Sunday, 17 November 2013

3D Animation – Curd the Lion takes the first step towards...

I am preparing an iPad App version of ‘The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond’ – (Its hardback edition with 80 illustrations at £14.99, ISBN 9780955548611 – is available from, Amazon, Books Etc., Waterstones, The Book Depository, etc..) – a 3D animation lecturer has kindly produced the first 3D models as templates for animation which I would like to share with you here.
NB. These models are not coloured as they would be, but are the basic form models from which animations may be developed.

 SWEENEY THE HEENIE (hyena – this model minus his bushy tail – see illustration in background)

Here’s the link to the turntable movie clip – Sweeney
and sample pictures from that clip below...


Here’s the link to the turntable movie clip  – CURD
and sample pictures from that clip below...

My 3D lecturer unfortunately has had to drop out due to increased college commitments and I am now seeking a keen and talented young 3D animator to take up the cudgel and work with me on a profit-sharing basis to complete and animate these in short sequences to front the iPad App version.
If anyone out there either is or knows a 3D modeller / animator willing to take on this project I will be only too glad to hear from him/her. Recent college graduates in 3D animation very welcome to chat to me, Alan Gilliland -

I need to provide short animations of the four main characters, Curd the Lion, Sweeney the Hennie, O’Flattery the Snake and Pilgrim Crow (see slideshow on top left of this blog)

The hardback book has sold over 9,000 copies in the UK and had some very nice reviews including by award-winning BBC radio drama producer Brian Sibley and Award-winning educationist Margaret Mallett and been invited to Hollywood twice (unsuccessfully) so far.
(see for these and many other reviews)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Arthur Clarke Awards, 2013 – Ben Gilliland wins one (third time lucky)! Congratulations!

My oldest son, Ben, has just won the Sir Arthur Clarke Award, 2013: Space Achievement, Media, Broadcast and Written.

Here’s what they said about Ben’s Cosm pages in Metro:
"He is a talented writer who can use Alien farts as a hook into getting the general public interested in REAL science. His infographics are superb and he has been generous with sharing his content and articles free to schools. The single best reason to pick up a copy of Metro. Ben's regular Cosm column renders often very complex space/astronomy subjects in a very engaging way."
The awards are presented as part of the UK Space Conference and is given by the  UK Space Agency and British Interplanetary Society 

Third time lucky? He’s been nominated twice before – each time competing with TV programmes.

And he couldn’t even attend the ceremony, held in faraway (from Sussex) Glasgow, because too busy writing to deadline his next book!!

Here’s a link to his Cosm blog page.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Ben Gilliland – Sir Arthur C. Clark Awards – 3rd time shortlisted

Could it be third time lucky?
My eldest son, Ben, has been nominated for the 3rd time in the Arthur C. Clark Awards,

Final Nominees for 2013 Sir Arthur Clarke Awards

The Awards will, this year, be presented at a Ceremony during the Conference Dinner at the UK Space Conference, in Glasgow on the evening of Tuesday 16 July.
With well-known and highly appropriate celebrities hosting the evening and presenting the awards, it promises to be a prestigious and enjoyable event.
Sponsored by the UK Space Agency, the 2013 Awards are presented for outstanding and notable achievements in, and contributions to, all Space activities.
The following are the nominees selected by this year’s Judging Panel, chaired by Mrs. Angie Edwards, niece of Sir Arthur, UK Board Member of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation.

Space Achievement – Media, Broadcast and Written
  • Ben Gilliland, Metro √
  • The Material World Team and Quentin Cooper
  • 60 Second Adventures in Astronomy – The Open University

See here.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Bear paws through Curd the Lion book.

Ok. Couldn’t resist this opportunity to show my readership goes Waaay beyond just Man-cubs.

ISBN 9780955548611. Hardback £14.99. 80 plus illustrations. Widely available, but if you like, buy through this site:
Why? Because they kindly made it a ‘Book and Debut of the Year’ and still keep it on their
‘Essential Reads.’

