Sir Pterry wrote documentaries, not fiction

In one sense of course this is true as he did rather illustrate the human condition. But in another sense too:

Mayhem. There are 200 or more guys crushed together, a bit like a rugby scrum, which is known as “the sway”. The idea is that you try to move the “hood” – a leather cylinder about 2ft long – to whichever of the village pubs you favour. I’ve seen hedges go down and cars moved out of the road by the weight of this mass of humanity. The steam that comes off them is incredible. It’s rough.

Would fit rather nicely into Unseen Academicals, wouldn’t it?

For Tim Newman and similar

Something we’re going to try over at the other place:

We’re going to start a new section here at the Continental Telegraph. We will indeed be having a standard review section but why not slightly turn the idea upon its head? Have the readership here being the reviewers?

That means that we’re looking for extracts from books that you’ve published. There’s not exactly a great shortage of self-published e-books these days after all. Let us have your sample chapter say – the one you already allow people to read for free as a taster. Or if you’re pushing out a poem or two, or a review, or a part of a story, that’s fine. Let us publish, on an entirely non-exclusive basis, that bit you’re already allowing people to read for free.

We’ll publish a set of them each weekend. Our readers get a taste of you and your work. No doubt some will offer criticism of it – sometimes robust. Both sides here get something useful. Authors an exposure to the reading public, the public an exposure to authors and works they might not otherwise hear of.

Send an email to “” with the extract. Also, let us know where the complete, or perhaps other of your, works are for sale. We’ll see how it all works out.

An interesting example of inflation – or something

Looked at a book project listing. Write genre novels to our structure sorta thing. Crank out 80,000 words a month. Entirely achievable if that’s your sorta thing.

Payment, penny a word.

Which is about what people got for pulp novels back in the 1950s.

$800 a month was good money back then, not so much now. Today you’d only do it as training to do your own genre novels. But then, if you could crank them out like that already then you wouldn’t need the training.

Slightly odd here

A country manor house that inspired Thomas Hardy is at the centre of a planning row as the local council recommended 120 houses be built next door.

The development near Dorchester in Dorset would “ruin the environs” of Elizabethan Grade I listed Wolfeton House which the great novelist frequently visited, according to the Hardy Society.


Tony Fincham, of the Hardy Society, said: “This proposed development is within 200 yards of Wolfeton House and it will damage the environs of the 16th century house, which remains in appearance exactly as described by Hardy.”

He added: “It’s not good news for those concerned about preserving Thomas Hardy’s landscape, which is an integral part of his literary heritage.”

Not going to change Hardy’s heritage at all now, is it? Because, you know, he wrote the description down in a book ‘n’all?

End of year book roundup

As is traditional and you’ve already seen this recommendation:

McCrae’s Battalion: The Story of the 16th Royal Scots by Jack Alexander is a labour of love and a very detailed history of one specific battalion in WWI. Built around the core of the Hearts of Midlothian football club, it was one of the Pal’s Battalions which filled the need for recruitment between the first few months of war and the introduction of conscription in 1916. Heart breaking, as all such histories of the time are, and extremely well done.

Strongly recommended on two grounds. For the story itself and also as an example of what the gifted amateur (as far as I’m aware this is the only book by the author) is capable of for this is markedly better than many a book, or history, from so called professionals.

The question is not which book published this year, it’s which book you’ve read this year……

Good grief, I didn’t realise this

Pettigo is unique in Ireland as it is the only village divided by the border after Ireland gained independence from Britain in 1922. The river that runs beneath his workshop window places Johnston’s Protestant family in Northern Ireland and his largely Catholic neighbours on the other side of the 1820s cut-stone bridge in the republic of Ireland.

So Spike didn’t look that far for the name Puckoon then.

Quite my favourite part of which (well, favourite single joke) is the way the border runs through the pub. So there are two different tax regimes, two different sets of opening hours. The regulars moving across the room to cross the lines as appropriate.

Writing for Kindle

Some time back it was suggested that people should use Open Office (and I think it was the open office file type as well) because Word didn’t translate well into Kindle style files.

Now I see that Amazon says just upload Word into Kindle Create and she’ll be right.

Umm, any advice?

Geordies, eh?

A competition in South Shields in 1991 for a lookalike of the footballer Paul Gascoigne was won by a teenage girl.

Remarkably, that’s not a comment on how effeminate Gazza looks.

