Monthly Archives: February 2014

Sky clad, equine or what?


“So at this point Watson, our white witch, realising she has succeeded in invoking rain, departs in haste.”

“And the somewhat structural nether garments Holmes?”

“One is forced to presume she was sky clad.”

Look, I’m just trying to get the hedge into some sort of order. I don’t mind having to tackle hawthorn older than me, I don’t even mind having to cut off ivy so thick and gnarled it’s easier just to chop it into logs. But why on earth do I have to wade knee deep through beer cans, horse feed bags and other equine detritus whilst I’m doing it.

This particular lay-by has always been a fond favourite of the sort of fly tipper who is so keen on their art that he/she/it ignores the fact they have to drive further to dump their rubbish on us than they do to get to the tip.

In truth it’s not really a lay-by, it’s a field gateway set back off the road a bit. At one time it was so popular with the dinner time adultery set that they virtually had to queue to use it. Get there by ten past twelve and you’d missed your place.

So popular was it that one of the more enthusiastic practitioners slipped a mate who worked for the council a few bob and they even put a bit of tarmac down for him.

It’s been a place known for its specialised tastes. One morning I went to feed heifers and found a pair of black thigh length ladies boots and a bra and pants that might be described more properly as ‘foundation garments.’ I mentioned this to the police who came out to check in case they related to any missing person investigations and they agreed with me that these were garments that a town full of shipbuilding engineers could be proud of. They were designed to support, not titillate, and would probably stop a 9mm round at forty yards.

We did idly speculate on what happened to the wearer, after all they’re not the sort of things one would expect someone to forget through simple absent-mindedness.

It had been a wet night; hence our preferred theory was that the lay-by had been appropriated by a white witch of robust build who had danced sky-clad to bring on the rain. Then caught in a downpour and perhaps over exuberant, she’d decamped, (probably by car, but we didn’t want to presume too much) inadvertently forgetting garments that she might otherwise have considered fundamental.

But briefly, doubtless so very briefly, it’s clear. Doubtless builders will recall it to mind the next time they want to get rid of the rubble they’ve already charged you for taking to the tip. Doubtless the equine type who has a strange use for horse bandages will return, and dinner-time adultery may even make a comeback.


Still, if you want to meet a lady who is far above such problems, now in paperback or ebook form

As a reviewer commented, “This author has created a rich world, filled with interesting characters – of whom Maljie is one of the most colourful. Her life and adventures are presented though the gossip of the poet Tallis Steelyard who has a sharp eye and a sharper tongue. Reminiscent somewhat of Pepys’ diaries about the small and large events of London, Tallis is a better writer. And why is Mr Webster dangerous – too much of my money is being spent on his books.”

All you need is a chainsaw and sentient volcanoes.

It’s funny what sticks in mind. It’s been a busy enough week, we’ve been getting a new flue put in the chimney because we had a chimney fire on New Year’s Eve; the weather has been determinedly clashy and I’ve been trying to get work done both inside and outside the house.

Inside it’s putting together a ‘blog tour’. This is the current approved method of using social media to sell a book. You grab friends with blogs and they host a piece from you saying what a wonderful person you are and what a wonderful book it is.


Here’s one I did on Will Macmillan Jones’s blog to give you an idea.


Honour demands that each one be different and ideally interesting, luring the unwitting reader into parting with their hard earned cash and buying the book.


Outside I’m been trying to get some more hedging done. I finished one hedge, used the stuff cut out of that to fix the gaps in a second hedge and made a tentative start on a third. Unfortunately it’s too wet and slippery to work there. Sliding gracefully into a water-filled gutter whilst wielding a chainsaw isn’t an experience I want.

But it isn’t as if I’m short of hedges that need tackling. So today I decided I’d go and just drop a few thorns in the corner of a field, tidy it up a bit, you know the sort of thing. But when I get there, before I can drop the thorns, I need to get rid of a bit of elderberry. The minute the chainsaw hits the elderberry I realise it isn’t merely rotten, the only thing holding it together is the ivy that has strangled it. So I’m there hacking out elderberry and trying to get rid of the ivy in the hawthorns before it strangles them as well.

And all the while I’m trying to remember about Sentient Volcanoes. You see I’m sure that Jack Vance (The late, great Jack Vance, finest Science Fiction and Fantasy Author of the last two centuries) wrote a story that included them. I can almost picture the story in my mind, but be blowed if I can find it or find any reference to it.

So in spite of the fact that I’m busy, I’m juggling branches and billhooks and ivy and all the while dodging the briars and trying to keep my feet, I keep trying to remember this story about Sentient Volcanoes.

I suppose that this is one reason why I admire Jack Vance so much. He could throw out ideas, perhaps as an incident within a story, or even a story told by someone in a story, and there was just something about it that grabbed you. He’d use phrases or paint pictures that would stick in the mind. So that even when he’s gone, busy people still have his stories running round in their heads as they try to get some work done.

I’m not an ambitious person. I’ve never been particularly turned on by money or fame (and people make a habit of keeping me well away from the levers of power) but if I could write a story which did what his did, I’d think I’d made it. I suppose I’m looking for my own equivalent of his sentient volcanoes.

Don’t know whether I’ve found them yet, you’ll have to read Justice 4.1 (The Tsarina Sector)


But not just yet, it’s not out until March 1st

A red red rose



Some of us are born romantic; some have romance thrust upon us. Some of us occasionally get it right by accident. I suppose honesty compels me to admit that I’m firmly in the third category.

Once upon a time, (but not actually in a galaxy far far away) my better half was in hospital after having a kidney operation. Anyway I did the whole dutiful husband thing, visiting and whatever. Yet on the horizon, Valentine’s Day was lurking. I pondered this. Admittedly not particularly deeply, and not particularly long, but I did ponder.

