Archives: July 2012

Are we reading to our kids? Do we need to? Yes! Yes!

My earliest memories are being read to. My Mum always read to us kids at bedtime long before we could read for ourselves, and my father who was a hard working journalist and worked nights all week, lit-up Sunday walks by telling us stories he made-up as we trudged through the woods and fields with our dog – some of his stories I realised later weren’t so much made-up as loosely adapted from classic tales like Robin Hood or Treasure Island and even Dickens and Trollope. Clever man – not just for making up stories but for leading us down the path to what I would later learn to call literature and without any fear of what that might mean.

So the transition to reading books for myself instead being read to was easy. Why shouldn’t it be? Books meant only one thing to me – fun, adventure, excitement and laughter. I was very happy to pick-up a book when I felt like it at any time of day or night and I didn’t have to wait until the bedtime read.

Ah! Happiness! Happy memories. Paddington Bear, Winnie The Pooh, Mary Plain, The William books, Jennings, more Robin Hood, Pinnochio, Swallows and Amazons, Dr Dolittle, Dr Seuss… Wow! Sure, I loved television. I loved comic-books too but I also loved all these books and countless others.

There were no particularly harsh rules in my family about what was good to read or what was bad to read. I think my parents worked on the basis that if all I ever read was comics, if all I ever did was watch television then that would be not be a good thing but if I was lacing those enjoyments with vivid story-books that fired up my imagination and took me into other worlds, other times and into other minds – then all was well.

We should read to our kids for lots of reasons. It brings you closer to them for starters – what better than sharing an adventure together, or laughing together or even crying together over a good book. We should also read to them so that they will want to read for themselves – and why is that important? Because books contain knowledge and they open our minds to other people and to other points of view. They help us to understand how different cultures, different religions and different beliefs from our own should be appreciated and treasured, respected and enjoyed. Books give us new ideas, make our brains work better, make being human more enjoyable and face us with new challenges, hopes and aspirations. In short, I would suggest that we should all read to our kids because it is one thing we can do that makes us all a lot more civilised and a lot nicer than we might be otherwise.

 

 

Please Tell Me What You’re Reading.

I need to know somehting – what are you reading??

I can’t be a writer if I don’t know what people read and why  – ok that’s not strictly true and I’ve already sketched a thought on this before – but for now just satsify my curiousity, will you please? In the Facebook group ‘The Ultimate Blog Challenge’ there are nearly thirteen hundred members (all of them obvioulsy articulate, witty and terribly well educated, of course)  – and that seems to me like a good sample to ask my simple question. What are you reading right now? Please let me know. This is research, this is valuable stuff to a writer…

Ok…Ok…  Yes, and I’m curious too – like a nosey neighbour leaning over the fence. I want to pry. I want to pry into your reading material. Please tell me.

We need to refine this a bit. Perhaps I should be asking you what you are reading today or at least during the course of the last week? I don’t much care what it is you are reading – maybe you just look at the newspapers occasionally, maybe you’re strictly a magzine reader or maybe you’ve got your head into Pride And Prejudice, or Tolstoy or The Bible  or a scientific journal or a text book for an exam. But let’s share what we read. Reveal your reading habits in a comment right here, right now.

And DON’T be shy – Fifty Shades Of Grey has sold over 20 million copies apparently (a vast percentage of them ebooks) so some of you must reading that or other forms of erotica – bet you won’t tell me though….

Oh, and while we’re at it, why not add the title and author of your absolutely most favourite book ever…

OK I’ll start. Right now I am readng ‘Tree Surgery For Beginners’ by Patrick Gale (excellent, by the way) and my favourite book, and has been for nearly forty years,  is ”The Spire’ by Wiliam Golding. The man told stories better than anyone else ever has about the inner person that is inside us all,  what he called, ‘the youness of you’.

Anyway, I must rush now, I’ve got to down-load Fifty Shades Of Grey….

 

Ramblings On Writing…

As you may  have noticed from my other posts I am not just interested in writing, I am interested in writing for an audience. I guess that must seem obvious but writers don’t need to write for an audience if they don’t want to. It seems perfectly OK to me if you just want to sit down and pour your thoughts out onto a sheet of paper – call it therapy if you will, call it free expression. What you put down may be brilliant art or it maybe a load of rubbish but if the primary aim is to satisfy some inner personal need, then cool – it’s all the justification you need to be a writer.

