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All about the 2017 international short story competition

We’re delighted to announce that the judge for the International Willesden Herald 2017 New Short Stories competition will be none other than...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Hanukkah!



Red, Feargal, Mona, Steve, Simon, Carmencita, Kronk, Mavis, Malachy, Noël, Harry, Ganache, Zoz, Nick, Ossian, Bartell, Jacintha and all the gang.

Competition update, December 2011

There are over 380 entries. I'm miles behind with the reading but looking forward to catching up over the holidays. Thanks to everyone who entered. The art of the short story is alive and well.

More news of former finalists

Jenny Barden's novel Mistress of the Sea is set to be published by Ebury Press in September 2012.

A.N. Wilson, writing in The Financial Times, named The Coward's Tale by Vanessa Gebbie as his novel of the year for 2011. Vanessa was also photographed and interviewed in this week's Telegraph.

James Lawless, whose story "Jolt" was a highlight of New Short Stories 1, and who has published the novels "The Avenue", "For Love of Anna" and "Peeling Oranges" is also a poet. His poem "Christmas Eve" is in this week's Sunday Independent (Ireland).

Steve

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saturday evening

London Plane

Silver Birch

Willesden Stadium

plane tree and willow
one bedizened with baubles
one with no eyebrows

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Vera Magpie

Vera Magpie eBook: Laura Solomon

Continuing to bring you news of new publications and achievements by past Willesden Herald competition finalists. This time it's a new novel by Laura Solomon, for Kindle, and it sounds quite an intricate and dramatic story.

A magnificent new library centre

"...it's genuinely one in the eye for the Big Society..." (diamond geezer: Canada Water library)

Well done Southark Council. Shame about Brent.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How the Greek bailout will work, in very simple terms

Letters (email)

It is a slow day in a little Greek village.
On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.
The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.
The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.
The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks and food bill at the taverna.
The tavern owner slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit.
The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.
The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.
No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works!!

Anon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Update on the Kickstarter project

Publish Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 6 » Backers

Thanks to everyone backing this project, we will now have the funding to publish the anthology more effectively. There is still time for more backers to pitch in and choose one of the four rewards. The more the merrier. :)

Update 18:30 GMT 27/11/2011 - good news!:
65 HOURS TO GO
31 BACKERS
$1000 PLEDGED OF $1,000 GOAL

Update 16:00 GMT 27/11/2011:
67 HOURS TO GO
27 BACKERS
$896 PLEDGED OF $1,000 GOAL

THIS PROJECT WILL ONLY BE FUNDED IF AT LEAST $1,000 IS PLEDGED BY WEDNESDAY NOV 30, 7:03AM EST.

Update 19:00 GMT 26/11/2011: We now have a taker for the $100 reward and we can add the most excellent writer Jill Widner to the list of supporters as well, taking us to $766.

25/11/2011: Thanks to everyone who has come forward so far to back this project. There are only four days left to reach the $1,000 goal and the total has now reached $666 [There should be a joke here. Ed]. Among the backers are New Short Stories contributors including Wena Poon, Margot Taylor, Arthur Allan, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and Toby Litt (yes, the one and only - all the ones and onlys).

We have four different rewards on offer. Nobody has opted for the $100 one yet*, though somebody did on the last attempt, which failed. Unless the funding target is met by the end date, none of the funding comes through. In that event, nothing is debited and of course similarly with the rewards.

The objective is to help us publish the next anthology more effectively. You can read all the details by following the link.

