Dear Old Auntie

I’ve been very worried about Auntie, of late. She’s one of my favourites for sure. But it seems that the older she gets, the more blundering about she does. It’s easily done; I can walk from one room into the next then wonder why I’m in there, having completely forgotten why I made the journey in the first place. It comes to us all eventually.

But Auntie, once my employer too, is loosing her grip. And she’s washing her bloomers in public – very embarrassing for those who once loved her.

I refer of course to the BBC and her two Newsnight cock-ups in a row. And, it seems to me, the trust – who who is supposed to keep an eye on her – is blundering too. As I understand it, Entwhistle quit,  did the right thing and fell on his sword, fatally wounding his position as Director General. Good man. Why can’t more people be like him?

The trust however has breathed new life into him. Hurried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the form of a years pay seems to have brought about his rapid recovery. Entwhistle – who should be in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest serving DG – is now miraculously fit enough to be helping the BBC with its enquiry into the failings of its Newsnight’s editorial control. At 450,000 smackers, it’s not bad work if you can get it. Not so good a man now.

I’d happily do it for 10% of the price. After all, it can’t be that difficult for him, having already worked for that programme, can it? I’d like to ask Chris, the BBC’s chairman, if this is the patten of things to come for dear old Auntie?

Transport Secretary about to cock up.

I don’t normally blog about things that are not directly connected to my novel – still, alas, in the making. But to the thousands who are following my blog – slight exaggeration – I have gone political on this one. And it is to do with trains.

The UK Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, looks like she’s going to sign the West Coast contract with 1st Group, despite all the objections raised by those who understand the risks associated with this deal. In her BBC TV Breakfast show interview – where, incidentally, she ducked several questions put to her – she states that the contract bidding process is fair. That may be true, even if flawed.

What I do question, is the ability on the govt’ side to make a wise decision. Their track record so far isn’t wonderful. Exactly the same bunch of idiots that let the East Coast route go to the wall TWICE, by the same selection process, is now praying that ‘jam tomorrow’ – or in 13 years, to be more precise! – is a fair risk.

But I suspect the jam will have gone mouldy by then, and the tax payer will not like its taste.

There, that wasn’t full of junk, was it.

Just 70 hours to go, and not feeling hopeful

A month ago, I decided to Crowd Fund the costs of getting my book edited, and a cover for it designed. I chose Indiegogo as it seemed a good site. But now, after a month just three people have contributed.

Don’t misunderstand me. This is not a grumble. As I said in my last post, knowing a hundred people, simply isn’t enough!

So what is likely to happen? Once I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself down and started over again, the book is unlikely to be published this year. First time writers are often told it can take five years. Next year will be my forth, so maybe things aren’t to bad.

Thanks for reading,



Knowing over 100 people is not enough

Back in July, I posted about my intention to crowd fund for my debut crime novel. This is part of what I said then …

July already! Where does the time go? Time for my monthly blog. It’s rare for me to blog more often because writing a novel is a slow process. Well today there is some news, and it involves you, too.

Crowd Funding.

I’ve ummed-and-arred about this for months. Should I, shouldn’t I? I decided to do it – thousands do, so why not me? So to cut to the chase, here’s the link for my campaign to raise funding to enable my debut novel to be professionally edited and have a graphic-artist design the eBook and print covers. 

So I went ahead and started my campaign. I was attempting then, to raise $4,850 to allow me to pull off this mammoth task by October. That’s now just 2 month away!

I looked at similar campaigns, before setting up my own, to see what other successful campaigners did. Many in the writing category have raised thousands of dollars above their target. Others seemed to raise thousands of dollars for some, seemingly at first, very odd causes. A man in Australia sat on a toilet for 3 days and raised loads more dollars than he was hoping for within the first week. A campaign in Vancouver has so far raise 65,000 dollars more than the target, and it’s only half way through. Neither of these campaigns were for writing, the first was for clean water in Africa, the second for maltreated animals.

So what happened with my campaign? Very little. My dream has not worked out, though there are still 13 days to run. So far the there’s $250 in the pot, less costs of 9%. Why? Why has Why? – the current working title for my novel – not worked out, despite comparable perks in successful campaigns .

