Ch 3 in Matthew’s coming-of-age tale ‘Purple’ – his gran Mary’s story begins.

Excerpt from ‘Purple’, Matthew Lavender’s coming-of-age tale about courtship, free love and the generation gap. In this reading from chapter three Matthew’s gran, Mary, begins her story.  Filmed/edited by Cynthia Nolan and Rory Gardner. You can read more about/buy Purple here.


Paul Sandford

Paul Sandford is an interfaith minister, rooted in both Druidic and Buddhist practices, who has studied counselling, mindfulness and compassion-based meditation. He is also an active member of the Green Party. I asked Paul to describe what he has learned so far about life…

 ‘I remember as a teenager being told by various people that there are three subjects best not to talk about, these being Politics, Religion and Sex! Yet those subjects for me are the most fascinating things to talk about. So, taking them in alphabetical order… Continue reading POLITICS, RELIGION AND SEX – A MINISTER SPEAKS


Marjorie Lazaro

I interviewed violinist, singer and teacher Marjorie Lazaro about her experiences of post-war Britain. After writing an opera libretto, short stories and pieces for music, artwork and voice, Marjorie has recently published her debut novel, A Person of Significance, set in the 1950s.

Leslie: Your novel A Person of Significance begins with Garrad, newly-arrived from Rangoon, encountering racism in 50s London.  Garrad soon links up with young people who are different. What led you to write this particular book, rather than any other? What are the different social patterns it explores? How did you research it? Continue reading THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 50s BRITAIN: A STORY FOR TODAY


Karen Jane Cannon

In this guest blog Karen Jane Cannon writes about recovering the voices of ‘invisible’ women from the past. Karen’s novel Powder Monkey was published by Orion in 2002. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has written for radio and stage. Her poems have appeared in a variety of print and online journals including Orbis, Acumen, Obsessed with Pipework, The Interpreter’s House, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Popshot. Karen was commended for the Flambard Poetry Prize 2014. Continue reading SILENT VOICES


Linda Anderson in The Kitchen

Talking to Linda Anderson at her bakery and coffee shop, The Kitchen, I was struck by her friendly, open nature and her skill in creating customised homemade cakes. Based in Croxley Green, between Watford and Rickmansworth, Linda’s shop is a popular place for community groups and customers wanting coffee plus high-quality cakes for all occasions. I asked her about the secret of her success.

Leslie: Please tell us about The Kitchen and the creative work that went into establishing and running the business.

Linda: After I was made redundant from Christian Aid I volunteered as a London Ambassador during the 2012 Games, whilst applying for new posts. Alongside this I found myself baking and increasingly friends and family asked me to bake cakes for them. Initially cupcakes but then birthday and other large celebration cakes. Continue reading LINDA’S SOUL KITCHEN


Joel D Hirst

I interviewed Joel D. Hirst, who is a gifted magic realist novelist and a political writer. As a graduate of Brandeis University focusing on humanitarian issues, Joel has worked all over Africa and Latin America, He grew up in Argentina, Venezuela and Central America and is a former fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Leslie: How did your childhood in Argentina contribute to your creative development? What experiences stand out most for you from that period? Continue reading MAGIC REALISM – A WORLD VIEW


Cat Turner

When I met Cat Turner at a Friends of the Earth Basecamp, she was full of ideas and positive energy. But what I noticed most of all was her unusual combination of expertise in financial services and sustainability. I asked her about how she’d used these skills and worked with others to create a new Green vision for the Isle of Man, where she lives. Continue reading CAT TURNER INTERVIEW – IS THERE LIFE AFTER MONEY?


Robin Gregory

I interviewed Robin Gregory whose extraordinary debut novel The Improbable Wonders Of Moojie Littleman has already won 14 literary awards and is being adapted for a film. Her book contains moral allegory, mysticism, and lyrical prose; it tells the story of a disabled boy who is sent to St. Isidore’s Fainting Goat Dairy, where his determination to ‘belong’ fuels his self-discovery.

Robin studied World Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz; she is a carer and a deeply spiritual person who runs a Facebook page called The Healing Tree and her website is called, rather appropriately,

Leslie: How did you discover the very individual voice of The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman? Continue reading THE IMPROBABLE WONDERS OF ROBIN GREGORY

My Outing, Part 5 – MY STORY

Illustration to Theophile Gautier’s Romance Mademoiselle de Maupin by Aubrey Beardsley, 1898

When the British press ‘outed’ me they chose not to cover my real story. They could have asked about my childhood or the years in the closet, they could have invited me to explain or quoted my article, they could even have taken an interest in how I’d changed and who I’d become; instead they lampooned me as a ‘self-confessed transvestite’ and ‘Labour loony’, who shouldn’t be teaching in a school.

Of course, a human-interest story wouldn’t have suited their purposes. They wanted a cautionary tale about people in left-wing groups to amuse and scare their readers. ‘Don’t go there!’ they were saying, pointing at me. I was their shadow side, the enemy within, an example of why it was better to project, act tough and not let down the barriers. Because, of course, to understand yourself you have to accept that we’re all on the spectrum. Continue reading My Outing, Part 5 – MY STORY

Author and Poet