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About this blog

This blog is a place for my non-fiction writing.

There will be posts promoting my writing, in all its areas. I will talk about my writing in general, the inspiration behind it, my writing process and several of the issues I’ve faced writing. It will also contain essays, reviews and other examples of my non-fiction writing. There won't be any politics here but there will be social commentary and personal stories.

(I have started a book reviewing project, I am attempting to review as many of the book I've read as possible, and I am going to post those book reviews here too)

Entries in this blog

To Be a Friend

Summer 1985 “I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” Lynne said and wrapped her arms around me in a hug. We were sat together in my parents’ kitchen, while my parents were in the living room, watching television. Lynne and I were members of the Young People’s Fellowship (YPF), which was the young people’s group at our Evangelical Anglian church. We were also friends. I really admired her singing voice, which was one of those voice’s that could claim the attention of a whole room with its purit

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in My Story

Book Review: Injury Time by Beryl Bainbridge

It’s 1970s North London. Middle class and conservative accountant Edward is married to Helen, but he is also having an affair with Binny. But single mother Binny is tired of being the other woman and wants a social life with Edward, a part of one anyway, more than just occasional meals in restaurants were Edward is sure no one will recognise him. To this end Binny wants to host a dinner party for Edward and his friends George and Muriel Simpson. The two couples duly sit down for their dinner par

Book Review: The Use of Reason by Colm Tóibín

A small time Dublin thief (we’re never told his name) suddenly finds himself out of his depth. Used to stealing cash and jewels, which he can easily fence and sell on, he now finds that the paintings he stole, from a country house, are a Rembrandt, a Gainborough and two Guardis. How does he sell them, for a good profit, without alerting the police? And the police are becoming more and more interested in him because his alcoholic mother has been loose-lipped around her new friend. This story

Book Review: The People V. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin

At the time it was called “The Trial of the Century,” though many people have forgotten it now, and others question that title.  There have been higher-profile trials since then, but Simpson’s trial did deliver shocks and forced questions about the American justice system. On 12 June 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson, Simpson’s ex-wife, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were brutally stabbed to death on the doorstep of her home. A mountain of evidence pointed to Simpson as their killer but, over

When Denial Was My Only Option

(This is part of a continuing series about how I tried to come out as gay in an Evangelical Christian environment. If you haven’t read my other essays in this series, please find them here, they will put this essay into context)   Spring 1985 “I don’t believe you’re homosexual,” he said. “I believe you’re bisexual, mostly heterosexual, and this is a phase you are going through.” I just nodded my agreement, what else could I do? We were sat together in the tiny study of h

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in My Story

Book Review: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood

It is 1930s Berlin and “Christopher Isherwood” is enjoying the notorious nightlife and culture of the city. Isherwood is an upper-class Englishman, surviving by teaching English to different citizens of the city, as he explores a life very different to his previous one, that opens him up to a diverse cast of characters. This book has become a modern classic, the basis of the musical and film Cabaret, but don’t expect a novelization of Cabaret here. The musical was inspired by this novel but

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

I Forgot My Mother’s Birthday

Last month I forgot my mother’s birthday. I was writing on my computer, glanced down at the bottom right corner of the screen, and saw the date. It was my mother’s birthday, or it would have been. My mother died twenty-three years ago. At first, after her death, I used the date of her birthday as a time to remember her. Using the date of her death for this was too much, too morbid and too negative. Her birthday was in January, in the cold winter after Christmas, and was always celebrat

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Esaay

Book Review: Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie

At the height of the Second World War, millionaire Gordon Cloade marries the beautiful young widow Rosaleen Underhay. Two days after they arrive in London, Gordon Cloade’s home is bombed, killing all the inhabitants except for Rosaleen Cloade and her brother David. In 1946, Rosaleen Cloade has settled in the village of Warmsley Vale, where her late husband’s home is and she is surrounded by his relatives who all lost out on their inheritances when Gordon married her. Then a man turns up in

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Not Any Human Heart, My Human Heart

Last week I saw my own heart beating. I have seen a human heart beating before, but not my own. Many years ago I did a post-registration nursing course and part of that involved watching certain operations performed. I was watching a spinal operation. The surgeons accessed the patient’s spine via their ribs and deflating their lung. I looked over one of the surgeons’ shoulder and down into the patient’s open chest. There I saw that person’s heart actually beating, its rhythmic, synchro

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in blog post

Book Review: Johnny Come Home by Jake Arnott

Against the backdrop of 1972 London, four lost souls collide. Pearson has just lost his lover, O'Connell committed suicide. The activist Nina feels her ideals slipping away from her as she also watches the trial of the Angry Brigade, the anarchist group accused of a spate of bombings. Sweet Thing, a streetwise rent boy, can make anyone desire him, but who or what does he desire? Johnny Chrome is on the verge of his big breakthrough as the next big thing in glam rock, a breakthrough he has been w

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

And the Truth About Political Promises.

My government has let me down, again. Am I of any value to them? They certainly don’t seem concerned about me. They made me a promise, told me to wait and wait, but never kept it and now… In July 2018 prime minister Theresa May promised to ban conversion therapy. In 2019, Boris Johnson repeated the pledge during that year’s general election campaign. Yet here we are, November 2023, and again there is no sign of the promised ban. This month’s King’s Speech, were the government outlines the l

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in blog post

Book Review: Sex in Cyberspace (Men Who Pay For Sex) by Sarah Earle and Keith Sharp

They say prostitution is the oldest profession, therefore those men who visit prostitutes must be the oldest Customer Demographic, but what do we know about them? The majority of research done has focused on prostitutes, very little on the men who use their services. Sarah Earle and Keith Sharp make these men the focus of their research and raise some fascinating points. This book is written from a sociological study, looking specifically at men who use the internet to find sex workers. Ear

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Book Review: Showtime 2020: The Collected Works of Newham Writers

This anthology is a collection from a writers workshop in East London. As such is has been designed to showcase the writing coming out of this workshop, and so is a very mixed anthology. This isn’t just a collection of short stories only, or just poetry or only essays. This collection contains many different styles of writing. There are short stories here, but also poetry, essays and even drabbles (100 word stories). The strength here is this collection’s variety. If you don’t want to read

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Book Review: The Fallen Curtain by Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell was known for her dark psychological thrillers, but she also wrote many short stories, throughout her career. This was her first collection of them, many of which had been previously published in different magazines. At her best, she always had a feel and understanding for character, especially people caught up in events greater than themselves. Here are several short stories that showcase that ability. She captures characters both on the edge of society and those who are basti

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Book Review: Rude Britannia: One Man's Journey Around the Highways and Bi-ways of British Sex By Tim Fountain

Tim Fountain set out here to explore Britain’s sexual highways and byways, to explore the fetish clubs, swingers’ clubs, dogging sites and much, much more. He didn’t want to just observe but to explore and experience the sexual underbelly of Britain, the side of Britain that isn’t celebrated in the guide books, well most of them. The result is this book, but it’s more than just a chronical through one man’s sexual adventure. What lifts this book is Fountain’s style and perspective. He doesn

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Book Review: How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

It’s the suburbs in the 1970s, and two teenage lads, Enn and Vic, go to a teenage party to meet girls. Vic is the charming and handsome boy, who is always successful with the girls, while Enn is tongue-tied and awkward around them. At this party Vic pushes Enn to talk to them, to finally have some success with the opposite sex, but the girls at this party are amazing and so easy to talk to. This short story is a showcase for Neil Gaiman’s storytelling skills and his otherworldly imagination

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

It’s Showtime, Again

My short story, Even a Monkey Can Fall from a Tree, can be read in this, new anthology, Showtime 2023, but there’s more to it than just that. Every year, Newham Writers Workshop publishes an anthology of its members work, and I’m member of them and this is the fourth anthology I’ve had work published in. But I’m also now part of the editorial team that published it. I had the easy job. My fellow writers, Belgin and Paula, had the hardest task. They proofread and edited all the submissi

