Uni weeks one and two

Hey, I remembered when I got in from university this evening that I haven’t done my weekly update since I started back at university. I started back last week. It’s a long day, even though I only have one two-hour seminar. Trains and such stretch the day out. I discovered tonight that it only costs £4 to get a taxi from the station to my house. Since I’m in stupid amounts of pain right now, I was willing to pay out the money to get home quickly. I’ve got pins and needles in my left foot right now, so this is going to be quick.

Week one was an introductory seminar, we made mock-ups of A5 pamphlets and discussed the process of publishing. I got to do colouring in.

Today we covered experimental writing and read some of Richard Brautigen’s Trout Fishing in America then attempted to write something in the same vein. I didn’t do very well, but I’ll share them with you.

Task: Write a piece in the style of Richard Brautigan about Brayford Wharf:

The swan and the pasta plate

As I sat out one midwinter evening eating pasta on the wharf, a swan came along to join me. I thought he might like a taste, so I threw the plate to him.

It sank without a taste.

The waiter brought another. I had to try again, as the swan paddled on, lost in the gloom.

I hit her head.

The table rocked when I climbed aboard, the swan barged the chair.

The waiter brought another plate.

“I prefer bread.” The swan said as she turned away.

He really didn’t like the taste.

Food and Lego

Across the river there waits a warm pub with plates of food just for the dragon and I. Long travelling had worn us out and we couldn’t find the donkeys to carry us. Perhaps they’d gone to the beach without me? Where shall I put my bucket and spade. There’s an island in the middle, we could go and play there. Dragon and I found the bricks. Someone had played here before us, some barge child, bored. A little house and farm. Trees and cows and sheep. Lego pigs in Lego pig shit. I don’t want to go to Denmark thanks.

See, I told you they weren’t very good. I think I’m a bit too literal to do the sort of whimsical, experimental writing some of the others could do well.

Right, going to bed now. Pain is getting a bit much.


New Research Suggests Social Issues are Down to Neurotypicals more than Autistics

I have suspected this for some time, it ties in with the social model of disability, I think.

Critical Neurodiversity

colorful-brains-560 Picture by Joan M. Mas

Autism is seen, in popular representations, largely as a social and communication disorder. Formerly framed as stemming from an autistic lack of a “social instinct”, the current dominant idea is that something is deficient or missing in autistic social cognition. Often referred to as a cognitive deficit in “empathy” or “theory of mind”, much research on autistic social issues has focused on trying to clarify and detect this inside autistic brains and minds. The search for an elusive broken “theory of mind module” or “empathy mechanism” in the brain, and its ensuing cognitive manifestations, however, has led to conflicting results – with some scientists even concluding that autistic people feel too much empathy rather than too little.

Another view is that this is not simply an individual neuro-cognitive issue, but rather a wider social problem. Against the idea that autistic people have too much or…

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February Review Schedule

Since I’ve started back at university, I’m giving myself a bit of space for writing and university assignments, so there’s no planned reviews until the 14th. As usual, look out for the bonus reviews, you never know what might pop up.

  • 14th February
    • The Mother’s Secret
    • Clare Swatman
  • 17th February
    • Comfort Food
    • Julia Chen
    • Blog Tour – Authoright
  • 21st February
    • iHunt
    • David A Hill Jr
  • 27th February
    • So I Might Be A Vampire
    • Rodney Smith
  • 28th February
    • An Unquiet Ghost
    • Linda Stratmann

Bonus Review #5: ‘Victorian Policing’, by Gaynor Haliday

Victorian PolicingPublished By: Pen & Sword History

Publication Date: 15th November 2017

I.S.B.N.: 9781526706126

Format: Paperback

Price: £10.50



Alex at Pen and Sword emailed me last November to see if I wanted to review this book. I had a long list of books to review so I’ve finally got round to it.




What was life like for the Victorian bobby? Gaynor Haliday became fascinated with the history of the early police forces when researching the life of her great, great grandfather; a well-regarded, long-suffering Victorian police constable in Bradford. Although a citation claimed his style of policing was merely to cuff the offender round the ear and send him home, press reports of the time painted a much grimmer picture of life on the beat in the Victorian streets.

Handwritten Watch Committee minutes, historical newspapers and police records combine to reveal an account of how and why the various police forces were set up; the recruitment, training and expectations of the men, the issues and crimes they had to deal with, and the hostility they encountered from the people whose peace they were trying to keep.

