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Having not written any blogs for a couple of months I have been told some folk were wondering whether I had been gathered in by that old grim reaper! 

Not just yet! I have been putting together all these autobiological blogs, editing them and preparing the result for publication under the title Me, My Life, SO WHAT? Will I or anyone else ever publish it? I have at present no firm idea. I suppose much depends upon the final shape and perceived force of my third novel A Kind of Harmony, and it is this that will occupy my remaining days.

In the meantime this is the preamble to SO WHAT? ...


About a year ago my youngest son remarked quite casually that he enjoyed reading my occasional blogs. But because I, his father, obviously enjoyed writing them, why not blog about your life?' he suggested, adding that people seldom know very much about their parents’ lives and are always curious.  So I started blogging in November 2014 as I start here, with one of a couple of narrative poems; the one reproduced by way of a prologue called ‘Fisherboy’ and the other concerning my sexual awakening entitled ‘Early Stirrings’ which is not reproduced here.

It took me about a year to cover through irregular blogs, in roughly chronological order, the years between 1939 and 2015. This book, SO WHAT?, is a compendium, an edited gathering together. 

Why should I or any non-‘celebrity’ put themselves through the toil and sometime pain of remembering and producing with as much care as he/she possibly can - perhaps even publishing - these one hundred thousand words? That’s a question that has been asked of me by a well meaning friend and one which I have indeed often asked of myself these twelve months past. I regret, friend and self, having no answer other than, perhaps, the traditional and equally pathetic answer to the eternal question, why do you want to climb that mountain?

It has nothing to do with money or expectation of a readership or ego. You should know that I am in no way egotistical. I have little to be proud about anyway! Furthermore there are warts in abundance within the life described here and I can hardly be proud about them! On the contrary I consider myself, whenever I might bother with any introspection, a humble kind of a man …

I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.

(Shakespeare: Julius Caesar)

The first lines of my main text will tell you that my bodily structure is today well inhabited by advanced prostate cancer cells. Therefore I am expecting, soon enough, to embark on that mighty adventure that goes by the name of death. I literally shiver with excitement at the prospect of meeting once more, soul to soul, not only both of my wives who, if you read these pages, you will come to know I have loved, but perhaps even the author of the words above along with the other poets and the writers and the artists who have added their star spangled lustre to this man’s often pain-filled pathway through his life on earth.  

Bryan Islip

December 2015

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First of the many - Me and Billy McGhee (alias Dee Islip)

First of the many - Me and Billy McGhee (alias Dee Islip)
Photograph courtesy of Colin Robertson

How it all started...

Our packaging business was based in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. On the 11th of September 2001, in a hotel bar, I watched the fall of the twin towers.

Three days later I met my wife, Dee, at Heathrow. We made out way north to a long planned holiday in the north west Highlands of Scotland.

By the end of that holiday our decisions were all made; we would close up our Middle East operations. I would come home to Winchester and in due course we would move up to Wester-Ross.

All my life I had played around with painting pictures and with writing verse and fiction. Now I would do this for our living, and in a place where you only had to lift your eyes to lift your mind.

In September 2002 we moved north; we had come home.

What you see here and at Pictures and Poems is some of the result thus far.

'Come on along o' me, for the best is yet to be.'