Buy a Curious Little Book now for just 99 cents/99p, or meet a Troll…

CURIOUSYou can now (until Weds. 1st April only) buy my book “The Curious Little Book of Extraordinary Big Tales” for just 99cents/99p…this is a limited time offer and I’ve got a pissed off fairy on my back, bills to pay plus three lovely dogs to feed, so buy it now. Or I’ll send the Trolls round….

“Unusual, highly imaginative and well-written…I can’t wait to read more!” (US REVIEWS)

“Vivid, visually rich…truly eloquent writing.” (US REVIEWS)

“Sweet, funny, cleverly written…thought provoking and entertaining. I thoroughly recommend it!” (UK REVIEWS)

“Captivating…immersed me right from the start!” (US REVIEWS)

Did you know that a Fairy lives for exactly 897 years and 13 days, that they kidnap human children because they can’t have their own and when they cry, their tears turn into diamonds? Did you know that real Trolls have horns, can run as fast as cheetahs and have a deep and abiding hatred of Bankers? Did you know that as you read this the Blind Old Weaver Of Fate is Clumsily Spinning Together the course of your life? Did you know that you began your existence as a random handful of atoms, coalescing together after journeying across the vastness of the Universe and when God saw you he was so moved by your beauty that he tore a piece off himself and placed it inside you?

Did you know that where ever you walk the Devil and his Special Children walk with you and that one day your Soul will Break The Chains Of Earthly Existence to make one last, Incandescent Journey across a Broad, Bright Blue Sky and the Tale That Was Your Life will slowly fade away, to be lost forever in the dense Fog Of Forgotten Stories?

Did you know that if you speak the words “Once upon a time,” anything can happen?



The Curious Tale of Bonty Liar: a Politician so Corrupt he Burst Into Flames

Conservative-demon-eyes-c-001THIS…cautionary, strange little Tale is from my forthcoming book, THE CURIOUS LITTLE BOOK OF EXTRAORDINARY BIG TALES (VOLUME 2)….VOLUME 1  is available to buy now, just scroll down the site for reviews and free to read extracts, and then buy it or suffer a Fairy’s Curse…

Once upon a time… many, many years ago in a world long since forgotten, there was a country called Anywhere. And in the land of Anywhere there was a fine and prosperous city called Anyplace and in this city there lived, during the times of the ascendancy of the destructive and rapist Greedy One Percent, a politician called Bonty Liar.

Now Bonty was a hugely corrupt man, most definitely one of the Devil’s Special Children. From a well to do family, he had been educated at one of the Finest Public Schools in the land of Anywhere, benefiting from the Best Education Money Can Buy.

From school he went to Anywhere’s top university and then, with help from Friends Of His Father, he entered the legal profession and soon, by dint of the fact that he was a good actor, an adept liar and lacking in social or moral conscience he, not surprisingly, did very well in his chosen career and quickly became regarded as a Promising Young Lawyer.

It was at the Promising Young Lawyer stage that he was spotted by members of The Greedy One Percent, who were always on the lookout for bright, morality-free, personable young men and women they could manoeuvre into positions of Responsibility And Power.

And so the inducements began. Having a Feral Ability to sniff out Bad Character, The Greedy One Percent recognised Bonty’s Dysfunctionally Strange sense of self-regard, his greed for money and power and psychopathic tendencies and suggested to him that he might enter the World Of Politics where, should he but do their bidding, he could be very useful to them and they could offer to him in return fame, power and lots and lots of money: a huge advance for a book of his memoirs at a later point in the future, a Guaranteed Income Stream from speaking tours (addressing members of The One Percent), lucratively paid non-executive directorships on the boards of Banks And Corporations, well-rewarded contracts to write articles for The Means Of Communication…these were just some of the inducements offered to Bonty to enter the World Of Politics.

Bonty accepted everything offered gladly: he was, and always had been, fascinated by the extremely wealthy and was desperate to join their ranks.

Mentored by The One Percent, quietly supported by their money and noisily supported by their tame journalists in The Means Of Communication, Bonty rose quickly in the Political Sphere, soon becoming Leader of his party and then Leader Of The Country.

Bonty now proved his worth to The Greedy One Percent. If a law needed changing or abrogating to allow them to pursue a business that had previously been seen as unconscionable or illegal, Bonty changed it. If a (rare as Trolls teeth) honest politician or journalist needed to be blackmailed or bludgeoned into silence, Tony wielded the club. If corrupt policy had to be justified by lies, Bonty lied. If the Public Services or Benefits And Welfare had to be cut to impoverish The Ordinary Folk, Bonty did the cutting. If an Illegal War needed to be started in a Far Flung Land to enable The Greedy One Percent to steal its resources and make even more money selling arms…well, Bonty started it.

In short, Bonty proved to be an Invaluable Servant of The Greedy One Percent. If anything, they came to realise that they had, in fact, underestimated his greed for money and power and the depths of his psychopathic leanings: Bonty not only did what they wanted but during the course of his ten years as Leader, he managed to prostitute the entire Office Of Leadership to nothing else but enriching himself and his Owners.

I suppose it could be argued that The Ordinary Folk of Anywhere had some blame in the rise of Bonty Liar. Perhaps they should have noticed the blindingly obvious fact that his surname was LIAR or perhaps they should have realised that his infuriating habit of smiling whenever he was talking was in fact a form of “Distraction Theft;” the cheesy grin distracting your eye whilst hands sneak round the back of you and steal your wallet, your Life Chances and the lives of your children. I suppose I would then have to say, how can people make informed decisions when The Means Of Communication function as a 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 days a year Propaganda Mouthpiece for the wealthy and powerful?

Whatever the rights and wrongs, Bonty accumulated vast amounts of Blood And Treasure and became a happy man. And if his incredible success was built on the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Far Flung Foreign Lands and the impoverishment of others in his own country…well, then, what of it. You Ordinary Folk are but a detail of history.

Now one particular day, three years after stepping down as Leader Of The Country, Bonty (now an immensely wealthy non-executive director of numerous corporations and banks, columnist, after dinner speaker, author, property investor and, irony of ironies, Peace Envoy) was giving a speech (for a very nice fee) to a Select Group of Greedy One Percent Individuals and something very, very strange happened.

