Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Raising the roof

HMV are to announce their results later today, but won't reveal what's happening at Waterstones. Too scary? The Samuel Johnson non fiction book award is also announced later on , Mr Beevor will win no doubt with his DDay tome and meanwhile I'm off to Glasgow to talk about books. Good job Andy Murray won last night although he still does look a miserable sod. Apparently he's been moaning about the roof, humidity et al. All will be forgiven if he wins of course and you do you need a bit of the mongrel to win, apart from Federer of course , who is sereness himself, or is it that one of the William's sisters? The M6 beckons. Joy.

Monday, 29 June 2009

The Soul Patch

There should be a law against males over forty and females too, If we are to be balanced about it, of sporting a 'Soul Patch and or a Goatee.' I was watching Glastonbury and that good old rock and roller, Mr Bruce Springstein was in possession of a Soul Patch. He may be the finest singer/songwriter ever to have left the shores of Atlantic City, New Jersey but he looked an iriot. No spelling mistake there. He looked an iriot.The Divil himself always sports one and I think there lies the clue. Anyone who has to spend time and effort producing facial tonsorial delights is someone to worry about. You have been warned.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

The Tao of Now

Life death and The Tao of Now. Its a kind of A Road Less Travelled book, but with daily inspiriational ideas to get through the grind of life. Well no, not really. Someone contacted me and said they were publishing a sequel to The Bible. In jest I hope. Doesn't really need a sequel. Well, not a lot can be doen once the Four Horsemen of the apocolyose have had their way. Paul's revelations were just that, revealed, so apart from The Book of Bono, I think The Tao Of Now seems to fit but It's probably been done already. Off for a swim . Toodlepip.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Pill Popped Star

The power of words. Heroin Addict dies of overdose. Singer dies of heart attack possibly caused by misuse of prescription drugs. In both cases their hearts will have stopped. A drug is a drug. Just because Big Pharma has 'passed' all the legal tests and can buy advertising space on mainstream TV, doesn't make their product any less lethal if misused. A drug is a drug is a drug.
Our perceptions of legality is mired by the advertsing dollar and our nose ringed GP's who follow the corporate drug line. Pill Popped Star Passes Away.

Friday, 26 June 2009


Yesterday was an interesting insight into two different ways of selling books. Ann Tortuga gave a great review of Gardneing with tortoises by P D Aspy in a magazine and it did result in some sales. Whilst at noon yesterday I got twittered, if that's the correct terminology by someone in Dorset. After several twitters, it turned out her dad used to live in Hebden, we had mutual friends and she owns a bookshop in Blandford Forum, Huckleberry's. After the twitfest, she bought a couple of books. The tried and trusted route of review coverage and then sales took over a month to produce a sale. The new technology route took ten minutes. As a technophobe, I have to hold my antennae up and say this new techno bookselling may have something to it. I am now going into a twittering bunker, obviously one with good reception. For now twee tweet.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Official Bolleaux

Worrying signs form the MLA, the government body that makes sure councils provide a good library service in the UK. Now, with the closures in the Wirral and Swindon in abeyance whilst a review is undertaken, the CEO of the MLA, Mr Clare, has organised a conference of Chief Executives from councils to talk about 'The Library experience.' What would they know? They have probably never been inside a library in an unnoffocial capacity. Mr Clare says that he's looking at a more, 'mixed economy,' with libraries. Jaysus H, libraries do not have economies. They are public entities and all this faux pseudo market nonsense does little to project, protect and promote what is an essential public service. In the present economy, Mr Clare, all the numbers you need to know is that there has been an increase of over 35% of people using their public libraries. Forget the jargon, besuited Latted and canape meetings with like minded market driven MBA Wallers. Libraries are essential for communities. Not just for lending books, access to PC's, DVD's and reference works. They are meeting places for all manner of groups and societies. Stop the rot and bolleaux and keep them open. Simple.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Anthills and Stars

There was many a smile in Moose HQ yesterday as the news came through that one of our titles, Anthills and Stars has been chosen to be promoted throughout Independent bookshops and libraries in the UK. It is part of a scheme called Exclusively Independent. The idea is to bring Indy publishers and booksellers together and showcase new writing. It was initiated by Legend Press and The Arts Council. You can see more if you click on http://www.exclusivelyindependent.com/
Anthills and Stars is a story of Hippies moving into Northern a mill town in 1968. The Permissive Society has arrived driving a VW camper van and the locals are none too happy. Scott Pack at http://www.meandmybigmouth.typepad.com/ said.' A warm and beautifully observed comedy that is very funny indeed. Kevin Duffy has Alan Bennett's fine ear for dialogue.'
Pass me some cake.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Come Hither to Hebden.

