Monday, July 22, 2019

Partly to blame for Boris Johnson PM?

Boris Johnson is about to become prime minister of the UK. In the back pages of the Willesden Herald you will find several links to articles by him in his Wodehouse-like humorous style. As a columnist, he was a hoot but as prime minister he is more likely to be a scream. In fact he is now closely associated with screams, because of the sounds emanating from his flat on the first day of his Tory leadership campaign. There is only one thing he could do now to return to the status of affable comedian: resign!

Here is a Guardian journalist confessing to helping, accidentally, Johnson to arrive at this catastrophe of becoming prime minister: "Boris Johnson, the prime minister? I’m sorry to say that I’m partly to blame" by Matthew d’Ancona

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Wellington Estate: Canal Club under threat


"Novelist Sarah Winman visited the Canal Club in Bethnal Green recently with Photographer Rachel Ferriman to report on the threat to the community spaces at the Wellington Estate.
...
"The proposal for the Wellington Estate is to demolish the Canal Club and remove the open space and community asset it provides. This is to construct a further twenty-two flats on an already densely populated estate which was built in the thirties as an answer to slum clearance – basically, it is taking space from those who have little to start with.
...
"...the Canal Club land was given by the GLC  to the people of the Wellington Estate in the late seventies and early eighties to offset the overcrowding and the lack of balconies and gardens."

Tower Hamlets Council wants to cram a few more flats into the space occupied at present by a communal garden beside the canal. Follow this link for the full report and photo gallery:
http://spitalfieldslife.com/2019/07/21/at-the-canal-club/.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Did you know? We're on Duotrope.com

For many years, the Willesden Herald has been listed by Duotrope, for which we are very grateful as it has greatly helped in bringing writers from around the world to our submissions page. Why not take a look at their features for writers? You won’t see a more impressive resource for writers seeking opportunities to place their work. And while you’re there, you might like to take a look at their listing for New Short Stories 11. You can see the basic listing, which is excellent, and if you sign up you can get even more info.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

"Raft of the Twats" masterpiece by Cold War Steve


A parody of Théodore Géricault's painting "The Raft of the Medusa" is one of Cold War Steve's masterpieces.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Now reading for New Short Stories 11

We are open till September 30 for submissions to the latest in our series of short story anthologies, featuring the best new writing from around the world.

You can find plentiful examples of what we like in our back issues and also in our Story of the Month features, as well as in the periodicals listed under Links. We’re generally looking for literary fiction not genre stories.

The only payment we can offer at this time is two copies of the book when it is published.  Full details are set out in the submission form area.

“Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 11” will be published simultaneously in the US and UK in early 2020 and will be available from the main online booksellers by print on demand. We can also do print runs on favourable terms when bulk orders are requested.

See our New Short Stories blog and The Willesden Herald for updates and features that may be of interest. (Link: Submit)

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

New Short Stories 11 on the horizon

London, July 2: In that too rare spirit of international cooperation, the team behind the New Short Stories book series is getting together again to create another issue with the best short stories we can find. There won't be a competition this time, it will be a good old submit/accept/reject process with arbitrary editorial decisions completely unaccountable to the world. Yes, traditional, if you like. Details to follow. (Ed.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Short Story of the Month, July 2019

The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Story of the Month

June 2019: "Curtains" by Charles Lambert

"When Helen gets back from the hospital the house is empty. She leaves her weekend bag by the door and wanders from room to room, the kitchen, the hall, the living room, and then upstairs, pausing for breath on the halfway landing, her hands folded over her stomach. She rests her hand on the door to David’s study..."

Charles Lambert
Charles Lambert was born in the United Kingdom but has lived in Italy for most of his adult life. His most recent novel is Prodigal, recently longlisted for the Polari Prize 2019. His previous novel, The Children's Home, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as ‘a one-of-a-kind literary horror story’, while Two Dark Tales, published in October 2017, was described by Owen King as the work of a ‘terrific devious story teller’. Earlier books include three novels, a collection of prize-winning short stories and a memoir, With a Zero at its Heart, selected by the Guardian as one of its top ten books from 2014.

Continuing our retrospective series, "Curtains" is included in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 6 together with stories by Eliza Robertson, Virginia Gilbert, Nick Holdstock, Geraldine Mills and others.

Visit Charles Lambert's blog on WordPress.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

On reading "The Empty Promise of Boris Johnson"

The Empty Promise of Boris Johnson (Sam Knight, The New Yorker)

This is a very interesting and educational article, containing a potted biography of Boris Johnson, charting and explaining his political aims, which can be summed up nicely in his own words as "I have nothing." In short, he has no fixed beliefs and doesn't believe in the perfectibility of people or systems and treats life, journalism and elections as a rambunctious game of King of the Castle, which he is determined to win.

