Category Archives: tv

The house buying queen …

… hits the road today. Goodness me what a whirl it is. Yesterday, 3 estate agents came round and valued our flat rather higher than we actually thought it was going to be, 2 of them estimating it at the £240k mark, though the other agent valued it ridiculously highly. So, with cautious smiles on our faces, we have discounted the latter and gone with one of the other two agents and it should be on all the usual house-buying websites sometime fairly soon. Gosh, I almost sound like an adult, ho ho.

In the meantime, I have been viewing. I didn’t like yesterday’s house in Bramley though it was very well done indeed. The rooms simply felt a bit small and the garden ditto. This morning was a riot – the first house the agent took me to see we couldn’t actually get into as the lock was jammed, poor chap. It’s burglar-proof for sure … Though now I’ve seen the location, I’m not as keen as I was. The second viewing was then cancelled as the house-owner couldn’t get home in time (I’m not really sure why they need to be there at all – is it my criminal past??), but that one I would like to reschedule if we can. The third viewing was of a property in Normandy which is our favourite so far (K managed to make it there during his lunch hour, hurrah!), though there’s not much to compare it with yet. The rooms downstairs were a bit small but two of the bedrooms were spacious and it had a good garden, though whether we can manage one-third of an acre is anyone’s guess, frankly. And the location is pretty dang good too. We’ll see, eh. A lot depends on whether we can get a buyer for our place – then and only then do people start to look at us as a serious option.

Other life excitements this week is that I’ve had my annual flu jab – though I nearly forgot to pay and was halfway down the Tesco aisle before I remembered and hurried back – they were very grateful! And isn’t Whitechapel just great – I can’t wait for next Monday’s episode. It’s utterly bizarre, but gripping and the characters are wonderful.

Book news:

I have a fabulous new cover for my upcoming GLBT short story, Brady’s Choice, which I love as it’s incredibly strong as an image in my view. The story is due out on 23 January and you can read the beginning here.  I’m also pleased to say that The Hit List found itself at No 64 in the Amazon charts though it’s dropped a little now.

And my review of Natasha Solomons’ Mr Rosenblum’s List can be found at Vulpes Libris today. A decent enough story, but not very meaty and I think the real plot lies in the war …

Anyway, here are this week’s meditations:

Meditation 446
Under this dry river bed
the secret water flows

diamond-bright
when it comes

and blood-red
when it goes.

Meditation 447
All you really need
for a miracle

are a few drops of oil,
a lot of empty jars

and the will to begin.

Anne Brooke

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Houses, books and nude women

Book News:

A Dangerous Man is now published for the second time (hurrah!) and you can buy the paperback at Amazon US. The blurb is:

Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Mikey becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, we discover the intense mindscape of a man obsessed with his dreams as he attempts to free himself of his past. When a net of antagonistic relationships and inner battles encroaches upon him, the consequences of Mikey’s uncompromising pursuit emerge in thrilling tragedy, leaving him having to fight for all he holds dear, and in the only way he knows how. 


Something to get your teeth into for sure. You can find reviews from the original now out-of-print edition here, so if you missed it first time round in 2007, now’s your chance to catch up. It’s a book I’m particularly proud of too, though I say it myself and probably shouldn’t. Heck, even best-selling crime author Andrew Taylor called it: “a dark and chilling parable about art, love and murder”. So it can’t be too bad, I hope!…


There’s one meditation poem this weekend: 




Meditation 445
Cast your handful
of salt
into the vast waters


and wait
for purity to begin.




The Sunday haiku is:


Scent of strawberries
blossoms the air with summer
in this autumn chill.




Life News:


Rejoice! We have taken our last and umpteenth trip to the council tip, washed all the carpets and have put everything back into position in the flat ready for selling. I must say the spare room looks totally stunning and the faux-zebra African rug looks magnificent with the pale lilac walls, the black bookcases & blinds. If I wanted a two-bedroom flat with good-sized rooms, a fabulous gold-and-cream living room in a highly desirable part of Godalming, I’d be here like a shot, to be honest. We have three estate agents coming round this Wednesday so I hope it will be on the market by the end of the week or the beginning of next week.


