Sunday, 13 December 2009


More often than not teenagers get a bad press but 2009 has been a little differant.
Tom Daly, a 15 year old boy, has become the World Diving Champion.
Mike Parham became, at 17, the youngest person to sail around the world. A two year journey that he had begun at the age of 15.
On the opposite side, Linda Dekker a 13 year old from Holland was put into care to prevent her from sailing around the world.
For every success there seems to be someone who is held back because of their age.
I never set out to be a writer.
Just wasn't at the top of my to do list.
Sure, I wrote things like poetry and song lyrics but, then, so do other people my age.
And, of course, there was school. That was writing, writing and more writing. So, who in their right mind would want to carry on writing when they had left school?
So why do it?
And why a western?
If you asked either Tom Daly or Mike Parham why they do what they do I guess the answer is because it is there. The challenge is out there.
When you live with a grandfather who has shelves of western dvds and books the seeds get sown.
When you read a book that is so today with unwestern like subjects like child abuse and lesbianism, more seeds get sown.
Then discover that the same writer wrote about domestic violence questions begin to form.
Though these are not subjects that you will find in my story 'Darke Justice' which will be just one of the twenty one stories in the anthology 'A FISTFUL OF LEGENDS' to be published on 31st January 2010.
I began the story when I was 15 and I will be 17 when the anthology comes out. As long as it took Mike Parham to circumnavigate the world.
But I had a lot of help along the way. First, there was my granddad. When I put my story to him he read it through and told me that I needed to finish it. Like I had written the thing and he said 'finish it'. He took me out of my 'school' head. I mean at school you write out your project and end of story.
He told me to read it through as though I was reading it in a book. Then ask myself what the writer could have done to make the story better. That's what I did. Not once, not twice. I lost count. What I did see was my ideas take shape. Then he asked someone else to look at it.
It was the belief in me by other people that made me believe in myself.
Even doing two episodes of 'The Story With No Name' was daunting. 500 words easy peasy it was like doing a school project. Until I stepped back and listened to everything that I had been taught. Then it was not that easy. Even more so since I didn't tell anyone about the first piece until the very last minute.I closed my eyes and hid under the bedclothes after I put it on line. Then I got a phone call from granddad and he was so positive.
The good thing is that there are new projects to encourage young people to write. The BBC are piloting a scheme to help young people between 17 and 22 to write publishable stories.
I just hope that any young people who read my story will be encouraged to write.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Express Westerns has announced the publication of the anthology of 21 new short stories 'A FISTFUL OF LEGENDS' will be available to purchase from the 31st January 2010.
Copies can be purchased from and on line retailers like Amazon.
'A FISTFUL OF LEGENDS' boasts a line up of both established authors and those who are new to the genre.
Well respected western writer, James Reasoner, has written an introduction to this collection that includes:
DEAD MAN TALKING by Derek Rutherford
BILLY by Lance Howard
LONIGAN MUST DIE! by Ben Bridges
HALF A PIG by Matthew P. Mayo
BLOODHOUND by C.Courtney Joyner
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE by Gillian F. Taylor
BIG ENOUGH by Chuck Tyrell
ON THE RUN by Alfred Wallon
THE GIMP by Jack Martin
VISITORS by Ross Morton
THE NIGHTHAWK by Michael D. George
DARKE JUSTICE by Peter Avarillo
CRIB GIRLS by Kit Churchill
MAN OF IRON by Chuck Tyrell

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


This was one tough ask.
I remembered what Nik Morton and Charlie Whipple said about focusing on your character. I just hope that I've done you guys proud.

What follows is Part 17 of the Story With No Name from Peter Averillo.
To catch up the first sixteen parts are now all in one place at The Culbin Trail. The link is
Loads of writers have taken part in producing this story and include I.J.Parnham, Jack Giles, Chuck Tyrell, Jack Martin, Evan Lewis, James J. Griffin, Joseph A. West, Robert S. Napier, Richard Prosch and Paul Dellinger.
I have really enjoyed taking part.


The town of Bannon was quiet under the heat of the midday sun when Walt Arnside rode along the main street.
He was stiff and tired from the journey that had been punctuated with nights of fitful sleep.
All he wanted was to fill his aching belly and find a soft bed where he hoped to sleep without being plagued by the nightmares of his desert experience.
He had howled as the blood flowed back into his right hand causing painful spasms. Pain that was replaced by anger as he fought the knots that bound his left hand to the stake. Anger that was not spent when, with a rasping roar, he sent the Texas Ranger badge flying through the air to plop, in a spray of sand, close to Silas Bartlett’s feet.
And then more pain as blood rushed through his starved ankles into his feet. Rolling, cursing as each spasm surged up his legs.
Only when his body settled did he try to stand and staggered over to the remains of Silas Bartlett where he plucked the lance free. He paid no attention as the corpse crumpled to the ground. Instead he concentrated on plunging the tip into the sand to clean it. But even then his imagination played with his anger as each time the tip hit the sand so it was stabbing into the body of Zack Roden. Into the body of Silas Bartlett. And into that of a man named Bourbon.
Until exhaustion and tears of frustration drove him to his knees.
Slowly, sanity came back to him and with it an absolute priority. Using the lance as a support he pulled himself back to his feet, then hacked at the cactus. Holding the mashed flesh above his mouth squeezing precious drops of water onto his tongue. Groaning as the water moisted his tongue, mouth and throat.
It was nearly dusk by the time he felt strong enough to crawl to where Deuce Harmon’s body still lay stiff in death. Painfully, stretching taut burned skin he had stripped the clothes from the corpse and dressed himself before laying back in the sand waiting for his strength to return.
He stared long and hard at the mass of tracks that pointed south west and knew that he was in no fit state to go off in pursuit. He had to be stronger and better equipped before he could even think of going on the vengeance trail.
The galleon, even if it existed, was no longer the goal. He wished that he had never heard of the damned boat. Wished that he had not stopped that train nor heeded Silas Bartlett’s call. For from that point on he had been shot at, gutshot and left for dead and, been staked out to die in the desert. He had put his life on the line for people that he had looked upon as friends and each had turned out to be an enemy. Nor could he be certain where Lola stood in all this.
Where to go? Matlock would not be safe and he had no wish to head back to Lola’s cabin. Bannon seemed to beckon as the safest haven where he could work out what to do next.
Slowly, he climbed to his feet and crested a dune. He stopped dead, his mouth gaping as he saw Harmon’s horse tethered to a cactus. Looking cautiously around him he approached the animal.
“What the hell?” he croaked, sure that the animal had run off after Sawtell had emptied the saddle. Then allowed himself to grin. “Thanks, Sawtell. I do have a fighting chance – now.”
After leaving his horse in the livery, Walt strode across the hardpan to the cafe opposite. He felt a tad rich after he had discovered just over fifteen dollars in notes and loose change in Harmon’s denims. At least he could pay for his immediate needs.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


L7 is an American all girl alternative metal band that was formed back in 1985 by singer/guitarist Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner. In the beginning they had a male drummer but he was replaced by Dee Plakas. Various bass players joined and left the group but Janis Tanaka was in the final line-up when the group disbanded in 2000. Janis went on to be the bassist for Pink.
It is L7's heavy riff orientated sound that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Their music has formed part of the soundtracks of such movies as 'Natural Born Killers', 'Pet Sematary 2', 'Foxfire' and 'Tank Girl'. Their single 'Pretend We're Dead' features on the video game 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' and 'Rock Band 2'.
As a group they made an appearance in the Bridget Fonda film 'Point Of No Return' and as Camellips in 'Serial Mom'.
Their debut album, simply titled 'L7', came out in 1988 and was labelled as part of the emerging grunge scene.
They made only 6 albums:
L7 - 1988
Smell The Magic - 1990
Bricks Are Heavy - 1992
Hungry For Stink - 1994
The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum - 1997
Slap Happy - 1999
Live: Omaha to Osaka - live performances released in 1998
The Slash Years - a compilation disc of music from 1992 -1997 issued in 2000.
My first encounter with L7 came with 'Pretend We're Dead' and I got hooked on their driving sound. Both this song and 'Wargasm' can be found on You Tube.
Not to everybody's taste and some lyrics should be labelled 'Parental Guidence'.
Although the group disbanded Donita Sparks and Dee Plakas have formed a group called Donita Sparks and The Stellar Moment.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


I have been reading some of the back pieces where people write about books that they think should not be forgotten.

At first glance, to someone like me, it looks like a pile of old books that have no place in the modern world.

But I've been taught that I shouldn't dismiss something or criticise is until I know something about what I'm talking about.

