My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


Sunday, 24 November 2013

from 23/11/13 seapenguin

A few thousand miles away from here,  LA poet Wanda Coleman has died aged just 67.  I just read an obituary in the LA Times, which popped up on my timeline - link beneath poem.   It includes comments from her scathing reviews of  some of Maya Angelou's work - for example 'another traipse to the trough'!  Ouch ouch ouch.   I don't suppose Angelou cared.   This is someone whose work I would like to read.   I'm taking the liberty of cutting and pasting the poem from the end of the obituary.  It was written when she was older.  I am older too, and I am always interested in other older people's thoughts.   (As long as they're not dull.  Or even if they ARE dull.  Because then I can think,  that is not how I want to be!)

"Southerly Equinox."
who am i? what am i? are no longer important questions.
knowing that i am is finally enough
like discovering dessert is delicious following a disastrous
meal, a sweetness that reawakens
the palate, or finding that one's chalice is unexpectedly
filled with elixir of euphoria
and i stumble happily into the cornucopia, arms
outstretched, upturned, drunk
my heart athrum, bones full samba. the night
blesses me with his constellations
baptizes me with his deathless autumnal chill
and i invade the moody indigo
full-throated and singing,0,3349194.story?page=2#ixzz2lYvyvYHr

Saturday, 23 November 2013

23/11/13 2 seapenguin

23/11/13 seapenguin

Aldous Huxley

I'm posting a link to this essay in the LA Times.

It's about Aldous Huxley.  I did not know that he died on the same day as JFK, nor that he was injected (at his own written request) with LSD just prior to death.

I don't think I've read much, if any, Aldous Huxley.  I can hardly believe that I'm saying that, given that his name was bandied around by many of the writers and musicians of my youth.  Surely I must have had a crack at The Doors of Perception and Brave New World?   I like the sound of Crome Yellow.  That's next on my reading list.

A trip to the library would be on the cards, if I thought there might be the slightest chance that they'd have any of his books among their rapidly-dwindling stock.  As it is a trawl through the 1p. listings on Amazon will have to do.  I know it's wrong but needs must.

Update  I just learned via this article here that CS Lewis also died on that day!  And someone has recommended a couple of books - Laura Huxley's biography of her husband, and Michael Holroyd's biography of Lytton Strachey, which apparently has a lot of related information.  So I will have a look for those two.

Crome Yellow first though.

Dream of the Week

I had a dream that I borrowed my friend's mobile phone so that I could go on tour with the Rolling Stones.  Keith Richards was fixing mirror tiles to a bathroom in Newtyle and carrying a bag of tools, between gigs.  I stuck my head round Mick's hotel room door and said 'I'm just popping out for half an hour, in case anyone's looking for me.'  He was listening to 'Sway' on a teak stereo, along with a couple of very geeky, studenty-looking blokes.
I was kind of a teenager, yet not a teenager.  I tried to text my friend, to tell her about it all, but couldn't work out how to use the mobile.  I was out on a moor somewhere, and the sky was white.....
That's dreams for you.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Breakfast of the Week - Co-op own brand Fruit and Nut Muesli

You say moozly,  I say mewzly.  This is quite surprisingly good, choc-full (you say choc-ful, and I say choc-full - or perhaps I just stay silent) as they say, of fruit and nuts, and not the Utter bag of Total sawdust I'd expected for £1.79.

However - word of warning.  This might just have been a good batch.

The Nose-dirt Extraction Device (pictured)

I forgot to mention that while we've been on this journey back from Frockall with a trailer-load of orange sheep with false yellow wooden teeth, Geoffrey has been working on a new invention.
"Look Tuppy!  It's a nose-dirt extraction device!  I'm going to patent it when we get back and I'll be rich as Croesus!"
"It's a turkey baster," I stated flatly.  "In fact, it's OUR turkey baster.  And I don't want it sticking up people's noses extracting dirt willy nilly and without so much as a by your leave."
"I'd wash it afterwards.  Naturally.  A good rinse under the tap and a wipe on the old sleeve.  It's an object with multiple functionality."  He was sounding less convinced by the second.  A bit like a wind-up gramophone winding down.
"Yes Geoffrey.  I think you'd better take one of your special pills and have a nice lie down under the tartan knee-rug.  There's a good chap."

