All posts in The Long Hard Road

Unfinished Business Revealed


Welcome back! I’m sure you’ve already read the story behind my first novel ‘The Final Straw Revealed’ which precedes this new chapter?

‘Unfinished Business’ is the sequel to ‘The Final Straw’ and continues Colin Bailey’s quest for revenge. The key themes of this sequel are death, revenge and music. “Hang on! Did you say music?”

Absolutely! Colin Bailey is a meticulous planner and in ‘The Final Straw’ he and his wife Karen were regular visitors to their local pub for their Friday night ‘music fix’. Hard rock and heavy metal music were what got Colin’s juices flowing. He spent many hours planning how to dispose of the people on his list listening to tracks by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest on his Walkman while he was working underground at Leigh Park Mines.

Using the name Colin Owens to stay under the radar of Border Control, he becomes a roadie with a Canadian Iron Maiden tribute band touring the UK and Europe. He goes deeper under cover by adopting the name Owen Collins while on the road. The band begins the tour in Scotland and moves down the eastern coast of England, crossing over to Liverpool and Manchester before eventually heading south to London.

This was all familiar territory for me; in a previous life I sang with bands that played various types of music; the last band I was in were very much a hard rock outfit. We covered tracks by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream and Rory Gallagher (all new names on the scene back then!). These were all mixed up with our own material and we were LOUD! We travelled in our Transit van with our roadies, unlike Maiden’s Hair in the book; there was no tour bus for us!

Travelling across the country, unloading our kit & getting set up for a gig, playing our set, then breaking the kit down & getting away to the next stop on our own musical mystery tour was part & parcel of our everyday lives for almost a decade. ‘Unfinished Business’ allowed me to make a sentimental return to the good old days in fiction at least; but back to the dark world of Colin Bailey and his quest!

Colin had seen that the band’s itinerary meant he could tick a few names off his list as he travelled across the country. Everything fitted! His plan was complete; he was scheduled for one last task at the end of the UK leg of the tour; this was when the band moved across to Europe and Colin could deal with the policeman whose continual harrying and frustrating might prove to deflect him from his mission – Phil Hounsell.

Colin hadn’t missed a trick; by keeping an eye on the local news from that quiet West Country town where he had been brought up, he knew that Phil was married with two young children and was now living on the outskirts of the city of Bath. He knew too that Phil had been promoted and had moved on to work in London as part of what proved to be the short lived Serious Organised Crime Agency.

As each name on Colin’s list is ruthlessly eliminated Phil Hounsell teams up with several of his former West Country colleagues as they hunt down the stone cold killer. Other characters that play a significant role in the story are:

Erica Hounsell, Phil’s long suffering wife, who finds herself in danger when Colin wants to be left alone to continue with his task.

Frankie & Billy, the roadies that work alongside Owen Collins, totally unaware of what he is up to.

Therese Slater, a Manchester barmaid who falls for Colin and gives up everything to follow him wherever he may end up. Does Colin have feelings for her? The final scenes on the towpath by the Pulteney weir in Bath leave you with as many questions as answers!

This novel was intended to tie up the loose ends that remained on the final page of ‘The Final Straw’; however, after consultation with my wife (she spoke – I listened) there are new threads beginning at the end of ‘Unfinished Business’! Sorry, if you want to know where all these threads will lead you’ll have to read the book, and then the NEXT novel will make sense!

I deal in facts not fantasy; the reality is that the world is a nasty place and although Colin Bailey may have an extreme way of improving it, sooner or later the streets will have to be cleaned. If this book helps to get that message across then it will have served a purpose.

Does it sound like the book for you?

For all your promotional needs and social media exposure par excellence I heartily recommend

The Final Straw Revealed


This chapter will give new readers a chance to discover what ‘The Final Straw’, my first novel, was all about and hopefully persuade you there’s a good read just a click away!
For those of you who haven’t been with me on ‘The Long Hard Road’ from the beginning, it might just convince you to take a look.

