Wednesday, 30 June 2010

In conversation with...


 In 3 words describe The Figurehead.

Love and death.

Now you have another 21 words - give us some detail of the plot.

In Aberdeen in 1840, a shipwright dies and John Grant carves a figurehead, solves a mystery and starts falling in love.

Do you ever write naked?

I live in Aberdeen, ergo naked writing = hypothermia. Anyway, why let reality spoil my mental image of myself as a Lord Byron figure (without the bad leg)?

Why 1840?

I wanted it to be 19th century, near the Romantics because my PhD was on Victor Hugo’s theatre and I like all that excessive Romanticism stuff anyway. Narrowing it down was easy because Aberdeen Library had an ordnance survey map of the city in 1840. Then I discovered that the Scottish Maid, the first ship to have a clipper bow, was designed and launched in Aberdeen in 1839, exactly 100 years before my birthday. And sail was being threatened by steam, and a new-fangled thing called a propeller was being demonstrated, and emigration to the Americas, Australia and New Zealand was big business – so it’s a great time. (And there’s no DNA or CSI to worry about, either.)

Suits me. I hate all that DNA malarkey. If I want a science manual I’ll go to the non-fiction department thankyouverymuch. You've published crime and now with The Figurehead there appears to be an element of romance. You going soft on us?

This harsh exterior hides a gentle, tender soul. Anyway, The Figurehead is still a crime novel. It just so happened that the carver, John Grant, and half his model, Helen Anderson, started fancying one another so who was I to stop them? I think it’s a shame that we have to be genre-labelled, anyway. It’s inhibiting. I only became a crime writer by accident.

You have a bad leg? Awwww. What other faults would you like to tell us about?

No, no. Byron had the bad leg – club foot. It hurt like eff, so he drank hock and soda water to take his mind off it. (Works for me.)

As for my own faults, my first impulse was to claim that I’m almost flawless (‘almost’ because my generosity, compassion and modesty are excessive). But it’s hard to signal something as a joke in writing, and self-deprecation doesn’t always work. I was once very embarrassed in the USA where I directed As you like it for the URI Theater Department. After the last show, they gave me some lovely, thoughtful gifts and, in my thank you speech, I said the show had been wonderful thanks to the director. They all applauded and agreed but no doubt thought I was a wanker when all I wanted was to get a laugh.

So let’s see – there’s selfishness, laziness, occasional gluttony (eating whole tubs of Ben and Jerry’s as I watch football), impatience with politicians and an extraordinarily low attention span. Those are just a few off the top of my head – interview my wife to get the rest.

I called her. She says she’s going to keep all the good stuff until you have shuffled off this mortal coil, and then make a fortune.

When it comes to violence in fiction how far should you go?

This is a perennial problem, isn’t it? I remember writing a blog about it way back and I’m still puzzled by our appetite for (or tolerance of) it. It’s clear that lots of readers expect to find a bit of gore dripping off the pages. One psychologist/critic (can’t remember who) said crime writers ‘stylise’ murder, make it acceptable by turning it into something other than a grotesque invasion of one person by another. I don’t buy that. I think we’re satisfying some incomprehensible but very real appetite. We rubber-neck at accident scenes, the papers dwell on the gruesome details of stabbings, rape, torture, murder. Unlike with their politics, they’re not forming our tastes and opinions, they’re meeting a demand. I don’t imagine for a moment that many of us would be capable of doing any of those things ourselves but the fascination with them is definitely there.

Having said all that, I have a nagging concern that we don’t really know what we’re unleashing when we invent our nasty episodes. The arguments about video games apply to our violent scenes, too – copycat killings, kids using knives so casually, and the whole excitement and glamour of violence. It’s fine for me to sit here, sun shining on the garden outside, and decide to eviscerate someone with a blunt breadknife and wrap up the bits in cling-film. My imagination can conceive of it but I’d never be able to do it. But we don’t all share the same morality and there may well be readers who find such words and images ‘cool’. That makes me shudder more than the fictional gore-fest.

See question above and tell us what you think about any responsibility that the author might have...

