Horrors from the distant past

Some years ago now, I wrote a horror/action short film. Although filmed*, one of the DV tapes – the one with the big reveal – was corrupted (possibly down to some eldritch power summoned by the filming). It meant that instead of a 10-minute short film, we ended up with a trailer.

So in honour of Halloween next week, here’s the trailer to Cryptic Writings, a film that never was.

Directed by Bill Thomas and produced by Savage Media.

* At the Cyfarthfa Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, where, apparently, many of the cannon and cannonballs for the British side in the Battle of Trafalgar were produced.

I have a problem

I’ve just counted how many books I have on my shelves that I have yet to read.


And that’s just the ones on the main bookshelves. No doubt I’ll uncover others hiding in corners at some point. I might even uncover that copy of Anansi Boys that seems to have runaway.

I always knew it was quite a lot – I’d estimated about 100 or so – but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be that high.

It’s been going on for years. I’ll buy a handful of books and then only read some of them before I buy the next batch. Add in presents and those that I’ve rescued from friends and family who were about to get rid of them, and you start to well…end up with 293 unread books on your bookshelves.

The Japanese apparently have a word for it: Tsundoku.

I don’t seem to have the worst case of it. This BBC article references a forum that requires a person to have over 1,000 unread books on their shelves. But if I keep to my current reading rate – 43 books so far this year and on target to read 52 by 30 December – then I should be through them in just under six years. Although this raises another issue: even if I keep to 52 books a year, I’ll only read 1,560 books in the next 30 years. It’s thoughts like this that make me feel sad when I spend too long in a bookshop – what about all the books I won’t get to read?

I’m still attempting to put together a list of all the books I’ve read over at Goodreads (minus those that I’ve used as research that might hint at future plot points). Once my memory runs dry, I’ll start adding all the unread books sitting on the shelf.

PS – I’ve just been sent a link to this Barnes & Noble article. Personally, I think there’s only one question you need to ask as to whether to keep a book or not: do I want this book on my bookshelf? But then again, I quite like the thought of living in a library.


When, in my last post, I commented that blogging was becoming more habitual, it became almost inevitable that I wouldn’t blog for a while. First it was not having any news which then merged into a long weekend standing in a field and then became a week-long holiday in the Lake District. But the silence is now over.

To be truthful, I haven’t been completely silent. Over on my Goodreads page, I’ve slowly been trying to piece together a list of all the books I’ve read – the good, the bad and the did I really read that? There’s still some way to go.

Also, reviews for The Silver Mask have started appearing on Amazon and Goodreads. Go have a look if you’re deciding whether to read The Silver Mask. And if you’ve already read it, please do leave your own reviews to help others decide whether it’s worth a read.

Cinematic incidents

We went to see Suicide Squad at the weekend. My experience of it seems to be on par with a number of comments I’ve seen about the film.

However, it will be remembered if only because it gets to go on my list of ‘Incidents at the Cinema’. I’ve experienced a number of ‘incidents’, mostly technical issues, but some have been of a more…well…you’ll see.

This time around, it was having to watch the first five minutes twice.

We didn’t realise it when we booked, but it turned out to be a subtitled showing. Except that half the subtitles were off the screen. Not knowing that it was a subtitled performance, I spent a little while trying to work out why some of the speech was subtitled and other bits weren’t – did they think that some of the accents were too strong to be understood was the front runner in explaining it away.

Five minutes in and they restarted the film and every character was subtitled, and it became clear that it was a subtitled performance. Except now, every so often, two lines of subtitles were laid over each other. Hopefully there weren’t any people with hearing impairments in the audience who might have been affected. Not that it would have necessarily improved their experience of the film if the subtitles had worked perfectly.

There’s been a few other technical incidents over the years, including:

  • The film breaking towards the end of Galaxy Quest. A small portion of the film was skipped, but no real harm done.
  • The start of You, Me and Dupree being shown instead of Hoodwinked, leading to a hurried hunt for a member of staff to notify them before it got a little too risque for the youngest in the audience.
  • The projector initially being set for the wrong screen size for Lesbian Vampire Killers, which we originally thought was how it was supposed to look and an attempt to make the opening scenes look more stylised.

The less technical issues have been…well…uhm…different.

The Watchmen incident

Watchmen was a simple case of a fire alarm going off. It’s the sort of thing that can potentially happen. It was made slightly more impressive though as it happened to coincide with the flamethrower going off on Archie, Nite Owl’s ship.

We were told by the voice over the tannoy to leave the screen, and, while we tried to get our head around why a flamethrower on screen would set off a real-life fire alarm, we headed off to the foyer. Based on the smell coming from the area of the tills, it seemed that the popcorn maker had decided to burn its latest batch.

After a ten minute wait, we were finally told that we wouldn’t be re-admitted as it was too late into the showing. So we ended up having to return the next week. Fortunately, they must have changed the settings on the alarm so as not to be set off by onscreen fires.

The Black Swan incident

The screen was crowded, so we’d ended way down the front, almost having to look directly up to watch the film.

Despite the crowds, there was not much in the way of disturbances during the film.

The credits rolled, everyone got up and slowly filtered out from their sits and almost immediately jams formed. We waited for movement.

The lights came up, and someone called out from the back of the screen: “Can someone get a member of staff? We have someone who needs medical attention.”

Someone quicker off the mark than me, and capable of moving past the mass of people still trying to exit, headed off to get help, while another person asked whether they needed a first aider.