Well, as some of the books are either not available or cost more than a year's pocket money to buy I had to find another solution.

I got lucky and went into a shop called 'The Works' and picked up a book called 'The Big Book Of Pulps' for a price that hardly made a dent in said pocket money.

Here I found short stories by authors like Dashiell Hammett, Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Chandler, Frank Gruber and Norbert Davis. Those short stories were a good influence that I have now read 'The Big Sleep' by Raymond Chandler; a Perry Mason novel and a Saint book.

There are a lot of old books in granddad's bookcase and he's always adding to them.

So what I got from all this is an appreciation of Friday's Forgotten Books.

OK so some styles show how dated they are but there are good stories out there that are told in such a way that at the end there is a kind of satisfaction. Many of these books don't take up a lot of space nor are they padded out to justify their existence.

While I think that e-books and e-readers are a part of the future the value of Friday's Forgotten Books is that many of them will not see their way onto electronic books. Enthuse about these e-books is fine but I, also, think that in a world where paperbacks no longer existed many of these books would disappear. That writers like Orrie Hitt, a writer that James Reasoner highlights, would just be names on someone's blog.
Full line up of Friday's Forgotten books can be found on the Pattinase blog at

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


This Caleb Thorn book is written against the background of the American Civil War.

The book opens with the graphic whipping of a slave for looking at his owner, Rachel Lowell, in a lustful way. Then she changes her mind and claims that the slave touched her. Rachel takes over from the overseer and whips the man to death.
Meanwhile, fifty miles away and among Washington society Caleb Thorn is celebrating his 21st birthday by having a duel with a young lieutenant Janson who he kills.
This has repercussions that occur later in the story.
Caleb Thorn is not made in the heroic mold. He's a strutting bully who killed his father and has an weird relationship with his mother, Jolene. Although he is engaged to marry Rachel Lowell, he has eyes for his future mother-in-law.
He really couldn't care less about the looming war and has no interest in fighting.
With the battle of Bull Run about to happen Washington society descends on a hill overlooking the battlefield as though the coming fight is some sort of spectator sport where the Union forces are expected to score a home run against the Confederates.
Things do not go according to plan and the home team are forced back. Artillery fire begins to land amongst the spectators who panic and run from the field. Civilians and soldiers cram onto a small bridge that is blown apart. Amongst the csualties are Caleb Thorn's mother, sister and fiancee - though in Rachel's case she learns that it is pointless threatening a slave with a whipping when she's drowning.
All Caleb Thorn wants is revenge against the Rebs because they killed his mother.
So Lieutenant Caleb Thorn arrives in an Army camp only to find that the Commanding Officer is
Lieutenant-Colonel Janson the father of the man he killed in the duel.
Janson has no intention of taking revenge but suggests that Thorn take charge of a bunch of convicts and go on a suicide mission. Unfortunately Thorn makes the wrong decision by choosing to reject the offer. Janson goads Thorn into striking him and Thorn winds up in the stockade with the other convicts.
Inevitabably they all set out on the mission and, as this is book 1, they pull it off and survive.

On this book alone Caleb Thorn just comes across as a weak little bully boy who has been spoilt to the point that he expects to get his own way. Though I say that by the end of the book Thorn and his band do bond.
The adult content was boring as all it seemed to do was highlight that Thorn is God's gift to women. LOL.
What is good is that there is a lot of history tucked away that tells of the descent into war that culminates in the Battle Of Bull Run.
There was enough in the second half of the book to make sure that I continue to Book 2: The Raiders.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

SMACKDOWN vs RAW 2010 - Review

After all the hype the game was released by THQ on October 23rd.
"It's your world now" the hype proclaimed.
It was all about creation. From creating your own wrestler, designing outfits, entrances, moves and to enhance the character by refining their superstar abilities. All very much like creating a character in a book.
Added to this a player can share their creations online within the WWE Community.
Drawback to this is that the character that has been carefully built comes with some missing bits - like entrance music and superstar abilities.
But having built a character no one wants their creation tampered with which is not an unreasonable thought. But not to have the superstar abilities is an oversight that no one can rectify.
Also, the game comes with glitches that should have been ironed out before THQ released the game.
Play with too many created wrestlers and the game freezes.
Some moves result with the wrestler wandering around with a broken arm.
Some hairstyles disappear and reappear during play.
It seems to have a problem with two shades of orange - entrance freezes or just doesn't load.
Simple solution is to not have an entrance; don't use orange; use a different hairstyle and remove moves that leaves the wrestler with a broken arm.
But why?
So how about the game play itself?
Well, in a few words 2010 is just a rehash of 2009. So, nothing new there except that on the 'Road To Wrestlemania' storylines there has been an added story for created wrestlers and one for female wrestlers.
In the past THQ have been far more innovative and creative in producing their Smackdown vs Raw games. The career mode has taken different paths but this time around they have chosen to repeat themselves.
On the plus side it has to be said that on the creative side they have almost surpassed themselves. Truly is the creator player's world now. At long last they have brought in a tool that puts the Highlight Reel to some use by allowing the player to create their own entrance movie.
This should have been brought into play long before now.
Downside is that uploading the character into the community does not come with entrance movie and there is no point in downloading it seperately as the two cannot be married up.
On balance the plusses and minuses equal each other - but I don't rate it as highly as gamer mags and sites do.
Just play and enjoy - it's what I do.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

THE DARK RIDERS by Howard Hopkins

Milius Clint is an evil man who is on the revenge trail. He wants to destroy Chris Durrin's life for the way that Chris had left Milius Clint disfigured and left him as the man he had become.
Clint and his gang sweep onto the 7HL ranch and destroy everything in their path including Chris's adoptive father. But that is not enough for Clint as he takes Chris's Comanche girlfriend's life before turning his attention to the other girl in Chris's life - a saloon dove named Matilija.
As all hell breaks loose in the saloon it becomes clear that bullets cannot harm Milius Clint or his gang.
For Milius Clint, long believed to be dead, has returned as a vampire.
Milius Clint is not your usual vampire. While his gang feeds on blood Clint feeds on fear that, in turn, feeds the hunger of the evil inside him.
Howard Hopkins, better known as Black Horse Western writer Lance Howard, maintains the western theme in this book. Just that the outlaws are not just bad guys but evil vampires as well.
In a sub-plot, there is a tale about cattle rustling and a friend who's past is linked to Chris Durrin's past.
This was an excellent read and the heroes really good as they have no idea how to deal with vampires. This, to my mind, is what sets 'The Dark Riders' apart from most vampire stories where the influence of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' sets the scenes.
And I liked Judith Huey's cover art which was just right for this book.
Yeah, I could read this book again.
Part 13 of the Short Story With No Name can be found on Broken Trails ( along with all the details for the other parts.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


The Story With No Name continues with Part 12 coming from Black Horse Western writer Chuck Tyrell and can be found at

Parts 1 - 10 can be read as a whole on The Culbin Trail (
Part 11 is right here on this blog.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


One by one.............
This is what you call real watchable television.
The premise is take the slasher horror movie and mix all the elements of mystery, thriller and a dash of romance and keep the audience guessing who the killer is.
Spread the mix over 13 episodes and the audience is in a quandry because you not only want to spot the killer but you do wonder about who is next.
HARPER'S ISLAND begins with a party of people arriving from Seattle to attend the wedding of Henry Dunn to Trish Wellington. Among the guests is Abby Mills who is returning home. Abby is full of trepidation as the island was the scene of her mother's murder by the serial killer John Wakefield. A killer that was killed by Abby's father, Sheriff Charlie Mills.
The arrival of the party sees the re-union of Harper's Island resident and fisherman Jimmy with his ex Abby and old friend Henry. From the start there is no doubt that there is a strong bond between the three of them.
Right at the start, though, of the episode it is clear that something is afoot for one guest doesn't make up the numbers. He's tied up beneath the boat awaiting decapitation by the propellors.
With the passing of each episode so members of the wedding party and some of the residents come to meet the reaper. While the body count rises so does the number of possible suspects rise.
Trish Wellington's father doesn't want his daughter to marry Henry and pays an ex-boyfriend to try and get her away. Ex-boyfriend becomes a victim as does future father in law. The Sheriff, too, comes under suspicion when it is revealed that he never found John Wakefield's body.
Even Henry has his moment when Abby finds him covered in blood and his brother, J.D., dying after being stabbed. "It's all about you, Abby," are his dying word. Cue Abby as suspect.
Enter John Wakefield. This is The Grim Reaper and he just shows no emotion as he rips his way through the remainder of the wedding party.
But, Wakefield is not alone. He has come for his child. And the mother of his child was Abby's mother. Abby is now the key suspect again because by now it has been worked out that Wakefield is not acting alone.
Tonight was the denouement where everything comes together and the other killer's identity is revealed. The storyline was outlined in Episode 1 which made everything in the final two episodes make sense.
Something that should have been corny was really good and that was the romantic intervals between Cal and Chloe and that has to be down to the actors Adam Campbell and Cameron Richardson. You had to be hard hearted to watch them die without being sad that they had become Wakefield's victims.
Elaine Cassidy takes the lead as Abby Mills. With Christopher Gorham and Katie Cassidy as the prospective groom and bride, Henry and Trish. Nor would I want to meet Callum Keith Rennie up a dark alley not after his acting skills at bringing John Wakefield to life.
If you missed it I can only hope that it comes out on DVD.