I’ve sort of answered that already (even if it’s by a ‘don’t know’). But I think there’s another angle on it. Just as writers get caught up with their characters and their autonomy, so they get dragged into their motives and the situations in which they find themselves. In a way, it’s possible that the writer’s an accomplice but the real responsibility lies with the character.

OK, I need to explain that. When I wrote my first procedural, I decided it had to have some nastiness because that sells books. That sounds glib, irresponsible maybe because the scene I wrote, towards the end of the book, is quite shocking. But I didn’t sit here dreaming up torments – they all came straight out of the character involved and the motives behind the violence. It was a necessary part of that person’s psyche and essential to the plot. Mind you, it still didn’t stop my agent at the time happily introducing me to a friend as ‘a nice man who has very nasty thoughts’. When asked to do readings or give talks, I never read such passages, though, and I actually find them disturbing when I look at them now. So the writer in me writes them and enjoys the process, but the reader in me finds them hard to take. Over to you, Mr. therapist.

Hey, I’m not your therapist, dude. Although I am available for a fee and therefore happy to make some shit up to earn it...and what responsibility does someone like yourself have who is, and I quote "almost flawless"?

I knew I shouldn’t have given you that whip to beat me with (see what I did there?). It’s actually scary to think that what I write could have a consequence other than just entertaining the reader, and nowadays I don’t exploit the commercial potential of violence at all. There was a rape in my second book (which I rewrote after my wife read and commented on it and gave me insights into the victim’s responses which I hadn’t had myself). Again, it’s nasty and again it’s necessary. Luckily, when the late Susanna Yager reviewed it in the Sunday Telegraph, she acknowledged that it wasn’t ‘there to titillate, but to carry the story forward and ultimately bring about the climax to a thoughtful and thought-provoking book’. I think if I were to discover that something I wrote provoked or informed actual violence to a real person, I’d feel very guilty. So I acknowledge the responsibility – and yet I still go on writing that sort of thing when it’s necessary. Is that me copping out? Come on, you’ve reviewed umpteen crime novels, you tell me.

 I like what Stephen King says about a contract between the writer and the reader and the writer’s duty to write about his/ her character with honesty. Anywho, this isn’t about me. For once. So...moving on...when giving writerly advice, Oliver Wendell Holmes said that when writing about a frog you should inhabit your frog-ness. How do you inhabit your frogness?

The temptation to discuss my genuine Francophilia is strong but I’ll resist it. One response that your question does provoke, though, is that doing something and thinking about how you do it are distinct things. On one hand, you’re the writer – absorbed in the work, unaware of self or the passage of time, part of the fiction that’s being created – on the other, you’re stepping back from the process, analysing it objectively in full awareness of who you are and what your aims and intentions are too. So my answer is that I definitely do ‘inhabit my frogness’ but if I start trying to say how I do it, I might be inventing something which wasn’t necessarily true. (Interestingly – to me anyway – this answer reflects what I was saying about my attitudes to violence as writer and reader – the writer is wrapped up in it, part of it and can therefore do it; the reader is further from it, more capable of the necessary objectivity you need for analysis.)

Talking about Stephen King - we were, people. Keep up. What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

I’ll tell you a secret. At school and university, I used to write the occasional letter to the editor and even an odd article here and there. I was too idle to actually become a student journalist or anything and writing was just for fun. So the aim was rarely serious but a couple of times I got very enthusiastic responses from teachers, lecturers, even profs. And yet no one ever suggested that I should look for a career involving writing. With hindsight, it was the obvious route for me to follow.

So some people said nice things but I don’t think I can pinpoint a specific piece of writing advice given to me personally. As a student, reading old critics such as G Wilson Knight and others made me realise for the first time how writing can have so many layers of significance (not that I’m claiming that for my stuff). And the ‘rules’ of Elmore Leonard are brilliant and spot on. I only ever give two bits of advice myself – read what you’ve written aloud to test for rhythms, gaps, mistakes, etc. and cut, cut, cut.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (as in, you fly by the seat of your pants - and if you know where that expression comes from, do tell)

As part of my slavish desire to please you, I checked the expression and it’s probably British from WW1 – planes with few or unreliable instruments, so the pilot made his judgements on how the aircraft was moving, shuddering etc. – all of which he felt through his chair. But for once, your question’s easy to answer. I’m a rudimentary plotter but, once the words start appearing, the pantser takes over. I have a general overall idea of where I want to get to but I let the characters take me there (or somewhere else if that’s what they decide). I even laugh at their jokes. Maybe authors should all be sectioned to protect society.