His main virtue, if you can isolate any, is that he cheers people up. I think that is very fair, the life and soul of the party but in more ways than one, "not the man you want driving you home afterwards," as Amber Rudd famously quipped. It is hard to be cheered up in the face of an oncoming juggernaut or cliff edge and a driver full of Pimms.

Johnson is portrayed as a real-life version of PG Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster. If the final two in the Tory leadership ballot turn out to be Gove v Johnson, it will be like a contest between Jeeves and Wooster, which does indeed happen from time to time in the books. Hunt, Javid or Stewart as the opponent would merely be one of Wodehouse's frequent unsatisfactory stand-in butlers. When it comes to Wooster v Jeeves, it's always Jeeves who wins but he lets Wooster think he's won. Johnson would be a figurehead and Gove the man with the plan:- and that's where the analogy breaks down.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pressure-washing the pavements

Greenford Road
Harrow Council workers were out last night cleaning the pavements near Sudbury Hill station. This paving is relatively new, having just been redesigned and renewed over the last two years. If you want to see another couple of photos like this, see this post on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Impressive happy birthday sign

Spotted on the corner of Greenford Road and South Vale, Harrow
Whoever Pat is, here's hoping he had a happy birthday.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Short Story of the Month, June 2019

The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Story of the Month

June 2019: Set Dance by Angela Sherlock

“Suddenly, very precisely placing the oddity of individual lives in the perspective of a bigger, slower rural pattern where everything can be accepted…Angela Sherlock’s Set Dance, a very unusual story, a very interesting story.” (Maggie Gee)



Angela Sherlock has worked in engineering and in education, but now lives in Devon where she writes full time. She has published reviews and articles but now concentrates on fiction. ‘Set Dance’ comes from her collection, To know they dreamed, which explores the Irish diaspora. She is currently working on a collection that takes its themes from elements of the periodic table. Her stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, the most recent online in Virtual Zine.

“Set Dance” is also available in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 5 together with stories by eleven other outstanding writers.

Visit AngelaSherlock.com

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Advice for Rylan!

It's feels like a long time since we had a music video.



"Rylan you should try to get some sun" (The National)
Must be a different Rylan.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Short Story of the Month, May 2019

The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Story of the Month

May 2019: Rash by Megan Taylor

“The ancient hinged mirror reflected back three Frans, each one streaked. Beyond her, the walls of her bedroom were a faded peach, her teenage posters removed long ago, but in the lamp’s glow, the walls appeared duskier than usual and Fran also looked muted, almost satiny, despite the rash.”
Megan Taylor is the author of three novels, ‘How We Were Lost’ (Flame Books, 2007), ‘The Dawning’ (Weathervane Press, 2010) and ‘The Lives of Ghosts’ (Weathervane Press, 2012), as well as a collection, ‘The Woman Under the Ground and Other Stories’ (Weathervane Press, 2014), which includes her Willesden Herald’s shortlisted ‘Rash’.

Recent short stories have been placed in several competitions, and appeared in a variety of publications, including Dark Lane’s 6th and 7th anthologies and Neon.  A fourth novel, ‘We Wait’, is due out from Eyrie Press in 2019. (www.megantaylor.info)

"Rash" is also available in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 8 together with stories by nine other outstanding writers.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Be clear. Vote LibDem to say "Remain!" on May 23rd 2019

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Register to vote by post by Tuesday 7th, impossible?

The registration service offered by RegisterToVote.eu, as reported earlier this week, which offered to submit details for people who filled in a form online, has been closed down by the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission said: “We urge EU citizens that [sic] want to vote in the European parliamentary elections in the UK to only apply to register to vote through their local council or official websites. We welcome efforts by campaigners to encourage eligible electors to register to vote. However, our advice to anyone not yet registered is to only apply directly at www.gov.uk/registertovote.” (From: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/may/04/site-claiming-to-help-eu-citizens-register-to-vote-is-shut-down)

Postal applications must be received by Tuesday 7th, which is difficult at the time of writing, as it's now Saturday May 4th, and Monday is a bank holiday. It is believed that very few of the over 3 million EU citizens in the UK who need to register to vote in the European Parliament elections have done so.

There is still a possibility that the elections scheduled for May 23rd might be cancelled but that becomes ever more unlikely as days go by.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The thoughts of E. Redmond Woodward

A selection of "spokes", as he would probably call them, uttered by our legendary proprietor Eddie "Red" Woodward and shared among staff of the Willy in a long-running in-house email discussion.

