Sunday, November 20, 2005

I've just read John B Ford's collection, The Evil Entwines; it features a story we wrote a while back called The Man with the Haunted Eyes. It got me thinking about the fascinating business of story collaboration. The first time I ever did it was back in the late '90's. At my first ever FantasyCon, in Birmingham, I met D.F. Lewis for the first time. He had already done a number of collaborations and asked if I wanted to work with him. Naturally, I was keen to give it a go.
As it happened, I had a 2k word story that had started well, but had a poor ending. So I cut it in half and sent Des the first thousand words. It became a 3,500k word story called Disaffected Blood, and was published in Unhinged Magazine back in 2000. A second collaboration, Even Dogs Could Talk, appeared in Roadworks - Tales From the Hard Road a few months later; then a third, What Dreams May Come, appeared in a magazine called Redsine.
There were others --- To the Daemon - We Give Breath, with John B. Ford (Evil Eye, 2001); The Hurricane of Nightmares, with Paul Bradshaw (to be published in a future issue of Terror Tales); No Red Worms, with Sarah Crabtree (which appeared in a booklet jokingly called Zara - The Text Files); and one called David Bluestocking, which I wrote with Sarah Crabtree and John B. Ford.
Collaborating is a simple matter these days; you just write a section and e-mail it on; but when I first did it (with Des and John) back in the '90's, we had to rely on the GPO. So you wrote a section, posted it off, and then waited for the return post to see where your partner had taken it. Then, of course (if you had started the collaboration) you had to type up his contribution before taking up the thread. Then it was back in an envelope. Yes, the internet does have its benefits.
But it's a funny old business, collaborating. Sometimes it can work spectacularly well. Mick Sims and Len Maynard are a good team, as are Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis. But obviously, it doesn't always work. My favourite story in The Evil Entwines is The Cairn, which John wrote with Paul Finch. Together, they have crafted a dark, and absorbing tale of the supernatural. Less successful is The Winged Menace, written with D.F. Lewis, in which two completely different writing styles clash jarringly. If a co-writer can go with Des's style, you'll get a decent story. Unfortunately, and with all due respect, The Winged Menace is a bit of a mess. So, it's a bit of a rough-with-the-smooth affair, but generally worth the effort.
The main problem is that you are reluctant to edit your partner's contribution, but it has to be done. What Dreams May Come had several rejections before I realized that it had to be drastically pared down. I butchered it, and finally got it published. I learned a long time ago that a story is not your baby; it is a piece of meat, and will only be palatable when you have hacked off all the lean and cut out all the gristle; collaborations have to be regarded in the same way, only more so. It is all a matter of getting the narrative to flow, and this doesn't always happen when two or more people are working on a single story. So yes, it is always going to be a hit and miss affair, but it is often an interesting - and occasionally, rewarding - experience.
I'm pleased to say that the quality of The Evil Entwines (great title, that) is generally quite high, and with writers like Ramsay Campbell, Simon Clark, Tim Lebbon, Sims and Maynard, Derek M. Fox, Gary Greenwood and Thomas Ligotti involved, John could hardly go wrong. A knockout piece of artwork by Loretta Mansell completes the package nicely.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I have now termininated my first, and last, brush with the stock market. In 2001 I had a handsome payoff on an investment I made in 1995 so my bank manager persuaded me to go with this investment firm. It was a 'risk' investment, but the economy was in reasonably good shape. A few months later came the 9/11 attacks on New York. The first statement I received showed a loss of more than £3000 on my investment. It went back up (and down and up and down and up ...) but the comeback has always been less than my original investment. Six months ago it was a thousand down and I was tempted to pull out then; however, the thought of losing a thousand pounds held me back. Thankfully, the latest statement was a hundred pounds over, so I finally withdrew it; however, that statement was over a month old so it had dropped again; so, having allowed this firm to sit on my money for more than five years, I made a profit of £48.06. I do not intend to make another investment like that; from now on I shall just sit back and watch the interest grow.
Which is just as well, with the government's pension proposals.
Work 'till 67!!
Stuff that; I have a private pension, and if I can boost it with a savings account, I shall retire at 55 (Oh for a win on the lottery!)
Working life is a drudge for some, and adding years to an overworked populations working life is not the greatest vote-winner that Tony Blair has ever come up with. I would never vote anything other than labour; but come on chaps, where's this feel-good factor you used to talk about?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

