What Was Lost – Catherine O’ Flynn

A lost little girl with her detective notebook and toy monkey appears on the CCTV screens of the Green Oaks shopping centre, evoking memories of Kate Meaney, missing for twenty years. Kurt, a security guard with a sleep disorder, and Lisa, a disenchanted deputy manager at Your Music, follow glimpses of the girl through the centre’s endless corridors – a welcome change from dealing with awkward customers, colleagues and the Green Oaks mystery shopper. But as this after-hours friendship grows in intensity, it brings new loss and new longing to light.

The first time I read this book I did so in a twelve-hour single sitting, the writing style and the with the all too familiar take on retail, which I spent years in, were both compelling and moving.  What Was Lost is a  gritty and melancholy read with touches of humour that really hit the spot for those looking for a bit of mystery set in an all too familiar locale.

The story itself switches between two different threads, those of Kate Meaney (private investigator), and Kurt and Lisa, set twenty years later.  The story’s strengths lies in the wonderfully well-written characters and the differences in attitude, both in terms of the time periods and the characters within them.

The Green Oaks shopping centre is a character in itself, much like the island in the TV show Lost, it pulls people into it and changes lives.  It’s a monument to the staggering waste of time, heart and effort spent in these places for both workers and shoppers. Continue reading “What Was Lost – Catherine O’ Flynn”

Jermy & Westerman

It’s always a shame to  have to report a bookshop closing its doors for the last time but sadly its happened again, this time to my favourite second hand bookshop in Nottingham, Jermy & Westerman which ceased to be the last weekend.

I wonder if my continued support would have helped, had I not been abroad for the last year and a half, which in turn fuels my need to support the remaining bookshops when I have some spare Sterling. A noble excuse for being  a book junkie but the mutual enablement is pitched perfectly.

Despite being a small book space with only two floors and a few rooms there were always plenty of  good books on offer over a variety of subjects.  In fact being a regular I noticed there was a regular turn over of stock, to cater to the needs of the obsessive. Continue reading “Jermy & Westerman”

Music to Write By #6 – This is England

How YouTube comes up with its recommendations based on what you are listening to, I cannot fathom but this week after plenty of upbeat music, I was suddenly plunged back in time to 1980’s England with this wonderfully moving piece from Ludovico Einaudi.  Then surfaced memories of first watching this film – with all its impact – and the accompanying series, including a second three series binge watch with Tom over a weekend.

I was once in a queue, three people back from the lady on the right of the gang, loaded with alcohol and one packet of plain rice, I am glad she didn’t turn round and wonder at what my night was going to be like.  Anyway, if anybody is wanting to watch some powerful drama with great characters, this is truly a film (and series) to make you laugh and hit with you some challenging story lines.

On the writing front, this week has involved doing a lot of varying things including thinking of actually trying to focus on one thing at a time, which is hard to do with a lot of books that need reviewing and more being sent every day it seems.  I, of course remain grateful but what with all the other future plans, I need to start clearing the backlog whilst pursuing my own goals.  To that end I am currently fighting the urge to binge watch The is England again…

Perhaps I will just play this music and pity myself for so much good fortune.

Wandering in a Fantasy World

On a rainy Sunday a few weeks ago, our car climbed into the hills above Lake Taal, the fog allowing for brief glimpses of the now familiar – but no less picturesque – view.  No journey is complete without a bit of drama and this comes with a drive over a narrow section of road that is being repaired, and has an almost sheer drop on one side, that was one thing to thank the fog for, obscuring the stomach lurching drops that would be visable on better days.  The reason for our trip is to visit what was once promised as ‘the Disneyland of The Philippines’, but the owners ran into financial problems and so it is now a mere shell of theme park.

Greeted by the sight of turrets over the treeline, it all started to look as familiar as it did out of place.  As the car turned we were greeted with a vista of what resembles one of those German castles that looks like it’s come straight from a fairytale.  It was an impressive introduction as an approach to the car park.  I didn’t get a photo of that but I don’t think it would have done it justice had I done so.

A few years ago I did a post on abandoned theme parks and that melancholy feel, real or as in this case, possibly just imagined by myself.  It does get the imagination going and reminded me of Helen Cresswell’s The Watcher’s: A Mystery at Alton towers which is a tightly plotted adventure and well worth getting your hands on for a bit of escapism.

Continue reading “Wandering in a Fantasy World”

Hot Air and a Partially Remembered Stair

Is it too early to have a beer at 10 in the AM…how early is too early? With everything pressing in my day completed by around 9AM, I have been spending quite a lot of the day indulging in listening to some loud music of days gone past…stuff that brings back the malleable miracle of memory that haunts us ( if we choose), or as in this case just serves to cycle up the good mood-a-tron which is located somewhere in my head.

Good moods are conducive to my thinking and probably explains why recently I have only been able to do book reviews and not look for inspiration in the wider world.  All this thinking had me in mind of my struggles for non book related posts and how things change in general.

Buster--172-

I remember once, going up to the roof of a church tower.  It was a classic accent with a spiral stone staircase, the type where you have to keep to the outside or risk slipping all the way back down.  At the time I was maybe 8 or 9 and it was an epic climb, going round and round the central column.  it was the return journey though that I am thinking of.  I had in my young and possibly sticky hands a balloon eraser that day.  If memory serves it was blue with bits of green, red and yellow on, a classic eraser then.  I don’t remember much more about it than that.

I dropped this eraser and couldn’t find it on the darkened stair, I knew roughly where it fell but all I was rewarded with was severely dusty hands for my hunting troubles.  Now I am 32 and thinking back to it, I am struck by the image of this balloon, that ultimate symbol of human freedom to be blown about willy-nilly that is now consigned to the dark begrimed and  forgotten confines of a seldom visited place. Continue reading “Hot Air and a Partially Remembered Stair”

Post Dream Post

Bear with me it’s just gone 3:10 in the AM and I’m writing this for a post later on this afternoon which in my infinite wisdom I probably won’t edit at a better time of day, it begins thusly:

Whilst attempting to emulate Martin Luther King and have a dream, whilst at the same time be as non fussy about it, in the process as Joseph, he of the technicoloured dream coat (‘any dream will do’),  I hit upon a strange nostalgic dream, that covered a varied amount of things.

Cathedral Continue reading “Post Dream Post”

Keeping Those Cockles Warm

The weather has been worse than Scrooge at Christmas recently, which neatly reflects my view on shopping for it this year so far.  Still lethargy and annoyance aside, you need to keep warm at this time of year and as people haven’t put up their Christmas trees, then kindly left their curtains open for me to peer into their homes yet,  I have to find other things that keep me warm, so here are a few things that always make me happy and toasty inside:

First off is a piece of music I love from a really underrated film Sunshine, I am normally a cheesy 80’s film soundtrack man but this always conjures up the vastness of space and reminds me of our smallness in the grand design and of the absolute power might and majesty of the sun.  Also there is a feeling of connection with the ancient sun worshipping peoples that this film manages to convey, a primal urge if you will.

Continue reading “Keeping Those Cockles Warm”