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For fun? Are you kidding? This is what people do to escape pestilence and famine….we’re trekking over the mountains for 26 miles….when the Greek guy did this he popped his jbs immediately afterwards – he was Greek…He wasn’t wearing clogs! (and there was no Macmillan Cancer Support in those days!)

So. I’m walking over the mountains. Would I be asking you for money if I were doing it for fun? Of course I wouldn’t! Why would you be giving me money if I were doing it for fun? That would crazy. Look, I’m going to hate every minute of it, I promise. And if I don’t, I’ll at least have the decency to pretend I do…so come on, up-end the piggy-box, smash the sweet jar, rip up the floorboards, let the dosh see the daylight, get the moths on the wing, and go to and donate something to Macmillan Cancer Support’s Lake District Mighty Hike, June 17th…’s the link, in case you didn’t spot it anywhere earlier…..

This is what I get up to when I can’t get out of it… frees the mind and binds the feet. Don’t try it at home (unless you have a very, very big home)…of course you could just go up an’ down the stairs a few thousand times…at least you wouldn’t have to look at views all day, I mean grass is grass, when you’ve seen one blade you’ve seen ’em all…I mean, OK, so there’s flat grass and there’s steep grass, but who cares, it’s still grass….I suppose there’s rocks too, but let’s face it, who in their right mind wants to look at rocks?…don’t get me started on sky…

Macmillan Cancer Support helps people in their time of need, and they need you, and me, to help them do it…please give whatever you can, either by sponsoring me, here or in any other way you can. Thank you.



The 8th of January next is the one hundreth anniversary of the birth of the Cumberland Poet Norman Nicholson.

This quiet and gentle man, who talked about being unable to command attention by the vibrancy of his presentation or subject matter, but instead depended upon the ‘undeadened ear’, lit with the ‘grace’ of listening, chronicled the evolution – I shan’t use the word decline – of Millon from an industrial to a post-industrial town. He wrote about the return of nature to the slag heaps and the waterways, about the reappearance of views over the Lake District fells where once only the tall trees of brick chimneys and their clouds of smoke had been visible. He wrote about the people who worked and died in the pits and in the ironworks and on the railways.

It’s thirty years now since his death, and his writing has spawned no mass movement of faux-Nicholson copies – Wordsworth, tragically, spawned generations of poets who churned out a doggerel that thought it was graven in his image – yet for poets of my age, and younger, Nicholson was a master and a model: not one to be slavishly followed, but one from whom we could learn, about tone, and technique, and the timbre of authenticity.

On the centenary of his birth, poet Mary Robinson, and myself will be presenting a celebration of his work. At the Wordsworth Bookshop in Penrith, on wednesday 8th January, 2014, the event will be free, but places are limited so please book in advance, by contacting the bookshop direct (tel: 01768 210604  E:

Mary and I will be reading from our own work, and I’ll be sharing some recordings Norman made for me four decades ago, at his home in St.George’s Terrace Millom, along with some reminiscences of my few meetings with him.  A good date to make, in the post Christmas quiet I think.

Facets of Fiction presents three ‘Writing Days’

led by Mike Smith aka Brindley Hallam Dennis.

  1. Stories in Time & Place

  1. Fictional Characters

  1. Storylines

Each day course is based around a rolling sequence of seminars and workshops with lots of opportunity for actually getting some writing done! Though each day stands alone, the three combined offer a broad based insight into the fundamental building blocks of story.

Priced at £50 per day, those signing up for all three get a 10% discount. Included in the price we provide lunch, plus tea & coffee throughout the day. The courses are based in the old ‘stock room’ at Todd Close but during the writing exercises course members may spread out, weather permitting, into the garden!

Places on the courses are limited to encourage maximum participation and give time for individual’s work to be examined in some depth.

Each day runs from 10.00am to 5.00pm and the dates are as follows:

  1. Stories in Time & Place, Saturday June 22nd
  2. Fictional Characters, Saturday July 27th
  3. Storylines, Saturday August 10th

For more details and bookings e mail

writing as BHD, Mike has published a novella and several short story collections including:

That’s What Ya Get! Kowalski’s Assertions

A Penny Spitfire

Talking To Owls

A further collection of stories is due out this year, plus a selection of his essays on the short story form. He has won many prizes and awards for his writing in fiction, poetry, and critical essays. He blogs at and can found reading both poetry and short stories on Vimeo at BHDandMe. Many of his stories have been performed by Liars League, in London, Leeds, New York and Hong Kong, and can be viewed on YouTube.


Facets of FictionAPennySpitfire-frontcover

in north Cumbria

Workshops for Writers with Mike Smith

aka Brindley Hallam Dennis

Mike Smith is offering places on the next sequence of his Facets of Fiction creative writing sessions, beginning on Thursday April 11th. The five two-hour sessions (fortnightly, 7.00pm-9.00pm) are aimed at writers looking towards, or just arrived at, their first publication.

Based on a close study of published fiction and group members’ own work these sessions offer insights into how writing works, covering such ideas as beginnings, endings, storylines, character, mood and settings. We look in detail at how words change their power, and sometimes their meaning, when used in different contexts; how changing even the order of words, or sentences, can alter the feeling and even the trajectory of a story. We look at how characters can be perceived in fiction – through the eyes of the narrator, of other characters, or from their own perspectives. We look at where the narrators stand in relation to their stories, and their readers, and ask why they want to tell their stories, and who they want to tell them to! We look at the sequences of events that stories are made up of, and beyond, to the emotions that those sequences stir up in the reader.

Writing exercises are set, to be carried out in the intervening fortnights, and are e-mailed to Mike, and to the other students before each session so that we not working ‘blind’ with previously unseen texts.

Each sequence of five sessions cost £40, and places are limited, enabling all course members to spend a substantial amount of time working on their own writing over the course of the five sessions. Course members are encouraged to produce completed work, and to submit it for performance, publication, or into competitions.

Mike Smith and BHD have published poetry, short stories, plays, critical essays & a novella. New collections of short stories (by BHD), and of essays (by Mike) are due out later this year.

for further details of Facets of Fiction courses & booking, contact Mike by e-mail at