Saturday, 15 March 2014

Lancashire introduces ‘Clare’s Law’

A Scheme which allows the public to formally enquire about someone that they are in an intimate relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, has been rolled out  across Lancashire from Saturday 8 March 2014.

The National Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme, more widely known as ‘Clare’s Law’, will allow those who are concerned about the violent or abusive history of their partner to contact the police and request information.

In practice, this information may be disclosed via a request from a member of the public - known as the ‘right to ask’ - or by an agency where a proactive decision is made to consider disclosing the information in order to protect a potential victim at risk. This is known as the ‘right to know’.

If subsequent police checks show that a person may be at risk of domestic abuse from their partner based on their history, the police will consider disclosing the information.

Head of Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley said: “Sadly we know only too well the devastating consequences that domestic abuse has and so we hope that Clare’s Law will that help to protect potential victims of domestic abuse and prevent further crime.

“The scheme is a preventative measure and enables potential victims to take control of their life and make an informed decision about whether to stay with somebody or not.”

A disclosure under this scheme can be made by:

    Someone who has concerns that their partner may harm them
    A third party, such as a parent, neighbour or friend who has concerns about someone’s safety.

To apply for the type of information covered by Clare’s Law, members of the public can call the police on 101, visit their nearest police station or approach a police officer.

Calls for the introduction the scheme came following the tragic death of Clare Wood, who was murdered by her former partner in Greater Manchester in 2009. Her partner had three previous convictions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Ironically, Clare's Law would not have saved Clare Wood. At 36 had already left George Appleton, but he would not accept it and she could get no protection from him. In the months before her murder she had repeatedly contacted Greater Manchester Police MP claiming Appleton had caused criminal damage, harassed, threatened to kill and sexually assaulted her.

She had a panic alarm installed at her home after making an allegation of attempted rape against Appleton, who was arrested a week before her death for smashing down her front door. He came back, yet again, and strangled her and set fire to her body, then hanged himself.

A pilot scheme was launched with four other police forces; Greater Manchester, Gwent, Wiltshire and Nottingham.

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw added: "Domestic abuse devastates lives, and it is vitally important that here in Lancashire we take every step to ensure people do not become victims.

"I want sufferers to feel empowered to take the step and break free of relationships which are, or potentially could be, abusive. Clare's Law is an important step in helping people do that at the earliest possible stage. Anyone who feels they, or someone they know, may be at risk, can get the information they need to make an informed decision about the relationship.

"This legislation has been introduced as a direct result of campaigning following the tragic death of Clare Wood, and demonstrates why it is so important to listen to victims, learn from experience, and act on it. I am committed to doing that in Lancashire."

The launch of the scheme coincided with International Women’s Day, also on Saturday, 8 March.

You can find out more about the scheme and what it involves at:
http://www.lancashire.police.uk/help-and-advice/help-and-advice2/domestic-abuse-disclosure-scheme

Friday, 14 March 2014

Dare you take the BBC2 Allotment Challenge?

A soft southern allotment, as depicted by the BBC

There is just one week left to apply to compete in a BBC2 primetime gardening show 'The Big Allotment Challenge', produced in association with Silver River Productions, a TV company based in London. looking for contestants!

Davinia Richardson, a Silver River Junior Casting Producer, writes:
"We’ve just started casting for the series so we’re in the early stages. The programme will follow a handful of talented amateur kitchen gardeners as they transform a plot of earth into a patch of beauty to reveal all the wonderful possibilities that can be unlocked from allotment growing. Kitchen gardening and growing your own produce is an amazing way to live and this series celebrates that.

"We’re looking for people who have the skill and dedication to dig their way to victory and be crowned the winner of The Big Allotment Challenge. People who can cultivate the perfect carrot, make their green tomatoes into award winning chutney and turn their dahlias and sweet peas into floral arrangements fit for a Queen.

"We’re looking for amateurs so obviously we don’t expect anyone to be highly skilled at everything, they could be a window box grower, an existing allotmenteer or simply love to grow veg, if they’ve got some experience as well as the enthusiasm and dedication to learn then we’d love to consider them for the show!"