In the meantime, we have created a list of about 23 properties we want to see by means of Right Move, and, from those, starred about 10 that are top of that list. I’ve made appointments to see four of these on Thursday, and I’m ringing up about another one tomorrow. The plan is for me to act as a vanguard to choose properties that K and I will both want to view during weekends when K is free, but those I don’t like or don’t think he’ll like can be ditched as I go along and then I’ll save us both the weekend trip. This morning we’ve driven round to look at some of them planned for Thursday, and I’ve already discounted one that’s way way too near the station. The current feeling is that Normandy, Elstead and Milford are good, and we may well concentrate our search there unless something comes up in Godalming or there’s something that’s really great elsewhere.


It’s not all been house-orientated this week however – I’ve played some extraordinarily bad golf (which I blame on having to lug the very heavy carpet cleaner we hired up 32 stairs to the flat on my own – Lordy, that was tough but I did it!…), and K and I also had fun (and some tears – mine) when we went to see Calendar Girls at Woking on Thursday. Lovely to be out at the theatre again, but goodness me what a lot of women came to see it. I had to dash like a crazed thing to get into the loo queue at the interval, and I’m sure there were no more than 10 men in the whole audience. In my innocence, I’d thought it might be the other way round, but the theatre-goers of Surrey are a law unto themselves.


Ooh and isn’t Pamela Stephenson magnificent in Strictly Come Dancing? Utterly magical to watch in every way. Good on her!


Anne Brooke

Miracles and men

Life News:

Such miraculous news to know that at last the Chilean miners are safe – so many things that could have gone wrong and they just didn’t, hurrah. Amazing news indeed! I just hope the world now leaves them alone to recover from such a terrible ordeal, but no doubt we won’t. But it’s seriously lovely to hear of something glorious rather than something grim for once.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, we’re finally putting the flat on the market next week as three estate agents are coming round on Wednesday, so I hope there’s at least one there who’s confident about selling it. Great to be taking the next step in the process indeed. On the left you can see what the Victorian house itself looks like. We’re the servants’ quarters at the top. As it were. Because when it was built for one of the local schoolmasters in 1873, the servants would have lived where we do now. Plus ca change, eh …

Turning to television matters, it’s a serious delight to have the glorious Whitechapel back on our screens at last, though sadly for too swift a time. Though it’s a serious disappointment that the otherwise extremely classy Downton Abbey took a turn for the worse last Sunday and included a very ridiculous Midsomer Murders plotline, sigh. Don’t get me wrong: I love Midsomer Murders with a great and abiding passion, but not in the middle of Downton Abbey, per-lease. And it was doing so well too …

Book News:

I’m thrilled that today my author’s copies of A Dangerous Man have arrived and look lovely, hurrah. Publication day is tomorrow (Friday 15 October) so I’m really looking forward to that. Erastes has very kindly republished an original review from 2007, when the book was first published, so a big thank you for that! And I’m pleased to say that people do seem to be preordering the novel at Barnes & Noble, which is very nice indeed.

Also at Barnes & Noble (what great people they are!), you can find a copy of Sunday Haiku, which is a more meditative read. Meanwhile, Tommy’s Blind Date gained a really enthusiastic 4-star review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, so many thanks for that, Kassa – it’s much appreciated. And The Delaneys and Me appeared briefly at No 58 in the Amazon charts, but has now slipped back onto the shelf once more.

Finally, I’ve reviewed Diana Wynne Jones’ magical children’s fantasy, Enchanted Glass at Vulpes Libris Reviews. It’s pretty dang good for adults too.

These week’s meditations are:

Meditation 442
A downbeat end,
the epitome of grim

when what one expected
was a rousing hymn.