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Writing

Book Review: Tales Of The City by Armistead Maupin

It is 1976 and Mary Ann Singleton changes her visit to San Francisco into a permanent move. Naïve from her sheltered live in Cleveland, she wants a new life in The City. She finds an apartment at 28 Barbary Lane, and gets drawn into the found family her landlady, Mrs Madrigal, has created from the other tenants there. There is bohemian Mona Ramsey, gay Michael "Mouse" Tolliver and womanising Brian Hawkins. Though we are introduced into this by Mary Ann, this isn’t her story alone. Soon we are fo

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Book Review: The Part-Time Job by PD James

This is a slim volume, just one short story, The Part-Time Job, and an essay, Murder Most Fowl, but it’s a perfect quick read as an eBook. The Part-Time Job is a story about revenge and murder. The unnamed narrator was bullied at school by Keith Manston-Green and at twelve vowed to kill him. The rest of the story is how he achieves this. As a motive for murder this might seem petty and trivial but to anyone whose school days were blighted by bullying will identify with this narrator’s actio

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

Book Review: The Clothes They Stood Up in by Alan Bennett

The Ransomes, a middle-aged, middle-class couple living in North London, return home to their mansion flat, from a night at the opera, and discover they have been burgled. But this is no ordinary burglary. Every single thing in their home has been taken. They are greeted with only bare floor boards and walls. All the possessions they are left with, in the world, are the clothes they are wearing. In this novella, Alan Bennett strips this middle-class couple of all their belongings and theref

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

My LinkedIn Profile Was Stolen, a Cautionary Tale

“ERIN SMITH IS A LIAR!!” I went to log onto my LinkedIn profile, to post a link to my latest blog, but I was locked out of it. There was a message saying my account had been locked because of “suspicious activity”. But all I had been posting on it were links to my writing. I checked my emails and found ones from LinkedIn, several of the many emails from them telling me someone had messaged me, someone had viewed my profile, someone had posted another notification, but the recent ones w

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in blog post

London Pride 2023: A Long Wait or Another Broken Promise?

They were dotted throughout the London Pride march. On all different types of banners and placards, some very professionally produced and others homemade but often more pithy. All of them demanding the same thing: BAN CONVERSION THERAPY! Every time I saw one, I would smile, partly to show my support and gratitude to the person carrying the banner, and partly to myself. To see the dangerous threat of conversion therapy so openly denounced by the LGBTQ community was so reassuring. I

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in blog post

Book Review: A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French

This is a story of modern family life, told through the diaries of three different members of a family. Mo, the mother and child psychologist, who is rapidly approaching fifty and stuck in a rut, and her two teenage children, Dora, who may have finally found a man worthy of her affections, but she has never met him, and Peter, who now wants to be known as “Oscar” after his idol, Oscar Wilde. The mother is the most well-drawn character in this story and she falls into the far too well treade

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

London Pride 2023: We’ve Come a Long Way

It was London Pride last weekend and again we attended it. It has been a tradition in my life ever since I first moved to London. It is “our day” when LGBTQ people can celebrate out and openly on London’s streets. This year again I noticed a trend that I first saw at last year’s London Pride, the teenager attending their first Pride, but they aren’t alone. I saw fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year olds so obviously on their first Pride and accompanied by their mothers. The mother was dressed

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in With Pride

Book Review: Men in Caring Occupations by Ruth Simpson

In Britain, men make-up just under 10% of nurses and yet the image of nursing still firmly remains female. So what does it mean to be a man in a female dominated profession? Ruth Simpson (Professor in Management at Brunel Business School) undertook research looking at gender roles in employment. She looked at the experiences of men in four different traditionally female dominated professions (which were cabin crew on airplanes, nurses, primary school teachers and librarians). This research

Drew Payne

Drew Payne in Book review

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