My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Do men and women grow old differently?  Of course they do, in a superficial sense.  Biology, society, politics and culture make it so.  But not where it counts.   We all must face ageing and Death.   
Western culture was pretty much under various forms of patriarchal control for centuries.  Women, supposedly, lacked the capacity to Reason, to manage their own property or to vote, for example.  That has changed, of course, and yet when I look around at the internet and television and Western media generally I marvel at how little change there has been, in terms of how women are perceived and portrayed, since the 1970s. In some respects we seem to have travelled backwards.  But perhaps the media doesn’t really count.  Perhaps real lives are different.  They generally are.
The great thing about getting older  is that as time passes you – I – become aware of a multiplicity of selves, and you – I  - might even find at some point that you – I –  can become friends with some of them;  or more intriguingly, from the point of view of my own writing, frenemies.
As a writer you – I – can draw on these patterns of light and shade, and on an evolving  appreciation of process, growth, decay, loss, and the ultimate poignancy of love in the knowledge of mortality.
So much for the positive side.  But what does it mean?  And what are the wider implications?   It means that you become aware that you are subject to yet another of these well-known,  invidious, pseudo-ironical, and rather offensively-flavoured ‘laws’, such as ‘Murphy’s’, and ‘Sod’s’.   For reasons that will become apparent,  I’ll now provide an example of the latter (and also of the former, because, who’d have guessed it?  they are one and the same):  I dropped my toast this morning, and it landed butter side down.   Butter is too expensive and nourishing to fling willy-nilly and without so much as a by-your-leave straight in the bin, but who would choose to eat toast with cat hairs, carrot scrapings and dust on it?  Someone with very strange tastes, that’s who, and I wouldn’t want them living next door.  Perhaps your floor is cleaner than mine; perhaps I’m being presumptuous.   If I’m not, you are, like me, thusly (yes, unlikely though it sounds, ‘thusly’ is a Real Word) thrust into a ghastly dilemma-style vortex of, quite frankly, horrific and unimaginable proportions.  You think I exaggerate?  I do not.  Please Read On.  To remove the butter and save the bread, perhaps re-toasting it under the grill, as the toaster would be ruined by the inevitably residual butter, thereby turning it into shoe-leather, which might come in handy at some point but which is really likely to be quite inedible, or to start from scratch and make fresh, only (imagine!) the post-person is hammering relentlessly at the door with an Amazon parcel for the dreadful shouty woman three doors up, and you are in a hurry to get your washing out before the rain comes on and you don’t want to miss the Jeremy Kyle Show because your disabled cousin’s dentally-challenged adult children are on it with their…oh who cares.  This is a prime example of how Time gets Wasted as Life Goes By.  And as we get older we have no time to spare.
The ‘law’ to which I refer, by the way,  is a strange law for which no name has yet been invented (I might give it some thought) the essence of which is that the more years that go by, the more quickly they seem to pass, and the more aware you become of every wasted second. 
There is an urgency to life as one ages.  You have only just adjusted to the shock of looking in the mirror and seeing one’s mother, when friends, family and acquaintances start succumbing to the various ghastly diseases that inevitably occur in later life, and one wonders how long one’s own luck will hold out.    It was Alexander Pope who said, rather stating the obvious, that terminal illness in the young was like a premature old age.  And Bette Davis said that ageing isn’t for ‘sissies’.  We cannot afford to be ‘sissies’.  We must press on, making the most of every minute, before the Grim Reaper steps on our coat tails and yanks us down to the Nether World.
However, it’s all an awful lot of Hard Work and sometimes one just wants to sit by the fire in one’s velour slippers and winceyette jammies and ‘veg out’, and, if you’re lucky, have someone congenial bring you a mug of cocoa with a hefty slug of brandy in.   It must be understood that time spent ‘relaxing’ like this is never wasted.    It is at times like this that worthwhile ideas tend to swim up  from the unconscious, and puzzles are solved.
It must be acknowledged, equally, that sometimes it is simply too late.  Once you get past a certain age (and I am unsure of what that age is, because it varies from one individual to the next) you have to recognise that there are many things that you will never do again and that much early ambition will be left unfulfilled.  The sense of promise and possibility at a new day dawning, diminishes.  That is for sure.
You – I – must come to terms with all of this, because it is the essence of How Things Are.  We must travel to a point within ourselves where it is somehow all, all right.    And if it is not all right, we must somehow learn to tolerate and accept it.  This is my journey, now.
We as writers bear witness to our lives and to the times in which we live.  Even if we write about the past, we are writing it through a prism, which is our own present perception.  We cannot recapture a moment, ever.  We can only describe it as we think it was, or would like it to have been.

