DSC_0246The beach at Dritvik in western Iceland is remarkable not only for its beauty but for the way it pays tribute to those lost at sea.

In a gale on March 13, 1948, a British trawler from Grimsby got into trouble on the rocky coast.

It was smashed to pieces as rescuers fought to save the lives of those on board. Almost 70 years later iron pieces of the boat remain scattered across the beach’s black volcanic sand.


Could there be any more effective way to illustrate the terrible risks which are taken by those “in peril on the sea” to earn a living and to bring us food?


Iceland is a fishing nation and crews from around the Snaefells peninsula rushed to help the British fishermen that night.

Boats came out from Arnarstapi, Hellnar and Hellissandur, but conditions were difficult, with bad weather and heavy seas. Iceland’s harsh winter had not yet given way to its spring.

The rescuers could see members of the crew of Epine GY7 on its forecastle and in the wheelhouse, and some had strapped themselves to the rigging.DSC_0417A

But the tide was coming in against the jagged rocks formed centuries ago when the volcano Snaefells erupted, and huge waves were breaking over the ship.

Remarkably, one of those waves dashed a man off the fishing boat and washed him ashore – exhausted, shocked but alive.

The local crews had to bide their time for the tide to change. When it did they shot a line to the Epine and an Englishman managed to secure it to the trawler’s mast.

By now only four of the crew remained alive. Each was pulled to safety on a rescue seat.

Of the Epine’s 19 crew, only five lived. Fourteen British fishermen, who had survived the world war which had so recently ended, would not return home from the icy waters of the North Atlantic.


Today, the volcano Snaefells – made famous in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth – looks down as tourists walk among the pieces of wreck to where the black sand falls away to the water’s edge.

Holidaymakers admire the beauty of the coastline and the very rocks upon which the Epine foundered.

But the red ironwork, broken and scattered by the tide and the wind, ensures it is impossible not to spare a thought – even among such beauty – for those whose lives ended on that dark night in March 1948.



Social media, trust and gender (for writers)

As so many writers use social media, I was interested to read this new study claiming to identify gender differences in the way we react to posts and messages.

Artios, a London-based artificial intelligence company (sounds good), presented 1,000 UK adults with plain text, anonymised posts from a selection of popular Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and asked them to rate them on six criteria, including trustworthiness, approachability and friendliness.

The study found that:

-Women generally responded more positively than men to all types of content.

-Men were 5% more likely than women to respond positively to content written by a woman, and women were 2% more likely than men to respond positively to content written by a man.

-Women and men were also more likely to feel patronised when the post is written by the opposite sex.

Interestingly, Facebook content was most likely to get a positive response.

Facebook posts and comments: Women – 55% reacted positively; Men – 49% men reacted positively.

Instagram: Women – 47% reacted positively; Men – 41% reacted positively.

Twitter was got the lowest proportion of positive responses: Women – 34% reacted positively; Men – 29% reacted positively.

Andreas Voniatis, data science lead at Artios, said: “Our reactions to social media content can very easily be clouded by an author’s appearance, ethnicity, gender or how they self-identify.”

Posts written by brands were the best received generally. Women were 11% more likely to respond positively to brand content. Social media accounts in the banking and finance industries scored the best overall. 61% of women responded positively; 50% of men.

I don’t know if that helps us as we promote our books or communicate with our readers but for me the important thing is getting our biographies right.

As Andreas Voniatis goes on to say: “We often read a person’s biography before finalising our reaction to their post.”

Right. Let’s check out those profiles again… It never hurts to re-think and re-write!


*Here’s a link to the original research.



Biggest Airlift of WWII – The Hump — from Pacific Paratrooper

In April 1942, the Allied Forces initiated an airborne supply line that crossed the Eastern Himalaya Mountain Range. This airlift supplied the Chinese War effort against Japan from India and Burma to the Kunming area and beyond. The C-46 Curtiss Commando and the DC-3/ C-47 Douglas Skytrain in the China- Burma- India Theater of War […]

via Intermission Story (2) – Biggest Airlift of WWII – The Hump — Pacific Paratrooper

“One of the best books I have ever read”

Writers work hard in their little office, or at a desk on the end of their bed, or in a coffee shop, or wherever they have space and time to work…

They write about subjects they enjoy to research, stories they want to tell; and they hope it will connect with readers… Readers they don’t know and will never meet. People who enjoy a good story, like they do.

Like I do.

That’s why reFarewell-Leicester-Square1 - Copyviews mean so much to them. Writers really appreciate the readers who take a few moments to write a few lines on Amazon.

I’ve just received the following message on this site. It means so much that someone got to the end of ‘Farewell Leicester Square’ and then took the time to contact me.

Many thanks, Alistair. And to all of you who take the time to write a short review on Amazon.

Hello Jon.
Just read Farewell Leicester Square. One of the best books I have ever read. And that is not said lightly. I am a fan of all historical fiction especially WWII. The attention to detail was remarkable. Well done.
Yours sincerely,
Mr Alistair Nash.

“The best TV series you’ve never heard of”

The Sandbaggers
                 The Sandbaggers

Trawling through You Tube one day (as writers do when they are “thinking”) I discovered ‘The Sandbaggers’.

The story of an elite, covert (fictional) UK government agency, ‘The Sandbaggers’ contains few car chases or shoot-outs.

But the drama is intense, particularly towards the end of the first series and beyond. It centres on internal security service issues and on the relationship between the British and the London CIA bureau.

Roy Marsden
                                      Roy Marsden

The unit is led by Neil Burnside (played by Roy Marsden), a most complex central character, who puts country before self at all times – sometimes with the most shocking consequences.

Made on a modest budget by Yorkshire Television, the series was broadcast in the UK between 1978 and 1980. A fourth series was due to be made but was abandoned following the disappearance of Ian Mackintosh, the show’s creator.

All twenty episodes of ‘The Sandbaggers’ are on You Tube. As one reviewer remarks: this is the “best TV series you have never heard of”.

I urge you to give it a go.