Friday 27 September 2013

Barnaby has a bit of a rant

Barnaby finds that he is increasingly irritated by the misuse of English words. Perhaps it's a sign of his age. It seems that fewer and fewer people understand the difference between 'few' and 'less' for instance, although one is plural, fewer people for example, and the other is singular, e.g. less sugar, but they are universally confused. Or, take another example, 'due to' and 'because of'. They are not interchangeable. 'Due to' is an adjective, which means it can only modify pronouns and nouns and 'Because of” is an adverb, which means it can only modify verbs, adjectives and clauses. One trick you can use is to substitute 'due to' with 'caused by'. If the substitution doesn't work, then you probably shouldn’t use 'due to' there. Then there is the word 'decimate', now used almost indiscriminately to mean 'devastated' or 'almost totally destroyed' when it actually means 'one in ten' or 'ten per cent'. Thus a town which is described as 'decimated' is actually ninety per cent intact. (Sadly, Barnaby just discovered that even his own dictionary now gives the meaning of decimate as 'laid to waste'. Is this progress?)
Of course all language changes with time and perhaps Barnaby is simply behaving like an old fart trying to hang on to outmoded English usage. At one level it can be argued that it doesn't matter at all as long as the meaning is clear. On the other hand, Barnaby finds that it jars when he hears or reads an incorrect usage, which spoils the flow and enjoyment of whatever he is reading or listening to.
Does Barnaby make mistakes in his writing? Almost certainly, though he tries hard not to. If you spot something which is wrong, please let him know.
There are hundreds of other examples of confusion between words in the English language. Take the words 'sarcasm' and 'irony' for example. 'Sarcasm' is usually defined as 'a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt', whereas 'irony', of course, is the 'use of a heated metal object to remove the creases from clothes'.
You can find more of Barnaby's writing, correct and otherwise, at

Friday 20 September 2013

If it smells like a book

If it looks like a book, feels like a book and smells like a book, then the chances are that it's a book. For some people, a book isn't a book unless you can hold it in your hands and see the ink on the page. There is as much delight for them in turning each sheet and seeing the bulk of pages move from right to left as they read through it as there is in absorbing the content itself.

Most of us enjoy picking up a brand new, unopened copy and turning those first few unread pages to get to the beginning of the story. Then there is the small pleasure of finding and inserting a book mark, be it bus ticket or work of art, to mark the furthest point read, or, for a naughty few, turning down the corner or writing notes in the margin.

There is undoubtedly a pleasure beyond simply reading the words on the page in owning a physical book.

With this in mind, Barnaby has begun to make his e-books available as print editions. (visit for the current status of each book). Naturally the e-books will still be available so that you can take a whole library
with you when you travel, even when you fly 'hand baggage only'.

From today, though, you can not only read Barnaby's words, you can smell the paper that they're written on


Thursday 12 September 2013

Barnaby thinks about money laundering

The Bank of England announced this week that it was considering the introduction of plastic bank notes to replace the traditional paper variety. Apparently this makes money laundering less risky since the notes don't disintegrate when accidentally put into the washing machine. (They are also claimed to be resistant to red wine stains, though most drinkers will find that a wine glass is still likely to be more convenient).

It is alleged that plastic notes will last two and a half times longer than paper money, but Barnaby has some doubts over the veracity of this claim since he finds his money lasts hardly any time at all.
Of course metal money can last for hundreds, or even thousands of years, when buried in the ground, as anyone with a metal detector can tell you. This does, however, require you to do your banking with a spade, which might be inconvenient for a large purchase.


For many years, personal cheques replaced the need to carry large bags of cash, but the banks seem intent on phasing this convenience out entirely.

Happily, shopping on the internet overcomes all of these problems, since you don't need real money at all, especially if you want to download one of Barnaby's FREE e-books. You can find Quirky Verse, Short Stories or Detective Fiction at and you will find at least one example of each that won't cost you a plastic penny.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Out of the Ashes

Can any good come from ashes? This latest collection from Top Writers Block reveals that ashes may involve anything from fantasy, romance, horror, comedy to poetry.

Top Writer's Block is an informal group of Indie authors who come together from time to time to produce anthologies of short stories in aid of the Sea Shepherd charity. The latest volume, 'Out of the Ashes' is now available here.

Eleven authors. Eleven stories. Eleven interpretations of the theme 'Out of the Ashes' is available now to download in the e-book format of your choice.

All this in 'Out of the Ashes.'

You can find previous collaborations from Top Writer's Block here 

Visit for details of all Barnaby's e-books, including the Mercedes Drew mysteries, The Tom Fletcher stories and his collections of short stories and poetry.