1. Never trust anybody honest.

2. This everybody dying malarkey has got beyond a joke.

3. What a person says a lot about says a lot about a person.

4. Minimalism is the biggest load of crap ever.

5. There's no such thing as waiting. You are either doing something useful or you are doing something useless.

6. Meditation? It's a racket.

7. You can put me in a box when I pop my clogs but not before.

8. Evidently I'm past my sell by-date but not my use-by date.

9. In life, you either do something and feel guilty about it, or do nothing and feel guilty about it. There is no in-between.

10. You can't put everything right in the fourth act of a three-act play.

11. The only review worth a damn is written on a cheque.

12. We're not about to go bang.

Feargal Mooney

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sunday, April 21, 2019

EU elections: 96% of over 65s can vote, only 60% young


Register to vote: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Deadline 7 May 2019.

If the elections to the European Parliament go ahead next month, it will very likely be the last chance to vote to say "Stop Brexit."

The neo-fascist sympathiser Farage and his fellow-travellers in parliament are out to seal Britain's fate of isolation from our European hinterland, at the mercy of ruthless grabbers in the Kremlin and the White House and at the cost of disruption and misery in Ireland.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Thursday, April 18, 2019

What has the ECHR ever done for us?



Re-publishing this as a little reminder about the craziness the UK is subject to under the government of Theresa May. It owes something to Monty Python's "What have the Romans ever done for us?" sketch in The Life of Brian.

* ECHR = European Convention on Human Rights

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Need a laugh these days, by any chance?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Indicative votes: Results in sequence and plan for Monday

Analysis of Wednesday's "indicative votes" on the way forward for Brexit.

Results in the order voted on and announced, For-Against:
160-400 No Deal
188-283 Common Market 2.0 (aka Norway+)
65-377 EFTA & EEA (single market without customs union)
264-272 Customs Union (basic permanent customs union for starters)
237-307 Labour's Plan ("a" customs union and strong single market links, rights etc.)
184-293 Revoke Article 50 (if necessary to avoid No Deal)
268-295 Public Vote
139-422 WTO Terms

Arguably, Speaker Bercow made a mistake in declaring after each verdict "The Noes have it" because no one option "has it" yet. Instead, if you take account of the difference between Yes and No, you get this sequence:

Results in order by "goal difference" (all negative):
1. Customs Union: -8
2. Public Vote: -27
3. Labour's Plan: -70
4. Common Market 2.0: -95
5. Revoke to avoid No Deal: -109
6. No Deal: -240
7. WTO Terms: -283
8. EFTA & EEA: -312

However, it's simpler to forego "goal difference", and you get almost the same sequence by taking number of Yeses for each option, though the top two options swap places, which clearly could be significant*.

By focussing on the number of Yeses, it's easy to see how many votes are to be redistributed, each time the option with the least votes is eliminated. More importantly, the Noes are irrelevant for these purposes, since what we want to discover is the option of which most MPs are in favour. If someone doesn't put a Yes beside an option, that's effectively a No anyway. Therefore let's just count the Yeses from now on.

Results in order by number of Yeses:
1. Public Vote: 268
2. Customs Union: 264
3. Labour's Plan: 237
4. Common Market 2.0: 188
5. Revoke to avoid No Deal: 184
6. No Deal: 160
7. WTO Terms: 139
8. EFTA & EEA: 65

So on Monday, eliminate number 8 (EFTA &EEA) and ask its 65 supporters to vote again for one of the remaining seven options (eight if Mrs May's Deal is added). The next option to be eliminated would be whichever one ended up last out of the remaining options, probably either WTO Terms or No Deal - but we will only know when the votes are recast.

The process of elimination should be repeated, preferably discounting the Noes as irrelevant, till only two options remain. At that point the top one is the most favoured compromise option and should be adopted by the government.

Rearrangement of the ballot paper to separate two procedural options

1. In Wednesday's selected options, the Public Vote option was an anomaly, as it doesn't describe a future relationship. This can be resolved by moving it to a separate section of the ballot paper, to apply irrespective of which option is selected.

2. The same can be said for the Revoke to Avoid No Deal option, as that is not a way forward, simply an emergency brake in the event of no other plan being agreed. That too could have its own separate section on the ballot.


Suggested ballot paper layout & possible wording for Monday's vote

The option "EFTA and EEA" has been eliminated, having received the fewest votes. Additionally, the options "Public Vote" and "Revoke to Avoid No Deal" have been separated from the rest as they are procedural matters, which apply regardless of the other results."

