Nov 21st

Tony 'Bits' .... RIP...

By Old Fat Prop

It is with the tightest of lips that I announce that Tony 'Bits' has left this world for the next.

Tony passed in September due to complications of his complications of his many conditions.

Tony was well regarded and there are those in these parts, simple and direct souls, who have not accepted his death as acceptable and are questioning whether the hospital staff may have accelorated his demise.  

I dont envy anyone who, for what ever reason, clinical or economic, may have not done all that was expected with regard to the care Tony 'Bits'. But I digress. 

Once the shock and the lament passed for me, and the inevitable realization of my own demise was digested, I contemplated Tony 'Bits' impact upon my own life. 

There was a memorial service at the church as well as at the charity shop ... and the scrap yard in Swindon.

Me, and those like me, his friends, chose to rip the piss out of Tony and his ailments rather than to heap false empathy and sympathy on him.  We treated him just as badly as we do each other. We treated him equally bad.

Recently, on the Cloud on the Friday Laugh, I have seen  those, who like me, have made light of mental and physical disability. And I have seen those who are uncomfortable with it.  

My mate Noah has Downes Syndrome. He is three now and he is the second bravest soul I have ever encountered. He is my niece/god-daughter's son and, although his parents are supportive of him, his grandfather has not been capable of accepting his circumstances. 

His mother is fiercly protective of him and to date, Her-indoors and I are the only ones she has trusted with looking after him overnight. 

When I take him to town, I can see, when I introduce him to people, how they respond. Some are openly kind and yet others are guarded or awkward with it.

From this, I have begun to introduce him as My Favourite Vegetable. I openly joke of his condition to let people get used to it and to help them accept him. This seems to help people accept and come to terms with him. Hopefully they will help him in life. Hopefully I will not have to help anyone come to terms with his condtion.

In honour of Tony and Noah and the burdens they faced and will face with their conditions, I give you the reprise of my old blog.

For without them, my life would be lesser.

Prop’s Pubs# 14


The Swan, Radcot


Tony Bits.



Downstream from Mudflat are a number of villages along the county border. I was passing that way as I was coming back home from picking up some Land Rover parts over in Cirencester. It was a drive I had done several hundred times over the years, Land Rovers being what they are.


I pulled in to The Swan near Radcott to wash the dust from my mouth as I normally did. I ducked my head through the 18th century doorway and walked to the bar. To my request, the barman poured me a pint of Weston’s Much Marcle Cider.  Things were looking up.


I took the top off the pint, well, maybe the top quarter and I turned around, happily in that fleeting bliss that all men know when holding their first pint of the day.  The bar was traditional in the sense that John and Beth, the owners, had never invested money to modernize it and thus didn’t have to spend money later to traditionalize it. The low ceiling and exposed beams gave to some, a sense of claustrophobia but it never bothered me.


I looked around to pay respects to all and I noticed Tony ‘Bits’ sitting at a table over near the fireplace. Tony was there with his black lab, Brutus, having a late morning pint and looking at a local newspaper. Tony was a mess, he had several physical disabilities, some genetic and most acquired. He lost his arm in an industrial accident, the settlement of which provided him a small pension.


Tony, among other things, has a prosthetic arm. He bought it at an estate sale after losing his National Health Service one when he rode his bicycle into the Kennet and Avon Canal after last year's cider festival.

It is a second-hand hand. And it is three sizes too big. He refused to part with it and the waiting list on the NHS for a replacement of a prosthetic limb lost while drunk is quite long in the west of England.


He spent hours one morning last winter shaping the hand bit into a grip which would hold his pint glass. Finally, he was ready to unveil the new arm on the world, or as he knew it, them lot down the pub.


We had stopped in there on our long way home from a match in Cirencester to lick our wounds and anything else we could get near.



He looked like a fiddler crab when he came to the pub and everyone started to hang their coats and hats on his great big claw thing...

Tony clumped up to the bar and ordered a pint from the coffee machine ... the lens on the left side of his glasses had fogged up and that is the only eye he can see out of. Finally, Beth came over and put a pint of Pheasant Plucker in front of him and Tony reached into his pocket for the price of it with his lesser bad hand, (the live one) and while turning around, his claw swept three pints of cider to the floor.

Shouts and screams followed and Tony didn't get much change from his £20 note after Crazy Ron, Doug’l Watson and Dave Taylor demanded restitution. The change he did get, trickled through his plastic fingers and into the spilled cider on the floor.


Doug’l,  (so named not as a contraction for Douglas or Dougal but as a contraction of ‘Doug will’ because Doug’l fuck anything, ) picked up the wet change and put it in his pocket.


Finally, all was settled and Tony, through fogged lens, aimed his claw (known affectionately as 'Thing' as inspired from the Addams Family) at his pint. The room slowed to silence, pool games and conversations stopped, the telly sound was reduced.

Tony’s one good eye seemed magnified as it winked and rolled in concentration at Thing and the pint as the distance between them closed.

With the skill and daring of the Gemini 8 Astronauts, Tony connected Thing with the Pheasant Plucker. The silence was tangible. We were seeing not just Tony connecting Thing to his pint, we were seeing mankind's perseverance over adversity.

It was Barnes Wallace. It was Winston Churchill. It was Johnny Wilkinson....


The claw swept around, Thing steadfast, and the pint level.


Tony pursed his lips in anticipation for his reward as the pint drew nearer.


The tension and anticipation was unbearable… He strained, he squeaked a bit, and he even stood on his toes…..

The determination, the genius, the perseverance...

… the arm was too long and he couldn't get the pint to his mouth.







Nov 21st

Sold like deodorant?

By SecretSpi
For everyone that is weary of social media platforms, amazon rankings, USPs, author profiles, GoodReads reviews and Facebook likes, here's Ursula Le Guin.

An inspiring 6 minutes. Click here to see. 
Nov 20th

Mulling...and not just wine!

By Squidge
Am at the point where I can start a new writing project - above and beyond the Kansas comp - but there's lots to think about.

Mused about it on the Scribbles... 
Nov 20th

Hopefully helpful blog

By Scarlett

Hi Guys,

I was reading this blog last night and I found it quite helpful and quite accurate with details. This would be a good blog for new writers because she covers the basics and doesn't go into to much detail and blow your mind. But she is based in America so not sure how much her getting and agent/publisher information is correct for this country.

She just gives some basics "rules" on writing.

Her Blog:

Her youtube Videos -


Hope this helps

Scarlett xxx

Nov 18th

Ok I don't get it

By Nibs
Is it just me?  I just don't get it?  Don't get pc's.
I can tap and write away in the blog space but I can't, from any computer of mine work or at home 'PASTE' anything copied into this box.

I've recently, out of necessity had my pc upgraded and wondered if this had anything to do with it? My desk top is working on windows 7 while my baby laptop is operating on windows 8.

I want to blog a short script for comments,
Now I've tried on my Laptop, desktop and works desk.
I've tried pasting from word, pdf, final draft - what else is there to try?

Word cloud organisers tell me they are able to do it and no one else has had a problem.
So can any one advise - have tried all the obvious as well as above, but perhaps theres s pc guru out there in cloudville who can suggest I try something else.
Otherwise, I'm about ready to give up.
Nov 16th

history research

By mike
This is a bit related  to the previous blog.   
Last week, someone lent me a password and I was able to access the digital archive of a Sunday newspaper.   For some reason,this newspaper had not been included on 'Ancestry' or any other family research web-site.
 A great-great grandfather wrote leaders for this paper and because he had a byline, I was able to access them. 
Even before I got this password, I had an idea in my mind.  I  had the idea of using these leaders as a plot.
   A book doctor at York suggested that my non-ficton writing might fit into a particular genre - 'creative-nom fiction - and I think he is right.
   If you take it that the past is visible in the present, then my great-great grandfather is visible in me, but the leaders are visible in the present too.
   The text is not scannable and I have typed the first three leaders out.  There seems to be a theme emerging - parliamentary reform. 
   But where is the story?   A problem emerges - at least for me.   The leaders mention names and events.  Who is this?  Where is that?   
    I think I might be able to form a relationship with this great-great grandfather.  I would be the foil.   (A subsidiary character who emphasizes the traits of a main character.  Wiki definition)
Has anybody come across anything similar?  I don't have models for what I write.  
      A book doctor at York gave me a big boost  when he praised my writting style .  ( This was over a novel I had written during the time of the punks. )  
      The book is fiction, but it is travel writing!  



Nov 16th

Boozing. Drunk on words

By mike

About a month ago I read an essay by Emma Darwin about alcohol and writers.  Instead of urging caution on not exceeding the limit for safe driving, I went OTT, and posted some lines by a grandfather:

    ‘Had Shakespeare told my Godlike form, his theme
     Had frothed to such rich,  heady wine -
     God wot!  a bottle bursting in his head.."

    (i have taken these lines out of their context.  They come from as poem about total poetic despair - absolute rock bottom)

   Would Shakespeare have ‘told my Godlike form?”  Would he have written about my grandfather?  Suppose the form is that of a poet trying to write a successful poem?   I think Shakespeare would have considered  this particular theme.  Of course, this would depend on what sort of poem the poet is trying to write and what  sort of role  the poet thought poets ought to play.   The poets’ role might be, for example, Shelley’s comment that ‘poets are the ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world.’  
      Would Shakespeare’s poet be the fool?
     I doubt Shakespeare would have considered the modern muse, or the high romantics‘ view of God.  I think he might still have inhabited a universe in which the religion of the Catholics still held sway - despite the reforms of Henry V111 and his daughter.   But a High Romantic might well fit Shakespeare’s remit.   It is the voyage that is important.  Is it possible that Hamlet is a precursor to the High Romantics?  I think this unlikely.   
 I have seen about a dozen Shakespeare plays this year and have read books on Shakespeare  - and the background to the plays that I saw.

Please excuse my writing  This is a blog not an essay.  It takes me ages to write a proper sentence.

P.S.  I had been sent for psychiatric assessment because I had fallen in love.  The whole thing was a bit of an anti-climax.  I was hoping for P.G Wodehouse.
 But I have removed myself from the problem and it is solved.( Hopefully.)
I  have the emotions of Spock from Startreck.  What would have happened if he had fallen in love?   I recently read 'The Rosie Project' and this came close.
  From the genetic point of view,   I  have a an inheritance from a chain of six writers - two of my great-grandparents were brothers so I might have inherited writer's problems.  Who knows?  (But this was research.  I am trying to get into the head of a great, great grandafther at the moment.)

Nov 15th

Double inciting incident?

By Hil

A while ago I blogged about inciting incidents, hooks and set-ups.

I've just been for a walk, partly to combat writer's bottom and writer's addiction to chocolate and cake, and partly to mull over some thoughts about my new novel. (Ooh! New novel!) And I've come up with the following question:

In a dual narrative novel with two timelines, would you have two inciting incidents, one for each timeline? And does it make any difference if the MC of both timelines is the same person - one in childhood and one in adulthood? And... in such a novel, would one of the timelines/narratives always have to be the 'main' one, or could they have equal weight?

Yes, I know that's three questions. Questions generally lead to more questions, I find...



Nov 12th

What I'm doing instead of NaNoWriMo

By Squidge
I've been a bit quiet on the cloud recently - been concentrating on getting some words sorted, but not with NaNoWriMo! If you'd like to read about it, pop over to the Scribbles...

Nov 11th

The Lords and Ladies of the Manor Request the Pleasure of your Company

By Caducean Whisks

To a gathering of Clouds over Oxfordshire.

Last year, over twenty Cloudies congregated in an Oxford pub for a day of chin-waggery, writer-talk, drink, food and more drink. We went for a meal in the evening and then our separate ways - some to F&F, others to B&B, and a few navigated Oxford’s Park&Ride and fought their way home.

We had so much fun that we thought we’d do it again. Only this time, we’re adding tiaras and moustaches and hot tubs and comfy sofas and much more room. 