Working now on an iBooks Author version, with multi-levels, including secrets revealed (apart from the Minorbore’s riddle that no one has yet solved!), a geolocation enabled map for people who really want to follow my Animals’ adventure, and hopefully little animations and other interesting asides.

(original bear pic, below, was found, unattributed, on a news item – happy to acknowledge if anyone can tell me who took it – love it!)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

TREE - a fairy tale


“Once upon a time there was a King who lived in a
Castle with his Queen, their family and retainers. This
castle, as castles do, looked severe and uninviting, its
great grey stone walls towering over the landscape,
each day casting a long forbidding shadow that swept
across the castle’s lands like a scowl.
“There was nothing in its appearance to recommend
it as hospitable to the passing traveller except for certain
rumours of a garden within the outer bailey walls
which, it was said, was cared for by the Queen herself.
This, if those rumours are to be believed, was lush and
vibrant with colour and the songs of birds; for, they
say, all her love and its power poured into this garden,
suffusing it with a beauty that was at odds with the
hostile ramparts of the castle itself.
“Beyond this bailey garden and deep within the
iron-grey walls of the castle keep was a small court-
yard cloister, enclosed all about by sheer walls of
unadorned stone. In this courtyard nothing grew, but
in its centre stood an ancient Tree, of which it was
said that its fast-rising sap had once brought forth leaf
in abundance and the most beautiful flowers every
spring with creamy petals about hearts of deep purple,
tinged with crimson. It was said that the fruit of this
Tree tasted like no other on this wide earth; that its
taste was both scented and sweet, sharp and yet soft,
like peach and cumquat, lychee, mangosteen and passion
fruit all rolled into one, with an honeyed afterglow
that went straight to the heart like a rich mellow
golden dessert wine.
“But that Tree had borne no leaf, nor flower, nor
fruit for many a year, according to those, and they
were few, who had seen it. When this Tree had thrived
long ago, it was said, its benign influence had spread
across the whole kingdom and that it had been a time
of golden fields and rich harvests and only weapons
and armour had rusted and decayed for lack of want.
“The King invited no one into the cloister where
daily he kept silent vigil, wandering for hour after
hour and sitting, when tired, upon a bench on its
northern side where the sun shone brightest into that
deep well of rock, contemplating that gnarled old
Tree. The precise form and every detail of that Tree
was reflected in the unmoving eyes of the King, eyes
once said to have been beautiful with the dark fire of
an unquenchable passion, eyes now lined with sorrow.
“The King would not permit the Tree to be hacked
down, despite his Queen’s protestations that it should
be cleared away to allow for new planting; for in that
Tree was a little nest of twigs and feathers which had
lain in a hollow between two great branches for a long
time now. And it was for this that the King remained
adamant in his refusal.
“For only the King knew that, once or twice, a
tiny bird had come and alighted there with a twig or
feather in its little beak, placed it carefully in that nest
and fluttered about, sometimes around the old King’s
head, sometimes brushing his cheeks with its softfeathered
wings, before departing up and away into
the freedom of the world beyond.
“The old King waited patiently. He knew that if
only that tiny twittering bird should return from its
wanderings and nest there, ever-so briefly, and fill
the great court with the echoes of its song, then this
gnarled and ancient Tree would feel the vibrancy of its
simple joy and once again burst into leaf and flower
and sing its own quiet melody through the rustling
of its leaves and proudly display the splendour of its
blossom and become heavy with its delicious fruit.
“For the King knew that the Tree depended upon
the bird as the bird depends upon the tree for a place
to nest and the materials with which to build its transient
home. The King knew that the little bird would
not stay. He knew that in its very comings and goings,
in the light touch of its tiny feet upon the Tree’s
rough bark, in the nestling warmth of its sitting for
long enough, that in all of these lay the secret of the
first stirrings of the Tree’s sap, which would bring the
old Tree back to life. He knew that it was in the sweet
fanning of that life in the fluttering of the tiny bird’s
wings in departing and returning that the old Tree
would be moved to re-create its bold display of green
in defiance of its grey confines, and to bring forth its
lovely flowers and from these grow its wondrous fruit,
the touch of whose skin was said to be so velvety soft.
“The King knew that once the little bird had tasted
of this magical fruit, the Tree could live again, trusting
in the return of the tiny bird and its offspring to
define its seasons and give ear to its whispered secrets,
enchanting tales.
“The King knew this because he was bound to that
ancient gnarled Tree as surely as if with the heaviest of
iron chains, for the King’s heart itself was in that Tree,
and this Heart-of-the Tree was barren for want of
that tiny bird which, of all the birds in the wide, wide
world, had once or twice found its way through the
lush gardens and meadows of the bailey garden and
over the high unassailable walls of the keep into this
cloistered retreat in which the King held daily court in
judgement over the fate of the Tree: each day postponing
its destruction for the sake of that tiny fluttering of
“I don’t know whether that Tree ever burst into leaf
and flower, and whether the King’s joy was restored in
the end or whether he ever tasted of that fruit again,
for this tale was told to me by a jester who once
passed through that place and witnessed the King’s
musings and was bold enough to draw from him the
tale of the Tree. But that jester has never since returned.
“Some say that there never was such a Tree, that all
such stories are but fairy tale, lies to deceive the gullible;
others that the very being of the story is proof
enough of there having been such a Tree, once upon a
time (the Rationalists of the first group point to these
Romantics and say, “case proven”). And we know
that jesters do lie sometimes, but also that in their
outlawry they are free to tell truths others dare not
“ But I do not know. I would dearly like to believe in
such a Tree. For, if there were such a Tree and if such
a bird did exist, once upon a time, then they would
surely inspire such Tales as this one…”

