featured post

Open for submissions

Update: Lane Ashfeldt's take on judging this year's competition: The Willesden Prize, Stories and Tunnels _______ This is  the...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter thoughts

They put me in school. They do it to us all
and they teach us the alphabet and how to read,
how to add up and take away and memorise
the dates of battles, the names of kings,

while round outside the classroom the sun
illuminates the unread leaves and stirs
the untaught robin to sing his rhapsody
for which there is no do-re-mi, no metronome.

And we learn like Pavlov's dogs; how to please,
to supply the formula, to recite the text
we copied from the board and in return we get
rosettes, prizes, kisses, presents, Easter eggs.

But when the teacher has retired and our mams
and dads have forgotten everything or died,
we're left to wander abroad with nothing
but ciphers, tokens, money from a vanished state.

And late, now very late, the sun breaks through
a bare giant tree to lonely winter benches
where, as this afternoon, I wonder who to ask
to teach me how to read the day, the light

on public footpath signposts and leafmeal,
to diagram the last of the afternoon sun
warming a railway bridge in a country lane,
to derive the angles in a fine terrace below.

And I think of Yeats, Spender, Goldsmith,
walking through a classroom and being moved
to mystic reverie, fierce compassion, wonder.
But beyond the class there was a secret school

that taught us how to hear the ocean in a seashell,
to observe a crab blowing bubbles, the local names
for honeybees, how to draw houses, smoke & flowers.
Take me back to the school of streets and fields.


Ganache

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shoes - a YouTube music playlist



With most tracks suggested by friends on Facebook

Merry Xmas

Jacintha Pucka & Bartell Darcy

Monday, December 16, 2013

Closing date this Friday - 20 December 2013

Thanks to everyone who has supported the competition, re-tweeted, sponsored and generally been what we can only call angels.

The last email-shot went out this morning and you can read it online here. The numbers are going up rapidly now. I'd rather have more but I know the quality is always high before the end. Always has been to date and expecting no less this time. That's the end of the spam.

Merry mid-winter everyone (where it is even possible). Already had some South African hot cider made by someone who knows what he's doing. It's like a mulled wine. Cheers to Mr Mandela, wherever he is now. Good luck to all. (Steve)

Update, January 2014: 381 entries were received. The judging is still in progress.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Save Kensal Rise Library at Christmas

Christmas Carols
At Kensal Rise Library

Wednesday 18th December - 6pm start

*Mulled wine
*Cakes
*You don't have to be a good singer - just in possession of Christmas cheer and goodwill towards all!
*Bring candles in jam jars (or borrow one of ours) and come along for a sing song.
No need to be able to sing well, just come and join in outside the lovely library.
Christmas hasn't really started until you've hung around on the library street corner singing with the community. Everyone welcome!

Cards for Christmas (and beyond)
The campaign has a new hand-painted card (no message inside so it can be used all year) based on an early photo of the library's original reading room. Inside is the report of the opening in 1900.

The cards come in packs of ten, costing £5 per pack.

They are available at Mr Patel's corner shop, Mohammad's shop and café, all College Rd, and
Daniels estate agents in Chamberlayne Road.

Visit the campaign website for the latest news and ways to get involved - http://www.savekensalriselibrary.org

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More about that writing retreat prize

Latest

More info has come our way about the mysterious Writing Retreats in the Welsh Borders which form part of this year's short story competition prize. LitCamp, who some of you may remember, is putting on a spate of retreats in the New Year. "If you plan to get real with writing a book in the new year, check it out. You can even drop Xmas hints about this to your nearest and dearest as EarlyBird tickets rates run until 24 December - you heard it here first. Or, Plan B, win the short story comp!"


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Tips for writers: He draws to the left so lean to the right

When Bob Hope goes out to a gunfight in Paleface, the townsfolk cowering in doorways all give him different advice about how to play it.
"He draws to the left so lean to the right."
"There's a wind from the east - better aim to the west."
"He crouches when he shoots so stand on your toes."
It's hilarious to watch him try and implement the various contortions as he walks down the street to face his doom.
Sometimes we get stories that sound as if they have been written by committee. Over-edited, they're herky-jerky and riddled with non sequiturs. The story has been shredded and stuck back together with sticky tape.

