Established 2003. Now incorporating The Sudbury Hill Harrow and Wherever End Times

Monday, August 31, 2009

Short story competition 2009-2010 now open

Richard Peabody
This year's judge Richard Peabody is a distinguished poet, author, lecturer on creative writing and editor of Gargoyle magazine.

"Richard Peabody is an author and poet based in Washington, D.C. A native of the region, he is perhaps best known as one of the founding editors for Gargoyle Magazine and editor for the anthology series Mondo. He also runs a small press called Paycock Press; aside from acting as the official publisher of Gargoyle Magazine, Paycock Press has released a number of anthologies and works by individual authors.

"Peabody's own fiction and poetry is often set in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding region and is often noted for strong influences from the Beat Generation and experimental authors of the 1960s like Ken Kesey. During his writing and publishing career, Peabody has taught fiction writing for the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, and the Writer's Center. He currently resides in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and two daughters." (Ref: Wikipedia)

I will be reading and reducing down to a list for Richard to choose the winners from. If you want to find out more about me, my website is here. (Steve Moran)

Ossian's dream by IngresCome all ye

So you know what you have to do. Catch a wild story up in the high passes, blow in its nose, whisper to it and teach it to tapdance like Frankenstein, throw a bucket of rain over it, lead it down from the mountains and enter it in the annual Willesden story fair.


There is an entry fee of £3 this year, which should cover costs and enable us to keep the competition going. We will publish the accounts online when the competition is over. If there is anything left after costs we're going to give it to charity. Because there's an entry fee this year, we're guaranteeing to pick a winner and runners up. It was different when it was free entry, we didn't feel obliged to choose a winner.

As usual the priceless mug is on offer to the winner, inscribed Willesden Herald Short Story Prize 2010, plus £300 to the winner and £150 each to two runners-up. Please read the rules carefully, as every year about 10% of entries fail on breach of the rules. The entry fee is non-refundable. The fee can only be paid after an entry has been successfully uploaded, so there should not be any doubt about that.


From "Les Marquises"

La ville s'endormait - Jacques Brel

Anyone got a link to a translation of this? I'd like to learn the words. (Ossian)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Etc. infinitem

Parish announcements

August newsletter

"Here in Willesden we're getting set for the annual moonshine competition, when all the rugged, gruff mountainy women and eye-fluttering, blushing valley men bring their finest distillations to the story fair to be tested by discerning judges who live year round on nothing but the angels' share of finest cognac. So let it bubble a while more but don't burn the good out of it, then get into town from September, at These old topers generally taste the liquor and project it forthwith into the testing spittoon, but what you want is to make them not just taste, but to drink the whole bottle and wish they had it to drink again. That doesn't happen too often and nobody knows how or why but they can be seen flopped out on the floor, simpering and gurgling afterwards."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More strange clouds

To paraphrase Dr Johnson, when a man is tired of the sky he's tired of life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Playing field

This reminds me of some early landscape paintings I saw in the Prado (artist?) where there are people whose faces are just one jot of oilpaint. I think it is part of the sense of adventure that is inherent in landscape, to my way of thinking. I see the same thing in L. S. Lowry's cityscapes. Maybe this will inspire some of our short story writers because a real sense of adventure is something rare and precious. Please don't fake it or think "generic". There is a sense of adventure, for example, in the stories of Annie Proulx and Maile Meloy - a combination of landscape and I don't know what.


Elsewhere in the sky


Sky 3

The sky above King Edward VII park, Willesden (8:25 pm, 19/8/2009)

Archival quality 18'' x 24'', mounted, signed and numbered limited edition of 30 @ £1,000. Still a few left.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"The Great British Circus"

(Ref: ITN Lunchtime News undercover filming)

Three elephants stand like prisoners awaiting inspection in a small squalid tent. A person hits them with with a metal hook. They scream. At other times he is seen twisting their tails. This is "The Great British Circus".

At the same time foxhunters are riding around the countryside armed and dangerous because the government has stopped the dogs from killing the foxes and now makes people shoot them. And nothing whatsoever has been done to end factory farming.


Monday, August 17, 2009


Skylight crows

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more"

(From "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Short story competition 2009-10

The rules have been updated. For full details please visit You can pre-register but entries cannot be uploaded till after the opening date, 1 September '09. This year there is an entry fee of £3 to cover running costs. We liked being free but we're not free anymore. The prizes are £300 plus the invaluable Herald mug to the winning story, and 2 x £150 for the runners up. All shortlisted to be published in New Short Stories 4.


The Street - series catch up

BBC iPlayer - The Street: Series 3: Episode 1
For a limited time. UK only

Brilliant tragedy from Jimmy McGovern. A perfect example of the two-edged ending (as per Slumdog etc.) This series is pure class. Episode one has a superb cast led by Bob Hoskins, Liam Cunningham, Francis Barber and Timothy Spall. Directed by David Blair who also directed The Key and other great series for BBC Scotland. It's already up to episode 5 and so far I've only seen this and the one about the squadie returning from Iraq disfigured, both on iPlayer. Not sure how long these will stay online.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

What is everything to us, is nothing to the world

Ministers and medics rush to defend NHS (Guardian)

Conservative party MEP Daniel Hannan is a traitor and the new Lord Haw Haw. If Cameron does not sack him from the Conservative/Fascist block in the European parliament, which he won't, it just confirms that their whole party is a front for an attempt to seize the assets of the UK and hand them out to the Lord Haw Haw's of this world.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No protection for them

The torture of baby Peter: "Peter was left in his cot for hours on end, was treated worse than a dog, had his finger­tips sliced off with a craft knife, his nails pulled out with pliers and every scrap of his clothing was covered in blood." (Telegraph)

That's just one of the newly-revealed facts about the case. The baby also ended up with a broken back and multiple head injuries. I really feel that not one penny should be spent protecting these people on release from jail. I'm against judicial execution but I am not against leaving these people to their fate. One of them was a National Front supporter. Shooting is too good for them.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are (trailer)

Touching, humorous and very pleasant musically - all in all, a brilliant trailer. Click twice to view larger on YouTube. (Via Nick Holdstock)

New Berliner format

We've changed our format to get the benefit of new features such as label lists, slideshows, subscription links etc. Teams of programmers are working flat out to restore the old comments (2003-2004). Such is their awesome programming ability that they are quite likely to resort to copying and pasting. One way or another the old comments will be back, they have not been lost. If you want to see what this used to look like, the short story competition pages are still in the old format.