For more information and an application form visit:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/shows/beonashow/the_big_allotment_challenge
You can also visit 'The Big Allotment Challenge - Casting' on facebook.
Applicants must be 18 years of age or over.
Closing date for applications is Thursday 20 March 2014.

Lancaster Singers to perform University Anniversary Concert

The Lancaster Singers 
The Lancaster Singers are performing at Lancaster University on Saturday 22 March to help celebrate the University's 50th anniversary as one of a series of 2014 events highlighting the university's rich legacy. You may have seen another anniversary project recently, the Campus in the City crew performing feats of intellectual engagement in St Nicholas Arcade (with their own pipeline to Costa Coffee).

The rich and varied Lancaster Singers concert programme is as follows:
Hare: Triptych
Bach: Jesu Meine Freude
Telemann: Trumpet Concerto in D
Bach: Wachet Auf for trumpet and organ
Dvorak: Mass in D

The Lancaster Singers are a well-established and vibrant local choir, performing with their charismatic conductor Marco Fanti. They will be joined by Ian Hare (organ) and John Miller (trumpet). Ian Hare has been the University Organist since 1974, and was also the Lancaster Singers’ first conductor; the concert begins with Ian’s choral setting of the University’s motto ‘Patet Omnibus Veritas’. John Miller is Head of the School of Wind, Brass and Percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music.

The Singers would love you to come along and celebrate with them as this concert promises to be a very uplifting, moving and enjoyable event.

The concert is on Saturday 22 March 2014 at 7:30pm, in the Great Hall at Lancaster University.
Tickets are £14 for adults, £12 for concessions and free for students. Please call the Live at LICA box office on 01524 594151 or email boxoffice@liveatlica.org and ask for the Lancaster Singers Anniversary Celebration Concert. You may also book tickets through the 'Tickets and CDs' tab of the Lancaster Singers website at http://www.lancastersingers.org/.

Hunt continues for missing Heysham man



Police are continuing the search for a 47 year old man missing from his home in Heysham.

Philip Browning was last seen around 7.30am on Thursday 13th March, when he left his home address on St Johns Road to go to the shop.

He failed to return home and police are concerned for his welfare.

PC Emma Brown said: “Philip suffers from various medical conditions and may come across as confused or disorientated. He enjoys drinking and playing pool but given his poor health he suffers serious amnesia if he drinks alcohol and therefore is very vulnerable.

“I would appeal to anybody that has seen Philip since this morning or knows of his current whereabouts to contact police on 101.

“Philip does not have any money on him and is not familiar with public transport so he is likely to be seen walking around.”

Philip is described as being white, five foot eleven inches tall, slim build with dark brown receding hair. He has a ruddy complexion, beard and brown eyes.

He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a large cream rain jacket.

Update: 14.03.2014, 10:30am - Philip Browning has been found safe and well. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Canal Trust Work Party gets digging

Digger on pontoon

The Lancaster Canal Trust tell us that their winter programme of work maintaining and restoring the Lancaster Canal has been very wet and windy, but very interesting. Recent help in maintaining the far side of the canal, often badly neglected and not easy to manage, came from Northern Pontoon Hire, Carnforth. Lee Nicholls, the MD, not satisfied with loaning equipment, has been experimenting with putting a digger on pontoons to dredge the canal.

Testing the the stop planks for leaks
under Stainton Crossing bridge.
In February the work party was aided by another local contractor who provided a mini-digger and dumptruck, complete with driver, and some road planings for a nominal cost. The machinery was used at Stainton Crossing Bridge to complete new embankment.  It was then applied to removing the mud from a long section of towpath and spreading the 20 tons of road planings evenly over the entire section. This will greatly improve the path for locals as well as other canal walkers providing a much less muddy route up to Sellet Hall bridge.

