My Series of Author and Poet Interviews Narberth Book Fair with Rebecca Bryn,

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

Books and Reading.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin:  and Thorne Moore: Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: . 

I’ll be chatting with one ot two of them each week. Today it’s the turn of  the author, Rebecca Bryn, to chat to us.

Rebecca Bryn

Please tell us, Rebecca, what do you love most about the writing process?

Creating an alternative, believable reality and populating it with the people I could never hope, and sometimes never want, to be.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

Imparting some small piece of knowledge, self-awareness, or understanding, and challenging my readers’ preconceptions, as my tales have challenged mine and informed me of who I am.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

A bit of both. Walt in Touching the Wire, though a fictitious character, was based on my maternal grandfather because I needed a person I loved deeply in order to be able to contemplate writing such a harrowing story. Jem in For Their Country’s Good was a real person; he was my great-great-great uncle and there is a lot of fact in that story. Most of my other characters are out of my own damaged and devious psyche…

What do you think makes a good story?

Characters that live, flawed and imperfect, who make wrong choices and drive the story in unexpected directions. A believable plot. Settings in which you can immerse yourself and forget reality for a while.

 How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Product Details

Product DetailsProduct Details


Six. I love them all, but then I’m biased; I fall in love with the characters. I think I’m most proud of For Their Country’s Good. I wrote it for my family: it’s part of their history too.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

Loosely thrillers. I’ve written contemporary, historical and dystopian, all with a romantic thread, but I like to think they’re thrillers with a twist.

 Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

My latest is On Common Ground, Book Three of For Their Country’s Good, so, really, to get the full impact you need to read Books One and Two first. The story takes us back to Victorian England and immerses us in the poverty and inequalities of that time. The lack of rights for women, even over their own bodies – rape in marriage was legal until relatively recently – the brutality of the transportation system where young men and women were transported, with little hope of ever earning the fare to return home, for crimes such as ‘stealing two lengths of ribbon’ or ‘being fraudulently in possession of a shovel’ (Yes these are real crimes) in order to build an empire in Australia on convict labour: the strength of love to withstand everything life throws at it. Love, social inequality, and injustice are subjects dear to my heart. You have to read this series!

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Never give up?

 Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

Do they ever! Reins? What are they? I have a beginning point and an idea of how and where the story will end. Between the first page and the last looms this chasm of blank white paper. I put my trust in my characters and follow where they lead. They land themselves in some awful situations and expect me to write them out of them.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I have had some hundred or more fabulous reviews, and one or two not so fabulous ones. A letter I received from an elderly Hungarian lady, whose parents died in the Holocaust, made my entire writing career worthwhile. She thanked me for writing Touching the Wire, saying that after seventy years she could finally contemplate the process of forgiveness. I wept when I read her letter, as I wept when I wrote the novel. I’m filling up just thinking about her.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I am a woman of hidden talents, most of them well-hidden, but I can turn my hand to most things. I paint in watercolours, mainly seascapes. I’ve tiled floors, mixed concrete, and dug ponds, and the same rough hands have embroidered pictures and made intricate patchworks. I just love to create.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have a habit of constructing sentences backwards. And I have dyslexic fingers when typing. I have learnt not to call my characters Hnery or Hnerietta, for example.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Painting, walking, reading, gardening – anything except housework.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

Should I admit to this? I was once rather non-PC with a black gentleman who came to carry out an inspection when I ran a village Post Office. Post Office inspectors are like policeman: not known for their chattiness or sense of humour. I’d tried to be friendly, but he was having none of it and even refused my coffee. While he was pouring through my books with an eagle and disapproving eye, I had a phone call from my future husband whose dog was due to whelp. She was a black Labrador, and the father of the pups was a tortoiseshell Collie, so we were hoping for pretty puppies. The news was that Katie had begun giving birth and was still in labour. The part of the phone call the inspector heard went as follows.

Me ‘Oh, good, I’m a granny.’

The inspector broke a frugal congratulatory smile.

Me ‘How many has she had?’

He rose one eyebrow a quarter of an inch at this.

Me ‘What colour are they?’

The expression on his face was absolutely priceless.

Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself…

 Another incident that was embarrassing at the time but funny in retrospect is retold in ‘Ooh Air Margrit’ Download it free at Find the link immediately beneath my author biography.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I love Marmite.