What keeps me writing as I age?  Because I have never stopped wondering ‘why’?  Why are we here, and why is life so poignant and short and filled with apparent loss?  I don’t expect ever to find an answer, but my ambition is to keep on wondering, and seeking, and learning, and I thank God, or Fortune, or whichever, for my faculties and my remaining health and the ability to do so.  

This is a revised version of a piece I wrote for Shortbread Stories blog a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Monday, 30 October 2017

Sunday, 22 October 2017

We Don’t Like Yurts and New-fangled Stuff

(an excerpt from Seapenguin(2) Three Tales of Woe)

May Day has come and gone, with its fires and sacrifices and such-like, and we’re still here. Another year whizzes by, like a juggernaut down the M6, speeding who-knows-where with its load of petrified animals or toxic waste. And who-cares-where, as long as it’s nowhere I have to be.
“The trouble is, Tuppy, the world doesn’t stand still,” preached Geoffrey in his most patronising and sanctimonious manner, as he stood by the stove stirring the lumps out of a packet of Value cheese sauce mix. “It moves on, and…”
“I know that! I’m not thick!” I snapped. “And by the way — you’ll need a whisk for that if you want to get rid of those lumps.”
“…you’re not a mover and shaker Tuppy, and neither am I,” continued Geoffrey, ignoring my culinary advice as he groped his way towards some sort of rather pathetic conclusion, or dare I say it — insight, “We don’t fit in any more. Perhaps it’s an age thing. We’re hardly in the first flush of youth.”
“We’ve never been movers and shakers Geoffrey. We never have “fitted in”. Yes, we’re geriatrics, chronologically speaking, but it’s not an age thing, as such. We’ve always had a geriatric mentality. We’re slow, dull-witted, boring, inward-looking, narrow-minded…”
“Yes!” Geoffrey agreed eagerly, “We’ve never liked strangers, and we hate change. Remember the Narks, who lived in the yurt in the tourist car park? We tried to make their life hell so that they’d go away and leave us in peace, just the way we like it. And they did! Were they communists Tuppy? I’ve always wondered.”
“I don’t think so Geoffrey. I think they were hippies-turned-capitalists, trying to turn a dollar or a groat or whatever from eco-tourism. If we hadn’t got rid of them, that car park would have been stuffed with yurts, and eco-toilets, and people selling crafts and hand-made shoes, and over-priced vegetarian food, and nutters running around on stilts wearing jester’s hats and before you knew it there would have been another car park covered with more yurts, and then another, and another, and then there would have been some sort of summer fire festival, and Dave and Valerie would have built a massive bespoke eco-house from recycled whisky barrels up on the moors, with a view out to the far horizon and its own helipad, and we’d have been driven off to some ghastly council home in a “town”, heaven forbid, and our ramshackle un-eco-friendly old home would have been bull-dozed flat in the name of progress….”
“Stop, stop!” cried Geoffrey, “I’m scared they’ll come back! If they were so powerful, and determined, they might…”
“Geoffrey — they have. They have come back. In fact, I’m not sure that they ever left. Weren’t you listening, when Razor Bill arrived with the post this morning? But never mind that now. Hurry up with that macaroni cheese — my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut.”
After the talent night debacle, Geoffrey and I took some “downtime” in order to refresh ourselves and to give our bottom end tummies time to recover after the unwise ingestion of Mrs T-G’s extra black sausage rolls with extra blackness.
I was drifting into a fairly pleasant semi-stupor when Geoffrey piped up.
“What NOW?!” I really, really, really couldn’t be bothered.
“Dave Nark was asking me how we managed to keep body and soul together when we have no obvious source of income. He was wondering if we work from home, or if we’re maybe on benefits, including tax or pension credit. I said I didn’t know. Do you know, Tuppy?”
“I might do, but I’m certainly not telling Dave Nark. He’s a self-righteous nosey git. Him and his so-called wife Valerie and their so-called eco-friendly-so-called-life-style, living in a so-called wind-powered so-called yurt in the tourist car-park. They eat goji berries and quinoa, Geoffrey! You’re not telling me that’s normal. And besides — they were a mite over-fond of the Peruvian hat before they became weirdly popular last winter. Never trust anyone who wears a Peruvian hat who doesn’t have to for medical reasons, Geoffrey.”
“I also told him that you sold your soul to the Grim Reaper a while back and so none of the above probably applied to you.”
“That is true. I’d forgotten about the vast, yawning, infinite black-hole-style vacuum that I drag around with me like a duffel-bag-ful of mega-spanners, that used to be my Soul. Do you know Geoffrey — it feels heavier than one of Mrs T-G’s rock buns made from Real Rock?”
“That’s terrible! What a dreadful burden for you! It must be all but intolerable!”
“Yes — it is rather — “ I began, hesitantly.
“Anyway — back to ME,” Geoffrey barged on, oblivious, “How on earth do I manage to keep body and soul together? Please tell me Tuppy because I haven’t a clue.”
“Your soul is stitched to your body like Peter Pan’s shadow, Geoffrey,” I said wearily, “I’m afraid the stitching becomes a little unravelled from time to time, which results in “moments”, such as the one at the talent contest the other night.”
“But everything always works out all right in the end — that’s what you’re trying to say — isn’t it Tuppy?”
“Yes Geoffrey. Everything always works out all right in the end.” And I glanced over my shoulder at the yawning darkness inside the duffel-bag that lurked in the shadows behind me….