So, to the 29th FantasyCon, in Walsall, at The Quality Hotel - a venue so craftily hidden that most of the guests ended up back on the M6 Toll Road! (I passed the entrance 3 times, wound up in a strange part of town some miles away, and ended up paying a taxi driver to go there so I could follow him. So much for my AA Road map!)
Still, a few relaxing drinks later, and I was chilled out, even though I'd arrived a day early. The next morning I decided to go for a walk, but The Heaven's opened up, so I turned back. Just then, a taxi pulled up in front of me and out stepped Marie 0'Regan and Paul Kane. It was too early for them to book into their rooms, so we went to check in at the convention desk. Again, it was too early, so we helped the organizers to fill the obligatory 'Goody Bags' with books, flyers, and anything else that came to hand. Then we went back to the lounge and waited for the other guests to arrive.
First in was Chris Teague, of Pendragon Press, and then other's started to drift in. Of the Terror Scribes there was Rob Roundtree, Lisa Negus, Mark West and his wife Alison, Alison L. R. Davies (there to give a reading of two of her stories, and pretty nervous by that time), Len Maynard and Mick Sims. Later I would meet up with Gary's Fry and McMahon, (There to push the long-awaited Poe's Progeny anthology), Terry Gates Grimwood , who was setting up a dealer table for D-Press chapbooks, and the incomparable Jetse DeVries.
The rest of the time it was business as usual as we attended the numerous panel's and story-telling sessions, the whole event, as ever, benefitting from the larger-than-life presence of BFS Chairman Ramsay Campbell (who drew the first night to a close with a reading of his spooky new short story).
The panel's themselves were enjoyably diverse. Ramsay Campbell, Paul Kane, Simon Clark, Matthew Holness (star of the dark Channel 4 comedy series, Garth Marenghi's Dark Place ) and a slightly late Joe Hill discussed comedy in horror, then Stephen Gallagher and Paul Finch talked about their (mostly frustrating) experiences writing for television. This included an audience-participation session in which we were asked to devise a television series. Then Paul Kane interviewed Simon Clark before we went for a buffet and a drink in the hotel bar.
Later on there was a quiz, which my team won, but don't ask me how; the questions were really bizarre. Other events included a raffle (in which Paul Finch was overjoyed to win a hammock!) and story-telling from Alison Davies (who calmed herself down with a glass of wine, then went on to wow the audience with an impressive, off-the-cuff recital) and Joe Hill, an American writer who read a selection from his new book of supernatural tales.
Finally, Graham Joyce opened the book launch and I purchased several titles, including Poe's Progeny, New Wave (an anthology by the newly-formed Crowswing Books ) , a number of D-Press chapbooks and The Life to Come by Tim Lees.
The launch went well, and once again the event was over all too soon. I said my farewells, threw all my purchases into the back of my car, and set off on the long drive back to Cardiff. Next year will be the 30th anniversary bash and big things are promised. With any luck, I'll be there; hopefully, in a hotel that's easier to find!
As ever, it's hats off the The British Fantasy Society for putting together a really enjoyable event ... and hoping that I get to enjoy many more.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

There is a review of my story 'Silhouette', which recently appeared in the magazine 'Jupiter' at . As you can see, I've been brought to book over my spelling of whisky. All I can say is, 'Won't do it again'. Still, the review is mostly positive, so I've posted the link.

Also, spent a pleasant weekend in Walsall attending the FantasyCon; it was good to meet old friends and make a few new one's. The event was good fun, and I'll make out a fuller report later. Great job on the part of the organizers

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

And so another birthday has come around. 44 Years old, Jesus. Still, a couple of mates made sure I didn't get too thirsty last night, and I have a few saucy cards on display. Mind you, I'm beginning to wish that birthdays didn't come around quite so often :-(

Friday, September 02, 2005

So while I'm on the subject of things that really get my goat ...

Those frigging Norwich Union ad's, where complete morons wet their knickers in joy because they get a cheaper car insurance.

British television. We used to regard cornball American programmes with contempt. Now they are sending over C.S.I - Crime Scene Investigation, The Shield, Law & Order, The Soprano's. All our lot can churn out are bad reality shows (I hope the tosser who devised Big Brother get's nits, not least of all for inflicting that mouth on legs, Davina McCall, on us), and those lamentable displays of amateur dramatics that are the British Soap Opera's; once used a fillers, these mind-numbing crap-fests now account for every single hour of the evening. Worse, you can't pick up a paper without reading about what these 'fictional' characters are doing ... like the whole country gives a shit !
I reckon they should get their own cable channel, which I will have the option not to subscribe to. People who hate soap opera's pay the licence fee as well, chaps, so give us a break :-(

Comedy icons they may be, but I could cheerfully live out my days without seeing another laughter-free, so-called American comedy starring Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller or Adam Sandler (or, for that matter, any other woefully unfunny 'comedian'). I recently sat through the dire Wedding Crashers and enough is enough. Sharing expenses on an 'Orange Wednesday' deal is fine, but I've sat through one too many films I didn't particularly want to see just to get a free cinema ticket. American humour does nothing for me.