Simon Moribund

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Last chance to see Kashgar

Bulldozers are to raze the mesmerising old town in the Chinese Silk Road city of Kashgar (Guardian)

After the Chinese Communist Party has finished its reign of terror and idiocy, how will people remember it? - with despair and remorse.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Government for the people

"In August, the health insurance reform debate comes home. This is the moment our movement was built for: Organizing for Healthcare" (Barack Obama)

Can't help but cheer this on from the sidelines. I hope he wins this battle.


Playing the audience

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Brilliant demonstration of audience musical ability leads scientist to quip to Bobby McFerrin, "If you ever want a job in neuroscience..."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

And the little brave shall be called Wounded Cloud

Radiohead: Harry Patch (In memory of)

BBC - Today

World War I veteran Harry Patch will be buried tomorrow. The former plumber, who fought at the battle of Passchendaele in 1917, gave a memorable interview to Today reporter Mike Thomson in 2005.
Thom Yorke, lead singer of the band Radiohead, was moved by the interview to write a tribute to the veteran, inspired by Harry Patch's words.
The song can be downloaded from the Radiohead website - all profits will go to the Royal British Legion.

Harry Patch (In memory of)

I am the only one that got through
The others died where ever they fell
It was an ambush
They came up from all sides
Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves
I've seen devils coming up from the ground
I've seen hell upon this earth
The next will be chemical but they will never learn

Harry Patch (1898 - 2009)

British man arrested for role in running FileSoup file sharing website

"Among the concerns was the news that the goods seized during the operation were no longer being held by police, but had instead been handed over to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), an accredited private group that often assists law enforcement with inquiries in such cases. ... A spokesman for FACT, which is funded by organisations such as BSkyB, Paramount and Sony Pictures, said it could not comment on an open investigation." (Guardian)

I'm all for the rights of copyright holders but where do these private organisations get the right to become part of the police service by receiving items of evidence seized from people's homes by the police? What's to stop say Kellogg's from demanding samples of food cooked by suspects to determine if their Corn Flakes patent is violated? Why don't we have Unilever check the laundry and Diageo check for unlicensed home brew? Come to think of it, send me everything as well, I want to see if the Willesden Herald's copyright has been breached. If it's good enough for BSkyB (an alias for Murdoch International) and centres of the ludicrously commercial and exploitative such as movie making companies, then it's good enough for the Willesden Herald.


Monday, August 03, 2009

African tribe populated rest of the world

"The entire human race outside Africa owes its existence to the survival of a single tribe of around 200 people who crossed the Red Sea 70,000 years ago, scientists have discovered. [...] Professor Li Jin, a geneticist at Fudan University in Shanghai whose laboratory carried out the research, said: “We did not find a single individual [who did not match with this group]. I think we should all be happy with that, as after all, it means that people from all over the world are not all that different from each other.” (Telegraph)

Based on "The Incredible Human Journey" (starting tonight at 9.30pm on BBC Two)

"We should be protecting Gary McKinnon" Boris Johnson

"In a tortuous apologia for his decision to extradite, the Home Secretary yesterday wrote – as if it were a good thing – that “one of the most important features of the 2003 Act was the deliberate removal of any discretion the Home Secretary may have in relation to extradition”. On this account, we may wonder why we have elected politicians at all. ... On this account, the treaty is like a kind of computer-assisted catapult that pings people across the Atlantic whenever the Americans require. In reality, the Home Office has no such excuse. It could easily have decided, on humanitarian grounds, that the extradition should not go ahead." (Telegraph)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

When will Gordon Brown resign?

Britain has taken a poisoned chalice: "In a damning report, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee concludes that the conflict has delivered "much less than promised" and that the effort of British troops is being "significantly diluted" by lack of coherent vision and strategy." (Telegraph)

How many follies and how many deaths will it take before he does the decent thing; will it take a massive military defeat or will he wake up in time? Everything is going to hell in a handcart. He's a bureaucrat who was competent in a designated role but he's not a leader and now the whole country and a good part of the world is having to pay for this catastrophic example of The Peter Principle.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Half light

Looking east on Harlesden Road

At half past eight in the evening on the first of August, just the rooftops are still lit by the sun. The buildings and streets are in shade but the chimney pots are glowing brightly with the last rays of the sun. It was the same all around Harlesden Road and Willesden High Road. Not sure how this occurs - it's not as if the sun were above, it's actually gone below the horizon. Maybe it's reflecting from some clouds in another part of the sky, or does the trajectory of the sunbeams just do this anyway? However it works, it creates a magical effect.

Friday jungle

The profusion of plants in the meadow must rival any rainforest.

They are all tangled up.

Might have been mistaken earlier in saying that the purplish blooms hadn't yet appeared on the teasels. It seems the WH may have missed the moment, if there was one, as there is still no sign of purple and they are going to seed.

Chestnuts plumping in their naval mine-like shells above

London is blessed with abundant parkland and quite often you can have walks like this all to yourself.

We're not short of plums either.

The last two pictures above were about two weeks ago but there seem to be as many plums burgeoning at present, only a bit redder.