A comic novelist tries to make some sense of the world he knows and doesn’t know

Here is my credo borrowed from Peadar O’ Donnell, the radical and nationalist Donegal novelist (1893-1986).

The great thing about this world is that it is full of people. Human nature is great stuff.’

I am a British writer born in 1950, who has just left the little known Greek island of Kythnos, where I lived from 2013-2019. I have returned to the UK, to be in London where I last lived in 1974, when working on Ayurvedic manuscripts at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. I  have spent a total of 54 years in my native Cumbria, and have published 12 books of fiction over about 30 years. My novel Jazz Etc was Booker-longlisted in 2003, and I won the Dylan Thomas Award for stories in 1988.I started an acclaimed fiction magazine Panurge in 1984  and along with David Almond, the excellent children’s writer, edited it until 1996. I was also the first ever Royal Literary Fellow, helping students with their essays and theses, at Lancaster University from 2007-2010. I was married for 30 years to Annie, a consultant trainer, who sadly died of cancer aged only 54, in 2009. My daughter Ione, born 1989, lives in Leeds, and is a Computer Programmer, and her hobby is learning languages: at the moment Greek, Spanish and Polish…

It was Ione encouraged me to start this blog  in December 2014, as she along with my friends thought my letters home about life on Kythnos made great reading.  I had no confidence at all in my non-fiction writing, or I suppose you might call it essay journalism. However I took up the challenge, and found  to my amazement that using the blog form,  I could write with energy and passion and humour, from my life and my earliest experiences and my convictions. Incredibly I used to publish a post a day, now they appear just once a week, and I have nearly 500 up there about everything from Greek politics and extraordinary Kythnos people, to my childhood, my favourite recipes, ventriloquism, Albania, Nepal, Kosovo, Portugal, Irish writers, and more. So the title of the blog is a misnomer. I write about everything and the posts are sited everywhere, and I try to give an entertaining, comic and above all authentic and sincere vision of what I feel about myself and the world as I know it.

I’m crazy about jazz music, especially guitarists Nguyen Le, John Abercrombie and John McLaughlin. I adore the, until recently, neglected operas of Handel, especially Rodolinda. I love cooking ethnic vegetarian food and like lots of people I believe the aubergine is more than just a vegetable.

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