I would like to thank the kids for keeping this blog going. You've done a good job and there have been one or two surprises.
Good job, kids.

Friday, 16 October 2009

GOD'S LITTLE ACRE by Erskine Caldwell

This book is set in a time of the Depression in America.
Ty Ty Walden believes that there is gold on his farm and for the past 15 years has been digging for it. The only thing that grows on his farm is holes.
He has one acre put aside for God with the promise that any profit that piece of land makes will go to God. As long as it is not the fortune in gold that he expects to make. So he keeps shifting the location of that acre.
At first he tries to be all 'scientific' in discovering the whereabouts of the gold. That is until he hears tell that there is a diviner down in the swamps. An albino who can point out where his fortune lay. So Ty Ty along with his sons, Buck and Shaw, head off to the swamps to hunt down and kidnap the albino, Dave Dawson.
While they are doing that Ty Ty sends his daughter, Darling Jill, off to fetch his son-in-law, Will Thompson, to give them a hand.
Helped by the overweight Pluto Swint, who is running for sheriff,
Darling Jill heads over to the mill town where the Thompsons live.
Now poor old Pluto has a thing for Darling Jill and will do anything to be near her but she prefers to be her own woman while, at the same time, shows that she likes a good time. Nor is she fussy.
Out of work Will Thompson turns up drunk and finishes up in bed with Darling Jill. Something that annoys her sister, Rosamund, who is Will's wife.
Will is reluctant to go back to Ty Ty Walden because he would rather go back to work. He wants to re-open the cotton mill, turn on the power and keep the looms going which would put the whole town back to work.
He gives in under pressure. But when they get home Darling Jill walks off with the albino, Dave Dawson. And Ty Ty gets a bit suggestive in his talk of Buck's wife Griselda.
While most of the book to this point is light and humourous at times from this point onwards it is a downhill ride to tragedy. Things heat up when Will Thompson comes to the decision that it is time to stop talking and do what he says. It is at the same time that it is discovered that Griselda doesn't always go shopping either and Ty Ty's lewd remarks have a consequence that leaves him in one of the holes he has dug for himself very much alone.
I was surprised to discover that this book was written in 1933 and that the publisher and author were taken to court for publishing a book with pornographic content. They also tried to have the book banned.
By today's standards it is sort of tame but I think that for the time it was pretty much way out there. The innuendo is very much to the point and as for sexual bits there is enough in the description to let the imagination do the rest.
I enjoyed the book. The style was easy to read and the characters of Ty Ty Walden and Darling Jill with her rebellious, mischievious antics really stood out. And I felt a bit sorry for Pluto Swint who had no one else to blame but himself.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Teenage angst and juvenile delinquency does not seem to fit in with the Old West scene. It's not a subject that writers write about.
Yet in Oklahoma in 1895 a couple of teens caused a lot of problems for the law.
Anna Emmaline McDoulet and Jennie Stevens were just 17 and 16 years of age when they went on a teenage rampage and caused the law a lot of problems.
Despite her age Jennie Stevens had already been married twice. Neither marriage had last long but, then, Jennie was not ready to settle down.
Anna McDoulet was a restless figure with a romantic interest in the outlaws of the old west and the Doolin-Dalton gang or Wild Bunch in particular. Whether this came from the books by Ned Buntline or not I'm not sure. More probably by their very reputation.
They met some members of the Wild Bunch at a country dance and were soon involved with the gang. They sold licquor to the Pawnee Indians, indulged in horsetheft and were spies for the gang.
Both girls kept their eyes and ears open and kept the gang informed about the whereabouts of the law who were hunting them down.
Jennie was captured once and managed to escape by stealing the deputy's horse.
After two years of creating havoc the pair, who were known as Cattle Annie and Little Britches, were captured by the lawman Bill Tilghman. Both were sentenced to Reform School after which they faded from history. No one knows what happened to them after that though it is suspected that Anna McDoulet may have died in 1978.
The story of Cattle Annie and Little Britches has been turned into a novel by Robert Ward (1977). And a 1980 film with Amanda Plummer as Cattle Annie and Diane Lane as Little Britches. Also Burt Lancaster stars as Bill Doolin and Rod Steiger as Bill Tilghman.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

WILD BUNCH WEDNESDAY; The Story With No Name Part 11

Each Wednesday a different writer has taken up the challenge to write 500 words or so segment of this Western short story.
The authors have been I.J.Parnham; Jack Giles; Chuck Tyrell; Evan Lewis; Jack Martin; Jim Griffin; Joseph A West; Bob Napier; Richard Prosch and Paul Dellinger.
All 10 parts can now be read at The Culbin Trail (
Part 11 is written by Peter Averillo.
Who is next?
Anyone who wants to write Part 12. Just leave a comment and claim your place.

The Story With No Name - Part 11

Silas Bartlett stood there stunned with his mouth gaping wide open.
“What the hell?” he managed to squeeze out, the words strangling in his throat.
The gun in Lola’s hand swung in his direction. A coldness seemed to seep into her honey brown eyes.
“Sit down, Silas,” Lola nodded towards the rickety chair close by his side.
She waited for him to obey before speaking again.
“I don’t trust you, Silas,” she continued. “Never did. But you got one thing right – this is about Walt and me.”
“Don’t include me in,” Walt groaned laying back on the bed.
Lola just smiled: “Like I said this is about you and me.”
“There is no me and you,” Walt spat out. “You made that plain some time back.”
“So I made a mistake,” Lola shrugged. “And you’ve never made any?”
“Plenty,” Walt mumbled.
“Well so did I,” Lola insisted. “The biggest was believing that Zack was the solution to all my problems. He keeps me safe and secure just like I wanted but that’s as far as it goes. We’re just partners in a business. He can’t give me what I really want.”
“And the gold solves all your problems,” Silas snapped as he attempted to rise but sat down again as Lola glared at him.
“No, Silas, this not about the gold,” she snapped.
“If it’s not about the gold - ,” Walt began before choosing to shut his mouth and wait for Lola to say her piece.
“I saved your life, Walt,” Lola reminded him. “I brought you here for a reason. To talk to you. To explain some things to you.”
“Don’t listen to her, Walt,” Silas implored. “She’s in this for herself. Her and Zack Roden, they want my treasure for themselves.”
Lola laughed: “You can believe that if you want to Silas but all the gold I want is lying on that bed.”
“Lola, it’s too late for all that,” Walt groaned, trying to rise up but forced back by the pain in his belly. “’Sides, the way I figure it you’re trying to drive a wedge between me and Silas there. Lull me into thinking that I’d best go with you for the gold.”
“Walt, believe me when I say the gold means nothing to me,” Lola pleaded. “If you don’t believe me all you’ve got to do is burn that damned map.”
The moment that Lola turned her attention to Walt, Silas saw an opportunity to jump her and take the gun away from her. But when she mentioned the idea of burning the map it knocked him back leaving him sitting in stunned silence.
“You serious?” Walt asked, his eyes narrow and watchful.
“Yes,” Lola nodded.
“You can’t,” Silas screamed.
“Certainly not, old chap,” the soft, silky tone of voice had three heads turning towards the open door.
So engrossed in their own problems they had not heard Zack Roden make his entrance nor did they know how long he had been standing there.
“Well, well chaps and chapess,” Zack continued. “It has been a long time since the four of us were last together. Quite the reunion don’t you think?” when no one responded he carried on. “Quite an impressive speach, Lola. Most convincing. Now be a good girl and give Walter the gun. Man looks positively naked without it.” Then, as though it was an afterthought. “Oh, and Walter I don’t think it would be prudent to burn that map. Do you?”

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

READING HABITS of a 16 year old

I've been memed by Joanne Walpole.

1. Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack.
Well, yes I do snack but it could be anything from sandwiches to crisps.