Nightfall

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The real Irish presidential debate

...as seen by Steve Moran

A solar flare causes massive disruption to mobile phone networks, and widespread chaos. Among side effects that people have little time to worry about, the seven candidates in the Irish presidential election 2011 are stranded in a blacked out TV studio where they were preparing for a debate... (Continue)

More stories from Museum of Illusions:

Pain and the Stars: Robert Mitchum's expression says, I have a little pain but it's nothing I can't handle... (Continue)

Watching the Defectives - GOP foreign policy debate: "It's worth listening to the logic of people like Gingrich, absolute moral bankruptcy: covert operations 'all deniable'. Deniable - why? A big question..." (Continue)

This evening



The view from Herald House

Friday, November 25, 2011

November short story news

Continuing to report back good news about Willesden Herald finalists and prizewinners, but where to start? We have received word this month of no less than three Hawthornden Castle Fellowships winners for 2012 (Jill Widner, Vanessa Gebbie and Henrietta Rose-Innes), a debut short story collection, two novels, a poetry collection and more.

There is an embarrassment of riches really, looking back over the year. We have not even mentioned prodigiously successful author, Toby Litt, whose alphabetical novel series continued this year with the stylish, black-edged edition of King Death, and other publications and productions too numerous to mention.

The new short story collection is Somewhere Else, or Even Here (Salt Publishing) by AJ Ashworth, whose Overnight Miracles was a great hit in New Short Stories 5.

This month also saw the launch of Vanessa Gebbie's The Coward's Tale (Bloomsbury), which we have mentioned before, and it is set to be published in America next year too.

Prolific New Zealand author Laura Solomon has another novel Hilary and David (Proverse) which will no doubt continue her pageturner storytelling combined with a light humorous touch.

Late breaking news: Peggy Riley, another of the talented Americans we're holding hostage here in Britain has just been highly commended in the Bridport prize 2011. Peggy Riley's story Pearl, which mixed poetry and prose was one of the highlights of New Short Stories 4.

We're not monomaniacs, you'll be relieved to learn, (why do I keep saying "we", it's only me!) and we like poetry as much as the next man, so it is a delight to report another launch this month for a New Short Stories contributor. The Juno Charm (Salmon) is the latest collection of poetry from acclaimed Irish poet and novelist Nuala Ní Chonchúir. So there.

Congratulations to all concerned. If I have missed any out, please let me know. (Steve)

Where are your bards, oh youth of 2011? (repost)



Your forefathers could describe a forest in one twig, could perform their deadly thunder feats without appearing to move a muscle, could split a metaphor head to crotch with the blow of a single phrase. Do ye lie abed pleasuring yourselves while armies of creeping mumblers invade our ancient fields? Rise and send forth your magic incantations before the whole world sinks under the dreary wave. www.willesdenherald.com

Ossian

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chalk another one up for the local writing group!

Antony Wootten’s debut novel, A Tiger Too Many, is a dramatic and powerful page-turner for the 9-12 age range. Set in London Zoo during World War II, it is a tense tale of a young girl’s desperate struggle to save her beloved tiger-cub. Despite the traumas of air-raids and evacuation, and her older brother going missing in action, Jill never gives up, even when the zoo itself is bombed and she finds herself amongst the burning debris...
TheBookbag.co.uk called it “real edge-of-the-seat-stuff”.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Outtake from first draft of The Da Vinci Code

My first is Balaam but not in ass
My second is in Noah but not in flood
My third is in Virgil but not Catullus
My fourth is in very but never in good
In my pelt through the desert I fly
Who the hairy hell am I?

Ganache

Carys Davies wins V.S. Pritchett Prize 2011

Short Story News | THRESHOLDS

"Congratulations to Carys Davies, winner of this year’s V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize. Davies was presented with a cheque for £1000 at last night’s awards ceremony at Somerset House in recognition of her story 'The Redemption of Galen Pike'."

Twice short-listed for the Willesden Herald short story prize, Carys Davies has also won the 2010 two-yearly Olive Cook prize from the Society of Authors.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The GOP candidates introduce themselves

My name is Michele Bachmann. They call me the Tea Party candidate.

Hello, my name is Ron Paul. They call me the Libertarian candidate.

My name is Newt Gingrich. They call me Mr Speaker.

[Laughter. Applause.]

Hi, my name is Rick Perry, they call me, uh, Rick Perry.

Hi...Hi. Herman? Herman Cain right? Yeh, that's me, I think.

