David A Llewellyn

Books & Stories by David A Llewellyn

Death, what is it good for?

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” Mark Twain

I spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about death. Just lately I have been thinking about the best way to kill someone. Come on, we’ve all done it. At least I have an excuse.*

As the saying goes, there are only two certainties in life and the other one is taxes.

Sometimes it seems like someone dies almost every year. Not celebrities, they die all the time. You just have to glance at a newspaper and another one has gone. And not refugees, either. They die in their thousands every day, poor bastards. What I mean is, every once in a while, someone close to me shuffles off this mortal coil and, as it turns out, there’s not a lot I can do about it.

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.” Woody Allen

With maybe one or two exceptions, it’s going to happen to the lot of us. Yes, I know that life is for the living, and maybe we should just get on with it, but a few moment’s quiet contemplation once in a while might do us all a bit of good.

Here’s a few quick statistics for those who like their numbers, or context, as we should call it.

  • 602,782 died in the UK in 2015; a rise of 5.7% compared with 2014.
  • There were 518 homicides (murder, manslaughter and infanticide) in the year ending March 2015 in England and Wales, down 1% on 2014.
  • There were 6,122 suicides in the UK in 2014, 120 fewer than in 2013
  • In 2015, the total number of abortions remained fairly constant at 185,824, 0.7% higher than in 2014.

I didn’t want to mention terminations at first. Something at the back of my mind wants me to push them into another box, classified in a different way, but they are here for a reason.

The first figure isn’t surprising. We have a population of just over 64 million. The sudden rise is a concern. A virulent form of flu amongst the elderly, or so we are told.

I’m not sure how anxious I feel about the second. I thought the murder rate might be higher but, then again, we are three times more likely to be murdered than to win a million on the lottery. It could be you.

Suicides were less than I expected but I suspect there are many that are chalked down to misadventure or somesuch.

Suicide is man’s way of telling God, ‘You can’t fire me – I quit.’ Bill Maher

Though the figure for terminations seems high, this represents less than one in five pregnancies, and there are far more miscarriages every year.

With so many people dying every year, it seems we have become immune to death, if not on an individual basis then certainly as a nation. There are those rare moments of collective grief, and more regular outpourings of moral outrage, but on the whole we get by with a little help from our friends.

“Don’t send me flowers when I’m dead. If you like me, send them while I’m alive.” Brian Clough

I raise this now for two reasons. The first is that I have grown intrigued by the seemingly contradictory views that many of us, myself included, hold on death and dying. A recent poll shows 82% in favour of legislation that would allow for assisted suicide but there doesn’t seem to be the political will to follow this through. We are often told that the majority would see the return of capital punishment. On a personal note, I would be in favour of the first but against the second. There are many people cleverer than I who would have it the other way around. Perhaps neither of us is consistent in our beliefs.

I invite you all to take a short survey on attitudes to life, death and dying. It will only take a couple of minutes. It is both anonymous and slightly tongue in cheek but please answer honestly. It is there for my own curiosity. I will, of course, share the results in due course.

Create your own user feedback survey

*If you are wondering why death is playing on my mind, I have recently written a novel – Indignitas. A serial killer comedy set in a euthanasia clinic.

david-llewellyn-indignitas-screenshot

 

 

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Indignitas Unbound

Indignitas receives its grand unveiling at the 3 Minute Theatre, Manchester, on Saturday 10 September. We4Poets

We4Poets Live at the 3 Minute Theatre, Manchester, 24 April 2015

Friday 24th April saw another milestone for We4Poets with a first public performance at the Three Minute Theatre, Manchester.

The 3MT is a quirky little venue in the heart of Manchester’s indie mecca Afflecks Palace. It is the perfect home for an evening of live poetry, music and performance.

14457324227_ef2e9911a2_cHost for the evening Paul Clarke kicked off the night with humorous little tale that had a full house giggling away before the incomparable Alex Aspden had them laughing out loud with comic song.

And then came Kate. Kate Woodward – better known in literary circles as the writer Spug. Spug held the audience spellbound with the story of Jack & Vera … only it turned out it wasn’t really Vera after all!

