Saturday, 24 July 2010


They don't turn up very often and when they do then they are classed as Basque gypsies. Films like the 1959 western 'Thunder In The Sun' and 'Broken Trail'. In books it is the same though in Matthew P. Mayo's western 'Winter's War' there is a very brilliant and accurate description of a vardo - a vardo is a horse drawn wagon and is a word that covers caravan.

It is interesting that three Portugese gypsies were with Columbus when he discovered America.

As far as I can work out is that the first British Romanies set foot on American soil curtesy of the British transportation system. The charges ranged from gry choring to ker poggring (horse stealing to housebreaking).

Before you start thinking that my rokkering the jib (speaking the language) is me showing off it is more to emphasise that the language of the Romany was quite important.

If asked 'Can you chin the cost?' the average person wouldn't be able to answer the question but another Romany could.

Language is all about communication. The Romany language has been described as a 'secret language' whereas it is their language as much as English is to a certain extent of the world or German to the Germans and so on.

And my answer to the question above would be 'No, I don't know how to make clothespegs.'

But it was the language that transported Romany's used to 'discover' others of their own kind.

Over the years many settled in Kentucky,Tennessee and South Carolina.

1850 saw the influx of more Romany families who quickly seized the opportunity to do what they did best - horse trading. After the Civil War many moved westward bringing their skills with them.

But the west was a suspicious place. These mustangers, bronco-busters and horse traders had the looks of Native Americans. Whether Romany or the half breed didikoi in the heat their skin darkened and with their dark hair mistakes were made and their history becomes blurred.

So blurred that today families, even if they suspect the truth, will tell their children that their dark looks come from a distant 'Native American' rather than own up. While there are those who do admit the truth.

The days of the travelling tinkers, the peg makers and other Romany trades have largely disappeared as has the language itself.

To me the language was a few scattered words that I learned as a child and strong denials that our family had gypsy connections. Today I know different - geneology has proved that.

There are people around today called Arnold, Ayres, Bowers, Scamp, Sharp, Williams and one that has famous connections - Eastwood - that may have Romany origins. Certainly, these were the names of many Romany families.
Some familiar names with Romany connections: Yul Brynner, Charlie Chaplin, Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins and The King himself - Elvis Presley. As did Sir Henry Wood the founder of the Promenade Concerts that we still enjoy today.
What is not in doubt is that the Romany Gypsy from across the world should be recognised for the part that they played in the building of America.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


A while back I went through a box of old cassettes and came across three albums by a group called Transvision Vamp. So I put them through the cassette player and found myself quite mesmerised.
Tranvision Vamp comprised Nick Christian Sayer, Dave Parsons, Tex Axile, Pol Burton and, as lead singer, Wendy James.
The sound post punk/rock and Wendy James had the right punk, rebellious voice that their music needed - yet could gentle down to the ballad like songs 'Sister Moon'.
Wendy James just had this voice that made people sit up and listen.
The group signed to MCA in 1986 and released a debut single 'Revolution Baby' in 1987. But 1988 saw the group break into the charts with 'I Want Your Love'. However, they would have to wait until 1989 for things to really hot up with hits like 'Baby, I Don't Care', 'The Only One' and 'Landslide Of Love'.
While single success seemed more of a swings and roundabout affairs the Tranvision Vamp albums fared better with 'Pop Art' peaking at No.3 and twenty odd weeks in the charts while the far more successful 'Velveteen' went in straight at the top spot and spent thirty odd weeks in the chart.
Unfortunately, MCA were not keen on the third album 'Little Magnets vs The Bubble Of Babble'
and delayed the release and by the time it hit the shops in 1991 Transvision Vamp had disbanded.
Despite this Wendy James stayed signed to MCA and had a solo album 'Now Ain't The Time For Tears' from which the singles 'The Nameless One', ' London's Brilliant' and 'Do You Know What I'm Saying?' were released with disappointing results.
A shame as Wendy James was trying to make her own way - sure there were shades of Transvision Vamp there but a hint of a new direction. Something that is illustrated by the Transvision Vamp albums as though they knew the difference between what is commercial (ie the chart hits) and goes to show that sometimes record companies don't - 'Sister Moon' being an example - and the beauty of 'Velveteen' that, in my opinion, made the album a success.
Reading between the lines Wendy James knew what she wanted - she wasn't 'Born To Be Sold' but determined to write her own history.
In 2004 she attempted a comeback with a band called 'Racine' which came to a halt.
In my view Wendy James did write her piece into music history with Transvision Vamp.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Once upon a time most books could expect a paperback deal to follow. These days it is not so much the case.
So, when Matthew P. Mayo announced that a paperback deal had been made with Dorchester/Leisure books I was quite thrilled and can only congratulate him on this acheivement.
I think that Matthew P. Mayo is the first Black Horse Western writer to have his novels reprinted in paperback.
The first novel in print will be 'Winters' War' which will be available in May, 2011.
'Wrong Town' and 'Hot Lead, Cold Heart' will follow a few months after.
The word is that Dorchester/Leisure are looking for authors who would like to see their books reprinted.
I hope that some of the Black Horse Western writers will seize the day and take advantage of the opportunity.

Monday, 12 July 2010

RED DEAD REDEMPTION: Is Seth played by.....

Sorry, Gary but I just could not resist this one.
To take a serious view of RED DEAD REDEMPTION I have noticed more and more of the younger generation attracted to the western dvds at our local HMV. Whether that is down to the game or not I haven't a clue - might just be coincidence.
At the moment my son is playing the game and his view is that if he is getting the vibe that others could well be finding their way towards the genre.
Anyone who asks then we are directing them towards Gary's Tainted Archive who is running a book by book review of George G. Gilman's 'Edge' series and Steve M's Western Fiction Review.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Fight Evil.....With Evil

Writer/Director Michael J Bassett has produced quite a good movie featuring an almost forgotten character created by Robert E. Howard.
Howard is better known for the stories that chronicled the life of Conan who is the subject of a new movie.

Solomon Kane is a privateer/mercenary waging war on the North African coast in 1600. It is here that Kane encounters the Devil's Reaper who has come to claim Kane's soul.
"I'm not ready for Hell - yet." Kane tells him as Kane makes his escape.
Kane takes refuge in an Abbey where he begins his journey towards redemption. But that road is long and has many routes - some of them painful.
As he journeys towards his West Country home he is given food and shelter by a Puritan patriarch (Pete Postlethwaite) and his family. Kane finds himself drawn towards the daughter Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood)
The West Country of 1601 is plagued by an evil band of Raiders and ruled over by a man called Malachi. It is not long before the group of travellers are attacked by the Raiders resulting in the deaths of the males and the abduction of Meredith.
Kane goes after them to rescue Meredith.
To go further would mean a whole bunch of spoilers but Solomon Kane's journey to redemption does draw the viewer in.
James Purefoy gives a faultless performance as Kane.
One other performance comes down the combination of costumier and Samuel Roakin's acting as the leader of the Raiders - a pure evil presence on screen.
The rumour mill has this film as the first of a trilogy.


A great new group of western writers has started up to promote the western genre.
Check out the new site at where an intro has been written by Frank Roderus.

Thursday, 1 July 2010


Franklin Robert Adams was a career soldier born in 1933 and died in 1990.
He is considered to be one of the earliest writers to depict a post-nuclear holocaust world.
The Horseclans saga comprises 18 novels published between 1975 and 1988.
There is a mix of sci-fi and Arthurian romance. The setting is that part of America to the west of the Mississippi and stretches from Canada to Texas.
Heroes come in Undying form and characters like Bili Morghun (aka Bili The Axe) are, at least, a century old yet never show signs of age. They are also telepathic through which they are able to communicate with their allies a pack of sabre tooth tigers.
The art work for the Orbit paperbacks (an example shown) has that heroic vibe to it.
Robert Adams was a good storyteller and his descriptive passages were first class. Added to that was his knowledge of weaponry that gave an authentic feel.
All the books about the Horseclans inter-connect so, although each book has an ending, there is not really a novel that can be classed as the usual stand alone.
Tribal classes and weird, suspicious relgions turn up many illustrative of a point that the author feels that he has to make - like a mask covering his own thoughts.
The books in the series are:
1. The Coming Of The Horseclans
2. Swords Of The Horseclans
3. Revenge Of The Horseclans
4. Cat Of A Silvery Hue
5. The Savage Mountain
6. The Patrimony
7. Horseclans Odyssey
8. The Death Of A Legend
9. The Witch Goddess
10. Bili The Axe
11. Champion Of The Last Battle
12. A Woman Of The Horseclans
13. Horses Of The North
14. A Man Called Milo Morai
15. The Memories of Milo Morai
16. Trumpets Of War
17. Madman's Army
18. Clan Of The Cats
There are two anthologies of Horseclans related short stories simply called Friends Of The Horseclans 1 and 2.
I picked up 'The Coming Of The Horseclans' quite by chance but Googling has not really brought up anything much except for brief biographies of the author and a list of his works. Nor had I come across this series.
Some of the books are, it appears, available for download.
The first three books certainly have the feel of a trilogy about them and I have ordered the next three from Amazon.

POST No. 250

Believe it or not but this is the 250th post.
And I don't have a clue about how to celebrate the moment.
So 250 posts on and what stories have attracted attention?

Surprisingly, to me, the piece that I did on 'Peyton Place' and the author Grace Metalious has been the biggest single article to be read. As is Alan Sillitoe's short story 'Uncle Ernest'.

In the comic world both 'V For Vengeance' and 'The Legend Of Lord Snooty' have attracted a lot of attention.

While on the music front the attention has been on Skillet's 'Awake' album, the new Meatloaf album, The New Christy Minstrels and The Ronettes.

As was expected the 'Red Dead Redemption' console game has been a minor hit.

There is no preconceived concept with Broken Trails - it just ambles along, breaks off and re-appears further down the line. And it has more to do with things that interest me and the kids. And while some things aren't everybody's cup of tea - and it would be a dull old world if they were - I just hope that there is something for everybody.

Here's to the next 250.