Hello, I'm Rick Sa--

[Presenter: I'm sorry we've got a system here.]

Hi, my name is mhhd Romney.

[Presenter: Sorry, did you say "Mid"?]

No, haha, mhd Romney.

[Second presenter: That's Mitt, right?]

[First Presenter: Haha, let's try and keep it serious now. Ok, moving along...]

Charlie bit my finger



Possibly the most popular YouTube video ever, with getting on for 380 million views. It's very funny. You might not think it's going to be but wait till Charlie gets going - brilliant.

Pencils, paper, eraser, sharpener: Action!

Hudson - Against The Grain from Dropbear on Vimeo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Libraries, grade II listed buildings? Bulldoze them all.

Fury as bulldozers move in for historic Brent home - Harrow Observer

The arsonists have won. Brent can't restore the house, so they've started to bulldoze it. If Mark Twain were to return to London he would be amazed to find that we can no longer afford to have a library in Kensal Rise and we cannot afford to maintain the house where he stayed, which he described as a little bit of paradise. His general impression therefore might be of this as a time of great poverty, compared to the year 1900.

Cycle Superhighway travesty

diamond geezer: "... the Bow Flyover roundabout is a bloody disgrace, both for pedestrians and cyclists, as was tragically proven yesterday morning."

Update 14/11/2011: BBC London News reports a woman cyclist was killed in a collision on the roundabout on Friday.

Sunday

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Experimento Comparte - Acción contra el Hambre



What will children do when they find that one has something on their plate and the other has nothing? (Donate)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance day



He will not come, and still I wait.
He whistles at another gate
Where angels listen. Ah I know
He will not come, yet if I go
How shall I know he did not pass
barefooted in the flowery grass?

The moon leans on one silver horn
Above the silhouettes of morn,
And from their nest-sills finches whistle
Or stooping pluck the downy thistle.
How is the morn so gay and fair
Without his whistling in its air?
The world is calling, I must go.
How shall I know he did not pass
Barefooted in the shining grass?

--A Little Boy in the Morning by Francis Ledwidge

'Francis Edward Ledwidge (19 August 1887 – 31 July 1917) was an Irish war poet from County Meath. Sometimes known as the "poet of the blackbirds", he was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I.' (Wikipedia). (I found this in "This is not a Novel" by Jennifer Johnston.)

Michael D Higgins making his last speech in the Dáil



One of the most trenchant sections is from about 11:30 in, when he decries the era of "radical individualism".

Irish television coverage of the presidential inauguration 11 November 2011 (available until 2 December 2011)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Willesden Reservoir development proposals

Leaflet distributed locally today
Willesden Depot

"Notting Hill Housing is bringing forward plans to redevelop the Willesden Depot site, next to Willesden Reservoir, to provide new affordable homes for the Borough."

"These proposals have changed as a result of feedback received during our consultation held in late 2010. Please come along to the exhibition to discuss the updated proposals for the site and to let us know your views on the changes to the design."

The revised plans will be available to view at Kings Hall community centre, 155 Harlesden Road, NW10 2BS, Thursday 10 November 2011, from 4:30pm to 8:00pm.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Call for submissions

It's time to bring those wild stories down from the high mountain passes, throw a bucket of water over them, and lead them into town for the annual gala. They don't have to be wild horses, they might be butterflies or bottles of moonshine - surprise us.

The judge for this year is the incomparable Roddy Doyle. So please let us have your finest new short stories. Thanks.

Closing date: 16 Dec. 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Michael D's acceptance speech



After saying he is "particularly grateful to the above a million people who have said that I was an acceptable candidate for president" he goes on to make a barnstorming speech. He restates the four pillars of his campaign and asserts that the people have made a choice between the types of vision on offer. "The reconnection of economy, ethics and society is a project we cannot postpone."

