Monday, 19 November 2012


Will continue to write the odd post until someone discovers this site exists. Just had an email chat with a recent new friend today, Renata Barcelos, and decided to look at her blog.  What a surprise I got!!  Not only a talentend writer but a gifted sculptress in marble as well.  Check out her's fascinating and clearly the work of someone with a very artistic temperament.

I have just read her new book (My Sore Hush-a-Bye) and wrote the following review:


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5.0 out of 5 stars An Absorbing, if Harrowing, Read., 16 Nov 2012
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I am a seventy-five year old man, reasonably well educated and psychologically sound. For the past few evenings I have been inhabiting the mind of a socially inept teen-age girl. This should have been an alien landscape for me, a place where I would have expected to be bemused, awkward, perhaps even uncomfortable. I have just finished Renata Barcelos's new book, 'My Sore Hush-a-Bye' and, thanks to the writing skills of Ms. Barcelos, I found the experience fascinating.

This is a book that can be read on several levels. The writing, simple, direct, fast-paced, is cleverly pitched throughout to represent the internal musings of a young girl. On the surface, the naive, unsophisticated retrospections of this simple black girl are mundane in their very ordinariness. But lurking below the simple tale of Camille's life with Uncle Bob is a burgeoning foreboding that is never explicit but hurtles inevitably towards an unspeakable truth. Such is the writer's skill that, despite the fact that we are seeing the victim's existence through her own rose-tinted viewpoint, the reader remains in constant dread that explicit and unsavoury details must inevitably present themselves. There are places in the book where I would rather not have continued reading for fear of what might transpire but throughout Barcelos relies solely, and with great effect, on the power of suggestion.


Subtle though the clues are, however, it does not take the reader long to divine Uncle Bob's character and to realise that all his kindnesses are simply part of the pervert's 'grooming' process.

Despite the artful simplicity of the writing, My Sore Hush-a-Bye can also be read as a serious examination of the Stockholm Syndrome. This syndrome refers to a group of psychological symptoms that occur in hostage victims, the most common of which is the victim's adaptation to the perspectives and behaviours of the captor, usually resulting in an emotional dependence when the captor shows any kindness. Close reading of My Sore Hush-a-Bye reveals many of these unconscious behaviours in Camille who comes to believe that Uncle Bob is the only person in the world she can trust and love.

The reader begins to fear for Camille's safety when it becomes obvious that she has "grown too old" for her paedophile captor. What awful fate does he have in mind for her, especially when he finds a 'new love'? This ratchets up the tension and readers will find themselves racing through the rest of the book seeking, hoping for, an outcome different from the tragic end that so often occurs in such situations in real life.

This is not my normal choice of reading material but in the safe hands of Renata Barcellos it is an absorbing, if harrowing, read. I can safely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good read and is willing to move away from their customary genre.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

