Sophia Loren

Welcome back to my web site or welcome if you’ve not been here before!

I recently took lovely Jan to one of the Grumpy Mole restaurants ( near us. As usual, we had a really nice meal, in my case helped down with a glass of good old London Pride.

Sophia Loren at The Grumpy Mole, Cheam


I noticed on a wall of the restaurant this gorgeous picture of one of my favourite film stars, Sophia Loren. I don’t knw when it was taken or by whom but I thought I would share it with you. I hope you like it, too!


Please save Uber!

Bit of a cheek, you may say, but Uber is doing a great job for Londoners. They admit to getting things wrong and are offering talks with TfL. Please join me in helping to save this brilliant application of internet technology. Uber cabs are the safest taxi firm I know.

If you agree please go to to vote ‘keep Uber’!


Successful signing at WH Smith’s

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of doing another signing at one of my favourite stores: WH Smith’s in Sutton High Street in Surrey. I always feel welcomed there by Simon Bruckland, the manager, and by his friendly, helpful staff who are getting to know me now.

WHSmith’s great store in Sutton High St.

I was signing copies of my latest novel, ‘Expulsion’ which is a prequel to my first, The Harpist of Madrid. Although it is good to sell a lot of books, it is equally good to meet interesting people to speak to. One couple – who bought the book – told me about their son who is a composer. I should have asked his name so I could have looked him up. A Japanese lady was also very interesting. She came from Tokyo and had lived in England for nearly thirty years. She taught Japanese at a college in London. One lady who said she only read historical novels knew a lot about the period in Spain in which my novels are set. I was pleased to hear that this was the first novel she had seen about the expulsion of the Moors from that country.

My thanks are due to Simon, who invited me, and his staff as well as all those customers who bought a copy, thirteen in all!

Thank you Chipstead PROBUS

It hardly seems over a week ago now that I gave a talk about my writing to the Chipstead PROBUS Club. What a great bunch of guys! They meet at none other than Chipstead Golf Club which, as many of you know, is where our Rotary Club, Sutton Nonsuch, also meets. In fact it was one of our members, Roger Furmston who suggested that I gave this talk.

The spectacular club house at Chipstead Golf Club
David Isaacs, the Club’s speaker secretary, invited me and organised my visit. I interested a number of the members in writing a book themselves and invited each of them to be my guest at one of our Rotary Club meetings with a possible view to joining!

So thank you Roger and David for this wonderful opportunity to speak to your friendly club members and to all those who so generously bought copies of my books. I hope you enjoy reading them!



Goldfinch: Symbol for Resurrection

A very interesting blog, especially if you are fond of goldfinches! Lovely Jan and I are and see many in our garden!

Animals Matter to God

N.B. The following text in this blog-post Goldfinch: Symbol for Resurrection is Copyright © 2012 Philip Johnson.


In his original study of the Goldfinch in European art, the ornithologist Herbert Friedmann (1946:7-9) wrote that this bird has several symbolic meanings ascribed to it. The four principal symbolic meanings all link up to important biblical things including: the soul, sacrifice, death, and Resurrection. Another symbol that the Goldfinch stood for was recovery from illness, and the raising up of a person out of their sick-bed was another kind of symbolic Resurrection.

Image Source:

Photo by Nigel Blake It was during the Renaissance, that the European Goldfinch (Genus: Carduelis; species Carduelis carduelis) became associated in paintings with important theological symbols such as the Passion of Christ and the Resurrection.How that came about involves a retrospective kind of tale about the Goldfinch  and the Passion of Christ…

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An Excellent night in Leatherhead

It was a real privilege for me to give a talk, a week or so back, to Leatherhead Rotary Club who meet at the stunning Police Federation Headquarters in Leatherhead.  What a friendly and welcoming bunch of people they are. They fed and watered – or rather beered – me in one of the nicest venues I’ve given one of my talks.

The Police Federation HQ
I spoke about ‘A latecomer novelist’ who is me, of course. I covered how to write a novel, how to get it published and how to promote it through book signings, the online media and giving talks such as this. And I introduced the members to Juan Hidalgo, the most famous but now forgotten Spanish composer of the 17th century. He is the subject of my first novel, The Harpist of Madrid.

Gordon and Gary 1
President Gary and me!

So many thanks to Simon Edmands for inviting me, President Gary for introducing me and everyone else for making me feel so welcome as well as those of you who bought copies of my books! Profound thanks also for the £50 cheque Gary presented to me as a contribution to the Rotary charity, End Polio Now! A great night to remember!

March for justice in Taiwan

Last Thursday, and following my blog article of the week before, thousands of former Taiwanese government employees, civil servants, police officers, military servicemen, schoolteachers and many others, marched on the government offices including the office of the Prime Minister. Their aim was simple: to protest over the Taiwanese Prime Minister’s decision to cut all these retired and loyal servants pensions by a massive 50%.

Huge protest on the streets of Taipei

What an injustice. How would any of us retired souls in the UK like to be treated in this way, especially after giving our working lives to the honest toil of serving our country. We wouldn’t endure it for one moment and we too would take up the cudgels of protest.

I make this personal appeal to President Tsai Ingwen. For the sake of your retired former servants, please reconsider the injustice that you have laid at their doors. Please do not inflict this misery upon them but find another means, perhaps by taxation, government savings or selling government assets, of solving the pensions problem. I’m sure you are an honourable person and will equally show your subjects the honour they deserve. We love the people of Taiwan and have many friends among them.






Signing at Waterstones in Sutton

Today I had the great privilege of conducting a book signing in Waterstones in Sutton, the London Borough of which lovely Jan and I are residents and have been for the last 41 years.

Although the day started slowly – it took nearly two hours to sell one book – things really picked up after 2 p.m. and by the time I finished at 4, I’d sold 14 copies of my latest, ‘Expulsion’. As always on these occasions, I met some really interesting people. One lady lived in Andalucía and knew so much about the history of Spain in the 17th century, she made me feel quite humble! A French guy – on a zero hours contract with a local hotel – reckoned that the Jews were the main reason the Moors invaded Spain. I was quite taken aback by his theory but still didn’t believe him. A lady from Canada bought a copy. Her father lived in Valencia for much of his life and had Moorish blood from many generations back. She was almost in tears saying, ‘I just have to buy it’. Bless her.

Waterstones, Sutton
Waterstones in Sutton. What an impressive shop!

So a big thank you to Katherine, the store manager who invited me to do the signing and to her wonderful staff who made me feel so welcome! And not least, many thanks to all those people who bought a copy of ‘Expulsion’. I hope you enjoy this unusual yarn.