Links to Rebecca:



My Review of Shadows by Thorne Moore #psychological crime


I received an ARC of Shadows from the author in return for an honest review. I gave the novel 5* out of  5*

Book Description:

A compelling blend of mystery and family drama with a gothic twist, by the Top Ten bestselling author of A Time for Silence

Kate Lawrence can sense the shadow of violent death, past and present. 

In her struggle to cope with her unwelcome gift, she has frozen people out of her life. 

Her marriage is on the rocks, her career is in chaos and she urgently needs to get a grip. 

So she decides to start again, by joining her effervescent cousin Sylvia and partner Michael in their mission to restore and revitalise Llys y Garn, an old mansion in the wilds of North Pembrokeshire.

It is certainly a new start, as she takes on Sylvia’s grandiose schemes, but it brings Kate to a place that is thick with the shadows of past deaths. 

The house and grounds are full of mysteries that only she can sense, but she is determined to face them down – so determined that she fails to notice that ancient energies are not the only shadows threatening the seemingly idyllic world of Llys y Garn. 

The happy equilibrium is disrupted by the arrival of Sylvia’s sadistic and manipulative son, Christian – but just how dangerous is he? 

Then, once more, Kate senses that a violent death has occurred… 

Set in the majestic and magical Welsh countryside, Shadows is a haunting exploration of the dark side of people and landscape.

My Review:

I have long been a fan of Thorne Moore’s work and, for me, Shadows, yet again, proves what a brilliant tale teller she is.

The author’s ability to create an atmosphere is exceptional. In Shadows the descriptions of the rooms and spaces within  Llys y Garn provide an eerie, dark presence and a vaguely distant, though dangerous, affluence in its history. It’s a great  background for the novel. In contrast the narratives portraying the surrounding Welsh countryside underline the myths, the legends of the land, the beauty of the settings, to give a wonderful sense of place.

 The characters are excellent; believable and rounded they instil either empathy, dislike, or exasperation. I loved the protagonist, Kate, and found myself willing her to make the right choices; to stay safe. In contrast, the character of her ex-husband and even sometimes, the lovable cousin, Sylvia, frustrated me. And I despised the “sadistic and manipulative son, Christian” (even though I hadn’t read the book blurb at the time) – I suppose that’s a sign of as well portrayed, multi layered character. And there is one character who was a great disappointment for me… saying no more here

The book description gives a good outline of this steadily-paced plot; what it doesn’t say, obviously, is how the reader is drawn into the story from the onset and then, piece by piece, caught up in the twists and turns of the narrative.

This is  is a book I recommend, without hesitation.


Praise for Thorne Moore

‘Thorne Moore is a huge talent. Her writing is intensely unsettling and memorable.’ – Sally Spedding

Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore was born in Luton and graduated from Aberystwyth University and the Open University. She set up a restaurant with her sister but now spends her time writing and making miniature furniture for collectors. She lives in Pembrokeshire, which forms a background for much of her writing, as does Luton. She writes psychological mysteries, or “domestic noir,” including A Time For SilenceMotherlove and The Unravelling.

Links to Thorne:


My Series of Author & Poet Interviews at the Narberth Book Fair

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

Books and Reading.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin:  and Thorne Moore: Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  Our next author is Thorne Moore. Thorne is also a Honno author and hard working fellow organiser of the Book Fair. 


Thorne Moore


Welcome, Thorne, let’s start by you telling us why you write, please.

Because I’ve never been able to stop myself. I was a chronic daydreamer as a child, and daydreams are the first step towards writing. I invented worlds and peopled them, and then I disappeared into them. Then I learned to read and started disappearing into books. The obvious next stage was to combine the two and disappear into my own books.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

To say something significant, to make people stop and think. For immortality. Which doesn’t mean I write for fame or fortune, though both would be nice. I am my thoughts and, in writing a book, those thoughts get recorded in a form that will survive me, even if it’s only in a few mangled pages at the back of a second-hand bookshop in Mongolia.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Both? I invent my characters, or they invent themselves – sometimes I know the sort of person I need for a book but I have to wait for that character to acquire a life of its own before they really work. I never base characters on actual specific people. But then we all learn about human nature by seeing people, the way they talk and walk and dress and think and agonise and emote. That knowledge has to feed into the makeup of our fictional characters, or they wouldn’t come across as real.