Continue reading “Bonus Review #5: ‘Victorian Policing’, by Gaynor Haliday”

Review: ‘Veronica’s Bird’, by Veronica Bird & Richard Newman

Veronicas Bird Cover

Published By: Clink Street publishing

Publication Date: 23rd January 2018

I.S.B.N.:  9781912262618

Format: Paperback

Price: £8.99


Veronica’s Bird: Thirty-five years inside as a female prison officer 

Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the 1950s, as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. Astonishingly, to her and her mother, she won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates. A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the re: he took over control of her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as a cheap option on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away and applied to the Prison Service, knowing it was the only safe place she could trust. This is the astonishing, and true story of Veronica Bird who rose to become a Governor of Armley prison. Given a ‘basket case’ in another prison, contrary to all expectations, she turned it around within a year, to become an example for others to match. During her life inside, her ‘bird’, she met many Home Secretaries, was honoured by the Queen and was asked to help improve conditions in Russian Prisons. A deeply poignant story of eventual triumph against a staggeringly high series of setbacks, her story is lled with humour and compassion for those inside.


Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Veronicas-Bird-Thirty-five-inside-officer-ebook/dp/B077NXT42X

About the authors: After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system.

A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.

Continue reading “Review: ‘Veronica’s Bird’, by Veronica Bird & Richard Newman”

Bonus Review #4: ‘Primal Awareness’, by Rob Wildwood

Primal AwarenessPublished By: Moon Books

Publication Date: 26th January 2018

Format: Paperback

I.S.B.N.: 9781785356568

Price: £9.99










Focusing on the origins of Western culture and belief systems, from ancient agriculture to modern industry, from primitive religion to monotheism, Primal Awareness explains how we became separated from nature and how, throughout history, these belief systems and social models have imposed a life of servitude and hardship upon millions of people. It also illustrates how modern technology and the modern scientific world view are currently causing the destruction of our natural environment. How can we overcome this separation, and reconnect with nature and spirit once again?

Continue reading “Bonus Review #4: ‘Primal Awareness’, by Rob Wildwood”

Bonus Review #3: ‘The Darkness’, by Ragnar Jonasson

Published by: Penguin UK

Publication Date: 15th March 2018

I.S.B.N.: 9780718187248

Price: £12.99







Before Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavik Police is forced into early retirement she is told to investigate a cold case of her choice, and she knows just the one. A young woman found dead on remote seaweed-covered rocks. A woman who was looking for asylum and found only a watery grave. Her death is ruled a suicide after a cursory investigation. But Hulda soon realizes that there was something far darker to this case.

This was not the only young woman to disappear around that time. And no one is telling the whole story. When her own force tries to put the brakes on the investigation Hulda has just days to discover the truth. Even if it means risking her own life . . . Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller from one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir.

Continue reading “Bonus Review #3: ‘The Darkness’, by Ragnar Jonasson”

Review: ‘Choose To Rise: The Victory Within’, by M.N. Mekaelian



Published by: M.N. Makaelian

Publication Date: 17th May 2017

I.S.B.N.: 9780692385166

Format: Paperback and Kindle

Price: £16.38 or £3.78

I received a pdf. of this book from the author in return for an honest review







Set in a forgotten land in the heart of World War One, Choose to Rise: The Victory Within paints the vividly realistic portrait of one of the most horrific atrocities of the modern world – The Armenian Genocide of 1915.

Told through eyes of an old Armen Hagopian reliving his youth, you will be immersed in this unbelievable story of survival against the merciless Ottoman Turkish government. Through his journey, Armen and his older brother, Vartan, must discover what it takes to overcome the brutality while deciding who will live, who will die, and whether or not they have the strength to save an entire race from total annihilation.

Filled with passion, suspense, love, and inspiration, Choose to Rise is a book that is hard to ignore. It questions everything you know about humanity, what it means to be alive, and will stay with you long after you finish.

Continue reading “Review: ‘Choose To Rise: The Victory Within’, by M.N. Mekaelian”

What I’m reading today

Morning all,

I’m not feeling fantastic today, so I’m listening to the ‘Small Town Murder‘ podcast and reading Veronica Bird’s autobiography, Veronica’s Bird. Veronica was born in 1943 to a coal mining family in Barnsley. Her father was a bully, although I suspect the brain injury and alcohol abuse might not have helped.

Clever and driven, Veronica got a scholarship to a girl’s boarding school at the age of 11, but was forced out two months before she was due to take her GCSEs because her brother-in-law wanted cheap labour on his market stall. Later she joined the prison service at a time when women didn’t. I’m really looking forward to reading about her time in the prison service; reading about her abusive childhood is painful.

There will be a full review as part of a blog tour at the end of the month. I’ve got other books I should be reading but I’m really intrigued by this book.