Peripheral Vision – Mood Board

This is part of a mood board I’ve created on Pinterest to help me with my second novel, Peripheral Vision. (Working title.)

Before I show you the shots, (and hopefully get you in the mood), here’s the synopsis:

After being blinded in one eye by his abusive father, Peripheral Vision tells the story of 8-year-old Danny Kane growing up in 1970s northern England. His violent upbringing results in his descent into a life of drugs and crime. As he reaches adulthood he realises that the only way out of his spiralling slide into perdition is to find the one thing that he treasured most – his childhood friend, Sally, who was taken to Ireland after the death of her mother. Can the search for his long-lost love lead to Danny’s redemption?




















Filed under Books, Children, Children's books, community, Contemporary Arts, Ideas, Inspiration, Writing

Viva! Roxy Music #232/365

I bought Viva! Roxy Music in 1976, when I was 12.

I had a few singles from the past, but this was my first full album – and it was live! (Not sure where I got the money from to buy it. Probably pinched it off my sister. Only kidding – I had a milk round.)

A bit like Bowie, Roxy Music helped me through my formative years. (Or hindered them. It’s hard to tell which.) And yes, I did have a stupid floppy fringe.

True, they probably don’t have the creative gravitas that Bowie still holds today. But when Brian Eno was with them they were a class act.

Unfortunately, they kind of slipped into the bland malaise of pop as the years went by.

I went to see them at the Point Depot in Dublin with my good friend, Mr. Patrick Chapman. The audience was filled with 40-something+s, like us. In fact, I think it’s the last gig I went to. (I don’t really like crowds.) Or other people, for that matter.

Anyways, here are a few of my faves from the album and there’s even a link to a greatest hits should you be feeling nostalgic.

And, if you want to see what Roxy Music look (and sound) like in the 21st century, here’s “If there is something” from a gig in Lyon last year. (By ‘eck, the years have been kind to Andy McKay on sax.)


Filed under Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Music, Patrick Chapman

#231/365 Graphic Design


Milton Glaser

To me, there are two schools of thought when it comes to graphic design: the Conceptual and the Aesthetic.

I’m a firm believer in the former. I studied graphic design at Jacob Kramer College of Art in Leeds in the early to mid 80s. Before computers were even invented! Well, maybe not invented. But certainly not in use in the industry at the time. We had to create everything by hand.

It is only with a concept, an idea, that we can engage the viewer’s neural pathways – which helps them remember the message you are trying to convey. Whereas, the purely aesthetic, is superficial.


Herb Lubalin

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that conceptual design shouldn’t be aesthetically pleasing – it should have both. It’s just aesthetics alone are not enough. We need to create windows, not wallpaper.

Here are a few examples that contain the Smile in the Mind. Smile in the Mind is when the concept requires the viewer to complete the circle. To interact with the idea for it to have meaning for them.


Graeme Cooper Photography

Graeme Cooper Photography



Cycling poster
















Filed under Advertising, Art, Brand, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Education, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration

Novels for which I am grateful #195-230

Writers feature quite a lot in my Things to be grateful for. So far, most of them have been poets.

But, if I were to be stuck on a Pacific island with Bear Grylls and a camera crew, with only stagnant water to drink and feisty looking caymans to nibble on, I’d make sure I packed my rucksack with a few decent novels. And a Glock 10mm. (So I could shoot and eat the camera crew, not the caymans.) ((I’d hang on to Bear to make a fire.))

I’m not saying these are the greatest novels in the world, but they mean a lot to me and I’m grateful to the writers for having shared them. Obviously, there are a lot of classics not featured here. Some I’ve probably read, others I definitely haven’t.

As there are quite a lot, (I did try to limit it to my top 10, but that was impossible), I’m not going to write synopses for them. You’ll have to take my word for it and, if any tickle your fancy, check them out on Amazon, (or the retailer of your choice).

Some common themes on show are: love, death, war, history, humour, satire, loss and hope. Not to mention some great writing.

They should keep me going ’til the rescue ship arrives. Now, where’s that cameraman…




Punic Wars trilogy

Punic Wars trilogy












Technically a poem rather than a novel.

Technically a poem rather than a novel.















Whoa! How did that get in there?