I’m liking this slavish desire you have to pleasing me. Now...while I come up with ways in which I can take advantage of this tell us all how to buy a copy of The Figurehead and what formats it is in.

The formats take me into new territory. It’s the first time I’ve had a book published simultaneously as e-book, e-serial and paperback. It’s already available in the USA but an ISBN number glitch has delayed it in the UK. I’m assured that’ll be cleared up very quickly. People who registered with Virtual Tales (the publishers) get the first 4 chapters free and a 40% discount on the cover price. I don’t know if that offer’s still open but all you have to do is send a blank email to to find out. The relevant web page is at Most of all, it would be nice if readers went into their local bookshop and, if it’s not on the shelves, expressed, in very loud voices and at great length, their amazement at such a shocking lapse on the part of the manager.

Like this, people... “ohmyGOD, you DON’T have a copy of The Figurehead by Bill Kirton?

If what you have read here doesn't slake your desire for all things Bill, he can be found on his blog and the link is on the right-hand side of this page. No. The other right. Or you could post a question in the comments section and as he, by his own admission, is a devoted fan of May Contain Nuts, he will spot it and reply quicker than a very quick thing.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Earth Sick


I don’t normally get political on this blog, but as a citizen of the planet (yeah, I know it sounds wanky) I want to share my concern about the continued struggle to tap the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

See below for an article from the Wayne Madsen Reports, an online news program, which says that there may be a 200 mile radius dead zone around the BP oil spill, in which all life will be threatened and which may have to be evacuated in the area we live in. Wayne Madsen is a former National Security Agent, now an investigative reporter. Madsen scoops the mainstream media on many important stories because much of his info comes from current and former members of various intelligence operations, but these are usually anonymous sources.

June 23, 2010 -- Government insiders: Get ready for the Gulf "dead zone"

Bad news concerning the Gulf oil disaster continues to come from WMR's federal government sources in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Emergency planners are dealing with a prospective "dead zone" within a 200 mile radius from the Deepwater Horizon disaster datum in the Gulf.

A looming environmental and population displacement disaster is brewing in the Gulf. The oil dispersant used by BP, Corexit 9500, is seen by FEMA sources as mixing with evaporated water from the Gulf and absorbed by rain clouds producing toxic precipitation that threatens to kill all marine and land animals, plant life, and humans within a 200-mile radius of the Deepwater Horizon disaster site in the Gulf. Adding to the worries of FEMA and the Corps of Engineers is the large amounts of methane that are escaping from the cavernous grotto of oil underneath the Macondo drilling area of Gulf of Mexico.

On a recent visit to the Gulf coast, President Obama vowed that the Gulf coast will "return to normal." However, federal officials dealing with the short- and long-term impact of the oil disaster report that the "dead zone" created by a combination of methane gas and Corexit toxic rain will force the evacuation and long-term abandonment of cities and towns within the 200-mile radius of the oil volcano.
Plans are being put in place for the mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Mandeville, Hammond, Houma, Belle Chase, Chalmette, Slidell, Biloxi, Gulfport, Pensacola, Hattiesburg, Mobile, Bay Minette, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Crestview, and Pascagoula.
The toxic rain from the Gulf is expected to poison fresh water reservoirs and lakes, streams, and rivers, which will also have a disastrous impact on agriculture and livestock, as well as drinking water, in the affected region.
FEMA officials also claim that the $20 billion compensation fund set aside by BP is not nearly enough to offset the costs of the disaster. The FEMA sources say the disaster will cost well in excess of $1 trillion, and likely closer to $2-3 trillion.

‘Nuff said.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

A different version...

Here’s one for those people who are tired of the English football commentators…you know that delusional chat to the camera that comes from trying to convince yourself and the nation that what you are seeing is not the actual truth of things?