The Trust organises work parties every second Sunday of the month, which volunteers are welcome to join.
They have been extremely fortunate in finding an ex British Waterways man, Keith Tassart, to be  a  Work Party Organiser. Keith can be emailed at workparty@lancastercanaltrust.org.uk for more information on joining a work party.

The next working party will be on Sunday 13 April and will concentrate on tree/hedge planting around Hincaster tunnel.

The Trust also organises boat trips throughout the Summer on their narrowboat 'Waterwitch', crewed by Trust volunteers. From 20 April cruises leave approximately every 40 minutes from Crooklands every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday and also Saturdays in August, from 11am - 4pm.  There is no booking - it's first come first served, weather permitting!  If you're making a special trip you can check if the boat is operating by calling:  07504 710 351

You can find out more about the work of the Lancaster Canal Trust at www.lancastercanaltrust.org.uk.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

EDF: Questions over flood risk to Heysham reactors

EDF brings continental fashion to Heysham
Over 60 people from Lancaster District and around the UK held a vigil at Heysham Nuclear Power station last Saturday 8 March to mark the 3rd anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Fukishima and to call on EDF to publicly answer questions relating to safety of the reactors in the face of climate change, and the ongoing problem of nuclear waste storage.

Local architect Mo Kelly took levels to demonstrate how high sea levels may be in 2100 and used a measuring staff to show how high a 5 metre storm surge would be, making reference to the 18 metre storm surges seen on the Dorset coast this winter.

People stood in silence for some minutes after messages were read out, including from Japan, where the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred in 2011. Thousands of people who lived within 20 km of Fukushima have still not been able to return to their homes, and just weeks ago on February 20th, another 100 tonnes of highly radioactive water leaked from the plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Mo Kelly handed in a letter to the operators of the power station, EDF, asking them to publicly list the specific details of the improved safety measures taken by the power stations since Fukushima.

Marianne Birkby of Radiation Free Lakeland said, 'There is no long-term solution to nuclear waste though the industry is trying to force through a nuclear dump in Cumbria even though the Nirex Enquiry found it to be geologically unsafe.'

Gisela Renolds of Lancaster District  said, ‘We want the operators of Heysham nuclear power stations to tell us:

1.) How are they preparing for climate change-induced sea level rises and storm surges?
2.) How we can we be sure that flooding will not cause nuclear waste leaks and
3.) How can the nuclear power stations continue producing waste if there are no safe solutions for long-term storage?"

Alan Oulton, station director of Heysham 2 power station told Virtual-Lancaster today: "Heysham 1 has been operating safely since 1983 and Heysham 2 since 1988. As a responsible company we are always looking at ways to improve every aspect of all we do on site and although we have no significant concerns at present and certainly no safety concerns regards our sea defences, all our operations are open to scrutiny from our many independent regulators such as the Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation."

A DEFRA report obtained by The Guardian has assessed 12 of Britain's 19 civil nuclear sites are already at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change (Guardian, March 7th, 2012)  Nine of the sites,  including Heysham,  have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being potentially vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future.

See also:
Heysham Vigil to highlight Government Nuclear Site Flood Risk (Climate Change) Assessment

Local Cinema Round-Up for 12th to 20th March 2014 by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

Not a great period for new releases, there are only two. We have comedy with The Stag (15) and music with Peter Gabriel - Back to Front.

Of the current films, drama is well represented with Non-Stop, Need for Speed, 300: Rise of an Empire, Gravity and the excellent 12 Years a Slave. However there is little on offer for lovers of horror, or indeed of romance. Family films abound with The LEGO Movie, Escape from Planet Earth, Mr Peabody & Sherman and there is still a chance to catch Frozen.

For a high culture both the Reel and Vue have a single showing of The Royal Opera House: The Sleeping Beauty. The Dukes are presenting NT Encore: War Horse and also featuring the science fiction romance Her.