My Amazon page

The Self-Destructing Coracle

Well here we are, still stuck on this sodding boat.  Yes I know that's a horrible way to describe our beloved coracle 'Fancy', which has served us so well etc. etc. and been our friend yawn yawn through many dangers - enough already.
If YOU had been crammed into a coracle, especially ours, which is spherical, and has a mind of its own in terms of whether the 'fancy' takes it to actually go where we want it to,  i.e. in terms of NAVIGATION, which is kind of an essential aspect of a 'craft', you'd be calling it a 'sodding boat' too, or perhaps a lot worse.
Besides, it leaks.
It doesn't have to leak.  It just does, because it's in that kind of mood.
A leaky mood.  You could say it was crying I suppose, if you were feeling sympathetic.
Nobody here felt sympathetic.
And nobody was talking to it.
No.  We were all talking ABOUT it.
"It's all an act.  It's all put on.  Ignore it, that's the best way.  Anyone got any fags left?  I'm gasping."
"I'll sink myself!" shrieked Fancy. "I'll self-destruct!  I'll remove my bungs!  Don't think I won't!"
"Why though?" Geoffrey was using his most soothing tone.  I've no idea if it was deliberate. "Why self-destruct?"
"Well, I'm not sure.  But I just feel in that kind of mood.  I know what.  I'm not going to remove my bungs.  I'm going to circumvent the co-ordinates you put in and I'm going to head straight for the Corryfreckle whirlpool INSTEAD, where Death surely awaits.  Put that in your pipes and smoke it."
"If only we could,"  I murmured.

Next time - Cannibalism - the pros and cons when in a tight spot.

Just finished reading...Helen Percy's Scandalous, Immoral and Improper

I finished reading Helen Percy's Scandalous, Immoral and Improper the other night.  A brutal tale,  but what a cracking book.  Thoroughly absorbing, thought-provoking and as I said in my previous post, beautifully written.  There's very little I can say about it that will be new and of interest to anyone, given that it's been out for a couple of years.
However - just a couple of points.
I've never been drawn back to the Church of Scotland following a childhood during which I was forced to attend and 'worship', and now after reading this assuredly one-sided account, I am even less inclined.  All my worst childhood memories of Holy Willies and the 'unco' guid' have been confirmed. I hate those terms but they do fit and so there they are.  
Whatever Helen Percy did or did not do,  from this account she was pursued mercilessly and made into a scapegoat, in probably the most horrible case of institutional bullying one can imagine.  The only positive  I can take from this sad tale of hypocrisy and wagon-circling is that not everyone joined in. Some people did not take part in the witch-hunt.  And that is quite a lot.
I wonder if the male protagonist remains a church elder, today.  I would not wish any of those involved to minister to me, should I ever have reason to call on them for help.
That is the trouble with pastoral care in the context of the church.  It is wide open to abuse.  People who are spiritually in need are at their most vulnerable and there is an opportunity for someone in a position of trust to take full advantage.  At least when one receives counselling via the NHS or another professional,  accountable source, the boundaries SHOULD be crystal clear,  and abuses are less likely to occur.  Theoretically, anyway.
We all need help and support at times, and at those times we aren't often thinking clearly. Where do you go?  If you are a believer,  the church is where you go.  You turn to the Lord's representative.  And you expect your trust and vulnerability to be respected.
I'm not sure how church appointments work, but in my opinion, it sounds like the church was at fault for placing a young, unconventional female minister in that parish in the first place.  It sounds to me like an accident waiting to happen.  That said,  the church went on to behave brutally, denying any responsibility at all.
As Richard Holloway says in the blurb - read it and weep.  It is a very sad document and a classic tale of, I would say, human frailty.  There but for the Grace of God, etc..
Helen Percy is an excellent writer, and a survivor.  I'm sure that she will produce more books, and will thrive.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Scottish Islands Explorer: Where Shadows Dance

Scottish Islands Explorer: Where Shadows Dance: If you like the photograph (above) of Northton Sands , South Harris, by Ruth Fairbrother , you will certainly enjoy the exhibition (below)...

