Talent versus the overrated amateur

Many consider Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid) to be a literary genius, and continue to do so even now in the twenty-first century. Having read his Poems of Exile, I came away with the feeling that his was a childlike approach to writing. Hardly the pen of a competent adult writer. Judge for yourself:

For you no purple slip-case (that’s a colour 5 goes ill with grief), no title-line picked out in vermilion, no cedar-oiled backing, no white bosses to set off those black edges: leave luckier books to be dressed with such trimmings: never forget my sad estate. 10 No smoothing off your ends with friable pumice — appear for inspection bristly, unkempt. And don’t be embarrassed by blots. Anyone who sees them will sense they were due to my tears.c

Ovid. The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters (p. 3). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

Reading Ovid you begin to wonder about his state of mind. Or at least I do. Reading his poems there is no sign of him being a literary genius despite what is said about him. There is bitterness at being banished to Tomis on the Black Sea by the then Roman Emperor Augustus if you read between the lines.


When it comes to true genius, another Italian, Michaelangelo Merisi da Carravaggio, was the real deal. Yes he was not a nice individual. Yes he was a drunkard. Yes he was a brawler, and a murderer. But when it came to wielding a paint brush, he left his contemporaries and those before him like Michaelangelo di Lodovico Buonorotti Simoni (Michaelangelo) in his dust:

Caravaggio Judith Beheading Holofernes.jpg

Give me Carravaggio every time!

By the way, I haven’t completely dismissed the idea of writing a novel based on him…




…of Gaelic airs and grace notes in the Park Bar in Glasgow…

Seumas reminisces…

Seumas Gallacher

…this cutting from The Oban Times, dated around 1970, sent to me recently by Eric Macintyre, the youngest son of the incomparable AngusMacintyre, my Manager at the Clydesdale & North of Scotland Bank branch in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull… Angus was a legend in the ceilidh circuit in Argyllshire and beyond… the article has my passport-version English name ‘Jim’... the ‘Seumas’evolved from the Gaelic after becoming a successful Mod multi-medal winner for Celtic singing back in the day… the piece evoked mem’ries galore, not the least of which was the regular visits to Glasgow, where the famed Park Bar was a magnet for all visiting and Glasgow-based Scottish Highlanders and Islanders…

…every evening featured ad hoc ceilidhs, with usually always several people present who had won singing medals at local or National Mods in their time… there was little in musical accompaniment…

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Let’s have fun|بیا خوش بگذرانیم

Let’s have fun|بیا خوش بگذرانیم

More from Laleh 😉

A Voice from Iran

A group of young boys were passing by a fruit garden as they were hiking.


On their way they saw a pair of ripped shoes and a faded color shirt and worn out pants beside a tree.


Three of the boys laughed and pointed at the clothes and said who would wear that?

They made fun a lot and one of them said: “Let’s have some fun today.”

The other boy said: “I think it belongs to a fruit picker labor.”


The third boy laughed hard and said: “Oh my God, these must be his best clothes and he changed into something worst then these!”

The first boy said: “Let’s take his clothes and hide behind a tree and see if he cries, that would be a great laugh.”

The second boy said: “Let’s leave a frog in his shoes. That would be hilarious.”

The forth boy was listening to…

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Guest author: Robbie Cheadle ~ Churchill’s War Rooms

A little something from Robbie via Sue 😉

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo


World War II was the first time in its history that Britain faced a concentrated threat from the air. This aerial threat necessitated some discussion about how the British government would run the impending war and from where. Initially, there was some talk of evacuating key personnel out of London and, if necessary, to the West Country. This was dismissed due to the adverse effect such a move was expected to have on public morale.

A quick survey of suitable London basements took pace in early 1938 and on 31 May the site was confirmed as the space underneath the western end of the New Public Offices. The site was close to both Downing Street and Parliament.

Over the next few months Churchill’s War Rooms were established.

In July 1940 the Battle of Britain commenced and on 29 July Churchill’s war cabinet met for the first time in the…

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Guest author: Roberta Eaton ~ The Sutton Hoo Helmet

Sutton Hoo – just down the road from me 😉

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo


Since its discovery in 1939, the Sutton Hoo Helmet has been a highly evocative symbol of Anglo Saxon England.

The discovery of the Sutton Hoo Helmet

The excavation of the grave barrows or mounds at Sutton Hoo was at the instance of Mrs Edith Pretty. She had travelled extensively with her father during her youth and her visits to Egypt had resulted in an interest in archaeology.

In May 1939, archaeologist, Basil Brown, who had been commissioned by Mrs Pretty to investigate the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, came across the remains of a burial boat which turned out to be a 27-metre vessel.  In July 1939, the excavation was taken over by Charles Phillips at the request of the Ancient Monuments Inspectorate of the Office of Works. Although little remained of the timbers that had formed the large chamber across the middle of the ship, Phillips’ team uncovered…

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My Book Review of THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon @Marjorie_Mallon

My Book Review of THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon @Marjorie_Mallon

A Review


BloodstoneWP.jpg THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon


Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

My Review

Amelina’s family is very unusual. Her parents seem to be cursed, especially after her father mysteriously disappeared and returned. A girl who used to go to school with Amelina is imprisoned in the mirrors of the family home and the family’s black cat seems to know far more than he should. When Amelina receives and…

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…you keep great literature alive by giving it away…

…prior to leaving the UK, my appetite for reading was honed by chomping on the best offerings from various literary giants of England, Europe and the USA… Begs the question why give them away. You can bet your sweet life Seumas bought each and every one of them!!!

Seumas Gallacher

…a quick tally of books inhabiting my small cabinet/converted bookcase will not tax emb’dy’s counting abilities… I have a sum total of only approximately 120 books… an eclectic assortment of mostly fiction, and a smattering of nonfiction… some of the greatest writers’ opus productions (Steinbeck, Dickens, O’Hara, Ruark, Conan Doyle, Solzhenitsyn, Churchill) sit comfortably alongside two Oxford Dictionaries (yeez can never have enuff WURDS), some author-signed copies of writers whose scribblings I admire, a bible, a copy of the Quran, some ad hoc compilations of humorous and other quotations, a few treasured over-a century-old Gaelic poetry and prose collections, and of course, my own Jack Caldercrime thrillers…

…it seems a lamentably minuscule residue from all the books I have purchased over the years… having lived abroad for decades, trips to London always included a purchasing raid on Waterstones, where tomes were bought by the luggage-terrorising…

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