It came from by brother in Ireland and it’s a comparison of what people were saying during the recent England games, when they didn’t have an axe to grind or a paymaster general to please.

Oh yes…it’s Irish TV versus the BBC.

(and to help you with the nationality of the speaker there's a wee bit of colour coding.)

Hansen: “Once England got the goal the confidence levels surged, they were excellent.”

Eamon Dunphy: “They just didn’t grow in confidence at all after the goal.”

Lineker: “The goal really settled them, didn’t it? They pushed on from there.”

Ronnie Whelan: “You’d think they’d have kicked on from when they scored, but they actually got worse.”

Roy: “England’s crossing has been absolutely outstanding.”

Giles: “Some of the crossing was just awful.”

Shearer: “Rooney looks more confident, he’s getting around the pitch a lot better.”

Dunphy: “It’s shocking to see Rooney so subdued, he’s been reduced to a shivering wreck.”

Shearer: “They look much more comfortable on the ball, they’re passing it with a purpose, with pace, they’re closing down – a much better performance, it’s encouraging.”

Giles: “They’re much better than they have been, but they couldn’t have been worse.”

No arguments, then. Second half. England held on. Full-time. Ready?

Lee Dixon: “A great performance.”

Dunphy: “Shocking . . . absolutely incredibly bad . . . pretty awful stuff.”

Hansen: “The commitment was there, the spirit was there, the enterprise was there, the creativity was there, they passed it better – they could have scored five or six quite easily. Capello will obviously be delighted with the performance.”

Giles: “If that’s the shackles off what’ll they be like when the shackles are back on?”

’Arry Redknapp: “We played with pace, we got after them, we pressed them, there wasn’t a weakness in the team.”

Dunphy: “They were astonishingly poor.”

Lineker: “He looked more like the Rooney we know.”

Ronnie: “Rooney is a major worry, his form, his body language, his demeanour, everything.”

Dixon: “Gerrard was outstanding.”

Dunphy: “I can’t believe how bad Gerrard was today.”

’Arry: “Across midfield we were top drawer.”

Giles: “Barry got worse as the game went on, Milner, Gerrard and Lampard the same.”

’Arry: “Bring it on! Whoever we play we’ll be difficult to beat.”

Ronnie: “If they don’t improve they’ll go straight out, it was a very, very inept performance.”

Thursday, 24 June 2010

School's almost out...

The wee fella was in the end of term school musical last week. He was a policeman in The Pirates of Prestwick and he wielded his truncheon with an energy and self-belief that had me fair wilting with pride...or maybe that was the heat. The school hall with its large windows and wooden frame was doing a fair impression of a sauna, minus the plunge pool and the Scandinavian babes. The closest they came to having air conditioning was the pirate sword holding the door open up the back of the hall.

The eagle-eyed among you – or at least the geographically articulate will have noticed how the school “musical director” changed the name of the musical to reflect the school’s situation. Geddit? Prestwick instead of Penzance? Gilbert and Sullivan. What the fokk is that all about? Prissy, self-congratulatory and antediluvian musical mush.

“I am the very model of a modern Major General,

I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,”

What utter mince. I HATED their stuff when I was at school and they still make the poor kids sing it all these years later.

Fokkers. You can tell I was scarred can’t you?

To be fair the kids (11 and 12 years old) gave it their all. If Amanda/ Piers/ Simon/ Louis/ Cheryl/ Danni had been present they’d have been told that they made it their own. But they would have no doubt questioned the choice of songs, suggesting that they sing something the audience would be more familiar with. Like a Lady Gaga cover.

I overheard one of the leads speak to his girlfriend on the way out. She was like a full two heads taller than he was. Apparently he told her he fancied her during the rehearsals. I’m guessing the glamour of showbiz was enough for her to overlook (see what I did there?) the height thing.

All that effort – he said to her, his wee face flushed and his stage makeup running down his cheeks – I’m not sure the pleasure I got from performing was worth it.

That’s Gilbert and Sullivan for you, mate.

Monday, 21 June 2010

A Song for Summer Solstice...

Listen to the words, kick of your shoes and dance around the living room like no-one's watching.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The one where I'm having a short break from the World Cup...