This tale is from my book of short stories, poems and illustrations, ‘Ana Thema’ – Alan Howard (see previous three blog posts).

In a lighter vein...

Among my observational ‘haiku’, one day I saw:

Gathered by
      Salvation Hall –
 Grannies, all.

Dwelling on misery, bent on salvation, blind to the beauty of life itself...

And tomorrow, Easter Sunday, I will post a short fairy tale, ‘Tree’, also from that book of short stories, poems and illustrations. ‘Ana Thema’ (see previous post)

On death and resurrection...

On this Good Friday when people’s thoughts turn to death... 


Follows day,
Another night.

Death plays his bone whistle.
They gather round.
Their low notes of mourning
Subsume the shriller octaves
Of his precocious assumption.

Another day,
Another night.

His livid skull rises
Above the Eastern horizon.
Hand joins hand, clasped tight,
Bones with cloyed flesh, enflamed,
Crackle his ascendance.

Another day,
Another night.

His hollow shin-bone beats
Upon the quaking marrow of the world
The slow chime of their macabre minuet
Stamping their seven steps in time
Upon the living dead.

Night follows day.

Endless night.
………………. resurrection, redemption, the possibility of enduring beyond death...

And so it goes

Here the blight blows,
And blasts right through,
Sucking into breathlessness your anguish,
Fragile as a hollowed eggshell…

Teeth will grind, guts ingest those shards,
Will integrate fractions of you and all like you;
Compound them into new Selfhoods:
Ones for whom your ‘once’
Never existed.

You are nothingness,
All of you.

And so it goes…


two poems from my book of short stories, poems and illustrations, ‘Ana Thema’ - ISBN 9780955548635 p/b.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Are you listening, Folio Society?

I have a great urge to illustrate ‘The Devil’s Elixirs’ by E.T.A. Hoffman. In this style.
Any takers out there? Folio Society?

and this

and this

In black and line art with stipple and twenty colour plates. Come on, someone...
Sponsor me!

Check out this link my blog piece on their Audubon book – sort of: link

Once upon a time...

I drew these out of my cupboard, today, feeling in a reminiscing sort of mood.
(You can tell just how long ago I drew them by looking at the superfast computer on the boy’s desk)

Naturally, I included one of my own heroes here: Buster Keaton.
And for the girl...

...the rag doll that was given to my daughter at her birth and, top left, Piglet, that my own mother made me and went to school in my back pocket for ages.

Greetings from a Desert Island...

On this Good Friday, I came across an old drawing of mine that just reminded me of the the writer’s lot...

Staring at a blank sheet – awaiting sudden inspiration – writer’s block – the hunger and isolation – one might as well be on a desert island peopled solely by the creatures of imagination, to whose shiftless forms one cries: “Happy Easter, everyone!”

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Limerick posted 3am

After being woken by thumping and banging to see three men lifting manholes and dragging cables out and cutting them into 5ft lengths and dumping them in their open-backed truck with its engine running and no light on, I phoned the police on the off chance they might be cable thieves.
While I was kept on the line for the 27 minutes it took them to arrive in two squad cars (or rapid-response teams as they probably prefer to be called) I gave a blow by blow account of their nefarious actions.
As it turned out (the police having released me from witness custody once they arrived) they were legitimate. The police kindly informed me half an hour later as I was trying to get back to sleep.
Aroused for the second time, my thoughts turned to the deeper things in life and I meditated on religion for a short while before this popped into my head.

There was an old lady of Ceredigion
Who suffered in silence for religion,
Though wracked by doubt,
She never ‘came out,’
For fear of being shat on by a pigeon.

What do you think of at 3 in the morning?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Walrus and the Bookseller...

Having just, in my previous post, attacked myself as ‘Le Petit Auteur’ in rhyme from the viewpoint of the agent/publisher, I thought I might as well share with you one composed earlier, upon the palindromic birthday (181) of that Janus figure of children’s literature, Lewis Carroll, which birthday anniversary enjoys a threefold symmetry, left-right, up-down, and rotational in two dimension, which, on that day, for some reason put me in mind of my relationship with a certain book chain...

It has, unfortunately to be presented as an whole image, for typographical reasons, which of itself maybe deemed a little Carrollian. But let’s see, now....

[Seemingly the product of a fit of senility on the part of the dear deceased Reverend Dodgson, this remembrance of his fine work, needless to say, fits no reality I can think of.]

Agent’s Lament (or Publishers.. whatever)

In response to a tweet an hour ago by Salt Publishing, bemoaning the weather in Cromer,

1h Hello winter, my old friend, / When will you ever bleeding end? / And #Cromer pier is still so freezing, / And my chest is softly wheezing.”

I was moved to write this, on behalf of and in empathy with the sufferings of poor agents (and publishers) who do have to put with so much...

My Simon & Garfunkelian Blues.

Call it: “Agent’s lament” (Or Publishers?)

Here goes (and remember its humble origin as emanating from one of those so derided here)

“Hello writer, my old bane,
You’ve come to pester me again,
Despite rejection, are you so deranged?  
My derision, was it not, all too plain,
Scarce restrained,
Within the bounds of license?

In endless reams you write like those,
Whose narrow feats of cobbled prose,
’Neath contempt, so deadly dull and camp,
Sputter sulphur like an old gas lamp,
Choking shadows along those blind alleys, 
Your galleys,
That just astound my good sense.

In naked daylight can you not see,
You’re one of thousands, more maybe,
Writing words without thinking,
Writing sentences without linking,
Writing drivel that no one wants to share,
Friends don’t dare,
Disturb your profound ignorance.

“Fool,” said I, “you do not know,
Genius like a cancer grows,
So heed my words that I might reach you,
Take my advice that I might teach you
To give up now,” but on deaf ears my words fell,
And echoed 
In the empty chambers of his mind.

And those authors stood and gaped
At the neon god they aped,
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming,
And the sign said, profitable words are written in the publisher’s halls, 
Not tenement walls.
So just go drown in the sound of silence.”

Dear reader ,
If you like this (as we lonely Amazonians are wont to say), why not try:
The Walrus and the Bookseller.
A Limericked Look at Rude Reviewers
or, indeed,
 Aloysius B. KattelBach’s, On Book Titles and other Tittle-Tattle
 and many more scrapings from the floor of culinary creativity. 