Bonty had spent a good half hour lauding the Wonderful And Generous Nature of the fabulously Wealthy and their Inestimable Contribution To The Nation, extolling the virtues of the Magick of “Trickle Down” theory and was just about to start telling a series of Vile Lies about the Leader of a Far Flung Foreign land, that being to lay the ground work for Propaganda in the next day’s Means Of Communication that would eventually become justification for another Illegal War, when his Soul decided it had had enough.

For, oddly, despite spending a lifetime in Bonty’s corrupt body, his Soul had remained Pure, close to God and In Equilibrium With The Universe. But as it saw yet more filth and lies coming down from Bonty’s mind, words aimed at starting yet another war in which yet more Innocents would die, his Soul decided enough was enough. It had always tried to do its God-Given duty, had spent decades telling Bonty, No Don’t Do That Its Horrible. Always it had been ignored, always squeezed out by Bonty’s lust for money and power, by his complete lack of regard for others. It was time to accept defeat and save itself from the Rampant Corruption that this man, this Child Of The Devil, represented. It was off, it was out of there and on to That Which Lay Beyond, Sod This For A Game Of Soldiers.

As Bonty uttered the first of his lies about the Leader of the Far Flung Foreign Land, his face became very red. Sweat broke out on his forehead and poured down his face, he paused as he spoke, discomfited by the intense heat that seemed to have flared up deep inside himself. Then he moaned in pain as more heat bubbled up from somewhere deep inside and steam came off him in great waves, he rolled his head back and screamed as his eyes turned all white, like an egg yolk being boiled… clouds of smoke billowed from his mouth, nostrils and ears and he suddenly, and explosively, burst into flames, fire consuming his body as he stood at his lectern.

Terrified by such a spectacle, his Rich Guests ran screaming from the room, sparing them the sight of Bonty’s flaming head exploding into tiny fragments as his rebellious Soul, the source of the heat that had consumed Bonty, made its exit from his Vile Body, a fast-moving Incandescence, shooting upwards, smashing through the nearest window, out into Fresh And Sweet Air and making its escape across a Broad, Bright Blue Sky.

What was left of Bonty’s body collapsed to the floor, lying smouldering by the lectern, and at that point the ground around began to shake and tremor and a large hole opened up in the floor by Bonty’s remains. It was hole so deep that it reached down to Hell itself and from it issued Flame and the Nauseating Smell of Brimstone, and out of the Hole crept a large, scaly, red hand which snatched away the remains of Bonty and dragged them down to the Eternal Inferno Of Pain: the hand of the Devil himself, come to reclaim one of his Special Children.

America assassinates Russian opposition leader, & humanity moves closer to extinction.

Doomsday_Clock.230Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was assassinated last night in Moscow.

No-one knows yet who killed Nemtsov and so it may be previous of me to say he was killed by someone in the pay of the CIA but I’ve now decided I’m going to write like a western journalist and pronounce possibility and rumour as the one and only indispensable truth: if our craven scum journalists, owned and operated by the plutocracy and the screaming, psychopathic “crazies” who now run the US government can write propaganda, then so can I.

Nemtsov was a supporter of the US financed fascist takeover of the Ukraine and was in receipt of funding from the US via the National Endowment for Democracy, which despite its name, is staffed by neo-con crazies and works to subvert democracy and advance the interests of the US military-industrial, fascist state the world over.

Its already a done deal amongst western propagandists (sorry, journalists) and the political class that Putin is behind the assassination: mass-murder and war criminal Barak “Drone-Killer” Obama has already condemned Nemtsov’s “brutal murder.”

Trouble is, if you apply a modicum of brain power and the principle of Cui Bono (“who benefits”) to Nemtsov’s assassination it becomes absolutely obvious that, actually, I’m not writing western journalist style propaganda and that Putin had nothing do with the killing. What would he have to gain by ordering the assassination of a someone operating on the margins of Russian politics, particularly as his own approval ratings in Russia are at an all time high? Why throw petrol on the fire by timing the assassination just before tomorrows opposition rally and march? Why so blatantly and stupidly (say whatever you like about Putin, he’s far from stupid) play into the hands of western presstitutes and politicians who have spent months demonising him as Hitler/Genghis Khan/Satan/Jimmy Savile?

On other hand we know that the crazies and plutocrats who run the US government are desperate to destabilise and destroy Russia, to break it up into a series of failed states over which they can wield power and plunder resources (like Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Syria and , later this year, Turkey).

This assassination is simply another US attempt to subvert Russia. The neo-cons want Putin gone and Russia broken up, removed as potential rival to US military power and opened up for resource rape. These spittle-flecked, foaming-mouthed nutjobs will stop at nothing in their pursuit of the New American Century: they will keep pushing and pushing Putin and Russia…the main focus point for this will be Ukraine…until they get what they want: a shooting war between Russia and Nato. The fact this will soon degenerate into a nuclear conflict bothers them not. They calculate they can restrict it to European soil…this is a real bonus for them: nuclear war in Europe will destroy its economy (removing an economic rival to the US) and result in huge capital outflows from Europe to the “safe haven” of the US. European politicians know full well what the US’s long term plan for the fate of Europe and Russia is but their allegiance is not to their countries but to themselves and the power of international capital.

Sadly, the crazies that run Washington have made a catastrophic misjudgement, the nuclear war they are pushing for in Europe will not, of course, be limited, it will be global and it will kill us all.

The government of the most powerful country in the world is been taken over by murderous psychopaths who will stop at nothing as they attempt to fulfill their fevered dreams of world domination. On this date, 28th February 2015, the human race is nearer extinction than it has ever been before.

Thieving BBC scumbags trouser £31,000 A DAY in taxi fares!

cartoon-bbc_trustThe thieving, nepotistic, pointless upper middle class arseholes at the BBC have been caught at it again (stealing from the license payer, that is), not satisfied with sitting around all day doing fuck all and a job for life for them, their family and friends it seems the tossers have, over the last three years, spent an average of £31,000 a day on taxi fares! Bearing in mind that the fat-arsed parasites that work for the BBC do, as mentioned, fuck all…how on earth have they managed to spend £31,000 a day on cab fares? One has to assume its made up of trips to Harrods, cruising round Kings Cross looking for under age whores and jolly jaunts down to mummy’s place in the Cotswolds.