My sticky willie is rampant. And the grass looks like I trimmed it with a blowtorch. Any green shooting through the turf is actually a weed.

This is me taking a break from the World Cup – well, I’m recording the game, while I attend to the catastrophe that is my garden. There is a great Scottish word for just such a mess; a mogre. I think that’s how you spell it. You pronounce it like ogre – just add the “m”. See the stuff you learn on this blog!

As for the sticky willie I just looked it up on google (all hail google) and it has all these names; Beggar’s Lice, Catchweed Bedstraw, Cleverwort, Everlasting friendship, etc etc etc. It’s nice having all these names and everything but it’s a fokken nuisance.

Just so you know, in honour of the South African hosts of the footie, I’ve decided I should swear in their language. If you don’t like it you can fokken sue me.

This is just a wee posting today – unlike my sticky willie – ‘cos I have been lax with my blogging duties of late.

Anywho, the garden is still calling me. But this time it’s for a bout of sloth. I feel some lethargy coming on and it would be rude to ignore it.

Have a good weekend, people.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Awww bless...

Awww, bless.

And for those of you who weren’t enjoying/ lamenting the above moment...this is where the England goalkeeper allowed the USA to equalise at the World Cup, Saturday June 12, 2010.

All of which is fun and allows us Scots a wee chuckle at the cost of our near-neighbours. Yes, I know we didn’t make it to the Big Party. Again. But our attitude is quite different. Our fans sing a song that goes “We’re shite, but we know we are.” Whereas in contrast the English media behave with jingoism, parochialism and an arrogance that makes you wonder why there aren’t more England strips burning on Scottish, Welsh and Irish barbecues.

Mmm –doesn’t that red cross and white background go nicely with lamb skewers?

I’m not going to list their transgressions but if you are sitting in a living room in Scotland, Wales or Ireland watching an English broadcast of ANY World Cup game, I’m guessing you’re watching with the volume turned down.

Which brings me, rather nicely I might add to an article that appeared in a bastion of Englishness (The Mail) the other day. In said article some poor journalist got his gusset all hot and scratchy over the demise of the Queen’s English.

It seems that American English is taking over and this form of cultural imperialism is one that everyone on this side of the Atlantic should be resisting. Get your mind into Chambers and your eyes off the telly is the basic message.

One also wonders (note the grammatical excellence, people – which I then ruin by using the popular Americanism of “people”) whether the timing of this article had anything to do with the impending football/ soccer game with England taking on the USA on the playing field. After all, the guardians of all things English might argue, this is our game and you even jolly well changed its name. Poppycock and piffle of the highest order.

I admit that I have a certain amount of sympathy (this is me holding my index finger and thumb slightly apart) with this message. There are certain corporate clichés that surely originated in a US boardroom which have taken over and – if I give good English a rest for a moment – get on my tits.

Utilise – this is surely an attempt to demonstrate that the speaker has an extensive vocabulary and proves the exact fecking opposite.

Going forward – whenever I hear this one I lose the speakers message and all I can think is, fuck off and die.

There’s also the one about flying an idea “up the flagpole”, presumably to see which way the prevailing wind (general opinion) affects the idea.

However as a fan of fiction and American crime fiction in particular I think these moaning myrtles are losing a trick here. Yes, English is an incredibly rich and expressive language but it is a growing one with new words being added to the lexicon on almost a daily basis. There’s always an upside (I bet they hate that one too).

Many authors writing in, dare I say it, American English display a vibrancy of use and brio that makes the journey of their novel a more stimulating and colourful experience. And now you’re gonna ask for an example. You think I’m that well prepared? This is a flow of consciousness job I’m working on here, people. Why don’t you go and look for yourself? Pick up any of the following and savour...

James Lee Burke, Don Winslow, George Pelecanos, Walter Mosely, Elmore Leonard, Michael Malone (the American one), Jim Thompson, James M Cain, etc etc etc.

Being an erudite and well-read bunch, you guys are bound to have your own ideas here. So who would you add to this list?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Ladies Night In....or not.

With all of the money that Tesco have at their disposal you’d think they’d be able to target their promotional emails a little more carefully. Here is an excerpt from one I received last week...

