Book signing today in WH Smith, Sutton

Welcome back to my blog or welcome if you are here for the first time!

Just to let you know that from 10.30 until 4pm today I shall be signing copies of ‘Expulsion’ at WH Smith’s prime store in Sutton High Street, Surrey. Do pop in if only for a chat! Not a

Expulsion by Gordon L. Thomas
Expulsion by Gordon L. Thomas

bad present, though, a book signed by the author! Maybe, I’ll see you there!


Finland Five’s day in town

The other four, from the top left, Chris, Steve, John and Richard the resident photographer!

The five of us who went to Finland two years ago to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth met up in London yesterday for a day of fun, food, frivolity and culture. A few of my pictures are randomly distributed below. I hope you enjoy them!

Don Adrian Pulilo Pareja, Captain General of the Spanish army, wearing the Knight Order of Santiago. Possibly portrayed by Juan Bautiste de Mazo, Velazquez’s son-on-law and successor in the Royal Court of Philip IV (National Gallery)
Richard’s hand in the viper’s mouth!
Skeleton of the blue whale, Natural History Museum
Samson killing a Philistine by Giambologna (V & A) A gift from Philip IV to Charles I of England in compensation for his failure to win the hand of Philip’s daughter in marriage. Charles I so hated it, and his own portrait by Velazquez, that he gave them both to the Duke of Buckingham
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Stephen Hough after performing Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto at the Cadogan Hall that night. Schubert’s Great C Major, Symphony number 9, followed. It was a privilege to be there and listen to these masterworks
Respect, one of four allegories of love by Paolo Veronese (National Gallery). Cupid is encouraging the soldier to seduce the sleeping maiden but his colleague is restraining him
The stunning scenery of Lake Keitele, Finland by Gallen-Kallela, (National Galley). One of about 30 paintings by this brilliant Finnish artist assembled for exhibition. Brought back good memories for each of us!
Detail from the Boar Hunt by Diego Velazquez (National Gallery). Which of this group is Philip IV?
One of the winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017, Natural History Museum. Thanks to Richard for being his guests there. Image borrowed from NHM website.

Great evening with Ashtead Rotary

It’s only a few days ago that I had a wonderful evening with the members of Ashtead Rotary Club who had asked me to talk to them one evening about my books. There were only twelve of us all together so it was a bit like a dinner party as we sat and chatted together over a meal at the Haywain Brewer’s Fayre in Epsom.

Just before I gave my talk, President Gareth Evans inducted new member Stephen. It was good to see that younger people are actively interested in joining Rotary.

The Brewer’s Fayre Haywain, Epsom
This friendly group listened intently to what I had to say and asked a number of interesting questions.

So many thanks to Len Woods who invited me and Julie Haines who made all the arrangements. Thanks also to all those members of the club who bought copies of my books. Two avid readers bought a copy of each of the three!

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!