2018 and All That

OK so there it is, 2018 all done and dusted and we look forward to 2019. How was your year? Good, or bad? Was it all that you expected, or not? Here’s a quick look back at my personal 2018 with some of my blog highlights thrown in for good measure.

In January, Christmas and New Year quickly receding into the murky past, Liz and I were looking forward to a long break in Lanzarote. Lanzarote is really lovely at this time of year. Sometimes it tends to get a little windy and a few times in the evening temperatures dipped a little causing a flurry of fleece jackets to appear in the bar we frequented. The bar I should add was substantially an outside rather than inside bar and we sat alfresco under an awning while we drank, ate tapas, nibbled on olives and nuts and listened to some soothing pop classics performed either by a local pianist or the local sax player. I went into more detail in Thoughts from a Lanzarote Sun lounger but it was a very relaxing time.

The only problem of any significance was some annoying keyboard issues with my laptop. The letter O key was not working which caused some difficulties in producing a TV themed blog called ‘Putting the ‘O’ in Columbo’. Columbo being the famous TV detective played by Peter Falk and one of my very favourite TV shows ever. I had taken the laptop to my local computer store who had replaced the keyboard but when I arrived in Lanzarote ready to pound out some more blogs and possibly even add a few more pages to my new book I found the keyboard misbehaving again! I was not happy and a lot of the blogs I wrote while I was away were produced mostly on my Ipad.

There were some lovely restaurants in Lanzarote but in one of them the antics of one of the waitresses put me in mind of an old friend of ours, a waiter called Giorgio. He was a lovely fellow Giorgio. As a waiter he just wasn’t one of the best but he always made us smile and one sunny afternoon I took a break from the pool to write a post about him and some similar waiters called ‘The Giorgio factor.’

Back home in the UK I was spending an increasing amount of time looking after my elderly mother who was 89 in 2018 and has the beginnings of dementia. Only two years ago or so, I used to call up Mum and say I was coming to stay. Arriving there after work I would find my little box room all neat and tidy with fresh covers on the bed. My Mum is probably the only person I have ever known who irons socks and underwear and it is sad to see her today with her memory loss getting worse by the day and it is me who irons things for her, and me who puts the fresh bedding on the beds. In Some Random thoughts on Boxrooms, Stormy Daniels and Action Man I talked about how good it felt to return to that room, surrounded by the old books, vinyl records and cassette tapes of my past life. When I am there I sometimes feel that I have never really grown up.

I had a small health scare earlier in 2018. Nothing exciting just that a check up revealed slightly high blood pressure. The end result was that I was advised to check into the gym and see if a little work out might help. The practice nurse handed me a free three-month course at the YMCA which was my very first introduction to the world of pumping iron, the gym and physical exercise which until then I had completely shunned. I actually enjoyed the course, it was nice to feel healthy (well, healthier) and I jotted down a few remarks about the experience in a blog called Working Out That Sweet Illusion!

In May I was working hard on one of my videos, a look back at the places which inspired my book Floating in Space. I visited Manchester on a few occasions and shot plenty of video, a great deal of which, sadly, wasn’t of a particularly great quality. One of the problems in shooting video on a visit to Manchester is that I tend to combine filming with a tour of my old pub haunts in the town, as well as visiting some new ones so at the end of the day my hand tends to become a little rocky on the lens when too much beer has been downed.  Eventually after a number of false starts I put together a short film about Manchester and added a narration compiled from some old blog posts, text from Floating in Space itself and some new observations. I still wasn’t happy with the video and was struggling to get it right so I decided to use the narration (re-purpose I think the correct phrase is) in a blog post entitled Manchester, 41 Years On.

If you want to see the video which I eventually finished, click here.

Picture courtesy Wikipedia

Anyway, in June I decided to turn to something much more interesting than my little life and write about two of my most enduring interests, books and the Watergate Scandal. President Nixon must be one of the most interesting figures ever to become President of the USA and his journey to the Oval Office was remarkable. Nixon spent two years as vice president to Eisenhower, looked like winning the election in 1960 from relatively unknown John F Kennedy but it was Kennedy who pipped Nixon to the prize. Nixon ran for governor of California and lost, declaring to the press politics was over for him: ‘You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore!’ However, in the tumultuous year of 1968 he was back, once again the Republican candidate for the presidency and this time he won. When Lyndon Johnson left office he advised Nixon to make tape recordings of his conversations as he had done, saying that they were invaluable in preparing his memoirs. That advice proved to be Nixon’s undoing.

