Apr 10th

Anyone spot any changes?

By Harry

Hi folks

You'll see that the banner at the top of the Cloud has changed, as have the menu options immediately below. So just to say a few things:

1) Do pop over to the new Jericho Writers site and take a look

I think you'll like it! Lots of you won't want or need the things offered under the membership umbrella, but I'd still be interested to know what you think.

2) Making the new Jericho Townhouse free (or very low cost)

That's still a very real possibility. We just can't commit to that until we've actually got some data on site revenues, use and all the rest of it. Don't worry of there's a bit of silence from us on that front for a while - a thriving, affordable community remains a priority for us

3) Do share!

We're about to start tooting about the new look us. If you can help by sharing news of our transformation (on FB / Twitters / websites) we'd really appreciate it.

4) And yes, we know . . .

As we actually complete the migration the WW website will gradually vanish, and the JW basically replace it. While that's happening (and being tested) you may get some weird results for a while. Don't worry. We're on it. I also know that the "Need more help?" column (bottom left) on the Word Cloud is out of date, but the collapsing software won't let me change that, so it is what it is.


When we make a final decision on how to maintain a peer-to-peer community on the new platform, y'all will be the very first to know.

Big love and squashy kisses to all


Apr 10th

Variety Theatre

By mike

      This is just a note for Secretspi but others might be interested. There is a great interest in popular music but the Victorian era is rather excluded from this.   This concern is Variety Theatre.  Had there been such a divide between classical music and popular music?


     On Friday, I attended the first night of a play - or rather the first night of its West End run. I think the play originated in Hampstead. The subject is that of the man who founded Glyndebourne Opera House.  The narrative is a tale of one man’s dream.

       The film Fitzcarraldo is about someone with a similar obsession.  I suspect the author of the play would agree with me.  The Surrey countryside is far removed from the Amazonian jungle but the dream is the same.

     During the play,  another opera company is mentioned - ‘The Carl Rosa Opera Company’ which predates Glynebourne.  The company still exists but like micro-breweries, I think it might only use the name.  The original company had quite a few connections with Sadler’s Wells. 

     In a ‘Who’s Who’ entry, my grandfather gives one of his occupations as that of 1st Violinist of the Carl Rosa Opera Company.  I was not able to check this, but it is possibly true.  The composer recalls playing in the orchestra pits of Australian theaters.  This would have been around the early 1990’s    What he recalls is Vaudeville - what we call Variety Theatre.

        The Coliseum in London is the home of the English National Opera - another descendant of the Carl Rosa Opera Company.   The Coliseum was built as a Variety Theatre - as were many theaters along the Strand.    On one of the walls of the Coliseum is a poster from, I think, the 1920’s.  It lists performances of Russian ballet along with jugglers and comic acts.  (I cannot remember the poster well)  

      I am not sure of the connection between Variety Theatre and opera but there might not have been such a great divide. Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas were originally performed at the Savoy in the Strand.  I am, however. no theatrical historian.  

       According to my grandfather, Verdi was sung in the streets as much as any ballad,  He heard Souza in America. Souza was  an influence, but so was Maori music.  He claims that is was music heard around the world that formed the melodies of his marches. 

     Perhaps my little jigsaw piece fits into a larger puzzle.

Apr 7th

Wildlife Walks

By Mat

dr1 [draft up during the day]


Sometimes a walk on your own outside in nature , in the countryside might be endurable, a pleasure even -  if there is a destination, but for me personally the aimless wander along a cliff only provokes the bleakest of feelings.  So, recalling the St John’s Wort and garlic in the hedgerow would not be sincere from my point of view.  Trickling brooks and twist of foot, no I cannot do it.

I’m sure any walk is enhanced a thousandfold with a dog, or a friend at your elbow.

But then I tell myself to man up, defend the honour of the billion eccentrics forced to take walks on their own, many of them are family members.