Reviews

12 Years a Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Category: 15
Cast Includes: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Michael Fassbender
Set in the 1800s, New York black man Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is drugged, kidnapped and sold as a slave to a New Orleans Plantation. Here he works for slave-master Epps (Michael Fassbender) who is a sadist, dishing out sexual abuse. The film is based on an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, the script being co-written by Steve McQueen and John Ridley. This is one of the finest films about American Slavery. It is very visceral, with Northup trying to maintain dignity amidst the atmosphere of violence of the movie. Very well shot and splendidly acted, this is the must see film for 2014.

300: Rise of an Empire
Director: Noam Murro
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro
The film is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel 'Xerxes' and the action adopts the visual style of the 2007 prequel '300'. The Persian forces led by Xerxes (Santoro) and Artemisia (Green) are opposed by the Greek General Themistokles (Stapleton). The film centres on a sea battle. The story is rather predictable, but there is plenty of blood, violence and CGI effects to keep the interest. If you liked the original you will enjoy this movie

Frozen
Director: Chris Buck
Certificate PG
Cast Includes Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad,Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Groff
This Disney musical animation is loosely based on the fairy tale 'The Snow Queen' for it is she who has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to Anna (sister to the snow queen) and a loner Kristoff to undertake an epic journey to find the Snow Queen and convince her to lift the icy spell. This is a magical movie destined to become a classic. It will appeal to families and children of all ages and makes an movie for Christmas.

Gravity
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney< br /> Ryan Stone (Bullock) a medical engineer and seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) are on a shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. However during a routine space walk, disaster strikes as the shuttle is destroyed by impact from space debris and Stone tumbles free in space. The film follows Stone's plight as she battles to survive. Bullock gives a superlative performance in this spectacularly shot movie. However the interest of the film is not the impressive special effects but rather the exploration of human frailty in adversity.

Mr Peabody & Sherman
Director: Rob Minkoff
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter
A DreamWorks comedy animation. Mr Peabody is a dog, but this does not stop him being an inventor, scientist, sportsman and general genius. Accompanied by his boy Sherman, the duo use their WABAC time machine in order to impress Sherman's friend Penny. However during their adventures meeting famous characters of history, they accidentally rip a hole in the Universe. As a result they must repair history in order to save the future. A great yarn and appealing family movie. There is little here to offend the youngest of children, and some of the jokes will entertain an older audience.

Non-Stop
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Liam Neeson, Nate Parker, Julianne Moore
Bill Marks (Neeson), an alcoholic and chain smoking air marshall on a flight from New York to London, receives a series of text messages demanding he get the government to transfer a large sum of cash to an offshore account else a passenger will be killed every twenty minutes. Yet the offshore account is in Mark's own name, making him the prime suspect. This is an excellent and enjoyable suspense drama, complete with air turbulence, scared stewardesses and the inevitable deaths on the airplane.

Ride Along
Director: Tim Story
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Ice Cube, Bruce McGill, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Tika Sumpter
Ben (Hart) is a security guard who wants to marry his sweetheart Angela (Sumpter). Yet to do so he must convince Angela's brother James (Cube), a cop in Atlanta that he is worthy. Hence Ben gets to spend a day riding along on the brothers shift whilst James is trying to catch a notorious criminal. The plot is not very convincing, but that is no great distraction from the film which is a really a buddy cop movie giving Hart the situations for his stand up humour. This is a fun movie, enjoyable and entertaining which benefits from not taking itself too seriously.

The Book Thief
Director: Brian Percival
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Roger Allam, Emily Watson
The film is based in World War II Germany and tells the story of Liesel (Nelisse) a young girl sent to live with a foster family after family problems. She copes by stealing books to read and this enables her to become close with her foster father and with Max, a Jewish boy hiding in their basement. The film does not make any comments on the horrors of Nazi Germany, it simply provides a backdrop for what is essentially a love story, and during the film we have Death providing the narration. The acting is acceptable but the characters are not totally believable.