In a post called ‘Writing and the Big 300 I published my 300th blog post, a small milestone for an amateur writer like myself. I concentrated on the flip side of writing; the continual search for content and some of my other writing projects, things like my scripts. In particular I talked about a sit-com idea I had that I submitted to the BBC Writer’s Room web page. Alas, after many a month in deliberations the BBC decided my project was unworthy of putting into production. Pity really because I thought it was rather good.

Getting back to my holiday travels, Liz and I journeyed back to France once again for a wedding in the Alsace area of France. We went in Liz’s new motor home and after the wedding festivities were over we travelled through the north of France taking in many of the famous World War One battle grounds and cemeteries. The summer as you will no doubt remember was hot, in fact very hot indeed and I put together a post about our travels in the motor home, my impressions of visiting the military cemeteries and my frustration with mobile wi-fi! I also had time to make a short video about the military cemeteries which you can see here.

In August I turned my attention to Manchester Airport in a post called Airports and Things. As a schoolboy, Manchester Airport was one of my favourite places and my friends and I spent many a happy hour cycling down the quiet lanes that back on to the runway where we jotted down aircraft numbers. In 2018 the Airport Authority introduced a controversial drop off and pick up charge of £3 which caused many complaints from the public and in the post I argued the case for a larger number of smaller airports rather than fewer huge airports.

A lot of my posts are inspired by the books I read and one fascinating volume was a book by Noel Botham about the death of Princess Diana. He claimed the Princess had been murdered by elements of M16 loyal to the Royal Family and went on to explain various issues with the accepted story of the Princess’ death. Whether the Princess was really murdered or not, numerous parts of the story do not add up and they all contributed to a story of mystery and intrigue.

To round up my personal 2018, a meander through my old diaries prompted a post called Dear Diary and just to get in the festive mood in December my brother and I went on a pub crawl in Manchester In Search of Dark Beer. You just can’t beat a perfect pint of mild!

Well, that was my year. How was yours?


Floating in Space is a novel set in Manchester, 1977. Click the links at the top of the page to buy or for more information.

My 10 Best Posts of 2017

Well that’s it, Christmas over for another year. Time to relax, take stock and perhaps muse over the last twelve months. If you are a blogger, then it’s always good to reflect on your previous posts.

For me personally, it’s not been a bad year. I opted to go semi-retired which was a good choice I think, working three shifts on and six off. Still not happy about the three on but I like the six off!

Did I write the follow up to Floating in Space? Well, I have to admit I didn’t quite get stuck into that, still there’s always 2018!

I always tend to showcase my favourite posts in these ‘best of’ year end posts but I thought I’d start by taking a look at my stats and see what were my best performing posts.

My all time top performing post  is one about the JFK assassination, a tragic event wrapped in mystery and misinformation that has interested me since childhood. It always rates highly with google searches and that’s probably the reason for the high hit rate for this post. Interestingly, I reblogged it on the 22nd November, the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination but on the previous day, the 21st, David Cassidy died and so on the 22nd, many people were typing David Cassidy into their search engines and many of those people may have been surprised to find my second most read post ‘David Cassidy and a Haircut in 1977′ in their results. Maybe it’s a good one, well, I like to think so but then, maybe it’s just SEO compatible.

Earlier on this year, in case you didn’t know, Donald Trump was elected, surprisingly, as the new President of the USA. A lot of people were not happy about it but that is the nature of democracy; the people vote, the votes are counted  and the winning candidate is announced. Simple really, although a great deal of people seem to get very annoyed about it. I wasn’t too happy as I mentioned in my post Tipping Point, the Chase and Donald Trump, because rather annoyingly, my favourite quiz programmes were shelved in favour of the election coverage.

My Mother had her 88th birthday in 2017 and I wrote about her in My Mum, the Microwave and Old Age.