The offer was declined as apparently they’d already found a policeman who knew first aid amongst the audience at the back of screen.

Except – and I admit that this is just me interpreting what I saw from where I stood at the front – the individual requiring aid was just sat there in the seat closest to aisle, staring ahead. There was none of the activity you might expect when someone is dealing with a first aid incident – no one trying to reassure the guy, no one checking him over, or doing…anything…Apart from queuing to get past him.

And there was the fact that this medical emergency had only occurred when the film had ended, almost as though it had only been noticed when people had tried to leave at the end of the film. It just suggested that the worst had happened and that the person at the front of that queue had been unwittingly sat next a corpse as they watched Natalie Portman’s Nina descend into insanity.

I still would like to know – have the reassurance – that my suspicions were wrong and the guy got the help he needed and is now leading a healthy and fruitful life. I’m reassured by the fact that I’ve never been able to locate any news coverage of the event, and you would have thought that something would have been reported if the worst had happened. Right?

The Big Nothing incident

For Big Nothing we got to share the screen with an inebriated couple. Just my wife (at that point, my girlfriend), me and two very, very drunk people who were, at least initially, sat behind and off to one side.

The other couple, as you may expect given their condition, were boisterous, carrying on conversations and clambering over seats. But, just as I was building up to say something, they’d always settle down. For a short time at least.

Eventually the outbursts became a little less frequent.

When I realised there hadn’t been an outburst for some time, I glanced across, half-expecting them to have fallen into a drunk slumber, only to discover the woman had stripped naked.

In such situations, I believe you have three options:

  1. Politely suggest that maybe it would be worthwhile having something between them and seats which they couldn’t vouch were overly hygenic.
  2. Find a member of staff and alert them.
  3. Do not let your attention divert from the screen.

Option 1 was discarded as it would  have required engaging with them and may have prompted them to become noisy again. Option 2 was discarded for similar reasons. So for the remainder of the film, my eyes did not move from the screen in front of me. But the couple did remain quiet from then on. So maybe it was the clothes rather than the drunkenness had caused their agitation.

When the credits rolled, we hurriedly left the screen. Although, by what I saw out of the corner of my eye, the woman had decided to dress before leaving.


I’m not sure whether I’m particularly prone to incidents at the cinema. I’m guessing, giving the number of films I see and that there’s 17 years between Galaxy Quest and Suicide Squad, it shouldn’t be that surprised that a few incidents have occurred. So is it really that unusual for these sorts of things to happen?

In other news

Back on the 10 July, I wrote:

There’s still a while to go before blogging and maintaining the website becomes habitual. I have a vague memory of hearing a fact that it takes six weeks for people to settle into a new routine and for things to become normal, everyday habits. If the fact is true, and not something my mind is just conjuring up while I sit in the late-night dark writing this, then come 15 August this will be just a usual part of my day.

I’ve made it to six weeks of blogging then. It’s not quite become habitual, but it is getting there.




The Silver Mask has been available now for a little over two weeks and, thanks to it, I’ve discovered a brand new displacement activity: checking sales reports.

Now, along with distracting myself with social media, I can check to see whether anyone has bought a copy in the past 30 minutes.

Oddly, despite the new distraction, I seem to be more productive. My daily output of words is up (I’ll have to wait until I start editing them to find out whether they’re good words). I’m putting together the next thing ready for publication (somewhat shorter and a little different to The Vasini Chronicles) – more on that in a few weeks. And I’m editing the first draft of something that took a very long time to write – more on that at some distant point in the future.

I think – I guess – a lot of it is down to having published The Silver Mask and now having a clearer set of targets to drive me forward towards the next thing to publish and then the next.

Of course, productivity tends to go in cycles, so I may find myself slowing down over the coming weeks, but, for now, it’s all steam ahead.

Popping my cork


Back when I was working in community regeneration, I was given a bottle of champagne as a Christmas present by my line manager at the time. It was a generous gesture and gratefully received. However, I’m not a fan of champagne, so it ended up in a cupboard with the thought that I’d open it when I sold my first book.

It’s ended up living in four different cupboards in four different houses over the years. But, last night, it was finally drunk. Surprisingly, it hadn’t gone off.

I actually sold my first book a week ago now. I have no idea who bought it. It seems like it may have been someone living in Europe. But, whoever it was, thank you. I hope the gamble of trying a new author is paying off.

And thank you to everyone else who has taken that gamble over the past week. I hope you’re enjoying The Silver Mask.

Sunday Night Insomnia 2: The Bathroom of Coolness

I am a not a summer person. I do not cope well with heat. So the past week has been spent in a bit of a semi-melted, exhausted grump. Not too great when you’re trying to get a book out of the door.

Tonight, therefore, has been the first night this week that I haven’t ended up writing in the bathroom – the only place in the house that was even vaguely cool and where my brain could string more than half a sentence together.

Please can Michael Palin get out of my head

Recently I’ve been listening to Michael Palin narrate the third of his series of diaries – Travelling to Work.

Enjoyable though it is, it’s had the side effect of a tendency, when reading other books, for my own internal narrator to start sounding like him.

Stranger still, I’ve found myself waking up in the mornings ear wormed by his voice; a   low-level narration sitting just underneath my own thoughts.

Perhaps it would be best not listen to him just before I sleep.

Damn it! I’m even reading these words in his voice.