There's a smell of horse dung in the NHS executive lounge

Private Eye | Official Site

Private Eye exposes the chief executive of the Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which is in the red by £40 million, presiding over payments to a network of companies held by his wife, for "horse-based leadership training" [Is there a word missing there? Ed]. Of course hubby and missus's horse-based training company loses so much money that it has to be subsidised from their other holding companies, for which read "tax write-off". This geezer, Mark Davis, is in charge of an NHS trust that is hiring his wife's loss-making company while at the same time paying £2,000 per day for his services into another of his wife's companies that is channelling money to the first. Clear?

Here's another pile of executive horse dung: The Telegraph highlights NHS executives receiving golden handshakes only to be rehired on exorbitant daily rates. "In one case an official given a £300,000 payoff was re-employed on daily rates of £3,400" (Telegraph)

No wonder there's a revolution starting, we're being taken for a ride.

Feargal

Thursday, October 27, 2011

One imaginary diaspora vote for Michael D.


Michael D. Higgins' return to his alma mater, NUI Galway, yesterday

We have no vote here and we want to vote. You have votes over there so don't sit on your hands, get out and vote for Michael D. That is unless you actually want seven years of tedious court cases, allegations and further chiselling.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Proud to be Irish in the world



"I offer a vision of a radically inclusive citizenship, in a creative society worthy of a real Republic - making us proud to be Irish in the world." Michael D Higgins

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Petition the government to save our libraries

From the Society of Authors

Love libraries?

If you do another good deed today, let it be adding your signature to the WI petition to save our libraries (open to all). The petition already has over 10,000 signatures and the WI would like to reach 100,000. Any petitions that raise 100,000 signatures trigger a debate in the House of Commons. Please sign the petition and forward to your contacts, and encourage others to do the same.

Word Up

How to Get Published
Willesden Green Library Centre, NW10 2SF
Monday 31 October
7-8.30pm. Free.

Alex Wheatle, author of Brixton Rock and Brenton Brown will share his expertise on getting published. You can join Alex Wheatle, Arcadia publisher Gary Pulsifer and self published author of Wasteland Simon Acland for hints and tips on how to get published.

www.brent.gov.uk/wordup

Michael D Higgins visits Camden, London



Michael D in Camden, London, talking to Irish people about votes and remittances, with particular emphasis on 250,000 who left between 1955 and 1960. An 81-year old man who has never voted in an Irish election advocates votes for the Irish abroad. Michael D responds with prospects for a planned review of the constitution and reminds people about the "remittances home". (Michael D Higgins, the President who will do us proud)

Guerilla marketing?


Bryan Avenue, NW10

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

UPDATE ON KENSAL RISE LIBRARY

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


GOOD NEWS!!!

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal agreed to hear our appeal on Brent’s decision to close six of the borough’s libraries.  This morning, the Court also made an order to prevent Brent from taking further steps to empty out the six closed libraries until the appeal is heard, likely in early to mid-November.

In particular, Brent is not allowed to either board up the Kensal Rise Library building or remove any stock or equipment. 

Over the next 24 hours, we will be taking steps to clear out the protest site, although we may continue to try to run the outdoor library service, weather and volunteers permitting.

WHILE THE IMMEDIATE CRISIS HAS TEMPORARILY PASSED, THERE IS STILL LOTS TO DO IF WE ARE GOING TO SAVE OUR LIBRARY, SO PLEASE COME ALONG TO:


SAVE KENSAL RISE LIBRARY PUBLIC MEETING

TOMORROW NIGHT

THURSDAY OCTOBER 20, 7:30 PM

ST. MARTIN’S CHURCH, MORTIMER ROAD

In the meantime, congratulations and thank you to all who have defended our beloved library!

_______________________________________________
Save Kensal Rise Library! Announcements list

Visit the campaign website for the latest news and ways to get involved 

-http://www.savekensalriselibrary.org

Comedy stars stand up for Kensal Rise Library

Hundreds turn out to support Kensal Rise Library campaign as comedy stars join fight | Save Kensal Rise Library!