The key themes of the book are family drama, tragedy, death and revenge. The main characters are the Bailey family and the story centres on their seemingly inevitable journey to disaster.

Other characters in the book that play pivotal roles in the story line are:

Phil Hounsell, a Midlands born policeman who transfers into the West Country town and seems destined to be chasing Colin Bailey for most of his career.

Sue Owens, the wife of Colin’s employer at Leigh Park Mines, who is a woman knows exactly what she wants and isn’t shy about getting it!

Neil Cartwright, a six foot eight, eighteen stone, tattooed biker who is Colin’s only male friend. Of course, Colin’s naivety regarding relationships doesn’t augur well for the future of that friendship!

The book is set in the West Country where I have lived all my life. There are worked out mines within five miles of my house that have been used in wartime for military purposes, in the cold war on standby as an underground bunker for Prime Ministers and Cabinet members to be housed. In peace time all sorts of businesses have used the facilities to store items which benefit from the underground conditions. Leigh Park Mines don’t exist but they are typical of the companies operating in the area.

As for the town itself, this is entirely fictitious; in fact it’s unnamed in the book. It represents a typical West Wiltshire town with its shops, official buildings and housing estates and sadly nowadays they increasingly share the gang culture, drugs and the crime that the book portrays. Times have changed significantly since I was growing up!

‘The Final Straw’ is fairly dark and the themes it deals with don’t generally have roses around the door and happy endings, so romance and mystery are thin on the ground. Life is pretty bleak in this quiet fictional town and my chosen style of writing means you get the facts warts and all!

Most reviews have been favourable and a quick read through on my website will tell you it’s an easy read. ‘The Final Straw’ was voted ‘Best Book Ever’ (Quality Reads UK Book Club) in September 2013. My ambition is to write books people enjoy reading; nothing more, nothing less.

Now I’ve whetted your appetite why not take the next step?

For all your promotional needs and social media exposure par excellence I heartily recommend

Let’s Twist Again! (the story of ‘A Sting In The Tale’)



This review from Tina Stanciu for Reader’s Favorite probably sums up ‘A Sting In The Tale’ pretty well!

“This is a collection of short stories that introduces the reader to a world that has a little something for everyone: love, ghost stories, revenge tales, books and libraries, and a touch of humor that perfectly binds them all together.”

“The first story, which was also my favorite, is about a bookstore owner who finds a little sparkle of joy and excitement in his monotonous life in the shape of a beautiful and interesting young lady. But as the cleverly chosen title says, there is a sting in every tale, and we, the readers, are dared to find it, which makes the reading experience even more entertaining and makes you want to read them all at once.”

“Short stories have a harder role to play than novels. They need to get the reader to love the characters and be hooked by the plot line sooner than in the case of novels, and also, we need to be able to move from one character to another without losing the feeling of excitement that we expect to have.”

“ This is a superbly written collection of short stories; the author’s style is truthful, fresh, and the touch of humor adds the finishing touches to an already beautiful reading experience.”

“Ted Tayler’s stories made me feel like I was part of the action; the plot twists made me want more and the vivid descriptions put the scenes in my mind as if I was watching a movie. I saw the library; I saw the park; and I felt the emotions that the characters felt as their stories were revealed before my eyes.”

Take a look at these shorts with a twist why don’t you? There’s a lot of variety there for very little money!

For all your promotional needs and social media exposure par excellence I heartily recommend

Musical Mystery Tour (the story of ‘Unfinished Business’)




‘Unfinished Business’ is the sequel to ‘The Final Straw’ and continues Colin Bailey’s quest for revenge. After a decade in West Africa, out of reach of the long arm of the law, he has waited impatiently for the news of whether Neil Cartwright, his former friend, has managed to get parole.

Colin Bailey is now in his early forties and alone. He has watched his homeland sink further into a morass of crime, drugs, sexual exploitation and domestic slavery with increasing anger; he despairs of the efforts of the police and the legal system to do what’s needed to remove the cancer killing the country he loves. He sees himself as the only person with the will and cold blooded efficiency to clean the streets of these criminals.

