A Love Letter To Red Dwarf

DwarfDVDsI’m going to be a bit sad when Red Dwarf XII ends. It’s the only telly I make a point of watching at the actual time it’s on. I’ve long been a fan of the boys from the Dwarf. I hadn’t realised how far I’d slid into nerdiness but when I look at the evidence I realise I’ve gone the full Dwayne Dibley.

It was slow at first. I revised for my A Levels watching my Red Dwarf videos because I couldn’t concentrate in silence. Thankfully I didn’t go into the exam room and write “I am a fish” four hundred times.

A year or two later I would test prospective boyfriends by if they liked Red Dwarf or not. You could say I had a no red, no bed policy. My favourite episode is Parallel Universe from series 2. I love the way it played with gender roles.

In my first term at Reading University my sister and I went to see Norman Lovett. We were so excited to see Holly in the flesh.


Then I joined Twitter just to find out when new Red Dwarf was on. The following is an extract from my personal diary; “Friday 24th August 2012 – I ordered my wedding dress today. For dinner we had bacon sandwiches. In the evening I joined Twitter. I’d been planning to join for a while so I can promote my book. I joined Twitter today because Red Dwarf will announce when the new series is soon if lots of people retweet about it”.

Red Dwarf has made its way into my own writing. It gets 28 mentions in my trilogy of Cleo Howard diaries and 17 mentions in my Eviscerated Panda Saga. Here are a few of these;



At 9pm tonight I’ll be putting on my London Jets T-shirt and escaping into space for half an hour with Listy, Rimmsy, Cat and Kryten, ready to share the ups and downs of their intergalactic soap opera. In December I’ll be asking my mum for a Red Dwarf DVD for Christmas, like I’ve done many times before. I’ve had hours of pleasure aboard the small rouge one!




Terminus at The Bell, Bicester, Saturday 7th October 2017

IMG_6765.JPGThe music in the van on the way to the gig was Spinal Tap. Hearing St. Hubbins sing “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight” always puts me in a good mood. Load in was easy with no stairs. The stage in The Bell has low beams and I hoped no-one would bang their head (or if they did it would be very gently but look funny and be caught on film so Terminus could make £250 on You’ve Been Framed). The Bell is a 17th Century inn and is a proper job of a pub and Terminus are playing there for the first time. While setting up they were asked “Do you do Bon Jovi’s Summer Of ’69?”* which amused me.

Their first set opened with The Cult’s Lil’ Devil (which is currently used on an EasyJet advert. I wonder if this will make it more or less popular with audiences in future?) By song three, Gary Moore’s “Walking by Myself”, some great dancing had broken out. Local DJ Chris King spent some time on tambourine and by half way through the first set it was clear that the Bicestonians in The Bell are really keen for a good night out. I spoke to a friendly couple who had come in at lunch time for two drinks after shopping and then stayed. I hope they hadn’t bought any frozen food.

The Terminus signature tune of Rose Tattoo’s “Sweetmeat” with its grind, wiggle wiggle dance went well. I’m wearing in some new DMs, but due to all the other noise no one heard them creak while I was dancing. I can thank St. Hubbins (the patron saint of quality footwear) for this.

IMG_6725Set two opened with Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” and then it was classic rock and metal all the way. There was a spontaneous guitar off between Liam and John. As the crowd cheered for one and then the other I reflected that it was the time of  night when people will amiably cheer at the slightest provocation. Hurrah! Yay! Woo-hoo!

A girl standing next to me correctly guessed the last song would be Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name”. It got bouncy on the dance floor because everyone loves shouting “Flip you, I won’t do what you told me” on a Saturday night when they’ve had a few Honey JD and lemonades. After this there were shouts of “More!” and I thought don’t let The Bell end.


The gig in brief:

Number of Motörhead T-shirts in venue: 2

Number of crisps flavours available behind bar: Loads, there’s traditional potato plus Monster Munch, Quavers and Mini Cheddars.

Interesting design features: Textured wallpaper in ladies loo, fireplace and kettle on stage behind drummer.

Excitement causing sentence of the night: “Did you know Bicester has a Wimpy?”


*No, but we’ll have a go at Bryan Adams’ Livin’ On A Prayer 😉

Free Christmas Short Stories Kindle ebook 1st October 2017

TtTYtC Cover 6Sept2015I’ve written a book of 24 short stories about Christmas and made it free to download today on Amazon. Just use the links below if you’d like a copy (links open in a new window):

Tales to Take You to Christmas UK link

Tales to Take You to Christmas US link

It’s got all my love of Christmas in it! It can be used as a readable advent calendar if you read a story per day from the 1st of December.