After an adventurous night, last night, this...

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Fairytale Garden? Wealden Hall house for sale

These are just a few of  the plants through the seasons in this, to us at least, lovely garden.
I thought I’d share, with these links to slide shows, a view through the seasons.

We hope you all like our house and garden.
It was featured last week in Sunday Times ‘Houses of the Week’and this weekend in the Telegraph ‘Charming Country cottages under £500,000’
Here are the links.
House blog page 1 - house
page 2 - history
page 3 - garden May
page 4 - surroundings
page 5 - garden extra June

Surroundings slide show landscapes

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

“Voici la Plume de ma Tante...”

   In that curious state of wakeful sleep as images of dream are replaced by mundane consciousness, this phrase from my early childhood surfaced, together with images of a letter written by my favourite aunt, Dora (and we all did, as children, adore her), when she was a child, in the days when the art of letter-writing existed, even to be enjoyed by children.
   This much derided title quote, exemplar of rote, finds another meaning in the care and loving attention given here to a simple letter written to her older sister who had just left home for an hotel in London.

   So, in homage to her and that art, I present in full that letter (and some examples of her character, below):

Transcription of the text, below (or click to blow up pictures)

   If you have read this letter in full, you may see, even then, the infectious wit and sparkle that she carried with her, like a fairy godmother, all her days.
   As an old lady, she had only to enter a room full of random children and, despite her decrepitude and deformities, the patterns of attraction were as palpable as the re-reordering of iron filings in the presence of a magnet.
   Within minutes of sitting down she would be surrounded by eager children, listening to her hundred tales and witticisms, oblivious to to any physical fault by which an adult might judge her, fascinated by her laughing eyes and infectious chuckle.
   When the three sisters, Ruth (to whom this letter was addressed and who treasured it enough that I have it today), Dora and Mary (my mother, one of the small nonsenses of this letter) were together, hysteria swept through the house, bowling over any pretence of decorum such that even my father had to put away seriousness and the morning’s paper-reading (a sacrosanct hour that brooked no interruption).
   Two instances of that character spring immediately to mind, both shocking and a little comic.
   When her husband, Malcolm, an accountant with a kleptomania for documents to the point where their dining room could no longer be used, being piled with old newspapers, files and papers of no longer determinate provenance, on the bureau, under the table, on top of the table, seated on the chairs and lining the walls to the ceiling, died, we attended his funeral, staying at their house the night before.
   That morning, after stoking the old coal-fired boiler, preparing the breakfast and ourselves to receive the pall-bearers, come to collect the coffin, we filled in the time with Dora recounting stories of their lives together such that, when these drab top-hatted gentlemen came soberly knocking, the door was opened to the scene of a family in hysterics, to which the look on their faces merely added another fit.
   Later, after the funeral in a church packed with what appeared to be half the town’s population (he was a man of good works), we repaired to an hotel nearby for the wake.
   A suitably sad-looking lady of her acquaintance appeared, to offer her deepest condolences and sympathy, to which my dear old aunty retorted, “ Nonsense! I’m glad he’s dead.” Observing the shock on the faces of that lady and all around, she added, in her inimitable fashion: “You see, when you have loved someone as deeply and as long as I have, you cannot bear to them suffer so. His passing was a mercy.”
   Again, after continuing to manage for years alone in their house, she had a serious fall, cracking her hip and was hospitalized. On discovering her age, condition and circumstance, her doctors decided that she must, on leaving, repair to an old people’s home where she could be properly ‘taken care of.’
  On hearing this,old auntie was heard to say, “No one is going to put me in kennels,” and she, returning as we do to our origins, promptly set about dying, ‘toute suite!’

