Meet Martin Swinford


Some time ago I asked Martin to write a few words I could use for an Author Bio, but he’s been very elusive on the subject. “Sorry old stick, I just haven’t got around it.” is his usual response. In the end I gave up and wrote something myself, not exactly a biography but it gives you a glimpse.
Deep in the heart of Lincolnshire, in a dusty attic room at the very top of a crumbling mansion, Martin Swinford crouches over his keyboard and waits. He waits for the words. The words that he knows are there. The words that will flood his mind if he waits long enough. The words that will slip elusively from his grasp as he stretches to catch them.

Later, he thinks, he shall go down, and stroll the long gallery under the watchful gaze of his ancestors. Perhaps he will sit in the library, absorbing the collective knowledge of the mildew blackened books. Perhaps he will have a drink, anticipated by the melodious clink of ice on glass as Crevice shuffles along the servant’s passage. Perhaps even a cigar, one of the rare local specials, hand rolled on the expansive thighs of the village bar-maid.

He extends a finger and taps out a single word: “Perhaps.”

The Path Of The Sword by Martin Swinford will be released in May.


Am I a psychopath?

IMG_1005  According to this test from Channel 4, I most definitely am. Of course the idea that you can give someone a questionnaire and from that identify their personality traits has been around for a long time, but I’m sceptical.
Maybe that’s because I’ve just read ‘The Psycopath Test’ by Jon Ronson. It is a well written and interesting book that starts with an intriguing mystery and turns into the author’s journey through society’s differing approaches to mental illness. And it is a real roller coaster, from LSD soaked encounter therapies in the 60s, to the checklist driven approach of the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness) and the ever increasing drive to classify children’s behaviour in terms of mental illness. I recommend it to anyone, particularly if you work with kids.

The issue that worries me is that if you take normal behaviour and diagnose it as an illness then the label sticks for life. Some kids have a lot of energy and if they’re stuck in a boring classroom with a boring teacher doing something that doesn’t interest them, then that energy is going to come out, probably in a way that gets them into trouble. If you’re a naughty kid then you get the chance to shrug that label off, if you are diagnosed as bipolar you’ve got it for life.

I realise that one of those classrooms can be mine sometimes.

I’m not talking here about genuine cases, I have taught quite a few kids who were, for example, clearly autistic or dyslexic and they needed care and support. What worries me is that education is being pushed down an ever narrowing route, and that leaves less scope for kids to be themselves. If you narrow the definition of normal behaviour (and if you read the Ofsted criteria for ‘good’ behaviour you might as well write ‘traditional middle class’), then you just identify more and more people as abnormal.

Jon Ronson comes to the conclusion that you shouldn’t classify people by their extremes and I think I agree. There is no such thing as normal, unless you are talking statistics. And normal doesn’t necessarily mean better, slavery was normal in the 17th century, doesn’t mean it was a good idea.

I faked the test by the way. I’m not really a psychopath. My uncle was. He had a certificate and everything. He got it because he faked being mad and impulsive so he could get discharged from the Navy, but then that’s exactly the sort of thing a Psychopath would do isn’t it?

Why am I writing this?


Good question. After faffing about with wordpress for the last couple of hours I feel I should be writing a blog about setting up a blog, but I shall stick to the plan.

The thing is I am writing a book. I’ve been writing it for some time. Its even getting to the point that I might actually finish it. So this blog is me working my way through the process of finishing a book and then getting it published. You may be a writer yourself, you may be thinking of writing a book, you might even be interested in my book. I don’t mind, I welcome you to my journey.