memoirs of a master forger – william heaney

Master Forger

I had never heard of this book before – and just picked it up in Barnardo’s in South Woodford as I liked the cover!

Well, first of all, William Heaney doesn’t really exist – it is the name of the character narrating the story…so he ‘wrote’ it, didn’t he?  the book is actually written by Graham Joyce.

William is a forger of antique books – well, he doesn’t forge them personally, but together with a couple of friends, he runs a successful forgery scam.  He is a goverment beurocrat and divorced father of two – his teenage children live with their mother and her C-list ‘celebrity’ chef boyfriend.

Oh yes, and he sees demons.  He has seen demons since an incident at Uni.  A guilt-ridden incident that left him feeling that he should never REALLY allow himself to be in love.

This was a really easy read – but I’m not sure what genre I would put it in.  Part love story, part supernatural, part beautiful observational prose on humanity it skimmed over all these aspects without delving very deep into any of them!  However, it was a decent story with some extremely believable characters and quite unlike anything else I have read.


bringing nothing to the party – paul carr

Bringing Nothing To The Party

Whenever I need to go to a charity shop for work (yes, I work in the Charity Retail sector), I always feel that I need to buy something.  This something usually takes the form of a book – or this time one for me and two for The Man from the South Woodford branch of Barnardo’s!

I’m so glad I picked it up as it was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read – although part of me wished that I’d read it ages ago!

Paul Carr is a great writer, and this book is his memoir of his desire to be an entrepreneur – mastering the world of dotcom start-ups and becoming rich and famous…instead of just writing about those who had managed it and hanging about with them at parties!

The dotcom boom of the late 90s and early 00s is covered in great detail,and evoked some happy memories for me (having been an ‘internet dater’ and ‘chatter’ since they were near enough invented!) with a smile being brought to my face by mentions of Perplex City, The Million Dollar Homepage and the Cambridge Coffee Machine amongst others.  But Carr knew many people behind the ideas, and it adds another dimension to the stories.

Add in Carr’s personal stories during this period of lost love, jammy jobs, unintentional criminality and general crapness and it is a very amusing read.

I notice that his second book, The Upgrade has now been released, so might give it a bash soon.

too busy to post!

The last few days have been really rather hectic, and I don’t seem to have had a chance to sit down, relax and think about what I’ve been up to!

Lovely idea - just needs more!


I had to go over to South Woodford to take some photos of some charity shop volunteers for work – I always love visiting the charity shop teams – I’ve been in the sector for over 20 years now, and the volunteers still totally blow me away with their commitment and loyalty.

Later that evening, I met a friend in The Rose & Crown and then we wandered down to see what was occuring at the E17 designer’s market at the Old Glassworks.  It was an absolutely lovely buzzy atmosphere, and there were some great people there with some fantastic stuff, but there just wasn’t really enough of them.  I think it could have done with a focus like a fashion show or something, or even just a few more stalls.  Maybe next time they will sign up a few more people.

However, I was really taken with the t-shirts from Organik Rocka which were the softest tees I’ve ever felt – and made (outrageously!) from BAMBOO! (It helped that the guy was cute too, of course!)

So, after that we went along to Peking Chef and completely pigged out and gossiped!

My typical Le Delice lunch


I had a couple of bits and pieces to do, but then met another mate for lunch in Le Delice.  She had never been before, and as I am a real regular, I wanted to introduce her to their delights!  They didn’t let us down, and it was great to catch up.

Later on, me & The Man went for a romantic meal at Marco Pierre White’s Steak & Alehouse just off Bishopsgate.  I will post about that later, with photos!

It ended up being a pretty late, drunken night for us, and we didn’t get to sleep til silly o’clock.

Folk Fete before the crowds!


We managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time to put on presentable faces (just) and get down to Stoneydown Park in Walthamstow where there was a Folk Feste being held.

The weather was totally glorious, the Rose & Crown were running a beer tent, and there were a large amount of people that I know from Twitter and people that me & The Man know from the pub – and lots of new people that we got the chance to meet as well!