Whoa! How did that get in there? :-)

Damn, almost forgot this one. (This is going to go on and on.)

Damn, almost forgot this one. (This is going to go on and on.)

Sorry, but I have to add a few more. Still, if the rucksack aint big enough, I’ll have to take a Kindle.





Filed under Art, Books, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, Writing

J’aime la France – #160-194

J’aime la France160.


Lovers’ locks, Paris.

I love France, so much so, that I sometimes wonder if I have a little bit of Plantagenet blood coursing through my veins. Then again, I hate cheese, so perhaps not.

And, following on from my last post, I probably wouldn’t like it half as much had the Allies not been successful in liberating it in 1944/45.

There are so many places in France I have yet to discover, but some of the ones I have, I shall share with you:



Paris161, of course, the epitome of the romantic city. Musée d’Orsay162 is one of the greatest art galleries in the world, boasting a smorgasbord of impressionist works. The Latin Quarter163 with its bohemian cafés and restaurants, the artists’ square in Montmartre164, Lautrec’s Pigalle165. I even had the best cassoulet166 of my life in Paris. (Not to mention the biggest hangover.)



Further north from Paris is the Somme167 – Albert168, Amiens169 and Arras170. Now, the River Somme winds its way sleepily through Amiens amidst the riverside cafes and restaurants. A far cry from the death and destruction 100 years ago. If you want to become a pacifist take a trip to any of the numerous First World War memorials that are dotted around the countryside. If you weren’t one beforehand you certainly will be after you witness hundreds of thousands of white marble slabs.

River Somme, Amiens,

River Somme, Amiens

Whilst Brittany171 may have a similar climate to the south coast of England, its beaches and medieval towns eclipse what we have here. Even towns that were bombed to smithereens during the Second World War have been painstakingly rebuilt to their former glory. From the walled city of Fougere172 in the east to the Dinan173 and Dinard174 in the north. Morlaix175 in the west, Concerneau176 and Pont-Aven177 in the south. Mont Saint Michel178, (which is actually in Normandy), is one of the modern wonders of the world.

Pont-Aven, Brittany

Pont-Aven, Brittany

Morlaix, Brittany

Morlaix, Brittany

Fougere, Brittany

Fougere, Brittany

Tregastel, Brittany

Tregastel, Brittany

Can't remember if this is Dinan or Dinard in Brittany

Can’t remember if this is Dinan or Dinard in Brittany

Mont Saint Michel, Normandy

Mont Saint Michel, Normandy

My favourite spot is the Cote d’Azur179. Nice with its wide boulevards and maze of streets in the old town180, (there’s a cracking Picasso gallery in) Antibes181, Cannes for a bit of bling182, Villefranche-sur-mer183, Monte Carlo184, Juan les Pins185, and not as expensive as you might think. Further inland up in the mountains is the perfume capital, Grasse186 and the artists’ haven of Saint Paul de Vence187.







Saint Paul de Vence

Saint Paul de Vence



Another treasure is the island of Corsica188. Bonifacio189 with its brightly coloured buildings clinging precariously to the cliffs. Cargése190 in the north west. And the pirate haven of Sarténe191 up in the hills.


Bonifacio, Corsica

Bonifacio, Corsica

Cargése, Corsica

Cargése, Corsica

All in all, a veritable paradise. Particularly if you like meat and fish. Can’t say it would be a utopia for veggies, mind. Cassoulet, bouillabaisse192, moules provencal193 – ahh, heaven. Obviously, washed down with copious amounts of rosé or red wine.

Moules Provencal

Moules Provencal

Maybe one day, when my second novel makes a million or two, I can buy a little gites194 by a lake, or overlooking the sea.

There are so many places in France that I have yet to see, so if you have a favourite, please feel free to share your recommendations in the comment box below.


The one thing I HATE about France is dog poo. They seem to have an extraordinary amount of it. Obviously, they love their dogs. But, disappointingly, they don’t appear to be too keen enforcing public hygiene laws.

I recall strolling across a Tregastel beach in Brittany cautiously stepping over and around dog stools looking over my shoulder to warn my kids then, squelch. Open-toed sandals. I still feel nauseous to this day.