I think the answer is simply that I don’t know enough people. Catch 22, eh. The more you know, the more chance of support.

So what can be done? What can you do? The answer is simple. Tell everyone you know who likes a good read and wants to help new writers, to visit to see if they’re interested to join in.

I have reduced my target to $1,000 having found an editor who doesn’t charge the earth, yet does a good job. And I think I’ll have success to with a cover design, which having dabbled, I might even do myself. If $1,000 is raised, I can crack-on and get eBooks out in October – the relevance of this you’ll see if you visit my campaign – but print copied will be into next year.

Thanks for reading. Now go tell somebody.

What is DI Crosier up to?

Answer: searching for an editor. He’s approached a few for samples of their work so, he said, “he can choose who to have mauling his words”. It’s a very sensitive issue for him, I’ve been warned, so I dare not say too much!

Not content with that, he’s casting around for book cover designers too.

He wants to have his novel Why? out as an eBook in October. ‘Why?’ I said, ‘what’s wrong with next year?’

‘Because it’s the 6oth anniversary of England’s worst train wreck,’ he reminded me. ‘There’s no way a publisher can respond in that time, even if they wanted too. But with the technology you have at your fingertips, well everything is possible.’

I was very impressed with his far-sightedness. After all, there’s Crosier bumbling about in 50s & 60s – when faxes hadn’t been invented, let alone iPads – yet he knows about eBooks; truly remarkable!

‘If the Queen is celebrating 1952,’ he banged on, ‘then so will I. And mark it with my book, to boot.’

Then he said, rather uncharacteristically I thought, ‘If the Queen wants to tour the nation doin’ her Jubilee thing, why don’t she run about with that Olympic thing?’

‘What Olympic thing?’

‘The candle,’ he says.

‘You mean torch. Well,’ I said, ‘at least she could set fire to your book with it,’ but I have to admit, that remark didn’t go down to well with Mr C.

He gets a bit protective about it between you and me. Not surprising really; he’s been at it for nearly three years, causing me to spend a small fortune on ink-jet cartridges.

What’s more, being an ambitious railway detective, he wants limited editions in print out in November/December, quote “in time for the Christmas rush!” Very ambitious I thought.

Not only that, he’s insisting I crack-on with marketing it too. Then he says, ‘If that er, Whots-his-name, you know, James bloke can run around the globe floggin’ his book, the least you can do for me, Ed, is write a few blogs for me.’


‘I lad, that’s ‘im.’

He doesn’t want much, does he? He’ll not give up, though he still can’t do it all himself. He’s got me working my backside off. Here’s how you can hep him, no ME!

Visit where you can find all the details. And there’s lots Perks there too for you to choose from, though between you and me, he said he wants to keep some for himself – cheeky monkey I told him.

Must get back to it, no rest for the wicked – that’s the villains in his damn book, not me. I’m ever so nice.


PS Now he’s wondering about another name change; Aftermath. That will be the forth title; oh God, when will he stop?

Want to be in my gang, sorry Crowd?

July already! Where does the time go? Time for my monthly blog. It’s rare for me to blog more often for two reasons. One I don’t want to be a pain in the neck – bombarding you with rubbish like, I had to take the cat to the vet yesterday to have a boil on its head lanced – and two, sometimes it’s difficult to write about something relevant to my writing. Writing a novel is a slow process. Well today there is some news, and it involves you too.

Crowd Funding.

I’ve ummed-and-arred about this for months. Should I, shouldn’t I? I decided to do it – thousands do, so why not me? So to cut to the chase, here’s the link for my campaign to raise funding to enable my debut novel professionally edited and have a graphic-artist design the eBook and print covers. If you know anyone who can do these, please let me know.

My target also includes the cost of printing a limited edition of hard and paper-back books for my supporters.

I’ll not take up any more of your time, so hop over to the Indiegogo page to see how, if you wish, you can help.

Or take a peek at the latest version of Chapter One from my debut novel Why? Why – Chapter One  Yes the working title has changed again. You might have known it as Crosier’s Progress, or Searching for Closure. But I listen to those who make constructive comments, so now it’s Why?

Thanks in advance,


Crowd Funding

Hello Everyone,

Well, the title of this blog is a well-used term, but it is wrong surely? I’m not donating money to a crowd. I’m hoping a crowd, most complete strangers to me and each other, will fund some of the costs of getting my debut novel published.