So I decided I’d buy a card. I went into the local ‘stores’ and looked at their selection. The problem with Valentine’s Day cards is that they’re either grossly romantic, the sort of thing you’d buy an aged aunt or grandmother, or virtually obscene. This card would inevitably be on display amongst the get-well cards by the side of a hospital bed so I wanted something appropriate. I found it, it was romantic, it was witty, and I snapped it up, happy to pay over a quid for it. I was even happier when it turned out to be only 26p.

So, card purchased, the job was sorted.
That evening, when I went to visit, I was ambushed. At the time there was a flower stall as part of the hospital entrance area and as I entered I was accosted by a young lady with a clip board. She obviously saw the panicked look in my eyes because she uttered the words I hoped to hear. “Don’t worry, this won’t cost you anything.”

I relaxed. Only a little, but I relaxed.

The young lady asked, “Who are you visiting.”

That seemed an innocent enough question, so I thought I could answer it safely, “My wife.”

“We’ve got a free prize draw, win a single perfect rose. Would you like to enter?”

I’d heard the magic word, ‘free’, so I nodded boldly and said yes.

So she asked, “Who would the flower be for?”

“My wife.”

Pen poised, she asked, “Why are you giving the flower to her.”

I’m afraid I must have looked at her as if she was wet behind the ears. “Because if I gave it to anyone else she’d kill me.”

With the younger generation put firmly in its place I smiled and walked on.

Next morning was the 14th, when I visited that night there was a ripple of applause in the ward. It seems that there had been an announcement on hospital radio that morning; my lady wife was to be given a single perfect rose.

A male nurse, dressed mainly in sheets as a cherub, presented her with the rose and then fished about in among the sheets for the message.

“You husband sends you this…” here he checked his note, “Because if he gave it to anybody else, you’d kill him.”

But still, not bad value, the full Valentine’s Day experience for twenty-six pence.


Should you wish to be wildly extravagant, you could treat yourself to this perfect rose



As the reviewer so sagaciously commented
“In this new adventure in the `Swords’ series, we again follow Benor and watch and feel as though we take part in his hectic life. He both pursues and is pursued when he `liberates’ a prince’s concubine (and keeps her!) and the prince, naturally, doesn’t want to let the matter rest. As well as being an excellent fighter, one of his companions on the journey is a master of the haute couture trade and manages to combine these two rather successfully.

Jim Webster has created a credible fantasy world here, populated by its own races, both rivals and allies, and with an intriguing group of wild creatures which you can almost taste when they are described as food species! There is a good deal of action in this book but also some softer, `Ahhh!’ moments which I won’t describe for fear of spoiling the story. Needless to say, he has once again used his own writing style to give us some wonderfully memorable phrases. I like his style and his gentle humour.”

Fourteen Days in the outer darkness

Imagine it, you wish to communicate with someone. You scribble a note, summon one of the boys, thrust note into cleft stick he’s holding and send him on his way.  That was my world!


Yes we’ve had fourteen days without broadband. We’ve had about five BT engineer days of work on our wire. (We’re rural, there’s an awful lot of wet copper between us and civilisation.)

They have found faults, fixed faults and done great things. But we still had a problem. My desk top computer would talk to the BT Business Hub for a full four minutes before the broadband crashed. (Fifteen minutes if we were really lucky.)

It was a new router, all the wires were new, a modern laptop could talk to the router by wireless for ever without problems, what a pity we don’t have a modern laptop for work.

Then we remembered that at one point in the fortnight, one of the engineers, for test purposes, had stuck a standard domestic router into the system in the place of ours. We also remembered it had worked without problems for the twelve hours it was in the system.

So I contacted Steve Irwin, a mate who is up on all this techie stuff, (having daughters he’s short of boys with cleft sticks to bear his messages for him, so he’s got to keep the technology working.)

Steve loaned me a battered old router from a previous generation, I plugged it in, stuck the wires in, and lo! We had broadband. Stable broadband, broadband that has now worked without problems for about forty-eight hours so far; what more can you ask? Well I’m going to discuss the router issue with BT in their role as our ISP, but that’s a technicality.

So a fortnight without broadband; before you ask, yes it was a nightmare. I have a book to launch, Justice 4.1 (The Tsarina Sector) is out as ebook and paperback on 1st March.


There is a blog tour to organise, people to contact, things to do, articles to arrange, and frankly there weren’t enough boys or cleft sticks to do it with. Now I’m back on line things are getting hectic.

There are other things that I’ve missed. Because we don’t have TV, I have just realised how dependent on the web I am for weather forecasts (for example), or finding companies I do business with, or getting scientific papers and suchlike information I need to be a freelance journalist. Now I was a freelance journalist in the days when I used a typewriter and posted my copy to editors. That world is dead! It isn’t possible to work like I used to. Quietly, unassumingly, without excitement or upset, everything I need has drifted gently onto the web.


Was it all bad?
Actually, and perhaps embarrassingly, no it wasn’t. I’ve mentioned that Justice 4.1 is to be published on March 1st (just thought I’d mention it in case you’d forgotten. You could go here and see an excerpt on the publisher’s page   )

Well the second book set in that background is with the editor, and thanks to having no broadband, I did the last 30,000 words for the third book, which is now ‘finished’. Note that by finished, I mean I’m ignoring it. In three months time I’ll read it again, spot problems and errors, fix them and then it’s ready for the editor.

In some ways I’ve got so much work done without the web. But I’m still glad to be back.

(Oh yes, and if you have a blog and want to be part of the blog tour, let me know and I’ll be in touch)