What do you think makes a good story?

Convincing characters, pace that doesn’t send you to sleep, a plot that flows organically, without being too contrived, natural dialogue, language suited to the story, without superfluity and an underlying theme that leaves the reader thinking, if only for a second or two.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

I write about ordinary people in crisis, dealing with trauma and its aftermath, sometimes through generations. That trauma is often a crime, so I suppose they count as crime novels, and my protagonist is always a woman (write what you know), so they could count as women’s literature, and they sometimes delve into the past, so they could be classified as historical novels, or sagas. Can I settle for Domestic Noir? It could encompass anything really.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

My third novel, published by Honno Press, is The Unravelling. It’s about a woman, Karen, who is a little bit troubled – actually very troubled, with some serious mental issues. A chance and seemingly meaningless event – an apple rolling into a drain – sparks off a memory of a girl she knew at school, Serena Whinn, the angel of the playground, whom she had worshipped at the age of ten. Karen becomes obsessed with finding Serena and the circle of friends who had surrounded her. As she searches, hidden memories of awful events back in 1966 come to life, and as the story of what really happened in 1966 begins to unravel, Karen unravels with it, until, finally, the truth emerges and sets her free.

The Unravelling: Children can be very very cruel (A gripping domestic noir thriller) by [Moore, Thorne]

It’s a story about the secret world of playground politics that adults don’t see, and the damage and cruelty that can result when boundaries are pushed too far and things get out of hand. I imagine everyone will recognise something from their schooldays, even if they don’t remember the sixties.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Not a moral, exactly, but I do delve into questions of evil and its source. And the long-term effects of guilt. I always deal with guilt. It has to be one of the most fascinating aspects of human identity – the ability to feel guilt.

What is your favourite part of the book?

Difficult to say, but I did enjoy some of the scenes where I was drawing on my memories of my own childhood. My characters are all fictional, but Marsh Green, in the book, bears a very close resemblance to the estate where I lived and went to school.

What was the inspiration behind The Unravelling.

It was simply remembering the place where I grew up and where, with a child’s imagination, all sorts of monsters and nightmares could exist, alongside all the fairytales and games. I used to walk home down a wooded lane, crossing a stream on a great iron pipe, running past the witch’s cottage… All sorts of things might have happened. And then in real life, far away, all sorts of things really do happen, and you wonder how it could possibly have come to that.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

I have the reins, but the horses have minds of their own and often refuse to respond. It’s quite encouraging when I tell them to do or say something, and they turn round and say ‘Yes, but I wouldn’t, would I. Think again, please.’ Then you know you’ve made them real.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Far too many to mention. I do make hand-carved miniature furniture.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A disinclination to get up and dressed, before starting to write in the morning. I write in bed.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Gardening. Walking. Reading. Watching the broody swallow nesting in my porch.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

Needing to relieve myself, in thick mist, while climbing the upper reaches of the Watkin track on Snowdon. I was modestly crouching, pants down, behind a rock, when the mists suddenly parted and I found myself looking straight across to the Miner’s Track, and a band of boy scouts.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

At the age of 10 I won a bronze medal for old time ballroom dancer. Don’t know how – or why.

A Time For SilenceMotherloveThe UnravellingMoments of Consequence

Links to Thorne and her books:



My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Margaret Kaine#MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!


Today I’m chatting with Margaret Kaine. Margaret was born and educated in the Potteries and now lives in Eastbourne. Her short stories have been published widely in women’s magazines in the UK, and also in Australia, Norway, South Africa and Ireland. Ring of Clay, her debut novel, won both the RNA’s New Writer’s Award in 2002 and the Society of Authors’ Sagittarius Prize in 2003. She has written several romantic sagas about life in the Potteries between the 50’s and 70’s,and translations include German and French. All are published as eBooks, paperbacks and hardbacks, also Large Print and Audio – cassette and CD. I’m thrilled to have Margaret here.

Welcome, Margaret, lovely to see you here today.

Good to be here, Judith 

Tell us, what made you decide to write in your genre?