Meditation 443
The first man
to fall off a balcony
didn’t make
particularly good choices
but he certainly
started a trend.

Meditation 444
A journey, an oath,
a cloak and divided water
show that a miracle

can also be
the beginning of grief.

Anne Brooke

Dullness, Danger and Dubai

Book News:

Much to my delight, my latest gay short story, Brady’s Choice, has been accepted for publication by Amber Allure Press on 23 January, so it’s nice to have something to look forward to in the post-Christmas lull. Still much to look forward to this year however, as A Dangerous Man is due out on 15 October and can now even be preordered at Barnes & Noble, well gosh. You can find out more at Cheyenne Publishing, including a full blurb. I’m also happy that for a brief moment of time, Tommy’s Blind Date found itself at No 79 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts so that was distinctly nice while it lasted.

Meanwhile, this week, I have just finished the dullest poetry book I have ever had the trauma of reading so thank goodness that’s over. I daren’t say who the author was to avoid their blushes but it was pretty bad. So bad it made my skin itch. I’m hoping my next poetry book will be better, but really that shouldn’t be too hard …

This week’s meditations are:

Meditation 436
Sometimes the god
of the mountain

is also the god
of the plain

and what you say
to the sky in secret

will come down
to destroy you again.

Meditation 437
If the bible
has taught me one thing
it’s this:

that lions and prophets
simply don’t mix.

The Sunday haiku is:

All week long the sky
lets fall its burden of rain,
soothing all my dreams.

Life News:

The redecoration of our spare room is now nearly done. We’ve tackled the last alcove and added two coats of paint to it today, plus I’ve put an undercoat on the skirting board there. We’re also slowly putting the rest of the spare room together again, including bookshelves and book cabinets but are reorganising it  to make best use of the space. Today, I’ve done another run to the council tip and also got rid of 4 more bags of books, and have this afternoon created another three book bags to go. It’s so cleansing, you know, and the good news is that the spare room that we’ve basically used as a dumping ground for 17 years now looks like a room someone might want to buy, hurrah. Ooh, and yesterday, we drove round looking at places we might like to live, and our favourites so far are Normandy, Fairlands and Wood Street Village (the latter two are in the outskirts of Guildford). We also liked Ash and Ash Vale/Ash Green, but it does depend where in those cases. We also looked at Tongham, but I think that’s third level on our list.

Church this morning was good too, especially as it seems like we haven’t paid God a call for ages (we haven’t), so nice to catch up. He’s having a quiet time before Christmas kicks in, if you’re asking. In addition, the poor vicar has apparently contracted pneumonia whilst on holiday (holidays: they’re not good for you, you know) but is being ministered to by the ladies of the parish (Gawd bless ’em) so every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. In our absence, the church also seems to have given birth to a music group, which K and I looked at with horror when we turned up as any whiff of evangelical happy-clappyness and we’ll be running to the door screaming. However, we needn’t have worried as it was clarinets only adding to the whole ambience of the hymns (very good indeed) and the singers sang a marvellous Latin chant during Communion. Bliss. Bring back Latin chants – they really do put the zing back into church-going. So the music group gets our vote, and I hope they keep that whole approach: it was great.

Alas however, next week I shall be sad and lonely as K is going to Dubai on business tomorrow and isn’t back till Thursday, so I will be Queen of this old Victorian house in truth. I can’t decide whether I want to be Miss Haversham or the Mad Woman in the Attic, but they are probably much of a muchness anyway. Thank goodness that Strictly Come Dancing is back on TV to keep me company or I shall indeed run mad. You have been warned …

Anne Brooke

Of beetles and bemusement

Book News:

I’ve sent the final edits for Tommy’s Blind Date back to the publisher, so am now waiting for the galley proofs to come back for a look through. At the same time, I’m continuing the edits of The Prayer Seeker’s Journal so will be adding no more to that blog as it stands. I will also be taking it down at the weekend, I think.