The key themes of this sequel are death, revenge and music. Hard rock and heavy metal got Colin’s juices flowing. He spent many hours planning how to dispose of the people on his list listening to his Walkman while working underground at Leigh Park Mines.

Colin becomes a roadie with a Canadian Iron Maiden tribute band. Their tour begins in Scotland and moves down the eastern coast of England, crossing over to Liverpool and Manchester before eventually heading south to London.

The band’s itinerary meant he could tick a few names off his list as he travelled across the country. Everything fitted! His plan was complete; he had one last task at the end of the UK leg of the tour; Colin could deal with the policeman whose continual harrying and frustrating might prove to deflect him from his mission – Phil Hounsell.

As each name on Colin’s list is being ruthlessly eliminated Phil Hounsell is teamed up with several of his former West Country colleagues as they hunt down the stone cold killer. He also meets Zara ‘Mouse’ Wheeler; she’s just over five feet tall, seven stones wringing wet, as sharp as a tack as regards police work but an innocent in the ways of the world.

Is there romance? Time will tell; certainly Zara finds her new boss attractive and thrown together in difficult situations in far flung corners of the UK, who knows what could happen?

Reviews for ‘Unfinished Business’ say it is: ‘a thriller in every sense of the word’; ‘a gripper’; ‘difficult to put down once you’ve started’.

Sounds like just the book to pick up doesn’t it?

For all your promotional needs and social media exposure par excellence I heartily recommend

Deaths In The Family (the story of ‘The Final Straw’)



This chapter will give new readers a chance to discover what ‘The Final Straw’, my first novel, was all about and hopefully persuade you there’s a good read just a click away!

The key themes of the book are family drama, tragedy, death and revenge. The main character Colin Bailey has a dysfunctional family. His parents Adam and Jennifer virtually ignored him as he was growing up; he was clearly a ‘mistake’. Their own lives were complicated enough without the encumbrance of a child.

Adam left his wife and son to live with another woman – without a backward glance. Jennifer had always played the field; let’s just say she ‘liked her bread buttered on both sides’.

Colin was unloved, unwanted and a loner; he was bullied at school by the members of two local gangs; their leaders Leroy Ambrose and Scott Hall, headed up the young thugs that terrorised the quiet West Country town where Colin lived.

Colin somehow stumbled into a relationship with Karen Smith; she was plain & chubby but willing and Colin was completely unaware of her many previous partners. They were forced to marry and had a daughter Sharron. This little mite was the first person Colin had ever loved in his life and who of course loved him unreservedly in return.

As Colin grew from a young boy into a young man, his hatred for his parents and those thugs that have tormented him led him to write down a list of people that he would like to dispose of. As the drama unfolds we follow him righting the wrongs he perceives have been done to him.

Whether you like Colin or not as a character it’s hard not to sympathise with him as he creates a safe haven for him, Karen and young Sharron, only for their happiness to be tragically torn apart. This was ‘The Final Straw’ that saw Colin embark on a path from which there was no turning back.

Now I’ve whetted your appetite why not take the next step?

For all your promotional needs and social media exposure par excellence I heartily recommend



Sorry I’ve been away so long! Okay, there have been a couple of writing related posts to keep you amused but it’s been ages since I let you know what’s actually been going on.

Towards the end of August Lynne & I joined up with our daughter Kim, husband Malcolm and dog Bailey, for a holiday in West Wales. Our accommodation was a converted barn on the outskirts of Newcastle Emlyn. This was perfect as a base camp to explore the area from Tenby in the south towards Aberystwyth in the north; we didn’t venture too far from the coast though as the walks and the views were spectacular.

I won’t bore you with all the details; if you’ve been you know the places we visited anyway & if you haven’t then I suggest you get down there as soon as you can. It’s well worth a visit! A brief summary of our thoroughly enjoyable week included:-

A boat trip to Caldey Island with dolphins swimming a hundred yards from the boat on the way out and long nature walks that sharpened the appetite for the chocolate factory shop’s delights!