Here in my exile in the North of England, winter this year has been relentless stretching towards May.  Outside, the oldest folk are still wearing gloves and for my own part during my leisure walks to the supermarket I’ve still been wearing two jumpers and an anorak or sometimes my poet’s jacket if I’m feeling bold.  Thankfully I’m not wearing the spectacles like I did when we first moved here, although I still lack the confidence to purchase those Polish pickles down at Sainsbury’s lest anyone finds me Polish.  I learned my lesson with that scene the time wearing the All Blacks shirt and was bear-hugged by a Polynesian gentleman.  Won’t do that again.

SO, the walking.  I watched a good scrap a couple of weeks back, real traditional, two fellas both wearing the honourable sweats and grey, the discharge kit from the station, it’s  a fine look with the baseball cap, they were rolling in the road like the olden days.

One guy scrambled to his feet and chased after his wife in the aftermath,

‘I’ll remember your face, mate,’ he threatened over his shoulder.  His assailant or enemy, who knows, he was checking for knocks and by all appearances they’d cleared up some dispute.  My relief was that I had not stepped over the traffic lights and intervened, the community volunteer.

Twenty years ago in Bristol I intervened and ended up with a dog on my face, the guys stopped fighting and shared a smoke, giggling at this dick who’d wandered into scene and wrestled the dog.  That’s a recurring flashback, that one .

Country walks.  Beachy Head if you’re a poet is very distressing, the tiny wooden crosses on the headland.  But up here I have managed to scout my neighbourhood.  There’s a reputed mad woman keeps accosting my tiny wife at the corner shop, ‘high on drugs,’ says my wife.

‘Share the drugs,’ I say, but she says this woman at the corner wants to kill her so she won’t go outside at all.  I have to make all our messages as the savages a mere hundred miles away say, I think they do.

Yes, one end of the coast I walked up to the sea-life centre which is a little spooky with ‘ten penguins’ and ‘three octopussi’ it says on the placard, like Bedlam really.  I should go see the penguins when the sun shines.  Down the other end there’s a scar on the landscape where a hotel plunged into the sea, all the residents in the beds apparently, this local told me.  He looked out to the horizon, his dog was having a pee, he said you have to imagine a hundred bedsteds floating in the harbour, it was terrible for the local economy.

Anyway, I’ll walk a bit farther when the sun comes out in October and also have a swim or a widdle in the North Sea at some point which will be awful.  Just hanging in really for my ten thousand from the writing contest and my move to the South of France with my people, all best.

Apr 7th

A walk in a forest

By mike

I had posted this for Jill,  This computer does not post well and different spelling, punctuation and even words appear.   It is just to see if it comes out ina blog  This is a poem written about suburbia and decribes a walk next to a railway line.  I know the oak mentioned because it is opposite the entrance to the walk which begins though a subway unnder a railway line.   The poem is a bit deceptive as the poet was quitr capable of parodying Elliot and Betjamin and her poems for tiny tots were published in a magazne for teachers.


If you walk in the wood
To the ancient oak tree
Say, in springtime,
You will come upon primroses

 Dark violets and bluebells
And the frail white wood-anemone.

On this pathway, too,
Along the railway line
On summer days,
You can wander among the willow-herb,

Red campion and ragwort

And the yellow-petalled calandine.


There are blackberries to pick 

Where the narrow path dips,

 When autumn comes,
You will see michelmas daises 

Toadstools, mauve peppermint

 And a tangle of scarlet rose-hips.

If you walk in the wood
The wild flowers all gone
In winter time,
Look there for traveller’s joy
Snow-berries and heliotrope
And the great oak, full of tears, standing alone.


Apr 6th

Going deep...

By Squidge

Have been musing about something called 'Deep POV', which apparently is a modern(ish), conscious choice in how novels are written.

From the examples given in the article, I think I do a lot of the things that are described as deep POV, but I'm not convinced that it's a Thing all on its own. 

It sounds a bit like a combination of the closer end of psychic distance and more 'showing' than 'telling'.

The blog's here if you want to take a look at the articles I've linked to - would be interested to hear opinions from fellow cloudies.