However, there is another type of writing and that’s the type of writing where what you have to say is something you really want other people to read. In its own way it may be just as therapeutic for you as the above and it is probably just as personal but once you make the decision that you want someone else to read your work all kinds of forces come into play. You will edit your work more carefully, think more about the construction of not only the piece but each paragraph, each sentence…

In a kind of writer’s quantum mechanics you will reduce your thoughts to basic parts – this  examining of the nuclear parts of your work  will affect  how you choose each of your words (the building blocks or the atoms of your molecular whole). You’ll start choosing words not just because they convey your meaning but because they reflect the style in which you want to put across that meaning.Why say ‘view’, when you can say ‘vista’, why say ‘the man is mad’ when you can say he is a ‘dreamer, his mind in another universe’.

In short (or dare I say in other words) you are now being led by the audience and you want to impress that audience, you want to impress the reader, you are not now being led by your desire to express yourself – you want to entertain, you want to impress. When you get to that stage you are truly a writer and you have a story to tell. So, tell it…

 

 

Are you at a certain age? Too old to blog, too young to care?

My character Hymie Brinkmeyer from the book I am working on, believes he is a man of today but he is at a ‘certain age’ – an age when men look back with more happiness than when they look forward. Am I at that age? Maybe that’s why I’m writing this character. Can you be an author and not write from personal experience? I mean do you have to have experienced something to write it down – or is knowledge of it enough? In other words, are even works of fiction in some way autobiographical? As Hymie might say, ‘Hey, think about it…”

Extract from the Brinkmeyers: (Hymie is an American who has settled in the UK. He has a difficult life – his kids don’t understand him, his teenage daughter is pregnant – again! And his English wife is probably having an affair – oh, and his sectetary loves him but Hymie hasn’t noticed that yet. Recently he took up blogging….

“…It’s raining all over the world

I have had a day of thinking and playing my old records. Sure, I have a CD player – I am a digital man, but I like my old records. My son, Kevin, when he was younger, I was playing Tubular Bells, he says ‘Hey, what’s that?’ I said, ‘It’s Tubular Bells!’ He says, ‘No. Not the music. What’s that?’ He is pointing at the record on the turntable. He does not know what a record is!

This is what we call progress. It is also what we call getting old! But I am not one to cling to the past. I prefer CDs. I like MP3s. I have even bought an iPod and I download stuff – see, I’m Digital Man!! BUT there are some things just sound better on record. There are some things you can only GET on record.

Today, I am playing Randy Crawford. ‘Secret Combination’! Here is music: ‘Lonely Night In Georgia’, ‘You Might Need Someone’! This is music to be sad to…

Only I don’t know why I am sad.

Answers please, on a postcard…
…I mean by posting me below…On the blog or Facebook or whatever it is.

Digital Man… See. That’s me.

Who reads ebooks? I need to know…

Now here’s a question – who actually reads ebooks? I’ve read quite a lot about this – for instance, I recently read a report that said the latest figures indicate that 20% of book sales in the US are now in the form of ebooks; what I can’t find out is who makes up that 20%. As a writer it’s kind of important to understand how that figure breaks down demographically. Is it mainly young readers who are switiching to ebooks? Or is it another age-group? Are they male or female and what kind of books make up that 20%? I’m sure the figures are out there somewhere but if someone knows them off-hand, I’d be very grateful if they’d let me know.

I have a hunch that this might be a more complicated subject than I might think. You see, I’m pretty sure that for an older reader the convenience of the ebook must be a great selling point. Let me expand: I don’t think of myself as anything but middle-aged (my kids think I’m ancient, but I think of myself as middle-aged, I want to emphasise that) but already I find that the old mincers (for American readers thats rhyming slang – mince-pies = eyes) the old mincers are beginning to go. That’s one of the reasons I love ebooks. I don’t have to put on pesky reading glasses, I can simply up the print size with a cick on an icon (should that be eye-con?). That, in my opinion, is a handy device, but on the other hand the traditionalist in me still thinks a book is a thing made out of paper, cardboard, prnter’s ink and deams…

Then there’s the question of techno-phobia. Are things electronic mainly loved by youth? I doubt it – my dad was eighty four when he died and he was using a PC for photographic-editing, accounts, reading, catching -up on missed TV and keeping in-touch with his grand-children. My American aunt in Florida is eighty-six emails me every week and runs a computer system in the hospital she does volunteer work in. So age shouldn’t be a draw-back to reading ebooks. But why do I suspect it is? Perhaps because my aunt hates them – she’s quite capable of using them but she won’t, and nor would my dad.