What a bunch of totally irredeemable tossers.

For Gods sake, lets assign the BBC to the rubbish bin of history where it belongs. It serves no purpose other than providing extremely lucrative employ for the Gompertz family, generations and generations of Dimblebys and other sundry idiot, talentless children of the upper middle class and aristocracy. Operating from such a limited gene pool (friend of,daughter of…) means that despite receiving about £3.7 billion year, from me and you its programing output consists almost entirely pale, pallid, crappy me-too television like “Eastenders” and “The Voice” as well as endless tawdry adaptation of old, irrelevant shite books like all that tiresome Bronte Sisters tosh. Just for a moment, imagine what an organisation like HBO could do with $3.7bn a year…probably a bit better than ‘Stenders.

Sickened by BBC corruption, waste, news that is nothing but vile propaganda and the fact that its the organisation that gave the world Jimmy Savile…then you might like:




The Curious Little Book of Extraordinary Big Tales: The Nature of Love

Life… is a random, cacophonous noise full of screaming and shouting and things that glitter and shine but turn out to be not what they seem.
In all that distracting, attention-seeking noise there is only one indisputable constant: Love. For only Love has true and enduring value.

Success and wealth are fabulous, but they are relative and all too often transitory. And at the end of your story on this earth, when the Blind Old Weaver Of Fate is spinning together the final threads of your life, no matter how much success you’ve gained or how much “stuff” you’ve bought, they will not hold your hand and mop your brow as your Soul prepares to journey across a Broad, Bright, Blue Sky and your life slips inevitably into The Fog of Forgotten Stories. Only Love will hold you firm. Only Love will gather you up to itself and comfort you, whisper sweet words that calm your Soul and speed it on its final journey to That Which Lies Beyond.
Throughout your life and until The Very End, only love will weave that Shining Web Of Gossamer beneath you, to catch you should you fall.

So don’t be distracted by the noise and the bling, by the things that shine so brightly and alluringly, by that which promises much but delivers little. Don’t be tempted by regret, hatred and bitterness; they are harsh masters. Don’t judge yourself, don’t judge others, always walk that mile in another man’s shoes. Be kind, be caring; always share and treasure a caress. Seek to leave behind no bad feeling but rather try to add to the Greater Sum of Happiness because everyone, not least yourself, deserves respect, dignity and a chance at life. Above all, remember that to live this life, and leave this world, having loved and having been loved is all that really matters. The rest ain’t worth a damn.

CURIOUSThis short extract is from my book “The Curious Little Book of Extraordinary Big Stories,” now available to purchase from Amazon:



Did you know that a Fairy lives for exactly 897 years and 13 days, that they kidnap human children because they can’t have their own and when they cry, their tears turn into diamonds? Did you know that real Trolls have horns, can run as fast as cheetahs and have a deep and abiding hatred of Bankers? Did you know that as you read this the Blind Old Weaver Of Fate is Clumsily Spinning Together the course of your life? Did you know that you began your existence as a random handful of atoms, coalescing together after journeying across the vastness of the Universe and when God saw you he was so moved by your beauty that he tore a piece off himself and placed it inside you?

Did you know that where ever you walk, the Devil and his Special Children walk with you and that one day your Soul will Break The Chains Of Earthly Existence to make one last, Incandescent Journey across a Broad, Bright Blue Sky and the Tale That Was Your Life will slowly fade away, to be lost forever in the dense Fog Of Forgotten Stories?

Did you know that if you speak the words “Once upon a time,” anything can happen?

The Curious Little Book of Extraordinary Big Tales: The Girl Who Chased Snowflakes.

CURIOUS“A stunning collection of 12 interlinked modern morality tales set in the mythical, magical land of Anywhere written as Gothic fairy tales for adults and covering such themes as abuse, murder, greed, wicked parents, love, hope, political and financial corruption, bigotry, bullying, fate, God and the Devil. Intriguing, insightful, wise and at times breathtakingly beautiful.”

Okay, so my second book is out now and the above is the best reader comment on my work I’ve ever had! “The Curious Little Book of Extraordinary Big Tales” is a collection of 12 “fairy tales” (plus two bonus tracks, so to speak). Whilst I do say “fairy tales,” please don’t think this is a book for kids. As the quote above implies, it’s more like something the Grimm Brothers might have written had they taken snorted a bad batch of crystal meth. The tales are dark and Gothic in tone, and often have a sting in the tale.

I like to think that each of the Tales have their own little moral message and judging by the fact that the villains in the book always seem to be Bankers, I guess some oblique political comment has slipped in there too.

Please find below a synopsis and a sample tale from the book. You can buy it now from Amazon for the small price of just $2.99/£1.99;



Did you know that a Fairy lives for exactly 897 years and 13 days, that they kidnap human children because they can’t have their own and when they cry, their tears turn into diamonds? Did you know that real Trolls have horns, can run as fast as cheetahs and have a deep and abiding hatred of Bankers? Did you know that as you read this the Blind Old Weaver Of Fate is Clumsily Spinning Together the course of your life? Did you know that you began your existence as a random handful of atoms, coalescing together after journeying across the vastness of the Universe and when God saw you he was so moved by your beauty that he tore a piece off himself and placed it inside you?

Did you know that where ever you walk the Devil and his Special Children walk with you and that one day your Soul will Break The Chains Of Earthly Existence to make one last, Incandescent Journey across a Broad, Bright Blue Sky and the Tale That Was Your Life will slowly fade away, to be lost forever in the dense Fog Of Forgotten Stories?

Did you know that if you speak the words “Once upon a time,” anything can happen?

The Lonely Young Girl who Chased Snowflakes.

Once upon a time… many, many years ago in a world long since forgotten, there was a country called Anywhere. And in the land of Anywhere there was a fine and prosperous city called Anyplace. In the hills surrounding Anyplace were the fabulous homes of those rich and wealthy people who would later become known as The Greedy One Percent, and who would be responsible not only for their own destruction but that of the land of Anywhere. But…I get many decades ahead of myself. Back to my simple Tale.

