Monday, August 29, 2016

Just Checkin'

Just Checkin’…

This here blog began in January and has meandered on ever since.  In what I hope is a relatively bullshit free manner, I followed the hand-me-down advice that having a regular blog would help to establish my presence on the web (which, until this year, was not something I had actively pursued) and that this would help me to sell copies of my book.  There is an awful lot of hand-me-down advice just a Google search away, and I’m not sure that any of it is particularly trustworthy, or even that coherent at times.  But some things just have to be tried.

At first there were not a lot of ‘hits’ – still less than 200 when Wilful Misunderstandings got published on April 1st.  Recently there have been a lot more and now it’s well over 1000.  Still not a deluge.  And of course, amongst those there will be many who linger for a few seconds and move on.  Nor can I distinguish which of them are return visits and which first timers.  Google+ provides me with some statistics, but they tend not to tell me stuff I’d most like to know.

I know a couple of people who have been kind enough to tell me that they read this blog on a regular or semi-regular basis.  That’s the limit of the feedback I’ve had so far.

Apparently I should be building up my ‘followers’ – but that implies that I’m attempting to lead them somewhere, and frankly I don’t fancy leading anyone anywhere.  What would I do with them when we got there?  So, readers, rest assured that I shall make no attempt to recruit you in any way.  Okay, I shall attempt to gently cajole anyone who hasn’t yet done so into buying a copy of Wilful Misunderstandings (because, let’s face it, your life is incomplete without it), but that’s as far as it goes.

What I would enjoy greatly would be to hear from anyone who does read this blog.  It would be really interesting to know whether the content I put into it (often rather randomly) is proving entertaining and/or at least occasionally thought provoking.  Is the mix of content about right, or would readers like to see more or less of certain things?  What have been the highlights so far?  And, dare I ask, the lowlights?

There appears to be a box at the end of each entry where you can post comments.  Do feel free to use it, or if you’d prefer send me a message through G+.  It would be lovely to hear from you.  Opinions, if they emerge, my well conflict, of course.  But all suggestions will be considered and some of them will be acted upon.

Over to you.

In the meantime, here’s a pretty picture.

Toodle pip

Monday, August 22, 2016



I wanted to hang the moon and its glow
up from my ceiling to brighten my nights
they said I was foolish and I should know
that I had no claim to purloin satellites
(was I not content with electric lights?)
I told them my plans could still reach fruition
and they were the ones who lacked ambition

I required a mountain in my back yard
complete with eagles, snow, crags and a peak
they said the logistics were far too hard
that my neighbours’ views would be much too bleak
(a small rockery is what I should seek)
I told them they showed no true intuition
and mountains came to those with ambition

sure my attic could hold a universe
one hatchway to some endless diversion
they said: ‘you’re deluded or maybe worse
no house could contain such an incursion’
(could I not accept a loft conversion?)
I told them they had no sense of vision
infinite’s the limit of my ambition

And speaking of ambition, here's one more from th' Tube:

Toodle pip.

Monday, August 15, 2016

YouTube? Blimey! What next?

“So ‘e’s on YouTube, now, is ‘e?”

“Yeah, well, makes a nice change from ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’.”

“Come on, there’s no way ‘e’s going to out-viral all them cats playing pianos, surely.”

“’Course not.  Going for a niche market, in’t ‘e?  A balding old hippie reading stories from this book he’s trying to flog – I mean, it’s not exactly cute or sexy.  But, you know…  Takes all types, dunnit?”

“Well, what’s ‘e like?”

“Put it this way.  George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio won’t be losing any sleep.  ‘E does his best, you know…  You don’t see a lot of the audience, but they seem to be enjoying themselves by and large.  ‘E gets a few laughs, and some of them look like they’re actually where ‘e intended them to be.”

“Really.  So these stories ‘e’s reading, what are they about?”

“Oh, I dunno…  I wasn’t paying that much attention.  They don’t make a lot of sense, but ‘e tries to make it sound as if they do.”

“You mean like politicians?”

“I s’pose.  Not so scary, though.  In fact ‘e’s quite affable, really.  An’ he bobs around a bit, does a few funny voices…  Like I said, he does his best, bless ‘im.”

“Oh, there we are then.  I might get round to watching one of ‘em, if I’ve got nothing better to do.”

“Wait a minute!  Forget about ‘im.  ‘Ave a look at this one!”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a cocker spaniel… an’ ‘e’s playing the violin.”

“Oh yeah!  Aww, look at ‘is little paws…  That is so cute.  And that’s a Stradivarius ‘e’s playin’, too.”

“You reckon?  I thought it was one of the Brandenburg Concertos, myself.”


The Cult Book of 2016 continues to pick up steam!
Don’t be the last one to know – get it now!