The world and his artistic brother and sister are descending upon Hebden Bridge this Friday. The Arts Festival starts in earnest. Ruth Padel has pulled out, she seems to have gone from serious poet to serial resigner and is being replaced by Carol Ann Duffy. No relation. There will be jugglers on every corner, poets in the eaves and musicians marching out from every acute angle you can find. There is of course the sculpture trail. One year a friend told the local council that there had been some fly tipping in Hardcastle Craggs, only to be told that the gas oven,with a book inside, which had been left in the middle of the river was indeed a piece in 'homage to The Bell Jar and Sylvia Plath.' Subtle. Public Art at its best. As Keith Richards commented on the brothers Gallagher and their music. 'Boys having a bash.' Come hither to Hebden and enjoy.

Monday, 22 June 2009

To Hesse, Hell and Halifax

I am reading The Rise of the Fourth Reich by Jim Marrs, an investigative journalist with The New York Times. It is a birthday present. It looks at how Nazi scientists and industrialists were allowed to enter the USA after WWII, embedding themselves into the into Americas banking and Industrial establishment. There's also a very interesting piece about Rudolph Hess and his peace mission to England. He was supposed to meet The Duke of Hamilton to sort it all out. The Royal family of course, were very pro Germany in the 1930's and early forties, and extremely hostile to Churchill and wanted him out. George VI despised his prime minister and there is some illuminating correspondence between Queen Elizabeth and Lord Halifax. Now, if all this came into the public domain, nobody would give a tinkers toss about the apprentice king and his views on building a New Trumpton. I think I'll fire off the odd missive and see if that will clear the muddy waters.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Happy Mooseday

It's the Moose's official birthday. There are books to read and chocolate to eat. Off to a corner of Moose HQ for the rest of the day. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Hub is the nub

The Hubbologists at Waterstones are now stroking black cats, lighting candles at the back of churches and doing the lottery. The Hub isn't working. Wats HQ, those visionaries at Brentford, have told staff not take money for customer orders because they can't guarantee a delivery date. Now, I'm no distribution guru, but whenever a company completely rejigs their distribution, it takes at least 12 months for it t0 bed in. Ask Penguin and WHSmith. I'm convinced the Hub will eventually work but at the minute Wats have a staff that is undervalued, understaffed and unable to tell their customers where their books are. Whilst the stores are struggling to maintain any semblance of professionalism, thay are bombarded by nonsense from their managerial superiors. If they don't get it right in the next three months, they can waive goodbye to Christmas. The lights will not be working, shelves will be empty but no doubt management will find something big and juicy in the corporate Christmas cracker.

Friday, 19 June 2009

More Fish to Fry

The Moose failed in his attempt to get Stephen Fry to twitter him, so he's engaged the help of some big hitters. Yesterday I called in help from three of the biggest establishment figures you can think of. Now, I know the boy Stephen regularly dines with one of them, so I'm hoping for a positive outcome. I contacted The Archbishop of Canterbury, Prince Charles and The Queen. I've asked them to pass on their Twitter details and hopefully in the not too distant one of them will be able to get hold of Mr Fry. If not, I will be able to follow them. Watch out for daily updates on theology, why Charles hates new buildings and following the corgis with a pooper scooper.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Harry Potter's Trip to The Bar

The Boy Wizard will soon be in the dock. No, he hasn't been handed an ASBO, but is being accused of plagiarism, or to be more accurate, his creator, JK Rowling. The writ says she's 'lifted' from the work of Adrian Jacobs, who wrote several Willy the Wizard books. Well, after doing some research I found out yesterday that the Muggles were taken from The Muggletonians. a group of 17 century English religious dissenters. They were pro ranter and anti quaker. Writing is all about observation and imagination. Can we really say we haven't 'borrowed' some ideas from deep in the subconscious? I think most writers are honest beings, apart from making things up for a living. Perhaps HP eight will be upon us soon. Harry Potter's trip to the Bar. The bewigged fraternity will be delighted and the boy wizard will have to be on his mettle when cross examined.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Roger and Out

The Moose has been alerted to the actions of certain unemployed members of the Royal Family. It seems Prince Charles has thrown his hat into the architectural ring concerning the new development at Chelsea Barracks. Lord Rogers of Corderoy, the famed builder of glass and steel is whinging. His Lego development has been rejected by the developers. The Qatari royal family. Now it seems to me Mr Rogers is on rather dodgy ground. He abhors the royal family's intervention but accepts royal patronage when it starts giving out gongs. You can't have it both ways. If, by accepting an honour which legitimses the establishment you're now attacking, don't get all agitated when a member of the Saxe Coburg Gotha family uses that privelege to throw a spanner into your architectural dreams.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Hollywood beckons

The Moose has been invited down to the smoke to see some film agents. They're showing interest in ANTHILLS AND STARS. All very exciting, but I'm not getting red carpet fever just yet, because I've been down this road before. I hadn't actually written the Oscar acceptance speech, but by lunchtime I was buying a Caribbean island and by dinner time you're lunching with Richard Curtis, who is so in awe at how funny you are, and rues the day he ever collaborated with Mr Ben Elton. I wish. Watch this space.

Monday, 15 June 2009

No tea for the wicked

The Moose and friends went for a walk yesterday. Sun, water and at the end a cup of tea at a National Trust Mill. Unfortunately we got there at 5.00pm and had to throw a cup of tea and a cake down as they were shutting at 5.30pm. We had friends from Tobago with us and they had crossed several continents and seas to be with us. They couldn't understand how the British Summer Officially closes at 5.30, if you want refreshment that is. Very British isn't it to want to wash up and get home.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

I'm a Royal Can I Survive?

I will be announcing the Official Bluemoose Honours list next Sunday as it is my birthday. Queenie had her stab at it yesterday and it was disappointing to see the ex poet laureate accepting a knighthood. Literature and deference are not easy bedfellows, but as Mr Motion said himself, he wrote soome bobbins stuff as 'Hallmark Scribe' to the Royal Family. He was forever tugging the forelock and doffing the cap whilst polishing the official shoe. Sad days indeed.
Given the economic hardship we're all in, perhaps the Saxe Coburg Gothas could do their bit. What about a Royal reality TV Show, I'm a Royal Can I Survive? Get the whole lot of them on an island in a kind of Lord of the flies way, throw them a weeks rations each and see how they do. Last person becomes President and has to live on a state pension.With a global TV audience of billions, advertising revenue in the zillions plus premium telephone calls, the show could raise billions for the treasury. Right, where where is Mr Cowells' number?

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Woebetide Days

It's gearing up for Arts Festival time, here in Hebden Bridge. The great and the good from the world of literature, music and the arts will be descending to show their wares, sing a song or recite some poetry. Carol Ann Duffy will be coming as will Mark Thomas. The earnest and worthy will don their cravats and ball gowns whilst the rest of us will smile at the mime artist in the square and look bemused at the folk singers. Street poets have their own poetry corner to rant at unsuspecting shoppers, whilst opposite litigation lawyers ply their trade offering compensation for those unfortunates who've been injured by a misplaced stanza or two. Overall it's a fantastic occassion to engage in something creative, and enjoy the works of others. It's like Lake Wobegon but less roll mop and more holistic pies.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Dan Brown or Bust

I was in a Waterstones yesterday and all is not well. The new central distribution centre, known as 'The Hub.' is having severe teething problems. The Hubbologitsts, thought that all would be fine and dandy once it was up and running. Not so, my futuristic friends. Books are being distributed, but nobody knows where. One bookseller told me that whilst they were unable to get hold of the Anthony Beevor book on D-Day, a bestseller that has been favourably reviewed everywhere, his area manager phoned him and the only question he asked was,'why haven't they pre-ordered as many of the new Dan Brown book, (published in September) than a rival shopping mall outlet nearby.' . Unbelieveabubble. The future's so bright I'll have to buy shades. Fewer booksellers, fewer titles arriving on time. Discover something new. And that discovery? That without a decent number of booksellers on the shop floor and books to sell, the tills will stop ringing. I think I'll become a management consultant.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Hebden Bridge

Today I'm being interviewed by The Big Issue. Before you ask, no, it's not an interview to see whether I'm competant enough to sell the magazine, but because Bluemoose is based in Hebden Bridge. You see the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival starts at the end of the month, and The Big Issue want to know why there are so many creative people and organisations in this small Pennine town. Well, towards the end of the 1960's lots of Hippies and like minded people left the hippy trail and bought cheap property here in Hebden and started an artisitc community that boasted artists, musicians, and alternative therpists. Anita Brookner calls it, The Greenwich Village of the North.'It is also a beautiful part of the country. Hills, streams, rivers and Ted Hughes started The Arvon foundation up the hill in Heptonstall. Sylivia Plath is buried there too. In the past thirty years, the place has flourished. I wrote a book, ANTHILLS AND STARS. It's 1968 and in Paris the students are rioting but in Broughton, a mill town 20 miles East of Manchester, the Permissive Society has just arrived driving a multi coloured VW camper van. That's the Plug.
Today, Hebden thrives. Poets on every corner and if you're not careful, you can find yourself starring in some street theatre and before you know it, you'll be sporting dreadlocks and throwing eggs at MP's. There are more counsellors here per square foot than anywhere else in Europe. Only California boasts more therapists. We do however, suffer from, PSCD. Post Stress Counsellor Disorder and of course we have a therapy for that too.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Buy a Guilotine Now.

The day hasn't started too well. An announcer on radio 4 has just told me that today is the Duke of Edinburgh's birthday, and so everyone in the studio stood up while they played God Save the Queen. What utter nonsense. This country will never move on until it stops its forelock tugging, bowing and scraping to people who through the lottery of aristocratic sperm, do nothing but insult foreigners and shoot corgis from behind the Orangery. It is my birthday in eleven day's time and as a shareholder in the BBC, I'm going to ask for 'Fools' Gold by The Stone Roses as my birthday song. I'll tell you how I get on. I will write to the BBC Chairman and see what happens On to more book like things. The Big Issue is doing a piece on Bluemoose, as is the online book reviewers Vulpes Libris. I will let you know when it appears, but here's the website anywhay, so you can get a feel of what they are up to. http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com
Off to Southport to see if I can see the sea and go to one of my favourite bookshops, Broadhursts. Insightful and knowleadgeable staff , wonderful selection of stock, and there is always something different available that makes the whole book buying experience one to remember. Back with a stick of rock tomorrow. If I can handle the photo technology, I'll take a picture. TTFN.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Secret Agents

The world of Nepotism reached new heights yesterday when Mrs Capel from Capel and Land, a very big noise in the world of literary agents received over £1 Million pounds last year from the publishing house Quercus, run by Mrs Capel's husband, Mr Cheetham. He bought 25 books from his wife's agency. All very above board, and I'm sure the books were worth whatever sums were passed across the breakfast table. I hope the authors were not short changed. Quercus lost £265,000 last year and the Finance Director has been seen on Threadneedle Street with a bowl doing an Oliver. Of course there maybe nothing in this, and my cynicism may be unplaced but it does raise a few questions.

Monday, 8 June 2009


There's trouble ahead. The British Nasty Party have won two seats in the European elections. Time for everybody to sit up and realise that through this malaise about politics and the shenanigans at Westminster, the right wing parties amble through the divide and suddenly before you know it, Nick Griffin is goosestepping his way up Downing Street. The rise of Fascism in Gemany in 1933 was due to an ideological split in the German left. Don't let it happen here in good old blighty.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Gabrial's Angel

Yesterday was all sunshine and smiles at Moose HQ. We're all very excited. One of our editors spoke me and said she was 'blown away,' by a Ms I had asked her to read. I had read it last week and thought it was fantastic. It is called, GABRIAL's ANGEL, and is written by Marc Radcliffe. The story is absolutely brilliant, the writing beautiful and the craftsmanship exquisite. We will be publishing in the summer of 2010. It is why we started Bluemoose, to publish writing like this, to get great books onto the shelves so that the reading public can enjoy books that perhaps wouldn't normally get published by the so called, 'publishing , fraternity. This is what an agent said.

'we might need to think about the conventions that will make the book more front of house’

What the beejesus does she mean? Is she saying because it is slightly different and doesn't conform to what is already on the 3 for 2 table the public won't buy it, understand it? How patronising. Gabrial's Angel is a fantastic book and deserves to be published and I am proud that Bluemoose will be doing so. I'm speaking to Mark later on today and I'm excited. You will be too, when we publish. Toodlepip.

Saturday, 6 June 2009


There was some iriat on the radio last week talking about George Orwell and 1984. It is 60 years since Mr Happy wrote it holed up on the isle of Jura. I nearly crashed the car as this academic started to over analyse every bit of the story. Why does there have to be this kind of didactic surgery? Is it because in academe you have to create your own niche of studying to access funds and then proclaim yourself the most knowledgeable of all? Having been an academic sales rep I can tell you the most serially ambitious people I have ever met are academics. The would kill their grandmas to get a professorship. This is why they can ruin literature. Admittedly sometimes their take on a book or a poem gives greater insight, but most often they try to outdue each other in trashing the creative skills of the author because when it boils down to it, they are not creative people. They earn their corn by dissecting the work of others, and it hurts. Leave Mr Orwell alone, he wrote some fantastic stories. You didn't.

Friday, 5 June 2009


If I had a sex change would I be eligible for the Orange prize? Of course that is if I was good enough. Just a thought. But perhaps that's me being a middle aged man. I thought writing was writing. Genderless, but I may be wrong. I heard the tragic news that David Carradine died yesterday in a hotel room in Thailand. He could walk on rice paper without making a sound and single handedly wrought revenge on all those racist cowboys in the wild west. I was brought up an David Carradine. He was the acceptable face of Kung Fu. Bruce Lee was too violent for the small screen, so every Saturday night we watched him walk across California kicking ignorant men in their Chaps whilst dispensing Eastern wisdom. He will be sorely missed and I will now have to roll up my own rice paper and move on.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Get Booked.

The book world is in a bit of a tiz. The marketing gods at the Booksellers Association are trying to come up with a bit of PR gold dust. You know the kind of stuff. I love NY, 5 a day, that sort of pithy and witty epithet which will bring the book loving public swarming into book shops up and down the land. What have they come up with? 'Bookaholism.' I get the addicted to books analogy, but I'm afraid it does smack of a negative. 'Aholism's are usually attributed to addictions that wreck lives. And at a time when less people are entering bookshops, we need something that makes everyone smile whilst getting the messsage across that books are fantastic, entertaining and great value. Let us hope that the marketing beavers in BA HQ come up with something a little more catchy.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Moose HQ has been alerted to another online bookshop, EDITOTUM. If you go to http://www.editotum.com/ you can find all the Bluemoose titles on sale, which is a good thing, I think. Of course I want everyone to go to their local independent bookshop and buy books there. This is not going to happen and we have to embrace every avenue that sources our titles and the new delivery systems that appear. Yes, delivery systems. Delivery systems are de rigeur in mgmt speak. Apparently, cigarettes are now nicotine dispensing units. The atmosphere is an Oxygen Delivery Complex. You get the drift, so all stripey managerial consultants should be placed in secure units and fed once a day only to be released when they have signed a piece of paper which states that they will never, ever go near a white board or read a management text again. Ever.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The chocolate fountain

Bluemoose Books didn't win anything at the Book Awards last night. Mind you we didn't enter anything because there seems to be financial conditions you have to meet if you're to be shortlisted. We didn't reach it apparently, so the Moose will have to forego the canapes and olives for another season. Canongate won the indy publisher of the year, and good luck to them with WHSmiths winning the chain bookseller of the year. As there are only four chain booksellers, it would appear that you win something every five years or so, but I won't whinge. Here at Moose HQ we celebrated getting through another year with doughnuts and a chocolate fountain. It was my youngest sons' birthday, so it was balloons and chocolate dipped goodies.
He 's fifteen but he and his teenage friends loved it. They said it was better than winning any prizes. I agree.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Blavatsky's Baboon

There was a fantastic interview in The Observer yesterday with Martina Cole, who is Britain's best selling adult fiction author. There is terrible snobbery in the publishing world and Martina told a great story about meeting a very famous lady of letters who commented.' With the type of books you write, you won't win too many literary awards.' To wit Ms Cole replied. 'The Booker wouldn't even keep me in cigarettes.' Which I thought was a blinding response. You see there are lots of Lit Eds who think there are only certain types of books that are worthy of review and it would seem they are the worthy, literary tomes that are dull, full of very long words, bits of French and touches of Russian, have little story, and try to give us an insight to the human condition. And guess what? The books don't sell, get acres of review coverage and everyone moans that the literary world is going to hell in a hand cart. There is nothing wrong in great stories. Martina Cole writes stories that sell. You might not like them but don't pretend she's an inferior writer. It reminded me of an incident when I was selling books in London. I was at an event at an agents house. You know the drill. Champers, canapes and other stuff too small to feed a grown man. I was standing holding a flute of bubbly when this women appeared, all silks and bangles. She looked like Madame Blavatsky about to lead a seance. 'And what do you do?' The agent said. 'I'm the London rep.' I replied. She looked slightly perturbed, raised her nose and said. 'You mean you're not creative.' Laugh, I nearly rammed her turban down her throat.