Apr 5th

Yesterday & Signs of Spring

By Jill

Yesterday, happy and walking on air after seeing my GP for a follow up appointment, I decided to give myself a rest from all things in the house, including my writing.

The village in which we live has many lanes/footpaths and I took myself off for a walk around them.  I'd not done this for quite a while and was reminded just how lovely and beneficial such a walk can be.  I met no dog walkers; in fact I had the lanes to myself in which to exercise and enjoy the simple pleasures of Nature.

Solitude: a gift of time to simply be and observe the first signs of Spring.

Two butterflies: one pale lemon fluttering on the peripherary of a small wooded area; one tortoiseshell which, in the blustery wind, collided with my face but luckily did not get entangled in my hair and immediately made its escape to fly off again in its search for nectar.

Fresh blossom and green leaflets everywhere around me and Spring flowers waving in the wind.

The water in the river was high after the rains and it gurgled merrily, echoing my mood.  The ducks dabbled.

My mind turned to a time when we took our three year old first grandson to feed those ducks and I looked ahead to a Summer visit when perhaps our second grandson might like to do the same.  Or perhaps they could both join us for a walk and play Pooh Sticks from the height of the narrow iron bridge, from which that particular path gets its name.

I confess to a slight lump in my throat thinking about those young boys and wishing they lived nearer so that we could enjoy such pleasures more often.

Onwards I walked and came to the ancient village church and the churchyard.  Again, I felt a little emotional as I saw the fresh flowers on so many graves; flowers which must have been put there over the Easter weekend by relatives left behind to grieve.  However, a sense of love, history and spirituality surrounded me in those hallowed grounds.

Finally I reached home and looked around our garden at the flowers in bloom this Springtime and thought of the annuals we may plant for Summer colour and scent.  Perhaps a new wild flower corner to attract more butterlies and bees?

The walk had lifted my spirits further and I marked yesterday as a very good day indeed.  Today, seven o'clock, the clouds of dawn have mostly cleared and the sun has peeped out.  I feel this is going to be another lovely Spring day. 

Apr 4th

On writing the opposite sex...

By Squidge

We've had discussions on the cloud before about whether or not you can write convincingly as the opposite sex, so when this popped up on my facebook feed this morning, I had to share. 


Made me laugh, whilst also shaking my head despairingly...



Apr 3rd

April 2018's best writing competitions and opportunities

By Loretta Milan

Hi. I've put together another handy list of writing competitions and opporunities for writers. This one covers some of the best open during April and early May for novels, short stories, poetry and screenplays. Some are free to enter. 

Check out the list here

Best wishes.


Apr 3rd

Oompapa bands

By mike


     ( A note for someone who might use the Sevenoaks line into London.   If you have an appointment, it is best to catch a train to get to your destination one hour before you need too. Cancellations are frequent.  It does help that trains now stop at London Bridge.  There are  two platforms for trains to Charing Cross and they depart every few minutes.  Catching the Cannon Street train, if the Charing Cross one is either delayed - or late - is an option.  But this all might be known.)


    Either my computer  or world cloud had packed up so this might be a last post.

    This is really for secretspi if she is still around. She sets her novels in a reconstructed second world war.  Others of you are might be interested. This is about a source,

.    Films have always been an interest of mine, though I am no film historian.  

    The soundtracks to films seem a good indication of what music was popular at the time the film was made.   I refer to the incidental music and not the main score.

   It would be difficult to trace the composer or the work, especially if it is not known. Neither the composer - or the work - is credited at the end of the film.

    Brass band music was still played at seasides and in the pits of variety theaters well after the second world war.  The composers of the film scores also tended to score the music in this fashion too - rather jaunty music often played by the brass section.

    If you listen to the film scores of English films made during the war and its aftermath, you do get a cross section.  The music ranges from music hall to classical music and jazz.  English popular music ended in 1957.  This is the year  of ‘Look Back in Anger‘    It is also one year after Suez.

