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)

 

 

Advertisements

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


Self Promotion

May 20, 2017

One of the biggest challenges an author has to face is to advertise his or her writing.  It often goes against the grain and in my case this is certainly true.  Writing is a lonely art and means that the writer is more than likely shut away on their own with whatever tools they use (pen, paper, typewriter, PC) and don’t emerge with a final product until it is felt that the time is right to show it to someone.

Leonardo da Vinci has been quoted as saying that Art is never finished, only abandoned.  This is certainly true of my written work as it goes through draft after draft until I feel I can take it no further.  So by the time I have finished with a manuscript and my book is published I can hardly bare to look at it again let alone discuss its creation with others.

But those who especially enjoy reading fiction are likely to be fascinated by the creative process, particularly if they are engaged by a particular writer’s work and want to find out more.  So about a week ago when I was given the chance to discuss my writing in an online interview I jumped at the opportunity, because not only did it give me a chance to demonstrate the motivation behind my writing process but it also provided me with a great opening to promote my books

Keith Jahans

The full interview can be seen at:

http://www.thecrazymind.com/2017/05/peatmore-press-interview-with-funder.html


Book Review – Mighty Like A Rose by Kitty Campanile

May 16, 2017

This is a love story set in Northern England against the backdrop of the 1984-1985 coalminers’ strike.  The author is at her best when she describes the effects of the food and clothing shortages on a small Yorkshire town and how the women of the community come together to help their men and each other through deprivations they face.  I would have liked to hear more about the motivation behind the action of the heroine’s abusive husband.  However, the care she has for her mineworker lover and his family is touchingly portrayed.  The story is easy to read and I can recommend it to anyone likes well written romantic stories set against a gritty background.

Keith Jahans


Mighty like a Rose was published by
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
And is available in paperback, as an ebook
and as an audible download.


Book Review – The Bordello Kid by Kendall Hansen

May 6, 2017

I am very partial to stories of the Wild West and this title intrigued me so when I was offered the chance to read it I did not hesitate.  I was not disappointed.

The story takes place in and around two brothels of a western town frequented by cowboys.  The plot is straight forward.  A young man comes to town carrying a saddle, falls fowl of a local cowboy leader called Billy Lassiter and vows to protect a saloon girl that Lassiter has been abusing.  The story is very readable and the characters, with the exception of Lassiter and his gang, are sympathetic.

I am not sure that the attitudes of the characters are authentic to the times but they are certainly believable.  I found the book to be an easy and enjoyable read.  I recommend it to anyone who appreciates books of this genre

Keith Jahans


The Bordello Kid is published by Dixon-Price Publishing
and is available from Amazon as a paperback and Kindle ebook


Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 1932, Royal Academy of Arts

March 24, 2017

The Russian Revolution which led to the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 began one hundred years ago.  The effects of the revolution reverberated around the world and still have a significant influence on global politics today.  This momentous period in modern history also began a period of ground breaking art and it is this which is explored in this thoughtfully compiled exhibition.

It focuses on the 15-year period between 1917 and 1932 when Russian art flourished across every medium and includes many forms of painting, photography, sculpture, filmmaking by pioneers such as Eisenstein, and evocative propaganda posters from what was a golden era for graphic design.  There is a full-scale recreation of an apartment designed for communal living, and with everyday objects ranging from ration coupons and textiles to Soviet porcelain.

The exhibition shows how the revolution stimulated the imagination of artists of the time but also shows the harsh realities of its aftermath.  The exhibits are both beautiful and stark and are well worth viewing as an example of how the influence of sudden change can stimulate the imagination and also lead to disillusionment.  It continues at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London until 17 April.

Keith Jahans


Fantasy (1925) by Kuzuma Petrov-Vodkin
Just one of the amazing images on exhibit