Peripheral Vision – out now on Amazon.


I know it’s only been a wet weekend since I published Ten Orbits of the Sun, but here is my latest offering, Peripheral Vision.

It’s a gritty, visceral and heartbreaking coming-of-age novel, about a young lad growing up in the north of England in the 1970s.

Here’s the blurby bit:

After being blinded in one eye by his abusive father, Peripheral Vision tells the story of 11-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 into care after the death of her mother. Can the search for his long-lost love lead to Danny’s redemption?

It tackles themes such as domestic violence, child abuse, drug use, gang crime, love and loss, and kitchen sinks.

I’m really pleased with it, and hope you are too. And no, it isn’t autobiographical – I have both my peepers intact!

If it’s not your cup of tea and you don’t feel like buying a copy, would you be so kind as to share the love and repost/retweet this, as I need all the help I can get.

Thank you, in advance. Your support is very much appreciated.

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From Saskatchewan to Sao Paulo…


 

 

 

ten orbits of the sun, short stories, david mileage-croft

Whether you live in Mumbai or München, Ten Orbits of the Sun is now available across the globe.

If you happen to live in any of the countries listed below, and fancy a rummage through some of the darker recesses of my mind, just click on your country of choice and it’ll take you straight through to my book.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com.au

Amazon.co.jp

Amazon.in

Amazon.com.br

Amazon.de

Amazon.fr

Amazon.nl

Amazon.es

Amazon.it

Amazon.com.mx

So, tell your friends, tell your family, and let’s get Ten Orbits of the Sun back up to number 173 in the Amazon chart where it belongs!

There are 13 tantalising short tales and a chilling excerpt from my second novel, Peripheral Vision, which I’m hoping to publish later this year.

Blurb:

Ten Orbits of the Sun is a collection of contemporary short stories touching on diverse subjects, from dystopian fantasy to serial dog killers. Sometimes darkly humorous, occasionally macabre, but always evocative and visceral. Ten Orbits of the Sun is brimming with concepts that are tender, heart-wrenching and challenging.

CONTENTS:

1. Classic Mercedes Requires Garage.

Wedding day jitters told from both protagonists’ point of view.

2. The Music of Butterflies.

Is Oskar in dystopian heaven, or pharmaceutical hell?

3. Mudslide Bride.

It’s never too late to get down on one knee. Unless you have arthritis.

4. Shall I be Mother?

Will Walter finally realise his ambition of murdering his identical twin?

5. Big Fish, Little Fish.

Children caught in the middle of a dysfunctional family.

6. The Doorstep Girl.

Innocence and racism from the point of view of a terminally ill child.

7. Lucky Penny.

Will Jim scrounge enough money for a packet of fags? This could be his lucky day.

8. Woman’s Best Friend.

A serial dog killer is on the loose. And there’s only one kid in town who can stop him.

9. The Funny Farm.

Are the voices in Larry’s head, or yours?

10. Kanye West, in Botswana.

One-upmanship taken to the extreme.

11. Chasing the Dragon.

You can always have too much of a good thing.

12. Little Snow.

Koyuki has got inside James’ head – quite literally.

13. Ten Orbits of the Sun.

How far one father would go for his daughter.

14. Peripheral Vision (excerpt).

After being blinded in one eye by his abusive father, Peripheral Vision tells the story of 11-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 into care after the death of her mother. Can the search for his long-lost love lead to Danny’s redemption?

 

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Ten Orbits of the Sun – out now on Amazon.


Ten orbits of the sun, short stories.

My collection of short stories is now available on Amazon.

 

There are 13 tantalising short tales and a chilling excerpt from my second novel, Peripheral Vision, which I’m hoping to publish later this year.

Blurb:

Ten Orbits of the Sun is a collection of contemporary short stories touching on diverse subjects, from dystopian fantasy to serial dog killers. Sometimes darkly humorous, occasionally macabre, but always evocative and visceral. Ten Orbits of the Sun is brimming with concepts that are tender, heart-wrenching and challenging.

CONTENTS:

1. Classic Mercedes Requires Garage.

Wedding day jitters told from both protagonists’ point of view.

2. The Music of Butterflies.

Is Oskar in dystopian heaven, or pharmaceutical hell?

3. Mudslide Bride.

It’s never too late to get down on one knee. Unless you have arthritis.

4. Shall I be Mother?

Will Walter finally realise his ambition of murdering his identical twin?

5. Big Fish, Little Fish.

Children caught in the middle of a dysfunctional family.

6. The Doorstep Girl.

Innocence and racism from the point of view of a terminally ill child.

7. Lucky Penny.

Will Jim scrounge enough money for a packet of fags? This could be his lucky day.

8. Woman’s Best Friend.

A serial dog killer is on the loose. And there’s only one kid in town who can stop him.

