TudoRama newsletter 15-21 August 2022

August 22, 2022

I’ve added to my posts on LWD the newsletter sent to my contacts list. If you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter you need to contact me to receive future editions. The newsletter has been a team effort from myself, and Catherine Hull. I take responsibility for any errors of taste that may have slipped through into our final version.

Welcome back to Everyday Creativity, the brainchild of Tudor Rickards.

Each week, we (i.e. TR & CH) round up everything that Tudor has been musing, writing and podcasting about, and take suggestions from readers and listeners for new discussion topics. 

Our podcasts and posts

Give our WordPress blog posts a read on both Leaders We Deserve and Everyday Creativity.

The most popular post this week discusses the state of the England Men’s Cricket Team. 

England cricket re-enters the Stone Age

You can read that here.

The most popular podcast this week talked over the recent heat waves.
A Drought visits Manchester, the Venice of the North

Listen here.

Elsewhere, in this week’s news headlines:

Keir Starmer launches Labour’s ‘fully-costed’ plan for fuel poverty. Boris Johnson, on second summer holiday, is unavailable for comment.
Freya, the celebrity Walrus in Norway is put down for causing risk to human life; she had a habit of clambering onto boats to sunbathe.

The Taliban celebrates the first anniversary of its political victory in Afghanistan. News footage confirms that strict restrictions prevent women from returning to work. No schooling is available to girls. The country also faces a famine after withdrawal of foreign aid.

In England, inflation hits 10%. The Bank of England predicts the figure will take two years to return to its 2% target. The Chancellor is forced to defend his Prime Minister from criticisms over government inaction during his hiatus.
In interesting news from CNN, 95-year-old actress Gina Lollobrigida is running for a seat in the Italian Senate.

The main headlines focus on the national inflation rise, the ‘worst in Europe’.
Trump’s main Republican opponent Liz Cheney is defeated by a Trump supporter. The schism in American politics is deepening.

Shocking individual cases demonstrate a wider crisis in the national ambulance service.
Finnish PM Sanna Marin makes international headlines after she’s secretly filmed partying. She admits ‘rowdy’ partying, but denies ever taking drugs.

Sanna Marin takes a drug test to minimise publicity over her partying.
Another Rail Union takes its turn, with a day of travel delays and cancellations. The location of choice for media reports is a replacement picket line at Euston.

Polls suggest the problems that have beset the Government are being reflected in a downward trend in voting intentions.
Strike action is initiated by Port Workers (at Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port) and Barristers (at the Inns of Court).

The headline of the week goes to Thursday’s Daily Star:
Work harder says wannabe PM with thirteen weeks holiday a year

I’ve also been reading (TR):

Cold Sacrifice by Leigh Russell
Another murder investigation by a successful writer in this genre. I found it okay for comfort reading. It comes with the usual features; workaholic detective with wife unhappy over his work/home balance, and a few murders (all women, but that’s all too common).

Also, a review of two weighty books for students of economics:

Ben Bernanke’s 21st Century Monetary Policy, and Edward Chancellor’s The Price of Time.

Bernanke is widely considered a successful leader of the Federal Reserve bank, a position he held during the financial crisis of 2006-2014. Chancellor is an historian and financier. The Economist concludes that Chancellor offers ‘a colourful challenge to conventional wisdom… but when the time comes to appoint a central banker, choose someone like Bernanke’.
You can read that here.

Poddlers’ Corner

Our poddlers (or regular listeners) on Twitter submitted their favourite book for discussion or pleasure reading. Favourites show loyalties to classics with a dash of the contemporary. There’s a mixture of fiction and non-fiction.

Please help us strengthen this section with your personal recommendations for next week’s newsletter!

Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

NB: Where the Crawdads Sing has just been adapted into a blockbuster film which is out now in cinemas (if you’re not a big reader).

– SA

Tasha Alexander, A Poisoned Season
– AN

Jonathan Levitt, Contemplating Comedy
– JL

Antony Beever, The Second World War
– WT

Arthur Brand, Hitler’s Horses
– DM

Wallace Breen, Eagle in the Snow
– JR

Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic
– KB

Robert Harris, An Officer and a Spy
– AC

Robert Graves, I, Claudius
– AH

Seconds Out by Martin Kohan

October 25, 2017

Book Review

Seconds Out, by the Argentine intellectual and novelist Martin Kohan, is a literary ‘who done it’. Its seventeen chapters each covers a single second of the time when the world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey was knocked out of the ring in a title fight in New York. He was allowed to recover by a hapless referee, and managed to climb back in, to resume a fight he should have lost by a knockout.

