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.


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 focussing 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

My Outing Part 4 – DRESSING UP

“By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,. Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?” Gustave Doré.

In the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, the mariner touches the shoulder of the wedding guest, beginning his story with “There was a ship.” When the wedding guest objects, the mariner hypnotises his unwilling subject with a fixed and glittering stare.

Using a similar but much lighter technique, the great master of hypnotherapy, Milton H Erickson, developed the ‘handshake induction’ designed to produce a gentle trance. Erickson would distract his client at the start of a consultation by gradually withdrawing his hand and touching the wrist so gently that his subject couldn’t quite tell when the contact ended.

In both cases the goal was for the subject to pay attention to hints and suggestions normally passed over, and focus uncritically on a single train of thought. In the process, the subject would discover hidden truths about the self or personal experience.

The story of my cross-dressing was similar. Continue reading My Outing Part 4 – DRESSING UP

My Outing, Part 3 – INCOGNITO

In the Danse du Kabuki the portrayal of female characters by men is known as onnagata.

I kept my cross-dressing secret, and didn’t tell anyone. I’d read about cat burglars who came and went in silence and removed a photo or a ring or page from a diary, and like them I tiptoed into bedrooms and sneaked things out of drawers in a house that wasn’t mine. I was on high alert, rehearsing my lines. If anyone found me, I’d tell them my intentions were good, that I’d fought back my urges and kept myself intact for as long as I could. In any case, I’d say, I’d been curious and not really meant it, this was my first time, a once-only trial.

My head was full of stories where I held out on my own, playing for time. I’d cast myself as a loner, a survivor, moving through darkness while outwardly I was the shy boy who smiled and waved from the window. Continue reading My Outing, Part 3 – INCOGNITO

My Outing, Part 2 – A DREAM

Little Boy lost by William Blake

It began with a dream where I found myself alone in the woods. I’d been captured by a gang on the way to school and tied to a tree in what people called the wasteland. The boys had been cruel but I’d been brave, and now they’d left me the ropes didn’t hurt. I was by myself in a world of soft leaves, warm sun and cool, gentle feelings. I could watch for animals and listen to the birds. It was as if I’d always been there.

A song went through my head: If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. If you go down to the woods today, you’d better go in disguise.

The song continued, cutting off at the words: But safer to stay at home. Continue reading My Outing, Part 2 – A DREAM

Author and Poet