That particular year, Anywhere was having one of its Rare And Occasional cold winters and the city of Anyplace was abuzz one particular day with Rumours Of Snow To Come, something that had not occurred for many, many years.
Now, an old and wise Faerie, reaching the end of her 897 years and 13 days of life, had been listening to passing human conversations (as Faeries are wont to do) and had heard these Rumours Of Snow. Despite her many years of life, the Faerie had, as a result of Anywhere’s Mild And Temperate Climate, witnessed snow only a very few times. She did remember, however, that it was a Very Beautiful Thing Indeed and as she would soon be leaving this life, this would probably be her last chance to experience The Beauty Of Snow.

With this thought in mind, she resolved to fly to the hills outside Anyplace, aware that it would be cooler and probably snowier there than in the city. (Faeries have a surprising and entirely instinctive knowledge of meteorology).

So, the Faerie beat her Small But Powerful wings and flew. In no time at all, at least by the Faerie Clock, she was comfortably seated in a tall tree in the huge, walled garden (grounds more than garden, really) of one of the Fine Homes of the wealthy and powerful, high in the hills. And so she sat, in happy anticipation of The Beauty To Come. By and by, the wind got up, a rich hint of icy dampness could be scented in the air and the First Fat Snowflakes pirouetted gracefully downwards from the flat, grey sky, coming to rest on the cold ground: cool, white crystals of delicate intricacy blossoming like Flowers Of White Silk.


And the Faerie sat in her tree and watched the snow flutter down. And she thought of previous snowy days, of her younger self, of Faerie friends now Dematerialised And Gone, and of a Happy, Long Life, Well-Lived.


But her Wallowing In Pleasant Nostalgia was soon interrupted. A Small Back Door in the Big House at the end of the huge garden burst open and through the door came a small human girl (eight or nine years of age to the Faerie’s mind), dashing out into the garden, into the Swirling Snowflakes. The little girl seemed inexpressibly happy, her eyes shone and her face glowed with happiness and she began to chase the falling snowflakes around the garden and, whenever physics and opportunity would allow, she would jump into the air and snatch an individual flake into her mouth, a look of pure joy on her face as its refreshing coolness melted on her tongue.

The Faerie was entranced by the little girl: her innocence, her joy, her enthusiasm, her bright-eyed wonder. Her being so young, it must have been the first time the little girl had seen snow. No wonder she was so excited. And yet. And yet the more the Faerie watched the little girl, the more she saw something in the way she moved: there was a certain desperation there, and all the joy in her glowing expression could not mask something the Faerie saw as an Underlying Sadness. Curious, (for Faeries are Inveterately Curious Creatures) the Faerie decided to look into the child’s Soul and see exactly what was going with this strange little girl.

Fixing the jumping, Superficially Joyful Little Girl in her gaze, the Faerie peered through Flesh And Bone to locate the child’s Soul. As always with a child, her Soul appeared beautiful from the outside, like a fine jewellery box made of the most expensive wood, inlaid with precious stones and mother of pearl. But opening this fine box, the Faerie did not find the Stunning Jewels Of Jaw-Dropping Beauty normally found in The Soul Of A Child but instead lumps of excrement and rotting meat. There was something very wrong with this poor girl. And in an instant the Faerie saw it all: a poor, lonely, neglected little rich girl. A mother who was more interested in The Trappings Of Wealth than her daughter and constantly undermining of her own child, that stemming from sheer, malevolent jealousy of youth and the daughter’s place in her father’s “affections.” A girl to whom nobody really talked and who, in turn, could not talk to others, who had never made friends at school. And the father. The monster. The evil, rich, sociopathic, Successful Banker; ruthless and efficient. A man who took what he wanted because he knew his wealth and power made him untouchable: a man with Political Ambitions. A disgusting, perverse man, creeping into his daughter’s bedroom at night and sliding a corrupting, corrupted hand up her nightdress. The daughter begging him to stop. Crying. Pleading. Daddy, please. Stop. Stop. But Daddy never stopped. Daddy always took what he wanted. Untouchable.

The little girl’s story struck the Faerie like a slap to the face. The girl’s frantic chasing and swallowing of snowflakes was not the Exuberant Happiness of a child seeing snow for the first time, rather it was a girl who saw chasing snowflakes as chasing a freedom she could not envisage and swallowing snowflakes a way of taking a small, Icy Slice Of Beauty inside herself to brighten the Barren, Ugly Space that was her life. The Faerie rocked back and forth on the branch of the big tree she had settled herself into and she cried a silent tear, which crystallised into a solid diamond as it rolled down her cheek (for all Faeries cry diamonds) and she remembered a similar little girl in a similar situation almost nine centuries ago and she Resolved To Rescue this poor sad, abused child.

With a Decisive Beating Of Wings the Faerie flew into the air, leaving behind, for now at least, the Little Girl Who Chased Snowflakes. The Faerie knew two fearsome Trolls who owed her a favour. It was for their Troll hole she was bound.


Had she stayed, she would have witnessed the little girl’s mother running out into the garden and calling her Bitch, Idiot Daughter back into the house. She would have seen the light go out in the girl’s face and eyes to be replaced by a Hopeless, Blank-Eyed Sallowness; would have noticed how the little girl shrunk in on herself, exuded a hopelessness that was palpable and took on the demeanour of a dog that is Beaten Daily by its master. The Faerie did not witness any of these things, but would not have been surprised by them if she had.


The very next morning, all was Chaos outside the Opulent Home where the little girl and her parents lived, with Police And Neighbours milling around, all with Grave Looks Of Concern upon their faces. Or should I say had lived? For the little girl was nowhere to be found and her parents were dead, Torn Limb From Limb, Beheaded And Disembowelled. A Grisly Scene indeed and one that was, in Official Speak, “entirely consistent with a Troll Home Invasion.” The little girl had, no doubt, been taken alive by the Trolls, probably to be eaten or to be sold to Pirates, indeed there had been a Troll sighting in the area just prior to The Tragedy: it was highly unlikely that the girl would ever be seen again.

