Friday 30 October 2009

Friday's Forgotten Book: BILLY by G.F.Newman

First published by New English Library in 1971.
This novel comes from the pen of G.F.Newman better known today as the creator of the BBC series 'Judge John Deed'.
'BILLY' is the kind of book that even the faint-hearted should read.
The story opens with neurosurgeon David Bray operating on the brain of a child injured in a car accident. An act that is significant as saving lives has become his top priority since the death of his own child. Work is his way of escape and as much as he loves his wife, Margaret, they are drifting apart.
Their lives are far apart from the squalor of Abbyn Road where 4 year old Billy and his 6 year old sister, Judith, live.
Their father is workshy and only rolls out of bed when the pubs open. And their mother is just as bad as she screams at her husband about the state of the place that she is too lazy to clean up.
Young as she is it falls to Judith to 'mother' Billy by making sure that he is fed even if the only food in the house is a loaf of bread that has been nibbled at by rats.
Billy's young life is spent wandering the streets and playing in the rubble of demolished buildings until Judith comes home from school. It is too traumatic to stay indoors for it is a place of violence.
One night the father returns home drunk as usual. He has got into a fight and lost which puts him in an even worse mood. When he trips over an oil can in the kitchen he knows who is to blame - and who is to blame for all his problems. He storms into the children's room and lashes out at Billy. He picks him up and shakes him and throws Billy back on to the bed.
A concerned nieghbour plucks up the courage to call the police.
An indifferant policeman arrives and enters the children's bedroom. It is at this point that the reader 'sees' the bloody carnage that has taken place and it has an impact. What went before does not prepare the reader for this.
Billy is in a serious condition and it is neurosurgeon David Bray who fights to save his life. The full tension of the operation is there right to the bitter end.
The parents are sent to prison and it would be easy to say that is the end of it - but there are those who do not learn their lesson and they know who to blame for what has happened to them.
Along the way the work of the NSPCC (National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Children) is highlighted. An organisation that, despite the odds against them, made a better job of it than the modern Social Services.
This book is not a good read - not in the accepted sense. Billy's story doesn't make for comfortable reading but it is compelling and very emotive.
A book that shouldn't be forgotten but re-issued.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

WILD BUNCH WEDNESDAY - Story With No Name part 13

The Story With No Name continues.
Parts 1-10 can be found at The Culbin Trail (
Part 11 can be found on Open Range (
Part 12 is at

The continuation of the story is open to anyone who wants to join in. Just leave a comment to claim your spot.

And so Jack Giles returns with Part 13


“Whoa, there,” Zack Roden frowned. “Who made you boss of this outfit?”
“Why don’t you just do as you’ve been asked?” Lola intervened, moving so that she placed her body between Roden and Walt. “Just take a look at them. Neither Walt nor Silas are in a fit state to run away.”
Roden nodded: “Then I’ll take a little insurance. Just hand over the map Walter and I’ll be on my way.”
Walt shook his head: “What happened to trust, Zack?”
“That was then,” Zack admitted, unable to make eye contact with his old friend. “Time changes things – now I don’t trust anyone.” He lifted his head to look directly at Walt. “This time – I will.” He paused, dramatically. “For old times and the fact that you won’t be going anywhere for a while. But, be warned, you betray my trust – I will hunt you down and kill you.”

