Misty Lake

Goodnight, my friends, goodnight

And it’s only art that can take you by the hand and show you the way towards joy, towards life.

Then up the mountainside, to wash your eyelids in the rain.

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Ice Bench Amsterdams Bos

The Strange, Lost Winter of 2015

Winter is something to endure. Or so I thought. But on a warm December day in Amsterdam I find myself dreaming of snow and ice.

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My Favourite Online Short Stories of 2015

So, December seems to be the month for compiling ‘Best Of’ lists. It’s not something I usually do because firstly, I’m not that organised and secondly, because I tend to be very bad at recalling things. However, 2015 seems to have been a particularly good year for online short stories – the sort of stories that you cannot forget. So here, in no particular order, are the five stories which have lingered longest in my mind in 2015. I have only selected stories which are published online because I want anyone reading this list to go and search them out. Read More

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Book Review: Belonging by Umi Sinha

Review of Umi Sinha’s remarkable debut novel, ‘Belonging’. A novel which brings together multiple narratives to create an extraordinary portrait of the ways in which family history and identity are never far behind us.

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The Good Son

Book Review: The Good Son by Paul McVeigh

One Saturday morning in 1988 two British Army corporals, David Howes and Derek Wood, accidentally drove their car into an IRA funeral procession. They were surrounded, pulled from their vehicle then stripped and taken to waste ground where they were shot. The incident, which became known as the ‘Corporal Killings’ was filmed by television crews who happened to be covering the funeral, and the horror was beamed directly into living rooms around the world. The image of Father Alec Reid administering last rites to the bloodied and battered corpses is seared in the memory of anyone who saw it. After Read More

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Spring Blossom

Those They Leave Behind

There’s a list. Warning signs. Things to look out for. Common misconceptions. Such as this: if a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them. It’s listed under false. As in: this is a false statement. You can do something. If you know what to look for. If you find the list in time. If you are aware of it. If. I’ve imagined it often since she died. Night after night playing out alternative scenarios in my head. Magical tricks of the imagination where there is always a happy ending. She lives. She does not die. Read More

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Velvet Underground

R.I.P. Lou Reed

I grew up in a strangely music-less household. It was rare to hear the radio playing or for music to fill the rooms of our home. What music did find its way into our house as I was growing up, was a weak amalgam of easy listening and hand me down tunes from my grandparents era. Not all of it was good. But sometimes little snippets of Sinatra or Leonard Cohen would filter through and make me prick up my ears. On occasion my mother could even be persuaded to sing. She had a rich, powerful voice and it was Read More

Sunflower

Ways Of Seeing

The poet Ian McMillan is very fond of early morning strolls, and often posts intriguing snippets on Twitter, of the things he observes while out walking. Reading these tweets, you get the impression that the world has altered ever so slightly. Snails slither towards discarded beer cans, eagerly anticipating a party that is still days ahead. Strange geometric patterns occur, as cats, cigarette butts and lipstick stained banana skins converge on the pavement. Sofas dumped along railway lines, transform “the whole morning into a living room.” It’s a way of looking at the world that not all of us possess. Read More

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River Ij Amsterdam Window on the World

Cormorants

I am lucky enough to live by a river. From my window, a wide expanse of water, some five hundred metres wide, stretches from shore to shore. It’s a working river, busy with barges laden with goods heading out towards the Rhine. Sailboats pass through here on their way to the small havens that lie just behind the lock gates. Cruise ships, tall as buildings, turn before my window, their passengers standing on deck, waving their hellos and goodbyes. On the far north shore, boats and ships lie in cradles in the dry dock awaiting repair. With all the business, Read More

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