Frank Parker's author site

The Truth Behind the Myth – the Christmas Truce, 1914.

After reading this I know I must check out the author’s website “A Bit About Britain”. If his unbiased approach to history demonstrated in this piece is reflected there then I shall rapidly become a fan.

via Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – The Christmas Truce of 1914 by Mike of A Bit About Britain.

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What do you Give a Writer for Christmas?

Inspiration! That”s what every writer needs and, if all those TV Christmas Specials are anything to go by, not to mention dozens of Christmas No. 1s from singer/song writers, Christmas is a great source of inspiration.

But we all know that genius is only 10% inspiration, the rest is hard graft, especially when you’ve got a deadline to meet. Here’s how Paul Andruss handled the problem last year, courtesy of Sally Cronin over at Smorgasbord.

via Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Have Yourself a Merry Little Writer’s Block by Paul Andruss

A Heartfelt Plea

This post from Tina Frisco certainly made me re-evaluate my response to last year’s referendum result in the UK. Am I motivated by anger or by a genuine concern for those I believe will be most harmed by the consequences of implementation of the result? Or by hatred for the men who used their influence and their persuasive lies to swing the result that way?

If I’m honest, I have to say ‘all three’ and I hope I’ve made that clear in my many posts on the subject. I hope, too, that my hatred of the promoters of the ‘leave’ cause is directed, as Tina asserts it should be, not at them as human beings but at the things they stand for.

In witnessing their behaviour and the unfolding outcome, I hope I can say, like Tina talking about a similar phenomenon in the USA, that “I am grateful . . . for the opportunity to experience, profoundly and relentlessly, that which I never want to become.”

Please read the post and be inspired.

via Let Us Keep Our Hearts Open – Guest Post by, Tina Frisco…

Saturday Sound-off: Blather About Borders and #Brexit

Blather is an old Scots word ultimately derived from an earlier Scandinavian word for chatter or prattle. I could have used any one of many words to denote the nonsense that is still being uttered by British politicians who want the UK to leave the EU. I was tempted to use a crude reference to bovine excrement or an equally unsavoury noun usually associated with a certain part of the male anatomy that comes by the pair.

I caught a segment of the ‘Tonight‘ programme on Irish television earlier in the week in which Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was taking part. Asked what was his problem with the Single Market and the Customs Union, he asserted that they prevent the UK negotiating trade deals with non-EU countries, deals which he was sure would benefit Northern Ireland businesses. When it was pointed out that most of those countries, including those who are members of the Commonwealth, prefer to deal with the UK as part of the much larger EU market, he responded by saying he had recently returned from Egypt where he led a trade mission from Northern Ireland, securing lucrative contracts for Northern Ireland businesses.

I felt like shouting at the screen: “membership of the EU didn’t prevent you doing that, then!”

Also this week, Channel 4 News asked a random sample of English people to mark the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic on a map of the island. The results were astonishing, showing that most people have no idea that, for example, the most northern point of the island, Malin Head, is in the Republic. Britons frequently refer to Northerrn Ireland as “Ulster” – I used to do it myself but have carefully avoided doing so in this post. The fact is that the ancient Irish province of Ulster includes Donegal which is in the Republic, to the west of Northern Ireland.

But whilst this week’s controversy has been concentrated on the land border between the UK and the EU, and the implications for the Northern Ireland peace process of any reinstatement of a border between the two parts of the island of Ireland, no-one ought to lose sight of the UK’s east and south coasts with their many ports, from Aberdeen to Southampton, all of which handle traffic between the UK and continental Europe and all of which will need some degree of additional policing if the “best deal for Britain” that David Davis is so eager to achieve falls short of the existing arrangements. And then there are the 16 regional airports*, as well as Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead.

I am only an ordinary citizen, although I did once dabble in local politics and even stood as a candidate for the European parliament, but I cannot comprehend how anyone could imagine that any “deal” could be better than the one we already have. I make no apology for repeating again what I said before the referendum, here, and, afterwards, here, and have continued to say in the period since.

As this comprehensive Facebook post from Jon Danzig at Reasons2Remain makes clear, the months of uncertainty, negotiations, and costly preparations that the UK has been forced to endure, and will continue to endure through the proposed two year “transition period”, are utterly pointless if the deal that is struck at the end of the process looks anything like the one we already have. And, if it doesn’t, then businesses that rely on fast freight transfers between the UK and EU will be hampered and their customers, the citizens of Britain, will pay the price.

*For anyone interested the 16 are, in alphabetical order, Birmingham; Blackpool; Bournemouth; Bristol; Cardiff; East Midlands; Exeter; Humberside; Leeds Bradford; Liverpool; Luton; Manchester; Newcastle; Norwich; and Teesside.

Honest Reviews are Like Gold

As you know, I have a story in the anthology “The Box Under The Bed”. The book presently has almost 50 reviews on Amazon, some good some not. None of them tells potential readers about the individual stories. Now someone has done just that. Not on Amazon, but on his own website.

I’m sharing it with you here because it will tell you what he thought of all the stories so that you will have a better idea of whether it’s a book you would like to read. Of course I’m pleased that he found mine “deeply descriptive and engaging” That’s what I aim for in all my writing.

His final verdict on the whole book is that there are “Not enough [bad stories] for me to tell others not to read it . . . The diamonds, the strong stories, are well worth the cost of the book alone.”

via The Box Under The Bed: A Book Review

Promoting Creativity #WATWB

Easter 1916 is a key date in Irish history. A watershed moment of enormous significance to the nation. The attempted revolution on that date failed, but the brutal treatment of its leaders gave a renewed impetus to the campaign for Home Rule. The compromise that was reached with the majority Protestant population in Ulster was not popular in the rest of the Island, and led to a bloody but mercifully brief civil war. The centenary of the 1916 rising last year was the inspiration for a programme promoting creativity in all its forms across the nation in the five years that echo the years between the rising and the establishment of the Republic.

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Saxophonist David Roach. Image via Culture Fox.

A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending an event that could not have happened except through the support of the programme: the world premiere of a new work by Belfast born composer Ian Wilson. Composed in collaboration with people involved in agriculture and nature conservation in the Irish Midlands, as a celebration of the importance of pollenators to the human food chain, Thresholds consists of a collage of recorded sounds and speech, overlaid by live performance by solo saxophone. British saxophonist David Roach, who performed the solo, has worked with Wilson before.

But that is just one of thousands of initiatives across all aspects of Irish life for which Creative Ireland is the inspiration. Take, for example, this article from the Irish Times, which describes how merging creativity with technology is generating incredible opportunities for young people.

Sometimes it seems that technology is driving the human race into a dark and dangerous place. I am a firm believer that creative thinking can ensure that human scale solutions will be found to the problems that scare us, just as they did in the past, and just as the young people of Ireland are demonstrating and will continue to demonstrate between now and 2022, the centenary of the formation of the Republic.

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A Provocative Cartoon

British blogger Clive tells it the way it is, prompted by a cartoon in, of all places, The Times. Like me, Clive is of an older generation (I think he is a few yearss younger than me) utterly perplexed, not only by the result of last year’s referendum, but by the general perception that it was people of our generation who swung it in favour of leave.

The only explanation I’m able to come up with for that is that we have had 40 years of being bombarded by fake news about the EU from the right wing media.

I can’t leave you to Clive’s thoughts without adding how horrified I was to see that Corbyn’s equally out of touch crowd voted earlier this week to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union.

via Another Not So Wordless Wednesday

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