A Sweet Story

Whilst doing a bit of research for a short story I came across this:


The accidental arsenic poisoning of two hundred people in Bradford by Humbug Billy in 1858.

William Hardaker, known to locals as “Humbug Billy”, sold sweets from a stall in the Green Market in central Bradford. As was common practise at the time, his supplier and maker of the sweets – in this case peppermint humbugs – used ‘daft’ in his sweet production, supplied by a druggist in Shipley. Tragically on this occasion, due to a mistake at the pharmacy, 12 pounds of arsenic trioxide were purchased instead of the harmless ‘daft’.

There’s a book too by Rebecca Williamson…



The ambitions of a working-class lass

I have mentioned previously that I didn’t get birthday and Christmas presents every year as a child. My mother was an old-fashioned orthodox and stuck by the rules. One of the gifts I did get however was this typewriter, after a lot of pressure from  little me. The guitar was not forth-coming. I banged on and on about wanting a writing machine.

And we got one. I can’t recall where from.


I worked away on it for a few years from the age of ten to eighteen. Churning out poetry, songs, lots of letters for Amnesty, Greenpeace, BUAV, to distant people. Then it got forgotten. I threw away all my written work, including the poems I had won competitions with as a young dark romantic. My era of being precocious, as some of my teachers often called me, had gone.

It was simple. There was no choice. After a long time of little work someone needed to bring in the bread. So I got a full time job, ditching the idea of college to do English or maybe Art, and worked full-time for a few years.

In that time I did keep on with the acrylics and drawings,  churning out stuff people wanted – like a painting of the photograph they took of their holiday place, religious iconography, copies of The Last Supper.

Then I decided to fuck the tedious job with the civil service and go do a degree. Typically I gave myself two options – community work or art and design (textiles). I went for the former. The place I lived in was no longer a world textiles centre but a decaying region all around me. It looked like there was work to be done with people.

Is there always an excuse to not write? Or do we sometimes prioritise other things out of duty, compassion and solidarity. And do we come to realise eventually that the original idea, way or thought was perhaps the best one. Can we do both. Can we achieve working class solidarity, social humanism – through words.

I stand at the same crossroads. But this time, the two will be together. People and Art. Rights and Words. This time I do not ditch the stories in me. And neither should any other working class person. Don’t let art be a bourgeoisie enclave. Write the way you want to. Make it from the heart and soul. Write for you and your people.





My Veggie Moussaka

You will need

A dish to bake in – fairly deep

A pan to fry in and one to make all the saucy ragu bit in. Ingredients:

Aubergine  – sliced and salted, left to rest for half an hour then washed

New potatoes – thinly sliced and par-boiled

A brown-skinned onion and garlic

Olive oil

Red lentils


Celery and Carrot


Carton of chopped tomatoes

Feta cheese

Flour, butter and cheddar for the white sauce, bit of parmesan

Herbs – bay leaf, rosemary, oregano and thyme

A large tomato

Whilst the aubergine is seeping, do the ragu bit with everything except the potatoes, 1 fresh tomato and of course the aubergine. Make a nice rich ragu. Add tomato puree to thicken it up and herbs as you like. Quantity is all about how much you want to eat and who you are feeding. Don’t forget to season.

Wash the aubergine and then fry on both sides til golden brown.

Make the white sauce

Then start layering – ragu, then aubergine, potato, ragu, aubergine, then the fresh tomato sliced, and a final layer of potato. In between all the layers crumble some feta.

Top it all with the white sauce and bung the moussaka in the oven. 45 mins on 160 deg.

Goes nicely with a green salad.

Tastes just as good the next day.