The little girl had, truly, been taken, not by the Trolls (who had simply discharged their debt to the Faerie by killing her abusive parents, a duty they found most agreeable for Trolls are, despite what humans say, fundamentally Creatures Of Love And Kindness and will always act in defence of these virtues) but by the Faerie. She would take the child to A Place That Is Secret And Sacred to all Fairies where, she would perform A Ceremony Of Magic incomprehensible to humans, which would relieve the child of the burden of her short human life, so prone to the vicissitudes of the Blind Old Weaver Of Fate and so sparse in its understanding of the Duality Of All Things, and see her reborn as a Faerie, a being of Magic And Grace who would have 897 years and 13 days of living in which to gain a full and proper understanding of the Way The Universe Works and The Love Of God.

Just as another Faerie had done for another scared and lonely little girl nearly nine centuries past.




Secret Shame: A Guest blog by John Needham

I am happy to present today a a guest blog from one of my favourite authors, John Needham, including an exclusive extract from his new novel “Secret Shame,” a paraquel of his the brilliant “The One Of Us,” info regarding which I’ve reblogged from Johns website after the “Secret Shame” extract.

John writes, beautiful, elegiac books that I call “people books,” books that I would define as being strongly character driven with a wonderful understanding of human nature and a strong sense of time and place. An author well worth investigating if you have not done so already.


Featured Image -- 107828This is my latest novel. It tells the story of Julie, the hapless teenage birth mother of the twins in The One of Us. Neither a sequel nor a prequel, it’s a sort of ‘paraquel’, in that it runs broadly in parallel with the first book. After a torrid time of desperation, guilt and a clumsy attempt at atonement, Julie gradually begins to rebuild her life. There is further misfortune but then she meets and marries Derek, an ambitious policeman who means to go far. At last she is happy and has all that she, unassuming little Julie nee Brennan from Sligo, Ireland, could possibly dream of. Things are good. . .

But not for long. Her past, which she had hoped to keep firmly buried, unexpectedly catches up. There are skeletons to be discovered in her family cupboard too. Poor Julie seems fated to suffer yet more heartbreak and disappointment. But will she rise above it?

I am serialising Secret Shame on this blog, chapter by chapter, like Dickens, beginning now. If there is a reasonable amount of interest shown and readers would rather read it as a complete book, later I will publish. Meanwhile, apart from sampling the first fifteen chapters or so on this blog, you might also like to read the parallel story, The One of Us.


Secret Shame


It was over and done with. She lay staring at the grubby ceiling. It must have been many years since it last saw a coat of emulsion, she mused, having no idea why she should care about the state of the cracked, sagging plaster above her head, for Heaven’s sake. Perhaps thinking such a workaday thought was some sort of defence. A sort of hedge against the enormity of what had just happened. Nature’s anaesthetic against emotional hurt, or something. Or perhaps she was in shock. Well who wouldn’t be?

She turned on her side on the grubby, creased bottom sheet, trying to get comfortable. All her tears had been shed. Well for now, anyway. Perhaps there’d be more later when guilt caught up, pointing its accusing finger.

Shame on you. For shame.

Mandy and Madge would be back soon. She desperately hoped they would, at least. They weren’t family or anything, but were the next best thing. They were the only kind faces who’d looked at her and theirs were the only sympathetic voices she’d heard in months. She’d so craved her mammy’s support, or Maeve’s at least, but none had been forthcoming from those quarters either. They’d deserted her too.

And here she was now, alone; desperately alone. Alone with her torturing thoughts. Drained, emotionally hollowed out. Mandy had said not to worry; she’d sort things out. She’d be careful. There’d be no risk. Well she desperately hoped so. Just thinking, imagining what would happen if Mandy betrayed her trust, brought fresh tears.

But all the same, it was still a dreadful sin. Holy Mother of Jesus, what would old Father Murphy have made of it? It didn’t bear thinking about.

Perhaps this way was for the best though. But still; the guilt. The shame!


Chapter 1: 1992

Julie had felt something coming all day. She’d just sensed it. It must have been women’s intuition or something. It had been a brilliant Saturday, without a doubt, at Knowsley Safari Park with Derek, her Stacey and Derek’s Jack, doing the sort of ‘family’ thing that normal families do. Just like in Lou Reed’s Perfect Day.

The kids had loved the animals, especially the sentinel-standing meerkats and wide-eyed monkeys in Stacey’s case and the glossy whiskery sea lions and towering gormless-looking giraffes in Jack’s. And then the rides, although she’d mainly left those, at least the scary ones, to Derek and Jack. And when, inevitably, Stacey had got tired and a bit whiney (well, she was not yet five), Derek had hoisted her onto his shoulders where she’d sat, thrilled, a tiny Queen of the castle, little hands clasped tight around his forehead, for all the world as if she were his own child. Yes, without a doubt it had been a Perfect Day.


Yes, she just knew. Had begun to dare to hope, anyway. It was like a wistful dream, a wish coyly hovering just outside conscious recognition, that she daren’t quite articulate in case she was just imagining things, was grasping for the unattainable. A dream of the thing that could never be hers.

Not her. Not Julie Brennan. God, no.

There was something in Derek’s face though; the way he kept grinning at her, meaningfully (was it?), every time their eyes met. He’d been doing it all day. Or if he wasn’t doing that, looking at her very solemn; his expression quite unreadable.

The meal was over and the kids persuaded, with some difficulty, to bed. Being so little they could share a bed, top-and-tailing it in Jack’s child-size one, which was improvising a bit, but it only happened a couple of nights a week, fitting visits and sleepovers around Derek’s night duty days. They were curled up on the sofa together now, finishing the wine, watching Casualty on the telly. Julie loved these moments. Wished they happened every night.

She couldn’t concentrate on the box though. Perhaps she’d have to take the bull by the horns. Wring it out of him.

‘Penny for them?’


‘You’ve been acting a bit funny all day. Why do you keep grinning at me?’

‘Have I?’

She poked him in the ribs. ‘Yes! You know you have!’

He grinned at her now. ‘Okay, woman. Nothing gets past you, does it?’ He paused. It was a long one. ‘Well, I was thinking. About this relationship.’

‘What about it?’

‘Well don’t you think it’s time to take it on a stage?’

Julie’s heart did a nose dive, like a fawn’s, suddenly surprised by a predator, and then almost doubled its beat-rate.

