Friday, 25 May 2012


“I asked him to sculpture me Odin. The sculpture has 3 faces. It was made out of a fallen oak and sculpted by Matty Jones with a chain saw. I see it from the window and it is a comforting protective powerful sculpture, fits with the garden. we intended to put it on the grassy area, but here it stands; and it is the right place.”
Jacqueline Read-Szymczyk

And I am immensely proud of Matty, my nephew’s achievement in this lovely work of art.

I love the tales of the old gods. The stories that men and women told in the distant past, beyond memory. Time out of mind. Northern European culture shows the influence of the Nordic gods and goddesses on us. Odin (Wodan) gives us Wednesday. Thor, Odin’s son and the god of thunder, gives us Thursday and Freya, the goddess of fertility and beauty, gives us Friday.

Odin is the chief god of Germanic mythology. Son of Bor and Bestla, The Vikings admired Odin's love for the battle, as he was known as the "father of the slain". Odin's prominence demonstrates the importance of warfare to Germanic traditions.

Odin loved to cause conflicts and shifts of power. He once aided Harald, a Danish King, instructing him in tactics and granting him victories for years. In the king's final battle, however, Odin took the place of Harald's charioteer and drove the king to his demise.

Although Odin embodied deceit, violence and war, he also embodied many admirable qualities. He was the most knowledgeable god, with a great love for wisdom. He would willingly sacrifice himself for it.

Odin is a god of war and death, but also the god of poetry and wisdom. He hung for nine days, pierced by his own spear, on the world tree. Here, he learned nine powerful songs, and eighteen runes. Odin can make the dead speak to question the wisest amongst them.

With the threat of Ragnarok, the death of all gods, Odin built the Valhalla, a great hall of the "heroic dead". Odin would then gather heroes and warriors who were slain in battle, and bring them to Valhalla so they would fight alongside the gods on the Vigrid plain, in an attempt to strengthen and save the gods in the final battle against the frost giants at the time of Ragnarok.

The scholar, Marjorie Burns, suggests that JRR Tolkein based the character of Gandalf, the wandering wizard, in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, on the Norse god, Odin.

Friday, 18 May 2012


“The number of women prosecuted for domestic violence rose from 1,575 in 2004-05 to 4,266 in 2008-09. "Both men and women can be victims and we know that men feel under immense pressure to keep up the pretence that everything is OK," said Alex Neil, the housing and communities minister in the Scottish parliament. "Domestic abuse against a man is just as abhorrent as when a woman is the victim.”

Denis Campbell The Observer, Sunday 5 September 2010

I am not going to go into detail about violent stuff inflicted on guys by women. Most of it is too horrible to think and write about. There is plenty of stuff online if you care to search.

If you share a pint with a mate at the match and he turns up with a black eye, would you automatically believe it if he said he walked into a door?

Look across your row before kick-off. One in five men are a victim of domestic abuse at some stage in their life.

A lot of men suffer in silence, fearing pals will laugh. Most domestic violence help is for women but there are confidential help-lines for men.

“If you are a victim and in danger, the advice given is leave if you can and call police, who have officers trained to help.

Don’t retaliate physically or verbally — you may end up arrested. Keep a diary of incidents and photos of injuries. If kids are involved, seek council help.”

And it isn’t just physical violence. Many men suffer screaming, shouting or controlling behaviour from partners. This can, and I am sure in some cases, go on for years. A woman embarrasses her partner in front of their friends. It might be something that is deeply personal -- his sexual prowess. His habits in the bedroom. Even his habits in the bathroom. It doesn‘t matter what his hobbies are; she will be scornful about those as well. The ring of laughter in his ears humiliates him into silence. Perhaps later, when they are alone, he complains.

“But I was only joking!” he is told. “Can’t you take a joke?”

Or she might say; “I was only being honest!”

It isn’t joking. It isn’t being honest. It’s bullying. If he persists, or complains another time, he is told that he is “whiny, wimpy, uptight, insane, paranoid.”

Any word will do, as long as it demeans, cuts deep, makes him feel less of a human being.

We hear so much about female domestic violence, it seems only fair to redress the balance.

It happens in the pub, on a night out with friends. If the two work for the same company, it may happen in the workplace. It is hardly a surprise that it even happens online, on Facebook! The absolute, venomous control and humiliation is there -- for the whole world to laugh and sneer at.

Here are the details of one help line in the UK. If you search online, there are many more.

The Men's Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence and abuse.
We welcome calls from all men - in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.

The Men's Advice Line offers emotional support, practical advice and information on a wide range of services for further help and support.
Our focus is to increase the safety of men experiencing domestic violence (and the safety of their children) and reduce the risk.

0808 801 0327 - free from landlines and mobile phones.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


It is always easy to tell when a production is simply clocking in for a pay check or toiling away on a labour of love.

One is usually pretty bad.

With the series “Sherlock,” now courting a third season, love is in the air.