Meanwhile, my review of Ned Beauman’s novel, Boxer, Beetle, is now up at Vulpes Libris. It’s a brilliant and bizarre book let down by a bumblingly bad blurb. Which is a shame, but I hope you enjoyed the alliteration in my last sentence anyway. I certainly did.

Here’s this week’s meditation poetry:

Meditation 405
Spices, jewels,
gold and the beginnings
of wisdom

warm the air
and bring forth truth
from the heart tonight.

Meditation 406
If I had
all the money
in the world

I probably wouldn’t buy
weapons, spices,
horses or mules

but for wisdom’s taste
and song
there’s no true accounting.

Life News:

I’ve started a new gardening blog, called The Bemused Gardener, which will explain the joys and horrors faced by Lord K and myself, beginner gardeners extraordinaire. Or potentially so at least. Nope, we’ve no real idea what we’re doing either, but that’s never stopped us before, hey ho. It’s probably a consolation prize for myself for ending the prayer blog (see above), as I am after all a glutton for punishment.

While I’m on the subject of nature’s bounty, it’s glorious to see that the first of the English apples are in the shops at last, hurrah! How the smell of them takes me right back to my father’s apple farm in rural Essex and that enormous cold-store. Astonishingly, it’s Tesco who’s won the battle to bring the firstfruits in this time, as usually it’s Waitrose, so well done, Mr Tesco. They’re great stuff too – Discoveries and they smell like heaven, just like an apple should.

I’m also feeling much better, health-wise, and actually like a real person, rather than simply a huge and sniffly nose on legs. Hmm, nice image, eh. That said, the doctor has just rung up today to check that I do want the referral to the Guildford specialist, and yes I do, as per the other consultant, so at least that’s going forward now, hurrah.

I must also say how much Lord K and I have enjoyed the lamentably few episodes of Sherlock which have graced our TV screens for the last three Sundays. Bliss – more please, and soon. I particularly loved the portrayal of Moriarty, but Lord K says that’s because I simply can’t resist a depiction of male psychotic lunacy contained by intellectual strength. My response was only to agree, and it’s precisely why I married him in the first place. He muttered something in turn about me being the female version of that (which is no doubt why we’re so well suited), but I fear I am in fact far worse: the lovely Ruth G (formerly of the University chaplaincy but now moved on to bigger and better things) told me only yesterday that she did realise I wasn’t actually the Anti-christ, but if I chose to be she thought I’m make a really really good job of it. My, how we laughed, slightly hysterically I admit, but we did laugh. Good to know I may at last have found my ideal career path after all these years – I wonder what the vicar will say …

Anne Brooke
The Bemused Gardener

Royalties, rifles and reviews

Book news:

I’m frankly astonished to find out that my royalties this quarter from Amber Allure Press are one-third up on what they were last quarter, well gosh. Perhaps I’m not doing quite so badly after all, then. Does this justify raising my status from Z-list author to Y-list author? Who can tell …

Not only that but sales of The Bones of Summer in paperback have actually risen since last quarter also, though ebook sales are alas down. It’s all something of a mystery, much like the book itself. Meanwhile, The Delaneys and Me reached No 12 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts, a fact that caused me to have to lie down in a darkened room whilst hyperventilating for a while, though it’s fallen somewhat now.

Speaking of Amazon, new in the Kindle this week is The Boilerman and The Bride, and good grief but some kind soul must have bought a copy as it actually has a rating – thank you, kind buyer! Also new at Kindle is Tuluscan Six and The Time Circle, and this also now appears at All Romance Ebooks. I’m also very pleased to say that The Girl in the Painting is on sale at Rainbow eBooks, and that Creative Accountancy for Beginners is mentioned at Spalding’s Racket – thanks, Nick.