English-speakers can learn French in half the time it takes to learn Welsh.

Because half of English is French while we don’t use any Welsh words?

Emma Martina Luigia Morano, the world’s oldest person when she died at 117, outlived 90 Italian governments.


Only 2 per cent of British households had a fridge in 1946.

Modern poverty, eh?

IF you have £1,785 of savings, you are richer than half of the world’s population.

No, wrong, that should read: IF you have £1,785 of savings and no debt, you are richer than half of the world’s population.

Erm, authorised by whom?

The great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker is writing the first authorised prequel to Dracula, based on scholarly research into the original, unedited version of Stoker’s 1897 tale of the undead count, as well as Stoker family legends.

Bram Stoker died in 1012. The book itself is thus public domain. There’s no one out there with any legal right to authorise or not.

Well, no, not really, even from Sir Pterry

How many Terry Pratchett fans considered chaining themselves to the steamroller that flattened his last hard drives, or lying down in the mud to prevent the destruction of unknown treasures? I couldn’t help wondering how much those hard drives would have raised if they’d been auctioned, what price a devoted reader or eager academic would have been prepared to pay for a glimpse of the great man’s last unpolished thoughts? We’ll never know: Pratchett was adamant that no incomplete ideas should survive him to be finished by someone else, and left instructions detailing their characteristically dramatic end.

As a reader, it’s hard not to feel conflicted. It’s been reported that Pratchett had a tantalising 10 potential novels on that computer; anyone who loved his work must be itching to know what they contained. Even a rough outline and a few notes would have felt like a gift from beyond the grave.

One of the notable things about that decline was to realise how much of the joy of the books came from the complex manner in which they were written, not the storylines themselves. The Truth say, or the last of what I consider the complete adult ones, Unseen Academicals, are a markedly different reading experience to Raising Steam say. Which I read actually thinking, well, I can see how this joke could go, I don’t know and can’t know how the full Pratchett would have taken it but I wish I could. Similarly, in Shepherd’s Crown the invention of sheds for retired men is a fabulous idea – and it would have been spun out into something more complex.

More than many another writer – or perhaps it’s because we did see the output through that decline – it was the over-writing that made the books great, not the plotlines and the sketches for them.

There is a certain irony here

A model of the biographer’s art”, which pulls back the curtain on one of the most significant but least recognised political figures of the last century, has won Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. John Bew’s Citizen Clem, about Clement Attlee, the founder of the NHS, was named winner of the £3,000 2017 Orwell prize for books at a ceremony in London on Thursday night.

Because 1984 was, in large part, about 1948 when Clem was PM. No, not the political side of it, but the descriptions of shortages, the utter, utter dreariness. And as we know, that was all prolonged by the idiot decision to try to plan everything. We know this, because when Adenauer said “Sod the planning” that’s when the German economy took off.

At some point I’ll write another book and this point will be in it

We should change the inflation basket as tastes and incomes and spending change. But we must understand what we’re doing when we do so. What we’re not doing, by definition, is measuring the change in the price of the same lifestyle over time.

It’s the answer to those people who say that 50 years ago one wage could support a family. Sure, but the basket of goods, the standard of living being supported, was very different from what is the average we’re measuring today.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if olive oil was in the CPI basket in the UK today. Back then it was sold in pharmacies, in dropper bottles, to cure earache.

There’s actually a project in that. If anyone would like to bung me a decent advance, say £30k, I’ll get right on it. How much would it cost today to live as the average in 1980, 1970, 1960…..we’ve got the CPI basket going back to 1945 I think and I’m sure someone has the weights around as well. I think people would be astonished at how cheaply, today, you could live as our grandparents did when they were bringing up their children.

Just think of the housing costs savings of shared bedrooms and no central heating…..

Economist discovers non-fiction book market

Today I received a note from my publisher telling me that the greatest book ever written has sold a total of 82 copies! Ok a few fewer than you might expect from a new Harry Potter book, but a (small) step towards being a millionaire.

I’m certainly not writing another one without a decent advance….


There is a very funny riff in the hilarious new play Raising Martha, on at the little Park Theatre in north London, that revolves around the name Linda. In the play, a middle-aged character called Gerry is trying to write a song about his true love but falters because, as he sings: “Nothing really rhymes with Linda…”

There’s the basic structure of a limerick there.