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John Uttley

THE LAST VICTORIAN AND THE FIRST BABY BOOMER

The home of the author of the novels

‘No Precedent’ and ‘Where’s Sailor Jack?’

John's BLOG

Bob Dylan’s Lancashire

The August edition of Lancashire Life is just out. The magazine was kind enough to give a plug to my second novel No Precedent with a bit of blurb from the back cover. They did this in the middle of a double-page spread entitled Bob Dylan’s Lancashire, written by...

Radio Interviews

I’ve done three radio interviews this last fortnight to plug No Precedent. Well, actually four, but the first attempt with North Manchester Radio didn’t play as their equipment failed. It was their first day back in the Studio after lockdown, and the first live...

To publish or not to publish?

Later in the meal, over pudding, I told him about this book, and asked whether or not I should leave a copy to pass on to Alice and Richie for when they’re grown up. He asked me to send him one. Wendy never did get round to...

James in the graveyard

It was a few hours later that Lucy found out what Maddie had done. Appalled, she immediately rang Ruth to ask if she had Richard’s phone number, so she could check out that he was back home safely. Ruth passed the phone to Bob who volunteered to call Richard,...

Wendy takes over

There’s been a change of author. Here I am, Wendy, the sensible one, also the one young enough to be able to sit at a desk and type without moaning about sciatica. Bob’s asleep. I’ve often taken a peek over his shoulder at what he’s writing. I’m still not sure if he...

Lucy arrives on the scene

We were interrupted by the clatter of a woman coming in through the door, a teacher delivering posters for the local primary school Summer Fayre, accompanied by a handsome Labrador. To accept these was beyond the delegated responsibility of the barman. The landlord,...

Reviewing Past Posts

The launch of the new website has displayed all my old blogs in a more accessible form. I’ve just been backtracking through a few of them. In two of them, although generally in favour of greener policies, I was cautiously in favour of fracking in the Fylde. My view on...

It’s here at last…

This is my first blog since the revamp and renaming of my website. It’s also the first thing I’ve written since the publication of No Precedent. Nobody has read that yet, apart from my developmental editor Steve Carver, so I wait in trepidation for the sound of the...

Bolton Wanderers

I'm here to apologise for the delay in publishing No Precedent, the midquel of Where's Sailor Jack. There are two principal reasons for this delay, both relating to the year starting in the summer of 2019. What happens in this year was not going to be critical to the...

Life extension

I'm presently 'resting' from writing 'No Precedent', the midquel of 'Where's Sailor Jack' that I've been working on for the last eighteen months. The book is substantially finished but, ending as it does at Christmas 2019, with intertextuality to Brexit and the plight...

On Humanists, Scientists, Chimpanzees and MPs

I have spent perhaps too much time in these blogs arguing theism as the most rational world view with our present understanding of modern Physics. The science broadcaster I most enjoy is Alice Roberts, who from outside my expertise always seems thorough and logical,...

Lancashire Born v Lancashire Adopted

Seeing how Where's Sailor Jack? follows, in passing, the fortunes of Lancashire cricket from 1950 to date, I thought I'd have a bit of fun picking two teams from the whole period, one born and bred, one from anywhere outside the county. In the latter case, I've only...

Seven Types of Wishful Thinking

I've just finished that fine philosopher John Gray's book, Seven Types of Atheism. As a counter to the modern orthodoxy of a woolly humanism, it is superb. The view that things can only get better as progress occurs by using a scientific approach ignores that humans...

Three Trinities

Christianity has the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son who is the Word, and the Spirit. Buddhism has the Trikaya, meaning the three bodies. These are: the Truth body: the body of mutual bliss: the created body in space and time. I've just had reason to return to the...

Remainers or Brexiteers?

I'm working on a midquel to Where's Sailor Jack, starting in 2015 and thus set in the years of the Brexit vote and its implementation, if indeed that actually happens. As such I can't finish it until next year at the earliest, which is perhaps as well since progress...

A Northern Intellectual

Do you choose who you are? Anyone who reads these blogs will know that I identify as a Lancastrian, football and cricket loving, middle-of-the-road Anglican; physicist, philosophical dualist, centrist politically with a liberal core but respect for tradition; the last...

Soon will be near to us once more

I've always loved Christmas. We still kit out the conservatory out as Santa's Grotto, despite the children being in their twenties and not here much. The memories of the family Christmas when I was young and those when our kids were are equally magical. Sadly, there...

Madonna or the Magdalene?

I spent an interesting hour in the company of Bettany Hughes watching BBC4 last night. She's always good value. Her programme was about how the cults surrounding Aphrodite/Venus developed through history in different cultures, mainly pre-christian but with a brief...

Wonder where the wonder’s gone

I know there's a lot of depressing stuff in the News at the moment, such as the imminent nuclear war, but nothing has depressed me more than the recent religious survey. Less than half the population have any religious faith, and only 15% even say they're Anglicans. I...

