Granny Knows Best – Fashion Over 50

Let’s get this out in the open, shall we? Some fashionista aged twelve or thereabouts throwing her six stone three around on the topic of what mature women are allowed to wear.
She can just rack off.
I’m n years old (where n tends to infinity) and I’m going to wear what I bloody well like. If I want to wear a fur coat and no knickers, I shall. If I want to go to the supermarket in a tiny bikini, I shall. If I want to wear a bright purple tracksuit and orange Converse high tops, I shall. If I want to wear double denim spray on, I shall. If I want to wear something beige with an elasticated waist (unlikely), I shall.
It’s nobody’s business but mine.
Don’t patronise me with suitability, or the idea that certain garments will make me look younger. They won’t.
And anyway I’m old and glad to be
So. Up yours. I’m off to buy the most unsuitable garment I can find.


It’s not nice being called a ‘big girl’ every day of your life. Susannah had grown tired of it but the invitation to the masked ball came anyway.

Mother sneered.

“Surely you don’t intend…”

Father looked over his spectacles. “It’s not optional, my dear, the gel must go.”

Mother sighed, but Father’s mistress was rather more helpful.

The feathered mask and basque gave her a confidence she had never before felt.

It was a shame for all the pampered debutantes that the country’s answer to Prince Charming was a sucker for big boobs.

Princess Susannah was still a big girl.

Jane Jago

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Joanne Kathleen Rowling reviewed by Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

Sometimes I wonder if my maternal parent is indeed all she claims to be on that account. Could it be, perchance, I was secretly adopted and hail from a genetic line in which the aesthetic principle is celebrated more absolutely? Alas no. The results of the DNA test were pretty clear on that point.

But you will understand my confusion, nay – my utter bafflement at the birthday gift I received from Mumsie last year. I had hoped it would be yet another copy of one of the vibrant tomes by She Who I Am Not Worthy To Name, but instead it was a children’s book – in Latin. When I challenged her choice, suggesting that whilst I was ipso facto her child, I was no longer in childhood, quod erat demonstrandum. But she was not impressed.

“Moons,” she told me, “stop pratting around. Your father paid for you to have an expensive education so use it. Read the book.”

Needless to say ‘Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis’ still sits unread in my writing den where it’s presence is discreetly muted by shadows. However, so I could convince Mummy I had read the blasted thing, I was compelled to procure an English edition.

My review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Joanne Kathleen Rowling

A boy who is being generously raised by distant relatives, shows extremes of ingratitude and against their wishes takes off for boarding school seduced by the blandishments of those who try to persuade him he is some kind of messiah.

The school, called Hogfarts or something similar, is the educational facility of a secret cult which regards normal people as an inferior breed and calls them ‘muggles’, whilst endeavouring to promote a master race of magic users. Hogfarts uses a hat to choose which house a pupil should be in and the unfortunate child, who is called Harry, is not selected for the superior house and thus has to make do with some rather second-rate companions.

Amongst his adventures, Harry finds a mirror, a dog and a chessboard. He turns out to be quite good at sports, which was not something I had expected as he seemed the geeky sort. He also finds an invisibility cloak but uses it for the most boring things like sneaking around the school. Harry eventually succeeds in stopping a two-faced individual from getting hold of some pebble, but despite his dramatic victory he still finishes the book back where he started.

Two stars for being available in both Latin and English and thus sparing me Mumsie’s scathing vitriol.

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

You can find more of IVy’s profound thoughts in How To Start Writing A Book courtesy of E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago.


A big wedding was important to Laura. Ever since she had been a flower-girl for her cousin Amelia’s wedding when she was five, she had been obsessed with the idea. She filled pages with plans and designs for dresses, cakes, flower arrangements.

So it was probably nor surprising when she grew up she decided she wanted to be a wedding planner.

Tim was a gardener for one of the big estates where she had a job. It was love at first sight. 

They married in a drive-through in Los Angeles and Laura thought it the best wedding in the world.

E.M. Swift-Hook

The Chronicles of Nanny Bee – An Infertile Feud

They called her Nanny Bee, although as far as anyone knew she had never been a wife or a mother, let alone a grandmother. But she was popularly believed to be a witch – so Nanny it was. She lived in a pink-walled thatched cottage that crouched between the village green and the vicarage. The Reverend Alphonso Scoggins (a person of peculiarly mixed heritage and a fondness for large dinners) joked that between him and Nanny they could see the villagers from birth to burial.
Nanny’s garden was the most verdant and productive little patch you could ever imagine, and she could be found pottering in its walled prettiness from dawn to dusk almost every day. People came to visit and were given advice, or medicine, or other potions in tiny bottles or scraps of paper – but they always had the sneaking suspicion they were getting in the way of the gardening.
But there again, digging is second nature to gnomes.

