Open mic night…

Recently went to an open mic night with a friend, who’d put together a couple of tracks with his son and wanted to ‘air’ them … his words, not mine.

It was interesting, I have to admit, but also, it was ‘odd’.  I didn’t allow him the word weird, because weird can be good too, and even head-twisting cool.

This wasn’t the first open mic night I’ve been to, nor the only venue.

But, I have to say, even after more of these evenings than I care to mention, so far, all of them seem to pan out in a similar fashion.  They’re all ‘odd’.

There’s a pub, a club, a hall, a venue, a space … you know the kind of thing.

There are individuals wanting to do their thing, and there are bands wanting to do their thing … you know that kind of thing too.

There should be an audience …

I’ve seen some good stuff over the years.  I’ve seen some beautiful people doing good stuff.  I’ve seen some beautiful people doing to their good stuff to other people, and then, I’ve seen those good people doing their good stuff, right back at them.  Those were even good nights too!

I’ve seen bad too.  Don’t get me wrong here.

There should always be an audience …

A man singing about being dumped, to other men waiting to sing about being dumped, to women, singing about being dumped, or dumping men, who were so wet they had to dump the buggers … well, that whole lonely life dumping cycle kinda gets to wear on ye.

There’s talent there no doubt, but something about the whole shebang is all wrong.

For a start, the setting’s only suited to those crying about being dumped.  Why the fuck is that?  It’s like a hidey-hole for down-in-the-dumps dumped dudes.

This ain’t my scene, in that kinda possessive posse way.  I’m kinda too old for the posse game.  I don’t do, or play music.  I like music, don’t get me wrong, and musicians too, when I can stay awake, or get them off talking about music, or picking out two second samples from tracks that float their boats … I thought that little foible had died with vinyl, but how wrong I was about both.

These new open mic heroes, well, it seems to me they just upload their outpourings to iTunes, and spread the half-baked misery of comparative articulated futility they’re feeling, desperately hoping someone finds it poignant, meaningful, connecting, anything … or just finds it, perhaps.  And then buys it, of course.

Is that what the writers’ forums on twitter are too?  Is that what the multitude of self-publications are doing?  Is this the e-book revolution?  Writers writing to other writers about writing, and how their writing is all about the beauty of writing, and about how their need to write overrides all other needs?  I write to write what I write knowing that what I write I must write, in order to be a writer … a sort of poor man’s Sam, with the hope someone takes it seriously?

Are we talking in shit circles, or talking shit circles?

Am I missing something?  There’s gotta be more than this self-promo, plagiarised paraphrasing, smart-ass, bigging-me-own-ass-up, bullshit!

Is anybody just reading good fucking books by authors who give, or gave a damn, and know how to ask questions, or give answers, when telling stories about why, and what the fuck we’re doing here?

Am I the only one at the open mic night who wonders this shit?

The shower tonight, were utter crap btw.



This is the opening, or introductory page, to my new novel, ‘By Hook or by Crook’.

Other than vaguely establishing a setting, and being of general or background interest, it’s not a direct part of the narrative.  The novel is set in The Barony of Gaultier, which extends from outside Waterford City, running eastwards until Tramore Bay, and incorporates the village of Crook(e).

The area has an odd and surprisingly busy history, for what is today, a quiet and out of the way spot, and this is also touched on in the book.

See what you think, and if it tickles the interest buds?

Feedback always welcome


By Hooke or by Crooke

“By Hook(e) or by Crook(e)” etymologically originates in the middle ages, according to some sources, and refers to an ancient aspect of Forest Law. The forests were owned by the King, and interference with them in anyway, from common grazing, foraging, assarting, or harvesting any kind of wood, were all strictly regulated. Seemingly, a man could often only gather what wood he could reach on the trees ‘by (use of his apple picker’s) hook(e) or (his shepherd’s) crook(e)…

In the south-east of Ireland, where a busy, and historically much used, inlet, known as Waterford Harbour lies, two villages sit on opposite banks of the estuary, no more than a few miles apart.

The first, a hamlet named Hook(e), retains a very old, but still functioning lighthouse, and boasts its origins as a protector of seafarers to the fifth century, when monks from Dubhán’s Monastery made their way to the headland tip, to light warning bonfires.

The second village, Crook(e), further into the estuary, has witnessed a multitude of invading forces avail of it. From the early Vikings in 852, to Richard de Clare (‘Strongbow’), and Henry II, the first self-styled Norman ‘Lord of Ireland’, followed by John Lackland, that notorious money-grabber of Sherwood Forest lore, through to the largest invasion force ever to sully Ireland’s shores, accompanying the last of that Avengian line of Norman Kings, Richard II, in 1377, Crook(e) played a pivotal role in all their plans.

Some years later, it is believed that Cromwell, on his way to take the hitherto ‘untaken’ city of Waterford, uttered the promise that he would do the deed ‘by Hook(e) or by Crook(e)’ … and he did indeed proceed to land in Hook(e), and advance to Crook(e).

Etymology being what it is, nobody can say for certain what the origins of the phrase truly are, but as Apple Pickers and Shepherds no longer concern themselves with the nuances of Forest Law, the denizens of Hook and Crook perhaps will carry the phrase safely into the future and make of it their own … if it isn’t already theirs of course.

After this, the novel begins …

I’ll post the first chapter over the week.  Right now I’ve got to get packing as I’m off to Ireland in the morning, and may well find some nice images around The Barony to send out, and give people a feel of the place.  I’m hoping for lead grey skies, blattering rain squalls, biting wind, cold rough seas, squinting old biddies, and pints settling on trays in The Saratoga Bar, as all of these turn up in the book.

 It should still be light enough during daytime in July to capture some of these…

By Hook or by Crook

Just finished a novel with the above title…

It’s been through a few edits so far and I’m kind of happy with it now.  I think it’ll run as a series.  Its full title is By Hook or by Crook, The Harry Johnson Chronicles Book 1, it runs for about 360 pages, or just shy of 120,000 words, and I seem to already 60 pages into book two…

Not quite sure how that happened, but I seem to have developed a disturbing stare.

It’s an evolving cozy mystery thriller literary fiction piece … a sub-genre of a sub-genre of a sub-genre, that’s likely to become a genre!

The generalities of genres always irked me, but I’m beginning to warm to them, now that someone expects me to pigeonhole my own piece.  A few eyes have roamed over it so far, and the feedback is good.  These eyes are not the back-slapping, happy-clapping, life-sapping, enthusiasts of some kind of joy killing support group.  So I’m happy!

I’ll put a few chapters up over the next few weeks, and see what people say.

Now, I think I need a beer!