Only hours before the the gig, We4Poets lost 3 poets in a tragic stanza shoot out. Luckily we have Stan Ayodeji, a man big enough to fill any gap with wit, warmth and verse.

Finishing off the first of four sets was Gail Meacham singing Black Coffee.14643322962_3d5f827e43_cExtraordinary, utterly extraordinary.

After the break came a breakthrough for We4Poets with the debut screening of an original film by independent videopoet Olivia De Havilland. Remember the name and remember where you saw it first … unless you know Olivia, in which case you know we are tapping into an enormous talent.

14457040800_8d8a4148a7_cAnd so the evening continued. Alex returned to the stage for a poetical swipe at Nigel Farage; Paul told his Apple classic; We4Poet frontman David Llewellyn argued the case for the 463 day year; Spug recounted the story of Dan’s Desperate; and Michael Kyriacou performed 20 poems in 4 minutes.

Nikky Norton ShafauAmid an evening of likes, loves and laughter there were moments of absolute joy. One-man-dance-show Blu Jazz Dance joined us for the very first time with sublime soft-shoe work and a story to match. Also marking her first evening with We4Poets was the … too many superlatives and none of them rich enough … Nikky Norton Shafau. Nikky performed poems old and new and absolutely delighted everyone in the room.

14643373192_453b14f797_cFour more mentions. To anybody who has heard it, Gail’s take on the Beatles’ classic All My Loving is now the definitive version. Stan’s second performance was simply breathtaking, and Mr Llewellyn gave us a rare guitar performance and a blues version of ‘Daz,’ written by the legendary geordie poet Nod. If Stan Ayodeji is the powerhouse behind We4Poets – and the rest of us are the eye candy – then Tez Skachill is the pulse. In two sets Tez played four tracks from his brand new EP –Fragments – and finished the evening with songs from the back catalogue.

And finally … our never-ending thanks to John & Gina at the 3MT. Monuments could never be built high enough. We4Poets will count every moment until we are back with you on Saturday 6th June 2015.

We4Poets back the IABF – 22nd November 2014

flyer 22 NovWe4Poets return for a 2nd Live Show at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester’s City Centre.

We4Poets Too – sees a return to the stage for many of the musicians, poets and storytellers who made the first event such a fabulous success.

Spug is back. Raconteur, wit and northern novelist, Kate Woodward – better known to her adoring fans as the writer Spug – returns with her curious blend of kitchen-sink bizarre.

Acclaimed poets Justine Chamberlain and Tricia Ashworth will be joined on stage by We4Poets débutante Michael Kyriacou. The honour is ours.

Performing poems from her latest anthology – Swift on the Tide – Kat Kehoe has delighted audiences on five continents and at least two hemispheres.

We4Poets are absolutely delighted to welcome back songstress, exhibiting artist and original poet – the beautifulLaura Sinclair.

Sharon Richards is a storyteller beyond compare. Bringing words to life, Sharon has run the Success Stories storytelling club in South Manchester since she was a wee small dot.

Completing our trio of new performers to We4Poets is the uniquely talented Deanne Heron, author of the exquisitely funny and deeply touching Pardner Money collection of short stories.

After their incredible performances at the very first We4Poets Live evening in July, no event could be complete with Jazz superstar Gail Meacham and the utterly brilliant Tez Skachill. Musicianship at its finest.

The evening will be hosted by the incomparable Stanley Ayodeji – author and poet, while Manchester-based writer David Llewellyn may also be there to flog his latest novel, Jack Parr.

Tickets for the event are an unbelievable £3 advance or £4 on the door.

 

Jack Par(r) Book Launch – Live at the IABF

WE4POETS LIVE

We4Poets Live at the IABF, Manchester

On Saturday 14663733053_e6f49497a5_c12th July 2014, We4Poets celebrated the launch of Jack Par(r) by David A Llewellyn and After the Riot, Quiet by Stanley O Ayodeji with live performances from a dozen of Manchester’s finest writers, poets, storytellers and musicians.

A packed house and an enthusiastic audience – or the new Marketing Team as we
like to think of them – were welcomed to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation by Stan & David before handing over to the amazing Tez Skachill playing the first of two acoustic sets.

14663611533_dbde369daa_cTez was joined on stage by fellow guitarist, Paul Clark, and Laura Sinclair who sang the RnB classic Tyrone like Erykah Badu’s talented younger sister.

14457040800_8d8a4148a7_cThe musical section of the evening continued with Alex Aspden – the voice of a choir of angels.

14457313867_9255f2235e_cAcclaimed writer and short story specialist, Naomi Hamill brought a change of pace and laughter to the hall with two inspired tales.

14663636303_cc6704e8d1_cIf you have never seen Tricia Ashworth perform, grab the very next chance you get. Poet and performer, Tricia connected with the Marketing Team in a heartbeat and never let them go.

14457324227_ef2e9911a2_cWith such a hard act to follow, rock legend Paul Clark returned to the stage, busking through technical difficulties like an old pro. Singing the first of two self-penned songs, Paul added his inimitable scouse wit to a sweet, sweet voice and solid technique.

14640486851_c4a29eddb1_cArguably England’s finest living poet, Justine Chamberlain, delighted the audienceMarketing Team with a macabre comic tale of sex, murder and decorating in scintillating verse.

14643322962_3d5f827e43_cIt is fair to say that amongst such talented company no single performer was going to steal the show. But if anyone ran away with the first half, it was jazz legend Gail Meacham silencing the room with the purest rendition of God Bless the Child this world has ever heard.

14620756366_ef3ab935a4_cNorthern Poet, Kat Kehoe had the Marketing Team laughing again with a selection of warm and wry verse, before David Llewellyn brought the first half to a close with a humurous tale of football and Buddhism, and the shameless appeal to buy his new book,Jack Par(r), available in paperback from Amazon and as a Kindle download.

After the interval, Stan Ayodeji kicked off in similar style with a prolonged plug for his own hysterically funny and deeply disturbing novel, Damage Limitation.

14640522001_b41cfaab35_cThe only new face in the second half was the utterly astounding Kate Woodward, better known to her growing number of devoted fans as the writer Spug. This evening saw Spug recount the apparently true tale of how Shergar was found in a back garden in Crumpsall.

After more poetry, song and comedy, a joyous evening was brought to a fabulous conclusion by Tez Skachill – possibly the finest songwriter and guitarist on the circuit today – performing songs old and new.

14457169048_cef1b89fb9_c

 

Jack Par(r) now available in paperback

Jack Parr Cover 2After yet another rewrite – I have no idea how many that is – Jack Par(r) is now available to buy in paperback from Amazon and as a Kindle download.

There have been a thousand minor alterations and two new chapters added – and two removed.

It is currently available at £5.66 from Amazon and an amazing £1.83 on Kindle. The price varies all the time – don’t ask me why, it’s not me doing it – but I get the same tiny small royalty whichever version is bought and whatever price is paid.

“potty-licks” now available in paperback from Amazon

ImageImage

“potty-licks” is available in paperback from Amazon for £8.99 or from Kindle for only £3.08 (Due to relative production costs, I receive the same small royalty either way.)

Jack Par(r) – available to download now

“Jack’s average,” said Adam,

“I wouldn’t even say he was that,” said Olivia. “Anyway, you told us he was average yesterday. Has he not improved yet?”

“No,” said Adam dejectedly.

“Be fair,” I said to them both, “it’s only been a day.”

“You should take up karate,” she says. “You’d be way below average at that.”

The logic is inescapable but it’s not what I was looking for.

Jack is adrift in the middle of everything. When you are bright enough to ask the questions but not so clever to understand the answers, the world can be a difficult place. And as everyone knows, the world is just a metaphor for school.

Jack probably won’t understand this, not yet, but this story is not about being average. Not really. It is a tale of friendships lost and friendships found; of fighting the demons – real and imagined – and the Sisyphean struggle of Key Stage 3. It is the precursor to a coming of age story; a prerequisite of passage.

Jack Par(r) is a story told in the first person. We are introduced to Jack’s world, to his friends, his classmates and his family.

There is the teacher, Edgar K. Boogie.

“Algebra,” he said. “Tricky subject, algebra.” He must have been talking to Mrs Warburton. “Numbers for letters: letters for numbers. No good can come of it.”

He was right. I told him so.

“Unless of course…” he said,”

There is his mother with her lofty ambitions for a family breakfast; his father who is thinking of wearing his invisible hair in a ponytail; and his big sister…

I have one bruise on my upper left arm that’s been there since I was three. Whenever it starts to fade Sara just “tops it up”, as she says.

At school there is Matt; his nemesis; the Moriarty to Jack’s Holmes Watson. It is Matt who steals his best friend; who constantly undermines Jack’s efforts in the classroom and his position in the hierarchy of the playground. Matt who loads the bullets but never pulls the trigger.

I knew it! Matt had set Tikka up. He’d probably stolen the squid this morning and … And I bet he’d tried to colour it in at break, to make it look like a vampire squid. That would explain the black marks. Only Matt would be dumb enough to try to colour in a squid.

And then there is Zane.

In the middle of the afternoon Zane stood on his desk and told the whole class he was “a creature of the night.”  Mrs Warburton was taking us for maths at the time. “That does not surprise me one bit, Mr Chaudhry,” she said, “now sit down and shut up.” With any other child in the class she would have hit the roof but Mrs Warburton is surprisingly good with Zane. Having made his announcement, Zane was quite happy to retake his seat and quietly pretend he was being savaged by a rubber.

Shaken from youthful ignorance, Jack Par(r) tells the tale of a boy struggling to hold on to the comfortable routine he unthinkingly enjoyed for so long. Increasingly isolated in the crowd Jack takes accidental refuge, if not comfort, in his daydreams. Along the way Jack encounters some of the great philosophical questions of the age.

  • Is it possible to kill an innocent man in self-defence?
  • How much would an unsigned Van Gogh cost?
  • Why is it so hard to turn left in a Sopwith Camel?
  • How do you steer a skeleton bobsleigh?
  • What could you do with five hundred slaves?
  • What would win a fight between a tiger and a tiger shark?
  • Why did it take over fifty years for the Deep Sea Challenger to reach the bottom of the ocean?
  • And what is the point of algebra, really?

And what, exactly, are you supposed to do when you discover you are the missing link between idiots and geniuses?

Read the opening chapters HERE or download the full book from Amazon.

“potty-licks”

Charlotte's camera 044“Is this story about potty-licks?” asked the little girl suspiciously.

“Po-li-tics,” said Grandad. “No, not so’s you’d notice. It’s about Walter and the people he meets.”

Now published on Kindle Books and available through Amazon.

The narrator tells the story of Walter Pendleton and his journey from humble beginnings to the nation’s capital and the Great Debate. And yes, it is about politics, but only a bit. Mostly it is tale of friendships and adventures.

As a quick aside: At some point during the formative years I came to the conclusion that there are only two reasons to vote Conservative – greed & stupidity. Over the years I have never had cause to alter this opinion.

“Walter Pendleton dreamt of greatness but, like most of us, he was not born to it. His parents were poor, dishonest folk who stole what little the family possessed. Does this surprise you? That thieves and swindlers should be poor? Walter’s parents stole because they were poor, although to be fair they were also lazy, uneducated and selfish.”

The tale is told by a fictional “Grandad”. Grandad sets his stories in a recognisable if somewhat different world: a world Grandad understands. “Grandad knew about electricity but not the two important bits: what it was and how to make it.”

The story is shaped by his granddaughter.

“Why aren’t there any girls?”…

“Well,” said Grandad, “there is a girl, but she doesn’t come in until later in the story.”

“If she doesn’t come into the story until later, Grandad, what is she doing right now?”

And the Great Debate:

“The Great Debate” said Grandad “was  a competition to see who should run the country and how it should be run. And people travelled from far and wide to enter the Great Debate. And even more came just to watch. This story is about someone who went to watch. His name is Walter.”Charlotte's camera 045

THE LINDCHESTER CHRONICLES

Books & Stories by David A Llewellyn

Lou Treleaven

Children's author, writing coach and playwright

Bryn Llewellyn: Linking Learning

Ideas, Support & Collaborations

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