The Ellis family

The Ellis family members are only largely known as practitioners of weird and wonderful sounding concepts such as phrenology, psychometry, chiromancy etc at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries on
wide and exhilarating sea front of busy Blackpool on the west coast of Lancashire, UK. But there is much more to the story than that. They were both show people and entrepreneurs, being influential in the origins of the iconic Pleasure Beach, and they became very rich out of their endeavours. They never failed to argue and stand up for the genuine nature of their firmly held beliefs, and this led to fines, imprisonment and heated discussions in the local Council chamber when Albert Ellis was elected to represent the Brunswick ward of the town.

Blackpool in the 1850’s

This is the decade when several factors coincided to create a structure for the town which began the path of development towards the modern town that is evident today. I have scanned several thousand newspaper articles and derived the information from several hundred.

The District of Revoe, Blackpool

Ibbison St in Blackpool Lancashire, is where my father was born, just after the hostilities of WW1 had ended, but the troubled peace still had to be negotiated, each individual, human being bearing its traumas, as they carried on their day-to-day lives. Blackpool was a rich town, but Ibbison and the district of Revoe, to which it belonged, weren’t. It was one of two ‘working class’ concentrations in the town.  My story of the street and the district here is mostly from the newspapers.

RAMC stretcher bearer

The story of the RAMC stretcher bearer is a kind of docu-drama, being largely based upon the written account of FE Reed, my great uncle. The fiction of my own story is is taken from fact from several sources and, in between the words of the diary of FE Reed, is spoken painfully the tragedy of a generation.

WW1 The RAMC Stretcher Bearer


Music hall; Victoria Monks

A facebook post by Denys Barber of the Friends of Layton Cemetery on one of the Blackpool history sites on the anniversary of the death of Victoria Monks, caught my attention as my great grandfather’s brother and family members were on the stage at the same time, though not in such a popular capacity. Her life proved interesting as it was gradually revealed, largely from contemporary newspaper reports. One of the first high profile celebrities of the modern era, she carried with her, throughout her life, all the problems of belonging to everyone except herself.

Victoria Monks Musical Hall Artiste

A Bad Day For an Urban Sasquatch

Being out of work in modern, industrial society is never a good thing for those who would want to work. Herman has been made redundant from the steelworks where he has worked all his life. His skills are specific, and there is no employment available where he can reprise his skills. They are all he has, and all he knows. Looking for work is difficult and many people are going after the same jobs that are on offer.

When the opportunity of a job interview is offered to him, he is keen to attend, but it means getting dressed up in a suit, and this is way out of his comfort zone. He has to rely on his wife to dress the suit and tie upon him. He has only ever been used to greasy overalls and casual wear. As soon as he leaves the house he is a fish out of water. His dress sense, as well as being the subject of his own discomfort, also it appears to his self-consciousness, acutely subject to the criticism of those folk who populate the streets.

In order to survive this uncomfortable, psychological ordeal, he seeks refuge in the music within his head and can only revert to the true, private and fully integrated person that lives within him, on his return to his home and his overalls.

The Skinless Guest

The short stories I write are ideal, or just convenient, for a coffee break moment or to provide a break in a long journey. If you are not drving of course (lol).  And then of course, they are only ‘ideal’ or convenient, if you happen to like them. Which you might not. I often set them off from the publication date for free so that is the best time to catch them. The latest short picks up the personal identity theme again. We change in small ways to suit the theme of the moment. The way in which you tell your mother-in-law to go away is different to the way you might shout at a nuisance motorist to get out of the way. Small changes in manner but change nevertheless.

Then if you are confused about your own identity, there are more drastic ways of changing. Like completely. Body and soul. Some reasons can be choice, or masquerade as choice; some can be chosen for you. Spies eg maybe. Out with the old; in with the new –  a fresh start for a new personality.


The Last Words of a Good Man

Goodness and badness are not always definitively good or bad. A small act of goodness can seem enormous when contrasted with a large act of badness. Just as a small but significant act of badness can seem very bad when contrasted with a large act of apparent goodness. A small good act can absolve the bad acts of the past, just as much as a small bad act can cancel out all the good acts of the past.  Silas was good and Dez was bad, but Silas was bad and Dez was good.  Kind of how you view it.

collection short stories 1

Collection of Short Stories 1… is the first book of a collection of some of my stories so far published on Smashwords. I think it’s something like 80% cheaper than the total cost of all the short stories it contains (the first story can be read through to the end, so is free, anyway). And I think it’s easier to have a collection in one place. I’ve re-edited them all as, no matter how many times you go through a story, thinking you have got it right, there often appears at least a little typo to pop up and wink a mischievous eye at you.

free books

Smashwords is running the annual ‘read and ebook’ week once more, since March has arrived. For anyone wanting a free read of what they might be reluctant to risk paying even a small amount for, now is the time to do it. There are also many books not going as far as free, but generously reduced in price.