The days passed into weeks as Walt Arnside healed wounds old and new. When he had become fit enough both he and Lola had sat outside talking over old times to the point that he believed that they had a future together. The more they talked so Walt became convinced that the supposed treasure meant nothing to Lola.
There were times when he could envisage a future where he settled on this tract of land and raised his own herd of cattle. Yet, he knew, that to realise that dream it would take hard cash and that was something that he did not have.
He knew that the answer lay in a share of that gold. All he had to do was convince Lola of his necessity in continuing with the venture.
The only doubt in his mind was Silas who had recovered from his wound. But it had left him aged and ashen skinned. He spent all day sitting by the open grate with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. It was as though the fight had gone out of him.
“Damn hell, how’d I get caught up in all this?” he demanded of the bucket that he was taking towards the pump.
A distant cough had him dropping the bucket as he spun around; his hand reaching for the butt of his pistol. Only to stop and grin at the sight that met his eyes.
Long legged and ungainly the camels looked but it was a sight to behold. It had been many years since he had laid eyes on the beasts and back a few years to the time that he had joined the US Camel Corps. It was a pity that the troop had been disbanded for he had a great love for the gentle creatures. Sure they had a bad side for they spat or bit out at those who did not treat them decently.
The lead camel knelt down close by the corral and Roden looked as though he was about to fall over the long neck. His body tilted at an angle of 45 degrees but the hook of his leg and hold on the saddle pommel kept his balance. With practised ease he dismounted and ambled towards Walt.
“Absolutely marvellous,” Roden grinned by way of greeting. “An experience to savour,"
“You brought company,” Walt observed as he spotted a turbaned head behind one of the camels.
“Oh, Hassan,” Roden replied. “Well, someone has to teach us how to handle those beasts.
Besides he comes strongly recommended by Hi Jolly.”
“What?” Walt gasped, recalling the troop’s lead camel driver, Hadji Ali.
“Didn’t go to Las Vegas, old chap,” Roden said, seriously. “I heard that old Hi Jolly was over in Tucson and I thought it might be better to hear things from the camel’s mouth – as it were. Which was just as well as it turns out. We have a problem – a big problem. There’s a chap called Vic Sawtell hunting camels.”
“Sawtell?” Walt queried. “You sure? The man’s a killer.”
“Exactly,” Roden agreed. “Seems he was waiting for someone in Bannon.”
“Silas,” Walt deduced.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Some News

At 1:20 pm today our 14th grandchild was born.
Our little granddaughter weighed in at 7lb 11oz and she is doing well.
I showed her the laptop and suggested that she make a start on a new western.
She took her time coming but despite it being a long week she has, finally, made it.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Brits Abroad: Holiday Destinations In The Wild West

In the 1800s it was the thing for the British to embark on Grand Tours. More often than not this usually meant a tour of Europe though some would venture further afield to Africa, India and Asia.
For Mrs F. D. Bridges her world tour began in 1878 and included the American west on her agenda of must see places. Upon her arrival at the bustling silver town of Leadville, Colorado she was met by a gun toting hotel tout who loudly yelled: "If any man says the Clarendon ain't a first class house, I'll put a bullet in him."
Mrs Bridges did, indeed, stay at the Clarendon and told her story in 'Journal Of A Lady's Travels Around The World' published in 1883.

However, Mr Colon South had a better experience when he arrived at a small town in Wyoming.
Here, as he reports in his book ' Out West: Or, From London To Salt Lake City And Back' published 1884, that his hotel boasted, amongst other things, 'Baths, gas, hot and cold water, laundry, telegraph, restaurant, fire alarm, bar-room, billiard table, daily papers, coupe, sewing machine, grand piano, a clergyman, and all other modern convenieces in every room.'

This and more can be found in an excellent little book written by Colin Rickard called 'Bowler Hats and Stetsons'. It is interesting as the author recounts those Brits who passed through the American West and those who stayed to make their mark like Ben Thompson, John Tunstall and some who came as a surprise.
Entertaining, interesting and well written and worth hunting down.

Wild Bunch Weednesday; Story With No Name

The weekly serial known as The Story With No Name has the 12th Episode at
This episode comes from the Black Horse Western writer Chuck Tyrell

To read the first ten episodes then is the place to go.
Part11 by Peter Averillo is to be found at

If you would like to be the author of Episode 13 then stake your claim here in the comments section or at Charlies blog.

Monday 19 October 2009

TERRY MURPHY - Western Writer

A Black Horse Western to be published 30th November 2009

With the relentless bounty hunter Durell close behind, the badly wounded outlaw Maury McRae reaches the small town of Gray's Flat. Nursed back from the verge of death by the beautiful Heather Cordell, McRae discovers what could have been. In need of money, his fast gun brings an offer of work from the ruthless rancher Max Nelson. Learning that his new job involves a serious threat to Heather and her brother is a dilemma for McRae. Trapped in a hopeless set of circumstances yet still hoping to start a new life, McRae sees that dream fade away as a highly dangerous situation develops.

It is good to see Black Horse Western writer, Terry Murphy back in the saddle. It has been five years since the last book by an author who first appeared in 1992 with 'The Forgotten Man'.
This is a tale of revenge by Deputy Joe Lynam who is seeking to bring to justice the men who killed the deputy's father figure and Town Marshall,Will Jordan. Lynam is joined in his quest by a mysterious stranger seeking to lay the ghosts of the past at rest. This character, Dan Kersley, is the forgotten man of the title.
In this book as with the others that followed are very strong on character and Terry Murphy's style is easy on the eye - not on the brain, though. This is because of the way that the pace builds up throughout.
Terry Murphy is one of the handfull of female western writers writing for Black Horse Westerns.
Teresa Murphy lives in Dorset and many of her westerns are on my bookshelf.