Monday, December 02, 2013

A long way from Willesden


Trailer

Virginia Gilbert's debut feature film as writer/director, A Long Way from Home starring James Fox, Natalie Dormer and Brenda Fricker opens at cinemas throughout the UK this December.

Virginia is a previous winner of the Willesden Herald short story competition. We reported recently on the launch of her novel Travelling Companion.

Link

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tips for writers: Hey Jude, don't make it bad

ENTRY AND EXIT

Hey Jude, don't make it bad,
Take a sad song and make it better...

The author was depressed. His brilliant short story called "Entry and Exit" had been summarily binned by the reader for the writing competition he had entered. Apparently they couldn't afford to pay for the right to use his epigraph from a song by The Beatles in their anthology of short-listed stories, and therefore there had been no point considering it. He paid the extra few pound to get the critique and they said it might have been okay if he hadn't interspersed every other paragraph with lines from Eleanor Rigby.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tips for writers: "Oh and another thing," he stirred his tea

Wrong: "Oh and another thing," he stirred his tea. "Blah blah."
Better: "Oh and another thing." He stirred his tea. "Blah blah."

"He stirred his tea" is not a way of speaking.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tips for writers: Had you not better had?

As somebody had already said that the word "had" had better not be overused as it had never to date proved necessary except on infrequent occasions, I had thought of not bothering with this tip till I had started this text and had gone this far already. The pluperfect is less than perfect when it infests most of the first page of many texts submitted. I had already come to this conclusion but had never moaned about it till now. In short, it drives me mad. Or it had, had I not always had the ability to escape by closing the page.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tips for writers: What's not there

Sometimes you have to tell us that something is missing. The ice cream van is not outside the park gates. That's fine. Where it can go wrong is when the writer has an irresistible itch to turn it into a litany. There are no squirming children, no exasperated parents ... Stop! They're not there, remember? What you're doing is an example of unwanted authorial intrusion; you are revealing your prejudices and your specialist knowledge. I don't want to know, not right now. You had me at "the ice cream van is not outside the park gates". Most likely your narrator would not think that way. He or she would notice the absence and possibly think of something much more obscure, which might be related but probably not a social commentary. No?
(I might have exaggerated this one, but sometimes there are egregious examples. Ed)

Tips for writers: Disperse

If you're entering more than one story in a literary competition: don't enter them all at the same time. You are putting each successive story at a disadvantage because it's quite easy to recognise the same style when reading two stories in a row. If the reader didn't like the first one, it may start him or her on the wrong foot with the next one. On the other hand if the first one found favour, another might not be as strong and might reflect back on the previous one. So leave a few days or preferably weeks between them, so the reader has no idea they're related.

Voila

2014 prize mug
The priceless trophy has arrived from our secret, latter day Fabergé cup maker. The true, the one and only one-off 2014 prize.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Less than a month left to enter

I sent out a mailshot. Okay, it's not as "cool" as some of the mailshots in the past. It really only says "don't miss the deadline" and lists the prizes. Here's a copy of the it. I'm looking forward to being transported by some great stories. I tried, somewhat impossibly, to describe what I look for in this: The Sense of a Short Story. You can read all about the previous years, judges, latest updates etc. here. If you want to see what the previous years' books look like, this is probably the best link. Thanks.

Steve

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The one-off mug awaits a great story

It's the same every year. You keep me waiting for the great stories. I used to have nerves of steel, or anyway of tinfoil. Lately, however, I have nerves of cobweb. Don't tell me there are no more untold stories out there? As long as there's life, there must be stories and vice-versa. There's only about a month left and we need more short stories. As well as the Willesden Herald mug inscribed "Willesden Short Story Prize 2014" there is a prize fund of £600 and a week long writing retreat in rural Wales for the winner. Plus, all ten short-listed stories will be published and receive two copies of the book (New Short Stories 8). Link

Monday, November 04, 2013

Sunday, November 03, 2013

New Short Stories website down

The domain was hijacked. We are working on getting it back up and running. Meanwhile here are some tracks by Earl Klugh. YouTube playlist.