‘What, like . . . ?’ She petered out, unable to bring herself to form the words. Assuming that he was going to propose what she hoped he was going to propose, anyway.

‘Like properly shack up together,’ he elaborated. ‘This only seeing each other two or three times a week; well I want a bit more than that.’ The happiness drained from his face, giving way to anxiety. ‘Don’t you?’

‘Well yes. If you’re sure about it . . .’ It was Julie’s turn to feel anxious now.

‘Of course I am! I wouldn’t suggest it otherwise!’

She grinned, ruefully. ‘But you know I haven’t got a very good track record. Didn’t exactly make a good fist of living with Bret, did I?’

Derek snorted. ‘Well he was a pillock, wasn’t he? Didn’t know when he was well off.’ He paused again. ‘Stupid bastard.’

Julie smiled. Yes, good, decent Derek. You certainly wouldn’t have done what he did. Run out on me like that, when Stacey was only eight weeks old, leaving me to cope alone.

But aloud she said, ‘Maybe so. But perhaps some of it was me too. I used to make him that cross sometimes. Perhaps I’m just too hard to live with, sure.’

The remark was rhetorical though. She wanted Derek to disagree. And on cue, he did, vehemently. His arm around her shoulders tightened, fiercely. ‘Oh, come on Jules! Don’t give me that!’

She sensed his jaw clenching as he continued, ‘None of us is perfect! God; I’m certainly not! Relationships have to be worked at. You don’t just bugger off at the first sign of bother or aggravation or whatever, do you?’

Julie sighed. ‘No, I suppose you don’t. Not in a perfect world, anyway.’

‘No; of course you bloody don’t,’ Derek retorted. ‘The man just had no sense of responsibility at all. Alright, if he really didn’t want to go on living with you that’s fair enough. But what about supporting Stacey? She’s his kid too. Makes my blood boil, it does!’

Julie’s arm was across Derek’s chest. She squeezed his ribcage. ‘Okay Love. Don’t get het up about it. Anyway, I’m glad he did, now. He can’t hold a candle to you, that’s for sure.’

‘Yes, well. It’s just not on, is it?’ Derek was still cross.

‘No, it isn’t. Wasn’t. Anyway, before I so rudely interrupted, what were you saying, Love?

Derek grinned, relaxing now. ‘Oh yes. Right. Well don’t you think we should? It’d be nice to have a nice warm welcoming woman to come home to every night again; have my dinner ready and waiting, the bed changed regularly; all that sort of stuff. Not to mention the other on a regular basis of course!’

Julie squealed in mock outrage. ‘Chauvinist pig! Haven’t you heard of women’s lib down the station then? You bloody coppers! Honestly!’

They chortled together. Then she said, gravely, ‘But yes, seriously, I wouldn’t mind some of that too. It does sound pretty good.’

Derek looked down at her freckled face with its halo of red hair, nested in the crook of his shoulder, as she raised her eyes to his. ‘Great! Well the kids get on well together, don’t they? And I think Stacey likes me. And you like Jack, don’t you?’

Julie smiled. ‘Yes, she’s really taken to you. And she’s always going on about you, almost like . . .’ She paused, afraid to push her luck. Assume too much. Wish for too much. Steady now girl. One thing at a time.

She continued, shifting onto safer ground. ‘And yes, I do like Jack. He’s a super little boy. I hope he likes me a bit. I know it must be a bit difficult for him, living with Sandra, and you no longer around and with another woman in your life now. He’s only six after all. He can’t really understand, can he? Must be divided loyalties, or whatever they call it.’

Derek sighed. ‘Yes, I know. It can’t be easy. Although I suppose it could be a lot worse. At least Sandra and I split up when Jack was little and adaptable. I think he takes it pretty much in his stride really.’

‘Yes, there’s that, of course. And it’s different for Stacey; she’s never known a two-parent situation. This is all a novelty for her.’

Derek moved his hand to dig her in the ribs. ‘Yes, think yourself lucky; you might have had a stroppy teenager who loved her dad and hated you breaking up and hated me!’

Julie laughed. ‘Yeah, we both are really, as far as that’s concerned, aren’t we?’

‘Anyway,’ He said, ‘so we’ll do it, shall we? You’ll move in here? It’s a lot better than your place.’

She could only agree with that. ‘It certainly is! Of course I’d lose the housing benefit – you really wouldn’t mind supporting me like that, Love?’

Derek squeezed a reassurance. ‘Course not. And after all, being practical about it, this flat is convenient for Jack’s school, and Stacey could go to the same one next year, of course.’


‘Assuming of course we’re still together then; you aren’t sick of the sights of me.’ The tease fell flippantly from his lips, but it jolted Julie to stare at him, her eyes round with alarm.

‘Derek! Don’t say that! Of course I won’t be! Don’t even think such a thing!’ Her lower lip began to flutter.

He chuckled. ‘Joke, Jules! Joke!’ But then the smile evaporated. ‘Seriously though, it would be a try-out, in a way, wouldn’t it? After all, I married the wrong woman before, due to rushing things because I thought she was pregnant and I’d got to. You know what they say, “fools rush in.” I don’t want to make that mistake again. And you’ve never been in a living-together situation that’s lasted more than a few months, have you? A steady relationship would be a new experience.’

Julie relaxed, reassured. She shouldn’t let her insecurity get to her so much, she knew. But old habits, learned cruelly, died hard.

‘Right then,’ said Derek. ‘That’s that sorted then.’ He liked to be in control of things, Julie thought. It went with both the gender and the job.

They lapsed into comfortable silence. She tried to re-immerse herself in Casualty, but had lost the plot ages ago. There had been too much to say, and certainly too much to think private thoughts about. On the screen Charlie Fairhead was looking pained and quizzical as usual, like he did every Saturday night. Derek must have been reading her thoughts. ‘Are you watching this?’

‘No, not really. Can’t concentrate.’

‘Nor me.’

She looked up at him, smiling, waiting for the suggestion she hoped was coming.

‘Well in that case, shall we do something to celebrate?’

‘Such as?’

He grinned inanely. ‘Well, something best done in the bedroom, you gorgeous woman. Don’t you reckon?

Julie heaved herself into a sitting position; cupped his face with its killer brown eyes beneath the thick shock of black hair, planted a kiss. ‘Yes, I definitely do reckon.’