2. How do you keep your place while reading a book? Book mark? Dog ear?

3. Laying the book flat open?
Being brought up to respect books - never. It's just as easy to bookmark the page.

4. Fiction, non-fiction or both?
Fiction, faction or non-fiction.

5. Hard copy or audio book?
I prefer real books.

6. Are you a person who reads to the end of chapters or are you able to put a book down at any point?
End of chapters. Ilike good endings that make me want to pick the book up again.

7. If you come across a word that is unfamiliar do you look it up straight away?
I go with the flow. Meanings usually come through. If not I look it up later on the computer.

8. What are you currently reading?
The Dark Riders by Howard Hopkins (review coming up when I've finished it).

9. What was the last book you purchased?
Billy by G F Newman - the man who wrote the Judge John Deed tv series.

10. Is there a favourite time or place to read?
Anytime. In my room.

11. Do you prefer series books or stand alone?
Either. It has to be a good series though.

12. Is there a specific book or writer that you recommend?
I suppose I do do that. I like a lot of the Black Horse Western writers. Good books that I read I do review. That's like a recommendation.

13. Are you the type of person who reads one book at a time or can you read more than one?
Er - at school you don't have a choice. At home it's one at a time.

14. How do you organise your books: by genre, title, author?
In the bookcase. Totally haphazard. Though all books by one author are together. I'm a totally disorganised teenager.


The Veronicas are a duo from Australia.
Jessica and Lisa Origliasso are from Albany Creek, Brisbane, New South Wales.
They have been in show business since they were five years old. They have appeared in the Aussie series 'Cybergirl' and Disney TV's 'The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody'.
As songwriters they have written songs for the likes of the Russian girl band Tatu.
2004 saw the launch of their first album 'The Secret Life Of.....' which failed to reach the UK shops. Though both album and singles tracks did very well Down Under.
'Hook Me Up' was originally released in 2008.
And one track 'Untouched' was used on the video game 'FIFA 09'.
Now the 'Hook Me Up' album has been released in the UK and The Veronicas made a publicity appearance on a recent edition of 'National Lottery Live' with a video clip of their latest singles release.
That clip gave me a reason to listen to more. It turns out that the CD is quite interesting music wise.
It is easy to say that The Veronicas compare to the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Girls Aloud and Tatu. But each track on this CD is different. It is just not the same old, same old that you get on most CDs. Each track is individual and covers different styles. That is what makes this so refreshing. One of the few albums that I can replay and hear something new each time.

Monday, 12 October 2009


The Power Of One is a 1992 movie based on the 1989 novel by Bryce Courtenay.
The story is set in South Africa at the time of aparthaid.
It is about a boy known by his initials as PK and is played by Guy Witcher at 7 years of age; Simon Fenton at 12 years of age and Stephen Dorff as the 18 year old PK.

PK is English and grows up on a farm in South Africa. After a cattle plague wipes out the farm and the death of his mother PK is sent to an Afrikaaner boarding school.
With the rise of Adolph Hitler PK becomes the victim of bullying led by an older boy Jaapie Botha (Robbie Bulloch). One night he is woken up by a master to be told, curtly, 'You're mother is dead.' PK starts to wet his bed.
After the funeral his nanny calls on a witchdoctor
who shows PK how to face his fears. And faces them he does when he tackles the bully, Jaapie, and embaresses him.
He is taken out of the boarding school by his grandfather and placed in the care of a German pianist and botanist with a love of cacti. With the declaration of war Doc is interned and PK goes with him. Apart from the guards Doc and PK are the only white people in the camp. PK witnesses first hand the treatment of the blacks by their guards.
Doc suggests that a man named Geel Piet (Morgan Freeman) trains PK how to box.
The Kommandant announces a visit by the Commissioner and asks Doc to arrange a concert. How to do it is a concern but PK solves the problem by bringing the tribes together to form a choir. The words though are derogatory to their captors and sung in Zulu the Afrikaaners have no idea that they are being called cowards. One of the guards does though after he has beaten it out of Geel Piet.
After the war PK is sent to an English Boarding school. It is during an inter-school boxing match that PK meets Maria Marais (Fay Masterson), the daughter of one of the architects of modern aparthaid. Together they begin to run a school teaching English to some of the people of the nearby shanty town. This does not go unobserved as Jaapie Botha is now a police sergeant (and now played by Daniel Craig) and he is looking for revenge.
With PK on the run the police invade the shanty town looking for him. Inevitably, there is a showdown between PK and Botha.

I had seen the director, John G Avildson's films of Rocky and The Karate Kid but those films did not prepare me for this one. This is not like them at all. The violence in this movie is shocking from the bullying scenes to the beating of Geel Piet to the massacre in the township. There is no glorifying the violence here but a statement that said that this sort of thing happened.
It is also a brilliant film in the way that it portrays PK's life into his teens.
I now want to read Bryce Courtenay's book and it's sequel

Saturday, 10 October 2009


In an action packed week we will cover such things as the latest Australian music sensations and a couple of movies that you might enjoy.
Chantel will be going on a teenage rampage in the wild west.
Yes, folks, the kids are still in charge for another week.
Let us know what you think.

Friday, 9 October 2009


The western has made a return to the video game market.

They have been around since the 1980s with the coming of the Commodore 64 and on the early Sega and Nintendo systems and, later, with Playstation and the Game Cube.

When the Playstation 2 came out the graphics that had been developed on the earlier games was enhanced. Rockstar, the creators of 'Grand Theft Auto' and 'Midnight Club' games brought out 'Red Dead Revolver'. It had a good storyline and a soundtrack that sounded as though it had come straight from the pen of Ennio Morricone.
Although rated with a max of 7.5 out of 10 in games magazines this game has sold 1.5 million copies since the 2004 release.
Following on with this was Playstation 2 released another series 'Gunfighter: The Legend Of Jesse James' which had a sequel 'Gunfighter 2: The Revenge Of Jesse James'
The first western video game to go out on all consoles was
With a gap in the market Xbox 360 came out with the 'Call Of Juarez'. This, in turn, has a sequel (though this is really a prequel) 'Call Of Juarez: Blood Bound'.
Sometime between now and April 2010 the second Rockstar game 'Red Dead Redemption' will appear on a console near you.
Mr Dobbs at The Tainted Archive has a video of the trailer for this game. It certainly looks good but like all trailers for video games it is made up of the cut scene graphics rather than the gameplay.
The main focus of the western video games has roots in the spaghetti western. The hero, very often, is Clint Eastwood inspired. Unlike the early Lucky Luke games from way back.
Even the packaging has that good movie poster feel about them.
The western video game does have an audience amongst the young. But these are RPG (role playing games) whereas most young people have a liking for sports related games or splatter games.
It is interesting to discover that it is the 55 and above age group that buys RPGs like the games listed above - and they have the nerve to criticise us youngsters.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Billy The Kid, or so the legend has it, killed a man for every year of his life.
In her lifetime it is reckoned that Sally Skulls bodycount was higher. Not a woman to mess with by all accounts.
Sally Skull or Scull was born Sarah Jane Newman in Pennsylvania about 1817.
She came west with her maternal grandfather. Sally Skull showed her prowess with a gun at an early age when the homestead was attacked by Indians.
By the 1830s she was down Texas way where she married Jesse Robinson, one of the heroes of The Battle Of San Jacinto, in 1838. By 1843 they were divorced and in that same year Sally married a gunsmith George Scull.
In her lifetime Sally, who never dropped the name Scull, was married five times.
This lady was feminine but she preferred to wear trousers - though I think that from what I've read she liked to wear the trousers.
She could rope and brand equal to any cow hand and ran her own freighting business. During the Civil War she drove freight up the famed Cotton Road to deliver needed supplies by the Confederate troops.
Sally, despite dressing and riding like a man was all female with a love of dancing. At the same time she liked a game of poker and could cuss with the best of them.
I have a visual picture of Sally who wore a brace of six guns, carried a rifle and wore a sunbonnet. Not the stereotype outfit that is usually imagined.
Sometimes she would get into disputes over land or cattle or horse deals with the result that she resorted to the only means of bringing an end to the arguement. With her guns and, usually, in self-defence.
In 1868 she disappeared. Some said that her fifth husband killed her and buried her body in the desert down Mexico way. Others say that she was seen around later than that.
Or maybe she moved to El Paso where in 1870 a lady known as Alice Stillwell Henderson was said to show some of the traits that Sally Skull had had. Also, it is said, that this lady had written a journal about the life of Sally Skull.
Who knows what happened to Sally Skull.
A lady with steel blue eyes who defied the conventions of her time. A cattlewoman, horsebreeder and freighter who was more feminist than the times could tolerate.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


This is the short story that began life 10 weeks ago. It has no name but the story is taken up by a different writer each week.
Part 10 can be found at Laurie Powers Wild West (
You will find links there to the previous 9 episodes.
Not read them yet? Shame on you.