Dear Mr Malone,

This week at we're celebrating the highly anticipated release of Sex and the City 2 with these fantastic offers to help you have the perfect girl's night in. From wine to dips and pizza to desserts, we've got all you need for a fabulous night in with the ladies.

Now, I don’t mind a wee drop of wine, the odd pizza or dessert and I wouldn’t be averse to a night in with the ladies – do Tesco provide them as well? The advert didn’t say. But celebrate SATC 2?


I’d rather sit and watch a party political broadcast – for any political party - scripted by Katie Price, starring Piers Morgan, with music by Jedward and directed by Chris Moyles.


A trailer for SATC 2 was on the TV the other night and the wee fella reminded me that my attempts to socialise him are failing and that the age of Political Correctness has completely passed him by when he ranted – I don’t get it, dad. Why are they making a fuss about these women? They’re old and they’re ugly and that one – Sarah Jessica Parker flits across the screen in some designer blah – has a face like a horse.

Ouch. were more on course with their marketing this week when their promo talked about the World Cup (this is me jumping up and down and screaming, I can’t wait!) and offered cheap beer and crisps.

D’ye think if I get in some wine, pizza and desserts the ladies will come along as well?

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Art, Poetry and Britain's Got Talent.

Having a good day people. See me with the big smile.

Started off by visiting my local library. Yeah, I know, I buy loads of books, receive more than a few freebies to review for AND I go to the library. I am the book world equivalent of Imelda Marcos, so sue me.

I had some books that were overdue; they had to go back today and lo, I walked in to see that the Library staff have revamped their crime fiction section and verily it is freakin’ fantastic. I’m way too manly to squeal and do the fast handclap thing, but for a moment it was a close run thing. 10 minutes later I left with a Ken Bruen, a three in one of George Pelecanos, an Elmore Leonard, a slice of Walter Moseley and some homegrown talent in the shape of Karen Campbell.

Oh man. Somebody tell my boss I won’t be in next week. Love it, love it, love it.

The library was a wee detour on the main business of the day which was a poetry reading the divine Miss Sheila T and myself were giving in Ayr Town Hall. This was part of an Ayrshire Arts Network event. There was an exhibition in the main hall of various art groups including the literary, visual (paintings/ crafts) and auditory (opera/ choral) and some events in meeting rooms where various arty types got to do their thing. Which was where Sheila and I came in.

This part of Ayrshire (south) has a poor record in the arts and this was a brave salvo from the organisers to get something going in the local scene. Given the parlous financial state of the country there is very little in the way of funding available for the arts; it is up to the people to do something about it. So this is me tipping my hat to the organisers.

To be honest, the reaction from the public was nothing short of pathetic. Was this to do with the weather? It was a beautiful day; most people would be on the beach/ in their garden? Or was it due to poor marketing? Or perhaps a lack of appetite for these things? You just know that if people got off their collective arse they would enjoy this stuff. But it’s not fronted by Simon Cowell or featured in the gossip rags we call newspapers so it passes completely by the great unwashed.

If folks (and I include myself in this) could get their snouts out of the trough of populist entertainment for just an hour a week it would make a huge difference. Art is not a luxury, people.

I know, I know, I’m pissing into the wind.

Anywho, first thing we did on arrival was to go to the hospitality room. Man, was the food good. All local produce lovingly produced and beautifully presented. Well, the “chef” was an artist. And as for the desserts!!! A pavlova the size of my garden table, crested with a mound of summer berries and a chocolate tart that was so deliciously gooey it stuck to the knife. Yum. My teeth were sweating just looking at them. Oh right...that was saliva?

Being violets of the blushing variety, Sheila and I were first to the food...and first to break the crust on the pavlova. It was almost a sin to disturb it. Almost.

Fed and watered, we made our way to the room where the poetry reading was to take place – with no real expectation. If there were more of an audience than there were poets, well that would have been a success and ...I’m happy to report we had around 18-20 people.

The audience were appreciative, fully engaged and asked some fascinating questions. Modesty prevents me from repeating the comments afterwards (yeah, right) but it is fair to say that Sheila and I were chuffed to go down so well.