Is it because there are some things we hang onto as a happy tradition? A fond memory? I was brought-up with stories being read to me and later on happiness was to curl-up in bed, find a flashlight and read a book under the bedcovers in the (erroneous) belief that my parents had no idea what I was up to. Will torrow’s kids have the same affection for books with paper pages or will they wax fondly about their first ipad with the Kindle app?

So come on, someone, let me know – who reads ebooks and if you don’t know I’d still love to know how you prefer to read – is it on the screen or on the page? Let me know.

The Midnight Trot – Part Three

The contnuing saga of a dodgy prostate!

After six months , quite unexpectedly, the bursting bladder and sleepless nights returned with a vengeance.  So, my GP gave me a further course of antibiotics…..  And another….. And another. ….And I was still rushing off to the toilet every night.

Eventually, with some trepidation, I went back to my Urologist.  Barely had I enquired after his health than I was back on my side with his finger up my bum!  It’s an unusual form of greeting – but each to his own…

Later with my trousers back and my dignity nearly back, I slumped into a chair while he explained.

There were two possibilities. One: either the bacteria had developed resistance and/or we were treating it with the wrong medication, in which case he needed to grow a culture from fluid within the gland; or two, there was no bacteria now but the residual effect of a previous infection had left the prostate swollen, restricting the flow of urine which was backing-up and being forced into the prostate itself, causing ongoing inflammation. I would require a dubious sounding ‘prostate massage.’ This was basically the insertion of the digit once more into the anus and the application of pressure until the gland released some fluid, which could then be used to grow a culture.  ‘Now,’ he enquired, ‘Would you prefer a local or a full anaesthetic?’

Was he kidding?

We fixed a date for the general and he told me he would take the opportunity to check my bladder with a ‘scope at the same time. Well, whatever you want Doc – so long as I’m asleep….!

The operation  took place a week later. I won’t bore you with the sordid details – nor with the after effects. If you don’t know what it is like to pass razor blades and barbed wire in your urine for two days, then I wish you well and won’t alarm you. There were no bacteria in the culture and I confess to a slight feeling of having let the side down. But as my Urologist explained – it was probably that months of antibiotics had removed the bacteria and what he was  now  treating was the aftermath of the infection.  To do this he prescribed more drugs; something to target the actual swelling of the prostate itself and the blockage in my water works.

Today (some 60 days after the examination)  I am taking alpha blockers and anti-inflammatory drugs twice daily and I can expect to do so for the next 3 months. The alpha blockers target the alpha 1a andrenoceptors – these are specialist cells in the prostate, bladder and urethra  that cause the urethra to contract. The blockers reduce their effect and the anti-inflammatories target the swelling in the prostate and neck of the bladder.

There is apparently a 75% chance that the treatment will be effective, though 20% of those who benefit will later relapse and require further treatment.

Incidentally and significantly, I’ve now discovered that there are moves among some Urologists to re-label prostatitis as ‘chronic pelvic pain syndrome.’ I can identify with this. When you have this problem there is no pain in the prostate. Most of us don’t know where that is anyway but any sufferer will tell you about the pains in the scrotum, crotch, pelvis, back and bladder – it is indeed ‘chronic’, ‘pelvic’ and ‘painful’!

If I fall into the 25% category for whom alpha blockers don’t work then there are other possible treatments.  These seem to involve using microwaves or other ‘waves’ to heat the prostate, and are effective in most of cases of prostatitis.

Frankly, considering the possibility of having my bits ‘microwaved’ I’m hoping most sincerely that the alpha blockers are going to be just fine… in fact I’m praying for it. I definitely feel better already. I’m sleeping better and my nocturnal wanderings have almost ceased.  But there have been some odd side effects. Dizziness when standing and what the leaflet that came with the pills calls ‘..abnormal ejaculation.’ – what you and I might call a ‘dry run’ – but apart from that I am definitely getting better. Of course faced with the alternative forms of treatment this may just be wishful thinking…..But on the whole I am getting better…. Honestly, Doctor, I am getting better… I really am!

The end (I hope!)

The Midnight Trot – Part Two

The continuing story of The Midnight Trot…

After a fairly lengthy wait  I walk into the rooms of a urologist. I’m surprised. He’s smiling and  about my age and that’s too young for a specialist – specialists are grey and grumpy; I’ve seen ‘House’ and ‘Casualty’ – I know! We go through my sad story again and in yet more detail.