Monday, 5 October 2009


The Raging Moon
The movie of the book by Peter Marshall reviewed on this blog is now on DVD. It stars Malcolm McDowell and Nanette Newman.

Interest In Open Range
It was good to hear that some articles from Open Range have been used in conjunction with talks with various Historical Associations in America.

Metallica: S & M
We have now seen the DVD of this concert with The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Metallica. We enjoyed the session especially the way that the orchestra, band and audience interacted. Has to be seen and heard.

Silent Tuesday
For obvious reasons we will not be posting anything on Tuesday 6th October.
But we'll be back Wednesday and for the rest of the week.

Sunday, 4 October 2009


Directed by John Lemont.

Herbet Lom as Waldo Zhurnikov
John Gregson as Detective Inspector Sayers
Sean Connery as Paddy Damion
Alfred Marks as Harry Foulcher
Yvonne Romain as Anya

The box says that this film is an example of British noir.
Most reviews of this film gives it the thumbs down - but they must have watched a different film to us.
Basic storyline is that accountant Waldo Zhurnikov has gang boss Harry Foulcher as a client. Waldo shows an interest in the current spate of gang warfare and suggests that Harry call a truce and unite the gangs. But he needs an enforcer who will use violence as a last resort.
Enter former cat-burglar Paddy Damion who has a nice line in patter when it comes to promoting the insurence rackets (in other words protection).
When Waldo decides to expand the gangland areas of influence into the construction business one of the gangsters, Alf Peters, pulls out. Because Paddy Damion is very friendly with Alf he is coerced into arranging a meeting where Harry Foulcher kills Alf.
Paddy Damion is caught by Detective Inspector Sayers who has spent part of the film following the gangsters around attempting to catch them red-handed. But Paddy escapes for the final showdown.

No matter what other people say we were rivetted to this film. And watch Sean Connery and he has some great one liners. "I'm a white Russian." Anya, the love interest, tells him. "Not to worry. I'm colour blind."
One movie away and he was already doing the James Bond thing. So one good reason to see this dvd.
The theme tune was by Norrie Paramour who gets to play the part of the pianist in the movie.
The Shadows had a hit with the theme tune - The Frightened City


Dad once said if you want to find a root of Heavy Metal listen to Stravinsky's 'Rite Of Spring'. Me listen to classical music? I took his advice and did wonder.
So take a Heavy Metal group like Metallica and fuse that with Michael Kamen conducting The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and you get a bit closer to what my dad was thinking.
This is a two disc set which has 21 tracks. The opener is the 'Ectasy Of Gold' and followed by a massive instrumental track ' The Call Of The Ktulu' - just 9.24 minutes of shear mindblowing fusion of symphony orchestra and heavy metal. Does it work? Of course it does. It shouldn't but it does. The opener to 'Master Of Puppets' sounds like a film soundtrack then the guitars hit in and takes the music to another level.
There are two new tracks on this double CD. 'No Leaf Clover' and 'Human'.
Even if you don't like heavy metal I'd give this one a try.
On the downside I have to give this CD back to Dad.
Does anyone think he'd notice if it was missing?
Yeah, I think he would.

Friday, 2 October 2009


Okay before I start - due to the death of Ray's mum yesterday we kids are taking over this blog for the next week or so. We'll try to keep things going with bits on Metallica, a killer who makes Billy The Kid look cool and other stuff.


This 2004 movie went straight to video but also was premierred that year on the Sci-Fi Channel.

The movie stars Michael Gross as Hiram Gummer (the great-grandfather of Burt Gummer of the original Tremors movie).

The action takes place in the Nevada town of Rejection in 1889.

The sole source of income comes from the nearby silver mine where the workers begin to disappear spreading panic in the town and everyone panics and leaves apart from an Indian, a Chinese family, the saloon owner and Juan, one of the mine workers.

Enter Hiram Gummer from Philadelphia the mine owner who wants to know why work has stopped. With a bunch of miners he enters the mine only for everyone to disappear when they are attacked by flying 'dirt dragons'.

Juan manages to kill one when he throws a pick axe at it. Hiram thinks that the only way he can get rid of the monsters is to telegraph out for a hired gun. Enter Black Hand Kelly. Immediately, Kelly and Hiram clash and with Juan in tow they set out to tackle the Graboid 'Dirt Dragons'.

When this fails Hiram hands over the mine to the surviving townspeople and heads back to Philadelphia. While waiting in Carson City for a train he overhears the telegraph operator laughing off the claims from Rejection that they are being attacked by giant worms.

Armed to the teeth with weaponry Hiram returns to Rejection where the magnificent six take on and defeat the 'dirt dragons'.

And the town becomes known as Perfection.

Very often sequels and prequels do not come up to scratch. In this case this is a prequel that matches the original and it's a pity that this one didn't make it into cinemas. The actors look as though they are enjoying themselves. None of the humour is forced.

None of the hour and half run time is wasted.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


After blogging about Charley (or Charlie) Parkhurst we came across this novelisation of the famed stagecoach driver's life.
Fern J. Hill takes the reader right into the story and her style is so engaging that when I opened the book I was hooked. So, this is one book that did not make it on to my 'too be read' pile.
The facts of Charlotte Parkhurst's life is, as explained in my previous blog, very scant but Fern J. Hill by telling the story in the first person makes for a believeable person.
The reader is taken through Charley's childhood in an orphanage and her subsequent escape to Massachusetts where she is employed by Ebenezer Birch. That Charley is female are discovered by Ebenezer's wife, Tilly, and later by another driver with whom she has an affair that results in the birth of her daughter in Georgia. When young Mattie dies, Charley drowns her sorrow in drink but Charley returns to the trade of her choice. Despite her drink problem she is sober when she drives. In 1851 she heads for California and this is where Charley Parkhurst's reputation is made.
What makes this novel stand out is the way that Fern J. Hill has combined fact and fiction in a way that the reader is left with the impression that there is no dividing line.
Fern J. Hill has her own website that is full of facts about the life of Charley Parkhurst.
There is, also, a You Tube trailer.
This book is available through both and or via The Book Depository.
Certainly recommended read.


The next instalment of this exciting western story can now be read at
This story is gathering pace and comes with twists and turns that leaves the reader wanting more.
All the links to the previous episodes can be found at Meridian Bridge.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


On a Tuesday on Dark Bits ( Howard runs a series called Terror Tuesday. The point of this is to promote the horror novel that, like the western, is disappearing from the shelves.
Last week was about ghost stories and invited readers of his blog to mention their encounters - so here we go:

The Summer Of '69

The first week of July '69 my fiancee, Sandra, and I went to Minehead in Somerset for a week before joining up with her mum and dad for the second week.
We spent our time roaming through Somerset and Devon or just lazing on the beach.
One of our roams took us to Dunster Castle but what intrigued me was the tower on the opposite hill.
It was quite a hot day and the sky was cloudless so we ambled through the town passing by the old Yarn Market. Eventually, we found a track that took us onto some open farmland. Unfortunately, there was no way into the woods of Conyger Hill as it was surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
This was no deterent to someone who wanted to know more.
So we ducked through the strands and followed a narrow path up to the tower.
The tower is a folly built by the Luttrell family to resemble the ruins of a castle.
Anyway Sandra posed for a photo within the ruins of the sun-dappled walls of the tower. By then she was feeling a bit chilly and wished that she had brought a cardigan with her. I had to admit that it had, suddenly, grown a hell of a lot cooler and a breeze had begun to build up.
I looked up and noticed that the tops of the trees were bending. The sky, too, had clouded up. Very dark - very grey.
With it came an atmosphere - a tangible evil.
And a sound - a sound of drumming mixed with rattling metal.
It was scary and we were both running downhill as fast as our legs would carry us.
Sandra kept going - but I stopped. Don't ask why - but I did and turned around.
Coming through the trees were what seemed like hundreds of dark vague shapes. It was as though an army was coming after us.
And then we were through the fence into the blinding sunlight of a hot July day.
We stood in the middle of the field and looked back at the hill and said out loud: "What the hell was that?"