And I wish they's stop remaking films. Pearce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair? Not bad, but did we need it? Don't even get me started on Tim Burton's botched remake of Planet of the Apes. As for Starskey & Hutch with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller ...

Right, rant over. Normal service wil now be resumed as soon as possible.

Friday, August 26, 2005

So far, I haven't had a good rant about something on this page. Well, as no blog would be complete without a grumble, here goes.
How do BR justify the cost of a trip on The Heathrow Express? On the face of it, this seems a good service; a cheap return to Paddington, then a train straight to your terminal. That journey from Paddington to Heathrow takes less than fifteen minutes; and yet they charge £16 ... ONE WAY!!!
So £32 there and back. The Cardiff/Paddington return was only £49, so the only expression that springs to mind for this little practice is 'Rip Off'!
Let's face it, BR can hardly say that it doesn't get used very often; it's always full; and what do you get for such an exorbitant cost? A free drink? Some food, maybe? No; it's a fifteen minute journey; you get a common or garden train and that's it.
So next time it'll be a case of 'stuff the train, I'm taking the coach'. The train is quicker and more convenient, but a return on a coach will be a lot cheaper that the £81 I ended up forking out to British Rail. This may be the age of the train, but at those prices they can stuff it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I have now given my first 'official' pint of blood. While shopping at Asda, I saw a sign saying that a mobile unit would be calling by on the following Thursday; so I duly presented myself on the day, and can now 'officially' call myself 'a blood donor'. A few days later, it was many happy returns to my brother, Bob, who hit 60. Wow, I hope I'm a lot fitter than him when I reach that age ;-)
And speaking of Bob's ... on Wednesday evenings I go down my local pub, The Ty-nant (that means house by the stream) and test my general knowledge in 'Bob's Big Quiz'. He's been asking why I haven't posted a link to his website. Good question, so here goes . If you're ever in the vicinity, drop in and get a load of the most irritating catchphrases in any pub quiz, anywhere in the country:-)

Hmm. Giving blood and taking part in pub quizzes. I really live the life, don't I!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

When I finally decided to give blood, I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. I'd thought about it for a long time, but I'd never got around to it. Then, while out for a drive, I spotted a sign giving directions to a community centre where a session was taking place. I suppose I'd thought to nip in - much like Tony Hancock in The Blood Donor - offer up a drop of the red stuff and forget all about it. But of course, it isn't that simple in this day and age; when you give blood today, you sign up to a long term commitment. The first pint is for analysis; then, if it's a good vintage, you go into a database and more or less join a society.
Here's how it pans out. About a week after giving blood you are sent a letter, explaining that you will receive notification of local donor sessions. With this letter is a plastic card, which you present when you turn up. It is the size of a credit card, and - below the words 'I Give Blood. I Save Life - is your name, your blood group (A Rhesus Positive, in my case), and your donor number. Now you are ready to give blood in earnest.
I'm happy to sign up to this club, but I'm somewhat amused by the incentive they offer to keep you interested. The donor card is an attractive red number, but you can earn a sort of promotion. This card is for sessions 1 to 4. After this, you will receive a green card, which you will present at sessions 5 to 9. Progression is slower after this. A yellow card will cover sessions 10 to 24 ( I should point out that there is a period of 16 weeks between sessons), and so on until you get a magic purple card (the 7th and final one) which you will receive after a hundred donations; If I've done my math right, I'll be 55 when I get that one!
Among the interesting facts; Blood makes up about 7% of your body's weight: A newborn baby has about one cup of blood in its body; There are around one billion red blood cells in 2 to 3 drops of blood; Earthworm, leeches and insects have green blood; Lobsters and crabs have blue blood because it contains copper instead of iron; There is NO substitute for human blood.
Hmm. I think I'll make an effort to get that purple card;-)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