Woven into each of the chapters is a news item of a mysterious death in a hotel room in Argentina, which took place at the same time as the fight. This was followed up many years later by a journalist. His speculation that the two events were connected was dismissed by colleagues as their lives continued.

Eventually, there is a satisfactory resolution to the story, which I will not reveal.

This is an elegantly written book translated from the original Spanish and one which rewards readers with its power to sustain the themes of boxing, and wider existential issues. It happens to have another unexpected turn for me. In 2016, I began writing a story with the provisional title Seconds Out: A Memorial Hall mystery. My own idea is to draw attention to the emerging mind-and-body sport of Chess Boxing in a ‘cosy’ thriller format. Subscribers to Leaders We Deserve will not be surprised to learn it also touches on political and political leadership.

In 2017, as my own book was approaching publication, I came across and purchased a copy of the Martin Kohan novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I can only hope that my own tale, which also has a bizarre boxing match in it, will give as much pleasure to readers as Kohan’s gave to me.

How not to write a novel

August 4, 2017



How Not To Write a Novel, by Newman and Middlemark, [Book review]

In a last-minute search for a birthday present recently, I was browsing for a book at the Simply Books No 1 emporium. As I did so, my eye was caught by an instruction manual entitled How Not to Write a Novel, (HNTWAN), by Sandra Newman and Howard Middlemark.

I added it to my shopping trolley. This proved to be a sound investment. As they say in many a blurb, I read it long into the evening, as the battles for tennis supremacy at Wimbledon passed me unheeded across the room. The book promises to supply 200 ways your book will fail to get published. In a mischievous and at times snigger-producing way they do just that. Page after page I found examples of why I should stick to self-publishing. I extract some which I underlined for future reference. You may wish the use what follows as check-list.

“What works for me”

The belief that what interests you interests everyone. A passion for an obscure chess club may not sustain interest of itself. The universals of passion, unfulfilled dreams, treachery, a quest may be there, but there is still need of an engaging plot. A central dilemma is needed for connecting the pawn pushing to those wider themes.

“The slow build-up”

Bit like the start to this blog post (oops). This is where the opening pages could be left out with no damage to the story:

‘Reggie boarded the train at Montauk, found a seat… read a newspaper…

(10 pages later) As the train pulled out of Montauk …

(10 pages later) …and that was how I met your Aunt Katherine.’

“The false clue”

A vivid detail which has no further relevance. Aka The gum on the mantlepiece, cleaned up later, leaving readers puzzled unless they learn the gum was quickly cleaned up by a fastidious character in the book

“Plot polygamy”

In which plot line after plot line tumble across the pages in confusing fashion…

“Not avoiding the rule of three”

As a public speaker, I believe utterly in the rule of three. Telling what you intend to say, saying it, summarizing what you said. For novelists, or humble thriller writers, the rule of three is a non no. (Aka:where the set up reveals or weakens the payoff.)

“The second fight in the Laundromat”

Damn. I have an exciting fire which breaks out in chapter ten, and now I would like to write another in the climactic scene in chapter fifty two.

“Santa’s too sexy for his beard”

In which she a protagonist sees through the ‘best friend or nice neighbour’ . The authors give this the thumbs down. ‘[S]he must be attractive on some level, not just safe. We get enough of that.in real life.’

“Confessional from the super-villain”

Compulsive and implausible spilling the beans In the interests of plot closure by the super-villain.

“Vocabulary flauting”

Speaks for itself, often in irritating fashion. (‘Nobody likes a show-off’)


‘Cliches become cliches for a reason.’


Don’t use lists  A well-respected novelist argued the opposite and I guess ‘use lists with caution and awareness’ might be a refinement to this principle. Lists are for description not as an inventory.

“Time management”

Useful extended treatment. How you can cheat on linear time in writing fiction, but not if it jars in the reader’s mind.

“Relentless accounts of natural functions”

Too common, and obvious (when pointed out). Even crude characters do not belch and fart every time they appear.