Many people said they’d like to come for the day, but couldn’t commit for longer. However, nine of us did fancy making a deal of it, so we held our aristocratic noses and jumped - headlong into a huge Manor Hall which we’ve hired for a long weekend together, and where we would like to invite passing Clouds to join us for Saturday 7th March 2015, to rain on our parade and make it extra splashy fun. 

To introduce ourselves, your hosts are:

Lord Mashie Niblick*
Lady Noodledoodle
Lord Athelstone
Lady Sandra
Lord Bazbaron
Lady GippsGirl
Lord Settlednomad
Lord DyslexicofDartford
Lady CaduceanWhisks

*Lord Noshlock of Mushie has informed me (via Debretts) that his full title is Lord Mascherbrum of Niblick - sadly too late to change the type-setting of this Press Release.

We’ve thought through the day, come up with various ideas, and are waggling our ears for more. 

So details are subject to tweaking, but our tentative plan is this:

- Open house from 11am on Saturday. 

- Since we’re out of town, please bring a plate of food to share - or your own lunch at least and/or nibbles for the afternoon. We will have a fully equipped kitchen so will be able to heat up pizzas and samosas, defrost frozen things, whip up an Angel Delight, any prep you want to do. You can even make a cake on site, if you want to. We’ll have plenty of glasses, crockery, cutlery, and so on.

- Please also bring your own drink. Whatever you like, in sufficient quantities to make you happy. We will have tea and coffee, water and a kettle on tap, but anything else is up to you and should work out a lot cheaper than pub prices. Lord Settlednomad will be coming from France and is taking orders for wine boxes. He’s also offered to bring some French cheeses and charcuterie for us. However, he’ll only have so much space in his car, so ask him if you’d like. Oops - he’s just sold his car and bought a van. Not just for us, though.

- Share the Manor Hall and all its facilities - gracious rooms, acres of grounds, billiards, table football, table tennis, gym(!), ironing board, and everything else that’s included.

- But more importantly - flop into armchairs, stroll out, explore, mingle, chat, meet writer friends in the flesh, make new friends.

- There will be a tandem story on the go on a flip-chart (supplied by Lord Bazbaron) where passing clouds are welcome to add a few lines; and we’ll blog it afterwards. 

Lord Bazbaron is also a Master Baker and we’re prevailing upon him to demonstrate his skills.

- Lord Athelstone is organising a competetive session of readings for those who’d like to share bits of their writing (jostle and vie?), entitled, The Great Fizz Competition. He has generously offered to donate a bottle of fizz, which is not to be sneezed at.
This will be during an ear-marked portion of the day and may be round the fire, after lunch, at dinner, or whenever he sees fit. He’ll announce details in due course. Lady Sandra is also involved in in-house entertainment and may be approached.

- If anyone would like to offer a writing exercise for us all, feel free. I’m also happy to run again, the one I did last year - anybody who’s already attended it, please keep quiet - you know what I mean :) I’d arrived so late that I was in a bit of a faff and missed out much of what I wanted to say afterwards. I’ll rectify that if I can. Or come up with another one.

- At some point during the day, AlanP will announce the winner of the current writing challenge, ‘We’re not in Kansas any more’, on the Cloud - whether or not he’s present at the Manor. Expect back-clapping.

- I will be setting up some of my (in)famous homemade liqueurs shortly, and hope that they mature by March. If so, you are welcome to partake. Hic. I shall also be wandering around with a clipboard, having kittens in random places.

- In the evening, we could stroll down to the local gastropub for a meal together, and we all pay for ourselves - or split the bill - as normal. Or we could order in take-aways if we want to carry on chatting. Or even hire caterers. Or do all three, depending on what individual people prefer. Lady GippsGirl will run with that.

- We have a couple of musicians in our midst, who may treat us to a rendition (Lord DyslexicofDartford and Lord Settlednomad - who has later corrected his description to ‘introverted strummer’). I think the word ‘jam’ was also used. And ‘gig’. Along with ‘smashing guitars’ and ‘driving a car into the hot tub’. Not sure what that means. Am polishing up my monocle and peering at a dictionary of colloquial terms.

- The Lords and Ladies have each stumped up several hundred pounds to secure the venue and the weekend, and we’re deliriously happy to have you with us. 