We rented a cottage near this beach many years ago, and I remember we walked across it towards the sea the evening we arrived.  The beach is so vast it can be used as an airstrip, and the tide was out.  We walked and walked and the sea never seemed to get any closer.  It was like an illusion.  We closed our eyes and walked, knowing that all there was in front of us was yard upon yard of flat sand. I don't remember that we ever did reach the sea.

Nowadays I'd be worried about quicksand, or a tidal race.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Rex Ingram's The Magician

Here's the clip I mentioned.  Rex Ingram's adaptation of Maugham's The Magician.  And I'm intrigued to note that Michael Powell was assistant director.  Serendipity.  I've always loved Powell and Pressburger films.  I don't want to sound unduly fey but nobody can deny that there is definitely something of the weird about them.  In this internet age of one-click connections we've lost the mystery and magic of a bookshop or record-shop find that suddenly shines a light through the gloom and leads you a bit further along the path. We've lost the sixth sense, the part of the subconscious that enables us to close our eyes and trust while we feel our way through the dark and home in on what it is that we need to find.
Or have we?

Now Reading....Somerset Maugham and Helen Percy

I finished Somerset Maugham's The Magician a week or so ago, and have since read a couple more of his short stories from the volume I mentioned before.
After my initial feeling of disappointment, which I mentioned in a previous post, I stuck with The Magician and ended up really quite liking it.  It's quite a good early horror 'romp' and I note that there was a film adaptation made in 1926 by Rex Ingram.  I will post a Youtube link after.
However I prefer Maugham's short stories, which are always entertaining and insightful, and I'm finding them pretty inspiring for me as a writer.
Another book I'm reading at the moment is Scandalous,  Immoral and Improper - the Trial of Helen Percy, which is her own account of her 'trial' by the Church of Scotland - and by the press - back in the 1990s.  I'm not sure why it popped into my head recently;  I suppose I've been meaning to read it for a while.  I'm glad I've finally got round to it.  It's beautifully written and quite fascinating.   Lots of resonances for me personally, not least because I was working in the area at the time and remember the 'scandal' vividly,  via the headlines and the odd bit of local gossip.  I thought at the time that it all sounded 'wrong', on a number of levels.  Nobody really comes out of it well.  It's published by Argyll Publishing, a small independent.  I'm puzzled as to why a bigger publisher didn't pick it up; given the extreme publicity the case received at the time I would imagine it would be a seller.  Perhaps not. Anyway,  I haven't finished the book yet and will give my opinion after.  It will require some thought.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Does Chewing One's Own Toenails Mean You're a Cannibal?

"Of course you can't turn cannibal, Tuppy," scolded Geoffrey. "It would be absolutely appalling."

He was reading my mind again.  Where was the Mind-Reading-Prevention-Device when I needed it? (as mentioned back in 2011 or 12 or thereabouts, and possibly in an e-book only don't ask me which one)
Back at the Outcrop, somewhere in the cupboard under the stairs, probably.  Or down the back of the settee, possibly.  Or propping up the end of the sideboard where the woodworm had eaten through.  At any rate, it was somewhere well out of reach.  I made a mental note to always carry it with me, in future. It's an unattractive but impressively functional device, with an effect similar to throwing a blanket over a garrulous budgie's cage.  Only in reverse, as it's me that has to wear it.