She lay awake afterwards, on her back as Derek, his naked back turned, fell into sleep beside her and quickly began snoring. Holy Mother; the man could sleep on a clothes line, so he could. But she was much too wound up for sleep. Her brain was like a noisy marketplace with so many thoughts popping up out of nowhere, clamouring to be heard. Am I dreaming this? Did he really say it? Say he wanted us to live with him; me and Stacey?  Is it really going to happen this time? Is a man, a good reliable man, really wanting me? Wanting me for myself, not just my body on a temporary basis; here today and gone tomorrow, looking for the next bit of skirt that flashes a bit of cleavage or thigh?

And this time might it lead to the completely unimaginable four months ago; lead to (try the word for size) marriage? Sure that’s really too much to hope for though. But dare I hope? Four months! Is that all it’s been?

She let her memory rewind.


She hadn’t been able to decide. The lime green top or the pink? She’d liked them both. And she’d certainly have bought them both, if she could. That would solve the problem very neatly. After all, most women would do that, faced with such an irresolvable dilemma. But then she wasn’t ‘most women.’ Her benefit wouldn’t stretch to such extravagance; no way. It was difficult enough making ends meet as it was. How nice it must be to not be bothered by such inconvenient considerations as whether she could afford something that wasn’t actually vital, like food for Stacey and herself, or the rent, or coinage for the greedy gas and electric meters. Or the alarmingly mounting debt with the mail order catalogue that couldn’t be ignored.

Back in the present Julie smiled wryly as the thought came: Holy Mary, six years and four months ago clothes were the last thing on my mind. So was the worry of paying for the ones I’d got, not that they amounted to a vast wardrobe, exactly. And so were most aspects of normal living, for that matter. What a dreadful time it was.

But that was the past: regretted but safely buried. She refocused her memories on the nearer-past. That bitter-sweet first day, four months ago.

She’d determined to be more sensible. Not pile up any more debt; live strictly within her means. Have only what she really could afford to pay for. But it had been her birthday, for Heaven’s sake. She could afford a little treat. Just a little prezzie to herself, surely? There’d been no others forthcoming. Well there was no one to give them, or feel inclined to give them, after all. And so there’d been the little retail therapy trip to Debenhams that fateful Friday afternoon last April.

It had been so stupid of her, so negligent. What was the phrase? ‘Taking your eye off the ball,’ or something. Or, more accurately, taking your eye off Stacey. She was such a little tyke though; such a live-wire, always wanting to be anywhere other than docilely by her side, like normal kids. Normal little girls, anyway. She really needed to still be on a lead, like a toddler, but she was going on five, so she was. That would be ridiculous.

Yes, she’d been prevaricating over those tops for ages, as if it were a matter of world-shattering importance, distracted from mundane considerations like keeping a watch on her daughter. And then, when she’d finally glanced down, there she was; gone. She’d glanced quickly around, quite expecting to see her investigating another nearby clothes rail or something. But there was no sign. She’d felt a stab of alarm.

‘Stacey? Where are you?’

She’d moved to the next-nearest rail a few feet away. Little monkey; she’d be behind there.

But she wasn’t.

She was getting cross. ‘Stacey! Come on now! Stop messing about! Don’t wander off!’

She’d quickly put the tops back on the rail, in the wrong places, and begun checking around the blind sides of other rails. Little madam! Why couldn’t she stay close? She’d get her legs slapped when she found her! But still she was nowhere to be seen. Anxiety was mounting now. That and anger. Bloody kids! She’d shouted again, louder, ‘Stacey! STACEY! COME HERE THIS MINUTE!

People had begun looking at her, looking embarrassed as only the British could in such situations. She’d hurried around more rails, all the ones in the department, frantic, heart pounding, dread heavy on her now like a cruel black crow. God! Oh God! What if she’s been taken? She’d completely lost it then, and begun screaming, just standing rooted to the spot in panic, not knowing what to do.

‘What’s up, Loov?’ A male voice at her shoulder had suddenly asked. She’d looked around for the source of it, wildly. A man, quite tall, wearing jeans and a black leather bomber jacket to match his thick black hair, was looking at her, friendly concern in his brown eyes.

‘My little girl! She’s gone! She’s gone! Oh God! Oh God! Oh shit!’

He’d looked down at her and dropped his carrier bag and put his hands on her shoulders, steadying. ‘Okay, now calm down. How long’s she been gone?’

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ she’d whimpered. She’d felt like burying her face in his chest. ‘Not long.’

‘How long? Minute? Five minutes?’

‘Not long,’ she’d repeated, stupidly, precision impossible. Just a few minutes I think.’

‘Alright; she can’t have gone far then. How did you come to lose her?’

‘I don’t know! Waddya asking me that for? I’ve got to find her . . . !’

She’d paused, grasping for calmness. The man was only trying to help. ‘I was looking at the clothes. She’s a little madam. She wanders off. I can’t be watching her every second!’

The man had looked slightly unconvinced; sounded a little patronising.

‘Umm. How old is she?’

‘Four; nearly five.’

‘And the name?’

‘Stacey. You must have heard me shouting her!’

He’d ignored the barb, remained utterly calm and collected. ‘Description?’

‘I dunno! Brown hair. In bunches. Green eyes . . . look, this is wasting time!’

‘No it isn’t. If you give me a good description we’ll find her that much quicker.’

‘What is all this?’ she’d asked, exasperated. ‘I want the police, not you!’

‘It’s okay, I am the police’, he’d rejoined levelly, grinning slightly, taking the wind out of her sails. ‘Off duty. Now, what is she wearing?’

‘Oh. Sorry. Blue skirt, pink top – little jacket thing. Rabbit on it. White leggings.’

‘Right,’ he’d said, ‘That’s enough. Come with me.’ And he’d stridden towards the assistants’ counter, calling, ‘The way to your office, please!’

As the other customers stood open-mouthed, an assistant had rushed forward. ‘Top floor. I’ll take you there, the quick way. Follow me.’