The fantastic production, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, follows in the sleuthing footsteps of so many others (such as Jeremy Brett's long-running Granada endeavour), but sets itself apart by setting itself in modern times. The move, orchestrated through careful scripting, deft and dry humour, and truly inspired chemistry, sets the world's most famous detective in the age of cell phones, Twitter, video cameras and evolving cultural values. And it works so well.

For Sherlockians, however, the move from his typical horse and carriage setting isn't a first for the character. Basil Rathbone, arguably one of the most notable actors to ever don the old deerstalker, carried Holmes from his literary settings to the 1940's and into a world at war. Altogether Rathbone and Nigel Bruce banged out a total of fourteen high-flying Holmes films.

In Sherlock, many find the allure in “seeing” the master sleuth's deductive talent written on-screen, with flashes of text written out in the form of quick mental notes. The novel style is reminiscent to the explanatory scenes laid out in the new Sherlock Holmes features starring Robert Downey, Jr. Like Downey's take on the man of Baker Street, the series benefits from these little nuggets, just as it benefits from the use of first names rather than last. For Sherlockians, hearing Watson called John and Holmes called Sherlock is almost blasphemous, but quite original at the same time.

In the season two premiere “A Scandal in Belgravia,” for instance, that breath of love is evident, not just in Holmes' love for Irene Adler, played by the alluring Lara Pulver, but in the craftiness to which Arthur Conan Doyle's canon is embedded into the modern world. Watson, for instance, blogs his adventures with the detective. Holmes video chats on a case, and so on. Adler is also morphed to a modern-day dominatrix, a career which somehow feels natural considering her sneaky character.

The popularity of Sherlock Holmes appears to be at its peak. Novels and films, and even news reports on the actors themselves (not the least of which is the fanciful report that Pulver forced Cumberbatch to stare at her naked breasts while filming “Scandal”) prove the characters endurance throughout the years. Holmes can even be found in the realm of erotica writing, such as the recent book “My Love of All That is Bizarre: The Erotic Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.” It doesn't take a super sleuth to feel that kind of love.

Thanks so much to PM White, for his lovely review of the BBC1 series “Sherlock”. Being an avid reader of Conan Doyle, I guessed that he would love Steve Moffat’s interpretation of Conan Doyle’s super sleuth! And I guessed right!

And PM White is quite correct, Sherlock Holmes’ popularity appears to be at its peak! And I don’t think it is stretching the point, to see it in terms of a zeitgeist. There is almost an obsessive feel for Holmes, Watson and their entourage.

PM White has already mentioned Sizzler’s great contribution to the contemporary fascination with Holmes and Watson, “My Love of All That is Bizarre: The Erotic Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” I don’t know what it is, but Victorian writers continue to inspire us, they have the knack of making us ask “what happens next?” and “just supposing!” Sizzler asked us an intriguing question; “did Sherlock Holmes have an erotic life?” And as writers, we responded with tales of our own.

The anthology opens with Angela Caperton’s story; “The Adventure of the Gentlemen Travellers.” Angela draws on the devices common to Victorian literature. A letter; and within the letter a story. During a visit to her cousin, it is clear that Elizabeth has misbehaved. Exactly what she has done, we never know; we are titillated and that makes us read on. And then Elizabeth tells her story. There is death, a mystery and corruption. Elizabeth’s narrator is a voyeur and what she describes concerning Sherlock Holmes and a certain gentleman is astonishing, and very arousing.

In “The Case of the Unnatural Instinct,” PM White has Holmes doing some very unique research. The story is opened by Watson, telling of a visit he made to Holmes at his house in Sussex. Holmes has retired to the country in this tale and now keeps bees. Holmes ask Watson if he recalls the case of Lana Chress, which he and Watson worked on in February of 1886. Miss Chress, was a prostitute, and has had a series of highly erotic encounters with a mysterious visitor. The visitor leaves no name, she does not see his face, but the quality of the sex that she has with him, is so profound that she wants to know the identity of the man. Holmes declines the case.

Michael Kurland’s contribution to the anthology, is “The Picture of Oscar Wilde.” Benjamin Barnett is a newspaper proprietor and he narrates the story. He tells of a visit he received from a very flustered, agitated Oscar Wilde. Oscar requires Benjamin to arrange a visit with Professor Moriarty. A damning photograph has been taken of Oscar and a young man. Oscar is being blackmailed. Sherlock Holmes has declined the case, citing Oscar’s depravity as the reason; Oscar turns to Moriarty for help.

“The Adventure of the Empty Box.” by Essemoh Teepee opens with Holmes injecting himself with cocaine. Holmes is bored and the drug makes the world a more interesting place. The story is about a secret, a mathematical formula and the Victorian obsession with invention. There has been a robbery and the box and its contents have been stolen.
There is intrigue, a mystery that will shake Holmes from his ennui. In this story we have Holmes’ enemies, Moriarty and Irene Adler. Holmes outwits them both.