I ho ho hope you enjoy it!




SYKKOEP1West Midlands four piece SYKKO DOLLZ have recorded a slice of solid hard rock happiness. It’s so catchy it’s like peanut butter on the inside of your brain. It’s like 1988 in better trousers. It’s an awesome foursome of party music.

It starts with “Cheap Trick Baby” which is full of guitar that will play in your memory long after you’ve finished listening to it. Then we get “Riding All Night” which makes you remember when music was exciting and musicians were outlaws. What are they riding away from? Why do they have to do it all night? Is there not a Travelodge nearby? Who cares, we’ll follow them anywhere by the end of the second verse, even though they claim “Life ain’t easy when you’re riding all night”.

SYKKOEP2Next up, “She’s My Girl”, a satin heart of knicker loosening romantic warbling. It’s Valentine’s Day in musical form. One line especially drew my attention, I can’t tell if Gaz is singing “I’ve got a feeling in my bones” or “I’ve got a feeling in my balls”, but either way it’s a pleasant sentiment. You can listen on Spotify to “She’s My Girl”. Finally “I Win You Lose” is an anti-bullying anthem with a chorus full of wisdom. It’s got drumming like feet running away from a sad situation towards an improvement.

I’ve seen the Dollz live five times and it’s always been fun. Sometimes the experience includes clowns distributing shots. Always it includes a great Singer, Gaz Harris (who you might recognise from his previous vocal work with the Gypsy Pistoleros and Wrathchild UK), a flamboyantly coiffured bassist Neil Franklin, the drumming whirlwind Connor Laight and guitar star Aaron Laight. The Dollz are starting to attract plum support slots and are on the rise, don’t miss them when they come to your town!

Terminus and Sykko Dollz at the Chill Bar, Ilfracombe, Saturday 9th September 2017

IMG_6301.JPGHave you ever lived life on the dirty side of midnight with some salsa dancing pirates? It’s a lot of fun but keep an eye on your bucket and spade. Ilfracombe is not near Oxford so the Terminus camp decided to make a weekend of it. It was a mostly* good journey to the seaside. It’s rare you get a whole car of people who all like fig rolls.

My first sighting of the Chill Bar was when load in happened at 11am. I loved it on first sight and we got a hugely warm welcome from Isabel. After load in Ilfracombe was our oyster. There were arcades, the harbour, a bike rally, pubs and a chocolate emporium. We promenaded and found fun. Helen held a snake, I bought a souvenir teaspoon rest (it’s not all rock ‘n’ roll). In the early evening the Sykko Dollz answered the question “What shall we do with the drunken vocalist?” with “Send him for a snooze until he’s sober”.

The Chill Bar was host to a 30th birthday party for Sophie who dances splendid salsa and it made for a mixed musical evening. It’s not often I hear The Vengaboys, Ken Dodd and Gypsy Pistoleros numbers all in one evening. It’s also not often that I have a pink bucket and spade with me on a Saturday night (thanks Steve and Michelle). I sipped a sex on the beach and looked around me at all the seamen and wenches. Aarrrr! This be a fine hostelry, I thought.

Open up and say “Aarrrr!”

Terminus went on at nine, the pirating hour. Dean had on a double dose of guyliner, one lot for rock singing and a second lot for pirating. His parrot had developed a puncture but luckily Lawrence was on hand to fix it with some gaffa tape. The bar bounced to Terminus’s cover of “All The Small Things”. The salsa dancers did some very fine grind, wiggle, wiggling to Rose Tattoo’s “Sweetmeat”. Heavy Metal Panda got introduced to the crowd and was very excited. As well as dancing there was cutlass waving (only plastic and inflatable ones, no need for alarm) and I waved my pink spade. The set ended with Rage Against The Machine’s sweartastic “Killing In the Name”.

Sykko Dollz gave us a treasure chest of catchy choruses and singalong numbers. I can’t wait until they’ve finished their EP. The crowd sang along, belting out “I win, you lose, should have known better”, “She’s my girl” and “Life ain’t easy when you’re riding all night”. The Abba cover “Does Your Mother Know?” was delivered with a camp tongue in cheekness that had an element of Jack Sparrow to it. A trio of Sykko Clowns came out with shots and kicked the party up a notch. The Dollz ended with a Gypsy Pistoleros song with a chorus that goes “Hey, hey, hey, where did I go wrong? I’m living my life on the dirty side of midnight”.