"What do you mean, cannibal?" snapped the sheep with the greenest, most piercing and most disturbingly gyroscopic eyes.  He was definitely the leader.  Far too full of the big 'I am' for my liking.

"You're feeling threatened by him, aren't you Tuppy?  I'm sure there's no need." Geoffrey again.  How tiresome, not to mention intrusive, this mind-reading is!  Mind you - when he manages to read minds other than mine, it can prove quite interesting AND useful.  Depending on whose, of course.

"I'm quite sure there will be a need, if he turns cannibal," said the sheep leader, folding his front legs in a truculent manner.  All the other sheep huddled behind him, bleating their support in a rather half-hearted fashion.

"Is it cannibalism when you chew your own toenails?" asked Geoffrey.  "I've always wondered. Same with nose dirt consumption."

"Nose dirt consumption is definitely not cannibalism, because nose dirt is an exudate - a bodily excretion.  It isn't part of the fleshy corporeum, or whatever," said the sheep leader.  "Toenails are a moot point.  Especially if they're someone else's."

"You're awfully sure of yourself, aren't you?" I said.  "What's your name, anyway?"

"It's Wool I Am," sniggered Geoffrey.

"Don't be stupid Geoffrey," I snapped.  It annoys me when he pretends to be "current".

And he knows it.

"No really it is,"  he protested.  "Ouch!  Don't pinch me.  It is, isn't it,  Wool?"

"Yes," muttered Wool,  blushing. "But how did you know?"

"Geoffrey can read minds,"  I said proudly.  "And he's my best friend in all the world."

Geoffrey beamed with pleasure.

more later

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

"I'm hungry, "  said Geoffrey.

"That's a good sign.  So am I.  We must be returning to normal."

We had just spent a week spinning round in the Corryfreckle whirlpool-cum-tidal race, and it had knocked us quite sick.

Now it was High Springs, and we were Out.

"We're hungry also," bleated the trailer-load of orange-fleeced, wooden-toothed sheep. "Does that mean we're returning to normal also?"

"Of course!" I lied.

"Whatever 'normal' is," added Geoffrey.  Then "THEY'll never be normal!" he hissed out of the side of his mouth,"Stop giving them false hope!"

"Oh do shut up Geoffrey, and have a goji berry flapjack.  Fling a couple back to the sheep while you're at it."

"All right," he agreed meekly.

Things were definitely returning to normal, I thought smugly.  Geoffrey being meek was a Very Good Sign.

Mind you, one of Val Nark's goji berry and raw oat flapjacks wasn't going to hit the spot. I needed sausages, and I needed them fast.  I glanced behind me at the trailer-load of sheep....could I turn on my own kind, in a tight spot?  Could I turn...cannibal?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Dark Crossing


"At your service, as ever.  In a manner of speaking.  Terms and conditions apply."

"I think we're going to need a bigger boat.  In fact,  I know we are."

"I could have told you that before we set off.  Now shut up and keep rowing."

The moon was up and lighting our path homewards across the Clinch, and a following breeze was proving helpful, especially with Geoffrey being terrible at rowing;  so far so good.  However, a vast, expanding, black cloud was obscuring the stars on the far horizon, and it was moving our way.


And we were towing a trailerful of terrified, orange, wooden-toothed sheep.


"What is it now?"

"I'm scared.  I'm scared of the big black cloud.  Pretty soon the moon will be covered and we won't be able to see a thing. And the waves are getting bigger.  We've the tidal race and the whirlpool to get through, and they're bad enough in daylight."

"I know."

"Maybe if you rowed as well..."

"I can't!  Not with my back.  Just do your best and we'll deal with whatever happens somehow.  Something always turns up when we least expect it.  And I'm sure that for once it'll be a good something."  I filled my pipe and stared out at the oily swell.  "Karma, Geoffrey.  We've done the right thing by rescuing those poor sheep.  Nothing can possibly go wrong.  The fates are with us."

"It would make a change.  What did we rescue them from, exactly?"

"I'm not sure..."

more later