I’m only here thanks to luck

Before the question is asked, this post isn’t just addressing the fact that I’m still here after the cancer.  However, it is here because of the after-effects of the illness:  a bout of self-analysis!  When I look back at my life so far I’m filled with a sense of amazement.  In short, how can somebody from a stereotyped British ‘deprived’ family have ended up writing for a living?  The only possible reason is luck, augmented by the actions of some form of ‘Guardian Angel’ – mine is pictured on the right.  (If you are not a Christian, please use an equivalent based upon your own beliefs.)

In case you are interested/fascinated/intrigued/bloody nosey*, I was brought up in a single-parent family in a council house in Burnley.  (For our cousins in the US, it is hard to describe the term ‘council house’, although ‘social housing’ comes close.  They are houses/flats owned by the government, run by local councils, usually at lower rents for people with low incomes.  If the person involved is unemployed, the government ‘welfare’ can supplement/pay the rent outright.  The British television drama ‘Shameless’ was inspired/based on a council estate in Burnley, and the US programme of the same name is a direct derivation.1)

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Back in the Groove?

First, let me make my traditional apology for not posting for a while.  My excuse?  Family bereavement, the usual medical tests, and, of course, the indexing for ‘Patricians and Emperors’. Click here to read more »

Random Photos 2


Patricians and Emperors

Finally, after many delays, at the beginning of the year I submitted the text of the next book:  ‘Patricians and Emperors:  The Last Days of the Western Roman Empire’.   The book covers the period from the death of Aetius in 454 to the death of Odovacer in 493.  Obviously, the major figures in this period are the ‘Patricians’, Ricimer, Gundobad, Orestes and Odovacer.  But, rather than focusing on the Patricians and ignoring all else, the book has been split into parts. Click here to read more »

It’s Christmas!

What do you mean, “It’s Christmas”?

Oh dear, it’s crept up on me again.  Thankfully, this year I did everything early in the hope that I’d be ready before the day arrived.

Wrap presents?  Check.

Do food shopping?  Check.

Prepare for festive visitors?  Check.

Get ready to punch Santa on the nose if my presents are rubbish?  Check.

But – and it’s a big but (resist temptation for poor-taste J-Lo joke) – there is one thing missing this year:  the major pre-Christmas panic.  This time last year I was diagnosed with cancer.  Unsurprisingly, this put a bit of a damper on Christmas, as I was waiting until January for the test results.

Obviously, the whole experience has changed my attitude to life in many ways.  For example I no longer stress about deadlines, – much to my editor’s dismay, though it should be noted that ‘Patricians’ is finally finished! – and  I’m more relaxed about life in general – except idiot drivers:  I still shout a lot at bad drivers!

Probably the main difference is that I no longer take life for granted.  Savour it:  live every day:  take the time to look around you – the world’s not a bad place, even though there are some bad people in it.

So my Christmas message this year is to enjoy the holidays.  I would like to wish everybody a great Christmas, and I hope that 2015 will be a lot, lot better than 2014 for everybody.

Yet I would like to finish on a personal note.  More importantly than anything else, this year has taught me to appreciate what I have.  I have a gorgeous wife, a cute and intelligent son, a supportive family and good friends.  In fact, with only a few alterations – for example Burnley winning more games, starting with beating Liverpool on Boxing Day – I would go so far as to say that my life is just about perfect.

Now you can see why I put Santa at the end of my ‘to do’ list.  If Santa doesn’t bring the correct presents, and so ruins Christmas, he’s going to get such a kicking!

Happy Christmas Everybody!

Update number …. I’ve lost count!

First, let me say “Thank You” to the many comments supporting me in the last year.  It has made me smile in difficult times.

The main reason for posting now, though, is that I’ve just got back from the hospital.  There is currently no trace of the cancer.  Needless to say, I’m relieved – not least because we can have a worry-free Christmas this year.  Last year Christmas was a little fraught!  However, after so long worrying – don’t forget that my PSA test came back high long before the final diagnosis – my poor little brain can’t grasp the notion that it might – just might! – be all over.   Maybe I’ll never get used to it and will spend the rest of my life with a slightly confused look on my face?  (Yes, yes, I know:  how will we be able to tell the difference!)

My only regret is that I was unable to take a picture of Owen when I told him the news. His face said everything I could think of, and more.

Me and My Prostatectomy

In response to emails about the page concerning my prostatectomy, I’ve created this post solely so that people can leave feedback and ask questions.  Doubtless now it’s created it will never be used!

A Brief Writing Update

Sorry about my lack of regular posts recently,  but I have been otherwise engaged!

Just to let everybody know that the text for ‘Patricians’ is almost complete.  I am just waiting for comments from friends before making any last minute changes.  After that the book will be finished and sent to the publisher.  I must admit that I’ll be glad to see the back of this one:  it is now tied in with all of the stress of the past year, so hasn’t got the happiest of memories for me.

Roll on book six!

Time Travel

Over the past couple of years’ writing I have become aware of a phenomenon that has never occurred to me before:  the time lapse between publication of a new historical theory and its acceptance, especially a universal acceptance amongst the general readership. Click here to read more »

My Bibliography is bigger than yours!

When I was first asked to write, I had a major dilemma on my hands:  it was several years after leaving University and upon finishing the book the question arose as to what to include in the Bibliography.

Obviously, many years of reading had formulated my theories and assumptions, and if I was forced to include the title of every single history book I had read then I ran the risk that the bibliography would be larger than the book itself.  On the other hand, to exclude books that may have helped to formulate my ideas would be unfair on the authors of those influential works. Click here to read more »