Harbingers of success?

Maybe it’s the weather.

After an unusually cool summer and a mild and pleasant autumn we’ve had a very wet winter, and not a cold one: little snow, few frosts. Snowdrops, which usually flower at the end of January, were in evidence not long after New Year. The first crocuses, the yellow ones, blossom in February most years; this year they lit up the gardens in January. Even the bluebells, which normally have the discretion to remain hidden until March or April, have started to send forth leaves. At least, they have in my garden. I can’t speak for anyone else’s.

But all in all, there are signs that all things are flourishing.

Whether it’s because of the weather or whether it’s not, 2016 has made a promising start for me. A few days ago I received an e-mail from Fantastic Books, a small but active publishing house in Yorkshire, confirming their intention to publish my collection of hideous puns in prose and verse, Cruel and Unusual Punnishments, much enhanced by David Moss’s cartoon illustrations. The reader’s evaluation was unremittingly positive and I would blush to quote it. In the same e-mail they asked for the full manuscript of my comic/satirical novel National Cake Day in Ruritania, which they also intend to publish. They can’t commit to a schedule at this stage, so the books might appear later this year or not until 2017, but they are now officially “in the pipeline”.

I treated myself to a celebratory glass of wine.

Another potential cause for celebration is our local theatre’s intention to read through the one-act play I sent to them recently. Forget it, it’s History requires only two actors (female, middle aged) and concerns the consequences of intellectual property theft. Whether it will be staged by the Partington Theatre Company is a moot point, but I might have a better idea after the reading, which is likely to take place next Friday evening (12th February). I await it with bated breath.

It’s almost enough to encourage a chap to continue writing. So I shall.

However, this has been a pleasingly busy weekend involving no writing. On Friday evening there was the regular Matlock Storytelling Cafe, always an inspiration for a would-be storyteller, and on Saturday I carried the inspiration to an open mic session in Droylsden Library, Greater Manchester. As a result I have two potential gigs… We’ll see what emerges. And this afternoon (Sunday) we had a brilliant concert of Baroque music in our local parish church, organized by the Glossop Music Festival, whereof I’m a trustee and office-bearer (secretary, to be precise). The audience was large and appreciative and some very healthy-looking donations were made, potentially financing our future musical endeavours. I’ve just treated myself to another glass of wine.

So, onwards and upwards, or at least sideways. Time to return to work on the radio play I planned, and on another of the sketched or partly-drafted novels.

But maybe not this evening. I think I’ll just read a book, criticize the author’s style, and feel smug.


  • As always, I love your humor, Mark. It’s nice to keep up with what you are up to once in a while. You certainly lead an interesting and busy life! Good for you. Thanks for reminding me about your blog.

  • Bravo! I am happy to hear the progress you are earning for yourself. Thank you for keeping us up to date.



  • Congrats on the ‘Punnishments’ — and best of luck with the play… ’tis very true: harbingers of success are good for keeping the pen (or keyboard) active!

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