I’ll let you know in the next few days when you can become a member of this elite crowd.

You’ll get something for your $$$s too: Perks. No, not Perks-Must-Be-About-It as in the Railway Children, played wonderfully by Bernard Cribbins – not forgetting the delightful Jennifer Agutter … oh my. Do you remember that scene towards the end of the 1970 film?  – you know, the one where the mist and steam gradually clear to reveal Bobby’s father.

There’s mist and steam right at the start of Chapter One in my novel. Except my train doesn’t slowly disappear; just the opposite. It comes dashing like a mad-thing from the mist to kill, scores. But I digress.

Consider your $$$s as advance orders. And just what Perks you can have, I’ll tell you about very soon.

Thanks for your time,


Jubilees and Coronations

1952: Britain was still recovering from the second world war. Some foods were still on ration – it would be another year before sugar came off – though interestingly, fish and chips never were.

So imagine the grief felt by most of the nation when King George VI died. If that wasn’t enough, Britain’s worst peacetime rail disaster occurred  before the year was out.

I’d be almost four, when the first of these events took place;

  • Accession of Elizabeth II: 6th February 1952,
  • England’s worst train crash: 8th October 1952,
  • Coronation of Elizabeth II: on 2nd June 1953, which I just about remember watching on a tiny black and white television in some rich-person’s front room. I also remember the curb-stones being crayoned red, white and blue; I suppose I was much closer to them then. But I digress.

Now I don’t really believe in coincidences – yet, I’m managing to write a few into my crime novel – but isn’t it curious that the crash falls, almost to the day, exactly between the two royal events?

No, it’s not curious at all. It’s just how things worked out. But what is curious is that no one, no august body of crash investigators could say exactly why the crash occurred. True, the Ministry of Transport Report, released just 10 days after the Coronation, found the Perth train-crew were at fault, but could only surmise as to why: both the driver and fireman died.

Want some more coincidences? Three trains were involved in the crash of 60 years ago. The Perth sleeper service was hauled by a Coronation class locomotive, which ran into a stationary local service, and the third train was headed by a Jubilee class locomotive.  Stranger and stranger, eh?  And the other express locomotive involved: that was a Princess Royal Class named Princess Anne. Of course, all of these were designed and built long before the occasion of Elizabeth’s Jubilee being celebrated this week.

So what’s all this got to do with me? I’ll tell you.

My crime novel – working title Searching for Closure – tells a tale of mystery and murder, the inciting incident of which is the Harrow and Wealdstone disaster. Lorna, who loses relatives in the disaster, needs to know why it happened and seven years later discovers that D I Crosier had investigated what might have gone wrong.  Crosier is at a loss, just as everyone else was at the time, to answer her enquiry. But events spiral out of control and  …

Well that would be telling wouldn’t it, so you’d better get on the mailing list for updates.

Thanks for reading,


Sleeping Trains: do they have anything to do with my murder mystery?

Yes, they do, very much so. You’ll have to read my book, when it’s published, to find out how. And no, it’s not a Christie copy!

I’ve made three overnight journeys by train in my time, each in different countries. They all set out to be exciting, but each one had its own set of problems.

My last sleeper-trip started here, from Hua Hin, Thailand, to Georgetown, Malaysia. Its problem; the train splits at Hat Yia junction, the first-class portion taking the easterly route into Malaysia, the second-class portion taking the westerly route to Georgetown. We had first-class tickets for the ineptly named Rapid service. But you can only book the second-class seats an hour before you travel. It’s just one of those Thai-logic things, (read My Thai Eye to learn more) which could easily have left us stranded at Hat Yai!

The Gare d’Austerlitz, Paris opened in 1840

Paris to Toulouse was my second overnight-train experience. After a rushed dinner at the Gare de Austerlitz’s buffet, I with a new colleague from work, and our French agent Alain, boarded the train. Our couchette came complete with three strangers. We discovered later the next day, the following train left the track!

This trip’s problem: we arrived at Toulouse at some god-awful hour, tired and hungry, before any cafes were open. I was in the dog-house over that little excursion: I’d persuaded the agent, and a certain Mr Crosier, that it would be more interesting than flying!