Advice worth the price of the book. It takes practice or an innate gift to write like you you think your characters people speak, (or even harder to write in the way readers accept as the way the characters ought to speak).

“The dangers of elegant variation”

For example, when the author goes to stupid lengths to avoid using ‘he said’.

“Style and lack of it”

Rich set of thought-provoking suggestions. Virtues and dangers of the narrative voice, reported internal monologue, multiple points of view, and more.

“Sex, jokes and post-modern flourishes”

If you can’t write any of these well, stop fouling up your chances of successful publishing. Your best is not good enough. The crushingly bad examples of how not to write sex scenes are particularly funny, but you will have to read the book to enjoy the humour of the accidently botched lubricious.

“Marketing No Nos”

More deadly humour here on how not write to publishers.

For me this was a five-star read. I found the book seriously funny, and seriously thought-provoking. So did earlier reviewers.

The Organizational Psychology of Sport: Preliminary Review

December 27, 2016



The Organizational Psychology of Sport edited by Christopher Wagstaff explores the nature of sports leadership and the way in which organizational psychology can help in the study and application of sport. It shows considerable fit with the approaches found in the Dilemmas of Leadership textbook

Last year I added a chapter on sports leadership to the third edition of Dilemmas of Leadership. I identified three key issues for the chapter:

Cultural and personal identity through sporting engagement

Developing sporting excellence

Distributed leadership in sports management

These and other dilemmas are to be covered in contributions to be found in Wagstaff’s impressive text.

For sports management courses, The Organizational Psychology of Sport is worth considering for a core text, with Dilemmas of Leadership (or its Chapter 11) on the course reading list.

Please contribute to the review discussions

A more comprehensive review is being prepared. I welcome contributions from LWD subscribers.

The Trespasser, by Tana French

October 16, 2016


Book review

The Trespasser, a superior procedural detective novel, passed this critic’s first test.  I rated it four stars on the domestic suitability scale for mutual consumption

Why I liked it

The writing is intelligent, the characters engaging, the story ticking all the boxes for enthusiasts of crime fiction. The story is set in Dublin, with hard-boiled Irish cops, villains, and a beautiful young victim, done and battered in the first few pages before the detective duo arrive. There is a nailed-on suspect, and assorted enemies to justice, mostly inside the precinct.

Another big plus. The author avoided the maxim ‘a murder a chapter means readership capture‘ and eschewed the increasingly over-used device of a mad mass murderer.

A bit long?

As I began it, the book felt a little lengthy (the currently fashionable 400 plus pages). This turned out to be ungenerous judgement, as I found myself page-turning without skipping to the last, then eager to read the next available book by the author as soon as possible.

New York or Dublin?

One slightly discordant note:  the background felt closer to New York or Chicago Irish than to Dublin Irish. Was that my own indoctrination from a hundred American detective stories, or was the author up to something?

There was more than the pot-boiling detective yarn, although I missed a great deal of sub-textual stuff, because I had not been following earlier well-received books by author Tana French. A deeper indication of her intentions is found in a recent interview with the New York Times.

The Deal, by Jon Smith, super-agent

September 20, 2016



The Deal is an autobiographic account by Jon Smith of the life of a football super-agent.  Smith in his time represented Diego Maradona, the England football squad, promoted Mikael Gorbachev on a speaking tour of England, and pioneered various financial schemes not always approved of by the Inland Revenue

His Master’s Voice?

Mr Smith is aided by sporting journalist James Olley, who is thanked gracefully ‘for not only capturing my voice, but also transposing my heartbeat’. This suggested to me the super-agent, maybe aboard a private plane, or waiting for a transfer-day deal, dictating his recollections and providing the recordings for Mr Olley to convert into text.

As Jon Smith concedes, super-agents in football are not particularly well-regarded by other members of what Sepp Blatter used to call the football family. They spend much of time concealing what they really want as part of their professional practice.  This perspective may have influenced my own reading of the book, if my own professional practice had not already disposed me towards looking at books as texts to be examined for the authors’ intentions. The Deal offers a rich set of clues in this respect.

What it says on the cover

The back cover blurbs include one which reads suspiciously as if the busy and well-known football personality it is attributed to had said, “tell you what Jon, I’m up to me wotsits with grief at the moment. You send me the sort of stuff you want me to put down, and I’ll tweak if, OK? Cheers mate.”  But the quote seems more like the handiwork of one of those literary young guns who write press releases for a living. [Note to lawyers: This is a flight of fancy, and in no way is intended to suggest the back cover  blurbs are anything but accurate representations of text supplied by admiring readers about the book.]