Update 4 November 2013: We're back. :)

Public bridleway, Sudbury Hill

From the corner of South Hill Avenue & Sudbury Hill

Passing by John Lyon school playing fields on the left

The path narrows.

Hold your horses.
The path is blocked after St Jude's storm. You can get around the blockage by going around the tree on the left. Still it should be cleared.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Spotted: Friends of Barham Library shop

Wembley
Link: Friends of Barham Library. In addition to demolishing the Willesden Library centre as part of an asset stripping scheme, Brent Council closed six other libraries in the same year, in further deals with property developers. They are under the impression that these deals "cost nothing". Children's study time in libraries is lost, but that is nothing. The borough loses the assets of civilisation put in place by previous generations. But that is nothing. Neighbourhoods are turned into industrial dormitories, but that is nothing. Flats are built and advertised as investments for wealthy clients in Singapore and other far flung places, guaranteeing in the adverts "no affordable housing". But that is nothing. The libraries and historic buildings the community owned have been burning holes in councillors' pockets. The parks may be next. Brent Labour are selling off your local birthright in supine compliance with their wealthy Tory/LibDem masters. "Now I ask you, members of the jury: is that nothing?"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

This evening near Sudbury Hill

Cavendish Avenue

A long walk

Chiltern Line
When I cross the railway bridge on Wood End Road the moon is far away in the mist on my right. Yet when I turn and walk all down South Vale it is far away on my left. I have walked from one side of the moon to the other.

Ossian

What's on

Including "La Belle Hélène" cabaret style, with music by Offenbach.
The Questions Theatre, Ealing, 20-23 November 2013.

Fireworks display, Harrow Cricket Club, Nov. 2, from 6 pm

Moscow State Circus, Ealing Comon, 22 Oct. to 3 Nov.

Tech jibber jabber

Soz, unable to update links (eyes left) due to glitch in Blogger. If awaiting, hang on. Over.

Simon

Later... It's working now.

Wes Lee update

New Zealand writer and New Short Stories 1 contributor, Wes Lee, has been selected as one of 3 joint winners of The Grist Chapbook Prize in the UK. Her short story collection 'Cowboy Genes' will be published by Grist, at The University of Huddersfield, and launched at The Huddersfield Literature Festival in March 2014. Wes Lee has won a number of awards for her writing, including The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award 2010.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Amazon KDP versus Willesden Herald

Amazon: "Our records still show we haven’t received valid tax identification information for your account. In order for Amazon to comply with U.S. tax reporting guidelines, you must complete our short online tax interview by 10/25/2013 to avoid your books being removed from sale on Amazon."

WH: 'I am not obliged to conform to "U.S. tax reporting guidelines". When Amazon pays its fair share of U.K. tax I might consider it. Until then you can get stuffed.'

Update (September 2014): I relented and filled in the form.

Moonlighting skiver does okay, we suppose

Naturally we're beside ourselves with joy for our very busy intern, Steve Moran, who has somehow managed to win himself a prize for some sort of "slam", whatever that is. If you want to find out more, it's down the bottom of this page. It doesn't mention him but I suppose we can take his word for it. It was Small Wonder's tenth anniversary but since Steve has won something there, I think we can assume that it's finished now. Although there were some great turns, the closing session was no great shakes this year by the way, v. poor. Not up to the usual standard and nothing to do with short stories!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My beautiful launderette

Launderette on Greenford Road

"No re-entry after 8:00 PM. Thank you for your custom."

Interior 1

Interior 2

My other beautiful launderette is a laundrette.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

London builders: "Mayo for Sam"

Cavendish Avenue, Harrow

"Mayo for Sam"
And who do we turn to for a commentary on this? Why none other than the Belfast Telegraph: Dublin v Mayo All-Ireland final: will it be east or west?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Blood on the street (not?)