There were visits to Aberaeron, New Quay and Aberporth which all left a lasting impression; plus a trip to St David’s on a very warm afternoon which kept us all amused. We enjoyed/endured long bracing walks during the daytime (on Poppit Sands to name but one); evenings were spent drinking & playing cards while keeping an eye out for the massive spiders that crept inside. Where did we eat? Two places warrant a mention, Yasmin’s the Indian restaurant in the village was superb value for money, while the Bunch of Grapes (also in the main street) served excellent food. We couldn’t tell you what their starters or desserts were like though as the main courses were more than sufficient to satisfy our taste buds!

Since we returned home we’ve caught up with our other children, their partners and the grandchildren. This week the little darlings were either returning to school or setting off on their educational adventure. As for Lynne & I, we’ve pottered around in the garden and started looking forward to our next trip abroad. We’re off to Majorca for some sunshine in a week or so, and then I’ve been told that I’m starting on my next novel! The Boss has given me her orders!

In the ‘Fiat Lux’ chapter I told you about getting in touch with some school colleagues from the early 60s. ‘Let There Be Light’ was our school motto and it was on the badge we had to have on our school blazers during our time at Trowbridge Boys High School. We plan to meet up again in October; progress has been slow in tracking down any more lost souls to swell our number.

I got side tracked after I got back from Wales! I was on LinkedIn checking out a few names when I idly requested information on one John Clarke; who hadn’t been at school with us at all! In fact he had worked for a computer whizkid who had introduced a ground breaking forecasting program into the company I worked for. John helped us increase our knowledge at a London computer bureau and subsequently showed us the delights of early personal computers. It was work, but with a large social twist & lunchtimes in London at the MM club and the Goat In Boots became legendary! He’s retired now & has just returned from a holiday in Canada; we’re planning to arrange a good catch up in the future.

I think the reason all this nostalgia business is taking over my spare time is because the book tours, the search for reviews and incessant promotional gimmicks I’ve had to resort to, have left me feeling frustrated. ‘Not for the first time!’ I hear you cry. That’s true enough; I’ve felt like packing it in on several occasions, but then every now & then a little boost comes along & gives you hope.

The ‘Unfinished Business’ review I requested via Reader’s Favorite eventually surfaced; a couple of months ago they had passed on a five star review of ‘A Sting In The Tale’ which was great news. This time it was a five star review for the sequel to ‘The Final Straw’. This is some of what Anne Marie Reynolds had to say:

“This was a thriller in every sense of the word. A real gripper and once I picked it up; I couldn’t put it down again until it was over. Starting slowly ‘Unfinished Business’ picked up pace and each chapter ended in such a way that stopping reading simply wasn’t an option; this was one of those rare books that pull a reader into the story & holds on tight, not letting go not even at the end. A round of applause to Ted Tayler; a brilliant writer & storyteller.”

That was certainly one of the ‘plus’ sides of the past month or so; another has been the feedback from the Review Seeker’s Facebook Page, There were only a couple of ‘takers’ from the adverts I posted for the three books; some of that was possibly my fault, perhaps I wasn’t persuasive enough? I didn’t post very often over the first three months either; I didn’t want to appear pushy! What I did do was ask whether the other writers suffered as I did in spending weeks seeking out potential reviewers. A lively discussion followed which provided some useful links and new contacts. How things progress from here only time will tell, but it’s good to know you’re not alone!

The book tours have been disappointing with the projected dates being all over the place; it was so much better last summer. There are potentially over sixty reviews to come, so maybe some good will be salvaged from the wreckage. I won’t be going down that route again. Pasture’s new next time I feel!

I have a few gripes about some of the bloggers and review sites too! I’ve wasted loads of time checking out possible leads from ‘umbrella’ sites that suggested I check out those offering ‘free promo & reviews’. So many of them have shut down; some aren’t taking any books due to the backlog they have to get through; some only read YA, MG, Fantasy, Dystopian, Steampunk, Romance or Kid’s books; but you only really discover this when you’ve drilled down through the minutiae. Then there are those that won’t touch an ebook or a self published item. How ‘sniffy’ is that in 2014 for heaven’s sake? The world has moved on and reviewers need to move with it.