9. The Funny Farm.

Are the voices in Larry’s head, or yours?

10. Kanye West, in Botswana.

One-upmanship taken to the extreme.

11. Chasing the Dragon.

You can always have too much of a good thing.

12. Little Snow.

Koyuki has got inside James’ head – quite literally.

13. Ten Orbits of the Sun.

How far one father would go for his daughter.

14. Peripheral Vision (excerpt).

After being blinded in one eye by his abusive father, Peripheral Vision tells the story of 11-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 into care after the death of her mother. Can the search for his long-lost love lead to Danny’s redemption?

So, if you fancy a copy, click on either of the links below or on the cover image.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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The artists, (and thinkers, and mathematicians, and scientists), of tomorrow.


Inspired by Canadian Native Art

Inspired by Canadian Native Art

I wrote a post a couple of days ago whinging about how little art there is in the school curriculum. As I mentioned, my gripe was not with my girls’ school, but with the government’s inability to see value in the arts.

I love going to art galleries, and I love to look at art. Whether it’s by a household name or a toddler expressing themselves.

This week, my kids’ school seized the initiative and held an art exhibition, showcasing a smorgasbord of stunning work from all age groups. Everywhere you looked, on the walls, on the floor, on the stage, dangling from the ceiling, there was a veritable feast of colour, pattern, shape and texture.

The school hall was packed with jubilant kids and proud parents. (Though, I’ve cropped most of them out as I don’t have their permission to show them.)

So, a massive well done to all the staff at Didsbury Road Primary School for putting on such an inspirational and spectacular event. And for having the foresight to see the value in art even if the government doesn’t.

Now then, treat your peepers to a few stunning examples…

Potato printing

Potato printing

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Lydia being a bit camera shy in front of her 'Paisley' piece.

Lydia being a bit camera shy in front of her ‘Paisley’ piece.

'Paisley' by Lydia Milligan-Daly

‘Paisley’ by Lydia Milligan-Daly

Scarlett's 'Graffiti' piece. (She refused to have her photo taken.)

Scarlett’s ‘Graffiti’ piece. (She refused to have her photo taken.)

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Lydia presenting her pop-up book

Lydia presenting her pop-up book

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I bet you’d need to know your maths to construct this beautiful sculpture

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The Ethics of Crowdfunding Assassinations. Or, “How I topped a Toff”. (Part 1.)


I was sitting on the bus the other day, on the way to collect my dole money, (being the work-shy scrounger that I am), when I happened to earwig in on a conversation by two assassins sitting on the seat in front of me.

I could tell they were assassins because one was dressed like a ninja and the other like a navy seal but without the military insignia.

Anyhoo, they were discussing whether they thought they could get crowdfunding to assassinate George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith, as they didn’t reckon their Job Seekers Allowance would cover it.

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Whilst I obviously don’t condone murder per se, my ears pricked up, as I had never heard anyone discussing the finer points of crowdfunding for such an endeavor – even if the targets in question were totally deserving of such a fate.

First of all, they went through a “wish list” of things they might need to carry out their task: a high-powered sniper rifle; a couple of Glock 9mms; ammo; some ninja throwing stars; a super-fast getaway car, (along the lines of a Nissan Micra); some factory workers overalls; some waiters uniforms; and two bags of cheesy Wotsits just in case they had to do a stakeout.

This final point caused quite a kerfuffle, as the ninja said in no uncertain terms that Wotsits tasted of belly fluff and that he preferred Monster Munch. The seal compromised and a bag of each was added to the list. (Along with a can of diet Coke and an Innocent smoothie.)

Unknown

It turns out the factory workers’ overalls were for the hit on Osborne. As he would no doubt be on a factory visit at some stage. The waiters’ outfits were for the hit on IDS as he would invariably be having a champagne breakfast at some swanky hotel at the taxpayers’ expense.

They also reckoned they would need about half a mill to bribe a government official to get info as to the whereabouts of the two miscreants during the year.

All in all, these two would-be Lee Harveys totted up that they would need about a million quid to successfully carry out their mission. (Excluding a couple of Easyjet flights to the Costa del Sol afterwards.)

I didn’t think a million quid was too bad to pop a cap in the bottoms of two of the most nefarious politicians since the rise of the National Socialist Workers’ Party.

They even drew up a list of funding options, ranging from a tenner for a, “I topped a Toff” t-shirt, to a hundred quid for an invite to the afters street party. (This they reckoned would be a big seller.)

They also talked of being able to attend the actual assassinations for a grand per person. But weren’t too sure about the practicalities of this, as a large, cheering, placard waving mob following them around might not be best for covertness.

