About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Friday 27 January 2012


For all you Creative Writing students out there: here's how to master the fashionable pared down style and pass your modules.  I wrote this specially for you:  

This is the Yorkie Bar school of dialogue writing: It’s not for girls
Here’s how:
  1. Do not use speech marks.  Speech marks help the reader understand when someone is talking.  If your reader needs help, they lack the cojones to read your stuff.
  2. Do not let on who is talking.  Again, this makes it too easy for the reader to follow what’s happening.  Make them work, make them sweat, make them weep.  Every half page or so you may include ‘he said.’
  3. Only use short words, short sentences, no sub-clauses.  Flowery stuff is for romantic novelists and nancy boys.  It has no place in Hard Man fiction.
  4. The subject matter must be bleak.  Eg death, guns, murder, rape, despair, horses.
  5. No colours may be used apart from black, white, grey.  Red may be used to describe blood or fire.
  6. Flowers may not be described, only rocks, deserts, ice, stones, guns, fire, cliffs, horses.
  7. Adverbs are banned.  Adjectives may be used but only 1 per 500 words, and they may only contain one syllable.
  8. No imagery.  Similes/metaphors are for pantywaists. 
  9. Verb form  –ing is not permitted.  No fancy punctuation.  Fullstops and commas only.
  10. Finally: hone, prune, hack back and dismember your prose till a single shard of bleached bone remains.  This is Hard Man fiction.  You can’t knock it.  It wins prizes.
Here’s how it looks on the page:

            Did you find her?
She’s dead.
            He turned his head and looked at the rock. Rain fell. 
            They killed her.
            And the rest?
He watched.  They’ll come for us too, won’t they?
            Ash rose from the fire where they’d burnt the horses.


  1. Shame about the horses. Couldn't they have eaten them?

  2. They probably had cankers and died a lingering hideous death, poor things, and were thus inedible.

  3. Or maybe they were just bad cooks.