The Stag
Director: John Butler
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Andrew Scott, Michael Legge, Peter McDonald, Brian Boru Gleeson, Hugh O'Conor, Amy Huberman
Fionan (O'Conor) is due to marry Ruth (Huberman). He does not want a stag night but Ruth gets the best man Davin (Scott) to arrange a stag weekend with groom and assorted friends as they hike in Ireland. This is an inoffensive British comedy that comes up with a good selection of wacky situations, male bonding and predictable nudity. A run of the mill film that generates some laughs.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Director: Martin Scorsese
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler
The story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Di Caprio) who rose from penny stocks to a life of affluence and corruption as he founded the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. His life of drugs, sex and ruthless achievement led to his title of Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese had produced a hard hitting and fast moving film and Di Caprio's acting rises to the challenge of portraying Belfort. However after building up Belfort as a monster the film seems to say little about about the morality of this sort of life and thus ultimately does not come to any satisfactory resolution. Hence the movie seemed to lacked any real depth.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Cyclist dies following collision with bus in Lancaster

A 67-year-old woman has died after being involved in a collision with a bus on Lancaster's North Road last week.

Joan Behar from Lancaster sadly passed away around 6.15pm on Friday 7th March at Royal Preston Hospital. She sustained fatal head injuries following a collision with a single decker bus on  on Tuesday 4th March.

The collision took place around 3.40pm when the bus has been travelling south in slow moving traffic on North Road near to the junction with Chapel Street.

Sergeant David Hogarth from the Road Policing Unit said: “Sadly following this collision Mrs Behar has since passed away. Her family are being supported by a specially trained family liaison officer and I would appeal to anybody that witnessed this collision or with any information that could assist with our investigation to contact police on 101.

“I would be particularly keen to speak with anybody who saw Mrs Behar pushing her bike or cycling down Rosemary Lane contraflow to traffic prior to the collision.”

North Road and Chapel Street were closed for around four hours to enable an investigation to take place on the day of the accident.

Review: Retorica at Live at LICA

Retorica at Live at LICA
Thursday, 6 March 2014
in the Great Hall, Lancaster University

Reviewed by Sally Ryde

Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo met at the Royal College of Music and have been persuading audiences artfully since 2010. Each has a list of other musical collaborations as long as your arm but it is as Retorica (Italian: artful persuasion) that they bring the lesser-known repertoire for two violins to concert platforms around the world. Last Thursday, they brought their unique experience to the Great Hall at Lancaster University.

Retorica
The programme looked great even before the doors opened but the layout of the Hall further raised expectations of an exciting evening to come. Set out in three-quarter round in the middle of this building’s very large space was a low platform with four tall music stands tightly clustered in its centre. It became clear that the two players would stand facing one another and that each would need two music stands to accommodate all the paper necessary to avoid awkward page turns.

Throughout the concert, the two elegantly-dressed young players took it in turn to introduce the pieces, occasionally swapping places on the platform, solely for reason of variety, it seemed. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening Telemann piece, which had been written specifically for two violins. It was a masterpiece of polyphony and demonstrated that the talented composer needs only two instruments and a thorough understanding of Baroque compositional devices to create fantastic music.

Interestingly, the programme contained more than one sonata for two violins by Prokofiev. Or rather I should say it contained sonatas for two violins by more than one Prokofiev, for we heard a piece not only by Sergei Prokofiev (born 1891) but also one by his grandson Gabriel Prokofiev (born 1975). The latter was personally present to introduce the world premier of his Sonata for two violins.

Like his grandfather before him, Gabriel Prokofiev had sought to bring new sounds to the violin duo repertoire. He said that he wanted to explore the more intimate and ‘duskier’ regions of the violin. He had also introduced challenging harmonics in both players’ parts and had to confess that the ink on the parts for the middle movement was still a little damp.

Both Prokofiev sonatas (S’s and G’s) were a huge pleasure to hear, different though they were to one another. As was said in its introduction, the first sonata was full of dialogue and conflict and swimming with colours and new sounds. The two parts mostly stuck to their allotted registers but otherwise contributed equally to the music’s creativity. Prokofiev the younger’s sonata also contained new colours and sounds but substituted quiet conversation for loud argument: less shouting and more just holding hands, as it were.