Turning to future and hoped-for future publications, I’m thrilled to see that A Dangerous Man is now up at the front page of Cheyenne Publishing, noted as Coming in October – so that’s getting dangerously (sorry!) exciting. And I’ve not only written a draft ending of The Executioner’s Cane, the third and final part of my Gathandrian fantasy trilogy, but I’ve reached the 60,000 word marker in it, which puts me at about half-way through, hurrah.

Also in this section, up at Vulpes Libris this week is (a) my review of Sara Shepard’s All The Things We Didn’t Say and (b) the Coming Up post for next week – in which the real name of Lord H, together with Lord H’s fabulous new photographic website, is revealed for the first time. Readers paying close attention will of course notice the startling similarity in design to my own website, but hey it could be worse – we could be wearing Howard & Hilda jumpers (scroll down to view …), ho ho. Two of my favourite ever characters, don’t you know.

I’m also incredibly thrilled that the aforementioned husband (who perhaps can now be called Lord K in future …) has also produced his very own Daily Office app for the iphone – so even on the move you need never be far from a church service or an apposite prayer for the day! Never say that as a team my husband and I don’t look after your every need.

Ooh, and I am very happy indeed to see that Amazon UK will now be producing a UK-friendly Kindle, so I have already pre-ordered mine, and it should be delivered at the end of August, well gosh. How long I’ve waited for it indeed – so I hope it lives up to my very high expectations.

Meanwhile, I fear that sales of my e-poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, are regrettably poor – so far only 4 copies have been sold, so I am as yet a little below my best-selling poetry collection, which sold … um … 11 copies. My mission is to match that target by the end of August, so if there are 7 lovely readers out there who might like some nature-focused and really pretty good poetry to inspire their year, please don’t be backward in coming forward – in all honesty, my sad-writer ego can’t take it. Thank you!

And here’s another little haiku to whet your appetite:

Sparkling green water
ripples in the wind’s warm touch,
embraces the dance.

This week’s meditation poems are:

Meditation 401
They knew how to party
back then:

seven days’ worth
of spilled blood,

the dark aroma
from burning meat

and the laughter
of men.

Meditation 402
Behind the prayer,
that sense

of strange connection,
the desert

of abandonment
stretches far away.

Life news:

I’m very happy to tell you that my old University friend, Jane, is currently captaining the Great Britain Rifle Team in Canada, and you can find out how Great Britain is doing on their blog. Go, Jane, go! And huge good luck to all. Mind you, the one time I’ve been lucky enough to see Jane shoot in a national competition, she spent the first 20 minutes of her alloted 30 minutes doing absolutely nothing at all except checking wind speeds and directions and seeing what her competitors were up to, and then took up her rifle and fired all her shots almost perfectly in the space of about 3 minutes. I did wonder why none of her team members bothered turning up to support her until the last 10 minutes – apparently, that is the Jane Messer way, and very good it is too.

This week, I’ve also popped up to London to see Jane W (another Jane!) and had a fabulous time putting the world to rights and talking houses and what to do with them. Must be my age, you know, and our current house-buying efforts, of course. I’ve also played some rather appalling golf, which coincided with some incredibly good golf from Marian, who won by miles, and very deservedly. Perhaps I should take a cricket bat next time? I might well do better …

Yesterday, Lord K (ha!) and I were at Glyndebourne to see Don Giovanni. Verdict: very disappointing and surprising poorly staged, although some individual performances, such as the man-servant and the bride, were very good indeed. However the big excitement was that we sat in the same row as antiques expert, Tim Wonnacott, who was extremely pleasant indeed when attempting to squeeze past me. And hey, I was good! – I didn’t giggle or scream: ooh look, it’s that man off The Antiques Roadshow on TV – so Lord K is very proud. I am indeed a prime example of modern dignity, well for an Essex Girl anyway.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Haikus, houses and Holmes

Book News:

I’m happy to say that my latest poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, has already received two 4-star reviews at Goodreads, one from Kim and one from Lisa, who says amongst other comments that she “felt captured within the calm of the poetry” which is precisely the feeling I was trying to attain. Thank you very much, both. And you can now also find Sunday Haiku on sale in PDF version at Rainbow Ebooks, so I hope that covers all buying possibilities. Enjoy!