Vote for one only of the following options. The option with the fewest votes will be eliminated and the voting procedure repeated with the remaining options:

1. The government's recommended withdrawal agreement and future arrangement
2. Customs Union basic foundation for a new deal as proposed by Kenneth Clarke
3. Labour's Plan for a form of Customs Union, close single market arrangement, rights etc.
4. Common Market 2.0 aka Norway+ which joins EFTA but not necessarily indefinitely
5. Leave with No Deal
6. Leave on WTO Terms

Answer Yes or No to the following questions:
a) In the event of no deal agreed with two days to go, revoke Article 50?: Yes or No
b) Should the eventual deal agreed be put back to the people with an option to Remain?: Yes or No

* 29/3/2019: Correction: Changed text to show that you don't get the same sequence by taking only the Yeses, rather the top two options swap places. Also added a mock-up of the possible ballot paper as a basis for Monday's votes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Short Story of the Month, April 2019

The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Story of the Month

April 2019: Name by Sergey Bolmat

He looks at Anne with marked indifference, as if expecting her to introduce herself and explain the purpose of her visit, and then, after a second, makes a little twitch with the left corner of his lips indicating a smile.

‘Well,’ he says, ‘look who’s here.’ 

Photo: Sergey Bolmat by Natalia Nikitin (detail)
Photo by Natalia Nikitin (detail)
Sergey Bolmat published his first novel in Russia to great critical acclaim. To date, he has published three novels, two collections of short stories, many articles and essays in various periodicals, and a biography of Nikolay Chernyshevsky. Some of these books were shortlisted for literary awards, translated into many European languages, adapted for radio, and optioned and developed for film. His first short story written in English appeared in The Higgs Weldon.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The old dead tree has fallen

Willesden Herald Exclusive (tada!)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

End of the line for the Water Poet pub

According to this, the Water Poet corner pub in Folgate Street is closing to make way for "a corporate plaza." London is disappearing, welcome to nowhere.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Got that?

New signs have appeared near Sudbury Hill, Harrow
The sign says:
NO

  • spitting
  • urination
  • defecation

in  a public place. [Plus details of fines applicable]

And it has three graphic illustrations in case we were in any doubt.

EU Settlement Scheme sign

Bus shelter, Greenford Road
The sign says, "I'm an EU citizen, how can I find out more about staying in the UK? To find out more about the EU Settlement Scheme, including how and when you need to apply, visit http://gov.uk/euexit".

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Car wreck on Wood End Road





Car wreck on Wood End Road, Harrow today. Let's hope no one was badly hurt.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Plankton: Minemizu "Black Water Dive"

Monday, February 18, 2019

Keep Saturday March 23rd free! #PutItToThePeople

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Friday, February 08, 2019

Storm Erik - a timely warning


Don't get near the waves in a dangerous place like this (above, from 2018). I was nearly swept off my feet into the sea from some huge rocks many years ago. You just don't know when a bigger wave will crash in. (Ed.)

Sunday, February 03, 2019

A walk through Grove Farm, North Greenford

"The road not taken" (took the right hand one, left goes west)

The not very narrow path to the not very deep north

Not much of a path here. Go up left towards exit or right to follow the stream. 

View towards the landmark Kellogg Tower (now flats) across the stream

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Views from the rail bridge on a cold but sunny day

Chiltern Line going west away from Sudbury Hill Harrow

Chiltern Line going east towards Sudbury Hill Harrow


Update:  Later in the afternoon, the sky became completely overcast and it rained steadily with some sleet and snow at times, till nightfall.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Spare poems going cheap

Breda Rainey


Breda Rainey you would
hammock in the rainy box
chaps sodden from the night dew.

Breda Rainey you wear
tiny leaves of the hedgerow
in your hair.

Breda Rainey you are,
though you heave a pushchair,
forever garlanded in box.

.

The Weight of Words


The number of all the raindrops that have ever fallen on England
times all the flakes of snow that ever fell on Japan,
in words,
would not outweigh a pinch of cotton
as would make a pillow for a dormouse.

.

Canal of Days


Life is a canal, on which we are narrow boats
with no reverse gear.
Each night, each sleep, is a lock.
We enter the lock and the water of yesterday is released,
till we emerge into tomorrow, to another gated day.
Behind us and above that again,
lie the days gone by. Ahead only today,
its prospect, its gate, its fall.
Gone the hundreds, hail the one.

Oh lucky swans!

.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Superb John Prine session w/ Gordon Lightfoot in the room



Great atmosphere, anecdotes, wonderful songs and a brilliant performance.
And it must be said, "not a dry eye in the house." "Laughter through tears" is another stock phrase that comes to mind.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Ebikery redux

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Police appeal: Murder of Jason Isaacs