All I want to do is ask politely for a review, having checked out that the reviewer is available & interested in the genre that my book is written in, then we agree a time frame for them to give my offering the time they need, then they tell me & the public at large whether it’s any good or not. Anything that facilitates that has to be a good thing. I just feel they could help us writers sort out which sites are right for us to approach with a few appropriate symbols on the links to their web pages. This would save us wasting their time and ours. Answers on a post card.

I’ll try to get back to you a little quicker next time; once the holiday is over I’ll be thinking about that next novel & school will be beckoning for some of my time. My last season of snooker as a Secretary will be well underway by then too. Another busy autumn & winter stretches out before us! Happy days!

Inside The Mind Of The Author

my familyInside The Mind of the Author

Tell us about yourself: – I’m sixty eight years of age; I’ve been married for almost forty three years to Lynne. We have three grown up children who are all married and have flown the nest! We have four grandchildren, one step grand daughter and a step great grand daughter – so far. I started my working life in a bank, and then joined a tyre company as an accountant. I was made redundant after thirty four years and I took early retirement.

What made you start writing: – A friend asked if the ‘war’ stories I had from my days in groups were written down anywhere for posterity. I replied that they were just in my head; four years later they were in a book. I had always read voraciously from a young age and written stuff while I was at school. Life got in the way of the writing but I’ve always read.

Do you have any favourite authors: – Ian Rankin; Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens. I don’t know whether I’ve been influenced by any of them but I love to read their work. I hope something has rubbed off because it couldn’t hurt could it!

Do you have a strong online presence: – Apart from this website where you can follow my blog? If you check out Facebook you’ll find my Author’s page at
You can follow me on Twitter on
My books are all over the place! Amazon, BooksGoSocial, Orangeberry, Smashwords, Goodreads, World Literary Café and Independent Author Network so there’s no excuse!

Tell us about your latest book: – ‘Unfinished Business’ is the sequel to my first novel ‘The Final Straw’ and it sees Colin Bailey return to the UK after almost a decade abroad. With a new name and a new face he still has scores to settle. His meticulous planning takes him ingeniously across Scotland and the North of England ticking names off his list with the police completely baffled.
DCI Phil Hounsell pitted his wits against Colin before and so he is sent to Durham where he teams up with super intelligent young DS Zara Wheeler; together they track their man to Manchester and then eventually south to Bath.
The final scenes take place on the streets of the Roman city; Phil Hounsell’s family is threatened and in a dramatic conclusion reminiscent of Holmes and Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, the two men struggle above the foaming waters of the historic Pulteney weir.

What’s your favourite genre to read: – Crime thrillers without question

Which do you do more, read or write and why: – I write more than I read; I research more than I read too! I wish I could find more time to read; there are so many titles I’ve seen in the last four years that I want to get to but writing and trying to get reviews and sales leaves precious little spare time.

Have you ever studied the art of writing: – No fear! I know that technically I could be a lot better but the way I do it now, flying by the seat of my pants, means I enjoy every word I write. Imagine how much of a bind it would become if I had to go back over every sentence or paragraph to see if I’ve broken some ‘golden’ rule. I know it’s not perfect but my writing reflects its writer!

How To Make Your Characters Believable

How To Make Your Characters Believable

When I started writing in 2006 I was merely getting down on paper a series of stories that I had been telling people for years. That book of memories described real people and the things we actually did together. I wasn’t creating characters or setting out to make the people I was writing about ‘believable’ for the reader. Basically, I told it how it was. They were real people and real events.

In December 2012 when I started writing ‘The Final Straw’ I only had a vague idea of the outline of the story. If you have read any of my previous posts from last year then you know what happened next! I typed ‘Colin Bailey was invisible’ as my opening line and that sketchy plan was lost forever. Ninety five thousand words later it was done.

