I was asked last month by Samantha Verant to write a short story for Valentine’s Day. Samantha published her book, Seven Letters From Paris last year.

My story is a true one and you can find it here


“The rose is a rose and was always a rose”

Second Chances In Life

Writer, Photographer, Singer, Spy?

The observant amongst you will have noticed the title of this blog, “thelittlesummerofthequince,” a translation of the Spanish phrase “El veranillo del membrillo,” meaning Indian summer.

I am having my own Indian summer as I strive to become a writer and enjoy a second chance in life. This comes relatively late in my life after a long career in local government and a recently failed marriage and redundancy. Second chances in life can come much earlier though.

The new quince logo for this blog, launched today, has been designed for me by my niece, Elisabeth Murphy, a talented Fine Arts artist. She is 17 and currently applying to University. For a number of years she has been set on studying Fine Arts and had a clear idea on how she saw her future career. Her parents recently took her to Russia, to St Petersburg, to see the city’s great art houses and galleries.

During a visit to The Hermitage, Elisabeth’s attention was drawn to a small exhibition of the work of Annie Liebovitz , the leading contemporary photographer. The exhibition changed her life and she is now set on studying Photography. I was intrigued by her change of heart and fascinated by her reasoning. She is interested in capturing life in its most perfect form and her “still life”style of drawing illustrates this. She explained that when she saw Liebovitz’s work, she realised that her drawing could never match the perfection of the photographs and needed to become a photographer. As a writer I can understand her need to capture the beauty of life in all its layers.

My daughter, Ellie Larke, studied Drama at University but had not been totally convinced of this choice. She finished the degree course but by the end had already decided to change course and embark on a career as a jazz/folk/blues singer. She has chosen a hard course but I am impressed, not just by her undoubted talent, but also by her persistence, determination and spirit when faced by setbacks. She spent last summer touring the USA, catching her idol, Paul Simon, on his worldwide tour,playing gigs and researching the music scene. Singing is a specialised form of storytelling which engages the senses at a level beyond the reach of most writers and I envy her this ability.

My brother is a taxation expert who used to work in one of London’s tallest buildings in the City. For several years he managed to convince a friend’s young daughter that he was in fact a spy and the building doubled as the headquarters of MI5.

I recently reread John Le Carre’s ” Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, a classic spy novel featuring George Smiley, one of my literary heroes and I was struck by the similarities between fiction writing and spying.

The writer as a spy?  Well we do often strive to deceive the reader, good invariably confronts evil in our books and creative tension and plot are maintained and driven by conscience and morality. We all live double lives, our real lives and our lives as we see them and justify them to ourselves.

Stories, photographs, songs, espionage, they all form part of our everyday lives and define our existence.

The quince, as drawn by Elisabeth, is a bittersweet fruit, like life really.