Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's nightmares started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. In February 2020, jtns will be ten years old and there will be no further posts. It will then become a contained work of life-writing about me and the past ten years of my life. Frank, December 2019

Saturday, 23 March 2019

stroll, amble, spring, retreat

























A stroll to the Bell at Langford along Calcroft Lane (aka the gated road) early in the week. Well, not quite - bus to Clanfield then the walk. Then a longer walk back - even longer than planned, what with the wrong turn (farmer kind to set us on the right path, despite us disturbing breeding snipe - I didn't know they did breed round here, just overwintered).

An amble round the Barrington Estate the next day.

Spring is definitely springing.

MSt in Creative Writing guided retreat this weekend.

Monday, 18 March 2019

violets, my oxford: a memoir by catherine haines























Saw this gorgeous bank of violets on the outskirts of the village the other weekend, as we came back from a Sunday walk.

Really thrilled that a life-writing work by a former student has just been published. My Oxford: A memoir by Catherine Haines was the winner the the New Welsh Writing Awards (Aberystwyth University Prize for a Memoir) in 2017 and is now out in paperback and Kindle, under the New Welsh Review's Rarebytes imprint.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

2nd anniversary of the streetbooks launch party for facing the strange by sb sweeney



















Two years ago today, StreetBooks held the launch party at Blackwell's Oxford for Facing the Strange by SB Sweeney. It was a brilliant evening, with a reading from the novel by Roger Ashton-Griffiths, a video reading by the author (excellent psychedelic backgrounds) and music from David Rowland. Read the jtns post about the event.

This is what I said about the novel two years ago: At one level Facing the Strange is uncompromising, tough. It deals with difficult subjects, including the self-deception of addiction and family breakdown. But then there is the Becketian comedy in the face of adversity and the insight into people. Above all it's about people. No matter how these men and women in the book are - whether at their best or at their worst - they are written about with compassion and humanity. It's a story of vividly realised places - Preston, London, Ireland, North Yorkshire, Somerset. It's a novel of polyphony - of a wide range of beautifully rendered voices. Facing the Strange is a book that asks challenging questions about where we have come from and where we are now.

Hugely proud to have played a part in bringing this novel to readers. If you haven't read it, try the Kindle ebook on Amazon - UK, US.

For more information about the novel and its author, visit the SB Sweeney and StreetBooks websites. You can also follow SB Sweeney on Twitter.

And here's some more praise for the novel:

'SB Sweeney writes with a clarity and wit that brings to life the less glossy side of the eighties: a world of squats, bedroom bands and cheap drugs, where a CV most likely meant a pint of cider and Vimto. The intriguing and intertwining tales make an addictive read.'  Deb Googe: My Bloody Valentine and The Thurston Moore Group

'One great long drunken rambling guitar solo of a novel!'  Tim Pears

'It's La bohème meets Trainspotting, with the structure of a dream; a hole in the wall of the ordinary, an extraordinary landscape beyond.'  Roger Ashton-Griffiths: Actor and Writer

'Facing the Strange is a kaleidoscope of intertwined lives told with verve, humour and - despite its darker themes - lightness of touch.'  Mary Lucille Hindmarch, The Oxford Times

'SB Sweeney's novel is a rollicking joy ride from start to finish. It's hard to believe, in fact that this is a debut novel, so adept is he at conveying the brutal beauty of life's searing highs... crashing lows... and life in between... It is both heart-breaking and life-affirming.'  Liz Nicholls, Round & About Magazine