It was a great night with many highlights, not least Robyn Hitchcock's performance of "Dismal City". Phil Jupitus received loud applause and pointed out a library was "one of the few things left in this country where anyone can walk in off the street, old, young, even a tramp ... " [and have access to something educational? - can't remember his exact words]. It made him angry when people were told they could buy it for themselves. He said he couldn't provide a debating-style argument against closing libraries but when he heard people advocate it he felt he "just wanted to punch them in the face."

There is a round the clock vigil at Kensal Rise library to prevent Brent (Labour) council from stripping the contents and boarding it up. They tried instantly after the judgment from the High Court in their favour the other day - now under appeal - but were prevented by supporters of the library. "Brent library closures: judge fast-tracks appeal" (Guardian)


Brent Council is one of the few councils in the country that has not yet disclosed credit card spending by its leaders on expenses. "Council bosses presiding over the deepest cuts since the Second World War are using their taxpayer-funded expenses and credit cards to fund a lavish lifestyle of five-star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and retreats at exclusive golf resorts and spas, The Daily Telegraph can disclose." (Telegraph)



Steve

Sharon Shannon speaks



"Michael D loves Irish music and he loves Irish culture and all the arts. I love his poetry as well. So I'm very excited about - that he might be our president!" (Sharon Shannon)

Whatever Sharon Shannon says is law as far as I'm concerned. She has a divine link much stronger than anything political, when God speaks through her button accordion. (Ed)



A preview of Michael D Higgins latest campaign video due to be aired on Irish TV before the 6 o'clock news this evening (19/10/2011)

Quantum locking



A demonstration of levitation and suspension of an object at various angles

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday, October 07, 2011

Michael D. Higgins for a friendlier Ireland



Forget the candidates who are pretending not to be from their political parties. How can you vote for candidates who represent parties they are ashamed to acknowledge? McGuinness with his poor mouth, offering 6/7ths of his income to employ six young people, let him give it all up and employ seven more young people in the tourist industry, which would be damaged if he were elected. And Gallagher from Dragons' Den, with his pseudo-scientific prattling about "the gene pool".

Kilburn and Willesden, let's back Michael D. Higgins - The President who will do us proud, a friendlier face for Ireland. A man of principle, vision and commitment. Listen to his speeches, excerpted in the videos here. If the hair doesn't stand up on your neck, you should probably check your pulse.



Let's have somebody at the GPO in 2016 who represents unity and progress, not somebody who represents division and enmity. Do not let the other charlatans stand there, don't let those responsible for dividing and debilitating the nation and the country represent you in front of the world. They sacrificed unity for their botched and hateful separation, unity that was worth more than all their scrabbling division. Thanks to people like McGuinness the country is divided where it was unified before. It's only with people like Michael D Higgins that any healing or progress can be conceived. Don't chop off your head to spite your heart. Don't be the Ireland that cut off its own head to pull out of the UK. Use your head and your heart and you won't go wrong.



Ed

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Silent witness



Five minutes before the ride by shooting, ten minutes before the gang rampage, disconnected Art looks out on Harrow Road.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sinister religious shouting and moaning



Recorded about 8 pm on Wednesday, September 21st, in Grange Road outside Willesden Library Centre. There is another longer recording of similar angry ranting accompanied by crying and moaning. The recording cannot convey the sheer volume and nastiness of the shouting. Bear in mind that this was recorded on a phone cam from the street, while the meeting was going on upstairs in the library centre behind closed curtains. There is no real need to close those curtains up there, normally.

Ossian

Friday, September 30, 2011

Shootings and gang mayhem in North Kensington

At 7:05 pm last night, Thursday 28 September, a warm Indian Summer evening, I was waiting outside for my wife to come out of a chemist near the corner with First Avenue, NW10 when a swarm of 30 or more youths on bikes and tens more on foot raced west along Harrow Road.

