Fish and Chips

July 28, 2017

Fish and Chip shops can be found in the majority of British towns and was our country’s original fast takeaway food.  When I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s it was considered a treat to eat a fish and chip takeaway and that feeling still persists with me today.

During the last five years I have been travelling around Britain and in the course of my travels have sampled portions of this famous dish from different parts of the country.  I had the idea of determining which region or even which town offered the tastiest dish and even photographed each one so I could rate how well they were presented.  Unfortunately, such is my liking for this food I was unable to decide which was best.  But I do consider that there is nothing as good as buying takeaway fish and chips at a British seaside town and eating while relaxing on a bench at the sea front overlooking the waves.  There is an added excitement of having to defend one’s meal from the aerial attacks of the local seagulls intend on stealing as much of your food as they can get away with, which means that the meal cannot be left unattended for one second.  But for me this only adds to the fun.

Years ago fish and chips came wrapped in yesterday’s newspapers so not only could a person avail themselves of a tasty meal, but they had written material to be entertained by at the same time.  It all added to the delight of eating this most wondrous food.  This led to the saying that today’s news is simply tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping.  I once ask a fish and chip shop owner why this practice was stopped only to be told it was due to health and safety.  I wondered what kind of diseases could be caught from old newspapers and still do so to this very day.

Keith Jahans

Fish and Chips by the sea at Scarborough, Yorkshire
(note the free wooden fork protruding from the top)

 

 

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Book Review – Charles Dickens and the Night Visitors by David James

July 11, 2017

This is a work of fiction based on fact.  Charles Dickens is arguably the best British novelist of all time.  I have not read many of his books, but I have seen numerous adaptations on film and television.  Although I knew about some aspects of his life until I read this book I was unaware of his fascination with hypnosis.

This story tells of his use of hypnosis to treat one Augusta de la Rue while staying in Italy with his family.  This actually happened, but in this account the facts are blurred.  The story is seen through the fictitious accounts of members of the Dickens household including the man himself.  This means that some of the tales, particularly those of the young Dickens children, encompass visions of spectres, ghosts and a variety of creepy crawlies.  The author’s descriptions of these apparitions and the atmosphere surrounding the household are expertly drawn.

I did sometimes get confused about the identity of which character was telling a particular aspect of the story and had to check back in the narrative several times to make sure that I understood their identity.  This may have been due to the limitations of the way the ebook I was reading was put together and the story would probably be easier to follow in either the hardback or paperback formats of the book.  But all in all it was a fascinating read and led me to Google to search out more of the facts that lay behind the talent that was Charles Dickens.

Keith Jahans

This novel is published by David James at Create Space
and is available as a hardback, paperback and ebook

 


Reviews and Ratings

July 3, 2017

It is essential for any writer who wants to get his or her work taken seriously to get it reviewed and get the review published on a webpage where it can be bought.  Most review sites ask reviewers to rate the books they review and these usually range from 1 star (the lowest rating) to 5stars (the highest).  It is good for the writer’s ego to achieve a large number of 5 star ratings.  This also encourages potential readers to buy and, in the case of sites like Amazon, can help boost its sales ranking.

But a 5 star rating is seldom always possible.  Readers are subjective about what they like to read and an author can never satisfy everybody.  One or two 1 star reviews will always lower a book’s overall ranking, but these should never put the potential reader off reading it.  The ratings are often chosen by the reviewer arbitrarily and a reader should read the reviews from a range of ratings before allowing them to let these influence their choice.

My tendency is to read at least three reviews ranging from the highest star rating to the lowest and then decide for myself if I think that the content of the book might be one that I will enjoy.  But if I have read the author before and like his or her work then this will tend to override the notice I take of the reviews.  More often than not the recommendation of a friend will take president as word of mouth is often the best way that works of real merit are disseminated.  When I finish the book I almost always review it and try to give it as honest a rating as possible.  As a writer-publisher myself, I know that most writers will appreciate this.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press