The book dealt with sexual awakening, broken families, hatred, revenge, multiple murders and a few other subjects into the bargain. Some people say that it helps if your readers empathize with your characters and find them believable and enjoyable. If they do then the style in which you present your work and the plot will be more acceptable too. Other people advise writers to try and write about what they know.

It looks like I missed those signposts doesn’t it! Very few of my characters are ‘enjoyable’. Most of them reflect the society we live in and therefore are painted in darker terms rather than light. No matter what my enemies say behind my back there are no bodies buried under the patio, nor is there a little black list of people that I would cheerfully dispose of! So I wasn’t writing from experience! I just try to write about characters we have all read about in the papers or seen on TV; sadly there are plenty of the types of people in my books to choose from!

I try to describe the setting in which the action takes place; I use a light touch as far as possible and the reader can paint their own pictures; there’s nothing worse than reading a description of a building or a person that is so detailed that it feels like the author is dragging you by the ear, leading you to No10 Woodside Terrace and shouting ‘Here it is! This is the where the murders took place! Can’t you see?’

I give some background to the characters so you know where they come from, I tell you their age and what their given name or nickname is. I give you a general idea of what they look like but for a lot of my characters I leave the reader to give them a face. In ‘Unfinished Business’ Zara Wheeler is around twenty five years old, seven stones wringing wet and she wears glasses. Her colleagues have noted that she wrinkles her nose and blushes profusely when she’s embarrassed. They call her ‘Mouse’. She’s super intelligent and lives at home with elderly parents. There are a few other character traits and background that emerge as the story unfolds, it isn’t necessary to lay it on with a trowel when the character makes their first appearance, they can be added as the story line evolves. Even if a character is only a minor one with a brief appearance centre stage, it is important the detail of what they look like and their background is there.

At times I have to give the reader a ‘true’ picture of my characters. On the front cover of ‘Unfinished Business’ you can see Zara, her boss DCI Phil Hounsell and the stone cold killer Colin Bailey. The images match my own ideas of what they would look like and any future books will need to reflect those images as the characters move forward.

Your characters need to be flawed, just like the rest of us and I think that helps them to be believable.



Welcome back! The weather continues to dominate the headlines.

On the Thursday night we had had the worst thunder storm I’d heard in thirty years. On the Friday night I left the bar early after another successful live music fix because I knew another storm was brewing; plus, I needed to be up early, bright eyed & bushy tailed for the birthday girl’s big day. I walked home in a light shower and ten minutes after I lay my head on the pillow the heavens opened & the ensuing electrical storm with Keith Moon leading the percussion section made the previous night’s storm seem like a spell of ‘light drizzle’!

Saturday morning arrived hot and humid; the clouds gathered around us and at ten in the morning we had the lights on! Kim & Mal arrived from South Wales with enough food to feed a regiment around noon. We had already had more thunder & lightning and torrential rain. The rest of the family arrived – more in hope than expectation. ‘Great idea Dad, a BBQ?’

I was too polite to point out it hadn’t been my original choice for the day. At about half past two the younger, fitter family members erected the large gazebo. With about five of our party putting the finishing touches to our shelter, the heavens opened yet again. It was carnage! They were stranded. Despite the fact that the back door was only three strides away, they were cut off; any thoughts of a rescue had to shelved until the rain relented!

As I stood in the safety of our dining room I looked at their shelter. If there are any young soldiers reading this then you may have signed up under our gazebo on a recruiting day! It had been requisitioned by our son in law & still carried the honourable name and crest of the regiment. The rain stopped. Our building crew were brought back to dry land and as three o’clock approached the sun broke through the clouds!

The rest of my wife’s birthday is a bit of a blur; the drink continued to flow; the BBQ food was superb & was supplemented by a few dozen extras that Lynne had thought might be needed if the weather stubbornly refused to play ball. When everyone went home many hours later we thanked our lucky stars that Mal had brought the gazebo. It had shaded us from the sun and prevented the grand-kids’ delicate young skins from getting burnt. Who would have thought that at half past two!