My own story, “Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Moonstone, is laced with the mysterious theft of a precious stone. Heavily influenced not only by Conan Doyle’s sleuth, but by Wilkie Collins,’ “The Moonstone”, Holmes and Watson are drawn into an erotic encounter that fulfils every fantasy that Watson has ever dreamed up. There is also the Victorian fascination with the treatment of “female hysteria”, of which Doctor Watson is of course, an authority.

And where would an anthology be, without a story by the great M.Christian? His contribution, is “The Curious Incident.” A tale told through the intelligent, elegant dialogue of Irene Adler and Moriarty. The two circle each other, as each tries to outwit the other in a dual with words. There is deep intellect here, as Moriarty draws the information he requires, from Irene Adler. Finally, she tells him of an unexpected world of debauchery and turpitude.

There are twelve stories in this anthology. The writers have risen to the challenge; their joy of playing with the ideas, presented through the originality of Conan Doyle’s stories, is evident. Writers are at their best, when there is both pleasure and a challenge in the task and their response to Sizzler’s call for tales of the great detective, offers the reader a book that will delight. Curl up in the big, soft armchair in front of a roaring fire. Read by candlelight, tales of abduction and explicit multi faceted sex. There are voyeurs in these pages; exhibitionists too. Step into the foggy world of the Victorian London streets and treat yourself to a night of blissful erotica, crafted around the most enigmatic character to step onto the stage of world literature.

“My Love of all that is Bizarre; the Erotic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," is available at Amazon UK and at Sizzler.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


“The government of a Middle Eastern state is recruiting a senior torturer to work in a well-equipped prison. Our ideal candidate would be prepared to inflict extreme pain and suffering. Familiarity with dental and medical equipment and knowledge of human anatomy is required. Daily work will involve penetrating injuries, blunt trauma, electric shocking, asphyxiation and traumatic removal of digits and limbs. Exposure to body fluids is inevitable but, where appropriate, protective clothing can be provided. Candidates will be expected to inspire a small but enthusiastic team to go beyond what they ever believed possible.”

Ad in today's Guardian newspaper.

As you’ll have hopefully of gathered by now (!) the ad is a hoax. In fact, the real recruiter is Freedom from Torture, a charity which is looking for donors and campaigners and attempting (quite successfully) to make some noise with this stunt. The charity helps torture victims with medical, psychological and practical help in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.

At his Telegraph blog, Daniel Knowles praised the “clever hook” and reminded how serious an issue the ad highlights. He argued that “the Middle Eastern state ‘recruiting’ in this advert could be almost any in the region. Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain spring to mind. Not to mention non-governmental torturers, like Hezbollah, or the various militia in Iraq, or Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Or the distinctly worrying state of the post-Arab Spring regimes in Egypt and Libya. When we talk about asylum seekers, we should keep in mind that many are victims of people who do exactly this ‘job’. The victims of torture, wherever they end up, need support – and when they arrive in Britain, we owe them a duty of care.”

Friday, 4 May 2012


I wonder what it is like to be a Muse? To have the sort of beauty that drives men, and women to despair? Helen’s beauty, inspired a war that raged for ten long years. Men died for the sake of Helen. Lizzie Siddal’s profound, ethereal beauty was Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s inspiration, he painted her over and over again, in a variety of poses and guises. One of those guises, was as Helen of Troy.

Here is Lizzie again -- this time as the Roman Goddess of the Underworld, Proserpine.

In both his art and writings Rossetti exalted Lizzie. In fact, his period of great poetic production began when he met her and ended around the time of her death. His poem, "A Last Confession," in particular, exemplifies his profound, spiritual love for Lizzie, whom he personifies as the heroine with eyes, "as of the sea and sky on a grey day."

Rossetti painted Lizzie as "Beata Beatrix", one year after Lizzie's death.

A Last Confession -- Rossetti 1848

Eleven years before, when first I found her
Alone upon the hill-side; and her curls
Shook down in the warm grass as she looked up
Out of her curls in my eyes bent to hers.
She might have served a painter to pourtray
That heavenly child which in the latter days
Shall walk between the lion and the lamb.

Marylin Monroe inspired intellectuals, politicians. Much has been written about how she was used and abused. But her lovely image has not faded since her death. Men and women still want to make love to her, be her friend, save her.

Marylin was the inspiration for Elton John’s lovely lament; “Candle in the wind”. The song was also the inspiration for another Muse; Princess Diana; Elton John sang an adaptation of “Candle in the Wind” at Diana’s funeral.

And not forgetting the Fair Youth of Shakespeare’s sonnets. We have no image of him but he inspired some of the most beautiful poetry in the English language.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And finally, lovely Pattie Boyd, whose face inspired two of our contemporary musicians. George Harrison wrote “Something” for her. Eric Clapton wrote “Layla” and “Wonderful tonight” She is the Muse for my own generation .

Here is George Harrison singing about beautiful Pattie.