It was previously discussed on the Get Together group, that there may be some small charge for day-trippers. However, now that plans are firming up, we don’t feel comfortable asking an entry fee, and would rather foster a spirit of mutual generosity. So there will be a pot, er, somewhere, where you can make a small donation if you so wish. Or not. Nobody will be looking. So is there a cheaper writing day to be had? OK, OK, no book doctors, no agents, just us.
Nota bene: book doctors and agents most welcome in their private capacity, if they'd like a day off.

Sound good? Well, it gets better. 

Oxford is a long way away for most of us. It was one of the reasons we picked it last year - equally hard to get to. 

Our Manor Hall is apparently a 20 min drive from Oxford (bit like the Park&Ride, then?). There are taxis, minibuses and coaches. 

Zorbing is available in the vicinity, so if you would like to zorb into our midst, feel free to steal one, as long as you don’t mention me.

There is also Brize Norton airfield nearby, if you would prefer to come by private jet, but you must book in advance. 

We could organise a group pick-up by car from Oxford station (Lady Noodledoodle is in charge of that), depending on demand, but not necessarily a group drop-off, since we may have mislaid our legs by then.

For those who don’t want to limp home drunk in the dead of night, there are other possibilities. 

There are B&Bs in the area. See here:,-1.5670238,13z 

Or, OR: We Lords and Ladies would be happy to offer hospitality for the Saturday night/Sunday morning, which will include Lord Mashie Niblick’s famed rolling brunch to set you up for your trip back. 

The House has extra single beds, into which you are invited to flop. It will mean sharing (rooms, not beds), since all bedrooms are taken by the Lords and Ladies, but we each have spare beds in our own rooms. Or we may cuddle up and reprise our student days, in order to free up a dormitory-style room or three. There’s a bunk-bed or two - you could be a child again and bagsy the top bunk. Or we have sofas, if anyone would prefer not to share. It could be enormous fun - no telling ghost stories in the middle of the night, please. And nobody get the giggles! 

One of the bedrooms is at the fulmination of two staircases, which we hope won’t lead to confusion, since one L&L is known to sleepwalk [name redacted]. Some rooms have en-suites, others have easy access to a shared bathroom. Sofas have free access to all public bathrooms, as well as the kitchen. And Garden Room. And Conservatory.

Space is naturally limited and how we sort out the bed situation will depend on take-up, so let us know asap if you’re a bitter-ender and would like to crash. I know I am! 

Lady Noodledoodle and Lord Mashie have both offered hangover Reiki on Sunday morning, for those in dire need. Although how Lord Mashie will manage that while scrambling eggs, remains to be seen.

If you wish to prolong the fun and stay over with us by the log fire in the warmth of our very own Manor, we would ask a contribution of £50 pp, please, which includes a substantial breakfast.

Anybody interested, please make yourselves known - either here, or in private to a L&L of your choice. First come, first serve.

Anybody wishing to be a full Lord or Lady for the whole 3-night weekend - Friday 6th March to Monday 9th March - please enquire of one of us.

There are several other houses on the estate, and if demand is there, we could take another one as well. Get your name down pronto, if this might be you; we’d appreciate an idea of numbers - especially for the sleepover.

We’re making this up as we go along, you know. Any other suggestions for anything else, most welcome.

One other thing. 

Ladies, feel free to wear a tiara and get your pearls out of hock. Gents, bring your medals and moustaches. Or the other way around. We are modern Lords and Ladies, and not prone to prejudice. As the Dowager Countess of Grantham confirms, the aristocracy is not known for its intransigence. The aristocracy also has a long history of shielding gents in tiaras and ladies with moustaches. These things blow over.

Here’s the address: The Cotswold Manor Estate, Lower Farm, Lew, Nr Bampton, Oxfordshire, OX18 2BB 

Here’s the website - click on the Manor HALL:

Here’s the Gastropub: - you could join us there, if you wish to come only for the meal.
All most welcome.

So what we'd like to know in the first instance, is:

- who's coming for part or all of Saturday?
- who wants to stay overnight?

Be there or be square. 



P.S. I'll create an Event in due course. 


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