Simply because I always loved to read family sagas. Born and educated in Stoke-on-Trent, the area known as the Potteries, I always had a dream of becoming a writer. But once married and with a family, two dogs and a career as a lecturer in further education, there never seemed to be any me time. It wasnt until I had an empty nest, that I came to this wonderful world of writing fiction. I attempted short stories at first, gaining encouragement and constructive critiques from a writers workshop – Id advise anyone to join a good one – and had my share of rejections, but eventually became published widely in womens magazines in the UK, and also in Australia, Norway, South Africa and Ireland. Then obeying the maxim to write about what you know, I wrote and finished my first novel, Ring of Clay, set in the Potteries after WW2. Published by Poolbeg in Ireland, I was thrilled when it won the RNA New Writers Award in 2002. The following year, the same novel won the Society of Authors Sagittarius Prize, sponsored by Terry Pratchett. Hodder & Stoughton bought the UK & Commonwealth rights and I continued to write six more romantic sagas about life in the Potteries between the 50s and 70s. It was a nostalgia trip for me really, but I enjoyed so much describing life as I remembered it in this distinctive industrial area.

Ring Of Clay by [Kaine, Margaret]

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

This is an unusual question, and my answer is that I would doubt it. Even literary writing needs emotion and imagination.

Do you want each book to stand-alone or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

All of my books are stand-alone, even Ring of Clay and Rosemary, although they are connected with the latter being a sequel.

Rosemary by [Kaine, Margaret]

How do you select the names of your characters?

Oh, names! I cant continue until I have my main characters names. I will try several as I begin a novel, and know within a page or two whether one strikes a chord with me. And then it becomes a challenge, as I know I wont be able to write a word until Ive found the right one, otherwise I cant seem to see the person. The internet is a wonderful tool for this, especially for checking whether a name is correct for the era.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

When the writing is going well, nothing has ever given me such a buzz, so I suppose at the time it gives me energy. But I admit that later – usually in the evening – I can feel quite tired. This happens especially if Ive been writing an emotionally draining scene, or if Ive been in what I call full flow, and forgotten how long Ive been sitting at the computer. But writing has enriched my life in so many ways, that I cant imagine not having it in my life.

Ribbon of Moonlight by [Kaine, Margaret]

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

One of my biggest regrets is not to have begun writing at a much earlier age. With hindsight, I should have made the time to creatively express myself. And yet, somehow it wasnt in my mindset. I admire so much young women who manage to write successful novels while bringing up a family.

Friends and Families by [Kaine, Margaret]

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My subscription to join the Romantic Novelists Association. Its a wonderful organisation offering encouragement, support and friendship. I have learned much about my craft from attending the annual conferences they hold in different parts of the country. They also provide several glittering occasions to socialise with other authors, many of whom become good friends.

Song for a Butterfly by [Kaine, Margaret]

Have you ever had reader’s block?

Im afraid I just cant get into any books about vampires or zombies.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Now was it Little Women or Black Beauty? I read both as a child and dont think any books since have moved me more.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I do read them, I cant resist it. Besides one can learn much from perceptive comments. Naturally the good ones are my favourites and can put a spring in my step all day, and eventually one learns to expect that not everyone will like your book and to accept negative reviews. What does annoy me is when people put reviews on Amazon, lowering the average star rating with such trite  remarks as I havent read it yet, or the cover was damaged when it arrived. I mentally scream.

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

The last of my Potteries family sagas, was Song for a Butterfly, but after 7 books in the same genre, I felt I needed a challenge. I decided to write an Edwardian romantic historical suspense set against a more cosmopolitan background, and Dangerous Decisions was published by Choc Lit. I loved doing the research, describing the elegant fashions, the beautiful great houses. The aristocracy certainly knew how to live in style. But supporting that lifestyle would be a veritable army of servants, domestic service then being the main employment and these were often exploited. I have also set my recently completed 9th novel in the same era. With a working title of The Black Silk Purse, the story begins with a young girl being harshly treated in a workhouse, and the way her life becomes intertwined with that of a wealthy spinster. My agent loves it (always a huge sigh of relief), its out with publishers and so Im currently in that period authors know well, of waiting.

 Dangerous Decisions (Choc Lit) by [Kaine, Margaret]

Please supply links to all your social media including websites.

website –

Twitter – @MargaretKaine 

Facebook – Margaret Kaine

Goodreads – Margaret Kaine

Instagram –  Margaret_Kaine

At Last…I’m Going to Fettle my Posts in 2017 #blogging. January Result!