Biography as a thriller

The book starts not unlike the style recommended to writers of popular fiction.  Grab the reader’s attention with the first sentence, keep the drama level high, fit the murder in as soon as possible.

Sleeping is difficult in the safe house‘. Yes, that works nicely. The author is in fear of his life in Odessa. A ‘monstrously imposing man’ bursts into the room accusing him of murder. Yes, still on message. The prologue ticks the click bait requirements of the holiday thriller.

Subsequent chapters are more subdued in tone. Jon Smith appears as a person offering a series of personal anecdotes which offer a plausible account of the deal culture in football and its complex, sometimes shady nature.

I have a fondness for stories of adventure, and adversity overcome. The really good ones transcend fact and fiction, and help the reader escape from or postpone any critical faculty. The not quite-so-good ones still engage me, but at a level of an autobiography (I am who I am; I am widely misunderstood). The Deal, for me, falls into the second category. It allows the reader to assess how accurate the story is, without necessarily accepting it uncritically.

We were spared the revelations

I found the entrepreneurial and creative requirements of deal-making particularly interesting. We were spared the juicy killer-revelation about some celebrity’s sex life, which is too-frequently built in as to plug a book in the author’s round of Radio and TV interviews. I have no doubt Jon Smith could have found at least one such bit of grime from his experiences.

I could have done with more about the business of football deal-making and less about the private semi-confessional sections about the author.  My  recommendation is not quite as fulsome as the ones on the back cover. For all the professional editing support, Jon Smith might have been better advised to slim it done quite substantially.

However, I finished the book, even scanning the index, to see if I might have missed some of the mentions of the footballing greats it mentions.

One for the football fans and wannabe super-agents?

Bill James, The Principals, Seven House publishers, 2016

September 8, 2016


Book Review

Bill James is one of a number of pseudonyms written by the Welsh Novelist James Tucker, best known for his televised works about the exploits of the detective duo Harpur and Isles. The Principals is a Campus novel

The Campus Novel

What is a campus novel?  David Lodge, himself no mean exponent of the genre, neatly captures the ingredients, sex and power, in a conveniently located self-contained bubble. His close friend Malcolm Bradbury helped shape the work of a generation of writers as mentors through their pioneering  reative writing courses.

This Campus Novel takes the reader into the familiar territory of the Machiavellian  intrigues of University life. The action in The Principals pivots between Thatcherian Britain of the 1980s, and the present day.

Its title refers to an existential battle between the heads (Vice-chancellors in all but name) of two Universities co-existing uncomfortably in the same city.  The central theme has been echoed in real-life as painful ‘mergers’ have taken place for political as well as educational reasons.

Personal Interests

To declare several interests, The author of this review writes with personal experience as an alumnus of one institution on which such a fate was visited, and many years later as  a faculty member directly involved in the contortions at another which had more than a few striking unintended parallels to the plot twists in James’ new book.  He is also author of a recently published campus novel which comes with the required declarations that the  characters  in it have no intended resemblances to real-life person unless explicitly mentioned.

The eccentric leaders

In James’s book, the protagonists are admirably eccentric. Lawford Chute of Sedge University is a distinguished scholar in the still-fashionable celebrity mold.  He heads a seriously reputable Victorian institution aspiring to a place among the ranks of The United Kingdom’s Russell Group Universities. Across town lies the upstarts of Charter Mill, led by his bitter rival, the equally unhinged Victor Tane.

Chute’s grandiose plans for Sedge University have ignored the financial consequences of his actions, not least of which is the cost of the shiny new concert hall honouring an internationally-famed alumnus. Out in the sticks, the less academically recognized former community college is attracting money and student popularity for its American-style sporting achievements and its courses on hair-dressing.

Dark humour

The genre lends itself to irony and dark humour. James does not depart too far from the well-beaten path, the cover blurb relating it to Sharpe’s Porterhouse Blue.  I enjoyed the familiar story-line, which beguiled me enough to accept the occasional doubtful note.  The author never completely convinced me of the relatively high-esteem in which Sedge is held in academic circles. The ease with which an academic working group can lose all grasp of realities of the world outside the committee room is far more convincing and amusing.