NEW YORK (DAY 1) I arrived in New York, on a Thursday, in one of Richard Branson's planes ... and was immediately put through my paces at Customs. I got to the back of a queue, had my fingerprints taken and my retina's scanned ... then found myself at the back of another queue! Why they can't combine fingerprinting and passport checking, I don't know; still, with a cheery 'Welcome to New York' I was admitted to The Big Apple.
Leaving the terminal, I hopped on an airport bus, which took nearly an hour to clear JFK; there were several terminals to stop and pick up passengers from, which was only to be expected; but then, just as we reached the exit, a man jumped on to check everyone's ticket. As the bus was full, this took a frustrating ten minutes, which may not sound like much, but I was getting really fed up with all that stopping and starting by then. Anyway, he finally left the bus, and we finally left the airport. By this time, we'd hit the rush hour (and if that expression is not a contradiction in terms, I don't know what is).
Lulled by the tedium of the journey (travelling through New York on a bus might sound 'almost' romantic, but after a long flight, you just want to crash out in your hotel) I started to drift off. But then I looked up, and there, through the front window of the bus, was the famous Manhatten skyline; looming ahead of us through a faint mist. Then we were racing by the Brooklyn Bridge, and I realized that I had finally arrived; that first glimpse of New York will stay with me for quite a while.
It took nearly an hour to reach Grand Central Station, where I disembarked and took a yellow cab to my Hotel. Having booked in, I went to the bar for a drink ... and bumped straight into Darren Floyd, who I'd known for a long time but hadn't seen for years, and Robert Shuster, who I'd met at my last convention in Chicago (back in 2002; more about that later).
Dumping the luggage in my room, I had a strip wash (couldn't get the bloody shower to work!) and a change of clothes. Then I left the hotel and went for a drink in a small Irish bar just across the street. Somehow, with several customers loudly cussing a baseball game on the television, I didn't get much sense of home; however, homesickness wasn't a problem.
Having paid for my drink in the American way (leaving the money, plus a one dollar tip, on the bar) I went back to the hotel and took a seat in the reception area. I felt like going to bed, but it had only just turned 8:30 (Nearly 2 in the morning back in Blighty, which was where I'd left my body clock) so sleep would have to wait.
Earlier, I'd met up with fellow scribbler Stuart Young, who was going for a meal with his girlfriend, Katy, and two American girls (one of whom - Diane - I'd briefly met in Chicago) and he asked me if I wanted to come along. So we took the ten minute walk to Times Square (which, with its theatres, flashing neon signs and billboards, looked exactly like the West End Of London) and ended up in a Sbarro Deli. Just like in Britain, we ended up tucking into a pizza. However, I did make a useful discovery. Just across the road from the convention hotel (The Park Central) was another hotel Called The Wellington, which boasted a huge neon sign that I could see halfway down Times Square. Such markers are very welcome in an unfamiliar city, and meant I wouldn't spent too much time getting lost.
On the way back we bumped into another writer, Tony Richards, and we all went back to the hotel in search of a party. By this time, I was all set to retire for the night, but was cajoled into tagging along for a few beers. (And as I have the breaking strain of a Kit-Kat in that respect, I didn't take much cajoling!)
That night, The Heavens opened up in spectacular fashion, and it was still raining the next morning. But as you will see, the weather did improve!

DAY 2: And a lesson in taking breakfast in The Big apple; don't eat in the hotel! They charge you a packet for the room (a convention discount came in handy this time) and then bill you for the breakfast; twenty five bucks, and don't expect them to bring you the change. Go out to a deli and get just as good a breakfast for a third of the cost.
However, I digress. I'd arranged to meet up with Sarah Crabtree and her family, who'd arrived the day before I did. They were more familiar with the city than I was, so I just followed them around. First up, a visit to The Empire State building, and an ear-popping ride to the observation floor. The day was clear and sunny, a big difference to the night before (and it was going to get hotter) so there was a great view from up there. A solemn moment came when I looked at the Manhatten skyline, and came across a plaque that represented it. A series of dots showed the location of The World Trade Centre, and all of a sudden the vacuum was quite noticeable. When we left, I looked back at the building. I would later remember that the twin towers were bigger than The Empire State Building. I'd seen them collapse several times on television, but it's hard to imagine such a huge structure collapsing in real life.
We made our way to Macy's and spent quite a while in there, although to be honest, it was a bit like wandering around Debenhams.
After taking dinner in a food emporium, we made our way back. One of the things that strikes you about New York is the absolute shamelessness of the place. Most shops sold t-shirts, and the slogans were pretty forthright; 'New York Fuckin' City' being one of the cleaner ones. All of these were openly displayed on the pavement (beg your pardon, sidewalk). If they did this in Britain, the police would soon be onto them - "Move this merchandise inside, sir; women and children, you know!" New Yorkers, however, don't even look.
Later that evening there was a mass book-signing, and Sarah - who was staying in another hotel a block away - came over. We bought books, and I got to meet a chap called Stephen Shrewsbury, a Chicago-based writer I'd communicated with on the old (and much missed) Terror Tales website.
Having made our purchases, and had a drink in the hotel bar, I walked Sarah back to her hotel. It was almost surreal walking through the streets; yellow cabs driving by, steam gushing up out of the drains. It was a bit like merging into a movie set.
Having seen Sarah safely back, I returned to the hotel in search of a party; but the management of Park Central didn't exactly encourage this sort of thing, so thanks to those miserable party poopers, we went off in search of a bar. I bumped into Stephen Shrewsbury again, and a group of us finally found a quiet bar, and (in between distractions from a really scatty barmaid) chatted into the early hours of the morning. Then it was back to the hotel for a few hours shut-eye before embarking on ...

