The Gallows Pole – review

The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers, published by Bluemoose Books. The Gallows Pole is rich, wet, dark, glittering. Words glimmer like the clippings of the coins, scattered in peat and moss, across a stony path. Like a bitter cross wind dragging leaves and hail, the land and the weather drive the story as much as... Continue Reading →


It’s my Dad’s birthday today, one year on, two days until the anniversary of his death. We will be drinking gin and tonics later. I love you Dad.

Lulu Allison, contemporary fiction author


The heat keeps on, pressing my skin, the continuity is a reminder of where I was just a few days ago. Though time stretches strangely in strange times, makes it seem like I am remembering an epochal, ancient past or a current, fleeting dream.

I was revisiting a place I knew well, my childhood home was not three miles away. A landscape that I love: beech woods, fields and lanes, buildings of red brick and flint. Too many cars but enough space. I could walk once more in the woods, sheltering from the heat and collecting my thoughts. The woods have always been a place to think, to re-order myself. I get the same sense of grounded wonder in a cathedral, a similarly cool and elegantly spanned space. The beech woods and the cathedral create a modicum of awe that sets the tone, then leave us alone, content to let…

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Writing Tips

(from The Bennet College Reference Library of Electricity) LOOK AWAY NOW bibliophiles - I cut up books. It started with junk mail, when I began looking for hidden messages in unsolicited letters sent in the post. I liked the fact that they had signatures. If I changed the messages, they were still signed, sincerely, by... Continue Reading →


Here is a post about my vivid, handsome, irascible, Grandfather

Lulu Allison, contemporary fiction author

handsome gjMy grandfather died of a broken heart six weeks after my grandmother. He had not expected to live without her, instead had meticulously planned for her comfort and security on what seemed to him to be the predictable certainty of his own death from a heart attack. But cancer doesn’t like predictions. Cancer, with its usual arrogant flare for such things, changed the story, rendered his meticulous, patriarchal, loving care unnecessary. A heart attack did kill him, but only after the death of my grandmother from bone cancer and the torture of six weeks of bereft and baffled mourning.

John Wood, we called him Grandjohn, was an imposing and impressive man. He came from a teetotal and dutifully obligated chapel background, as austere and spare as his name. He had no faith himself but was imbued with the characteristics of his family’s church, though he seemed to burst those narrow parameters…

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‘Self-analysis? I could’ve been painting an apple.’ The self-portraits of Pierre Halé

A really insightful article – about my husband’s paintings.

James Mulraine

Lately I’ve been having an interesting conversation at work about self-portraits with my colleague Pierre Halé.

Pierre has been painting all his life, but only started self-portraits in the last few months. I was amazed when I saw the first of these little canvas panels, each about 12 x 10 inches.


‘Self-portrait as a fisherman’ looks like someone in the background of a Caravaggio. It is superbly observed. The artist works the oil paint lusciously, sculpting his head as a three-dimensional object. The sense that we’re seeing the momentary play of light over a solid form gives the impression that this is a snapshot of time. It creates a real sense of presence, the spark of life in the viewer’s synapses where you can imagine the expression changing.

Self-portraits are often described (frequently by me) as being a self-advertisement, or a form of artistic self-therapy. Rembrandt – 120 self-portraits and counting…

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Nothing to Do in August

This is the micro-fiction (very short story) I entered for the Stirling Prize. I was really pleased to get third place and to be included in the anthology coming at the end of the year. I was also delighted with the judge, novelist Lesley Glaister's comments: "Some beautifully observed detail in this story which really captures... Continue Reading →

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