After a time, they began to doubt the logistics of it all and whether people would get into the spirit of things and chip in. So they turned to me and asked me what I thought.

I said that I absolutely and utterly did not condone murder and, had my iPhone not run out of battery, would’ve probably reported them to the police, (which they empathised with, being upstanding citizens an’ all).  However, hypothetically, I asked, wouldn’t it be easier for the two little tykes to simply do the whole lot of them in at once and take out the entire cabinet?

They complained that this was a risky strategy and that they’d never in a million years get access to the cabinet.

So I says, give the million quid and a bomb in a lobster thermidor to Iain Duncan Smith, he’d sell his own mother for a sturgeon canapé. Sure, hasn’t he been sponging off his missus for the past thirty years?

“But he’s top of our list!” the ninja said.

“Yes,” I said. “But you can do him in afterwards. When he’s under the viaduct kicking the shit out of a homeless person.”

They seemed to think this was a good idea.

Anyways, my stop was coming up, so I bid them adieu.

I don’t know what the legalities are of crowdfunding the assassination of high-ranking politicians, but it has to be worth a shot.

Or, perhaps, two.

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Building a nation of automatons


Nothing to see here, move along – Dad rant about education.
I read this letter to our Prime Minister, David Cameron, from a worried mum and it struck a chord with me.
 My gripe is not with my daughters’ school, nor their teachers, but with the with the government curriculum.
 I have the utmost respect for my daughters’ school, their teachers and the way they try to teach them.
I went to my kids’ bookshare this week. My eldest had four maths exercise books packed full. And half of one art book. Half. For almost a whole academic year.
I am not advocating that they spend all their time painting pretty pictures rather than doing maths. I am advocating that they learn creative thinking. How to solve problems laterally and creatively. To come up with solutions that they might not hitherto have dared to express, rather than regurgitate the obvious answers to facts such as 2+2=
There’s creativity in maths. Just look at fractals or architecture. Perspective/angles, shapes, fractions (composition).
Instead of asking kids what the speed of light is, (after the fact has been taught them), ask them how do they think they could travel as fast as the speed of light. I bet you’d get some fantastic answers. (Incorrect though, obviously.)
I want my children to question. And to offer up ideas as to the solution. This is how we will create the next generation of thinkers and leaders.
But perhaps we won’t. Because they probably won’t pass their sats.
Both of my children are creative. Both take singing lessons. One takes clarinet lessons and writes stories and makes her own books at home. They love reading and don’t have to be asked to do so. They both have a passion for animals and conservation. They both love to express themselves through art and sculpture. They love nature and history. And they both just got a distinction in their Musical Theatre grade 2 exam.
And they both love exploring what our wonderful world has to offer.
What they hate is: maths and English (yes, even though they love writing).
You know what I tell my daughter when she’s writing a story at home? Forget spelling, grammar and punctuation. Just get your thoughts and ideas down. We’ll get some gubbins [me] to put the apostrophes in later.
The first thing the government axes when times are tough are the arts. They are narrow-minded idiots. In my view, the arts are more important than maths. For those who haven’t seen it before, this is my mantra:
Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy.
Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.
Perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where is the creativity that will solve the world’s problems going to come from? Including economic and scientific ones?
The government pontificates about building a nation of leaders through education. But, in reality, all they are creating are automatons who only know how to regurgitate answers to known facts. What they aren’t doing is educating children not just to answer questions, but to ask them.
This is the original letter from Beth Beynon courtesy of Andy White.
Dear Prime Minister,
Today my daughter got her Year 6 SATS results. Level 4 across the board which, my years of teaching experience tell me, is absolutely spot on for Year 6.
So can you tell me why she has spent today in tears? Why she’s lying on her bed sobbing, because she knows she’s not good enough?
There’s a part of me that barely has the energy to write this. To ask you why you insist on putting 10 and 11 year olds through a system that takes nothing of child development or good pedagogy in to account, or why you put relentless pressure on schools to up their expectations, so what was once seen as good progress is suddenly a failure. But why bother? Why bore you with analogies of weighing pigs that nobody fed? You won’t listen to highly qualified education experts, or even people who, you know, actually teach. So I’m under no illusion that you will listen to me.
I do however want to tell you what is happening in my house tonight.
My funny, intelligent, artistic daughter has received a message today.
She’s average.
The government has told her so.
And that’s not good enough.
The fact that she has rhythm in her soul, a stunning singing voice and takes people’s breath away when she dances, the fact that she thinks about the meaning of life and loves to ponder the great questions like why are we here and what our purpose could be, or the way she cared for her dying Grandmother – painting her toe nails and singing to her, the way she puts her younger sister into her own bed because she woke with a bad dream. These things that make the whole person that my daughter is. It’s all irrelevant.
She’s just average. And that’s not good enough. You’ve told her so.
Another one bites the dust.
Thing is Mr. Cameron, my daughter is wise to you. At eleven she has learned that SATS are just a game.
“I’ve not learnt anything this year Mummy,” she told me during the harrowing and stressful weeks leading up to the SATS “Just how to pass some stupid test for the stupid government”.
From the mouths of babes, Mr. Cameron, from the mouths of babes.
And so here we are. Your SATS results are in. You can number crunch to your heart’s content. You can order schools from best to worst, rank them, categorise them and make them work for you. Numbers are clever , aren’t they? Look what they did for bringing all those children out of poverty! Clever old you.
And meanwhile my daughter will go to sleep tonight despising a government that has squandered a year of her education so they can tell her she’s no more than average. And that it’s not good enough.
Oh, one more thing. She brought home her Grade Three ballet certificate today. She got a distinction.
But I don’t suppose you’re the slightest bit interested in that.