If you recall I was on a trip down memory lane on Monday. David Maunder; Chris Walker; Tony Longdon; Roger Raisey & Peter Vooght had their names taken on the register at The Barge. I joined them about half an hour later than planned. The weather was beautiful; all threat of thunder had receded. I decided to walk from our house to the pub by the canal. I reckoned it would take me forty minutes; but my legs are shorter these days as I get older & it took an hour.

There were a couple of others who had provided a sick note, but would certainly be available if we arranged to meet up again. We six had a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so, chatting and filling in some of the gaps in our lives since we last saw one another in Wingfield Road, Trowbridge all those years ago. Since then we have contacted several more students and although we have stopped short of calling it a ‘reunion’ we will definitely have some informal get togethers while we still can. The search is on for the remainder of the class of ’61!

The book promotions on Twitter through BooksGoSocial and all its associated sites continue apace. The Orangeberry Book Tour is slowing down now but no matter; I have plenty more irons in the fire these days and I’m rejuvenated. Roll on October, when I start writing the next novel!

It’s Friday evening; so I’m off out in a few minutes for an evening of loud rock music. The night is warm and dry. Happy days! Tomorrow lunch time we’re off to have a meal with my brother in law. A late birthday treat for Lynne. Family means so much to both of us and we’re off to Bridport in a week or so to meet up with other family members who we haven’t seen in far too long! Before you know it we’ll be in that holiday cottage in West Wales with Kim & Mal. Tempus fugit! Heck, where did all this Latin come from? It must have been meeting up with all those former classmates.

Keep smiling & I’ll be back in a week or two with all the latest news!



Welcome back! After a few blog chapters where all I’ve had to report was ‘doom & gloom’ regarding my health and my lack of progress on the book front, this chapter has at least some refreshingly upbeat content. So it’s safe for you to read on!

My return to listening to late night ‘live’ music was a success! The band was great and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening with no unpleasant after effects. I was all set to repeat the medicine the following Friday but unfortunately the band cancelled at the last minute & I was saved from the dreaded disco by a sudden downpour. I decided to stay in to watch the football instead and kept Jack Daniels company on the sofa.

Everything was fine last Friday and another ‘fix’ of hard rock was ready & waiting when I strolled into the bar at half past ten. I finally got the feeling that I was back in the fold! Things are on the up!

I’m looking forward to this weekend; there will be a quick visit to the Parson’s Nose for a listen to the ‘live’ band on offer but I can’t be too enthusiastic on the JD because it’s the wife’s birthday on Saturday. My daughter Kim & I have been scheming for weeks! We planned a surprise meal out with all the family & ‘Muggins’ booked twelve of us into a local restaurant for early in the evening. The best laid plans eh? Not everyone could make it; so we abandoned the meal idea & cancelled the booking. ‘Why don’t we have a BBQ?’ says Kim. All of a sudden everyone can make it again! Happy days! Well maybe; it’s not a surprise anymore for one; Lynne knows about the new arrangements & the weather forecast looks like the thunder storms will hit us fair & square on Saturday.

We could have been watching the thunder & lightning from a safe distance & laughed at the rain lashing horizontally past the leaded windows of a very nice restaurant. Instead twelve of us might well be huddled on our patio, with soggy burgers, singing ‘Happy Birthday to Lynne’!

Timing is everything isn’t it? Last weekend was when I wanted the heavens to open! We still have what they laughingly call a Carnival procession that winds its way through the streets of our town. This year’s procession was pathetic. Despite all the undoubted effort put in by the handful of floats that appeared you couldn’t disguise the fact that the turnout of participants was minimal. It took a long time to pass us by, but this was because of the gaps that built up over the long winding course the procession takes. There were in effect four processions, spread out so that we were stood chatting to our neighbours on the side of the road for forty minutes. If the gaps had been eliminated the whole thing would have been over for another year in ten at the most!