Sunday 18 October 2009


Sounds like a headline from The Sun but there you go.
What a day for Formula 1 motor racing. A story that would have been the stuff of a Hollywood script or a good novel about the sport - but real life has beaten them to it.
This time last year we were cheering on Lewis Hamilton as he did enough in the Brazilian Grand Prix to secure the Formula 1 Championship.
This year history repeated itself when Jenson Button did exactly the same thing when he finished 5th at the San Paulo racetrack.
Jenson Button became the 10th UK Formula One Champion.
The tenth since Mike Hawthorn won the first back in 1958.
This time last year Brawn GP had a car but no driver. Throughout the winter they built their car up. They found two drivers in Jenson Button and Rubens Barichello and hit the Australian Grand Prix running. Button took the Brawn car to six wins out of seven and himself well into the lead for the Championship.
Jenson Button appeared unbeatable until team Red Bull upped their game with drivers like Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Between them they pushed Button and Barichello to the limit.
It looked like Button and Rubens were going to dominate the driver's championship with Vettel in third place.
At the open to the Brazillian Grand Prix all Vettel had to do was finish first or second to leave the championship open to a decider at the final race of the season at Abu Dhabi. However the atrocious conditions during qualifying dropped Vettel to 15th position on the grid. Despite pleas that they had a grid it was decided to run the second qualifier that made for it's own drama as Button fell back to 14th position but left Rubens Barichello in 8th and better placed for a win on his home circuit and nudge Button out of the championship.
Race day, today, produced dry race conditions and with skillfull overtaking both Button and Vettel worked their way up the field. On the downside it was sad to see Barichello going backwards.
Jenson Button drove an excellent race to secure his Championship.
To complete the magic of the day Brawn GP won the Team Championship.

Saturday 17 October 2009


Gary Dobbs at The Tainted Archive has always thrown his weight behind the revival of the Western. He invented the term Wild West Monday and has made a petition available to be signed at his blog.
Back in the day Broken Trails was always behind this idea.
Gary Dobbs, in the past, has put his money where his mouth is by writing two best-selling westerns under the name of Jack Martin.
The first, 'The Tarnished Star' topped both the pre-order and bestseller western lists for months. His new book 'Arkansas Smith' not due out until March 2010 is already the number 1 in the pre-order charts.
This is itself prooves that things like self-promotion and ideas like Wild West Monday do work.
Broken Trails closed because there was a glitch that would not allow it to continue. The security certificate, according to Microsoft, was not valid for The only way it could be got into was by switching off the security system. But after fidling about for some time some friends found the problem and now the page can be accessed. Obviously.
The sad thing was that all this happened just weeks away from the first anniversary of the beginning of Broken Trails.
The big question is do you, the readers and followers, want Broken Trails back?

Friday 16 October 2009


The Bravados (1958)
Run time: 93 mins
Screenplay by Philip Yordan based on the book by Frank O'Rourke.
Directed by Henry King
Gregory Peck as Jim Douglass
Joan Collins as Josefa Valverde
Stephen Boyd as Bill Zachary
Albert Salmi as Ed Taylor
Henry Silva as Lujan
Lee Van Cleef as Alfonso Parral
Jim Douglass rides into the town of Rio Arriba just to see four men hang. After taking a look at the men who he doesn't really know he meets up with an old flame, Josefina, and they have a meal together. She is looking after her father's ranch but as soon as Jim tells her he has a daughter Josefina seems to lose interest. Later, though, she gets the whole story and she gets interested again.
Enter the hangman who joins Jim for a drink and they while away their time together. When it gets dark and everyone has gone to church the hangman goes into action. He stabs the lawman who shoots him dead but the four men get the keys and escape.
Jim Douglass becomes a part of the posse because he wants the four men dead for the rape and murder of his wife.
One by one he catches up with them and disposes of them until only Lujan is left. But when Jim catches up with him he finds out that everything is not as it had seemed to Jim.
This film has a plodding start but was worth staying with once the men escaped from jail. Most of the revenge killings are hinted at rather than shown. Each time he meets up with an outlaw he shows them a photo of his wife but he doesn't get the message that they have no idea of who she is.
This film may not appeal to everybody but worth, at least, a look.