Saturday, October 21, 2017


Members of the Western Front Association
Today was rather a special day and one that I would not have missed - the annual gathering of the Essex Branch of the WESTERN FRONT ASSOCIATION in Billericay at our Reading Rooms. Karen and Steve Dennis organised this poignant exhibition in league with Bill Fulton (chairman of the Essex Branch of the Western Front Association) which was appreciated by us all.
Katie Wilkie, Curator

The Curator, Katie Wilkie  of our local Cater
Museum at 74 High Street, Billericay prepared a collection of books and artefacts which attracted many visitors. Katie and staff from the museum came along, together with friends and families with an interest in the Great War.

Here is an image I especially like - Ken Wisdom with his unique poster that he personally created

Ken Wisdom with his wonderful poster

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Delighted to find other Pitman's shorthand writers around the world, courtesy of the web.  Have found other professionals who learned New Era system and still practise their speeds.   Nice little example below, courtesy of Beryl Pratt. This is beautifully  written as an example, but of course, when you are writing at great speed, it is almost impossible to add vowels and my shorthand looks a scrawl, but at least I can transcribe it, which it what the system is all about.
It's interesting to know that whatever some new writing system is introduced, Pitman's - when studied properly (and it does take a longish time) - will still produce the fastest shorthand speeds in the world. Ask Hansard!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


😊Writers love meeting their readers and I enjoyed meeting and signing some of my ten books at a lively gathering today. My titles are mainly non-fiction but they do stay in the book lists far longer.  History is a great "evergreen" aspect and I enjoy being asked to take on different projects which involve research around the county of Essex, England.

By using radio shows and social media, my page view listings increase daily, mainly because my topics are eclectic and touch on so many people's lives.  This week sees my one thousandth article on this Blogger medium (283,000 pv) although I have copies of more than four thousand printed features in press/magazines, albeit over a longish period of time.  Many thanks for dropping by. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

So good to receive latest edition of HOME FARMER, one of my favourite regular journals, well - I do write a wine making feature every month for Paul and Ruth - two of the best editors I have worked with over a very long writing career.  If you care about what you eat and grow, you will find many excellent articles that will intrigue you and extend your expertise and interest. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Well, it's anniversary time and learning a little more about the centenary of the Russian revolution in October 1917 via BBC Radio 4 morning programme. Learning more about the ghastly murder of the Tsar Nicholas and his family on 17 July 1918.

 This time was not just about political revolution - the overthrowing of the Tsarist regime by Lenin's Bolshevik party - it was an unprecedented thought experiment, a revolution in ideas.  From women's emancipation to early thinking about the biosphere and the role of art and music joined with work. Have just finished Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (courtesy of Essex Libraries). Quite a lot of  rethinking about the Russians and their history.

British writers, thinkers and radicals including HG Wells, Bertrand Russell and Arthur Ransom either visited the Soviet Union or wrote passionately in support of the young regime. Sylvia Pankhurst corresponded with Lenin directly from London, while Bertrand Russell, on returning from Moscow, compared what he saw to the vision of Plato's republic. The Russian Revolution also gave a huge boost to the new and radical social sciences as they were beginning to grow - the idea that social institutions could be subject to critical scrutiny in a clear, scientific manner was thrilling to those Western intellectuals.  Intellectual opposition to 1917 was just as fierce. While energising the field of left-leaning thought, the Russian Revolution also politicised the purpose of more traditional philosophy and it came out fighting.  The historian Justin Champion explores the early years of the Russian Revolution of 1917 as an intellectually explosive and genuinely creative moment - bringing in new ideas, vocabularies and concepts, challenging and transforming Western thinking in the process.

Listen again on BBC Radio 4


Sunday, October 08, 2017


I rarely buy books, particularly yearbooks these days, but this one is a 'must'.  It is the bestselling guide to all areas of publishing and the media is completely revised and updated every year.

The Yearbook is packed with advice, inspiration and practical guidance on who to contact and how to get published. Foreword to the 2018 edition by David Lodge New articles in the 2018 edition on: - Writing popular history by Tom Holland - Editing and writing by Diana Athill - Ghostwriting by Gillian Stern - Writing Thrillers by Kimberley Chambers - The health and wellness market by Anita Bean - Self-publishing online by Harry Bingham - How to choose your agent by Jo Unwin - First Chapters by Emma Flint - Pitching your ideas by Mike Unwin - How to make a living by Alison Branagan All articles are reviewed and updated every year. Key articles on Copyright Law, Tax, Publishing Agreements, E-publishing, Publishing news and trends are fully updated every year. Plus over 4,000 listings entries on who to contact and how across the media and publishing worlds In short it is 'Full of useful stuff' - J.K. Rowling


Our SWWJ team enjoyed such a happy day at the National Liberal Club a few weeks ago when we welcomed our new President Baroness Floella Benjamin and her husband.
Oh, how I wish I could give a talk like that - without notes - brilliant!  and what a lot of work she carries out for children, along with a very heavy work schedule.  We had such a lovely time and hope she can come along to our future events. Check us out at  #swwj

Saturday, September 30, 2017


Have just finished reading this great social historical  book, which is dedicated to Don Wallace, husband of Elizabeth Victoria Wallace - founder of the Castle Rock Writers.  Don and Liz wrote many books linking Denver, Colorado - their US home with their original British origins.

Liz's first book EXTRAORDINARY PLACES... Close to London is still a best seller.  Within, she has chosen 30 exceptional destinations in Southeast England and for people who enjoy learning about our great exciting towns and villages scattered around London, they will enjoy exploring villages and towns in the English countryside, all within easy reach of London.

The presenter at Phoenix 98fm studios in Brentwood, Essex, Michelle Ward and John Farrar, social historian and film-maker, made a programme last week with Liz as the September guest for Book Club.