The Girl’s dad dropped her off to us there and she had a brilliant time.  I have to admit that we ended up going to bed roughly the same time as she did!

Places to get Naked


Back to work feeling like we hadn’t had a chance to rest at all (and this is my busiest time of the year!).  And then after work last night, I went along with a couple of friends to the Naked Wines Tasting Tour at the same place I first encountered them last year!  Again, I will post about that some other time – but suffice to say it was excellent.

Last night, I didn’t sleep at all as it was SO HOT (even though sleep has been eluding me anyway for quite a while).  I think I need a break!

totally chugged

Chugger = "charity mugger"

I was out taking photos of charity shops around Camden earlier (as you do!) and I (ironically) walked past a couple of Save the Children chuggers.

The first one came up to me and I just said “No thanks” and he went away.  all well and good, so I just had to get past the second one.

He stood right in front of me, looking me straight in the eye and smiling.  Obviously it helped that he was pretty cute.

Chugger:  Can I have a moment of your time?
Me:  No, I give to enough charities thanks…and always in my own time!
Chugger:  Do you know about Save the Children
Me:  I know a LOT about Save the Children thank you
Chugger:  How about a hug then?  That’s free!
Me:  Oh, OK then.

And yes.  I did.  I hugged the chugger.  And it did indeed make me smile, and gave me a little warm feeling without needing to give to charity.

He totally put the ‘hug’ into ‘chugger’.

lifted – hilary freeman


I bought this book for The Girl as it incoporated two areas that she is interested in (because of me) – charity shops and blogging.

I decided to read it to make sure that it wasn’t too grown-up for her as it was in the ‘teen’ section, and she only turned 11 on Monday!

I actually think it was really well written (considering the target audience) and deals with the subject pretty conscientiously (is that spelled right?).

Ruby is 15, her parents are divorced, she’s feeling  a bit unsettled at school and one day she is in a shop and has the urge to steal something.  She then donates her stolen goods to a local charity shop, and gets such a buzz out of it that she decides to blog about it…and the pattern has begun.

It would’ve been very easy for the author to glamourise the feeling of celebrity that her blog gains, and all the time I was reading, I was thinking “Is this going to plant a seed of an idea in The Girl’s head and make her consider doing this herself?”, but I am pleased to say that it didn’t.

Great teen (or tween) girl’s book, with very subtle messaging.


It seems an absolute age since I have had a chance to write here…and not through laziness but the complete opposite.  I have never been so busy!

At home, it’s been pretty chaotic.  The Girl has finally had her cast off, exposing her little white arm – and it’s been healing fine.  The week before she had it off, I took her round to her boxing club to ask whether they felt she’d be able to start up – and they said “It will be great for her to come, help with the healing”, so she actually went back on Monday – the day before she had her cast off.  she was so happy to go AND she was top of the class that day too, so she was doubly happy.  they were really pleased to have her back, showing up all the boys that are a year or so older than her 🙂

I’ve also been racing around the country as I was preparing (and then attending) the annual conference for the Association of Charity Shops at Keele University.  Preparation for that meant trips to Dorking and Hockley and a hell of a lot of hard work.

And then manning a stand for two days, attending an awards dinner and doing a LOT of demos of my new venture (which went down very well!).  I’ve worked in the charity retail sector for around 20 years now, and although it doesn’t sound very interesting, I am extremely passionate about it all, and I now know so many people that attend events like that it was just a big social jolly once I was there!  as for anything, it’s the journey that’s tedious, but the arrival is a relief.

Something else that has taken up a lot of my time is the fact that my dad has been very poorly for over  a month now.  He has a massive problem with his back, and he can barely walk.  He finally managed to get an MRI scan when I was at my friend’s wedding and they have found that he has swollen nodules that have appeared on his spine, and one of them is pressing directly into his sciatic nerve – so he is in constant agony.  He is currently waiting for an appointment with a consultant.