D I Mike Crosier has to – or rather, like I did, chose to – travel from New Mills Central (a delightful station, opened in 1868) to London on a Sunday night sleeper-service. Crosier made this trip in 1962, thirteen years before mine. His story is based on my first sleeping-car experience. The sleeper-train doesn’t run from New Mills, so I had to pick up a connection which took me to Manchester. It was supposed to depart at 9:45 in the evening, but when it hadn’t arrived by 10:00 I, like DI Crosier, began to get a bit anxious. He had a lot more on his mind than I that night; no doubt a major bollocking from his Big Boss Bollard tomorrow; an unsolved murder; his wife still refusing to move to Crewe, so I’ll let him tell the tale as I first penned it in 2010 …

Crosier decided, on this occasion, he’d take the sleeper from Manchester to London, thereby allowing him the pleasure of spending more time with friends. The alternative, spending most of Sunday being shunted around half of England as work on electrifying the line to Euston progressed, did not appeal. He thought, he’d arrive in The Smoke refreshed, and have a leisurely breakfast before the monthly Transport Police review meeting. But arrive afresh in London he would not.

With a large dinner and plenty of red wine tucked inside, he left his friends, and hoped he’d be in soporific mood for the journey south. He hated being late and arrived at New Mills Central with over half-an-hour to spare. He sat on a form, and listened to the quiet evening; rustling in the bushes, a bit early for hedgehogs, mice perhaps? But it was the distant off-tune whistling of the station master in his office, trying to keep up with Debussy’s La mer, playing on the radio, that took Crosier back to summer, 1952.

Eastbourne … curtains billowing gently in the sea-breeze, occasionally afforded him a glimpse of the sea as they made love on top of their wedding-bed. ‘‘I want to see too’’, Alice had said, sensing what had distracted him. She’d rolled over onto all-fours – to present him with a thus-far unseen view of her – and then … their passion in such harmony with the gentle waves: La mer; strange that Debussy had completed this orchestral masterpiece in Eastbourne. Was he too inspired by the same view, as he made love to Bardac’s wife; maybe in that very room, maybe … in the same way?

The burning question now, however, was Crosier’s marriage going to survive his move from York to Crewe, three years earlier? Alice still refused to make the move.

Debussy had stopped playing.

“This is the BBC Home Service. Here is the News, and this is Alvar Lidell reading it”.

‘Ten o’clock! Big Ben’s chimes. Where’s the sodding-train?’

If it came now there was still time for an easy connection. He listened intently, straining his ears for the sound of a steam engine or, god-forbid, a diesel. More rustling in the undergrowth, the sound of a car crawling up the steep hill the other side of town: little else.

Ten-five: no train.

Time for some action.

He marched along the platform and hammered on the ticket office window. An owl hooted. The station master’s heart missed a beat. The sound of shuffling was followed by the scrapping back of the wooden door behind the booking office window which was soon filled with a ruddy face. Behind it, the BBC was telling the country that the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank had made contact with a satellite over four hundred thousand miles away.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘I’ve come for the 9:45 train,’ said Crosier.

‘Nobody ever comes for that train!

‘Well I’m here and I need to know when it will be here?’

It turned out the 9:45 was delayed leaving Nottingham, but should be here in fifteen minutes: still just time to make his connection; be a bit tight though. And tight it was. Crosier just managing to leap aboard the sleeper as the guard blew his whistle for its departure.

Manchester London Road, renamed Piccadilly in Sept 1960

He was shown to a compartment by a portly conductor, dressed in a dark uniform, who’d been stewing pots of strong tea at a stove in the carriage vestibule. Cups started to rattle in their saucers as the train moved off. The lower berth was occupied by a fat man, sound asleep. Wide awake after the dash to make his connection, Crosier turned off the light and hauled himself onto the top bunk as quietly as possible, not easy in the near darkness, broken occasionally by fingers of orange light moving across the ceiling, as the train gathered speed.

Five minutes later, he decided that he should remove some clothes; it was so hot in here. He took off his trousers, by means of various gyrations, in the confined space, and managed to bang his head on the ceiling only twice when he sat up. His trousers were free of him at last, as the train came into Stockport, and ended up crumpled at the toe-end of the bunk on top of his tie.