Filed under Architecture, Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Food, Inspiration, Nature

#159/365 D-Day


On this day of all days, I think it would be remiss of me not to pay homage to the men and women who took part in D-Day. As everyone knows, today is the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings which saw about 135,000 Allied troops take part in the largest ever amphibious assault. Around 10,000 of those paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Just think, if they hadn’t taken place, or if the end result had turned out differently, what kind of society we might be living in today? Whilst ours may not be perfect, the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

So, to all the men and women who took part in the planning and the actual landings, I am truly grateful. It must have been hell on Earth.


On a personal note; I know very little about my family history. What sketchy bits of info I have are as follows: My great uncle fought in Burma with the Chindits against the Japanese; my paternal grandfather was a bomb disposal engineer during the Blitz; my maternal grandfather was in the Black Watch and they fought in Crete,  North Africa and Normandy; and my step-grandfather was Ukrainian, fought for the Soviet Red Army, was captured by the Germans and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp.


Watching the D-Day commemorations today made me feel very humble and quite emotional. This was a war in which we really didn’t have any other option but to fight. (Whether we could have avoided it in the first place at the Treaty of Versailles, is quite another matter.)

The combatants of D-Day deserve our never-ending gratitude, not because they fought for a king, or a country, but because they fought to ensure we had freedom from tyranny.

Thank you, to you all.





Filed under community, Inspiration

#158/365 – The Beautiful Game.

Yes, I’m talking about football.

And no, my American chums, not your kind of football where you use your hands, I’m talking about our kind of football where we use our foots. (Why don’t they call it Feetball?)


Unfortunately, that’s about as good as it gets for the English national team because they’re actually not very good at using their feet.

That said, it doesn’t stop me admiring the skills of the foreign players who grace the Premier League or indeed, the classy sides in the Champions League.

One of the reasons England won’t stand a chance of winning the World Cup is that FIFA have brought in this stupid rule which means you have to actually be English to play for the national team. That’s game over right there.

Take the recent warm up match against Peru – our man of the match was goalie, Joe Hart. (Even though it was actually given to Sturridge who was very poor despite his cracking goal.)

Let’s have a little player rating, shall we?


It was rhetorical.

Joe Hart 8/10. Man of the match, for me. Busier than the Peruvian keeper. Jagielka owes him big time.

Glen Johnson -8/10. Yes, that’s minus 8. He was a liability and certainly played like a man who has no competition for his place. Constantly lost possession. Worst player on the pitch. Kyle Walker – you are sorely missed.

Leighton Baines 0/10. Provided no width on the left wing. Rarely got forward.

Gary Cahill 7/10. Was the only decent defender on the pitch.

Phil Jagielka -5/10. Another liability. And against better teams would have probably been responsible for us conceding 2 or 3 goals. Owes Joe Hart a night on the beer. (They’ll probably do that night before the Italy game.)

Steven Gerrard -5/10. Constantly gave the ball away by over-hitting passes.

Jordan Henderson -2/10. Perhaps didn’t lose possession quite as much as Gerrard, but did he actually pass the ball forward at any stage during the game?

Lallana 0/10. Completely ineffective. Which was a shame as I have high hopes for him.

Wellbeck -4/10. Constantly lost possession. I don’t think Hodgson realised he was playing otherwise he would have subbed him after four minutes. Looked about as menacing as 16 stone streaker.

Rooney -6/10. Actually was a 16 stone streaker. Looked very short of match practice. Gave the ball away at every opportunity. Had the first touch of a newborn giraffe on crystal meth.

Sturridge 2/10. Only gets into positive figures for his cracking goal. The rest of the time he was hapless.

I can’t be arsed doing the subs. Life’s too short.

You wouldn’t have thunk we won 3 – nil. T’was a tad flattering.

England’s main problem was their first touch. (And their second, third etc.) They were set up like a Spanish team yet can’t seem to be able to control a ball without having to take three touches and have a minimum amount of space around them akin to the turning circle of a Passat estate.

“I was delighted with England’s performance,” said the Italian, Uruguayan and Costa Rican coaches.

Look on the bright side, England: at least after the group games you’ll get to spend a couple of weeks on the Copacabana. But please, don’t try beach footy, you’ll only make twats of yourselves.



Filed under community, Football, Inspiration