After all that art stuff, I have an evening in front of the black box and the final of Britain’s Got Talent. See, I can do popular entertainment. But I’ll record it and watch later. (I have part 2 of Mesrine to watch on DVD) Then when I watch BGT I can speed past the cloying fillers with the contestants repeating “this means the world to me” ad nauseum – can someone not teach them to say something else? I’ll also be winding past the comments of the judges, especially Piers Morgan and Amanda Whatsername. Who are they? The former editor of the biggest rag of them all and a – what is she famous for again? Feckin’ clueless the pair of ‘em. With the people they put through into the semi-finals we should change the programme title to Britain’s Got A Little Talent, Quite a Few Transvestites and Plenty Bullshit Artists.

I prescribe a day out at a local art fair for Piers and Amanda. Might learn something.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Nut News June 2010

Ever worried about falling asleep on the bus or train? You have a night out, one or three too many and you miss your stop ending up in a strange place? Well spare a thought for a woman called Ginger McGuire who fell asleep in a plane.

The somnambulist fell asleep on a late-night United Express flight from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia. She failed to wake up after the 50-passenger plane touched down at 12:27 a.m. local time and everyone else disembarked.

A cleaning crew eventually roused her, but she was kept locked in the plane until federal officers were satisfied that she was not a terrorist. They were clearly concerned that the latest terrorist tactic is making an ass of yourself.

Ginger, exhibiting that uniquely litigious bent that the American legal system supports is now suing for false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

Just when you thought the anti-smoking campaign might be working, along comes a news story that proves otherwise. Ardi Rizal, aged two years, has a 40-per-day smoking habit. His mother has tried to get him to stop, especially since the government has offered to buy the family a new car once the child quits, but she says he is entirely too addicted. His father, on the other hand, doesn't see any problem - "He looks pretty healthy to me..." In the meantime, Ardi's health is such that he can't run around and play with the other kids. Instead he rides around on a plastic toy truck while puffing away, looking like a parody of a middle-aged truck driver.

In other news, it turns out that that a guy who exposed his own Social Security Number in his promotional material in order to sell his "LifeLock" identity-protection service has--oops!--had his identity stolen at least 13 times since he started advertising it, but hey, customers keep coming, at $10-$15 a month.

And this one’s for Thea – how’s the new job? - last Week in Texas . . . lawyer Carolyn Barnes, 53, was jailed for allegedly firing five shots toward a U.S. Census worker who didn't leave her property fast enough. Her plea in mitigation was: "I've been practicing law since 1984, and I haven't shot anybody yet ..." Oh, well, that’s ok then.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Its the first of the month and that means...

...there are fresh reviews on CRIMESQUAD.COM

A few of mine are sitting there waiting for your delectation, including John Connolly's The Whisperers and our Book of the Month, Cross Country Murder Song by Philip Wilding.

Also included is a review of a new novel by a friend of this blog; Donna Moore and Old Dogs. Donna has her own blog - absolutely well worth a read - go here bigbeatfrombadsville in which she (mainly) highlights Scottish crime fiction. Bless her wee cotton socks and thigh-length boots.

Donna's latest novel was described by book reviewer extraordinaire, Declan Burke as being like an Ealing comedy with salty Glaswegian patter. Or somebody did. I should check but I don't have time/ can't be arsed.

Here's what I had to say over at Crimesquad...

Having established her credentials with her first published novel “Go To Helena Handbasket” Donna Moore turns her wit and attention on to the world of the crime caper with gut-achingly funny results.

With care and precision Donna introduces her main players and their foibles and then very cleverly drops them in and out of the action to maximum effect. How she orchestrates her comic set-pieces is nothing short of genius and designed to eke out every last piece of humour.

An extra ability added to the already impressive list of skills that Donna exhibits in her writing is the ear she has for dialogue. For someone who is not a natural Scot she has the accent and the patter down to perfection.

If Alexander Pope was here to turn his attention to crime writing rather than philosophy he might have said, to laugh is human; to make other people laugh is divine. Donna Moore shine your halo.

Now people, go do yourself a favour and buy a copy.