Drizzle.

I so longed for the dreary gloom of the old shop.


What do you think of modern bookshops? Is it a shame they have to diversify to survive or do you think there’s no shop that can’t be improved by tea and cake? Do let me know.

*Yes, that’s right – there’s nothing that says Christmas to an eleven year old boy more than a rubber eyeball.

Why this writer needs to be punished

Image: Pixabay 'My God, it's full of stars'

Image: Pixabay
‘My God, it’s full of stars’

I have a terrible thing to confess.

I know, you’re thinking the worst. Murder, arson, wearing socks with sandals and horribly short shorts that ride up between chubby thighs when I run for the bus? Ooh, now there’s an image. Well, you’ll be happy to learn it’s none of these, but it’s pretty serious all the same.

I’m trying to be a Writer. But I’m better at being a Reader, I’ve been doing it a long time and have become quite the dab hand at it. In fact, if they gave adults gold stars for reading, then I reckon I’d have a gallery of them by now, I’m that good. (Why don’t we get gold stars after we leave school? If I had a chart and some lovely, shiny stickers to give out at home, I’m confident I’d never find the toilet seat up again.)

But it’s the way I read books I have to confess.

No, it’s not by E reader. I don’t see that there’s anything to confess about using such devices. We’re all adults here. If we want to consume our books electronically rather than through ink and paper, I’m not going to judge.

I still read books the old fashioned way, but it’s my supply method that’s shameful.


I know. If there was a union for *Aspiring, Sarcastic, Smart Aleck Writers (and I’d bothered to join) I should be drummed out  immediately.

I used to go alot when my son was small. I read to him from when he was four months old, dragging him to our local library ever couple of weeks to pick up a new batch of primary coloured, slightly sticky picture books to inspire him to love reading as much as I did when I was young.

Now he’s eleven and gets his reading kicks elsewhere (birthday / Christmas / pocket money / school). So I don’t go either. I got fed up of not having anything other than James Patterson and Lee Child to choose from (a gross exagerration, of course, but I do find the selection at my local library uninspiring) and there are second hand book stalls to buy from and charity shops and Waterstones always has a buy-one-get-one-with-a-bit-off deal and then The Book People are always sending me emails about their latest sales and I can order from them without leaving the sofa  ….

So, even though I know libraries in the UK may go the way of the dodo and the thylacine, that the government want to dismantle the whole system our philanthropic forebears put in place, even though I’ll be the first to rail against the cuts if our local library is closed … Still, I don’t use them.

When was the last time you borrowed a book from your library? Or do you only use them when you need the loo or to snuggle up to the radiators on icy days?

Am I an evil person who should be forced to read every one star reviewed book in Amazon’s catalogue?**

Here’s an interesting if sad review of the rate of library closures.

*ASSAW – it’s catchy, there’s no denying.

**This review made me laugh out loud. It was so good, I was almost tempted to order a copy … I read the sample pages of the book it’s talking about and my brain nearly fell out. Ah, the joy of self publishing.