Talking about old age, I became semi-retired in 2017 and wrote a post about it Things to do when Semi-Retired.

In A Monkey, A French Canal Barge and a Million Pound Cheque I returned to my very first job when I had to deal with a cheque for, you guessed it, a million pounds.

I am a big classic movie fan as you probably know from my film posts and I decided to take a look at the persona of the urbane English actor in The Essential Englishman with special reference to David Niven in ‘Around the World in Eighty days’.

Although I’m not a football fan I have always rather liked George Best and in Personal Encounters with George Best I describe my fleeting encounters with the famous Manchester United player.

Going back even further in time than my George Best encounters or even my first job, Schoolday Memories is just that, a look back at my old school days.

As a major Formula One racing fan I tend to knock out an F1 post every now and again. In No Hiding Place and the Mexican Grand Prix  I combine F1 with a little humour and a quick look at a TV comedy classic.

I have spent a lot of time this year messing about with video cameras and editing and although I had some problems earlier in the year recording narrations, since then I’ve recorded quite a few including an updated version of my cycling video with narration rather than captions. Another video I made this year was one using in car footage of our trip to France in the summer. I’ve compiled this year’s video efforts together in a post entitled Adventures with an Action Cam.

Finally, in one of my later posts, I combined that classic British film Green for Danger with some thoughts about my personal work life, past and present, in Resignations, Old Friends and Green for Danger.

So, that was my year. Hope you had a good 2017 and all the best for 2018!


Thanks for looking in and if you liked this post, why not consider buying my book? Click the links at the top of the page for more information.

My 10 Best Posts of 2016

best posts 2016It’s that time of year again when we look back and take stock of what we did in the last twelve months and try to arrange everything neatly, tidy things up, add labels and pop everything onto the shelf of past memories before it gets consigned to the distant past. Bloggers are pretty much the same and I thought I might be a good idea to look back at my last twelve months of blogging.

I started 2016 by flying to Lanzarote for some winter sun and a welcome break from cold and wintry Britain. The Marina Rubicon in Lanzarote was lovely and warm, very much like a mild UK summer. The temperature was in the 70s (that’s Fahrenheit, sorry, I don’t do metric) and Liz and I spent a lovely five weeks swimming, sunbathing, reading and dining out in the restaurants and bars of the Marina. The evenings were a little cool I must admit but we dined outside every night, either at our rented villa or at a local eating place. Sometimes a fleece over the shoulders was necessary, sometimes not. I had taken with me my trusty laptop and I-Pad of course and kept myself busy blogging, promoting my book, Floating In Space and, supposedly, writing the follow-up novel. Alas, the follow-up never materialised but, what the heck, we had a great time anyway.

1.Being an avid TV viewer I had a post in the pipeline already, written in advance just in case of Wi-Fi issues on holiday. It was called M*A*S*H and the Emotional Leap Indicator. M*A*S*H is the star contender for my favourite comedy show ever and a show that is close to my writing ethic; that of combining humour with drama, and in this post I go on to analyse and talk about a comedy show that is funny as well as sad and routinely combines humour with tragedy.

2016-01-28 (2)ed2.While on holiday in Lanzarote, I did one of my usual posts, My Holiday Book Bag. I do love books and this is one of a series talking about the books I take on holiday. The idea stemmed from reading a biography of Richard Burton, who had a voracious appetite for books and always took a book bag away on holiday with him. On this occasion I’d thought I’d go one step further and make the post into a VLOG, a video blog, with me sitting in front of the camera giving out a good old rabbit about the various books I had with me. Later this spawned another blog, Making the VLOG about the whole experience of filming, narrating and so on.

IMGA03533.Whilst on the subject of books, I wrote a post about Marilyn Monroe books back in July. It was called 10 Books you should read about Marilyn Monroe. I have a large collection of books about Marilyn and in this post I introduced ten of them. Michelle Morgan, the author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed was kind enough to add a comment on the post.

4.During 2016 I’ve had a few health issues particularly with my back and my neck. I first hurt my neck over ten years ago and I don’t have a lot of mobility in that area but I told the story of my visits to the doctor, my diagnosis and experience of physiotherapists in Lost Horizon, Samsara and a Visit to the Doctor.

