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.


This is a man’s, man’s, man’s, man’s world but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman – James Brown.

In the Milgram experiment the experimenter (E) convinces the subject (“Teacher” T) to give what he believes are painful electric shocks to another subject, who is actually an actor (“Learner” L). Many subjects kept giving dangerous shocks despite pleas of mercy from the actors.

I was nine when the bullying began. l remember walking home from school followed by a gang of small boys. They hunted in a pack, laughing and shouting out names from a distance. Every afternoon I shut out their calls and kept going in the hope they’d get tired and try someone else. As I walked I told myself I wasn’t really there. Part of me felt that they had the upper hand – so if I fought and lost that would be shameful but if I beat them up then I’d be the bully. I was afraid that if I turned around they’d see my tears and call out even more and if I tried to catch them they’d dodge like flies, jeering at my clumsiness. And like those flies, they were dirty and demanding, and there was nothing I could do to shake them off.

So why did it happen?

Continue reading THE TIME OF TRIAL


I find that the best songs always come really quickly, in that white heat of creativity when all the stars are aligned properly. These are wonderful gifts, that only come along every so often.                                      – Alex Tinlin


I interviewed prolific musical duo Tinlin, who have appeared in the Glastonbury Festival as well as numerous concert halls in the UK, Europe and Australia.

With seven years of touring behind them, Alex and Rolf Tinlin are highly-respected instrumentalists and songwriters. Their fifth album, Strangely Blue, was welcomed by Time & Leisure as, ‘mixing folk balladry with a modern complex arrangements and chord structures’, and their folk/indie sound was praised by The Messenger Online as, ‘intelligent songs full of modulation, minor keys and harmony’. Continue reading TINLIN – A LIFE IN MUSIC


I started helping Michael to write down his Chocolate Land stories… We progressed to making figures and creatures out of sweets and fondant. I took his ideas and fleshed them out… into cookbooks with a story for children.                                                                                              Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle

It was only because of her son’s serious illness that Robbie Cheadle discovered her gift for combining children’s stories with cake making.

Robbie says about herself: “My father died when I was three months old and my mother immigrated to South Africa from the UK. Since then I’ve attended fourteen different schools – this gave me lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills!” Robbie has written textbooks as a chartered accountant, but her real love is the Sir Chocolate series of books that she co-authored with her eleven year-old son, Michael.

Robbie writes: Continue reading THE HEALING POWER OF CAKES AND STORIES


Acting photo of Raine

I interviewed Raine Geoghegan about how her writing and stage work have been affected by M.E. and Fibromyalgia. Raine, a former actress, dancer, theatre director and choreographer, worked in the West End and London Fringe. She has now moved into writing prose, poetry and teaching short courses in drama and voice work. Raine has an MA in Creative Writing and has been published in Anima; Poetry & Jazz Magazine; Reflections of the South Downs, Mslexia, and Creating Connections, a disability living magazine. Currently Raine is working on a project with a mentor based on her Romany Heritage. She has had M.E. and Fibromyalgia for twenty years. Continue reading THE ROMANY SPIRIT AND THE GIFT OF ILLNESS


The Traveller hasteth in the Evening by William Blake

My poem Visit, highly commended in the Brian Dempsey Memorial Competition, 2017.


My mother’s in the kitchen as we knock and enter.
We’re expected. Except for the kisses and silk-grey hairdo,
she’s unchanged. Her dewlap cheeks are warm.
After passing through health checks, teabag squeezings
and the week in headlines, we occupy the lounge.

Inviting us to sit, she hunts out coasters.
Our talk begins again. Inside its structure
– tape loop or formula – I’m invisible,
standing at the window, observing the small boy
with shadow self and hideouts, surrounded by branches
on the wrong side of the shed. Continue reading VISIT


Natalie Scott

I interviewed poet Natalie Scott about her prison writing uncovering forgotten histories, her use of dramatic monologue and poetry as therapy. Natalie has a PhD in Creative Writing, has two pamphlets and a full collection in print, and her poems have appeared in journals including Ambit, Agenda, English in Education, Aesthetica, Live Canon, Pennine Platform, Poetry Scotland and South Magazine.

Leslie: From what seeds did your poetry first grow? How did it develop? Continue reading NATALIE SCOTT – PRISON LIVES AND VICTORIAN VOICES


Hannah Marks

I asked Hannah Marks, who works as a children’s book illustrator, what has inspired her own, very distinctive style. Hannah is a graphic designer currently living in the Hertfordshire countryside just north of London.

Leslie: How did your interest in illustrating children’s books begin? Continue reading ILLUSTRATING THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS


Vision After the Sermon: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel by Paul Gauguin

I grew up in the Fifties wanting to be a spiritual child. I didn’t see grand visions or hear strange voices and my world was small, measured by school times and mealtimes and trips to see the family. But in private spots and in places I visited there was a pictorial quality, a sense of something extra, an additional factor that filtered in, making for significance. It was visible but elusive, an edge to experience unnoticed by anyone else, like a signal from a distance that doesn’t transmit and yet somehow registers. I was witness to impressions that couldn’t be named. Continue reading WRESTLING WITH MY ANGEL by Leslie Tate

Author and Poet