In addition, I’m getting towards writing the final few scenes of The Prayer Seeker’s Journal, where you can now find the latest episode. There’s a time lag between writing them and actually uploading them, but I hope to finish the first draft by the autumn or thereabouts, though I suspect the last few chapters will be fairly long.

Other books news includes the following: Creative Accountancy for Beginners found itself in the Smashwords Top 10 Humour Bestsellers list, which has been a lovely boost; Painting from Life gained a 4-star review at Goodreads; and The Bones of Summer also had a 4-star Goodreads review – many thanks, Nene, for reading! Meanwhile The Delaneys and Me, continues its rise and fall through the Amazon Kindle Gay Fiction charts, rising as high as No 32 this week.

Recent meditations are:

Meditation 396
No matter
how many lists you make –

table, lampstand,
flowers, cups, bowls

and all the paraphernalia
of fire and hope –

you cannot keep God
contained by your

limitation.

Meditation 397
A cloudy day
and a simple ritual,

wood and stone
and silent angels,

but when the light
arrives, it dazzles you

to the eternal changeability
of prayer.

Meditation 398
The slow history
of stone

wraps you round
in memory

and truth,
helps you

pray again.

And here’s a poem I’ve also written this week:

East

These eastern winds
are an icy layer
leaving you
and me

too close
for comfort

and too far away
to see.

This week’s haiku:

Two blue bicycles
energise the road, piercing
the day’s warm silence.

Life News:

The very big news this week which is both exciting and terrifying is that we and our deceased neighbour’s nephews have agreed on a price for his old flat (below ours) – it’s at the upper limit of our budget but we think that with a bit of scraping around and with the wind in the right direction we can do it, hurrah! So we’re now plunged into the process of conveyancing and soliciting (as it were) and mortgaging, and we hope to have contracts exchanged – all things being equal – by the end of August. I hope it all goes to plan, as it would be great to have more space, not to mention a part of the house garden and a garage. And two floors, well gosh. Whatever next? We won’t be able to eat or go on holiday for the next five years, but what the heck, eh. Who needs food or aeroplanes? We do so love the house, which has got an NVQ Level 5 in Character, though those old Victorian pipes can be a tad dodgy (don’t ask, but never ever put anything at all if you can possibly help it down the loo in a Victorian house – a piece of Life Advice you can have for free …!), so it would be lovely to have more of it. So watch this space, and wish us luck.

Marian and I had a good round of golf on Friday, though we can tell that the schools are ready to break up, as it took a lot longer to go round. I started off with two pretty damn glorious pars (hurrah!) but rapidly faded, so only just managed to scrape victory from the certain jaws of defeat. Yesterday, I was briefly (on a Saturday, how dreadful!) back at work to help out in the afternoon at the University’s open day – which I must say was the busiest I’ve ever known, so I did a heck of a lot of smiling, and was utterly shattered when I got home. So much so that I nearly fell asleep in front of our recorded episode of Midsomer Murders and had to go to bed at 9.30pm, which is really unheard of.

I’m still tired today as well, but this might have been a good thing as they sprang a cunning double christening at church on us today, so there was a lot of water and gurgling, not all of which was me. I’m not a great fan of christenings to be honest – too child-centred for my tastes, but I did a lot of smiling and trying to look normal, so I think people were fooled. Mind you, the family had dressed up to the nines, which was nice to see, and all looked very glam. We’re not used to that in the Sunday crowd …

Ooh, and tonight I and Lord H are hugely looking forward to the new updated version of Sherlock Holmes, which I’m sure will be well worth catching – 9pm on BBC. Don’t miss it! Must dash and get my violin and deerstalker hat ready, if only for old times’ sake.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal