001 Hello!

Hello and welcome to my website. My name is Stephen Symons and I am a compulsive writer, which explains the title above: ‘Stephen Symons’ Literary Pages’. The word poddimok requires rather more elucidation, but of it more anon.

The website was created about three and a half years ago at the suggestion of a group calling itself  The Writers’ Literary Agency. I had not long editted my first novel, A Song at Daybreak, into what I believed [and still believe] was a marketable form and I was looking around on-line for an Agent to help me. I found the WLA almost immediately and contacted them. They seemed to like what I had done and suggested that I start a website; they offered to set one up for me for a fee but I was able to do it myself, which is where this all begins. As it happened the WLA turned out to be a lemon. As time went by it became more and more obvious that they were simply generating fancy-looking emails and collecting fees. I could not say conclusively that the organisation is a scam, but I strongly suspect that it may be such.

Be that as it may, I allowed my one year contract with WLA to expire and continued on my way. I added very little to my website for a long time, then a couple of months ago I began to add more to it. I started posting up movie reviews. Then the notion came to me that I might  add in some of the stuff that I have written over the years that might be worthy of public gaze – if anyone ever finds it. I began sorting the literary sheep from the twaddlesome goats.

I have been writing stories since before I went to school [I could write to some extent before I got there] and over the years have amassed a huge repository of verbiage. Most of, deservedly, has vanished but some remains and when I think of the effort to produce it I would rather not see it all consigned to the dustbin of history. All of it is original, some of it is worthwhile, and a little might even be useful or, better yet, entertaining. And I have started putting it on this website.

My writing comes in five categories:

1. Recipes. I have been cooking since I worked out which side of an onion is the outside, although this interest did not really take off until I left home at 17. My mother did not want anyone else in the house to cook, as that would have made us independent and my Mother liked to have everyone dependent on her. She let my Father cook a couple of times a year when he had a hankering for one or other of his two favourite recipes, the only two things that he could produce apart from tea and toast; tripe and onions, and oxtail soup. Mum would eat neither, so she allowed him his little foible. I have been rather more venturesome, and I have been collecting and refining recipes now for nearly fifty years. Some of them you may find useful.

2. Movie reviews. Some years ago a journalist friend of mine invited me to review a few movies for him. We go to the cinema and watch the movie and the next Tuesday we discuss it on air on Christchurch’s Plains FM, for which he does a weekly roundup of what is on in the cinemas. He has several such associates; one does comedies and romances, someone else does art movies, a third does political thrillers. I do science fiction, historical, childrens’ fantasy, supernatural, and weird stuff. Also I buy DVDs on line from a British outfit called Chaos, and recently they invited me to write a couple of reviews for them for two movies, The Butterfly Effect and 1408. That is an interesting development and who knows where it might lead?

3. Stories. I have written several novels over the last five years, all of them adventure romance tales set in the imaginary world of the Kalion Islands. I have tried, in a rather desultory manner, to get the first one, A Song at Daybreak, published but so far without success. Who knows? One day, may be. I have not included any of this stuff in this archive,but I might get around to that one day.

4. Historical Essays. I have always been fascinated with history and why things happened. One of my earliest memories is visiting the excavations at St Albans, the Roman Verulamium, and since then I have been hooked, particularly on the subject of Roman Britain. I have been for many years a member of the Society for the Promotion of Roman and Hellenic Studies, which is based at University College London, and subscribe to their periodicals Britannia and the Journal of Roman Studies. I have also made a more or less systematic study of the early hotels of Christchurch, and have become a recognised authority on this subject thanks to my book ‘More Than Bricks And Mortar”. This was a study of the history of Warner’s Hotel in Cathedral Square which was published privately in 2001 and I have listed it here. Also added is the text of The Watering Holes, a series of short histories of a dozen or so pubs in Christchurch.

Included in this category are the Christchurch Civic Awards, for which I have written the citations for the last twenty years, and I have included them as you may see from the listing to the right of your screen.

5. Poetry. I have from time been moved to versificate. Enough said.

So now that I have become much more active on my blog, I have set myself a series of targets. On average, I shall strive for 1 recipe per week, 1 review per month, 1 novel per year. Historical essays and poetry may come as they will.

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