Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Wilting Rose of Labour

As you may or may not already know, I am writing a series of novels set in the period now known as The Wars of the Roses. Now, I know many of you will be thinking “what was it like back then? What were the Wars all about?

Imagine, if you will, an inept government in control of the Kingdom. Yes, I know it must be difficult, but please do try to imagine such a thing. An England plunged into financial despair as a result fo a failed war and years of mis-rule and over-spending on frivolous pursuits. An England struggling with its identity and place in European and world politics. An England full of resentment against a corrupt set of rules, too busy and too intent upon their own desires and ambitions to be able to lead effectively.

I know, I know, it’s just too big a leap of imagination to make.

Anyway, for those of you who are able to make the connection, there’s only another year until Towton is fought. Or even Bosworth Field , for that matter.

Please let the right side win this time

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Medieval Matters...

The mistakes we learn today should not be echoed in the future. The errors should be eliminated, solved, dispelled. The achievements should be matched, replicated, duplicated, improved upon and enhanced. The greatness should become greater, the failure lessened. It is a lesson, but one we so often fail to learn.

Which is, of course, why history matters

If you are left wing, then history is a great way of criticising nationalistic success, imperialism and the western world. If you are right wing, then it is a way of feeling proud of your country. If you are somewhere in the middle, then there are lessons to learn on both sides of the proverbial fence. But, it is not just about the education of morality and politics.

It is about imagination

It was once written by an Oxford Scholar (whose name I cannot recall at present) that the High Middle Ages in Britain (circa 1200-1350) is so far removed from our present day environment in terms of language, speech, philosophy, architecture, society, finance, warfare, transport and scientific development, that it practically constitutes a fantasy. A fantasy from which we can cherry pick scenes of churches and cathedrals, peasant markets, Fastolfian taverns, rampaging knights and majestic Kings; whilst ignoring the famine, pestilence, poor sanitation, oppression, violence and corruption that inevitably went with it.

A very different world altogether

It is this very reason that we must not judge everything we are presented as historical fact with the same frames of reference and moral criticism as we do contemporary happenings. Was Henry VIII as bad as Bin Laden? Of course not! Was Hitler as bad? No, he was quite clearly worse. This sense of reasoning and judgement is a very different kettle of a very different fish, but it bears a sound backslap to the argument that we should be concerned with the accurate knowledge of what occurred yesterday.

It is perhaps the very reason why I invented Jack Templeman.

If you would like to delve into the past with an exciting read (I am biased, I know), then perhaps this will be of interest...The Silver Knight

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Silver Knight, Sequels and Standards...

I was recently thinking that Id better give you all an update on the progress I’m making with the follow up to The Silver Knight. On consideration, it seems that I’ve little to actually say on the matter for, whilst progress is being made, I am still only a third of the way through a first draft, which means that it is likely to be 2010 before I can really speak about the next novel with any real meaning.

However, one thing is clear and that’s the need to maintain the standard I set with book one. Now, it may be that you think book one is no bloody good anyway. Well, even if that’s the case (and you are perfectly entitled to your opinion), then I should at least attempt to improve upon matters and produce something that is vaguely palatable. It comes down to standards.

I personally believe that standards are slipping and it is vital they are at least attempted to be maintained in every facet of life. If a politician is voted in because of an attractive policy pledge or speech only to sit back and not deliver, he or she is rightly criticised. If a rock or pop band, initially hungry for success follow up their first well-received album with a tepid second effort, they will be lambasted by their fans. If a brand manager generates high sales of his or her product, only to spend the following year playing golf and enjoying long business lunches, then the company fails and the P45 looms.

It comes down to complacency

If these people become complacent, they wither, decline and fail. They simply cannot afford to do so, nor do we allow them to. Why is it, then, that we are so apathetic to the issue of standards and complacency in the less tangible, less obvious areas?

Speech, language, broadcasting, television

The standards in all four of these areas slipped years ago and are, somewhat amazingly, still falling. For every intelligent, well-spoken sportsman, social commentator, doctor or policeman, there are a dozen monosyllabic footballers, moronic broadcasters, biased news presenters and feeble journalists. Read a newspaper in the fifties and compare it to one now. Listen to an interview in the seventies and compare it to now. Watch a children’s television program from the eighties and compare it to now. I could go on – it’s quite frightening. What’s worse is that once these things slip, it is incredibly difficult to come back. Almost impossible.

If you’ve spent every morning for the last five years getting up at six and going for a run or walking the dog and then one day you stop, you may easily forgive yourself for taking a rest. However, one day may become two, then becomes three, then becomes four. Before you know it, a month has flown by and the alarm is no longer set. It’s easy to do. The discipline is lost.

Gone – forever

The thin end of the wedge is the first time you allow complacency to be ignored. The thick end is when contentment rules and there is little length in that downward spiral. We can see the effect in many key areas of life everyday. Intelligence in many fields has evaporated. Crime and disorder has risen. Respect has fallen. Cleanliness of hospitals, freshness of food, standards of driving, academic achievement – all down.

And nobody cares

Well, perhaps not entirely true. Many people care, just not enough and not the right ones to make a difference. You try telling a Labour Party supporter that academic achievement has fallen and they’ll show you rising numbers. Well they would rise if you lowered the bar every year, wouldn’t they?

I appreciate I’ve rambled, so I’ll get back to the point and that is the standards of my own performance. I’ll try not to be a complete hypocrite and tell you that I don’t occasionally fall into the lackadaisical camp, because I do. However, I will make a pledge and that is to state that I’ll be doing my very best over the next eighteen months to ensure that the next book is up to scratch.

It will be better than The Silver Knight

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Hello and Welcome


Welcome to my new blog. I hope to be adding posts to this on a regular basis that will feed into both my Twitter profile and, of course, my website.

So what will be on here?

Well, I may decide to add updates on my writing progress, with The Silver Knight and other such things. It may also include various other topics if and when I see fit.

Assume that you'll be able to access this blog in a number of places... but if in doubt, just come here in the first place!

Remember, the website is