The train resumed its jolting way south, having picked up a few more unfortunate passengers. The fat man below began snoring more heavily. Crosier was wide awake. The conductor passed by again, off to present his samples of well-stewed tea, on a trolley full of rattling cups and saucers, to tempt the latest boarders.

Crosier eventually nodded off, slept fitfully and was jerked awake by the sudden braking of the train. Doesn’t the driver know this is a sleeper? Thinking that he must be almost in London, he took a look through the grimy window next to his birth. Stone: at one thirty on a Monday morning! Not even a quarter of the way! It certainly was going to be a long night.

‘Euston … Euston station … Euston … all change.’ The conductors voice moved passed Crosier’s compartment, then in the distance again, ‘Euston, Euston station, all change.’ Crosier woke with a start. Euston at last, but dear-god, it’s only six-fifteen in the morning!

Noises below: the fat man, already up, and dressed in a pinstripe-suit – which didn’t look a bit creased – and was checking his brief case. He glanced up at Crosier, smiled, waved and left without saying a word.

The conductor was back. ‘Brought you some tea, sir. You’ll have to get a wiggle-on, mind, the train gets moved into the sidings at six thirty.’

So here he was, at six thirty on a chilly Monday morning, standing on platform-one at Euston, and watching his sleeping-train clank off to the sidings; the sleeper with his warm bed, where at last he’d managed to get some sleep, and his tie!

As you can see, sleeper journeys have their quirky problems. My problem is we have to do that Malaysian run again, later this year! Maybe I’ll see Crosier on the train, if he’s enjoying his retirement and touring Thailand.

Of course, my experiences of sleeper-travel pail into insignificance compared with those aboard the Perth-Euston train when, 60 years ago, it claimed 112 lives. My fictional main-character wasn’t caught in the disaster, but 10 years later, he is well and truly involved in sorting out some of its deadly mysteries.





Many are called, but few deliver. And, I got very wet!

This is not about being called up in wartime. It’s far less sinister and definitely nothing to be frightened about.
What is it? Simple: it’s a review of my ebook, My Thai Eye, and the reviewer – who shall remain anonymous, no it isn’t me – is a respected author of crime novels set in Asia. I thank him for the honest review, and post it here because it encapsulates so well, some of my feelings about Thailand.
Here it is …….

There’s something about Thailand that causes hordes of otherwise perfectly sensible people to decide, whatever their role in life has been up to the time they discover that odd little country, that they are really writers. That wouldn’t be such a worry, but then most of these folks actually go out commit their every thought about the place to paper for the rest of us to read.

The sad result is that most of the sort of stuff that gets published about Thailand is — let’s face it — a serious squandering of dead trees. But every now and then somebody comes along who delivers a collection of writings that are actually worth reading. One of those collections is MY THAI EYE.

In this modest volume, Mr. Tipple delivers a congenial ramble through the oddities and wonders of a delightful little country better known for massage parlors and sex tourism than much of anything else. And that’s a shame. Read MY THAI EYE and you’ll know, and understand, more about Thailand than a good slice of the foreigner who visit there. And you will have had a darn good time learning about it, too.

You can find this on, should you not believe me – an author telling lies. Come on!

It couldn’t have come at a happier time, for today is Songkran: the Thai New Year, in the middle of one of Thailand’s hottest months.  And Songkran – the water festival – highlights so many Thai juxtapositions, which make it so interesting a country. Songkran has changed a lot from its origin. Respect to your elders shown by placing small drops of water, scented with flower petals, about their shoulders still goes on.

But today, the ‘baptism’ of water is … well, it’s huge. It is impossible to walk along the street without being drenched by Thais chucking water over you – often near freezing – from the backs of passing pick-up trucks. They are happy, it’s just the way Thais are. And you are happy too, because you get to cool down, a little.

I have to say, its been one of our happiest days here. It’s so good humoured, and for that reason alone, is unlikely to be replicated in the western world.

And the juxtapositions? There are too many for this short blog, but here’s two …

  • last year over 2,000 died on the roads. Already there are rumours that a third of that figure has been reached!
  • And in Hua Hin, the water supply is almost dried up. What better way to use what’s left.