Greenford Road near Sudbury Hill station, last night
Update: I think it's not blood, it's paan spit marks. Disgusting. At least blood has dignity to it.

Sudbury Hill station last night

"Service information" noticeboard with amusing text

Roddy Doyle's Singing Rabbitte

Roddy Doyle's Singing Rabbitte » Sabotage Times

"The Commitments show begins its residency at the Palace Theatre this month, capping off a surreal and emotional journey for its writer."

Part 2: The Problem With Hindsight

"I went to have a look at the Black Market Clash exhibition on Berwick Street a few nights ago, during a break in rehearsals in the Palace Theatre. I didn't have much time, but I didn't need much. It's a quick, witty charge through images and sound - a bit like a Clash song. But it got me thinking about the past and the present and the music we take with us from then to now."

More: Roddy Doyle's The Commitments website

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sudbury Hill / North Greenford common land?

Behind Kellogg Tower, Greenford Road

It's between Kellogg Tower, Greenford Road and the David Lloyd sports centre. You can reach it via the lane leading from the parade of shops and you'll most likely pass a couple of groups of Polish (?) lads standing in the trees, talking and drinking. There are a few empty bottles strewn by the road. There were no dog walkers around when your reporter ventured down the lane, only a couple of hardy souls walking to and from the sports centre. Most of its patrons swish by in cars. There's an open field with a wooded area behind and to one side of it. Nearer the sports centre there is a hilly clearing (see above), with tracks and a couple of benches. So the question remains, is this common land? Google maps is no help on the question.

Update 29 July 2014: It's called Grove Farm Nature Reserve. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grove_Farm,_Ealing: Grove Farm is an 8 hectare Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in Greenford in theLondon Borough of Ealing. It was declared an LNR in 2002 by Ealing Council, which owns and manages the site.[1][2]
The site has ancient woodland, and woodland flower species, while trees include thewild service tree. Plant species include welted thistle, hairy violet, pepper saxifrageand adders tongue fern.[1][3]
There is a circular path, and there is access from Whitton Avenue West, Dimmock Drive and Lilian Board Way.[3]

Friday, September 06, 2013

Seamus Heaney: Out of the Marvellous

"An intimate and original look at Seamus Heaney, the man and the artist. The film explores the key personal relationship in Heaney's life, that with his wife Marie, and follows him to Harvard, New York and London, to readings, signings and public interviews." Video: RTÉ Player. Available till 21 September 2013.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Competition update - good news

We have upgraded the prize for first place in this year's short story competition to include one week at a writing retreat in Knighton/Tref-y-Clawdd, Wales, which is set "in the lush, rolling countryside of the Welsh Marches", half board, not including travel expenses. Pretty cool, no?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Testing 1, 2, 3, thingy

Simon here. Well it looks like it's working. We've cranked up the old AudioBlagger™. Steams to work okay. Are you reading meat red?

Hello. Hello. What the foot?

I'm just sane the old AudioBlagger™ steams to be working okay here at the sud berry press.

Hello? Is that you Simon?

Yes.

Come again?

Yes. It's meat.

Tell free gal to see me in my office ass sap. I've got a tip, I mean a policy up date to disgust with him. Where is he, the lazy bar starred?

Careful red, this is all going instantly online.

Oh for fox sake. Turn it off you gob daw. ... Is it off now? ... Hello? Hello?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Going, going, gone

Grange Road

Willesden library centre has disappeared.