Somewhere a place for us

A recent debate with a friend has left me wondering about the distinction between somewheres and anywheres as propounded by David Goodhardt in his book The Road to Somewhere. This categorisation has been widely used by commentators to differentiate between leavers and...

The Church of the Holy Allegory

Tracey Ullman's "A Christian's Job Interview" is a brilliant piece of writing. A likeable and impeccably qualified woman is about to get the job. The interview panel think she is wonderful. Right at the end, it emerges that she is a Christian. The mood shifts. The...

Moments

  Live for the moment. Is this the secret of a fulfilled life? Not for a mind/body dualist.The mind is never in the moment.There's a lag. Memory can't fully replicate a sensation, but it does last, until it fades. Seize the moment.That's a thought, before the event,...

Let there be Light

I find myself drawn to dualist notions of reality. There's not much chance of an afterlife if the mental and physical can't be separated. I'm betting with Pascal. It seems to be the no-lose option. Unless of course at some stage in the future we're all reconstituted...

One more locust?

I've been together through most of my life with Bob Dylan. It started in the upper sixth in 1963, the year made famous by Philip Larkin for the discovery of sex. Not in my world, it wasn’t. That took a few more years. A northern grammar school boy, what else could I...

Those Autumn Leaves

I'm reaching the empty nest stage quite late in life, being 71 next week. My wife Janet and I are not fully there yet, but the return to university this week for our youngest means that we're rattling round the house during the day. Our eldest has found pastures new,...

Kettle Calling Pot

I've lived a pretty comfortable life materially. It's difficult to say that I earned it. I worked at the top in worthy industries, but not in creative or productive roles. I now have a good pension. So this rant is bordering on rank hypocrisy. It's just that walking...

The Honours System

  After the Olympics, there's been a bit of discussion about the Honours System. I'd better declare my interest straightaway. Back in the 1991 New Year's Honours. I was awarded the OBE for "services to the National Grid Company". I hadn't hesitated about...

Hinkley Point C the new Dungeness B?

Theresa May wants to review the nuclear contract with the French and Chinese. She's right to, although I hope she is keeping our manners with EDF. The engineers there are good guys. As everyone at the CEGB knew, as Finance Director I was somewhat of a sceptic on...

Testaments Old and New

My local Church, although Anglican, is evangelical. Nothing wrong in that: the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. If there's good news to tell, it ought to be shared. The problem for me is in the approach to the source of that inspiration, the Bible. The...

An elite provincial’s view of Brexit

I voted Remain. But apart from London, Brighton, a few university towns, and the very centres of Manchester and Liverpool, few others did in England and Wales. The young voters couldn't even be arsed to vote. To try to revisit the vote now would patronise lower class...

Forked Lightning

The air was oppressively humid on the first Friday in July 2015. There was a rumbling followed by a roar. Yes, Richard Shackleton had found something to amuse him in the letter he was reading. His wife, Helen, knew him well enough to know that it would be funny,...

Dog Days

On Petty Common, it’s six o’clock in the morning on the second Saturday in July, 2016. Alexander Baldock, former investment banker and Oxford rugby blue, wearing the business clothes he’d put on four days ago, and with a hangover as filthy, peers at the dried grass...

Working class males and the Victorians

Not for the first time, I read a happening journalist decrying 50+ year old white guys the other day, with a commentary on the under-achievement of white, working class youth in another article. As I hawked my novel Where's Sailor Jack? round literary agents, too many...

Howard Marks

Howard Marks has died. I was up at Oxford the same three years as he was, 1964 to 1967, both of us reading Physics. Howard would walk late into the Clarendon Laboratory as the coolest guy in town, carrying his guitar case rumoured to contain the meaning of life...

Justin Welby

Justin Welby has received well-deserved plaudits for the gracious way he had handled the news of his father's identity. He has demonstrated how the Christian spirit is interpreted in the Church of England, indeed how the Holy Spirit is felt by Anglicans. But I have a...

Life science certainty

I always watch Alice Roberts' programmes on television. They are invariably well-made, and I found The Incredible Human Journey essential viewing. She upset me a bit recently when she tweeted: "I get really confused when churches ask me to give lectures because...

He is risen indeed

He wakes up. It's dark. There's a crack of light coming in from behind the stone. It must be morning. He puts his finger to the stone. It rolls away easily, making the earth shake. Two angels are outside with a robe. This is what he expects. He changes out of the...

Down with the Dead

He feels the print marks of the nails. He wonders where he is. He's been hoping for something tranquil. The place is full of monsters. Behind is a large shapeless mouth that swallows them up one by one, only to disgorge them. As Jesus approaches, the mouth closes...

Ecce homo

Pilate gives up his fight against Chief Priests dressed in 19th century suits. Who can understand them? The scourged Jesus picks up his cross to the sound of the Muezzin from Temple Mound. He staggers up the Via Dolorosa under an arch he doesn't remember seeing...

