Category Archives: history

Back the book or the writer gets it!

I named this blog Blackwatertown after a book I was writing. Ta da! Finally, the book, Blackwatertown, is written, edited and on it’s way to publication with Unbound. But I need your help. (Yup, that’s me in the video, being held at gun point.)

Blackwatertown is a thriller set in a sleepy village on the Irish border in the 1950s – and tells what happens when a maverick cop goes looking for a killer. (More on the website.)

Unbound is a new kind of publisher. A hybrid taking the best of new approaches and traditional mainstream old-style publishing houses.

Old-style means books must pass a quality control test – are they good enough to publish? It means the finished product is professionally produced, whether in print or digital. It also means it goes into high street book shops as well as the likes of Amazon.

New-style means crowd funding. The book is good enough, but is there a market? Let’s prove it through advance sales. Once the funding target is hit, production begins (copy editing, proofing, cover design, printing, distribution.)

Iconic thriller writer Frederick Forsyth with his recent book The Fox

The book, Blackwatertown, is ready. It has some stellar reviews from readers and well known names – like Frederick Forsyth. Yes, the same fella who wrote The Day of the Jackal. That fella. It’s all on the book’s page on the publisher’s website – along with an excerpt, other reviews and details of how you can support it.

There are various ways to back it. Sharing it on social media, telling your mates, generally talking about it. All good. Pledging – an advance order in other words – for an ebook or paperback – even better. And every pledger gets their name in the book. This is where you do it
https://unbound.com/books/blackwatertown/

You can even sign up to extras like naming a character. But not the dog. Doggone it! A lovely person has already snapped up the right to name the daring dog that threatens to derail a political career at a pivotal plot point. (I do enjoy a little alliteration.)

So, for all of you who’ve urged me in the past to get on with it – I have. Or promised to support/pledge/buy it – now you can. Please do. And thanks for all the encouragement over the years gone by.

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Filed under art, blackwatertown, history, My Writing

Robert Hughes: What democracy is for…

Robert Hughes died recently. I liked reading his work.

This is what he said about democracy and art – from an editorial in the Guardian newspaper:

The late Robert Hughes wrote his own epitaph in his 1993 polemic Culture of Complaint, where he inveighed against the banal politicisation of art and championed instead the importance of quality.

“Some things do strike us as better than others – more articulate, more radiant with consciousness,” Hughes insisted. “We may have difficulty saying why, but the experience remains.”

Democracy’s task, in the field of art, he believed, was to make the world safe for elitism, not to outlaw it. He believed passionately – in Hughes’s case the adverb is redundant – in an elitism that was not based on class, wealth or race, but on skill, imagination, high ability and intense vision Continue reading

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My first memory

See – I told you it was a tank. This British Centurion tank was out during Operation Motorman. So perhaps it was a tank I saw. The photo is by Eamon Melaugh – click on the pic for more of his work.

Memory is tricky. Childhood memories even trickier.

Which memories are real. Which are from stories or photographs?

Top Boy shares his first memory with me. He was running up and down the street in from of our house. Past houses, back past houses, back past houses again, then past a house with a low white wall and a blue triangular prismatic top… (the shape details are quite extensive and go on for some time, so I’ve skipped them – funnily enough he’s now a big science fan) …then he fell over and hurt his knee. What happened next? Doesn’t remember.

Mine is one of these. I don’t know which.

1. When I was five (or thereabouts) we moved house from a more troubled to a less troubled area of Belfast. I don’t remember anything before or during the journey until we turned onto the new street. It was more shaded, quieter, greener, with trees and hedges. I remember that. Nothing before. Except maybe for…

2. Seeing my first tank. Very exciting. Big. High. Wide. Dark, maybe green but definitely spattered with white paint. On the road outside the Busy Bee shopping centre in Belfast Continue reading

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Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, family history, history

The missing slaves of Belfast

Olaudah Equiano - one of Belfast's more famous visitors.

Question: What have Liverpool, Bristol and all sorts of other places got that Belfast hasn’t?

Answer: A corporate history of slave trading.

Hurrah! One shameful pursuit into which we did not dive. Continue reading

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Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, friends, history, life, Music

Titanic Town fever

It must be catching, this Titanic fever. There’s no escaping it on telly or in the news. Here’s my contribution…

In other words – enough already. We built it. It crashed. It sank. Continue reading

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Huh! Kids those days…

Young people theose days… Out of control… No respect… Not like when I was a lad/lass… And here’s the evidence!

Your roving reporter met* a specially selected cross section of the population** who shared their own experience and opinions from the sharp end.

  1. “We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They hang around pubs and have no self control.”
  2. “When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of our elders, but young people today are disrespectful and out of control.”
  3. “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets… Their morals are decaying.”
  4. “The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behaviour and dress.” 

I blame the parents – the great great great great great …etc… grandparents, that is.

So what’s with this sudden display of concern for society going to hell in a handcart? Just a pretext really, to show you these clever drawings by Hark, a vagrant – and her lovely, clever, zany blog and book. History as it really/never was.

Continue reading

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There’s more to Belfast than peace walls

Arthur Magee - Ambassador of the humane to humanity

How could you not love a face like that? It’s playwright and tour guide Arthur Magee. He has a bee in his bonnet about the type of tourism that goes on in Belfast – sometimes called “terror tours”. You know the sort of thing – here’s the Falls Road, here’s the Shankill, here’s where he was shot and she was blown up.

Anything wrong with it? Maybe not. Can be educational, even respectful. And it’s clearly part of the history and undeniably internationally known. I’ve even done it myself in an informal way for foreign mates who, to my surprise, had studied Northern Ireland at college. Odd to think of yourself as a laboratory specimen.

But though Norn Irn’ers have been known to revel in their notoriety and believe – or demand – that the world revolves round them (“Never mind the fall of the Berlin Wall – what about the Apprentice Boys wanting to march across the Ormeau Bridge!?!) – you can imagine that it can become tiresome to feel that visitors see you solely in the context of the Troubles. A bit like being in a zoo too. In the cage.

Brendan Deeds - writer

Which is why Arthur Magee has come up with an alternative Continue reading

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