For the last year my blogs have had a ‘scatter-gun’ approach; erratic, inconsistent and varied; without a theme, sometimes with neither rhyme nor reason … except for the sharing of reviews, interviews and other authors’ good news. Mostly, I think I’ve been lazy, relying on other bloggers and authors to do the work.

 This year will be different! This is not a New Year Resolution; this is me taking me in hand.

 So I said at the beginning of January. Did I succeed? Well… on the whole. I still get carried away when I see a post I like and reblog.

 But I’m well on my way with the editing of the prequel. Cover reveal coming soon!!

The Memory is almost ready to go to my Beta Reader

I’ve posted another Holiday Lets tale

Posting and sharing reviews of other authors’ books on my blog on Sundays as #SundayBlogShare has been a bit erratic as we’ve been away most Sundays.

 I have two reviews to post in the next week and am halfway though a third.

But… I have interviewed Seven#familysaga authors and will be posting those over the next three months. These are fascinating writers with brilliant books so I’m looking forward to spreading the word about them.

So… all in all, not a bad start, I think.



 Seeing a little light

Now for February!

 So… what started all this?

It was Tina Frisco’s question, “Tell us what you envision for your blog in 2017, ” that made me stop and think. This is what I wrote in answer to

 Tina’s question made me remember Hugh W. Robert’s post in 2015: I’m embarrassed to show my reply but here’s an edited version:

 Each day I come here to write my WIP … but I keep popping back to emails to see what I’ve missed of  my favourite and most friendly bloggers.And then I’ve shared randomly. It’s been a problem, But today, your post has made me think…’


But, in May 2016 I was still doing the same things even after I read Rosie Amber’s Wednesday Wing – #TwitterTip Part 3 Retweeting and Post Sharing #wwwblogs @TerryTyler4  POSTED ON MAY 4, 2016,   

 Here’s a section of what Terry and Rosie said:

“A few tips on post sharing:

  • Don’t automatically share every single post that comes into your email inbox. Check them out first to make sure it’s something you actively want to share.

  • Overkill: if virtually all your tweets are shares of others’ posts, be aware that these will get re-tweeted rather than tweets about your own posts/books, most of the time. If you’re happy with that, that’s okay!”

How some people manage to write Daily Posts yet still write books is beyond me. I am a slow writer/ thinker/ reviewer.


Notebook, Plan, Dates, Coffee Cup, Break

Yes, it has taken coffee and chocolate and messy doodling in my diary to decide.

Here goes:

 I need to say first and foremost that  I will editing the prequel to my trilogy during these next months. The working title is Foreshadowing but this will probably change. Anyway it’s due to be published in August by, the publishers of my other books

Pattern of Shadows by [Barrow, Judith]


Changing Patterns by [Barrow, Judith] ,

Living in the Shadows by [Barrow, Judith]












I’m also tidying up the last book I have written, called The Memory, which is due to be looked at by a couple of author friends of mine before I send that off to the publishers. Oh, and I have another half-finished saga which has been on the back burner for two years.


In 2017  I will be  getting up to date with reviews of books I have read. I will also read and write reviews for Rosie Amber’s Team ( ) #RBRT. I love being part of this group and have read some wonderful books (both Indie and traditionally published) over the past two/three years. 

I will be posting more blogs about our Holiday Lets (here’s one post on that: ). I’d like to get these into a short anthology sometime. But, for the time being they’ll stay as posts.

In February and March, I’m looking forward to interviewing other authors who write in the same genre as me: family sagas. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

 Around July, I’ll be starting my usual interviews with the authors who will be attending the annual book fair that I organise alongside my friend and fellow author, Thorne Moore   (  Alex Martin (  was with us in the past but has been taken over by’real life’, unfortunately.  It’s a lot of work but great fun and will take place on the 23rd September. This year we’ve changed to a bigger venue so will be hosting around forty authors at the Narberth Book Fair. There will be talks, free workshops and readings. And the whole event will be filmed by

I tutor creative writing three days a week, and every now and then, I post something one of my students has written. 

I will post and share reviews of other authors’ books on my blog on Sundays as #SundayBlogShare.