Dear Ruth,
   How are you getting on hope you are enjoying yourself  I am having a rotten time or am about to.
   The “Chinley Brigade” are going to swoop down on us on Thursday.
   On Monday I was going to have had Iris to-tea and play tennis she is (was) otherwise engaged worse luck and Mary is having two small nonsenses to tea.
   On Thursday as you know was the eventful day of the drawing exams.
   As soon as I got (to) school I was called for Division V and I was
drawing all morning till quarter past twelve and I mist an hours Arithmetic with MIss Glover.
   As soon as I got to school in the afternoon all the kids in the West-room and Hall started shouting “many happy returns of the day” at my bewildered self  then Marjorie Sibald and another kid told me Miss Norbury wanted me and after trying to find Miss Norbury in vain I went upstairs the the classroom just as the second bell went.
   There sat Miss Glover’s green eyes staring at me. just as she was about give me lectures for being late for a Arith lesson someone dragged me out into the landing where stood Mis Lockyear and “Daubs” beaming and smiling all over and praising my Division V Paper which they had handed
nearly all over the school.
   The “Daubs” spotted me and told me run and get my Bonny Prince Charlie for her to see, and after showing me a few faults which I corrected she told me to get my pencils and “Glovey” glared and asked me if I was going to exam  I said yes and she flew into a passion and shouted Git-tart,! Git-tart! Git-tart.! So I flew.
   Well Division VI came off spiffingly “I was pleased with myself”
   When all the girls had finished except Jean Trenfield and I they all crowded round my desk with Ohs! and Ahs!  that Miss Levy had to shout before they would clear off
even “Daubs” praised it
   And ‘Locky’ said I was sure of honnours in both V and VI.
   “And as Fate will have it” being dead against the Millers I went and did the same Memory and the work there.drawing in both my papers which is not allowed (unknown to me) and this means that I am disqualified from both Divisions and so I have failed. “I could just weep”
   How did you like the “Lilac Time.” I suppose you’ll come home, talking à Londre, dressing à Londre, and behaving absolutely in an à Londrerish fashion.
   Donald’s bringing a sort of foreign apparatus from the Office to have tea with us on Sunday and is taking it out in the car  Molly Costines coming as well  Mercy! but Auntie’s the limit  she is forever shouting about the work here
and the work there.
   I walked to school with Pat and Marjorie on Friday morning and Marjorie told me to tell you she had actually got one sum right whilst you are away {“getting quite clever is she not”?) I may as well tell I am in the soup about Extra Arith myself and my French! Well its quite a nice little language all by itself. He! He! He! You should seen it.
   It was supposed to be about a day on the river and I spent my time getting there really only got on the river in the last sentence.
   Last night I had a dream and it was most extraordinary Stewart Rome, Ivo Novello, Rudolph Valentino, Owen Nare(s) and Herbert or Dick Kay you know the one with the brown suit well all these persons were seated at tables each posing
and trying to look sad and I think the brown suited Kay boy was easily the best He! He! if you had only seen him.
   Our room is finished at last. I also dreamt that Steve Linch gave me a fright with his horse and came and talked to me  he is awfully mice if he is the same in real live (a double meaning.)
   Well I shall have to stop as Auntie is getting beyond endurance  with love from
   ‘Wee Leon’.

P.S. We’ve got to go to Miss Rider’s house for our lessons on Saturdays to get used to a strang(e) Piano  She did snap at me when I told her you had gone away and asked me if I was going too.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Let us celebrate Old Christmas Day!

– whether it is the deemed the 6th or 7th of January,
– whether it because we in Britain lost the 11 days in 1752 with the calendar change from Julian to Gregorian (hence the ‘Old Christmas Day’ of 25th December fell on January 6th for those who refused to accept the lost days)
– or whether it is because the Orthodox and Coptic Churches, still using the Julian calendar, celebrate Christmas Day on the 6th January and Armenian Church on the 7th January...

This is my Epiphany:
Both are My Birthday!
Though my official birthday falls on the 7th January, as one born equatorially early on the 7th*, I moved GeoMeTrically to UKGMT where my birth actually falls late on the 6th.
Thus may I, CAPRICIously, if CORNily, lay claim to be the ONE, born on that auspicious day in the East and come to the West...


*2.35am, Bungsar Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.