    ‘Rock around the Clock’ dates from 1955 but traditional jazz was very popular before then.  Acker Bilk recorded a version of my English grandfather’s march.  What dated his was the jazz age.  His music really belongs to 1893.

        Brass Band music is still played but it is not as popular as it had been.  I cannot remember their names, but composers and performers have often credited the start of their careers to performing in these bands.  James Galway was one of these performers and began his career playing the fife in a Belfast band.

    .   Brass bands were popular in the North of England.  A film called ‘Brassed Off’  was made in 1996.  If you look at the film score you can see that quite a few regimental marches are performed.  One of these is by Fukic - a German composer.  I have a feeling brass bands might be more popular in Germany than England.  My Dutch grandfather called these  “Oompapa bands‘   The Dutch are not known for their humour,

    Film music is quite popular now and a film is often shown with an orchestra playing a live accompaniment.   

    I recently saw film that was made  on location in the India of 1928.  It has a terrific modern score composed by the daughter of Ravi Shankar.  I think you will only see this film at a university or film club.  It is really for film junkies!  The film is called ;Shiraz’ 

Apr 3rd

A Critical Eye

By BenjamHope

I write a lot on the writing process and would be very interested to hear other people's thoughts and comments as I think it's a very important dialogue to have in a writer's development. Take a look at my other blogs on similar themes at www.benjamin-hope.com.

My most recent ponderings on the writing process:


Objectivity. It’s not really possible when it comes to your own work. You’re just too in it. Of course, you can develop editorial skills and nurture the ability to identify what works and what doesn’t. But that only takes you so far. For those working with a view to self-publishing then, who does one turn to for that truly objective voice? Is it a must to pay out for a professional editorial? There are certainly some fantastic resources available out there: Harry Bingham’s The Writers’ Workshop for one, offers such services. However, whilst they offer lots of great free advice and hints and tips – I would hugely recommend everyone to check them out (and their soon-to-be-launched Jericho Writers initiative) – editorial services come with an understandable charge. We all know you have to speculate to accumulate but where does this leave the writer working on a shoe-string budget?

Well, there are alternatives available. Peer feedback forums are an option that I’ve used. Whilst this isn’t akin to a professional editorial, it does provide valuable insight into how readers may receive your work. The fact that it’s blind feedback also ensures a greater degree of that all-important impartiality. Again, The Writers’ Workshop Word Cloud forum is one place to start. I have used YouWriteOn too which operates on a reciprocal basis: you review one user’s work; you gain a review credit to put against one of your writing uploads. The other benefit to these forums is the development of your own critical eye and editorial abilities. We all know reading is crucial to the writing process, but by regularly reviewing other writers’ work in this context, we are exposed to a breadth of content that we may not otherwise get when sticking to our usual reading habits. I found that by engaging with other’s work with an editorial eye – scrutinizing the narrative voice; language use; development of character; dialogue; setting etc – I have up-skilled myself. This, in turn, has led to greater honesty when it comes to self-editing.

There is a caveat to these sorts of forums though: whilst they are a great (and free) resource, the blind-review construct is a slightly double-edged sword. If you don’t know who is critiquing your work, how much value should you place in their feedback? I have found content (both in the writing I have reviewed and within responses to my own work) to vary hugely, from the insightful to the downright strange. Further, objectivity within feedback can be skewed when the individual confesses to hating the genre of the piece: one individual cited that they would never choose to read steampunk in the first place and so found it difficult to offer much in the way of useful comment. Perhaps that is feedback in and of itself, though I do think one has to consider the context in which the response is framed. Oh dear, I appear to be critiquing the critique…

What’s the answer then? One thing I do, is to revisit the reviewer’s own page to get a feel for their work: how I feel about their prose informs how I relate to their offerings on mine. I have now identified one particular fledgling author whose work I hugely respect. We reciprocate in offering a critical eye on each other’s work and have done so for some time now. Our writing styles/voices are very different though we both write within speculative fiction so I consider his views as the perfect foil. It’s only one other voice, but I value his honesty and objectivity and that can only be a good thing…


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