The Bach two-part inventions and the Wieniawski etude were wonderful illustrations of ‘proper’ art which is also specifically designed to teach some particular artistic device or to explore a particular genre. The Bach pieces promoted the independence of two hands on a keyboard whereas the Wieniawski work concentrated on the trill ornament. The skill of the composers was such that the listener did not need to know any of that to fully enjoy either piece.

The evening was not without two small dramas. The first came moments before the commencement of the first piece after the interval. There was a hesitation followed by one player’s confession that she had forgotten to bring her mute. The other player gallantly filled the gap with additional observations and information about the music until her colleague returned to the platform.

The other incident related to the intermittent drone of a fan motor somewhere in the building. Horribly, the fan switched on during the final pianissimo unison of the first Bach Invention. Happily, its hum joined in almost exactly on pitch!

For an encore, the duo played one of the Bach pieces again. Nice, but I wished there had been a way of putting the whole evening’s experience into a bag to take home. Why must good things always come to an end!

Curiously, someone found a violin mute in the second row seating immediately following the concert.

S. Ryde


Artists’ website: http://www.retorica.co.uk/

Concert Programme:
Telemann: Sonata in B minor, Op.2 No.5 for two violins
Mozart: Sonata in G major, K379
S. Prokofiev: Sonata in C major, Op.56 for two violins
G. Prokofiev:  Sonata for 2 violins
J. S. Bach: Two Part Inventions
No.2 in C minor
No.6 in E major
No.8 in F major
H. Wieniawski: Etude Caprice in G minor, Op.18 No.1
G. Handel (arr. J. Halvorsen): Passacaglia


Tickets were priced (web advance):  Adults £15.50, Concessions £13.00, Young person/student £7.00

Future musical events at Live at LICA: Live at LICA ‘What’s On’

The Writing Life: three Lancaster-based authors to reveal the secrets of their craft

Local author Carys Davies. Author photo © Emily Atherton. Via Salt Publishing

Three professional authors, including BBC Radio 4 script writer Carys Davies, will be in Lancaster for a free event to talk about their craft in St. Nicholas Arcades on Saturday 22nd March.

"Writing is a business," explains Creative Writing PhD student and emerging writer Yvonne Battle-Felton, who is hosting the event, titled The Writing Life.

"Talent, passion and an engaging story will make you a writer," she continues, "But pursuing a career as a writer means looking at writing from multiple perspectives: marketing, accounting, promoting, networking, planning, and balancing multiple projects. How do you balance crafting stories with crafting a career?"

"I always pictured myself as a writer living near the ocean sipping something exotic and fruity," Yvonne says of her vocation on her own blog. "Now I use my writing to learn about myself, to advocate for others; to voice to experiences.

After being accepted to Lancaster University's Creative Writing PHD program she says she finds herself "writing more, experiencing everything.

Yvonne will be joined on the panel of professional writers at Lancaster University's "Campus in the City"  in St. Nicholas Arcades by award-winning author Carys Davies and fiction and non-fiction writer, lecturer George Green, as they talk about making a living as a writer, balancing projects and designing a writing life.

Carys’s stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and widely published in magazines and anthologies. She won the 2010 Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Award, the 2011 Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Prize and a 2013 Northern Writers’ Award, and has been shortlisted and longlisted for many other prizes, including the Wales Book of the Year, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and the William Trevor/ Elizabeth Bowen Short Story Prize.

George Green, author of two well regarded historical adventure novels, Hound and Hawk, was born in Dublin in 1956 and brought up in Tipperary, where he lived in a house built on an ancient burial mound. After university he embarked on a career in sport and leisure in the hope that it would not be too difficult and help him meet girls.

Ten years later he realized his mistake, took an MA in Creative Writing, began teaching and now works for the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University.

• The Writing Life 2.00pm Saturday 22nd March 2014, Lancaster University's "Campus in the City"  in St. Nicholas Arcades (near Costa Coffee). Free but register for tickets here