Friday, October 05, 2018


Trustees Irene Butcher, Stephen Hurley with Liz Wallace from Denver
What a wonderfully warm welcome awaited Liz Wallace yesterday when she met Trustees of the Eastgate Art Gallery and presented her son Stuart Wallace's latest artwork for exhibition.  These paintings are now on front view at the Gallery over the next month.  Some of Essex-born Stuart's paintings have been exhibited in several American cities, including New York and his work is gaining prominence in his home city of Denver, Colorado.

Danny Lawrence BEM. chief at Gateway Radio 97.8 fm kindly invited Liz and the Gallery Trustees to be interviewed by presenter Aston Avery and thanks are extended to the whole team at Gateway for their interest in the very active Basildon Arts scene. Why not pay a visit? 

More of Stuart Wallace's collection of abstract and traditional artwork can be seen on his website

Thursday, October 04, 2018


John Agard Fleur Adcock Wendy Cope at House of Lords ALCS summer party
NATIONAL POETRY DAY is being celebrated in the UK today and hopefully, our SWWJ poets will find inspiration today to work on new ideas and verse that may have been fermenting in their minds for some time.  My humble pieces will never go anywhere, but I do love the work of many current well known poets. Here we have a trio who were kind enough to give me a little smile at a recent gathering in London.  Come on - pick up those pens or hit the keyboard!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


Loved my visit to Bletchley Park in Buckinghamsure a while back. Today, the TV auction show Flog It also visited this famous building and I enjoyed recalling some of the amazing rooms, even (almost) sitting on the chair used by Alan Turing.  His typewriter is still there and it was similar to the one I used as one of my tools so many years ago. During my own visit, I was thrilled that so many people were around to help me in my quest for information about spies and spying - my resulting article has now been published. However, I really enjoyed working my way around the big house and the huts, particularly Hut 8 - the most memorable which really fired my imagination.   

Tuesday, October 02, 2018


So lovely to hear our former Council member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists - Dame Jacqueline Wilson, talking about her new best-selling book on Woman's Hour this morning.  It's linked to her first successful story about Tracy Beaker.  Jacqueline was a hard-working member of our Council when her writing career initially took off and we have some wonderful photographs of her in those early years, particularly during our famous 'weekend schools'. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Paul Simon in the '60s
Reading like crazy at the moment. Large pile of books arrived and can't wait to sit down and get down to some serious reading for my new project. First on the list is the autobiography of Paul Simon, that consummate song writer and one of my favourites from the 1960s onward. Discovered the fact that Paul arrived in our town of Brentwood, Essex, England in 1963. Our good friend, Dennis Rookard was very active in those days, working as he did for the local press. It was Dennis who recorded sessions at the Railway Hotel, King's Road, close to our station in the autumn of '63 and more so in 1964. Although it is such a long time ago, Paul will surely remember performances by The Thames-siders and other performers and the time he met a young Englishman Dave McCausland, who immediately liked Paul's musical style and invited him to play at his Brentwood Folk Club.  To be continued... 


The New Yorker highlights special moments during Paul Simon’s final show of the Homeward Bound Tour.
“His voice, boyish and clear, was something of a liability at the start of his career—he neither snarled nor whooped, like many of his peers, which led some critics to believe that his work was less urgent. Now it simply gives these songs an eternal youthfulness.”

Saturday, September 22, 2018


Isn't it always the way when you are writing a book?  Often folk promise to provide photos and information, invariably, the material arrives too late for your publishers' deadline date!  At a book signing recently, this unusual image was sent tome by a very kind former resident living in Heathway, Dagenham. It is an image of the Methodist church which played such a communal part in many of our young lives.  I would have loved to have included it in my book BARKING & DAGENHAM FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS - Amberley Publishing Ltd - Stroud.

Everything revolved around this building - Brownies, Guides,  Girls' Life Brigade, and of course, the equivalent for boys. Concerts, parties, recitals and film afternoons showing Flash Gordon and, Sunday church services, of course.  How could such an enormous building with spacious grounds to the rear be destroyed?  Progress, I suppose and profit!

Here we have an artist's impression of when the Central Hall was first built in 1925 and which is included in my book, alongside a few hundred other photographs of many places in this area.

Many thanks to those former residents who have sent such lovely emails which, in themselves have brought back such poignant memories.

Currently working on a new project linked to Brentwood in Essex. Have some wonderful images already, but who knows what's out there! 

If interested, do make contact (in good time please) 

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Lady Howard and Jane Corry both great novelists
Great lunch at National Liberal Club today with lots of friends and some new faces including, Andrew Lewer MP and our very own SWWJ member Jane Corry. Each took the rostrum and both were  inspirational in their different ways. Jane told us about her life and times  particularly following the publication of three best selling novels, the latest being  The Dead Ex which she signed today for many of our friends attending this special afternoon. 


On the evening of 11 October 2018 at the Stripe Theatre at the University of Winchester, the English Project will present its Annual English Language Day Lecture. Doors open at 17.45.  The lecture begins at 18.15.
‘Women and the English Language: A Conversation with Susie Dent’
A conversation with Susie Dent, one of England’s greatest lexicographers, will explore the way in which women use the English Language and in which the English language uses women. Questions will be put to Susie by the English Project and the Audience. Come armed with questions, but also send us questions in advance by return of this message.
In 1918, the British granted votes for the first time to women. In 2018, the Centennial year of that event, the English Project has been reflecting on women and the English language.
Susie Dent is a leading English-language lexicographer, best known as the resident dictionary expert and adjudicator on Channel 4’s long-running game show Countdown. She has written fourteen books on the English language, on subjects as varied as language change, dialect, word origins, and tribal conversation.. Susie is also an experienced broadcaster and has presented and appeared on many radio and television programmes, including Americanize for Radio 4, which examined the history of British antipathy towards US English. Her special interest is etymology, and the secret lives hidden behind the most ordinary of words. 
English Language Day. On 13 October 1362, a Westminster Parliament was convened that approved a Statute of Pleading that permitted the use of the English language in Parliament on the grounds that French was ‘much unknown’ in England. The Normans, Angevins and Plantagenets had up to that time ruled England in French. Then English was a forbidden and a despised language, but 13 October 1362 saw English on its way to becoming the twenty-first century’s Global Language. For more on this and much else related, read the English Project’s History of the English Language in 100 Places by Bill Lucas and Christopher Mulvey. See: