Hey you! Don’t watch that, watch this!

Hello and welcome. This space began as a blog intended to showcase all aspects of my writing, current and past, with particular reference to my various self-published books, each of which can be located here under Novels, even when they aren’t Novels, and each with their own Lulu.com and Kindle links.

On this site, you will never be without a link to where you can pay good money (I also accept bad, as long as I can trade it in at the shops for food) for my work: help save me from gainful employment!

However, the blog has become an end in itself, the way they usually do. It’s a venue for my reactions to and opinions upon the things that interest me. These include, in no particular order, the Lake District, comics, certain writers, old television programmes, the Justice Society of America, music and the Lake District (it’s my spiritual home, plus I descend from Cumberland on my Dad’s side). The common link is not only fascination but the belief I have something of interest to say.

So far, at least for a select audience – you know who you are and I love all 10 of you! – it seems to be working.

Please comment, I love a bit of conversation. But, above all, have fun.

For those who want to contact me directly about anything, please use e-mail arduous.publications47@gmail.com

24 thoughts on “About

  1. An excellent website, Martin. I found it having read your review of ‘Boneland’. I just re-read ‘Weirdstone’ which I read as a kid in the seventies. Great book. Will get ‘Boneland’. Some great items on your website too. As I’m currently exiled in S Korea I really like your Lakes features.

    1. Helo and welcome, David, and I’m glad to hear you like the blog. I cannot recommend Boneland highly enough: even now, I have not fully fathomed it and I expect I never truly will without having Alan Garner’s mind. But it couldn’t be more differemt from ‘Weirdstone’. If possible, I’d suggest reading everything else as well before Boneland – it really is a culmination of all Garner’s writing life. Glad to be eminding you of the Lakes as well.

    2. Fantastic reviews of Dan dare I was inspired to buy the man from nowhere trilogy on eBay and it was excellent

      1. As a lifelong Dan Dare fan, I can only recommend the whole saga, though like any story told over a decade and a half it has its ups and downs. The Man from Nowhere trilogy is almost certain;y the peak, though I have a soft spot for All Treens Must Die, in the Keith Watson Hawk Books volume. Ah, those days of Eagle every Wednesday!

  2. Hello Martin, I have just read your blog dated July13th last year that covered the subject of SOTS
    on Saturday morning. I found myself in total agreement with your point of view. Brian’s silky tones
    and his general eloquence still put me in the comfort zone, but it has never quite been the same
    since Roger departed. Oh for return to some of those obscure gems from the likes of The Fleur de Lys & The Hush. That said and to be fair to Phil Swern we did get The Turnstyle played last year so
    he knows what’s out there,but he just plays far too safe with the play list. What happened to Rog
    I wonder?

    1. Hi Chris. I knew I wasnm’t alone! In fact, on doing a Google search to see what Roger Bowman’s doing, I find I’m far from alone in my crioticism of the overwhelming early Sixties bias, which has by now spoilt the programme for me. Swern doesn’t even admit there’s an imbalance. I think that if Brian ever retires permanently, I’ll give up listening, as not one of the guest presenters I’ve ever heard has got ‘it’.

  3. Hello, I found your “Non-Review” of Man of Steel through a link from Comics Should Be Good, enjoyed that, then I read and enjoyed your recent posts on the JLA/JSA team-up from 1978 and your post on Richard Barnes. You have a really interesting perspective and viewpoint and that shows in your posts. Glad I found this site!

    1. Hi Tom, and thanks for the kind comments. The JLA/JSA post is part of a series, reviewing all the legendary team-ups so I’ll be covering 1979 tomorrow. I hope you enjoy that as much. Cheers, Martin

  4. Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine, is a total 100% classic album. I know…because I wrote, arranged and produced it with some help from my old pal Stephen Fleming. The album was played, engineered and produced by the two of us before it became a band. Also, I sang all the vocals including all the harmonies…although I do believe my five solo albums have all bettered this record. ETMS sold over 100,000 copies and took us around the world on tour for a few years. I hadn’t been out of the UK before the album was released (I was 42 years old and had never been on an aeroplane) but it enabled me to see the world…appear on around 50 TV shows around the world and have my songwriting acknowledged by some of my heroes including R.E.M. Paul Weller and Elvis Costello. It also earned me loads of money and the songs still get used in TV shows around the world and still earn me money. It might not be a big deal of a record to you but it’s been a winner for me and on the critical side, the album had a 95% excellent reviews history.

    14 years later, folk are still loving it.

    Lastly…like all my records…I wrote the songs for myself…the way I wanted them to sound. If other people get it too, then that’s a bonus. Many folk got ETMS and are still contacting me from around the globe on a daily basis to tell me how great a record it is.
    Take it easy.
    Daniel Wylie.

    1. Hi Daniel

      Thank you for dropping by, and it’s great to hear the passion you still have about your music.

      I’m sorry that I don’t like it as much as others do.

      All the best


  5. Martin,

    I have no clue who you are and I would never have stumbled onto your blog had I not been sent a link by an obsessive/friendly Australian fan but as a journalist, surely you could motivate yourself to find something more interesting to write about.

    I have no problem with anyone not liking my records. It’s all subjective. However, your motivation to write about it 12 years after the event, baffles me. The record has already been a critical and commercial success. I have a phone book worth of great reviews and as of two years ago it had sold 119,000 copies. You missed the boat.

    I have many friends who are journalists in the national press, the music press and on TV. All of them talented writers. None of them would steep to such mediocrity.

    As a journalist, you seem to be bereft of good ideas and in a creative coma.

    Your piece is less interesting than the good news item tagged on at the end of the local news. The one where the kind Fireman rescues the old lady’s cat from up a tree.

    The fact that you actually thought it was a good idea to waste time writing about a 12 year old album that you rarely play and don’t like very much, says more about you than anything I can be bothered writing.

    I hope you can accept a bit of criticism as well as you can give it.


    1. Hello Daniel

      I’m not a journalist, just an everyday blogger. If you had taken a moment or two to read more than the one blog about your album, you might have seen that it is one of a series where I am discussing various CDs from my collection that, for differing reasons, I rarely play.

      I appreciate that the album has won a lot of acclaim and has sold over 100,000 copies, but everybody has their own response to it.

      You say you have no problem with anyone not liking your records but, with respect, you’re not showing that side of you here. That snide after-comment criticising my lyrics – many of which are 30 – 40 years old – demeans you.

      This blog is the space where I write about things that interest me, and is under no obligation to be up-to-date or timely. As I said, I’m sorry I don’t like your music as much as others do, or as much as you want me to, but I make no apology for it.

      Feel free to criticise my writing any time.


  6. I’m not sure whether I’m accidentally joining in a debate about the merits of Daniel Wylie (of whom I’ve never heard), but my intention is to offer a ‘me too’ to the ‘SOTS’ under Phil Swern debate – the man is a tasteless charlatan, who seems to have been given carte blanche to pack out the programme with early ’60s rubbish, and who is apparently answerable to no one – ‘It’s all subjective and too bad if you don’t like it’ pretty much sums up the BBC’s response to criticism of recent episodes. How do you get rid of him? Any ideas?

    1. Hi Sean, nice to hear from you.

      We’re not the only ones who get pissed off at the state of SOTS, as witness comments to earlier posts on the same subject. I used to love the Roger Bowman playlists, he used to have this knack, three weeks out of four, of pulling out something you’d never heard before and which turned out to be fascinating, whereas Swern can’t manage it more than twice a year if we’re lucky.

      I’ve exchanged e-mails with him over it and yes, he doesn’t see a problem. After all, the audience figures are healthy so in his mind the majority like what he’s doing. And I still tune-in every week (this weekend’s episode is only the second I’ve ever switched off in disgust).But how many of that audience genuinely want early-Sixties music all the time (remember, Billy Fury is SOTS’s most requested artist/band) and how many are like us, with no alternative programme to transfer to?

      As to getting rid of Swern, if I could do it I’d have done so years ago! SOTS is an independent programme, produced for, not by the BBC, and unless there’s a groundswell of serious support for changes, he’s impervious. And the risk of that is that if the audience figures slide enough to make Swern’s position untenable, the BBC are just as likely to cancel as to refurbish the show.

      There are lots of people out there who resent even the two hours a week SOTS gets. And we are, by definition, a dying audience.

      So I put up with it, take what I can get (he’s even crap at playing the standards that Bowman used to balance so well with his obscurities), and vent off here whenever it gets too frustrating.


  7. I’m sure you’re right – the programme won’t survive Brian Matthew (though he sounds far stronger than a year or so back) so the loathsome Swern is no doubt secure as ‘SOTS’ tsar for as long as he wants to be. The rubbish that he plays, though! Three consecutive songs called ‘Mama’ a while back, each a serious contender for most maudlin dirge of the ’60s; A Jet Harris/Tony Meehan ‘B’ side (of ‘Scarlett O’Hara’) last week that was quite possibly the worst track ever played by a mainstream radio station; a truly abysmal version of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ by a Kent pub band – the list is endless, and the tide of tripe seems to rise higher every week.
    I heard a repeat on Radio 4Extra a few days ago of a programme about the Vernon Girls (I just about remember them, but I doubt you do) in which Mr Swern got a mention as the producer of an eminently forgettable ditty called ‘Third Finger, Left Hand’ in the mid-’70s, and if that represents the level of his creative abilities, it’s no wonder he revels in the mediocrity with which he packs ‘SOTS’ forty years later.
    I’ve taken to complaining to the BBC about the content of ‘SOTS’ (having had more than my fill of early ’60s obscure Americana) in the forlorn hope that the facts of Swern’s totally biased and subjective approach to his doubtless lucrative job will cause someone in authority (is there such a person?) to review his activities, but since the BBC is happy to discard its ‘old’ listeners, the programme will probably be axed before he is, as you say.
    Anyway, perhaps he’ll just run out of crap and decide to retire – as if!

  8. I don’t mind him playing some of the crap – after all, the Sixties was no monolith, musically, and there’s probably at least a dozen easily identifiable Sixties out there, and the programme should rightly represent all – it’s just the unending imbalance in one direction that is so frustrating.

    You’re right, I’m just that bit too young for any direct memories of the Vernon Girls (mind you, my parents loathed pop so much, I have very few direct memories of Sixties music at all, and most of them the Beatles: I owe 60 – 70% of my familirity with Sixties music to Radio 1 in the Seventies…). Indeed, given a free and selfish hand to create my own SOTS, the majority of it would be stuff recorded between ’66 – ’69, and virtually nothing pre-Beatles.

    But unless I was one of a dozen SOTS playlisters working in parallel, I wouldn’t do that, because I’d try to balance out other people’s tastes. Unlike the egregious Swern…

  9. I’m old enough to remember pretty much all of the music of the ’60s, and you’re quite right – there were numerous ‘sounds’, many of which I liked even as a young child (Joe Brown, The Shadows, even, I have to admit, Cliff Richard, who was a local hero, having gone to the same school as my older sisters), while others were loathed, especially the post rock ‘n’ roll American wave represented by the likes of Connie Francis, Neil Sedaka, and ‘The Bobbies’ (as Jerry Lee Lewis called them), who were showbiz, out of the same mould as Sinatra and the Rat Pack, and offered nothing to me or my friends, for whom the advent of the Beatles was at least as big as Elvis had been for mid-’50s America.
    Swern is six years older than me, and I can only assume that the damage to his musical taste – such as it is – was done during the early ’50s, when he would have been exposed to Alma Cogan, Anne Sheldon, David Whitfield, and The Stargazers, hence his love of kitch and novelty, and apparent dislike of anything hard or edgy. I would happily listen to the odd ‘Bobby’, but choosing to play inferior versions of good tracks merely because they are ‘obscure’ (deservedly so in almost every case) is downright perverse, and it’s a serious indictment of the BBC that they allow free rein to such an obviously self-serving, biased and egotistical individual as Mr Anthony Phillip Swern.
    I’m ranted-out (for now)!

    1. And a very fine rant it was too! Can’t argue with a word of it.

      I hadn’t realised Swern was as old as that, but then I wasn’t reading enough into his production efforts of the Seventies, even as I’m eminding myself very often that these are forty years back. It’s too obvious to be anything else. If only he’d admit it. Bowman must have been nearer my age in that case.

      Maybe he will retire?

      1. Why retire when you can inflict your ‘taste’ in music on the Great British Public every Saturday, and be paid handsomely for it? It’s funny how some people seem to be untouchable where the BBC is concerned – Saville was the prime example, but there are many people of questionable or non-existent talent who are relentlessly favoured by the Beeb; among my current least favourites are Arthur Smith, Brian Cox (the wet-lipped, doe-eyed infinite monkey, not the original Hannibal Lector), Fiona Bruce, Michal Hussein and, last but by no means least, Phil Swern. It’s being so cheerful that keeps me going!

  10. Ah no, I won’t listen to a word said against Fiona Bruce, not since the newsreaders’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and that short silver skirt and boots.

    No, I don’t suppose there’s any pressure on Swern to retire. I don’t know how much time SOTS takes to produce, though I imagine the largest part of it is the research for info on the obscurities. They’ve stopped pretending Brian Mathews does the programme live, and I rather imagine that his part is to record all his dialogue/links with a playlist in his hands, and Swern then adds the records.

    I know he also produces ‘Pick of the Pops’, which I confess I haven’t listened to in years (wrong time of day/week, indifference to the years chosen, Tony Blackburn), and he’s in some kind of office on Saturdays, cos I got an e-mail response from him last year, pretty quickly after I pleaded with them to drop the Big Band finish.

    But after a lifetime of being a BBC booster, convinced of their necessity as a non-commercial entity, their grovelling sycophancy in the face of any lie told by this government, their wilful distortion and manipulation of the news agenda and their failure to report issues of national significance that would show the government in a bad light have left me unwiling to defend them any longer.

    They have not so much dropped the torch as extinguished it and committed the stick to a bathyscape in the Marianas Trench. They deserve what appens to them, even if we end up being worse off as a result (and we will be).

  11. My feelings towards the BBC are ambivalent, to say the very least. I listen to Radio 4 with as much fury as pleasure, and probably spend most time in the more congenial environment of Radio 4Extra – the past is where I feel comfortable, and that’s no doubt why I resent Phil Swern’s imposition of his narrow perspective on the music of a great decade. It’s probably best if I don’t spoil our virtual acquaintance by being too political – I’m no fan of the present government, but wouldn’t say that the BBC has a specific bias for or against particular political parties. Instead, it seems to me that it has an uncritical support for globalisation, for ‘growth’ as a good thing (which it isn’t, in my view), for science as the solution to all the planet’s problems (the ‘Dan Dare’ attitude which many otherwise intelligent people seem to subscribe to), and for political correctness, which I SERIOUSLY believe is threatening free speech – let truth be told though the heavens tumble, as somebody or other once said (and I agree with them!).

  12. Yes, we’ll leave politics out of it.

    Would that Dan Dare’s world had come about (lifelong fan, here) as it would have been better than what we got in real life.

    I agree entirely about being more comfortable with the past, as a review of the blogs will amply demonstrate, and that goes very much so musically. YouTube has been immensely useful in that respect, and I have tracked down so many unknown gems thanks to it. With, it has to be admitted, the occasional assistance of our bete noire, who has unearthed one or two joys, no doubt by accident.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.