We had encountered the leper mercenary army.
Back during the English Civil War the Roundheads had laid seige to Dunster. Conyger Hill would have been a good strategic point for Captain Blake's artillery. But Cromwell had an uneasy feeling when climbing the hill and decided against it. I guess I know why.
But here we are forty years on and both Sandra and I still recall that day.
Neither of us have a clue about who this army is. Certainly, pre-dates the building of the folly which was built in 1775 and the English Civil War.
Back in '69 there were references to a leper army or mercenaries but they were vague. Since then nothing that explains anything more.
Of one thing I am certain - we are not the only people to experience this.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

JACK THE RIPPER: The Singing Girl

When I commented on The Tainted Archive's review of Patricia Cornwell's Jack The Ripper book I pointed out that no one seemed to concentrate on the final murder and the singing girl.
Books have mentioned her and skipped by it - even Superintendant Barlow in the 'Softly, Softly' special dismissed it.
As a fifteen year old kid I was concious that the final murder just did not fit in with the pattern.
So this is what I am going to concentrate on the - the importance of a singing girl.
Mary Kelly was the final victim of Jack The Ripper.
And the proof is - what?

Mary Kelly, unlike all the other victims was killed in her own home.
The lock to the front door was broken as was a pane of glass in the window - but this wasn't made by the Ripper doing a bit of breaking and entering. This had all happened sometime before and reported to the landlord.
At 9pm the night that Mary Kelly was killed several witnesses mentioned that they had heard a female singing indicating that Mary Kelly was not alone that night.

Back to the other victims. All were found in the street and all mutilated either by a butcher (Leather Apron) or a Royal Phycisian (Dr.William Gull). In Mary Kelly's case - her body was found on her bed in her room.

So - two women in one room where only one body was butchered. Not just butchered but mutilated beyond recognition. Ergo one mutilated body found in Mary Kelly's room must be that of Mary Kelly. Not exactly positive ID.

Whatever the theorists come up with for the murder of these prostitutes it has to be assumed that the killer knew what his victims looked like. So why remove Mary Kelly's face? He would have wanted her to be positively identified. On the other hand if he encountered the second female he would have known that it was not Mary Kelly.

Mad and illogical as it sounds - the only reason for the final victim having her face mutilated is to make people believe that the corpse was indeed that of Mary Kelly. And I am fully aware of what this implies and the weight of evidence concerning this one part of the Ripper crimes seems to draw a logical conclusion.
Though having a logical conclusion - doesn't explain the why - except that Anne Stride and the rest new Mary Kelly. They had been arrested, at various times, for prostitution and had used 'Mary Kelly' as an alias. Not really a good excuse for bumping them off - unless, of course, Mary Kelly did not like the reputation this was giving her.
What is obvious is that the Ripper killings ended with Mary Kelly's death.
For fifty odd years I have read everything and watched every documentary on the subject and I am still convinced - or deluded - that it was Mary Kelly who killed the singing girl. With that comes the possibility that Mary Kelly was The Ripper.
Far fetched - maybe.
I am reminded of that moment in the Sherlock Holmes 'Silver Blaze' concerning the curious incident of the dog in the night time. It did nothing. Exactly.
Substitute the curious incident of the singing girl in the night time - and some things make sense.
Or not - as the case may be.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


The Good The Bad The Weird is a 2008 Korean western directed by Kim Ji-woon.
It stars:
Jung Woo-sung as Park Do-won (The Good)
Lee Byung-hun as Park Chang-yi (The Bad)
Sung Kang-ho as Yoon Tae-goo (The Weird)
This is totally western in make-up though it is set against the Manchurian wilderness in the 1930s. The Japanese are looking to go to war against China and have a treasure map in their possession.
Chang-yi and his wild bunch are hired to get the treasure map. They stop a train with the intention of taking the map from the Japanese. Also on the train is Tae-goo who gets to the map first. Trapped on the train with the bandits closing in on him help arrives in the shape of Do-won, a bounty hunter, who is looking for Chang-yi.
What follows is gripping stuff as alliances are formed and disolved as the three main characters take on the Japanese Army and Chinese bandits all anxious to get their hands on the map and the treasure.
The good thing is that this is a visual film so the Korean language does not become a barrier. The English subtitles are unobtrusive - but it is not necessary when following the action.
The opening credits is something to savour with an eagle swooping down on it's prey that lies between railroad tracks. This coincides with the arrival of a train and just a few yards from where Chang-yi is standing between the tracks watching the train approach. The camera work is something that I found made this and many of the set pieces very awesome.
The ending is a bit tame - they should have used the alternative ending which can be found on this disc as it is more in keeping with the tone of the main movie.
Disc 2 has a 'Making Of...' documentry; an interview with cast and director and some more alternative endings.
All in all worth taking time out to see.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


The writer Robert S. Napier has written part 8 of this exciting western yarn. This can be found at - The Cap'n's Blog.

Parts 1-6 can now be read at The Culbin Trail (
Part 7 from western writer Joseph A. West is on The Tainted Archive (

Who will write Part 9?

Friday, 18 September 2009


The day that Sarah Ann Matthe was born in the 1700s she would have been unaware of the destiny that awaited her.
She would marry Butler William Mountain and help him to run 'The Saracen's Head' - the coaching station immortalised by Charles Dickens in 'Nicholas Nickleby'.
Sarah Mountain was described as a real beauty and totally devoted to her husband. She was never without a cameo broach pinned close to her heart. Not just any cameo but that of her husband.
But Sarah Mountain had another side to her - a determination to succeed in business. While her husband was happy to attend to the business of the tavern and hotel side of things Sarah built up a feed and grain business while, at the same time, going into the stagecoach business. Against male opposition she won the right to run the Louth Mail using her own coaches. She, also, built coaches to order and struck deals with the new owners that gave her a slice of their profits.
Not only did she have beauty but she had brains as well.
When her husband died in 1833 she retired from the business and brought a house just up the road from 'The Swan With Two Necks' in Whetstone nr Barnet, Hertfordshire. A house that someone tried to burgle only when he tried to climb a gate to get away she shot him in the leg and sat on him until the law arrived.
The Saracen's Head was taken over by Sarah's son Peter until 1868 when it was demolished to make way for the Holborn Viaduct.
Sarah Mountain died in 1835.
But in her lifetime she made her mark both as a formidable business woman and a loving wife and mother.

Thursday, 17 September 2009


Geneology is a mystery. For several years I have had a problem with one branch of the family tree.
Yesterday I broke through the barrier - thanks to the fact that the London Metropolitan Archives went on line. This can be found at and, probably, .com as well.
Not only did I break down one barrier but added to stuff that I already knew.
That said tracing the family history adds another tool to a writer's armoury - it teaches, me anyway, how to research.
In it's own way geneology can play a part in research for any kind of novel.
Take a look at the Census for 1880 in the US and you discover Morgan Earp in Tombstone stating his occupation as that of 'farmer'. Check it out at
OK so the Census for the US was taken every 10 years but it helps to know who was where at the time.
It is a useful tool.

Monday, 14 September 2009


Like just about everyone else I expected one of The Beatles re-mastered CDs to be at the top of the album charts. In fact the whole set to dominate the chart full stop.
But it appears that nostalgia of a different kind made it to No.1.
The Forces Sweatheart - Vera Lynn stands as the top of the chart.
While The Beatles may have been there for our teenage years it was the voice of Vera Lynn who invokes memories of the war years and many a Beatles fans' childhood. I, for one, grew up knowing the words to 'We'll Meet Again' and 'When The Lights Go On Again' and 'White Cliffs Of Dover'.
And seeing that it is the 70th Anniversary of the declaration of the start of World War 2 maybe the most fitting No.1.

Thursday, 10 September 2009


Randy at Not The Baseball Pitcher has written an excellent review of Chap O'Keefe's 'Misfit Lil Cheats The Hangrope'. Here's the link

While I'm writing Randy has a very good blog here and anyone interested in the Western genre might like to take a look at his back catalogue of Western movies and books.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

WILD BUNCH WEDNESDAY: Short Story Challenge


Part 6 of this exciting tale can be found at
This episode of the story comes from respected American western writer Jim Griffin.

For Part One -
For Part Two - is on this blog
For Part Three -
For Part Four -
For Part Five -

To write Part Seven just claim a place by commenting on the latest instalment. No blog? No problem.

DARK BITS: Guest Blog

In conjunction with the future publication of an anthology of new stories of the Old West - or Where Legends Ride 2 - the authors are making guest appearances on Dark Bits ( Topics range from their stories to their interest in the West.
Last Wednesday saw Jack Martin open the proceedings. This week sees the turn of Jack Giles who reveals a link to the British Western writer Oliver Strange.

Sunday, 6 September 2009



Down in the list of 'Other Interesting Places' is a link to The Bikers Boozer. Just to let any passing bikers know that they have moved to Facebook.

