Blogger and freelance writer from the north-east coast of England
AI: Artificial Intelligence, or Apathetic Input?
At the start of the 1990 film Misery, author Paul Sheldon, played by James Caan, types the closing sentences of his latest novel. He marks the occasion of the book’s completion with a small ritual: a cigarette and a glass of champagne.
A Bloody Nose for an Illicit Cigarette
I quit smoking over twenty years ago, but as a youngster, smoking on the sly caused me no end of trouble, mainly after I had been caught in the act by parents or teachers. But the most serious incident that happened to me regarding illicit smoking, occurred while I was living within the confines of a residential children’s home, where I’d ended up as a result of persistent truancy. On that occasion, smoking really was bad for my health.
Five Down Sides to Living by the Sea
I've lived on the coast for most of my life, and I visit my local beach several times a month, but I don't take it for granted. Because I've seen what being at the seaside means to those from land-locked counties, miles from the coast, who rarely get to dip their toes into the sea. A punk band from West Yorkshire came over one weekend, and they specifically asked to see the sea. As soon as we got to the beach they removed their shoes and socks, rolled up their trousers, and in they went, splashing and laughing. It was November.
My Collection of Early Spider-Man Comics
When I was in my early teens, I used to frequent a second-hand book and magazine shop in my town. In the window there were sleazy True Detective type magazines hanging from a string line by bulldog clips to tempt those who had a weakness for scantily clad women, but for my friend Stephen and me, the treasure lay inside the shop against the back wall.
Pinball Wizardry? Not Quite
In the town where I live, there is a patch of grass where there once stood a wine bar that mysteriously caught fire one night, and burned down. When I was a child, that building had been a furniture showroom, but by the time I entered my teens it had transformed into a brightly-lit amusement arcade called The Leisure Centre — and I became an eager habitué.
How to Speak Like a Geordie
If I am ever away from my native north-east England, my accent stands out. On hearing a Tyneside twang, the response of many people is to attempt the most famous, and overused saying in the Geordie phrase book, why aye, man, usually in an accent that bears no resemblance to that spoken by the good people of Newcastle.
I Wrote an Episode of a BBC Radio Soap
Here is an account of what happened when I wrote an episode of a radio drama for the Roots Project at BBC Radio Newcastle. It may be of interest to those of you who are considering radio work, although this is not a blueprint of radio procedure.
Small Time Charlies
When I reached my teens, and I began to live a more independent life, the need for money would crop up more often than it had in my pre-teen days. While I could usually turn to my parents for everyday expenses, such as youth club subscriptions or money for the cinema, the odd cash injection was sometimes called for, particularly when I took up smoking.
Our Son Took to Swimming Like a Cat to Water
It's a universal truth that raising a child brings regular milestones that are forever treasured. Which parent doesn't recall with great fondness their child's first steps and first words? Who doesn't smile at the recollection of that wobbly ten-yard ride on a bicycle unaided? And who doesn't sigh in pleasure when viewing those first-day-at-school photos that seem like they were taken only yesterday? Yep, parenting milestones are there to be savoured and revisited time and again for a lifetime.
My Holiday Camp Faux Pas
For three summers, my family and I took our annual holiday in a camp at Cayton Bay, near Scarborough in North Yorkshire. This was a proper Hi De Hi place, from its bing-bong tannoy announcement that breakfast was being served in the dining hall, to the chorus of Goodnight Campers at the end of the night.