I’m not a lover of Carnival. Now this may have come as a shock, so let me elaborate. When I was a child we had a ‘real’ Carnival; it lasted a week. It was held later in the year, with all sorts of events throughout the town. There was a Torchlight procession one evening in the middle of the week; I suppose Health & Safety killed that off? We had a designated Carnival field with a large fair in place all week. Dozens of side shows and rides, plus an arena where circus and daredevil acts performed to packed audiences.

It was the Procession on the Saturday though that was the highlight. It was the early Fifties and the RAF station was still open just outside town. Five miles up the road there was a Naval shore base where Marines were being trained. A couple of local towns had Brass and/or Silver Bands. A typical procession had seven or eight marching bands on display; there were floats and walking entries from our own pubs, clubs and local organisations together with floats from the local towns who were building their reputation ahead of the ‘BIG’ parade at the County Carnival at Pewsey later in the month. You didn’t have to pad the display out with local firms advertising their businesses & spread the Queen, her assistants, a Princess – oh & a Prince – (Saints preserve us I think we had a Grandmother there too this year!) across a fleet of open topped limousines. The major transport firm in the town provided a flatbed lorry with a canopy in case of a shower or two and the Queen had a proper throne with her assistants at her feet, firmly put in their place. These days they’re all chucked in together & you can’t tell who’s who!

Carnival died towards the end of the Sixties. The nation had moved on from those years of the post war period where we embraced any excuse to celebrate our freedom and the excitement of a new monarch. People’s tastes changed; the vast majority were watching TV, not packing the streets in eager anticipation of a Pram Derby from the top of town to the bottom. Sadly, our little town didn’t get the message; most of our neighbours did and they realised the glory days were well behind them. It all became very parochial; no visits from rival floats; fewer and fewer marching bands; fewer activities through the week as fewer & fewer people cared enough to volunteer to run them. Even the Carnival field was lost; various farmers sold their land to be turned into one more nondescript housing estate after another.

Unfortunately, our town has carried on flogging a dead horse. Maybe after this year’s debacle they’ll see the light. If only the heavens had opened! You can’t turn the clock back & re-create those halcyon days.

And yet, that is exactly what I’ve been persuaded to do by an old school colleague! He wrote to the local weekly paper searching out students from the grammar school in Trowbridge where I spent most of my teens. He wanted to contact as many of the sixty odd students from the ’61 ‘O Level’ year who were still with us & meet up for a glass or three of something palatable to chat over old times. On the Monday after Lynne’s birthday, when the weather will be wonderful no doubt as the storm clouds have disappeared, I shall make my way to a canal side tavern and meet up with perhaps eight to ten people I haven’t seen for fifty three years. What on earth was I thinking? How will I recognise them? I don’t think we’ve agreed to wear short trousers and a navy blue jacket (with ‘Fiat Lux’ emblazoned on it) so it will be a tester!

I’ll report back in my next chapter and tell you how it went. If you don’t hear from me then someone I didn’t get on with at school turned up & my body is in the canal. I just hope they have a decent Shiraz on offer in the tavern so that the lunchtime passes in a comfortable haze.

As far as the book tour goes, you can still follow up the remaining dates via this link:

What a difference a day makes! I’m not sure which day but someone mentioned me in a tweet & as I glanced at the profile of the person who had posted it to see if I knew them (I didn’t) I saw another post which featured BooksGoSocial. Now as you know, over the past three years I’ve chased down dozens of sites which promised the earth and delivered sweet nothing. I’ve given you a ‘blow by blow’ description. There was something about this one that tempted me to follow the link. As you know from the last few chapters of my blog, I’ve been getting a tad disillusioned & wondering whether to stop banging my head against the proverbial.

Ah well, it was too good an offer to turn down! So we’re off on a journey, twelve months into the unknown. Twelve months of promotion for my latest three books starting with ‘The Final Straw’. Watch out for Twitter blasts here there & everywhere. Time will tell of course & you’ll read about the first few steps on the journey in my next chapter.

If you want to check these guys out for yourself, be my guest

Happy days! Back soon!