‘Right,’ he says, ‘ Let’s have a look at you on the couch.’  (Just a moment, what exactly are your qualifications?)  I scramble reluctantly up.

‘Slip the trousers and underpants right down please.’  (No! Shan’t!) We achieve a compromise which leaves my dignity more or less intact and while he prods my abdomen and goolies  I focus on a small piece of chewing gum unaccountably stuck to the ceiling…

‘Right, now I need to examine your prostate.  I’ll need to put my finger into your back passage.  Roll onto your side and curl up into a ball.’

A finger ? Where? Surely he didn’t say….?

He did!!

A latex clad finger slipped itself into a place where no finger has slipped before and with a heave he turns his upper body through 90 degrees allowing his digit to make contact with what I later discovered was my Prostate gland. The twin sensations of having my internal organs pulled out through a very narrow opening and of having my genitalia folded back in on themselves sends tears to my eyes and a tirade of abuse to my lips. At this moment I realise how the chewing gum became attached to the ceiling!

‘Mmmm.Tender?’

I confidently confirm his diagnosis.

He sighed. I could see I was not as interesting a case as he had hoped for because it seems we are only looking at prostatitis. He must have seen my blank expression.

The  prostate it turns out ( and indeed mine felt as if it had just been turned out) is a walnut sized gland that sits at the base of the bladder and nestles up against the wall of the rectum – hence the undignified examination; the rectum providing a convenient point of contact between it and the doctor. This little walnut is a bit of a medical mystery – no one knows all of its functions – but it certainly provides fluid to the sperm as they pass through the urethra at the moment of sexual climax. The fluid provides energy for the sperm, and also enzymes which alter the fluidity of the semen; it’s all part of the necessities of reproduction apparently .

The urethra, incidentally, is the pipe, which in a man, serves as both a route for the energised sperm and a discharge outlet for urine. It’s a funny old thing, the body!!

When the prostate becomes infected or swollen through other causes, it locks around the urethra and this both irritates the bladder, making it want to discharge urine even when it is only partially full, and also prevents a full flow through the urethra. This is Prostatitis.

Now here’s a staggering thought: it is reckoned that up to 50% of the male population (UK) will at some time or other develop a form of prostatitis  – that is to say some form of infection of the prostate. Considering what a large number that it is, it is extraordinary how little we talk about this disease. I guess men just don’t like bringing their dangly bits out into the open, or admitting how many fingers they’ve had up their bums!!

Also, the prostate naturally enlarges throughout a man’s life and thus more than half of men in  their 60’s and up to 90 percent of men in their seventies and eighties will experience what is called BPH or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – that is swelling and blocking. In men of my age (mid forties) the cause of such blocking is usually an infection or possibly cancer. Though the incidence of cancer is much lower in men in their forties than in their fifties and sixties.

Of course at this time about the only thing that I did know about the prostate was that you could get cancer in it! My urologist said that he would send a blood test off which would confirm or exclude that possibility.

He did. It wasn’t…..

I was relieved!

So all I needed was a course of antibiotics, which I duly took for a couple of weeks. And it worked!!  Within days the nocturnal visits had gone, and I was back to my old self.

But not for long…..

To Be Continued…

The Midnight Trot..Part One –

The thing about what my daughter when she was young called men’s ‘dangly bits’ is that they are simply great when they function perfectly and they are simply awful when they begin to show signs of  wear and tear.  If you are young, virile and your water works and reproductive organs have never needed routine maintenance, wipe away that smug smile – your dangly bits can turn nasty on you at very short notice – no matter what your age!

Now  I am not talking about erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is frankly yesterday’s topic. Pick up any magazine from Cosmo to Men’s Health during the last ten years and you’ll soon find some slant on the old ‘my old soldier won’t stand to attention’ routine. I mean you are simply not in with the in-crowd if at some point you haven’t been under sufficient stress or tension, work related preferably, to cause a failure in the pumping-up department. ‘God, Jerry has it hard in the city all day, no wonder he can’t get it hard at night’ has been the rallying call of the middle classes for far too long.  And anyway, since Viagra (blessed little penile pumper) it’s not half the problem it was.

No. I’m talking about restless nights. I’m talking the midnight trot. I’m talking the drips down the leg. I’m talking the soggy jockeys. In fact, I’m talking ‘Prostate;’ that dubious little gland tucked away at the base of every  bladder; a gland so cunningly hidden, so modest about its presence, that you won’t even know it’s there until it decides to go wrong – and even then, as I have recently discovered, it is prone to  hide its misdemeanours  behind a whole host of symptoms that could be anything from a chill to a back ache.