She’d led the way through a Staff Only door, along a passage, up a staircase and along another passage to a glass-panelled door through which could be seen people sitting gazing at computers.  She’d entered, holding the door for herself and the mysterious helper to follow. He’d fished from his pocket what looked like a warrant card, holding it up for the startled staff members to see, before addressing no one in particular, ‘I need to speak to the manager or supervisor urgently please.’

A middle-aged woman looked up from bending over the shoulder of a younger one at a screen. ‘Yes, can I help?’ She’d looked ridiculously like Mrs Slocomb from Are You Being Served on the telly. She’d gone very pale.

The policeman hadn’t minced words. ‘We have a child gone missing in the store.’ He’d indicated her. ‘Belonging to this lady. Do you have security personnel I can speak to?’

‘Oh, dear me,’ the manager-or-supervisor woman had exclaimed, ‘Yes, of course!’ She’d reached for the nearest telephone and tapped in a number. It must have been picked up almost immediately, because she quickly, urgently said, ‘Karl? Hi. It’s Audrey. Can you come to the office immediately? We have a missing child!’

After what had seemed (although probably wasn’t) an age, a swarthy, shaven-headed, short-sleeve shirted, extravagantly tattooed man had burst self-importantly into the office.

The policeman had been onto him in a flash, telling him what had happened, describing Stacey and suggesting he post guards on all exits immediately, watching for anyone acting suspiciously with a little girl wearing a blue skirt and pink jacket with a rabbit depicted on it. The security manager, or whatever his rank was, had looked briefly miffed at being told how to do his job, but then got onto the phone too, to organise his staff. Whilst he was doing that, the policeman had spoken to the woman in charge, instructing her in putting out a public announcement to the store, advising customers that if they saw an unattended child fitting Stacey’s description and answering to her name, they should take her to the nearest salesperson, who should immediately contact the office.

The supervisor-manager had looked slightly put out too – she probably knew exactly what the drill for missing children was – but had complied, using what were probably well-rehearsed words of her own. Then there had been nothing to do but wait. Someone had found a chair for her, and a glass of water. The head woman had introduced herself, unnecessarily, as Audrey and sat with her, kindly exuding reassurance that it would be fine; that this sort of thing happened quite regularly, and that missing children always got reunited with their parents. That nothing horrible would happen. It never did.

The policeman, perhaps aware that he’d been treading on toes slightly, had been quick to agree. And then, after what was probably only a few minutes, although it had felt like much longer at the time, the telephone had rung, and everyone in the office (all work had ceased) had jumped a mile and Audrey had grabbed it quickly and said a breathless, anxious ‘Hello?’ followed after an agonising pause by, ‘Oh, great! I’ll be down to fetch her,’ and had turned to her, all relieved smiles, and said that Stacey had been found, a floor down from  Ladies Fashions, so somehow she’d gone down the escalator alone, the little madam.

Audrey had insisted on rushing down to retrieve her, and she’d burst into tears of relief, all thoughts of chastisement forgotten, as another woman had embraced her kindly and said, ‘There, told you it would be alright, Loov, didn’t we?’, as the policeman, perched on the edge of a desk, had shuffled his feet, embarrassed.

And then there’d been Audrey’s triumphant return, leading the bashful Stacey, and there’d been a fierce, lengthy hug, clasping that little body to her so tight, and more tears, reprising the sheer relief, as the office staff looked on with some of their eyes glistening too.

And then she’d thanked Audrey (who’d suddenly remembered to stand down the security staff from the doors and get Karl to organise it) and her staff, and the policeman had asked, tentatively, if he could treat her to a cup of tea in the cafeteria, because she looked as though she could do with one, and anyway, he would need to get some details from her because he had to do an incident report (although he’d admitted later that that was cobblers really; he just wanted to get her name and address).

So they’d made their way to the cafeteria, she holding Stacey’s hand very tightly indeed, as her little girl had chattered away, completely unfazed, blissfully unaware of the worry she’d just caused. She’d gone off in search of the toy department, she’d gravely informed her. The policeman had bought her a cup of tea (she’d declined any sort of snack to go with it) and something orange and fizzy for Stacey. He’d made a big show of asking all her personal details, although he had nothing to write them in or on, but had assured her that he had a good memory. You had to have in his job. He’d write up his report when he was next on duty.

Feeling calmer and able to relax now, she’d shyly asked his name and he’d given it, slightly too readily, she’d thought afterwards. It hadn’t seemed terribly professional, somehow. Derek, it was; Derek Hawkins. She’d found herself glancing surreptitiously at his left hand and noting with absurd satisfaction that it was ring-less.

What she’d assumed would be just a few minutes to go through necessary official procedure and regain her equilibrium had become a good hour or more, as she’d listened to his easy patter and felt really rather small and silly and inconsequential, with nothing intelligent or interesting to contribute to the conversation. But he’d seemed genuinely interested in her, maintaining eye contact for nearly all of the time, eyes flicking only occasionally and briefly to twelve inches further down to her embarrassingly generous cleavage.

Finally, beginning to feel slightly guilty and a bit awkward for taking up so much of his time, and thinking it would be down to her to end the very pleasant conversation (well, mostly monologue, on his part) because he seemed completely disinclined to, she’d said that she really ought to be going, as it was Stacey’s teatime. He’d quickly apologised for keeping her so long. She’d found that curiously touching. In her experience, men were not generally so thoughtful. So they’d – certainly reluctantly as far as she was concerned – wound up the unexpected tête-à-tête. She’d thanked him again, profusely, for his help and he’d said, modestly, that it was all part of the service. She hadn’t quite understood what he’d meant by that, but it had seemed a nice thing to say.

They’d left the store and hovered slightly uncertainly outside, as it seemed they were setting off in opposite directions. She hadn’t quite known whether to make to shake his hand or not and finally decided against it as he didn’t seem about to anyway. She’d thanked him yet again and he’d just grinned and said ‘You’re welcome,’ and then squatted down to Stacey’s level and said to her, ‘Bye, Stacey. Now no more running off and getting your mum all worried; okay?’ before ruffling her hair briefly, rising, and with a final ‘See you then,’ to her, turned and walked away.


Julie lay and remembered that bitter-sweet first encounter now. How strange, she thought, how things happen. It’s not very often, but sometimes good things do come along, just when you least expected them. The Angels seemed to have been looking out for me that day, so they did.