Who’s Joining the Spoilt Miranda series?

I can’t wait to meet Snotty and Spotty and find out what they get up to in Eloise De Sousa’s latest stories. I am sure to COL (Chuckle Out Loud).

E. De Sousa

It has been the long awaited sequel to Cecil the Bully and Spoilt Miranda. At last, their friends will be getting a chance to tell their own tale of meeting the infamous Ms Crow and her deadly stare.

Without further ado, I present:

Snotty Norman and Spotty Sally Find Fame

Now that the year 6 children of Arden White Primary School have enjoyed their summer holidays and forged new friendships outside the confines of the school grounds, we meet them again as they start their first day at Evelyn Winsborough Academy – a school with a reputation for aggressive behaviour and truancy.

Little do they know that the school has had a major overhaul over the last year. With sparkling new classrooms and hi-tech gear to keep the children occupied (and monitored), Mr Dank, the Head Teacher, expects a high standard of behaviour from the newbies. Unfortunately for him…

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a story in every line.

I am bowled over by the talent of Shania McDonagh. I don’t think that I have ever seen a pencil drawing that is anywhere near as good as this one.

If YOU have, please tell me about it. Better still, share it with us.

My Mum was very talented, but even she would concede that Shania is at least one-hundred times her better.

I didn't have my glasses on....

A pencil drawing by a 16 year old Irish girl has won a National Art Competition. Shania McDonagh is tipped as a future top artist. The man she drew is a Fisherman and Seaweed Harvester named Coleman Coyne. There’s a story in every line.

 “His name is Coleman Coyne, and he’s from Connemara in County Galway. He passed away earlier this year. The portrait is done using graphite pencil, and it took around 100 hours of drawing to complete the portrait.” – Shania McDonagh

“youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.”

-stanislaw jerzy lec

credits: soul alchemy, word porn

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Book Review: Codename Villanelle (Killing Eve #1) by Luke Jennings

Codename Villanelle (Killing Eve #1)Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It has been a long time since I gave any book a five star rating, but this one truly deserves it. The ending left me breathless and hungry for more. Although I have many books currently sitting on my TBR mountain, I am going to have to skip over them all to read the next installment, No Tomorrow.

The pace is tremendous and the narrative is never boring. Read it in bed and you will be staring at your clock, wondering if it is really three in the morning.

I started reading Villanelle because I was so impressed by the TV series, Killing Eve and the brilliant performances of Jodie Comer as the cold-hearted protagonist and Sandra Ohas her obsessed pursuer. Although the characters and theme are the same, there are major differences between the book and the drama series. Those differences make it all the more interesting.

There were points of personal interest. For example, the references to a certain Army camp are clearly references to one in which I served a significant part of my own military career. All of the buildings are gone now, but it remains as private Ministry of Defence land. There are also references to places within cities with which I am very familiar, not least the Bois du Boulogne, where Villanelle takes her morning run. I have run around there many times prior to breakfast and work in La Défense.

I thoroughly enjoyed a long passage in which Eve, her colleagues and some clever friends crack a password on a locked file. Limited to three attempts, it is extremely unlikely that they would be able to crack the password in the way that they did, but it was very inventive and a lot of fun for the characters and for the reader.

So, there is nothing left for me to say, except, “Bring on the next volume!”

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Eyemouth Disaster

Despite the warnings, despite the storm, they rolled out to sea from Eyemouth on that fateful day of October 1881.

For weeks, they had been unable to sail because of prevailing weather.

They were not greedy. It was their livelihood. They just wanted to earn enough to feed their families. 45 boats left harbour; only 26 returned. 189 men perished. 93 women were widowed. 267 children lost their fathers.

Two days later, out of the sea mist, Ariel Gazelle returned with all her crew. Out of the darkness of tragedy, shone a shaft of light and life.


Ariel Gazelle. Photo courtesy of Eyemouth Museum.

This is my submission for the
Flash Fiction Challenge in the Carrot Ranch Literary Community on 31st January 2019.
The prompt is ‘Sea Mist’ – 99 words exactly.

Sea Mist

George C. Bailey Photography 2019

Footnote (4th February)

I am grateful to David Dougal of Eyemouth for subsequently sending this article to me.

Ariel Gazelle article


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Film Review: Stan and Ollie

stan and ollie

John C Reilly as Oliver Hardy and Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel. Photograph: Aimee Spinks/eOne

This film is a roller-coaster of comedy and tragedy. It is also a love story.

I laughed and I cried. I felt touched by the nostalgia, remembering the times that I watched those marvellous Laurel and Hardy films and where I was and what I was doing as I listened to “Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.”

The performances of Steve Coogan and John C Reilly were authentic. Reilly, in particular, deserves all of the awards coming to him. An Oscar, perhaps? The audience were swept along by the believable characters. I already loved Laurel and Hardy. As I left the cinema, I loved them even more.

The “girls,” Lucille and Ida, were also excellent. Shirley Henderson and Nina Ariana, brought them to life. The tensions were palpable and intense.

Stan and Ollie loved each other. That is clear. Their bond was stronger than superglue before superglue even existed. Make sure that you stay to read the footnotes and titles at the end of the film. The fact that Stan continued to write for both of them until his death, eight years after that of his partner, says it all.

This is an excellent film. Don’t miss it!

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Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story of the occupation of Guernsey by the German Army during the latter years of the Second World War is beautifully told in a series of letters between the characters. It takes some time to form one’s impressions of each of the characters and their relationships with the others. This is a deliberate build-up by the author, and you should be patient. You will be rewarded.

The characters are delightful and I fell in love with several of them. I shed a few tears too, but that is not unusual for me.

The title of the book bears some explanation, and, when you come to it during the course of your reading, that explanation is sure to delight you. I promise! How did the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society come into being? And why Potato Peel Pie?

You’ll just have to read it for yourself, because I’m not going to tell you.

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Film Review: Mary Queen of Scots

mary queen of scotsThis is a very good film but it is not a great film.

Perhaps I am being unfair, as it is only natural that I make some comparison with the film that I saw last week, The Favourite, which is definitely a great film.

It is an historical fiction with no real surprises. It is gory. It is well acted. The make-up and costumes are excellent.

Most of us know the history of Queen Elizabeth I and her cousin, Queen Mary. Mary was surrounded by people whom she could not trust. Had she been ruthless with those who crossed her, using the strength of those who were loyal to her, history may have had a very different outcome.

I do think it is a film that is worth seeing and I recommend it.

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