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The Boating Party with author N.J. Rayner


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of Q&As with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are one of the most important aspects of our civilisation.

Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy.

Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

Perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where is the creativity that will solve the world’s problems going to come from? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this Q&A, I am delighted to welcome author Nigel J. Rayner.

Nigel Rayner

Nigel J. Rayner

What has been your greatest personal or career achievement?

That’s a difficult one? I used to be a pretty serious climber in my younger days, and have enjoyed many magnificent and unforgettable climbs, but I suppose to pick just one, it would probably be being a dad to my son Ben. As for career achievements, surviving the 70’s and 80’s in advertising without any permanent damage to my liver has to be up there.

What has been your greatest sacrifice?

My bank account, after putting my son through private education.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

My wife Valerie, who has allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a full time writer, even though it’s a risky decision.

Who, or what, inspires you?

Creative people. Whether it’s writers, artists or filmmakers, seeing something really original is always inspiring.

What makes you unhappy?

Bureaucracy, bean counters, technology when it doesn’t work, and the squirrel glued to Donald Trump’s head.

What makes you happy?

My wife, my son, beautiful landscapes and getting nice reviews.

What are you reading?

Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

Today has been a mix of Pink Floyd, Del Amitri, Steve Earle & Debussy.

What’s your favourite film?

The Godfather.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Either a nice cup of tea, or a cold beer.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

1967, HaightAshburySan Francisco.

What frightens you?

The people who run the world.

What do you do to relax?

Listen to music while walking in the countryside.

What do you do when you’re angry?

Become very petulant and irrational.

What can’t you live without?

My iPod.

What’s your motto?

God loves a trier.

Where is your Utopia?

The road from Grasse to Cap D’ Antibes, in an E-Type jag with Kaleidoscope Affair by Swing Out Sister on the stereo.

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

Try and succeed where Guy Fawkes failed.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

Bill Gates, because nobody should be allowed to get away with inventing bloody Windows, without getting a rocket up their arse.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Katherine Ross from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

What are you working on at the moment?

The Assassinator, book two in The Stobes Trilogy.

What is your ambition?

To write a Best Seller.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

The lack of humanity in the world.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Douglas Adams, Frank Zappa, Peter Ustinov, Margret Thatcher, Arthur Scargill & Peter Cook.

What would be on the menu?

Pie, chips & gravy.

What question would you have liked me to have asked?

Do you watch the news while standing in the kitchen sink dressed as Kirk Douglas from The Vikings?

Thank you Nigel.

 

Biography:

N.J. Rayner grew up in Mellor, Cheshire in the United Kingdom, where as well as briefly holding the record in the local “100 yard Tripe Juggling” category, he was also one half of “The Flying Yoghurt Brothers” a specialised trapeze act involving death defying feats of acrobatics on a plank of wood balanced on two upturned buckets.

He has played golf with Bernhard Langer, Des O’Connor’s Pianist and the man from the Oxo commercials, been a Dog Handler at Crufts – where he came last – and been ridiculed by both Billy Connolly and Stan Boardman.

He now lives in Kent, and is married with one son and two step children.

After spending over thirty years working in the advertising industry for several top agencies, he decided to become a full time author in 2014. His debut novel ‘The Time Table’ is the first book in The Stobes Trilogy. The second book in the series ‘The Assassinator’ will be published around July 2015, with the third book ‘The Exodus’ expected in December 2015. He also has a fourth novel, Peter Panic and the Book of Dreams due to be published at the beginning of 2016.

He firmly believes that Douglas Adams was correct when he said the world is a giant computer program run by mice, and refuses to take life too seriously.

Favorite authors include Douglas Adams, Tom Sharpe, Terry Pratchett, Stuart Marconie, Joseph Heller and Alan Titchmarsh.

Nigel’s Amazon author page.

www.njrayner.com

thetimetable_njrayner

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