Thoughts on Coleridge's Frost at Midnight

Thoughts on Coleridge’s Frost at Midnight.

Making time for Abstruser Musings.

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of the mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

There’s nothing better for Mind and Soul than switching off all your technology and sitting by the last glowing embers of a late-night winter fire. You might take a book of poems from the shelf and find one that consoles you; you might sit alone, reflecting, or sit as Coleridge did, with a sleeping child in your arms, and listen to the gentle silence of a peaceful night-time house.
The clock ticking, a log falling as it crumbles into ash, a mouse scratching in the skirting. Ice flowers on the windowpane, melting at the edges.
This is luxury in the modern age. It’s the true luxury of living a settled daily life led at a slow pace in a traditional home. The blessed luxury of routine, of natural patterns, of meals well-digested and long nights of restorative sleep — the luxury of time, of finding one’s level and allowing one’s mind to reflect and wander at its own pace. Circadian rhythms, if you like.
Turn the pages of your book and pull your dressing-gown closer around as the fire dies. Forget about what Must be Done, the nine to five or the twelve hour shift, traffic jams, the haters, the ever-demanding boss, the council tax you cannot afford, and the credit card bill. These things are not what Life is about.
Listen to your heartbeat slowing in the silence and feel your Spirit fly.

(first published on Medium)

Friday, 1 September 2017

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Seapenguin (2) now available in paperback

Ah well.  Job finally done.  That's all the old blog material from 2008 through to about 2012 edited and tidied away into two paperback volumes comprising all six e-books (edited again) plus a short story.  Here's the link.
I feel I've now done my best by Tuppy and Geoffrey and their lives, habits, thoughts and adventures, which seem so very strange to some and not at all strange to me.  Although they emerged from my own head I feel I know them externally, as friends, so they might well re-appear at some point.  I've already written about some other Seapenguin characters in material which I hope will appear in print in due course.
My next project is a trip to Skye in September or thereabouts, to leave copies of the books in a couple of places that were significant to me in terms of inspiration for the writing of them.  I might write an account of it, if all goes to plan.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

April, 2017

My monthly record of paths and roads followed when out walking.
Just an update on current activity.
I'm currently working on a range of writing, including the second paperback volume of Seapenguin.
I've got about 25,000 words tidied up and ready to go but I need to beef it up a bit with some more material - and there is So Much to trawl through it's doing my head in.  
I've published several pieces on Medium recently.  I quite like it as a writing site.  I'm focusing on alternating short humourous fiction and non-fiction. 
There's also a short story I've been working on for three years!  I'm not a fast writer.
I'll get April's 'roads and paths' video done over the weekend, hopefully.

Friday, 7 April 2017

5 star review

Delighted to see that someone has left a five star review of the Seapenguin paperback.