Sunday, 30 March 2014


  I’ve just finished reading a book recommended to me by Tonythebook of Formby Books called THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion who is an Aussie. Previously an IT consultant with an international reputation and married to a professor of psychiatry who writes erotic fiction, this is his first novel. It gets good reviews and some stress that it’s a laugh-out-loud book. I enjoyed the novel and learnt something from it which is something I like to do when reading. But I didn’t laugh out loud once! I put that down to my age and you, dear reader, might find it hilarious. Years ago when I saw THE PINK PANTHER for the first time I nearly choked because I was laughing so much but when I saw it recently, alas, I only smiled faintly.

     When checking my emails earlier I received one from the VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas). It was sent by a man in Nepal, who was telling me about the different my support makes to those girls, who without it, wouldn’t have been able to go to school and learn to read and write.

     The thought of not being able to read or write fills me with horror. Yet if I’d been born two hundred and fifty/two hundred and sixty years ago into a working class family in Liverpool, it was highly likely that I would have been illiterate. In 1865 when my Norwegian mariner great-grandfather Martin Nelson, married my great-grandmother, Mary Harrison, neither of them could sign their name but made their mark with an X.

     I’ve often wondered why an X? Why not an O or another letter? It’s the same with voting papers or questionnaires. Why an X?

     By the time their son, my grandfather, William Nelson married my grandmother Ada Florence Cooke in 1896 now they had been taught to read and write and were able to sign their own names.

     Education is a marvellous thing.

     Whenever I do a talk on how I became a writer and my writing life, I always mention how my dad taught me my alphabet from a sign writing book. The letters were in all different kinds of scripts, some fancy, some plain, but I learnt my letters backwards and forwards before I went to school. That book was the only one in our house barring another one on how to draw figures. They were in Dad’s possession because he had a sideline in sign writing for shops and also enjoyed drawing, painting and making plaster models, him being a plasterer. If there had been more money in the family, then he might have become a commercial artist as his commanding office suggested when he was demobbed from the army after the war. He used his talent to decorate the envelopes containing the letters he wrote to my mother while in the army. I’ve often wondered where he got his artistic talent from and whether there were ever any-would-be writers in my ancestry. I suppose I'll never know but both my brothers followed in my father's footsteps and I have originals by my eldest brother Ron on my wall. 

Above is a link to all my covers, including the latest ones to be published and reissued under a different title this coming year.



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