It was one of those winter evenings when your own fireside is the best place to be when Nanny’s dream of bee-loud summer was interrupted by a quiet tap on the door. It was the vicar’s housekeeper. She dropped a small curtesy and Nanny wondered why her prickles didn’t tear holes in her flowered gown.
“The vicar asks if you could spare him a few moments ma’am.”
“What? Right now?”
“If you please.”
Nanny shoved her feet into her bright red rubber boots and wrapped herself in a cloak of fine combed wool.
“Lead the way, Tiggywinkle.”
In the vicar’s study, the formidable bosom of the village’s premier gossip was accompanied by her daughter – who didn’t look too happy to be there.
“Ah. Bee. I’m being asked to call out Farmer Greengrass in church as an adulterer and the father of the baby Amelia here is carrying.”
“I’m not asking Reverend, I demand that you put my daughter in place of that man’s barren wife.”
Nanny sniffed. “Adulterer he may well be. But the child ain’t his.”
“Are you calling my daughter a liar?”
“Egg it how you please. The babe ain’t his.”
The bosom loomed.
“How dare you?”
Nanny grinned. “It ent his wife what’s barren.”
Then she went home.



Battleship of red plasteel from Alpha Centauri
Making warp speed easily above a dead star
With a cargo of human slaves
Rarest furs, jewellery
Golden lace, silver shoes and racing cars

Supersonic cruiser coming from a black hole
Slipping through the galaxy without time to stay
With a cargo of statuary
Painted whores, exotic goods
Platinum, sapphire rings, and velvet grey

Grungy earthling trader with a pockmarked dark hull
Crashing through the atmosphere and killing trees
With a cargo of tractors
Isotopes, scrap lead
Diesel, uranium and prosthetic knees.

Jane Jago

Weekend Wind Down – A Busy Morning

The Dai and Julia Mysteries by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, a  whodunit series set in a modern day Britain where the Roman Empire still rules.

Having seen the Magistratus to his office, Dai was heading for his own office on the first floor of the building and had reached the door when he got a call from Bryn, his voice heavy.
“We got an ID on the body. It’s Manius Terfel.”
Dai struggled for a moment. “But he’s the Magistratus’ primus secretarius. He was with Caudinus for years. He was…” Realising how he sounded Dai stopped talking and drew quick breath. “He was a good man.”
“I was wondering if you wanted to be the one to tell the Magistratus. He might be…”
“Yeah. I’ll do it. And you ought to know he’s planning to perch on your shoulder for this investigation. I tried to talk him out of it but he seems to think it’s his duty to do so in order to protect you lot from any chance of getting blamed for missing something since he says this could make it all the way to Rome.”
“It’s like the man has his heart in the right place but not always his brain. I’m not going to leave you on the sidelines with this even if Dominus Sextus Catus is. Meet for prandium, usual taberna?”
Dai agreed and finished the call then headed back down to the Magistratus’ office.
On the way he ran into Senior Investigator Brutus Gaius Gallus. The older man had been a Praetorian Decanus until a few months ago, part of a vexillation sent to help Dai secure law and order when he first took on the role of Submagistratus. When the Praetorians were recalled to Londinium, Gallus had surprised everyone by choosing to stay behind and take a transfer to the Vigiles as a Senior Investigator.
He was a man typical of his generation and upbringing and although Dai had begun to appreciate the honesty and intelligence that the ex-soldier brought to the job, there was still something he thought Gallus held back when in conversation with him. Bryn seemed to find a good measure of social ease with his colleague, but then they were of an age. But a reserve remained between Dai and Gallus that neither really seemed able to completely overcome.
With all his mind concentrated on the task to hand the last thing Dai wanted right now was yet another awkwardly polite exchange.
Gallus put a hand on his arm. “If I could have a word.” Torn between duties, Dai hesitated, which was clearly enough for Gallus to presume he was willing to listen there and then.
“I wanted to ask how the Citizen recruitment program is progressing. I still only have two Citizens in my team and if we are to work towards producing the local armed response force we need…”
Hard pressed though he was Dai had to admit Gallus had a point, it was a project they were both committed to and recent events had proved even a small number of armed Vigiles could make a big difference when tackling groups of criminals. So he suppressed his irritation.
“I know. And I wish I had a way to attract more applicants. But I’m not sure there is one.”
Gallus dredged up half a grin. “You don’t think it’s to do with working under me then?”
The question took Dai aback. “No. Not in the slightest. I think your team are very happy with you. It’s just that most Citizens seem to think a career in the Vigiles is beneath them.”
Gallus grunted. “I used to think that.” Then he presented Dai with half a salute before striding off.
Bestia was emerging from the room as Dai reached it, a frown on his face.
“Ah. Llewellyn. I don’t suppose you’ve seen Turbel have you? I can’t seem to raise him. I was just heading to his office to see if he was out.”
“Terfel,” Dai said carefully. “Manius Terfel and if we could step into your office for a moment please, dominus.” The frown deepened for a moment, but Bestia must have seen something in Dai’s expression because he opened the door again and gestured Dai inside.
“What is it? You look quite green around the gills.”
“SI Cartivel has just identified the corpse in the portico, dominus. It is that of Manius Terfel.”
Bestia blinked a few times then gulped in some air.
“Surely – there must be some mistake. I only spoke to the man yesterday evening. He was…” Then the Magistratus broke off and shook his head. “Dead you say? That is not good. Not good at all.”

From Dying on the Mosaics by E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago

Granny Knows Best – Fakeup

I have to laugh when I read:
My profile picture is ‘no makeup, no filters’.

Har de frikking har.
Have you thought that people may take more than a cursory glance?
Number one. Why does the pretty rose colour of your lips extend past the lip line?
Number two. Why can the black plastic bit that sticks the false eyelashes together be so clearly seen?
Number three. Why is your face not the same colour as your neck?
Number four. Why do your ‘natural un-retouched’ eyebrows look like woolly bear caterpillars?
And that was all noticed in less than four seconds.

My point?
It’s not necessary to be visually perfect, as the crumpled paper bag I wear instead of a face attests, but it’s kind of disappointing when adult people feel that it’s okay to lie about the lengths they have gone to to achieve ‘perfection’.


Mary stood before the altar with the grim-visaged black-clad lawyer her father had chosen for her and swallowed nervously. She sat silent at his side throughout the wedding breakfast. When the last bawdy joke had been told, he placed her hand in the crook of his arm and led her to the bedchamber.

“Will you trust me?” he asked.

She could only nod mutely.

Much later she lay sated in his arms, shockingly naked save for the silken strands of her hair.

“Oh my goodness,” she said faintly. “Who knew what a lawyer might hide beneath his robes…”

Jane Jago

Dying to be Roman by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook reviewed by Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

Duty is not a popular concept nowadays. It is usually viewed much as the albatross around the neck of the Ancient Mariner, a heavy burden which must be fulfilled if one is not to be crushed by guilt. That is certainly true for oneself when contemplating the growing pile of books my students and others have sent me, asking me to cast my eyes upon pages of pallid prose and turgid tropes so as to bestow even the merest flutter of words in a review.

If you are one such, awaiting my good offices, be sure I have not forgotten you, whoever you are and your book will be quite safe for years to come in my keeping.

However, there is one duty read I find myself unable to escape. A mercifully thin book produced by the cohabiting creativity of the two dreadful females whose blog I so kindly support by allowing them to host my words free of charge. I was poorly repaid for this act of generosity by being presented with a copy of their tedious novella, with the unspoken expectation that I should review it. 

My Review of Dying to be Roman by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

What an appalling fiasco!

To begin, we have a setting which is in the modern day (indeed, with tantalising hints of futuristic devices and transport), but then we are also assaulted by  inaccurate Latin, as the rather ridiculous premise of the tale is that Merry England is not English – it is a mere province of the still existing Roman Empire. As if!

I was so shocked and appalled by the idea that anyone could cast aside the entire glorious history of my nation and substitute instead a shallow national grave on the ebbing tide of civilisation, that the story itself seemed barely to matter. Something about athletes being murdered and fish sauce…

Avoid at all costs.

Duty called. I have answered.

One star for a clever-sounding title.

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

You can find more of IVy’s profound thoughts in How To Start Writing A Book courtesy of E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago.

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