Steampunk Shelf

Steampunk Shelf

A selection of things I bought since I started collecting things over 30 years ago. I have always loved victorian science, technology and knowledge.
As well as the Origin of Species, I have two chemistry books, Fowlers Phrenological Instructor, a general knowledge book and a teatise on trigonometry.
You can also see a set of brass weights, a circular slide-rule, a brass microscope and a chemical bottle.
Yes, I know it’s geeky, but it is fun.
I have quite a few other things too but I don’t want you to get too excited!


#FP – Friday Phrases

Image On Thursday, I followed David Buchan on Twitter (@Buchan_David_) who suggested I get involved with Friday Phrases (@FridayPhrases).

The idea is to “Tweet & RT 140-character stories, poems, story prompts, chain stories & other microfiction gems.”

It seemed like a good idea so I wrote several short pieces just for #FP. I would recommend it. The Tweeps involved were friendly and supportive and it was good fun.

As Twitter is a medium where writing gets lost, I have copied some of my #FPs here:

He danced with her in the dark. She snuggled into his neck.
‘To bed?’
She nodded.
He carried her upstairs and lowered her into the cot.

He wasn’t sure of the Pleasure-Pain principle, until now. The pain was excruciating but the pleasure! He died with a smile on his face.

The last Centaur! He admired the elegant creature; such grace, such poise, so much wisdom. He wanted to study it forever. He fired.

‘Dad, I hear banging, it’s scary!’
‘Back to bed! Mum & I are playing.’
His son went. He dragged the corpse further downstairs.

The full archive of the #FP I took part in can be found here.

81 words

I came across a website listing stories with exactly 81 words. I like 81 (it’s 9 squared and 3 to the power 4 – but that’s not important right now).
The website is  at
As I’m always looking for a new writing challenge, I decided to submit an entry. I quickly wrote something and submitted it. Later on, I read it, hated it and deleted it.
I learned that stories need time to mature. You can’t just knock them off and produce a masterpiece.
I re-wrote it. I’m not claiming it’s a masterpiece now but I certainly like it more.
I also found that there was a website run by Ofcom listing phone numbers for use by writers. It’s here by the way.

As he walked past an old-fashioned phonebox, the phone began to ring. Curious, he stepped inside and answered it.
‘Help me! I’m stuck.’ A woman’s voice; she sounded terrified.
He spoke to her but she did not reply.
A prank?
He replaced the handset and pushed the door to leave. It would not open. A notice read: ‘If you need help, call 01632 567384.’
He dialled and waited.
Fifty miles away, the phone inside an old-fashioned phonebox began to ring.

How did I get here?

As I sit in my room at 6:40am on a cold Sunday morning, I wonder what the hell I am doing!

It all started at Christmas, just two months ago, when I had an idea for a story. I often get ideas for stories but this time was different. It was different because I started to write it down.

Usually, I create stories in my head and say to my wife, ‘this would make a good book.’ She listens patiently, or not so, and I let it float away whilst I get on with my life.

So, what was different about this story? Nothing really. What was different was me. I decided that I was no longer ‘a reader’ but ‘a reader AND a writer’. To give you an idea how big this is for me: I last wrote a story at high school.

Now I’m near fifty and I’m suddenly calling myself a writer?

A writer – Someone who writes with the intention of sharing their writing.

An author – Someone who writes and has published their writing.

I don’t know if these are valid but, as I step into this exciting new world as a writer, I fully intend, one day, to be able to call myself an author too.

The Name

‘Oh no, not him. That can’t be the name, it can’t be.’

He started blankly at the paper. He read it again. The name called to him. It taunted him.

He had spent years hunting for the name. He had to know. He had pleaded and begged his mother to tell him the name but all she revealed were the briefest of details, nothing more. On her death-bed, she had given him a place, a time, a vague description.

It had been difficult to follow the clues, tracing his mother’s history. Who had she known? Where had she lived? He had spoken to hundreds of people. Followed clues, backtracked from myriad dead ends but always he persisted, driven by his need to know the name. He had read people’s intimate writing, their diaries and memoirs hoping to discover the name, somewhere. It had always been just one more clue away. Tantalisingly close yet unreachable.

The man who lay dying at his feet had been his last hope, driven mad by the frustration of not knowing, he had tortured him until he had revealed all.

Now he stood over him, reading the one diary that contained the name.

Staring down at the man, he realised what a monster he had become. His desire had consumed him.

As he closed the book, he heard the man’s final, dying breath. He looked down and spoke directly to him.

‘I’m sorry, father,’ was all he could say.