The horde were shouting and appeared to be pusuing some others either at the front of the swarm or anyway going that way. That is how it seemed to me. They were waving sticks and bottles. Some bottles smashed on the road right in front of me. There was heavy traffic both ways on the road. I heard a series of pops that I couldn't locate but that sounded like gunshots, perhaps, I'm not sure.

I typed "Gang chaos on Harrow Road" into my BlackBerry and posted it to Twitter. Was this a riot situation? It occurred to me that I might be shot, together with others, such as the staff who came to the door of the chemist to see what was happening but there was not much we could do. I said "It's very dangerous here." But we were phlegmatic.

Earlier I had noted "Little poncy pipsqueak with huge Rottweiler on a chain swaggers down the street amusing little toddlers but scaring their parents for them." I now believe it might have been a very large pitbull, having searched for images. No muzzle of course. On reflection, that was a harbinger of the depredations to follow, injecting a pleasant evening with a tincture of hell.

As we were going back west towards Third Avenue on our way to where we'd parked our car in Droop Street, I saw a lot of youths (some bikes, the same ones?) and two police beside the footbridge over the canal. They seemed to be looking into the canal. There were youths in twos and threes buzzing in and around side roads on bikes or just standing and thinking which way to go. I was thinking it might be the start of a riot like the recent ones and I was just keen to get us out of there, having seen on television how muggers had taken advantage of that sort of chaos.

Like everyone, I have since heard that there was a shooting nearby "about 7 pm" on the Mozart estate. That's just up the end of First and Second Avenue.

According to Willesden and Brent Times the shooting was about 7 pm. More details have emerged as you can see from the Telegraph report. Three girls were hit by a shotgun blast, including one girl holding a baby.

Three female teenagers injured in Queen’s Park shooting - News - Willesden and Brent Times

Teenage girl was shot while holding her baby - Telegraph

Ossian

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thanks, hail and no farewell — Kickstarter

Publish "Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 6

Glorious heroes of Kickstarter, we are leaving the field today. The blood of our comrades feeds the dandelions and cow parsley. Our families, about their everyday activities, know nothing of the horrors we have seen nor ever will for we go to the flowers with this secret in our hearts, that we fought with valour and dignity but the foe was too mighty. And all that. Eternal thanks to the brave, the foolhardy and the hopeful. Cheers, sláinte mhaith, iechyd da, l'chaim, kan pai, won pai, chin chin, cheroo. Steve

We live to fight another day.

Update: If at first you don't succeed...

Silly electronic sign



"No text. Please input" (Willesden Library Centre)

An order under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act



Grange Road beside Willesden Library Centre

"The zone covers Grange Road to the High Road to Brondesbury Park junction with Staverton Road, across pedestrian area to Chambers Lane, Chambers Lane to Harlesden Road to Grange Road. The area includes car parks and communal spaces." (Kilburn Times, Willesden man sentenced for breaching dispersal order)

Willesden night life


View from Grange Road towards Willesden High Road

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The first time the Earth went round by the Sun

The first time the Earth went round by the Sun
it was a rainy morning.
Rocks sat back nonplussed, as if to say
"What the hell just happened?"
and decided to take a nap,
time enough to unpack later.
But after dark awoke perhaps, jet-lagged.
A constellation that used to be there,
gone like an old bedroom
with the bed beside a different wall.

The second time the Earth went round by the Sun
must have been a Tuesday,
St Patrick's day, as it fell that year,
and it rained again.
Rock Tours had gone bust it seemed,
so we were there for the duration.
It was warm at first, then a bit too hot.
That's the trouble with these places.

Yadda, yadda.
Wednesday, oh for fuck sake
it's bucketing down. Let's have a lie-in -.
Huh, something just crawled over my face.
Shut up, it's only a hare.

The, what was it, fourth day it never let up,
seriously large floods.
Overheard two nudists nattering,
Is it me or is it getting hotter?
Yes, that'll be because we're in the northern hemisphere.
Say again?
What the hell is that? Ugh, ugh, ugh!
Don't say ugh here my dear,
it only plays into their preconceptions...