11th - 13th September 2009
It is that time of year when The Ace Cafe celebrates the Reunion. Bikers from across the world will descend one The Ace Cafe in London. Old Rockers from the sixties, members of the 59 Club who used to hang out here back in the Sixties get to enjoy a reflection of the good ole days. Rock 'n' Roll and a good day out for all the family.
And if that's not enough - then there's the Brighton Run on Sunday. E.T.A in Brighton is about 10:30 am.
Guess where I'll be next weekend.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


I often wander down to our local pub on a Saturday night to listen to live Heavy Metal music.
About a year ago the landlady and I were talking music that we liked. At the time she mentioned that I might like Doro Pesch who she had seen at the Wacken Festival in Germany.
Within days I got a message from British Heavy Metal group 'Girlschool' with the same suggestion.
So this Heavy Metal Cowboy rode off to You Tube to discover a live performance by this leatherclad blonde bombshell that blew my mind.
Doro Pesch was born 1964 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Originally, with Snakebite she went on to front the German Heavy Metal band 'Warlock'. While the 1980s scene was male dominated Doro made her voice heard and is regarded by many to be the Queen of Heavy Metal.
And she does have a sensational voice that contrasts with the gentleness of 'Black Rose' to the likes of 'Rock Angel' and 'Down And Out'.
Although she writes her own material she has covered Iron Maiden's 'Wrathchild' and Judas Priest's 'Breaking The Law'.
2009 has seen the release of a new album - 'Fear No Evil' - which has 13 tracks and CD-ROM video of 'Helzblut'.

Thursday, 3 September 2009


It had been a good summer. Sunday 3rd September 1939 was just as warm. Life should have been going on as normal but there were tensions in Europe.
At 11 am the Prime Minister of Britain, Neville Chamberlain, spoke to the nation on the BBC Radio.

"I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany."

During the course of the day France, India, Australia and New Zealand also declared war on Germany.

Hardly had any time passed from that declaration of war when Oberleutant Fritz-Julius Lemp in command of the U-Boat U30 sank the SS Athenia in the mistaken belief that the passenger ship was an armed merchant vessel.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

WILD BUNCH WEDNESDAY - Short Story Challenge

The short story begun by Ian Parnham at (The Culbin Trail)
now continues with Jack Martin's instalment at The Tainted Archive (

Part Two appeared on this blog.
Part Three appeared at
Part Four a

If you fancy joining in and adding a 500 word continuation to the story then leave a comment at The Tainted Archive.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


One of the main means of transportation back in the days of the wild west was the stagecoach. People, baggage and mail were carried by such companies as Wells Fargo, Butterfield and the California Stagecoach Company.
There were well known drivers such as Foss and Monk but even they fade into the background against Charlie Parkhurst.
Charlie was born somewhere in the mid-1810s up in New Hampshire and spent some time in an orphanage.
Down in Massachusetts Charlie discovered an affinity with horses and stagecoach owner, Ebenezer Balch, taught Charlie how to handle teams of four and six. So, when Balch went west Charlie tagged along.
During the gold stampede in California Charlie arrived looking for work. Despite the competition with down on their luck miners seeking work Charlie Parkhurst was taken on. Charlie had a reputation for being one of the safest drivers along the trail from Santa Cruz to San Juan and a reputation that made Charlie's name. An accident while shoeing a horse cost the sight of one eye but sporting a black eye patch Charlie carried on.
One day as Charlie rounded a bend there was a masked robber waiting. Never wanting to be caught out again Charlie learned how to use a .44. The next time someone tried to rob the stage he was shot dead by Charlie. Reports say that Charlie killed at least two people.
The most common ailment for a stage driver was rheumatism of the hands and Charlie was forced to retire. Charlie retired to Watsonville, California where Charlie tried a bit of lumbering, cattle ranching and raising chickens.
Charlie Parkhurst died there in 1879 from cancer of the tongue.
So why is Charlie Parkhurst a legend?
Because Charlie Parkhurst was born Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst.
A woman who, in 1868, became the first woman to have the vote - whether she used it or not will never be known.
When she died the press of the time was unkind and branded her a 'crossdresser' and other things.
She was 5'6" tall, slim and wiry with grey eyes. She would drink, smoke and swear. Her voice is described as a touch high pitched.
It is said that no one knew that she was a woman until she was laid out after she died. Somehow, that is hard to believe. A man who has been on the trail for a few days would have a few bristles on his chin - a need to shave. And there were signs that she had had a least one child.
I have no doubt that Charlie Parkhurst led a secret life. Not much choice considering the times that she lived in. Charlie, it is obvious, loved horses and the job that she did. Just that she had to wear men's clothes to do it.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


At BEAT TO A PULP this week Sandra Seamans takes on the role of western writer with an excellent story called 'Midnight Showdown'. Absolutely brilliant.
More people should make the crossover and write a western.

Saturday, 29 August 2009


Shaun Hutson is a fan - even appeared on stage with them.

I'm a fan. I think that I've done my best writing with the music of Iron Maiden playing in the background.

Whether it's their albums or one of the many compilations their sound has been going since the band was formed in Leytonstone in London's East End back in 1975.

The band went through several changes of personnel until in 1978 it found a useful lead singer Paul Di'Anno. The band started to record their music and had low chart success. They reached number 35 with a song titled 'Women In Uniform'. This one has never been released on an album. The label in purple and silver showed the early artwork that would become synonymous with Iron Maiden album covers.

However this single did appear on a CD with 'Invasion', 'Phantom Of The Opera', 'Twilight Zone' and 'Wrathchild'. Very rare and costs the earth and I wouldn't part with it.

Iron Maiden draw the lyrics for their songs from many sources. 'Lord Of The Flies' from the novel by William Golding and a 13 minute long effective telling of Coleridge's 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner'. Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'. As well as 'The Prisoner' and 'Back To The Village' inspired by the tv series - the former has Patrick MacGoohan's "I'm not a number. I'm a free man." speach on it.

On one tour of America they were denounced by Christians as Satanic and made a public display of burning their albums. Obviously, they had not listened to the lyrics of such songs as 'The Number Of The Beast' or 'Fear Of The Dark'.

In 1981 Paul Di'Anno was replaced by Bruce Dickinson and, to my mind, it is his voice that has brought distinction to the group as a whole. When he left to persue a solo career he was replaced by Blaze Bayley but the two albums that he appeared on were not as good as the previous ones.

Having said that there were many other factors involved.

But when Bruce Dickinson returned to the group it seemed as though the good times were back.

The last three albums 'Brave New World' which includes a song called 'Blood Brothers' is one of the best that they have recorded. 'Dance Of Death' and the sensational 'Matter Of Life And Death' that brings the slaughter of the First World War battle of 'Paschendele' to life.

The album SOMEWHERE BACK IN TIME covers the best tracks from the Iron Maiden albums from 1980 to 1989.

Unfortunately, this does not include their only number one 'Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter' which was written for the soundtrack of 'Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child'. Still it can be heard on the album 'No Prayer For The Dying'.

Included in this compilation is the western inspired 'Run For The Hills'.

The album opens with Churchill's rousing speach followed by the story of the Battle of Britain pilots in 'Aces High'. This album includes many of the well known tracks like 'The Trooper', 'Children Of The Damned', 'Powerslave', and 'Can I Play With Madness'. In many ways a perfect intro to the music of Iron Maiden.

Iron Maiden have made a movie 'Flight 666' and the live album of songs has just been released.

For the best video I can recommend 'Rock In Rio' where Bruce Dickinson shows his acting ability in 'Fear Of The Dark'.

Just another word about Bruce Dickinson. He's a full airline captain and he ferried out 200 UK citizens from Lebanon back in 2006 during the Israel/Hezbollah conflict. A man of many talents with an interesting bio worth reading.