5.I regularly write posts about writing and how I work as a writer and blogger and a pretty good post about how I manage my blogging life was Bankers, Potboilers and J Edgar Hoover.

6.You may have realised as you troll through this blog that I do like my TV. Not any TV of course. I like my classic TV from the 60’s and 70’s. I like sci-fi and espionage shows and I adore old movies. I’m a great recorder too, regularly recording and watching stuff which I tend to watch in batches, sometimes watching part of a movie one day then the second part another day. Aliens, Frank Sinatra and Three Days in the life of a Couch Potato documented my TV watching habits.

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley

7.Bicycles, Barry White, and a Man with a Chip on his Shoulder was a nostalgic look back at my younger days when I forced my younger brother to take part in sketches and plays I had written, all recorded on cassette tape for posterity. Music came into the equation when a teenage friend and I recorded interviews with each other discussing our top twelve records. Once again, faithfully recorded on tape!

8.American politics is one of my great interests and Howard Hughes and the Watergate Tapes discussed billionaire Hughes involvement with President Nixon and the Watergate affair.

9.Thoughts from a Sun Lounger Part 4 was written on holiday in France and is part of a series revealing the various musings that have come to me while indulging in one of my favourite experiences, that of lazing in the sun on a sun lounger. This post amongst other things involves another instalment about physiotherapists!

a so called writer!10. The Holiday Diary of a So-Called Writer. This was another post written on holiday in rural France. It was about my efforts, as a writer, to focus on writing rather than reading, swimming, drinking wine and eating and might go some small way to explaining why a follow-up novel to Floating In Space has yet to appear.

Last year, 2016, I published my 200th blog post. Although I tend to focus on books, film, and TV I write about almost anything that comes to mind, always focussing on that Saturday morning deadline. Customer service, Cillit Bang, Captain Kirk and the Beatles were just a few of the diverse subjects I posted about in 2016. I also wrote about my long-term love of F1 racing in Confessions of an Armchair F1 Fan.


Hope you had a great Christmas. All the very best for 2017 and if you are an avid reader and you find yourself stuck for something to read, why not try Floating In Space? Click the links at the top of the page for more information.

my novel

Sex and The City -What was your favourite season?

I do love Sex and the City. It’s one of my favourite shows and I’ve got the whole lot on DVD so when I come home after a late shift and fancy a glass of something and a DVD, Sex and the City invariably gets slipped onto the DVD player.

51WNVUght3LI have my favourites like everyone, particularly Mister Big, the coolest guy ever and my personal hero but I like all the characters, especially Carrie. What a life; living in New York City and working as a journalist and not in a nine to five way either; working from home writing about her friends and her life. Why can’t I get a job like that?

Recently I worked my way through the whole of season four, the very best season. Mr Big was involved with a movie superstar, Carrie had got back with Aiden whom I have probably more in common with than the super cool Mr Big. There was the whole Trey and Bunny saga involving Charlotte which was so good. Personally I thought Trey was great for Charlotte. He was quirky and interesting, if only they could have worked out their problems.

What else was there? Miranda’s Mum died; what a great episode, and later Steve, her ex gets testicular cancer so she sleeps with him to cheer him up and gets pregnant. Anyway, loads of good episodes but I loved it when Big and Aiden met and Big came down to Aiden’s country cabin for a chat with Carrie. Aiden, naturally I thought, was not happy so eventually he and Big have a fight and later become friends, of a sort.

Finally, Carrie splits with Aiden in a really bitter sweet episode and Mr Big moves to Napa in California. Like Charlotte and Trey I wished Aiden and Carrie could have worked things out. In a lot of ways they were more suited than Carrie and Mister Big. Anyway, you can see how much involvement I have tied up in this show. I really felt that in season four the show came of age. Serious relationships, serious problems, some fabulous characters, some humour and some moving stuff especially right at the very end when Carrie is too late to meet up with Mister Big. He has gone to California but left behind his Moon River album for Carrie. Great stuff.

Pity about those Sex and the City movies! Sometimes you just have to step away, and I guess that’s the same even for TV production companies! You made a great TV show but now it’s over! Step away!

So,what was your favourite season?