My dalliance with my prostate began nearly 14 months ago when I became vaguely aware of being more tired than usual. My wife pointed out that this was probably because I kept interrupting my sleep (and hers) in order to visit the loo.

Now I came to think about it I realised that I was going far more often than I used to. Being adept at doing such things with my eyes barely open, I hadn’t really been aware of this until she pointed it out. Of course, once she had pointed it out my nights were ruined: first I would lie in bed expecting the urge to go, then I would try to resist the urge when it arrived and finally, giving way to it, I would start a vicious circle in which having been once I would almost immediately want to go again….and again…..

Lying in bed, crossing my legs, I would try not to go by thinking of other things but no matter what fantasies I dreamed up – Tottenham winning the League or Joanna Lumley begging me to stop – they quickly changed into aquatic scenes of running water, rivers, waterfalls and dripping taps – until in despair I would make my first loo bound trip.

I don’t know if you are  familiar with that old magician’s routine where an empty glass keeps filling itself with water, even though no one’s pouring anything into it -  well that’s what my bladder was like – there was a seemingly endless stream of urine from some miraculous source deep within me and the flow was irresistible. I would lie  there like some urological King Canute  but the tide just went on flowing through me and the miraculous spring just carried on welling up  – if I had been a ‘source d’eau mineral’ I would have been inexhaustible and bottling a fortune.

After suffering this for a week or two (convincing myself, of course, that I had galloping cancer of the dangly bits) I became aware that someone had wrapped an elastic band around my crotch – very tightly just below the scrotum – at least that’s how I explained the sensation when I eventually plucked up the courage to visit my GP.

‘Any other pain,’ he asked with the detached air of one who had not himself spent the last month doing an imitation of a waterfall.

‘Slight aching here…’ I sketched a line vaguely across my groin, in a slight diagonal, ‘and some back ache…here.’

‘Right then. Let’s take a look at you.’

My Doctor ran his hands over my groin and  parts, whilst I affected a look of casual detachment – I find eye contact very disconcerting in such circumstances.

‘Errrrm…. I’m not sure…’ he said. (Ah, I obviously have such galloping cancer he can’t face telling me.) ‘..but I think you should see a Urologist. Might be prostate..’.

Prostate?? The only reason I know for having a prostate, is so you can get cancer in it.  Which is obviously what I’ve got.  I’ve read about it in the press. I know…

To be continued…

 

No Mistress & The Writer’s Back – is Agony

I think it should be made quite clear that writers’ suffer for their art. OK, we all know that many of them have by tradition lived in garrets (what is a ‘garret’ by the way, and why do only arty people live in them?). We all know about being down and out (in Paris and London, mainly) and about producing your work from the street as it were, and we all know that the very best writers are drunks, lechers and/or starving/misunderstood/underrated or ignored by their generation (please delete as required).

Now, I regret to say that I don’t run to a mistress, I gave up drink when I had a heart problem and I live in quite a nice house in the countryside and so far the only person who consistently misunderstands me is my agent (oh, and my teenage son).

Hell! Does this mean I am doomed to failure as a scribe?

I’ve been at my desk all day. I’m there most days, either hunched over my lap-top or staring at my rather flashy iMac with two extra screens. The constant stillness, the lousy chair I insist on sitting in for sentimental reasons (complicated story and apparently these blogs have to be PG rated) and the way I bend forward to stare at the screen (well, three screens if we’re going to be pedantic and I’m going to show-off) has led to the most chronic back-ache and also to rather a large gut – both due to a lack of exercise and too many biscuits (sorry, cookies if you come from the great nation of our cousins across the Atlantic).

I was thinking of asking people in this posting if they had any suggestions for easing back pain. Then two thoughts occurred to me:

A) Some of you might suggest I diet and lose the gut, but then bearing in mind that I don’t drink or smoke I’d have no vices left (remember there is no mistress either) and so I couldn’t bear that idea, I must have some life, and…

B) it occurred to me that if you made my back better I wouldn’t be suffering – and if I don’t suffer, I’m not a writer…

Oh, God I’m in pain, I’m really suffering – Oh good, what a relief , I’m an artist!