And the origin of the name. Well according to Steve Harris, the founder, the bass player and composer he was watching an adaptation of Alexander Dumas' 'The Man In The Iron Mask' at the time.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

WHERE LEGENDS RIDE 2 - The Line Up Announced

The full line up of the western writers who's story appear in this new western anthology can be found at Nik Morton's blog Writealot (
It is a very impressive list of writers and includes the likes of Lance Howard, Ross Morton, Chuck Tyrell, I.J.Parnham and not forgetting my granddad, Jack Giles.
Also, there is a story by me. Chantel Foster.
You know, you pick up a book and read it and think this is easy. I could do that.
Writing, even a short story, is not easy. It involves hard work.
When I first wrote my story and showed it to my granddad he said that it was good. I felt pretty pleased with myself. Then I asked what I should do with it. He said finish it. Finish it? Yes, he said, there's a good story there but it's just a sketch. I went off in a huff.
A few days later and we were having a coffee at The Ace Cafe. We were talking bikes. About how I would like to ride a Harley. He explained that I would have to work my way up to one. Start with a 125 cc. He warned me that I might fail my driving test. Just don't give up on anything that you want in life.
We were talking bikes but my granddad was telling me something else.
So I grabbed my aunt's computer and wrote my story out again. What I typed was what I had written in my notebook. All the time, without really seeing it, I was expanding the story. I would show it to granddad and he would nod and say that the story was getting better.
Then one day he said that he thought that it was good but that he was not the best person to judge. Would I mind if he showed the story to someone else? Like yes, granddad.
The story was sent to Nik Morton who was both encouraging and critical. I cannot begin to thank the editors, Nik Morton and Charlie Whipple, enough for all their help and encouragement.
Also would like to say thank you to people like Lance Howard, I.J.Parnham, Jo Walpole and James Reasoner (I know he's not a Black Horse Western writer). If I had not read their books would I have been inspired to write? Or even attempt a western? I don't think so.
The end result can be read in the yet to be titled anthology.
Writing is not easy but if anyone wants to write then the effort has to be put in.

Like the man said never give up on anything you want in life.


It's one of those actors where you know the face and ask the question who the hell is he.
He only had onestarring role and that was way back in 1961 when he played the title role in a movie called 'Mad Dog McColl'.
But it was his role in this movie and 'The Young Savages' that would mark the type of character that he would play in the future.
Remember the creepy Johnny Hammond in 'Ride The High Country'? That was John Davis Chandler born 1937 in Hinton, West Virginia.
He was, also, one of the bounty hunters in 'The Outlaw Josey Wales'.
He made three movies with Sam Peckinpah - the other two being 'Major Dundee' and 'Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid'.
One of his best moments has to be from the Lee Van Cleef movie, 'Barquero' where John Davis Chandler shows a lighter side with some marvellous interplay with Forrest Tucker.
Chandler has turned up on the small screen playing Kid Curry in 'The High Chaparral'. He appeared in some of the series from 'The Virginian' to 'The Rifleman'.
Not all his appearances were of the western variety. There have been roles stretching back from 'Star Trek: Deep Space 9' to 'Route 66' including a recently shown episode of 'Murder, She Wrote'.
John Davis Chandler may not have been a big star but to put him down as one of the supporting actors is a mistake. When on screen he makes his presence felt.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

WILD BUNCH WEDNESDAY: Short Story Challenge - part 4

The short story begun by Black Horse Western writer I.J.Parnham continues with the fourth instalment from Dave Lewis at

Part 1 can be found at The Culbin Trail -
Part 2 is right here on this blog
Part 3 is at

Who's up for part 5? Claim your spot at Davy Crocketts Almanack

Friday, 21 August 2009

Friday's Forgotten Movie: BOY'S DON'T CRY

How can a 1999 film with a BAFTA and Oscar winning performance be considered forgotten?
Well, I guess, maybe it's because it is one those movies that hardly gets a mention.
This independant, low budget movie that was directed by Kimberley Pierce who co-wrote the script with Andy Bienen did provide an award winning performance from Hilary Swank as well as nominations for best supporting actress for her co-star, Chloe Lavigny.
The film is based on the true story of Brandon Teena who was raped and murdered in 1993.
The problem was that Brandon was born with female organs but felt that he should have been born a man. He gets involved in a bar fight over a girl he has beeen seeing and because his cousin doesn't want to be involved he evicts Brandon from the trailer that he shares.
He turns up in Falls City, Nebraska where he becomes friends with two ex-cons, John Lotter and Tom Nissen, and their circle of friends which includes Lana Tisdel. It is not long before Brandon feels that he is a part of a 'family'. A close relationship develops between Brandon and Lana.
However the past catches up with Brandon and he is arrested and placed in the women's section of the Falls City Prison from where Lana bails him out. Curious as to why Brandon was in a women's prison he explains that he is a hermaphrodite awaiting a sex change. Lana accepts him for who he is and tells him that she loves him for who he is and not for what he is.
Nor is it long before Lotter and Nissen discover Brandon's true identity.
Hilary Swank does such a good job with this role that it becomes easy to forget that she is female. In fact both leads do such a good job that the viewer is drawn into the intensity of the tragic story. And Kimberley Pierce brings out strong performances from all the players.
Although this film was nominated as Best Motion Picture 'Boy's Don't Cry' picked up nothing but in my considered opinion it should have.
Maybe, I should have chosen the 1999 Oscar winning movie because I can't remember what it was.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Strange thing is that blokes seldon admit to reading poetry let alone write it. Yet years ago I, evidently, did. I could only recall one but one of my daughter's was having a clear out and discovered a book full. Some of the poems are only half completed while others are full of angst. Though taking into the situation at the time I can understand them. They were written about 1999/2000.
Not great poetry.
However, this one really struck me - I don't know what the inspiration for it was. Well, maybe a rough idea.


Temptation waits
On runaways fates
Welcome to sin city
Where there's no pity
A world of users
Losers and abusers
Of wheelers
And dealers
And whores
In their scores
Perverts and perversions
In so many versions
You can tell
Life is hell
For you kids
On the skids
Life's tough
Sleeping rough
None survive
Or leave alive
At this city gates
Temptation waits.

WILD BUNCH WEDNESDAY - Short Story Challenge 3

Part 3 of the short story challenge is now at Charlie's Tokyo West blog at In the event this link doesn't work then a link is on the side panel.
Charlie is better known as Black Horse Western writer Chuck Tyrell who's new book 'Guns Of Ponderosa' will be published in February 2010.

This short story was started by Black Horse Western writer I.J.Parnham at The Culbin Trail at

Part two appeared on this blog.

Next week's episode will come from Dave Lewis better known as western writer Evan Lewis. You will find this next Wednesday at Davy Crockett's Almanack (

Monday, 17 August 2009


Yuma, Arizona was there long before the Southern Pacific Railroad routed the 3:10 there.
Nor would the railroad had gone there had it not been for an Army Surveyor called Lieutenant Amiel Weeks Whipple. Whipple had been born in 1817 in Greenwich, Massachusets and had assisted in the boundary locations with Mexico from El Paso through to the Pacific Coast. The War Department, therefore, thought that A.W.Whipple would be the ideal choice to survey and find a transcontinental railroad route from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Los Angeles, California.
The story of the Whipple Expedition is fascinating and too lengthy to go into here - but there is an account of this on the web.
Whipple was killed at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1863.
Yuma's real history though dates back to about 1540 when the Spanish explorere Hernando de Alarcon was the first European to set eyes on this territory. In 1697 Father Eusebio Francisco Kino established a mission on the banks of the Colorado River but this did not last a year. Yet it is he that pioneered the desert route that became known as El Carmino del Diablo.
It was not until 1774 that a new mission was built by Father Francisco Garces from where he led an expedition under Juan Bautista de Anza to California. The mission was destroyed by the Apaches in 1781.
The territory lay dormant for a while until re-discovered by Kit Carson but it was not populated until the late 1840s. It was at this time that Whipple arrived only to find that it was only populated by Indians.
The California gold rush found the crossing of the Colorado to have it's own means of making a profit. L.J.F. Jaeger opened up a ferry for those seeking their fortune and within a year an estimated sixty thousand hopefuls crossed over at $2 a head.
Steamboats brought passengers and materials to the crossing and in 1870 the Southern Pacific Railroad bridged the river.
Arizona, at the time a part of New Mexico (Arizona did not become a state until 1863) became a territorial US possesion in 1854 and Fort Yuma was built on the opposite bank to the town. It remained an Army post until 1883.
Nearby placer findings in 1858 brought further prosperity to the growing town.
On the Ist July, 1876 the territorial prison open it's gates to admit the first seven prisoners. Yuma's Territorial Prison would, in it's lifetime, house 3069 prisoners - 29 of whom were women. Construction of the prison was ongoing and built by the prisoners themselves.
This would serve as a harsh reminder of frontier justice. The prison was sited on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. Adobe walls 18 feet high and eight feet thick at the base surrounded stone buildings, solid rock dungeons and a sun baked yard. Outside, a Gatling gun on a tower stood guard over the single entrance. Beyond - well anyone attempting to escape had not only the desert to content with but Indians who were paid a bounty of $50 for every prisoner that they brought back.
Between 1854 and 1858 Yuma was known as Colorado City when it changed the name to Arizona City.
Yuma as a city and a county did not come into being until 1873 and was named for the original indigenous tribes.