Category Archives: Essays & Short Stories

Is original thought possible?

Sam Harris

English: Sam Harris
English: Sam Harris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author describes ‘Freewill’ as an illusion. He uses brilliant analogies to explain that acting of your own freewill implies that you could have done otherwise. He poses the question, ‘What are you going to think next? Your next thought comes out of nowhere. Whatever you are doing you have a voice in your head which just says things. Thoughts just emerge in consciousness. We can’t choose them before we think them. So if you can’t control your next thought where is your freedom of will?’ Continue reading Is original thought possible?

How I got stuffed by a Christmas turkey

Believe it or not this story is true – Well, almost.

This is my favourite personal Christmas story which brings back memories of when I was a pretentious thirty-something. Then I believed, rather foolishly, that roasting the biggest turkey you could get, at Christmas, was a status symbol of note. Thank the lord those days are now long gone. Continue reading How I got stuffed by a Christmas turkey

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WRITE A FIRST NOVEL?

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WRITE A FIRST NOVEL?

I imagine, much longer than subsequent ones as there is so much to learn. My short answer is – As long as it takes until it’s published.

When I posted ‘The sheer joy of writing’ I had just started writing my first novel from the germ of an idea that was planted about twenty three years ago. I didn’t even consider writing it until 2014, so during the previous twenty years it remained dormant and was only occasionally given an airing and little thought. Finally, in May of this year it woke up and demanded my undivided attention, which it has had since. It was a very long gestation period which is, apparently, not uncommon in the literary world. Continue reading HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WRITE A FIRST NOVEL?

Why coconuts are a health hazard?

When I try to put my life into perspective I am always cognisant of the many strange experiences I have had, some fortunate and others not so. One such experience occurred on a visit to one of the many outdoor temporary markets which are to be found all over Thailand and indeed most countries of the East. I made a suggestion, or more likely a throw-away remark, that ‘air raid sirens’ should be installed there. On the face of it, I am sure you will think it to be a strange request, as Thailand has never been at war with any country capable of launching an air raid. But, if you permit me to continue, or read further, you may reconsider. Continue reading Why coconuts are a health hazard?

What poetry is to me

In the opening lines of Twelfth Night Orsino asks for more and more music because he is frustrated in his courtship of Olivia. Too much music may cure his obsession with his love for Olivia. If he gets so much of it his desire will be satiated and he will lose his appetite for it. Then the desire will be gone.

 “If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.”

I’m seldom happier than when I’m writing poetry. I get great pleasure out of writing other stuff too; novels, short stories and blog posts, mainly. In fact writing is my food of love and music is the accompaniment. But poetry is different in that it is always there somewhere in the ether playing gently alongside the other things I do. It never interferes. It floats in and out of my daily life totally at random and never feels like an intruder. And when it lands, as it always does sooner or later, I love the simplicity it brings with it. It has a mysterious way of expressing meaningful things in just a few words which are sometimes easily understood yet on other occasions require interpretation or deep scrutiny. And poems just appear from nowhere, calling me from round the corner or buzzing around in the cool morning air. Continue reading What poetry is to me

Artists don’t retire – they just die.

Quite recently I was encouraged to watch the massively popular HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ and maybe afterwards I will read the books by George RR Martin. I have, at the time of writing, watched the first five episodes and must say I am finding it thoroughly entertaining. How I will feel after sixty episodes remains to be seen. The lavish, and no doubt expensive, production and screen play is first rate. However, the acting, while passable for a movie of this genre, is not top drawer.

 The purpose of this post, however, is not to critique the series but to highlight the criticism which has been levelled, unfairly in my opinion, at the Author for being behind the eight ball and not finishing the project. Much has been written, some of it unjustifiably aggressive. Here is an example followed by a quote from the Guardian. Continue reading Artists don’t retire – they just die.

THE SHEER JOY OF WRITING

A Confession - Tolstoy
A Confession – Tolstoy

I have been reading ‘A Confession’ by Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910); a short work on the subject of melancholia, philosophy and religion. It was written in 1879 (when he was 51) and in it he addresses his depressed state brought about by a need to understand the meaning, or rather the non-meaning, of life. My purpose in reading his work was not to depress myself as ‘A Confession’ could easily have done but to gain some insight as to why such a creative and successful man took to writing, not because of a passion but solely, because of the financial need to support a young family. Continue reading THE SHEER JOY OF WRITING

The death of Earth

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I did not know that 22nd April was ‘Earth Day’.

So, to atone for my sin – mea maxima culpa – I have put together this short post.

I feel much better already!

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.
The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have known, for more than half a century, what we have done and continue to do to the Earth . Yet despite considerable progress we still persist with destructive acts.

English: Rachel Carson, author of Silent Sprin...
English: Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. Official photo as FWS employee. c. 1940. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rachael Carson told us in her absorbing book ‘Silent Spring’ published in 1962.

She puts it so eloquently when she says:

 “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”

Continue reading The death of Earth

How to plan a public transport trip in Phuket

People often ask me how the public transport works in Phuket and why the buses drive so slowly. It’s not always easy to explain but I think this true story as told to me and recounted, almost verbatim, should give anyone a fairly good insight. It’s a lovely story and I can vouch for its authenticity. Continue reading How to plan a public transport trip in Phuket