The fifth day the Earth went round by the Sun,
we had to make our own fun,
playing poohsticks and washing in a rainbarrel.
Wouldn't it be great
if only it would stop raining? Then a miracle,
the clouds parted and fell quiet.
Only under the trees it was still raining
and for the first time there were hills,
blue black hills,
at the end of every road.


Ganache

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Library centre regeneration plan announced

http://www.brent.gov.uk/regeneration.nsf/Willesden%20Green%20Library/LBB-343

"We are pressing on with plans to redevelop Willesden Green Library Centre and regenerate Willesden High Road."

Notes

Those two projects are completely unrelated. The latter comprises the spending of £500,000 disbursed by the mayor of London. The former is a planned project to demolish the library centre and put up a new building funded by donating the car park to some preferred builder.

In the past few years, over £600,000 has been spent refurbishing the library centre, including money from the Heritage Lottery fund and the cost of moving the Brent Museum out of another juicy location for builder deals to its present home.

This part of the borough is Willesden, not Willesden Green. Willesden Green is approximately the area around the underground station. Willesden is centred approximately where the library centre now stands. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

Brent borough council swallowed up the historic Willesden borough council which stretched out as far as Harlesden where the "Wilesdune" ancient pilgrimage site and "black madonna" are. I moved to a house not far from the library centre nearly twenty years ago and the former occupant corrected me then as to the name of the area, when I made the same mistake.

Why didn't they do it right first time, if the present building is so terrible? Actually it seems a very good facility complete with car park. They have been systematically running it down, letting it fall into dereliction and (revealingly) making it extremely inconvenient and hazardous to use the car park.

We will want to see complete detailed records for all staffing, fees, and expenses involved in this new project. I want to know if any councillors are receiving any benefits in kind or any consultancy or other perks from the preferred builders. Have they got relatives there? They should know that if there is any corruption it will be found and they will be on their way to our other local (not very modern) community centre that goes by the historic name of Wormwood Scrubs.

Steve

Kickstarter "crowd source" publishing — Update 3

Publish "Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 6"

We simplified the title of this project from "Pretend Genius publ. Willesden Herald New Short Stories series", which I have to admit was a little obscure, to 'Publish Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 6". Thanks to all who have backed us so far and please send links to anyone you think might be interested in becoming an angel (for that status is within our mortal power to confer, though sadly not the winged variety) and anyone who wants to encourage talented new writers.

Cheers, best wishes, Steve

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

They're at it again, Feargal

kitchen: 6.5. Stephen Moran: 3 poems

Kitchen Poet has one of our staff working for them. This is just not acceptable. Oh wait, he's only a contractor, that's alright. Can you delete this please, Feargal.

Ed correction Red via AudioBlagger™

Monday, September 12, 2011

Guest post: Jonathan Pinnock

I really shouldn’t be doing this. After all, I’m a writer with literary pretensions. I have standards. And yet, here I am, on the blog for the Willesden Herald, home of one of the UK’s most literary short story competitions (one, incidentally, in which I have a record of consistent failure), with the sole intention of promoting a book called “Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens”. In my defence I could point out that Salt will be publishing a book of my literary short stories next year, but that would be evading the issue. No, today is all about Mrs Darcy.

And yet.

Why on earth should I feel uncomfortable about this? After all, there are precedents. One of my favourite writers, Boris Vian, who gave the world the sublime “Froth on the Daydream”, saw no contradiction in producing a pulp crime novel with the compelling title (and I kid you not) “I Spit on Your Grave”. I’ve read it and it is every bit as classy as that title suggests. In later life, incidentally, Vian changed tack completely and became a singer-songwriter, ending up writing the first French rock’n’roll songs. So says Wikipedia, so it must be true.

And yet again.

There aren’t many precedents. At least, not many that established writers are likely to own up to – although someone’s got to be writing all those anonymous volumes of erotica. It’s kind of a shame. It would, I think, be nice to read an elvish fantasy epic by Martin Amis, for example, just to see if he could. Or some Margaret Atwood chick-lit.

