Tuesday 29 September 2020

Packing Up The Family Home


It may be one of the least discussed rites of passage, but is nonetheless loaded with emotional weight - clearing out the family home. 

With our dad having recently moved into a care home and our mum long-since passed, my brother Geoff put together a piece on sorting, sifting and cleaning half-a-century's worth of stuff at the beginning of summer, sometime in the middle of lockdown.

Among the masses of broken ornaments and faded certificates, we also found forgotten treasures and surprising glimpses into the lives of our parents. 

Part family portrait, part meditation on the nature of things and the charge they carry, 'Packing Up The Family Home' serves to remind us of just how far our homes provide the stage upon which so much of the joy and the tragedy of our lives is played out. 

It's not a book, but it's certainly a story that was worth telling. 

First broadcast last Thursday on BBC Radio 4 and now available on the BBC Sounds app. 

Wednesday 23 September 2020



In Death Of A Diva, published by Fahrenheit Press, Danny Bird has big plans and they all rest on the launch of his new pub where Lyra Day is set to kick off an evening of high camp with renditions of her long-distant greatest hits. Lyra hasn't read the script and choses the moment to leave with maximum impact, only her departure is not of her choosing. She's found poisoned by a pill even more bitter than she is and there don't seem to be many possible suspects to pin it on, Danny being right at the front of that queue. 

And so begins Danny's quest to solve the case. 

On his journey he meets a cast of grimly entertaining folk, each of whom has a story to tell. There's also a rather handsome policeman who Danny gets on with rather well and may well be the antidote to a heart that was broken by his former lover and the window cleaner. 

While there's a crime at the centre of the plot, it's not always centre stage. The murder is a vehicle that allows us to journey through a series of meetings and experiences in a way that made me laugh as much as anything else. The dialogue and description are packed with humour ranging from the pun to the straight gag to the innuendo. In many ways, the Britishness is reminiscent of the excellent Paul D Brazill and I reckon these two would make an ominous pairing should they ever choose to collaborate.

Very enjoyable and pleasingly light (in a dark kind of way).