 Reading back on this, it does all seem slightly ambitious. But, as I said to Tina, as long as I can manage on four hours sleep each night, who knows; I might succeed in doing it all.

 What I do know is that I will be more organised. The housework can wait!!

A Clean Sweep by Alan Roberts

Another hilarious gem from Alan Roberts, student of one of my creative writing classes. His first two posts were here:  and here:

 His last post was rather more thought provoking:

But here he  gives us an insight to what he was like as a lad in school.


If there had been such a category in world sports then I’m as certain as I can be without actually taking part in any competition that I could have been a world champion and/or an Olympic gold medallist.  Not now of course, as in my seventies my upper body strength has sadly diminished and although I still maintain the technique, it is that combination that is required by someone to become a world or Olympic champion.  I know I’m blowing my own trumpet and you, my dear friends, have no way of knowing whether what I’m telling you is true or a whopping great porky but I’m convinced that even twenty years ago I could have challenged the world’s best and beaten them hands down (a bit of an unintentional pun!).

I’d mastered this skill due to an accident although, at the time, I was accused of breaking the cloakroom window deliberately.


‘No,’ I’d said,’ I hadn’t.’

‘Yes you did,’ they’d said, holding aloft the evidence of the mud caked dap* still lying amongst the glass shards on the inner windowsill.  They grabbed me and made me stand outside the headmaster’s study.  The prefects were bastards, worse than any of the teachers. Gestapo, we called them.  Anyway, with the window smashed the head, known to us pupils as “Bonge” (don’t ask me, I have no idea why), was summoned and he told me to measure the broken window, visit the local glaziers, buy a new pane of glass and sufficient putty and then return and with the assistance of a flea-bitten old chisel that he left for me to collect from the school secretary, I spent the afternoon replacing the glass and its putty.  However, this wasn’t sufficient retribution for my ‘crass action’ so I was additionally ‘sentenced’ to a week’s after school detention and as the breaking of the window happened on a Monday I was to be detained for the whole week.  The hour’s detention every night would mean my customers would receive their evening papers far later than normal. I knew they would not be happy and neither was I.  But neither the head nor the gestapo cared about them and certainly not about me.

At the end of Monday’s normal school day I strolled from my window repairing workshop and went to the assembly hall to await instruction on what I was to complete during that first afternoon’s detention.  Five minutes later Bonge appeared and said I was to sweep the huge hall floor.  He produced a wide, wooden, soft bristle floor brush and started to demonstrate how he wanted me to use it.  He declared he had been in the Royal Navy and there had learnt the skills necessary to use the brush properly but with economic effort.   He first demonstrated how I should hold the brush handle then how to sweep with the brush held in front and then drawn behind.  Off he started, with me following close behind, him using precise movements to effectively collect and retain the floor’s detritus in the path of the bristles.  After a few moments he stopped his efforts, turned and asked,

‘Got that, Roberts?’

‘Not quite, Sir,’ I quickly responded, ‘I didn’t see how I should hold the brush on its forward path.’

‘Come closer,’ he instructed and as I moved alongside he repeated his demonstration of where the hands must be placed and set off once again, pushing the brush firmly before him.  I decided to bull-up his brushing skill, which considering he was a tall, large, elderly man was most impressive, saying,

‘That’s brilliant Sir, I can see how the dust is held in its place as you push the brush forward but what about when the brush is used in reverse, I didn’t quite get how you managed to keep the fluff in its place.’  Suitably flattered, he set off again, going down the length of the hall, first pushing the brush and then drawing it behind him with the growing mound of dust and fluff held firmly in its place.

‘Right, Roberts, now you try.’

I deliberately messed up the hand holds and so he came behind me and took hold of each of my hands and placed them where he wanted them on the wooden handle.

‘Hold on firmly but you must allow your wrists to be supple.  The skill is in the proper manoeuvrability of the wrists.  Try pushing forward.’

I pushed on the handle but again deliberately held my feet in place so ended up forming a triangle between me and the broom.

‘No, no, no,’ he called, ‘move your feet, boy.  Left, right, left, right.  Start again.’

I pushed myself upright, re-gripped the handle and set off – right, left, right, left.

‘Roberts, you’re the most awkward sweeper I’ve ever seen.  Your feet must move like you’re marching – left, right, left, right.  Got that?’