Inverting the Pyramid

January 11, 2016

Inverting the Pyramid

Book Review

‘Inverting the pyramid: A history of football tactics’ was written by football journalist Jonathan Wilson. It was published when Jose Mourinho was in his first spell as manager of Chelsea This review, unpublished at the time, has been updated as part of a study of Jose’s second spell at Chelsea

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Prepare to Lose’. Astonishing claims about Jose Mourinho by Spanish journalist

December 11, 2015

Jose MourinhoBook Review of The Special One: The Secret World of Jose Mourinho

In the spirit of a work of fiction, this book begins with a bang. The first paragraph describes vividly how Supercoach Jose Mourinho broke down uncontrollably, on learning he would not become the next Manchester United Manager

The Author Jose Torres is a well-respected Spanish journalist, and not to be confused with a former Chelsea forward Fernando Torres, who might also have been included in such a biographic work. If the book is essentially more fact than fiction, it undermines Mourinho’s repeated claims of his unwavering love of Chelsea Football Club.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tennis Matters: The dream of a perfect forehand

August 14, 2015


Tennimageis Matters is an account of the author’s obsession with tennis from his schooldays through his working career as a scientist and a Business School Professor. It documents his fruitless search for a respectable tennis forehand shot

Tennis Matters was published in E book format in August 2015. It is part biography, part based on tennis stories updated from over a thousand published in Leaders We Deserve over the period 2007-2015. It lists the mostly unsuccessful attempts of the author’s coaches to help him develop a workable forehand. It also includes Tennis Teasers (‘because they were the parts of my lectures the students liked most’).

“Hit past the baseline not into the net”

The story unfolds as the author recalls boyhood experiences: “My first coach was Tad the Geography master, a powerful bantamweight of a man, blessed with a natural tennis game, and in the classroom an unerring aim with a piece of chalk to gain the attention of an errant pupil. He did nothing to set me up with an educated forehand. But I do remember one piece of his advice. Better to hit the ball out past the baseline he insisted than into the net. I cannot say I have fully mastered the principles required for this tricky procedure”.

Tennis fashions

He watched his first films about the glamourous and exciting lives of tennis professionals: Hitchcock’s classic ‘Strangers on a Train’ and the lesser known ‘Pat and Mike’ starring Gussie Moran and Katherine Hepburn, noting the impact that Katherine Hepburn’s shorts and Moran’s frilly knickers were eventually to have on tennis fashion.

At the start of the 1960s, he recalls, the genteel ineptitude of tennis officialdom was still accepted. One match at Wimbledon ended in chaos when a line official nodded off and was unable to confirm that the match was over on a match point.

The modern era

Then came professionalization, and the modern era. The Australian Lew Hoad became to tennis what Stirling Moss was to racing, Bobby Charlton to football, and Arnold Palmer to Golf.

By the 1970s the great tennis tournaments were available to mass audiences. There were epic contests between two dominant figures of the era, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. A similar series of breath-taking battles were to take place in the 1990s by battles between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

Into the 21st century

As the 21st century approached, the young Roger Federer began to rewrite the record books. He was later to face intense competition from Novak Djokovic, and from the king of clay Rafa Nadal.

An era of America supremacy led by the iconic figures of Navratilova, King, McEnroe, Sampras and Agassi was coming to an end. Another golden age was emerging in which ‘the American (Bryan) brothers and (Williams) sisters were supreme and yet were not receiving the wider recognition they deserved’.

The author began recording his notes on every match played by Andy Murray, having watched him first as a junior playing on an outside court in a regional tournament. He discovers that changes in the game have not all been to his liking. He learns of the impact of branding as he miserably fails to trade up his 1970s racquet for a modern one. His forehand continues to frustrate the best efforts of various coaches, even one who had helped players such as Martina Navratilova.

Subsequent tales bring us to the highs and lows of today’s superstars, and the pratfalls of TV pundits.

The dream of a perfect forehand

The author remains optimistic. Drawing inspiration from the great orator Martin Luther King, he concludes that however modest the achievement, he still has a dream that one day he will play the perfect forehand.

Note to subscribers

Note the price is quoted currently at $3.99 or £1.99. It is a Kindle product, but you can download a free App via Amazon if you don’t have a Kindle.