This has the added difficulty that my mum doesn’t drive, they live in the middle of nowhere and my mum refuses to order groceries online as she simply has to squeeze everything before she buys.   So obviously I have been going over there and helping out as much as possible.

Also, it is the last couple of weeks of The Girl being at primary school, so we have had the whole school transition thing going on.  Attended Parent Interviews, Open Days, Transition Day as well as the usual primary Parent Review, Sports Day etc etc.  We have another one coming up on Thursday to see them get awards at Leyton Orient for a special scheme she was picked for and did for 10 weeks.  She’s also had things going on with Guides and is away at Guide Camp this weekend – funnily enough the one I used to go to as a Brownie/Guide which was one of the weirdest things as it’s about 4 roads away from my parents!

So, a good excuse for not having been around very much, I think.  I have a couple of reviews to write today as well, and I also want to add to my articles on Fortitude.

Maybe my chilling is still going to be busy, LOL

how mysterious

My ticket to my own Twilight Zone

Something a little odd seemed to happen to me on Thursday.  I am currently reading this very ‘other’ book which is really good (I’ll review once I’ve finished) but deals with the weird, mysterious things that happen to a guy who is cabbing in Brighton.

Firstly, I have started playing an online war game (yes, I know – geek!) and om Wednesday I joined an alliance called Myrmidons – I am not ashamed to say that I have no idea what that is, I have never heard the word before, but due to the type of game, I’m assuming it’s something linked to the Greeks, a little like Sparta.

Anyway, I picked the book up on Thursday and the first thing that I noticed was that the publisher was Myrmidon Publishing…”How strange”, I thought.  I also noticed that the book is signed by the author (I assume it’s really his signature anyway!) and I hadn’t noticed that before. (Unless The Man has been pretend-signing all of my books and trying to sell them on eBay without me knowing).   To be quite honest, I don’t even know where I got the book from.  I’ve seen it in my bookcase for ages, and thought it was The Man’s but he said it isn’t his kind of thing, and anyway, it was published in 2008 and *I* have bought all of his books since then.

That’s not SO unusual though – I’ve been through my bookcases recently and pulled out 3 or 4 books that i don’t remember buying and definitely haven’t read yet.  But this one hasn’t even come from a charity shop (which the others usually have) – there’s no penciled price, sticker etc and the spine isn’t broken.  Odd.

So, I read it on the Tube on the way to work on Thursday, and then on my way home again, I got it out of my bag and went to read it again.  now, I love reading but don’t treat my books with much respect…I break the spines, I read them in the bath and most importantly, I don’t use a bookmark – I turn the corners over (shock, horror!).

So, I looked for the turned over corner, and there wasn’t one.  “How strange” I thought.  So I tried to find the page I was on.  Which I found…with a train ticket in it.  “How strange”  thought.  Then I looked at the ticket – Surbiton to Vauxhall.  A journey I have never made.  “How strange” I thought.  And then I looked at the date.  4 Jun 08  “How strange” I thought.

Now – how the hell did it get there.  if it had already been n the book, i would have seen it in the morning as it was on the right page.  It hadn’t been in my handbag as I’ve only had that bag for a year. Where did it dome from!!!

As you can tell, this little mystery has got to me a bit, LOL

Oh yes, and when I put it a few pages backward to carry on reading the book, I got to the exact page I’d put it in when I got off the train.  I think the ticket is some kind of personal magical bookmark.  Eek!

space…the final frontier?


I have a dream.  Well, I had a dream.  It wasn’t an outrageous dream.  my dreams are never really unachievable, otherwise I’d always feel like the world was dangling something just beyond my reach, and get the feeling that life is unfair (much as the Girl’s dad does – he always feels like life owes him something, and that it should all be handed to him on a plate.)

Anyway – this wasn’t about him, this was about me.  and my silly little dream.

Well, since The Man has been out of work (almost 3 years), I’ve not really had any time at home on my own.  Either he, The Girl or both of them have always been there.  So I feel like I don’t have any space.  We live in a little flat in London, so you can imagine that space isn’t exactly abundant…we’re all hoarders too, which I know we could do something about, but is a personality trait I guess, and almost impossible to shake.