‘I think so, Sir.’

‘Right start again.  Forward, that’s it – left, right, left, right.  No, no, no – look where all the dust is going – back over the floor.  We’ll be here all night at this pace.  Right, let me demonstrate again.’

He snatched the broom, carefully placed his hands and set off back up the hall floor.

‘See, Roberts, correct hold, keep the wrists supple, feet moving left, right, left, right, note the bristles always corralling the floor dust.  Keep up, boy.  Brush in front, turn and draw the brush behind, turn to its front.  Up, down – all dust held in place.  Left, right, left, right.’

He began to quietly whistle and it was evident that he thought he was back on the deck of his ship, having momentarily forgotten that I and not he should be brushing.  He again reached the bottom of the hall and suddenly realised that I was no longer following him.  He shouted,

‘Roberts, quickly go and find Mrs Davies and ask to borrow her dustpan.  Hurry, there’s a good chap.’

He continued brushing as I sloped off to try to find Mrs Davies.  Returning with the cleaner, we both gawped to see Bonge finish brushing the last length of the hall, smiling happily at the pile of floor debris still held in place by the bristles. He turned to look at us.

‘Come on, Roberts, put the dustpan in front while I sweep the dust in.  That’s it.  Well done.  Right, have ten minute practice up and down the hall.’

He passed the brush and I set off as he had demonstrated.

‘Good, good – that’s it – forward – turn the brush – draw towards you, turn again, push forward.  Good – left, right, left, right.  Well done, Roberts.  That’s enough for this afternoon.  Be back here tomorrow at the end of class and I’ll watch as you sweep. Every night this week – make a sweeper of you yet, Roberts.  At least you’ll have a skill when you leave  Goodnight, Mrs Davies.’



With that he strode back to his study whilst Mrs Davies and I looked at one another and smiled.


By Friday night I had completely mastered the brush and the floor dust remained in place before the bristles and thanks to Bonge I have never lost the skill that he patiently taught me.  Betty, my wife, too, is delighted!

  • Trainer, gym shoe,plimsoll




‘Clean Sweep’             by       Alan A Roberts.          Summer 2016

The Tenby Book Fair is moving and Being Renamed…The Narberth Book Fair. Ta dah!!


Welcome to the first post of the Narberth Book Fair.

Just to let you know that we have decided we have outgrown the Church House in Tenby.  Having searched around for a suitable place we have found the perfect venue. So the Tenby Book Fair will no longer be held in Tenby. In fact it will no longer be the Tenby Book Fair but the Narberth Book Fair. We are quite excited  to be having a new challenge and I’m sure we will be bigger and better… just in a different hall. In a different town.

From now on the Book Fair will be held at the Queens Hall there. Check out their website As you can see it’s a vibrant and busy venue in a bustling little town full of interesting shops, antique places, cafes and restaurants. And there is a large nearby car park. But, sorry… no beach.

The date will be Saturday, the 23rd September. 10.00am to 4.oopm.

I’ve been to a few craft fairs at the Queens Hall with my books and always there is plenty of footfall.

A little information on Narberth; the former capital of Pembrokeshire boasts one of the best high-streets in the county. It’s a gorgeous little market town in the east of Pembrokeshire. Multi coloured Edwardian and Georgian buildings line the high street which has developed quite a reputation as a shopper’s heaven. many of the cafes, pubs and restaurants are award winners..

Transport:  Narberth has a railway station about a mile outside of town. And there are quite a few taxi firms based around and in Narberth. And, I’m sure, one or two of the authors who would be willing to pop there to meet stranded fellow authors 

Accommodation: Check out this website: But I’m sure there are more dotted around

The History of Narberth:


The town has grown around the walls of its stone castle, but the name is older than the castle. Narberth is derived from ‘Arberth’, the pre-Norman name for the district (or commote). This Celtic heritage is also represented in the myth and legend of the Mabinogion – ancient Welsh folk tales that were written down in the 14th century, originating from an earlier tradition of oral storytelling. Two branches of the Mabinogi in particular are centred on ‘Arberth’, which was reputedly the court of Pwyll, Prince of Dfydd.

So.. we have already had many of our usual authors wanting to take part in our inaugural book fair in Narberth. But we’re always thrilled to welcome new authors. Those interested in taking part please contact me: