Mick North (Editorial geni behind Eden Arts’ New Writing Cumbria & Weekly Word website and e-letter) and us (BHDandMe) received the photo-journalism treatment this week – both in the classic poses of the local writer. That is, leaning against a pergola and sitting in front of a computer. And with a grin on faces for the former; not so for the latter. I tried to persuade photographer Jenny Woolgar that a smiling writer (unless it’s one of those sinister smiles you would get in a horror movie – no comments please about it BEING one of those sinister smiles you get in a horror movie ) is as much use as a chocolate fireguard, and I know about chocolate fireguards, metaphorically speaking, but for financial and legal reasons I am unable to go into the details of that at the present time.

There’s also the issue of Fire Cranes. Some of you will have been lucky enough by now to have seen copies of Mick’s new publication: The Fire Crane. Published with the aid of several sources of public money (otherwise known as us – what else are you gonna do with the VAT off heating fuel?) this features poems, interviews and visual arts from Cumbria (and elsewhere), and will, I hope, be the first of many. Produced in a newspaper style (except of course without the dodgy intrusions, distortions and damnations – if you’re going to do alliteration, go for three I always say – of the contemporary journalist), this is a nice print job with excellent content. It features Josephine Dickinson’s poetry which can’t be bad… no, believe me, it simply can’t be! It also has a story by Christine Howe, one of the Facets of Fiction fictioneers, and poetry by my good neighbour Mary Robinson, who led a very enjoyable day of study on Norman Nicholson recently at Rosley Village Hall near Carlisle. There are also poems by Martyn Halsall (who has read several times at the Carlisle LitCaff -at Merienda bar/cafe on Treasury Court, third Wednesday of the month – £3 entry, £2 if you concede, 7.30pm start). This is a Free publication (? – The writers and artists, presumably not getting paid, the printers – who drive, I suppose, expensive cars and take foreign holidays, being remunerated I imagine at full commercial rates. Anomalies are always instructive), so pick one up somewhere. Libraries will have them. Merienda’s will have them. Even I have some, for the moment! The artwork, beyond my competence to judge, is striking. Those good old Hunters in the Snow (Breugel – you knew that) are there, but so are some cracking images from Lionel Playford, and photographs by Ian Hill, Horatio Lawson and others. It is, truly, packed with visual and textual goodies!

The name intrigues. Myself, rich in ignorance, assumed it was some sort of mythical bird – and there must be a story in that somewhere – flash fictions on The Fire Crane, to BHD on brindleyhd@aol.com – we’ll put some in Weekly Word and I’ll donate a copy of my new collection of short stories, Talking To Owls (due out from Pewter Rose on 31st October), to the one I like best of those received within this October. I wasn’t the only one to make the mistake, and so at least two us spent a fruitless few minutes trying to make out the avian in the logo. The fire crane in question however, is a metal gizmo, of ancinet provenance, that swings out over a fire, and from which may be suspended a kettle, or cauldron, or very small victim. That’s why it looks like a gallows. It’s not a well known fact that Cowan Sheldon began as a manufacturer of Fire Cranes, nor that they were known to migrate from central Asia, annually, passing over Tibet, India, Arabia, the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsular, and finally into the Western Seabord of the British Islets, where they gave the Romans a hand, or rather a beak, lifting the stones onto Hadrian’s Wall. Not a lot of people, as Michael Caine observed.

Other publications of interest this week include the Sentinel Literary Quarterly, for July-September, in which the Me half of BHDandMe has an essay on using detail in short fiction. There should also be, around November time, an issue of Sentinel Champions with the (small) prize winning story Sand in it, from BHD! On which note of rumour, this blog ends! Except to say that the photo at the top of the page, shows BHDandMe, not quite somnolent, in the light of candles, in the new Facets of Fiction writers’ room out here at Curthwaite!