The Girl has her own room that she spends a lot of time in doing her own thing (which lately seems to consist of counting her money in her money box 4 times a day – maybe she thinks we’re stealing from her!), and obviously The Man is here by himself from 9-3 every weekday.  For me, nothing.  And I think that this could be one of the reasons that I’ve stopped reading as much over the past couple of years too.  I can’t read when there’s stuff going on around me.  I’m OK with the radio on, or music, but not the TV or ‘sounds’.  And The Man has the TV on a lot – because, if I turn it off, or if I’m not watching it, even if I have the radio on, he’ll play the XBox.  which annoys the hell out of ma.  i can’t read a story about Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband (Wedlock, that I’m reading now) if there are the sounds of air raids, bombs, and general shouting, shooting and fighting in the form of MW2 full blast to my left!!

So.  I had a dream.  It was a chair.  A winged, chintzy, Queen Anne style chair.  Squeezed into my tiny bedroom, in the bay window which has the best natural light in the whole flat.  So I could shut myself away for a few hours a week, have some me time, read undisturbed with the radio on.  Maybe even start writing again, who knows.  If course, a chintzy winged chair in a bay window also threw up dreams of tea and biscuits and a cat curled up.

So…I have now made this entry from my bay window, in natural light, in a wing-backed chair, whilst listening to 6Music (Cerys is back, and there was just a wonderful live session with a harp that I need to look up), sipping tea, eating the biscuits that I made on Friday, and  have been reading my book in peace.  Even the cat is curled up on the bed in front of me!  The only difference to my dream is that my chair isn’t chintzy…it’s just moss green.  but it’s oh so comfy, and was just £35 from the sally army charity shop at the bottom of my road – and is pristene.  no wear, no tear, no scratches, no stains!

I am so happy.  So, so happy.  Because of a chair.

city of the beasts – isabel allende

A beautifully crafted tropical tale steeped in magic and adventure

Last week I finished my book the day after I had ordered a large delivery from Amazon, so I thought I’d make the most of working in Camden by popping along to the many charity shops, to pick up a ‘filler’ book to tide me over til my delivery arrived.

I am SO glad that I did, as City Of The Beasts is not a book I reckon I would ever have picked out online (although the cover is very pretty!).

£1.99 in the YMCA shop introduced me to Alexander Cold, a 15 year old American lad whose mother is dying from cancer, so he is shipped off to his grandmother’s while she is having chemo.  His grandmother is an explorer/writer and is off to the Amazon with a party put together by International Geographic Magazine trying to find evidence of a legendary ‘Beast’ (much like a yeti) that lives amongst the natives in an area hitherto unexplored by the developed world.  Alex discovers much to his horror that he is to go with her.

The story starts out as a tale of a young lad whose family are being torn apart and his relationship with his outspoken, uncompromising, well-traveled grandmother who just makes him fit into her life and plans.  He is the complete opposite of her, and initially finds the trip to the Amazon the stuff of nightmares.

For the first part of the book, I was loving the pace, loving the wonderful sights and sounds of the Amazon, and getting to know all the characters involved – it was a beautifully crafted jungle adventure…and then there is ‘an event’ (I don’t want to ruin it for anyone) and suddenly the book takes a turn and becomes this mystical tale, full of wonder and magic.

I can’t say how much I loved this book – it was a perfect ‘filler’, and I zoomed through it quicker than I do with most books.  Turning each page was a joy, and I never knew where it was going to take me.  It was also the perfect size – there wasn’t TOO much ‘depth’ – there were no flowery words just for the sake of padding it out and trying to be clever and arty – the story was very much ‘as it was’ – and I never felt that I had been cheated.

I usually race through paragraphs when I’m enjoying books, skim-reading just to get to the next good bit (I’m a bugger for that), but I actually believe I read near enough every word because it was relevant!

This is definitely my favourite book that I have read in recent months.

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