Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Wandering Soul

Publishing a book seemed straightforward for my late mother who had umpteen published. For her second son however the process proved more difficult. 

In my mother's day publishers would take the publication on, advance the author a reasonable sum on account of anticipated royalties but then only pay a small fraction of the publication's selling price to the author by way of royalties.

Today, the whole process has been made rather more difficult in some ways, for example publishers probably faced by so many requests to publish, tend mainly to accept works from agents who of course take fees for their services. Then there need to be web sites for the author's work to be  advertised upon, added to which, the likes of Amazon will offer to sell on-line digital versions of the publication. 

Registration with the British Library and  equivalent libraries, for example in New York, is best also  left to the publisher in my view.

Paying a publisher upfront to publish a work  enables the publication to proceed whilst at the same time providing the author with a far higher percentage of the sale price as royalties than is usually the case for the traditional publishing route. Indeed the higher royalties might even in due course, cover the publication costs. 

One difficulty is that even the paying up-front  publishing route, is not always available. 

None the less so far at least, I have found a publisher  of the  kind described above, more than helpful. Indeed several weeks after submitting my draft, a second publisher came forward to offer to publish but by then I had selected a well reviewed publisher, which has just produced a draft cover for the book, publication of which is expected in about  April  2020. 

The publisher's artist has designed the intended book's cover from my fifty year old photograph of Cappadocia rocks, a draft of which looks thus:

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Charles Dickens

Two friends suggested that the four of us all visit the Charles Dickens Museum  in Doughty Street London WC1  earlier this week.

The museum was interesting and had a great refectory which suited us perfectly as I am sure that looking for a relatively inexpensive place for lunch in central London, during a working weekday, would not have been straightforward.

Charles Dickens himself was  hugely intelligent and interesting author but in his personal life appears almost unpleasant.

His father however was not well off and indeed had been arrested for debt and sent to Marshalsea Prison. He was joined there later by his wife and younger children but was later released.

Charles himself married Catherine Hogarth and they went on to have ten children though some died early on. His relationship with his wife was odd at least in my view, as he seems to have divorced or at least separated in about 1859, yet she remained on as a housekeeper of some kind in what had been the family home. Presumably divorce was far from straightforward at the time and  the prospects of the former wife receiving a fair share of the family's assets were bleak hence the need for her to remain even if in a subservient capacity rather than end up on the streets.

The museum's rooms were very well laid out. Possibly though visiting mid week during the winter months, meant that we had ample room to wander around, stopping to admire particular works or  written details in rooms spread over three floors.

The maytree's youngest grandchild has yet to be potty trained and I noticed the Dicken's potty equivalent. This is a rather more attractive affair than the small potties in C21 use though unfortunately I could not find a picture.

Many of Charles Dicken's works were on display including some rare editions of his books and some  recently acquired letters, writing implements and artwork.

Charles Dickens enjoyed his drink and the exhibits included part of his wine cellar. As stated in "Smartnews":
One letter, headlined “Wine,” includes instructions for a dinner party. Dickens writes, “At supper, let there be a good supply of champagne all over the table. No champagne before supper, and as little wine as possible, of any sort, before supper.”
The author adds that his favourite drink will be too strong for all party guests except Mark Lemon, founding editor of British satirical magazine Punch. Per Dickens, “[Staff members] Mitchell or John to keep gin punch in ice under the table, all evening, and to give it only to myself or Mr. Lemon.”

Saturday, February 08, 2020


Maytrees min having asked me to accompany her to the spinning gym in Richmond last Sunday I decided to give it a go or perhaps a better phrase would be "a whirl."

I vaguely recollect that when visiting  maytrees min  whilst  she worked in Philadelphia for 10 months or so, that she would at breakfast time, leave me with a copy of the Washington Post and a croissant, whilst she went off "spinning" before her work duties commenced though quite what the exercise was I had little idea, until now.

Two people from Richmond London did I understand, either design the spinning concept or commenced a spinning gym there having imported the idea from the USA. There are now such gyms in Richmond, Ealing, Moorgate and one other in the City so the concept is proving successful.

Whatever the  history, today's spinning gym in Richmond is housed in an impressive new building. One has to book at least one day in advance a place on one of the stationary bikes at the gym. Although initially last Saturday evening our session was cancelled because of a power cut, somewhat later during Saturday night we both received a text message to say the session had been restored.

Despite the text messages of the previous day some 25 people still turned up for the 45 minute session itself illustrating how popular spinning has become.

The concept involves a gym containing some 50 fixed bicycle-type machines which are set in a semicircle in front of two large cinema style machines. The gym provides special shoes to be worn and each participant proceeds to the numbered bike which has been reserved for him or her. The cinema screens depict a Tour de France type race with the bikes numbered as on the participants' machines. The bikes have 18 gears and there is a young athletic leader who starts the 'cycling' off  and calls  out the gear one should be in, going up to 18 gears or down to 10, depending upon whether one is going up high mountains or racing to the finish.

The workout was for me hugely hard. Both men and women were participating though the average age I would guess might be under 30 or thereabouts.

By the end of the session I was dropping and could not have continued for much longer. Interestingly, maytrees min came first in the group and although my own place was 24th, father and daughter did pretty well together, I thought.

My own headline stats were:

Thank you for choosing Digme Fitness today - we hope you achieved great things! Here are some stats you might find useful from your Indoor Cycling workout. You can use this data to track your progress. If you have any questions, don`t hesitate to ask us.
• Cycled at an average of 65 Watts with a maximum of 197 Watts at peak.
• Burned approximately 198 calories.
• Produced 155.2 KJ total energy.
• Rode with an average cadence of 67 RPM with a maximum of 111 RPM at peak.
• Total Spivi Points: 140

Saturday, February 01, 2020

A Wandering Soul

My autobiography from age 2 to 70 due to be published this Easter

The draft CV on the book cover reads:

Following his honours law degree at London University LLB (extern) and articled clerkship, the author qualified as a solicitor in 1972. Later he obtained a diploma in Education Law from Buckingham University.

 He went on to practise as a partner at the then Catholic firm of Witham Weld; then in 1981, was requested to be the honorary solicitor for the visit to the UK of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, planned for 1982.  The papal visit was successful despite the Falklands War breaking out in that same year. He was later made a Knight of St Gregory by Rome.

 As a teenager he joined the HCPT disabled children’s pilgrimage trust.  In his twenties he became an HCPT group leader. Then with other helpers, for over 50 years took many disabled children and young people on residential pilgrimages to Lourdes. Pilgrims travelled down to Lourdes by overnight couchette train and one year during a national French railway strike, a helper who had served in the French WWII resistance,  persuaded a  former resistance colleague,  who had become the French union leader, personally to drive the  children’s pilgrimage  train to Lourdes.

2014 saw him transfer to Farrer & Co solicitors as a consultant from which he retired in 2016.

He has been a Governor of six schools during a period of over 30 years before becoming Governors’ Clerk to a Jesuit school for over two years until retirement in June 2019.

Interestingly for a new author to secure publication these days, going down the route of paying a publisher to take the work on, seems a better route than the traditional way of publishing. The risks are greater though royalty percentages are potentially far higher. Though a reason for an autobiography, is of course also that of passing some of the family story, down the generations.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Mrs maytrees and I went to see the film "1917" earlier this week at the Wimbledon HMV Curzon.

Interestingly despite the demise of HMV on two  floors, with the cinema on the third floor of the three storey building, the HMV Curzon is still going strong. Indeed we had expected to be able to  secure seats in the cinema's back row, which mrs maytrees likes, for the film, only to find that  1917 was so hugely popular, that we were fortunate to obtain tickets for seats at the last minute, let alone select where we could sit.

The film itself was riveting to watch. The story involved  twenty four hours  in the lives of two soldiers, Lance Corporals Schofield and Blake in April 1917.  The two soldiers were required to cross the German lines to reach British/Indian troops who were about to launch an huge attack on the Germans, believed for  reasons unknown to the British/Indian forces, to be retreating. The two lance corporals were required to warn them of the German retreat being but a trick to lure the British into attacking what would be a far superior German force of men, tanks and heavy guns. 

The Germans had during their "retreat" cut the  telephone cables but some photography seen only by Schofield/Blake's battalions, revealed that they were amassing weapons which could decimate the British should they seek to advance, following the  Germans' apparent retreat.

Having been volunteered by their Battalion's commander the lance corporals set off on their arduous journey. The film contained some horrific pictures of war and the carnage it brings. The task given to the two lance corporals was hugely difficult with the odds being heavily against them succeeding. 

In one graphic scene one of the two lance corporals  was killed but eventually the other made it to the relevant British lines. Persuading the officers there of the need to halt the imminent attack proved exceeding difficult as  the remaining lance corporal's news was simply not believed at first. 

Some parts of the counter attack did then appear to commence but the commanding officer upon reading the sealed orders that the surviving lance corporal eventually managed to deliver, did then, albeit  with great reluctance, order his troops back from their counterattack on the Germans.

A riveting film which illustrates all too graphically, the  hideous nature of  war.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland

Brexit from the EU by the UK in a couple of weeks time, will  in my view fairly soon thereafter, bring to a head the need for a referendum in Northern Ireland about the six counties unifying with the Republic of Ireland.

The Euro is already in fairly common use in the North  and after the UK is out of the EU, trade between the six counties and the Republic which of course already uses the Euro as its national currency, will as I understand it be unaffected by Brexit. 