Comments are coming in from readers of Wilful Misunderstandings, and so far they've been well positive.  Here's a sample:

Just to say I'm so enjoying your book. I've just finished 'Moon Bar Night'. It's mind expanding. How did you come up with that? Amazing. Loved the language, characters, everything about it. Your stories are like dreams half remembered, tapping into a seam (or seeming) of the unconscious mind.  (TJ Alderson - novelist)

I'm really enjoying reading Wilful Misunderstandings!  I love the feeling throughout the stories of shifting, malleable realities, it is so much fun and encourages thinking in new ways about the world. Love it! (Emily Hinshelwood - poet, climate change activist)

Wilful Misunderstandings.... The book is bloody brilliant. I read it in nearly one sitting. It totally messed with my head. So much so that now I'm going to read it all over again!  (Jo Freeman - teaching assistant)

Quite fascinating reading.  I'm sure Alan Moore fans will enjoy his stories. (Flavio Pessanha - Alan Moore scholar)

And speaking of Alan Moore, if you've missed it so far, here's what he had to say about Wilful Misunderstandings:

With an unusual oulipo toolkit and a feigned bewilderment at the English language, Richard Foreman strikes a previously undiscovered seam of literary inspiration in this oddly charming compilation of deliberately misconstrued everyday phraseology. Words are the essential wallpaper of our lives and our reality, and when even the word ‘wallpaper’ can suddenly become a thing of eerie, alien beauty we are made uncomfortably aware of the peculiar worlds of possibility that lurk beneath the skin of our vocabulary. A passport to a parallel planet where nothing means quite what you thought it did, this book offers an excursion to a strangely familiar place that you have never previously dreamed of. Get your shots and book your ticket today.

So there we are.  Click on this link to Lepus Books (or go to Amazon etc. if you need to economise) and buy it.  You won't have any regrets.

Monday, August 8, 2016

An Oulipian Fragment

An Oulipian Fragment

I've been thinking since I reproduced the piece on the Oulipo for this blog, that I ought to dip into their 'constraints' once more and see where I got to when I went there.  Okay, I said to myself, let's write a prose piece of around 500 words, under one such constraint.  Here goes...

I look at hills.  Jaggy or round in form.  Across my horizon and all in a row.  Woodland on a small quantity, individual growths on an additional amount. Clouds scud by as a backdrop - hint of indigo, part pink, as sun sinks.

I look at hills.  Hills look back.  Down on towns in which humans mark land with foundations, buildings, roads and paving.  Hills watch us all with profound absorption. A watch lasting as long as humans trod this land, if not for a duration way back past that shaky start.  Thinking Gaia’s thoughts of sustainability, I ask?

Hills stay with us.  Cliff facings, cascading liquid falls, random rock formations all abound – both at first scan, and also in our minds. Flora and fauna, climbs and slips, arduous trips and languorous strolls, wild winds and slow draughts; all within and without our own banks of thought.

Not simply mounds, big or small, hills stand with dips and undulations.  Fractal by way of formation, you can multiply all that hills contain and find infinity, insofar as find it you can with all your mind’s limits in play.  Think of hills as worlds if you will, or go as far as you can, anyway, on this thought-form path you follow.  Think through hills, into hills.  Go down to low strata, and pick up this story of how hills found form.  Find hills’ part in an unfolding saga of ground and its contours.

Hills do not show fright - proud to stand, stalwart, without complaint or any form of misgiving.  Up on a hill, you look afar and in all ways that your compass can point.  Up on a hill, you find a unitary spot at which to join that high continuity, and absorb all that is shown to you.  Raptor birds swoop in salutation, bug and dragonfly buzz and flit in comity with your far sight and smooth focus.  That’s what a hill can hand to you.

On a good day.

But on a bad and blowy day, as high winds push and drag your body, rain on a slant soaks to your skin and hail hits you hard, it may not turn out that this location suits you so happily.  Such days hills wish to hold apart, for a solitary form of inclination that no human can form a party to.  And on such days, if you go, you will stand on your own and probably find you will soon turn gladly to part company with all that turmoil that is raging about you.  Such days stay days in which to find walls and a roof to hold guard on your body.  Hills own rights to that which you do not.

So I look at hills to pick up any sign that I am fit to pass days amidst an availability of drama and on which this insight I always sought will possibly find its way to my mind.  I look at hills and know that I may find what I want to find - or just as much of what I’d not truly wish for.

Well, my respect for Georges Perec has just gone through the roof.  500 words without an 'e' and I've only just managed to keep it all making sense (more or less).  He wrote an entire novel under that same constraint.  And someone else translated it without 'e's too.  Hats off!

At first, I thought: 'this is silly, it's gonna take me all day to do the goddamn blog at this rate (it nearly did) and what's the point of that?'  After a bit I thought: 'hmm, this is interesting.  It's forcing me to find ways to get ideas across without falling back on the obvious words I might have used to convey them.  It's steering me away from writing patterns I often fall into, and from cliches.  Some of it may be rather inelegantly expressed, but here and there I've come up with some phrases I rather like and might not have found otherwise.'  Just writing whilst denied access to words like 'the' is quite enlightening.  Amazing too how often I did throw in a word containing an 'e' without noticing until I used the 'find' tool to highlight them.  We can write words and be blind to them - that's why proofreaders are worth their weight.

It's good this Oulipo stuff.

In small doses.

Toodle pip

Monday, August 1, 2016

Used Planet For Sale

Originally published in 'And This Global Warming' anthology,
Roynetree Press, 2012
(& proud I am that it was)