Ronnie Crouch

Peter wets your appetite with this tale…


Meeting Ronnie Crouch for the first time at what was to become “my local” shortly after moving into the area was an experience. He was a sprightly,  slightly elderly gentleman, with a glow about him which draws the attention of those still wading through the chaos of their own making, otherwise known as middle age. Just the kind of bloke I like to get to know, so I said to him as I stood at the bar waiting to order my drink, “Well the sun seems to be shining then” and he smiled at me and raised his glass in salute.

We started chatting on this and that and nothing, as people do, and then, prompted by curiosity, and moved somehow by his unscarred optimism I asked, “What keeps you young?”. He replied, “Since I could stand on my own two feet I’ve only been interested in four things, Booze…

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Trolls – what is their problem?

My least favourite individuals…

Have We Had Help?


As far as I can make out, all internet trolls have an enormous chip on their shoulder. Despite never actually managing to produce a book the general public enjoyed reading in their thousands, they feel it is their duty to tear apart any and all other books who did, always providing they get their claws on a free copy of course!

What do you learn from this? If you wish to be left alone by today’s trolls, don’t give your book away!!!

These days more and more of these loathsome individuals no longer bother to hide behind pseudonyms. Preferring instead to hide in plain sight on various writing sites on Facebook. One of my more recent books has been targeted by two of these individuals – one here in the UK. The other a writer of my acquaintance in the Eastern Mediterranean…

I can only surmise that because of their…

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Where is the Art of the Environmental Age?

Where is the Art of the Environmental Age?

More from Justin in beloved Malta 😉

The Champagne Epicurean

Nature has long been man’s primary source of beauty and wonder. Ever since our minds were forged in the savannahs of our species’ youth we have sought out landscapes, seascapes, the shade of trees, the touch of fresh water, with the same instinctive lust as we sought out the beauteous in our own species.

It’s no wonder, then, that some of humanity’s greatest art has had nature as its dominant theme. The cave paintings of Lascaux and Altamira, the Assyrian Lion Hunts of Ashurbanipal, the poetry of Wordsworth, the floral and arboreal motifs in Gothic and Baroque cathedrals, the starry landscapes of Van Gogh and the lilies of Monet.

None of these painters were, in the sense we understand it now, environmentalists. They depicted nature out of raw aesthetic desire, capturing the mysterious wonder for the purpose of profound pleasure. They didn’t depict scenes of natural territories under threat or…

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Yesterday Was A Bad Day…

Yesterday afternoon when I went into the kitchen to prepare my one meal for the day, I had to get down on my hands and knees to be able to see inside one of my kitchen cupboards. I was looking for a particular oven tray.

As I got down on my knees I fell forward, banging my head on the floor. I had no time to put my hands down to stop falling. I have become physically weakened due to my age (seventy-three). Had someone been with me, maybe I wouldn’t have hurt myself. Living on your own is fine until something like this happens. This got me thinking how many others my age and older experience falls like I did?

Not being as fit as I was a few years ago, what happened to me is frightening to say the least. Thankfully I didn’t fall too far – only a couple of feet. Even so it hurt physically. But what hurt more was the realization that I am no longer physically strong!

Since I turned sixty-five eight years ago, and officially became an old age pensioner, money has been tight, hence the reason for my one meal a day. Is it any wonder I have become physically weak? I think not!

A future in cheese

Not sure if a future in cheese will suit???

Tallis Steelyard

There has always been considerable enthusiasm for peering into the future, and some unscrupulous individuals have made a good living from doing so. Normally they make their money by cozening their dupes into handing over large sums on the strength of predictions of doubtful exactitude. Indeed if the prophecy is carefully worded, virtually any outcome can be justified as proving the accuracy of the prophet.

Hectar Vortimmal was an unusual fortune teller. Firstly he was a gentleman. He owned a number of farms which were let out to industrious tenants who could be relied to pay their rents on time. Secondly he had considerable business interests. By this I mean his father and grandfather before him had invested wisely and Hectar followed their enlightened policy. They had rarely loaned money, instead they’d become partners in businesses that came to their notice.

People have asked how Hectar got involved in fortune…

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An admission…

Have We Had Help?


…or, the book that contributed to a total mental breakdown on my part!

Back in the late nineties I was happy and financially secure, or so I thought. I had begun dabbling with writing in nineteen-ninety five. I worked in the same job at the University of Waikato in the city of Hamilton in New Zealand’s North Island for twenty-one days shy of a quarter of a century, naively believing I had a job for life. And then things started to go wrong. All these years later I realize now that events in my life were conspiring against me, and that I was heading for some kind of mental breakdown, after waking up in hospital having collapsed at work from stress.

First of all, my old departmental boss bowed out and a much younger academic was placed in charge. The more I had to do with him, the less I…

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The Reconversion of the Hagia Sophia

The Reconversion of the Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia in all its gl0ry…

The Champagne Epicurean

Heaven on Earth

“And we went into the Greek lands, and we were led into a place where they serve their God, and we did not know where we were, on heaven or on earth; and do not know how to tell about this. All we know is that God lives there with people and their service is better than in any other country. We cannot forget that beauty since each person, if he eats something sweet, will not take something bitter afterwards; so we cannot remain any more in paganism.”

This is how the ambassadors of the Kievan Rus described their experience of the Hagia Sophia in the 10th century. Their sensation of aw and wonder was strong enough to make them abandon their faith and convert to the Christianity capable of building such a temple.

Since July of last year, the Hagia Sophia has become enmeshed in…

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Is the written word dying?

Do you read? In that case, like myself, you are members of a dying breed!!!

Have We Had Help?

If the content of the above picture is any indication, the answer has to be in the affirmative.

I was talking to a friend of mine in South Africa earlier. I had sent him the link for the latest review for one of my books I wrote back in 2017 – Autumn 1066. When he congratulated me I said to him ‘Getting people to read is nigh on impossible these days, let alone writing reviews – positive or not!!!!’

The truth of the matter is that the number of books being read is in serious decline, despite the number of books being given away to attract readers by desparate writers and publishers.

Unfortunately until people want to read, there is no chance for the written word being enjoyed by today’s low IQ individuals who would far rather watch television or take drugs while playing video games than improve their…

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Piety and Humanity: The Last Years of Caravaggio

Piety and Humanity: The Last Years of Caravaggio

justine on my favourite subject – Caravaggio…

The Champagne Epicurean

As a Maltese man writing about Caravaggio I feel a sense of privileged connection that I am deprived with so many a great artist. Growing up I always remember Sunday visits to the St. John’s Co-Cathedral. A masterpiece which, even without its Caravaggios, ranks, personally, as one of the most awe-inspiring church in Christendom.

Within its oratory – designed by the Knights of St. John’s pet artist, Mattia Pteri to be a place for sombre reflection for novice knights confronting the very real possibility of martyrdom for the faith – lies slumbering, in the fitting murk, two luminous paintings by Caravaggio. One of which, the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, has two distinct honours: it is the largest canvas ever painted by Caravaggio and the only one that bears his signature.

And what a signature! Cast out of your mind any idea of a neat, formal signature at the…

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A tale of the wild

Feeling sad? I am…

Have We Had Help?

The story I’m about to tell is a bittersweet one about two rabbits named Sam and Poppit.


Poppit was born blind. Growing up, her mother had warned her about the dangers in the world beyond the safety of the communial warren. Because of her blindness, her three main senses – smell, sound and touch, told her everything she needed to know about her surroundings. Not forgetting her excellent sense of direction, when combining all three. For instance, she knew which of the rabbits living in the warren were kits and which were bucks and does by their smell alone.

On the days when she was feeling brave she accompanied her parents and siblings as they fed on the fresh new blades of grass in the shade of the oak tree they lived beneath. One day while feeding and listening to the birds singing she became aware of a stranger…

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