Brondesbury Park

The old Victorian library

Clouds of leaving








Last shots from Herald House on the old Minolta dImage camera with which this blog started. No idea as yet what Sudbury will look like. Looking forward to exploring, perhaps as far as Horsenden Hill on Sundays and Horsenden Wood but more likely only as far as the local playing fields most days. Willesden Herald days: April 2003 to August 2013, ten years of utter banality.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sid Kay sings The Nearness of You



Live Music and Singer's Night at The Prince of Wales, Kilburn. Free entry every Thursday with musicians Mick the Sax, Bobby on Bongos Congas Percussion, Miss Budapest on Keys and Friends. The video features Sid Kay, who is not far off 90, in a beautiful, smooth performance but also with a bit of humour.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"The greatness of a man"

Quote from Bob Marley

Corner of Walm Lane & Willesden Lane

Nearly gone - Willesden library centre & bookshop



Brondesbury Park

Vulture / Moon

Grange Road this evening
As good a time as any to tell you that The Willesden Herald is moving, decentralising from the rebel capital of Brent, across the border to Harrow. But Red Woodward would like to assure our many subscriber that we will continue to broadcast on Radio Free Willesden and publish The Willesden Herald "until the Mahamanvantara be done". We will be moving in with the Sudbury Hill Times. There will be no compulsory redundancies. Instead we will be issuing everyone with new zero hour contracts and applying to the Department for Unemployment to provide us with free labour. Here's to the next 10 years. Sláinte mhaith! 

Occam's razor

Ridley's Believe it or Not

Ancient philosopher Occam's razor was so tiny that it took him hours to shave his face. It was said that by the time he'd finished shaving one side, the stubble had regrown on the other. When friends urged him to use a bigger razor, Occam insisted that it was best to use the minimum size of razor with which it was possible to shave. As a result Occam spent the best part of his waking hours shaving.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Urban bees thriving

Sidmouth Road
I estimated there were about 30 bees on this one lavender plant alone, and the rest of the plants along the front of the flats on Sidmouth Road all just as busy. According to BBC Horizon's recent program, urban bees are flourishing while country bees are dying out. Well it can't be anything to do with mobile phone signals can it then? It must be those pesticides, the nicotinoids probably.

Ossian

Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan's lost 1970 gem (premiere)



Pretty Saro (trad.) - Bob Dylan (via Rolling Stone)

Nursery Education Grants in Brent (poster)

Details: http://www.brent.gov.uk/neg2

Sequel to "Last Night's Dream Corrected"

This is a new poetry anthology being put together by the same publisher and editors behind Last Night's Dream Corrected (Pretend Genius, 2006). The project was inspired by the picture and caption below but the book might not be called "Half price sale at the geranium shop for the blind" (see previous post). I am in discussions with the charity about it.* So the title is to be advised. If you would like to submit something for this slim volume, please send something to pgLondonOffice at ntlworld dot com. The previous working title and the title and some of the contents of the previous volume are probably the best guide to what might fly. Contributors will each receive one copy of the book.

Ossian

*Update: They have told us not to use their name.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Tread softly, for you tread on Murmurons from Jupiter

Don't dig it up, don't tramp it down,
The wildflower purple crown vetch,
It's that they eat and that alone,
Potatomen from the planet Retch.

Many extraterrestrials here
Are tiny and struggle to survive.
Bamlards from Gliese five-eighty-four
Subsist entirely on baby chives.

Extraterrestrials like the Balleyes
From Venus can hardly be seen,
They're so tiny, and so specialised,
They live on the fumes from Windowlene.

Ganache

Thursday, August 01, 2013

9th annual short story competition is open

The ninth annual international short story competition is now open. Entries are now via The Willesden Herald Submissions Manager, thanks to Submittable.com. There are more details at www.willesdenherald.com and www.newshortstories.com. Looking forward to reading lots of new stories here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Where's the poetry?

Opening times for the Willesden children's library
I went into the half of the library that's been plonked in The Lewinson Centre on the High Road. The other "half" is at George Furniss House, Grange Road. I asked the man, down behind the desk, where the poetry books were. He suggested looking in the other half of the library at George Furniss House. I told him I'd been there and they have no poetry. The man said, "We only have children's books here." I said, "Oh, is this the children's library?" "Yes." "Okay," I said. "By the way, children should have poetry too!"

Feargal

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Designer jumble sale

Queens Parade, Walm Lane
"Secondhand designer fashion at affordable prices". Link