DAY 3. Down to Times Square for breakfast, then a morning stroll through Central Park (the park being a five minute walk from the hotel in one direction - Times Square a ten minute walk in the other). I sat on a bench and watched a few kids playing baseball (while their parents egged them on as though they were taking part in The World Series!) for a time, then made my way to Sarah's hotel, where I'd arranged to meet up with them. On the agenda that day; a visit to The Yankee stadium to watch a baseball game between The New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles. This meant finding our way to The Bronx on the New York subway. No problem; we just looked out for a group of whooping idiots in baseball caps and followed them:-)
Back in Chicago three years earlier, a group of us had idly discussed going to a game, but of course, we never got around to it. Sarah's husband, Andrew, just went on-line and booked the tickets, and it was to make for a great afternoons entertainment. But first, we had to find our seats.
This was a lot more hair-raising than it sounds, as the Yankee stadium is a vast colliseum of a place, and the seating arrangements, in the stands, are a little unnerving. There is a two foot walkway, with no safety railings, and the back of the seat of the person in front of you is, literally, at your feet. God help anyone losing their balance there! I doubt that health and safety regulations would allow such a construction in Britain.
We found our seats and I clamped myself down and held on. No way was I moving before I had to.
Once settled ,I was able to enjoy the carnival atmosphere, for American League Baseball is pure entertainment; all over the ground, billboards pump out messages, encouraging the crowds to cheer, boo, sing, do the Mexican wave. Like cricket, there are gaps in the action; unlike cricket, the Americans know how to fill in the gaps. Yes, it was fun; I was enjoying American 'culture' in all its loud, and colourful glory. At the end of the game we made our way back to the subway, myself clutching a Yankees magazine and an autographed baseball I'd bought off a vendor outside the stadium.
Back to Manhatten and it was time for a last traipse through the shops before parting company with the Crabtree's, who were flying home the next day. New York, I have to admit, would have been a lesser experience without them.
But I had been careless in my dress-sense. After the deluge that had greeted my arrival, I had hardly been expecting a heatwave; but I had sat in The Yankee Stadium for the best part of four hours with the sun beating down on me; so not surprisingly, my face had turned a shade of crimson by the time I got back to the hotel. So explanations were in order, and I spent the rest of the convention hearing, 'What? You went to a ball game and didn't wear a baseball cap!!!' I couldn't tell whether they considered this a breach of etiquette or a very stupid thing to do - probably both. At least it showed that we Brits can still give the Americans a good laugh!
But, of course, I was asked who won.
"Er, I said I was there: I didn't say I knew what was going on!"
But I can tell you now that it was a victory for the Yankees that day.