And in my beginning – the writer’s dilema

I’ve been writing about endings and beginnings of books. My new book ‘Billy Christ’ is about a young boy growing-up sometime in the early 1970s in a small English rural community. He’s no ordinary boy in that he has a number of obsessions and a deep and primitive spiritual belief. He’s a ‘wild’ child and an outsider – his world is narrow and mainly confined to the Roman Catholic boys’ school he attends and the clearing in the woods at the top of the hill near where he lives. Compared to his contemporaries he is an innocent, sexually unknowing, naive…

But he is also (unintentionally) amusing and I tried to use humour in the narration to highlight by contrast the bleakness of his world. How do you get all this across in that all important opening page? I guess it’s a question all writers have to address: how do you get the reader into your world, into your characters’ world and into their minds? I  tried the age-old idea of entering Billy’s mind through his diary (or as he call them ‘his memoirs.’)

This is what I did:

“There are two worlds.

Sometimes I think I belong to one world and all the other boys at school and some of the teachers belong to another. I get glimpses of their world but I cannot really understand it, let alone explain it.

In their world they make jokes which they laugh at but I don’t understand, sometimes they snigger behind their hands and then they’ll say things which seem quite ordinary but which make them giggle hysterically, so that the ordinary words they use must mean something else but I don’t know what. Take the drama club. Some of the older boys and some of the boys in my year and even some who are below me and who are not in the drama club look at you funnily when you go to rehearsals and they nudge each other if Father Martin asks you to rehearse privately up in his office.

I once heard Roger Inkman in the 1st year sixth say to another sixth former, ‘Oh, they call it rehearsals? – That’s a new name for it!’ And he put a sort of funny emphasis on ‘new’ and then they both giggled and gave me an ODD look. I didn’t understand that, especially as most boys in my school have been in the drama club at one time or another.

Nor did I understand what Mr Postlethwaite (PE and Games) meant, when I said I could not go to a rugby sevens practise because we had a dress rehearsal for the house drama competition. ‘Oh,’ he said. ‘Well, you’ll have to learn that rugby and plays just don’t mix. Not where I come from, anyway!’ 

He comes from Plymouth, apparently.

Mr Postlethwaite came along to the folk concerts that we organised to raise money for the school development fund and so did Mr Banks the other games teacher and they brought their wives with them who had blonde hair and wore short skirts and cheesecloth shirts and who looked just like each other.

I read some poems at the Folk Concert that I had written for the occasion. At Games the next day Mr Postlethwaite said, ‘Why the poems? You should leave folk to folk singers.’ Apparently Mr Postlethwaite and Mr Banks belong to a folk club in town above the ‘Fox And Hounds Pub’ and they both have ‘pretty fair’ voices – according to Fred Dymond, who is in the third year sixth because he failed his A-levels first time round and who can, therefore, go to the pub.

So can I ask you what you think of it? Does anyone have a favourite opening to a novel they’d like to share? Let me know.  Share them here.

The end of the novel – the writer’s horror – and the reader’s too!

I’ve been thinking about endings – the endings of books that is. I had to think about them because I am at that point in my own work where I am writing one.  I suppose as readers and writers we remember the ending of a favourite book better than we remember a lot of what went before…

So is the end of a book meant to complete it, to round off the story and bring it to a satisfactory conclusion? Should it leave us cheerfully fulfilled and informed about where the story and its characters will go next in our absence, when we have closed the pages for the last time? Possibly. Possibly not. Of course, it depends on what went before but sometimes even the author doesn’t know what he was getting at with those all important last few lines. Here’s the end of Great Expectations:

I took her hand in mine and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.’

Oh, good a happy ending. They’re going to get married at last. – after all the faffing around and trials and tribulations…  (Well, the book does go on a bit – but I’m not a great Dickens fan, to be honest). Actually, the story works just as well  with a less optimistic ending. In fact, Dickens wrote both: – the one above is his last revision made after friends told him to make it more upbeat – or perhaps because his agent said, ‘listen Charlie, happy endings sell best. Your comic stuff is where the money is…’ Well, maybe…

Of course, some best sellers just have plain rotten endings – like the author ran out of steam and couldn’t wait to get to press and get the royalties coming in:

” ‘What about my back?’ she said. “

That one sold millions. But it’s a rotten line to end on. I turned over the page thinking there must be more. There wasn’t. That was it…  Still, what do I know? Ian Fleming did alright with it, that was the ending of ‘Live And Let Die’.

So big question. What’s your favourite ending to a novel? I’d love to hear what they are,  I’d especially love to know what ones we hated most. Like ‘em, love ‘em or hate ‘em – let’s start listing a few and tells us why you chose them.

‘What larks, eh pip?’