However,  after Brexit, trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will in theory at least be subject to some kind of customs checks so logically the people of the  six counties should soon consider whether their best interests would be served by reunification with the remainder of Ireland. Passport checks have not proved an issue for travel between Great Britain and Ireland  in the past so should not do so in the future.

Monetary cost is of course not the principal reason for being part of one nationality or another, for example the European Union itself, but is  factor. 

The cost to Great Britain of supporting Northern Ireland annually, exceeds the saving in annual costs likely to result from Brexit.  

My own belief is that the reunification of Ireland would be good for Ireland good for Great Britain and good for the EU. 

Hopefully the time will come fairly soon, for a referendum in Northern Ireland about  rejoining the South.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Passionate Protestantism and The Lib Dems

In adulthood politics, supporting the Liberal  (now called the LibDems) Party has been anathema to me since the days of Jeremy Thorpe  and the Liberal Party support of the rights of a mother to be over the rights of her baby human to be.

Tim Farron, the former leader of the LibDem party is a man whose Christian religious beliefs seem to have cost him his role of leader of the LibDem Party in the House of Commons. LibDem oncerns about his religious beliefs began soon after his election as the LibDem leader in the House of Commons in 2015. For example as  then reported on the BBC:

It has never been more politically fashionable, or mainstream, to be socially liberal - particularly around the subject of homosexuality.So little wonder the new leader of the only party in Parliament with the word "liberal" in its title, who also happens to be a Christian, faces a few questions about how his politics and faith interact.Appearing on Channel 4 News, Tim Farron was asked three times if he believes homosexual sex is a sin.Three times, he didn't give a direct answer, instead choosing to say "my firm belief is we are all sinners".

Plenty of Liberal Democrats who actively campaign for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have sought to offer Mr Farron their support.But others are worried.Still bruised by its crushing losses at the general election, Mr Farron's critics don't want to publicly clash with him just hours into his leadership.But those critics are there."I was quite taken aback when I watched the interview, given he must have known he would be asked about it," a former Lib Dem MP told me."The fact that he thinks we are all sinners isn't much comfort to those of us who firmly believe there's nothing wrong whatsoever with homosexuality," they said."He needs to be honest about his Christian convictions, instead of trying to be too much like a politician about it. There are those of his faith and others that would agree with him, that it is a sin. He should say it. At least that would have the benefit of him being honest."

Tim Farron in 2017 according to the Guardian resigned his leadership of the LibDem Party:

In the crucial first week of the general election campaign however, Farron’s real chance to make an impression on the public was dogged with questions over his attitude to gay sex. Initially he attempted to deflect the question by insisting he was not a religious philosopher. When he finally sat down with the BBC’s Eleanor Garnier in an intervention to clarify he did not believe gay sex was a sin, the damage had been done.He later faced questions too on his attitude to abortion, faced with a copy of an old interview he gave with a Salvation army magazine where he said the procedure was “wrong”. He acted far more decisively, insisting he was “pro-choice” and the time limit on abortion should be set by science.Pundits predicted a gloomy night for the Lib Dems but on Thursday 8 June Farron defied low expectations after a marathon campaign across the country, covering thousands of miles. He won back seats in south west London, Scotland, Bath and Oxford, as well as Eurosceptic Eastbourne, but two of his MPs, Nick Clegg and Greg Mullholland, lost their seats to Labour.Allies were defiantly predicting his leadership was safe but party grandees began mulling a challenge over the weekend, concerned he would never be able to fully put concerns about his views behind him. Lib Dem peer Brian Paddick, once the country’s most senior gay police officer, expressed concerns about Farron’s views and then quit his role as frontbench spokesman.In a resignation speech he had not expected to give, Farron was defiant that he could not compromise his faith, even for the party he loved. “I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party,” he said.“Imagine how proud I am to lead this party. And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour. In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something ‘so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all’.”

Yet Tim Farron's article in the Credo section of the Times today provides in my view an impressive upbeat view of Christianity generally.  The initial part of his  concluding paragraph reads:
The Gospel teaches us to forgive others because we have been forgiven. We are to seek justice with love an compassion and to let go of our bitterness.

The paragraph then turns to the UK in particular where he states:
If we want to heal the Brexit divisions, we must be willing to give up our anger and to offer and receive forgiveness. We do this in the hope that one day our world will be restored, and in the strength of the God who offers us his unconditional love. At the Start of the new year, surely these are gifts worth opening?

Tim Farron's Christian beliefs are I understand derived from passionate Protestantism whereas my own are  Roman Catholic but his Credo article in Today's Times newspaper illustrates that many of our beliefs are identical.

The Wandering Soul

Publishing a book seemed straightforward for my late mother who had umpteen published. For her second son however the process proved more di...