Day 4, being a quiet day - and the day when most attendees were heading for home - I pretty much had the day to myself. So I spent the morning buying postcards and t-shirts (and a hooded sweatshirt, which you can see me wearing on my website) and then I made my way to Times Square. This was my last day and there was one trek I just had to make.
I got on a New York Tour Bus, and in this way I got to see most of the city. But it was Liberty Island I wanted to visit, and it was there I disembarked. I bought a ticket for the ferry and (as it was another scorcher) I belatedly bought a baseball cap. Then it was a short trip to the island. The ferry sailed right in front of The Statue on its way to the docking point, and everyone moved forward to look at her.
How many times have I seen this statue in films, television programmes and photographs? I couldn't say, but it was a magical moment when I looked up into her face for the first time.
It was a glorious day, and I spent over an hour on the island, alternatively looking up at the statue, and across the bay at the classic view of the New York skyline. This was the real New York experience, the one my trip wouldn't have been complete without. I was only sorry that I couldn't enter the statue Herself; they closed down at 4:30, so they'd already put a limit on the queue. But I'd made the visit and seen her, so I was content. Making my way back to the ferry, I was happy that I'd done all that I wanted to.
But I was to have one final, and totally unplanned experience.
As the bus made its way to Times Square, I looked over the side and saw Stuart Young and Katy loading their bags into a taxi. It was tempting to shout down and give them a farewell wave with my baseball cap, but decorum kicked in; I was on a bus full of Americans, and it would not have been the done thing.
In Times Square I got something to eat, and then set off back to the hotel; but I got sidetracked on the way. Just down the road from the convention hotel was 'The Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre', showing the hit musical Mamma Mia!. As I approached, the matinee audience were filing out; I hadn't realized that, in New York, there were two performances a day, even on a Sunday. I took a look at the board and saw that there was another performance at 7:00.
Stepping into the foyer, I hung around until the audience had thinned, then approached the box office. Asking about tickets, I was told that three were available; 100, 75 & 50 dollars. Why not? I thought, and handed over two crisp, fifty dollar bills that had been burning a hole in my wallet. Prices in New York are generally quite reasonable, so I could afford to be extravagant on my final night.
With an hour and three quarters to go before the performance, I went back to the hotel for a change of clothes; a hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap were not, I felt, appropriate attire for a Broadway show.
I can say that it was fun, and as an Abba fan, I was always going to enjoy the music. A tame crowd pleaser, yes, but a stirring end to my visit. I was, however, glad that I got there a good half hour before the performance; my ticket was for seat V-15 (yes, I do still have the ticket stub; it's keeping the stub from the Yankee Stadium company!) in 'The Orchestra'. This is the place we Brits call 'The Stalls'. Then I found Row-V, and as I moved along the seats (V-2, V-4, V-6 ....) it became obvious that my seat was elsewhere.
A helpful Usherette pointed me in the right direction, and, ten minutes before curtain up, I was comfortably ensconced. 'Hey, I'm in a Broadway theatre ... and I'm going to see a Broadway show!'.
It was unplanned, spur of the moment, and a real treat for my last night.

So to my last day, and I had quite a bit of time to kill; my flight was at 19:30, and I had to be out of my room by 12:30; so I decided to take a final walk down Times Square. There, I fired off the last two shots in my camera, and later regretted it.
There was time for a final stroll through Central Park, so I headed on over, buying a copy of The New York Times on the way.
If only I'd kept those last two shots! The roads were cordoned off, the New York Police and Fire Departments were out in force - several police cars and two fire engines - and smoke was billowing up from somewhere beyond the trees. (I found out the next day - by typing 'Central Park, New York' into Google - that a ski lodge had gone up in flames; by fair means or foul, I couldn't say).
I gawked for a while, then went to check out. Five hours later, after spending the last of my dollar bills in the J.F.K. duty free shops, I was heading back to London on a Virgin Atlantic aeroplane.

So now it's a memory, but my thoughts are now of London, a place I have visited often. In years past I went to see many West End shows, and as a sightseer, I thought nothing of travelling on The Underground. At my last convention, I spent over two hours (and took four trains) looking for the street where my hotel was (one train and a short walk on the way back; a little local knowledge is a wonderful thing!) . When there was a TTA-Con, back in December of 2002, I caught the Underground train to Liverpool St Station for a connection to Norwich.
Now, the terrorists who attacked New York have struck in London. As in 2001, we have seen that there is a bond between Britain and America. I saw it in the hotel bar, where the Americans were taking more interest in the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles than the British were (and knew a lot more about what was going on!). The big news of that week was the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome; but the Americans could still take a keen interest in a little country just over the pond. If they say so themselves, America is a great place. Now London, like New York, has to come to terms with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
It will.
Until then, my sympathy goes out to the victims of the attacks on the London Transport System.
In this addition to my website, I plan to discuss my involvement in the Independent press; more to the point, the conventions I have attended. Between the 7th and the 11th of April, I was in New York for the World Horror Convention. I will tell you all about this, but first I must mention a very important person in my life.
Earlier this year, after a long illness, my mother, Nancy Price, sadly passed away in a care home just outside Caerphilly. It was not unexpected, but it was still a very sad time for the family. She will be missed, and my website is now dedicated to her memory.