Ah, the hell with it.

I’m not apologising. I’m not even suggesting you regard the book as some kind of “guilty pleasure”, for there are fewer more dishonest phrases in the English language (come on: either you like it or you don’t, simple). It’s a book called Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens, it’s a comic sci-fi sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” and you’ll enjoy reading it. Trust me on this.

Great cover, too, isn’t it?


Jonathan Pinnock


Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens (Proxima, 2011) is currently on promotion in WHSmith in the UK and available from all good booksellers, online and off.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kickstarter publishing project update #2

"I helped publish New Short Stories 6"

That is what is inscribed on a special edition Willesden Herald mug created for this Kickstarter appeal. We have bundled it together with a complete set of the Willesden Herald - New Short Stories books to date and including the forthcoming one in 2012, which is what this appeal is all about. For this we're suggesting a contribution of $100. [...]

A new reward added to the two earlier ones on offer for backers of this publishing project. The target is $2,000 and there are 15 days left. The thing about Kickstarter is nothing is paid unless the target amount is met or exceeded.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The short story competition is now open

A4 Flyer (Please share.)

It's that time of year when I have to think of a rousing metaphor and end up reusing the same one from last time. So yes, get ready to go up the mountain and rope your best wild story, throw a couple of buckets of water over it, curry comb if you must, oh go on give him (her?) an apple, but don't spoil it. Now lead it into town for the annual gala, where Roddy Doyle will be on hand to award a rosette to the finest beast. I'm looking forward to reading what has been in your minds this year and making the short list.

Opening date: 1 September 2011. Closing date: 16 December 2011. Link: Rules

Steve Moran

Supported by Willesden Green Writers' Group

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"People [...] have lost their homes and their past."



"In an effort to save the memories of a nation, muddied photographs and albums sent from tsunami-hit areas are washed and repackaged by an army of volunteers across Japan before being returned to their owners." (Guardian)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The long-predicted fall of the Euro?

The idea of pooling European debt is like your neighbours asking you to pool their debt with yours. Think about that for a minute. They have more debt than they could ever possibly pay and you are just about getting by, maybe. As part of their proposal they want to retain complete autonomy to spend as they see fit, accruing more and more debt and pooling it with you. That's what the Euro zone is facing.

It's preposterous to expect Germans to take responsibility for other countries' debts, no? Surely the Euro will collapse, either in the sense of shrinking the number of countries using it or a complete rout and dissolution. Northern Euro and Southern Euro?: no way, the peripheral states won't want the worst of both worlds. It's just one of those things where we have to admit the naysayers were right in the beginning. That used to include Labour before the entryist Blairite faction took over.

To be fair to Gordon Brown, though otherwise a hopeless manager by his own pragmatist lights, he did a few good things, not least keeping Britain out of the Euro. You can't let others govern you through toy, pseudo-democratic institutions. There's too much like that at home already. Even the dogs in the street know it.

Feargal

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

"High Tide Or Low Tide" by Bob Marley for famine relief



If you download this from iTunes or one of the other suppliers, you will be supporting Save the Children's efforts to alleviate the famine in East Africa. Or just give them some money. Or both.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The shameful end of David Starkey

David Starkey claims 'the whites have become black' (Guardian)

There's no fool like an old fool. Would David Starkey have described the looters of Dublin in 1916 as "adopting black culture"? In the flow of his bigotry and patronising, he says David Lammy "talks like a white". Here he is on Newsnight, equating "black culture" with "gangsterism".

There is a line between provocative polemics and purblind bigotry. David Starkey can no longer see that line. He should never, ever be employed by the BBC again.

Ed

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life goes on



There was a feeling of suspended horror and uncertainty in the streets today. While in the fields training continued somehow enfeebled. The runners outran the terriers. Here and there someone sat pondering alone and others radiated silence.

Ossian

Monday, August 08, 2011