Carys Davies – well worth a read

I was given a ticket by my favourite Welshman for a book reading at No Alibis bookshop yesterday by Carys Davies.

Her selected readings from “West” were well read, and the chat with fellow writer Jan Carson interesting insights into the author’s writing process.

I have started reading her book of short stories “Some New Ambush”, signed by the author, of course.


Journalistic freedom and integrity

The recent case of Jamal Khashoggi is another example of authoritarian regimes committing murder and believing that they can get away with it.

Jamal Khashoggi

Whatever sanctions may be imposed on Saudi Arabia by its allies, the murder of a journalist for daring to criticise an obviously dictatorial regime, should not only be condemned by all right-thinking people but protested around the world outside Saudi embassies and consulates.

Cracking Stories – Week 5 -countermeasures

Standing at the tram stop outside Bordeaux train station, the small group led by Dermot were soaking up the autumn heat and revelling in it.

Eoin, Dermot’s friend and colleague had joined the researchers at the last minute after some persuasive arguments put by Dermot to the Head of School about security and the safety of their students. Anna pointed out the patrolling soldiers in front of the station with their weapons casually carried at hip level. Pauline was buying the tram tickets for the group and Charles was absorbing the typically European scene in a state of bliss.

They made their way to Professor Simon Reblochon’s grand house and were greeted effusively. “I hope you had a good flight. Leave your bags in the hall and come and have a drink.” Flutes of champagne were handed out and a tempting array of pastries were passed around.

puffet of  by



you have to train for it

My body is worn out A great weekend was in prospect when an old friend came to stay. I knew that drink would be an essential part of the proceedings but had forgotten how ill-equipped I am for heavy drinking.  You need to have the constitution and metabolism of someone at least half my age.

By the fifth pint of Guinness I was fading. We were on foot and moving fast from bar to bar. The Doyen was closed so we moved on to the Devenish where the youngsters were strutting their stuff to live music. I was not keen to stay, but a pink drink was put in front of me to play guess the contents. It smelled sickly sweet. I was none the wiser after I knocked it back, but my stomach got the warmth of strong alcohol. Schnapps, not my drink of choice on top of red wine, stout and whiskey.

Up early the next day to finish watching the Ulster game. Connacht deserved their victory. Some good individual performances by the Ulstermen, Stockdale got a try on his return to fitness and Timoney and Cooney are consistently good. But they need to hunt better as a pack.

I am now weaning myself off the drink and looking to up my REM sleep before Monday morning.

Cracking Stories – Week 4 – the plot thickens

Building work on restoring the School of History to its original state was moving on apace. Academics and admin staff had temporarily been sharing offices with their colleagues in the School of Politics, but it looked as if they would be moving back in a couple of weeks.

Dermot had come out of his depression and was ready to do battle with the world again. Typing rapidly on his tablet he was confirming the travel arrangements for his research group to Bordeaux when Eoin bounded in.

“Funding!” he exclaimed holding out a piece of headed paper.

Dermot grabbed the document and scanned the contents.

“Who the fuck is the Enlightened Historical Enquiries Commission?”

“Who cares? 50k should pay for a few baguettes and bottles of plonk.”

“There will be no plonk on this trip. Simon has promised to raid his cellars, and I’m not going to stop him. I can taste the full-bodied swirl of Bordeaux’s finest on my palate already. ”

“Now you can afford my services as an eighteenth-century expert.”



Customer support are two words that strike fear into most people who have run into problems with their purchases. Internet Service Providers can have you hanging on the phone interminably while they take you through the manual entitled ” How to piss off your customers by going through every possible fault before sending outit has an engineer”.

So it was that our broadband needed fixing, and I steeled myself for the long phone call. Negotiating a new contract that dropped the exorbitant Sky Sports package and included the £10 a month channel showing the Pro14 rugby matches was fairly painless. Requesting a new Wifi router was also plain sailing. All we need now is for the TV to work better and Virgin Media will have themselves a happy customer.

Having installed the new router, I am looking at a TV screen that says “Starting up…” and it has.

My Sunday morning will be perfect if I can now watch the Munster vs Ulster game that I fell asleep watching last night. Half-time score 29-0. Cmon Ulster time for another second-half comeback.