Archive for the ‘Random wifflings’ Category

Happy springtime

Posted: April 10, 2015 in Random wifflings

It’s spring! Blossom on the trees, lambs in the fields, the chatter of birds in the woods and heather, the sun showing his happy smiley face. Predictably, I’ve been miserable. My misery won’t last long, indeed it passes already. Tis only a black cloud that momentarily obscures the shining brilliance of my cheerful personality (note: this is irony). The end of winter always kills me. I love the cold weather, but four months of DARK gets too much, and by the end I am an embittered, scowly-faced hobgoblin that wants to stay in its hole, nurse its beer and spit curses at the world. Some people who know me well might say that’s me anyway. True, but only half the time. Generally, I’m that most peculiar of creatures, a misanthropic extrovert. It’s like being a bloody werewolf, honestly. This time of the year I am the goblin most of the time. So I’ve been sulkily away from the internets, plotting the downfall of the surface folk from the cold comforts of my damp, earthern cave. I don’t think my work patterns help much, all that sitting alone. And it may be that after producing fourteen novels worth of material in five years I have burned myself out a bit. But in truth, this post-winter misery used to be lots worse back in my genuine crazy-ass days (I’ll get round to writing about that). Still, as the sun burns off my entirely self-indulgent woe, I return to you now. And I bring you this by Chuck Wendig, about why so many writers’ blogs are bobbins, including, I fear, this one. I should follow his advice. I intermittently do, when I can’t be bothered. Today is not one of those days.


Terry Pratchett had a big influence on me; reading his work was one of the prods that poked me in the direction of the career I now have, so I’m going to join my voice to that of the rest of the world and mourn his passing.

I remember first being exposed to Sir Terry’s work by reading an excerpt back in the 1980s in White Dwarf. The scene was the one featuring the gnome in moleskin trousers (The Light Fantastic, I think. Aficionados may know better, please set me right if it was The Colour of Magic). I picked up his first two Discworld books on the back of that, and for several years read everything he wrote. Eventually I moved on, simply because I wanted to experience other authors’ voices and worlds. But years after, when I read some of his later books, I was delighted to see that they retained their quality and wit. He did not seem to grow tired or jaded with Discworld, it was an engine of endless creativity and satire, and in that it seemed to be as much a source of delight to him as it was to his readers. (more…)

Haley: The Next Generation V

Posted: February 13, 2015 in Random wifflings
Tags: , ,

On Monday my sister-in-law gave birth to this lovely little lady here.

IMG_2738This is Louisa May Haley, my new niece. May is for my grandma, Louisa just because.

Louisa’s advent signifies two important things. Number one, although I have female cousins, she is the first female Haley in my immediate family. I have four brothers, a son, and three nephews. My mum knitted Garth (Louisa’s father, and the second brother in our family) a full set of clothes in girly pink just before he was born. He was a boy (obviously). She’s taken them out again for each subsequent birth in the family only to put them away again. After 41 years of waiting, our mum finally has someone to give the outfit to. Secondly, together my brothers and I now have five children, and so have reached replacement rate. Our plans to make sure every third person in the north is a member of our clan by 2200 AD proceeds apace.

It’s lovely to have a girl in the family. I can only hope she grows up into a world where women have a lot less nonsense to put up with.


510MnSuGPtL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU02_A couple of years ago I wrote about my youngest, football-mad brother Ralf’s epic quest around Europe to play in just one professional football match, anywhere. He was accompanied by my middle brother Tristan (whose floorboards I spent some time under today, funnily enough. It’s a family thing. We live like borrowers), a film cameraman, who shot the whole enterprise for a documentary – when he wasn’t trying to get them both drunk. Much hilarity ensued.

Although the film is (still) not finished, Ralf has actually managed to complete the accompanying book, and here it is! A very amusing tale of Ralf’s heroic idiocy and somewhat misplaced belief in his own sporting skills, it is available to buy here. Early reviews compare it favourably with Dave Gorman and the like, which is high praise.

Hang on a minute, I’m supposed to be the author in this family, why I oughta…

Ahem. Anyway. If you want to see Ralf in action for real, here’s a repeat of the film trailer. This really is worth seeing.


Last April I wrote a review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  Do the thing and click the words to read it. Yesterday, I went to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. This is the only one of the three that I saw at the cinema. I kind of wish I hadn’t. Partly for parenting reasons; having watched the first two and found them adventurous romps more or less suitable for six-year-old Benny (as with many other 12 certificate films featuring fantasy fights), we took him with us. He loved it, but my wife was quite shocked at how much more violent than the other two it was, and that made me a bit uneasy. There is a shift in tone between films two and three. That’s a failure of judgment on my part, though. It says 12 on the packet for a reason, kids.

Despite my shocking parenting, Benny will be okay. He’s only ever been frightened of Spooky Spoon from the Numberjacks, and not even that any more. I pointed out to Emma that much of our formative viewing experiences were super-violent Westerns, where although the many men that died fell bloodlessly and easily, they still died. Furthermore, such films and shows culturally sanctioned racist violence by celebrating the genocide of the original Americans. No one in fifty years, I think, will pen a post-post-modern retrospective on the unjust portrayal of the orc as Savage Other.

Instead they’ll bemoan the awful CGI said orcs were presented in, but more of that later. (more…)


Well, not in a wonderland. I love Yorkshire, but I draw the line at “wonderland”. But I’m stuck for a header.

Yesterday I was up on the moors in the snow. Very pretty, and delightfully cold. Here’s a picture of Stoodley Pike Monument from Erringden.

IMG_2709

The kind of snow we had looked like that fake stuff they spray on things in films and television. As in this wall here.

IMG_2714

There’s more on the way, so they say. I look forward to it.

Today I went up the other side of the valley, cycling this time, up the Jumble Hole (it’s a valley, or more precisely a gorge – see below) to my parents’ house. I took an inadvisable route and had to lug my bike up a mountainside like Klaus Kinski did with that boat in Fitzcarraldo. Kind of. I wanted a cup of tea when I got to the top, but my parents were out. Ah! The agony of the writer’s life.

I was reading the Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society the other day (it’s more interesting than it sounds). In one article, the Calder Valley is described as a “gorge”. I never thought of it like that before. I suppose it is. It makes it sound much more exciting, and also slightly forbidding. Orcs should live here.