I like it on the dirty side of midnight…


The gig in brief:

Number of Motörhead T-shirts in venue – 2

Number of salsa dancers in venue – loads of accomplished ones.

Number of pink bucket and spade sets lost by absent minded party goers – 1

Best anagram of Ilfracombe – frolic beam

Cutest pirate/Sykko Clown – Evie Franklin


*We stopped at Gordano services. I ordered a tuna and sweetcorn six inch sub. The man filled two inches of it and then realised he’d run out of tuna. He offered me other things to complete it but I don’t like tuna with other things. I assume that Gordano services was started by three men called Gordon, Daniel and Noel who were on a mission to serve overpriced food to a wide section of the population in slightly too bright surroundings. There must be a parallel universe somewhere in which three men called Noel, Daniel and Gordon decided service stations should be pleasing and so they opened Onadrog services which is a wonderful place where the food served is tasty, reasonably priced and from the local area and people are fully aware of how much tuna they’ve got.

Anyway, the moral of this story is don’t start a fish based task you can’t finish and if you promise six inches and can only deliver two there will be disappointment.



Inspiration and Belonging – A Love Letter to The Cellar

Photo Courtesy of Sam Tomlin

The Cellar (and its previous incarnation as The Dolly) is too important a venue to be lost. It has a rich musical history and for me and many others it’s part of our personal history.

You can sign a petition here to Save Oxford’s nightlife. Stop the closure of The Cellar.

The live music is obviously a key part of The Cellar’s charm and individuality. Here’s a list of bands I’ve seen in The Cellar; Dedlok, KARN8, Elmbridge Court, Western Sand, Fireroad, A Higher Demise, Remnant, Black Light Machine, Get Loose, Savage Messiah, Desert Storm, Last Great Dreamers, Steamroller, Contraverse, 12 Gauge, Theia UK, Terminus, Black Iron Priest, Ded Orse, Control The Storm, Hell’s Gazelles, Bad Behaviour, Hell’s Gazelles again, Texas Flood, Toadstool, Triaxis, Bigfoot, Terminus again.

I also saw a load of bands in The Cellar’s previous incarnation as The Dolly; The Bad Men, JOR, Bad To The Bone, Charlie Mouse, to name but a few. It was my regular Sunday night haunt back in the late 80s and early 90s.

But it’s not even just the music, it’s having somewhere to belong, somewhere to find people who get excited about the same music you do. The Cellar is used by diverse music groups, (some of which sound dreadful to me but that’s not the point). We don’t need any more shops but we do need meeting places and we do need to give music somewhere to happen. The Cellar is perfect for intimate gigs and becoming intimate with people.

Drinking in The Dolly and The Cellar in part inspired me to write my Eviscerated Panda Saga, about a fictional metal band. I wonder how many audience members have stood in The Cellar and decided that they want to play an instrument or sing?

Here’s a list of ten highly personal weird/notable things that I remember happening in the Dolly/Cellar;

  1. The time a chap put a six inch nail up his nose to impress me.
  2. The stripper that looked like Geoffrey from Rainbow.
  3. The man with handcuffs in his waistcoat pocket who told me he was journalist and asked if I wanted to go home with him but I didn’t because I find waistcoats deeply unattractive.
  4. The time I was sad and it looked like Mick Jagger shed a tear (there used to be a Rolling Stones poster in the Dolly and it is a damp sort of place so maybe Mick just happened to drip at that point, but it felt like a communion between the two of us).
  5. The night the Bad Men played (chaos, pure chaos).
  6. The night I was drunk and threw a rose onstage to the singer, thinking I was Rene from the Rene and Renata video.
  7. Me realising you can be mates with someone even if you’ve both shagged the same chap. Basically this makes you sperm sisters and everyone deserves to be happy, although your happy ending may not be where you expect to find it.
  8. Charlie Mouse’s intro music.
  9. Listening Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” being karaoke’d every week for ages.
  10. The awesome DJs (special mention should go to Paul Axtell, Terry Webb and John Chadwick).

Let’s do our best to preserve this little niche of Oxford where wonderful sounds can be heard, connections can be made and life can be lived loudly.