Is seventy the happiest age?

The papers have been full of a survey claiming that seventy year olds are the happiest people. I read about it in The Times yesterday. I don't know if it was the same survey as The Mail covered today, which claimed that the biggest regret in life of the seventy year...

You’re a long time dead

When I finished "Where's Sailor Jack", I thought I'd got about as far as I was ever going to get in seeing a meaning to life. Since then, Mum's died. It's only gazing down with a handful of earth that you realise how far under six foot is. Feeling the moist earth...

The Church of England

“ A captivating story that draws you into the lives of Bob and Richard, where a working class, Church of England upbringing deeply influences their passage through the world of corporate business.” These words come from one of the reviewers on Amazon of Where’s Sailor...

Thoughts on Cecil Parkinson

  Cecil Parkinson died yesterday. When he was Secretary of State for Energy I met him on a few occasions and quite liked him as a guy. He was one of those rare politicians who changed things. The liberalisation of the City, appropriately termed Big Bang, released...

Who’s a boomer?

Born just after the war finished in late 1945, I always assumed I was a baby boomer. My class at primary school was told that’s what we were. But only the younger members of that class are now caught by the ONS classification. Someone born in 1964, a boomer according...

New Year musings

  By the time you reach 70, the New Year isn’t just an occasion for looking back over the last year but over your whole life. The Christmas card intake is reconciled with the Christmas Address Labels file, notified mortalities too easily deleted and unexplained...

Hordes

I've banged on a couple of times about thinking myself a yeoman, someone who will come to the defence of the country when needed but who will bugger off back home straight afterwards. I wouldn’t be a fat lot of good at seventy anyway, although I’d probably be more use...

Labour Englishness

I picked this title up from Isabel Hardman in Monday’s Times in an article seeking to explain how the Labour vote in Oldham had survived Jeremy Corbyn. Wednesday’s Times had another columnist Alice Thomson trying to define Britishness, albeit reluctantly. Although not...

Immanuel

  God with us, the message of Christmas. God not always able to change things but with us in the pain and joy of life: man becoming God in a gruesome death and born as God both thirty-three years earlier and before all time, this can only be told as a real-life...

Oh Bon

“Where’s Sailor Jack?” asks the question of where do we go when we die, apart from into ashes or dust. Is there a life after death? My Mum died on October 6th, just three months short of her hundredth. "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and...

My family

I haven’t got any pictures from the late forties of the four of us together in Poulton, the Lancashire village that was our home. That’s Mum, Dad, sister Lynda and me. With the war taking Dad away for the duration, Lynda was nearly five years older than me. I guess I...

Body and Soul

My novel Where’s Sailor Jack? has the characters muse about the possibility of something beyond death. Richard Shackleton remembers an incident from when he was 19, while he was young, fit and innocent, when time seemed to stop, and hopes that was the moment when his...

My First Adam

                                  My blog about Bob Dylan was probably deliberately told to make me look as hip as possible from the earliest age. Before I’d discovered the wonders of Bob aged seventeen, I’d been into Elvis, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Roy...

Chanting

Seeing all the footage from the past shown on television since Corbyn’s accession, I’ve realised that I have a character trait which prevents me from ever being on the extremes of politics. I’d never be able to chant at a protest rally. Admittedly, it’s pretty...

Self identity from sporting allegiance

Where’s Sailor Jack? makes great play on the allegiance of Bob Swarbrick and Richard Shackleton to their separate towns' football teams and to the county cricket team they share. Bob is from Blackpool so on return to the north-west he bought a season ticket for...

Against Certainty

For me, the experience of living is too rich to think that a rule book can contain all the answers, certainly not any declaration of rights drafted by lawyers but not even the wonderful piece of literature that is the Bible. As they live their lives, people still...

You cannot be serious…

Reviewers of my novel Where’s Sailor Jack refer to my northern, or even my Lancastrian, sense of humour. I don’t mind that. They must mean Lancastrian because Yorkies are not known for cracking a joke or a smile, the estimable Joe Root aside. But my county, which can...

On Marriage

My novel, Where’s Sailor Jack, has two main male characters. Bob struggles to come to terms at being sent off by his wife before half-time in their marriage match, Richard doesn’t get why he’s not brought on until the second half for his. They both take marriage...

Getting Older

I’ve just been interviewed about my book Where’s Sailor Jack by The Wireless, Age UK’s radio channel. It’s now available here. Being asked made me realise how old I’d got. I tuned in before going along to see what the channel was about, expecting to hear Bing Crosby...

His Bobship – A life shared with Bob Dylan

I was in the upper sixth in 1963, the year made famous by Philip Larkin for the discovery of sex. Not in my world, it wasn’t. That took a few more years. A northern grammar school boy, what else could I be studying but Maths, Physics and Chemistry? Twenty miles down...