From childhood I suffered constant abdominal pain.  No doctor could ever diagnose the problem...that is, until I met George Johnston in 1972.  I was seriously ill then. He told me I had problems with my liver and he carried out an experimental operation which brought me great relief for a time. 
In the summer of 1974 the pains returned.  I soon regained that sickly, deep, yellow colour.  The whites of my eyes turned pure yellow as well.  I was quickly back in the Royal Victoria and subjected to the usual battery of blood tests, X-rays, and other investigations.  I was back in Ward 16 and lay there, thoroughly miserable.  It was as if I had never left.
Yet again I have to relate an incident that many will claim can easily be explained by natural and spontaneous bodily functions.  Nevertheless, the contiguity of events, the way things fell into a synchronous time pattern, has often caused me to reflect on the manner in which events slightly-beyond-normal have affected my life.  A couple of days after my return to Ward 16, an important Professor, accompanied by a substantial retinue of housemen, nurses and a Registrar, stopped by my bed.  He had my file in his hands.  After greeting me quite pleasantly, he said, “Your condition is quite serious, Mr. O’Hare.  I think we’ll have to operate right away.”
          Innocently I asked, “Will Mr. Johnston be doing the operation?”
“No!  Mr. Johnston is on holiday.  He is not due back until August. I will be operating myself.”
          Again in total innocence, and perhaps with a touch of desperation, but merely stating what I was feeling, I said, “With the greatest respect to you, Professor, I am sure you are quite brilliant at what you do.  But I have developed an enormous trust in Mr. Johnston.  I really would prefer to wait until he returns.”
It was only when several of his retinue recoiled in horror, while others stared at each other aghast and looked as if they wanted to dive under the various nearby beds, that I gathered that what I had said might have been deemed untoward.  In those days Consultants and Professors were the nearest things in hospitals to demigods, especially in a significantly famous hospital like the Royal Victoria. Mere mortals such as myself rarely spoke to, much less questioned, one of these deities.  Nonetheless, ignoring the consternation around me, I gazed in placid expectancy at the Professor as I awaited his response. 
He seemed somewhat nonplussed and, a touch uncertainly, he said, “As I said, Mr. O’Hare, your condition is very serious and Mr. Johnston will not be back for a month.  An immediate operation is almost certainly necessary.”
 I was becoming quite frightened now.  I could not tolerate the idea of anyone other than George operating on me.  I had little technical knowledge of my condition other than what I had gleaned from my conversations with George but, grasping a little desperately at straws, I asked, “Supposing the bile starts to flow again and the jaundice recedes, would it be O.K. then to wait for Mr. Johnston to return?”
         I can still see the Professor’s face.  He wasn’t doing anything but I knew he was metaphorically pulling at his hair and wondering how he could possibly have allowed this discussion to occur. “But…but…there’s no justification for…”
“Theoretically, sir?” I pressed. I had no idea why I was asking these questions.  They were in my head and they seemed important. 
The Professor wanted away from this. He said, “We’ll check with you again on Sunday evening.  If your condition hasn’t changed, we’ll have to operate.”
         A man of his hauteur could never allow himself to be seen to run but, I have to say, his departure did not have the same regal pace as his arrival.
         What happened after that was a little odd…strange…mysterious.  I had heard somewhere that with the application of sufficient mental force we can affect and influence the way our bodies function. There was something of this in my head as I questioned the Professor.  That was on Friday.  All of that night and during the next couple of days, I willed my bile ducts to unblock themselves and to allow the bile to flow.  I did not say any prayers nor ask for divine help.  It did not occur to me to do so.  I just lay interminably on my bed, concentrating on my condition, and mentally willing something to happen.
            The Professor returned on Sunday evening.  I had had blood tests a couple of times a day and he was reading my most recent results.  He expressed surprise at them, quoting some numbers relating to ‘enzymes’ and stating that my ‘biliruben’ count had dropped remarkably.  On top of that, he could see for himself that my jaundice was clearly receding.  Given the fact that there were no bile ducts left outside my liver to work with and that any operation would thus be experimental at best, he felt that  ‘the most appropriate course of action would be to do nothing’. They would observe my recovery over the next couple of days and, if my spontaneous recovery continued to progress, I would be sent home.
            I recall feeling no surprise at this. It was exactly what I had expected would happen.  I did not question it at the time.  I was relieved that no-one other than George Johnston would be poking around in my insides.  I did not consider that the event had anything of a spiritual dimension.  In fact, I had been telling the story for years as testament to the power of the mind over matter.  But reflecting on it now, I am not so sure, particularly when a week after the date I was told that George would be back from his holidays, I was back in Ward 16 in worse state than ever.  Did something in me, or outside of me, hold my condition in abeyance until George would be there to decide what to do about it?  I fully believed at that time that the hiatus was due to the power of my will.  Now I wonder if divine intervention was the cause because what George Johnston was to do after that was new, inventive, remarkable, and was to have an immense and far-reaching impact on the rest of my life.  I have little doubt that the Professor, given the originality and novelty of what George was to do, could never have dealt with the problem.

Friday, 9 November 2012


Hi all!   On author forums I have met some new friends, very nice people. They have been helping me to consider blogging as a way of communicating with people "out there' and as a way of marketing my books (not many yet!!)

Both of these lovely ladies are themselves writers and bloggers.

You can find Renata on:

and Carol on:

Both write very different stuff from me and from each other.  Readers who like to get to meet authors should try their websites.  They are very approachable people indeed.