For reasons that largely escape me, but which may have contributed to my becoming sadly addicted to home reno shows of the “Better Homes & Gardens” variety a few years back, Luscious Lyn and I have recently started to watch Who do You Think You Are, an English show in which celebrities of the second stripe pretend to discover facts about their family history without acknowledging the team of researchers working behind the scenes who have carefully prepared every square inch of the utterly ‘spontaneous’ revelations well beforehand.

In truth, watching the likes of John Hurt and Jeremy Irons bemoaning the fact that they might have someone slightly notorious or ill-fitting in their backgrounds is really quite entertaining, because let’s be honest, the reason I’d want to engage in such an exercise is in the hope of finding someone thoroughly and despicably nasty (“Really? My Great great great whatever buggered Blackbeard on a Caribbean beach whilst knifing the local Governor’s virgin daughter, and they gave him a baronetcy for it? Coooolll…..”), or at the very least, finding out that the pathetic, grubby little domestic betrayals of your more recent ancestors aren’t the most noteworthy occurrences in your entire family tree: if you’re going to be a hero, be a real hero, but if you’re going to have bastardry in your family, please God let it be some spectacular bastardry!

Last night, we watched Jodie Kidd discover just that level of bastardry, which was entertaining for us, but absolutely fascinating for Erin, who sat up and watched the episode with us, and who was beset with questions about her own family history as a result. Suddenly, the idea that you can be connected to people from several hundred years ago, and that you can learn all about them, is inspiring to little Miss Death-obsessed 10 year old.

I know very little about my Mum’s family. She died in 2003 without ever spending any time discussing her family line, and to be honest, I wasn’t that interested for most of her life. My grandmother died when I was young, my grandfather was both distant and dotty when he followed us out to Australia a few years after we arrived, and due to the timing of various moves I’ve not really had any sort of relationship with my grandparents on either side. I know a few snippets of family history, a surname or two, and the fact that the trail stops cold sometime in the late Victorian-era with an out-of-wedlock birth. Hey, if the BBC run out of sixth-rate personalities sometime in the next 40 years and come knocking, maybe I can find something out.

My Dad’s side is a slightly different matter. Thanks to a second cousin with a genealogy bug, my Dad’s been able to trace our paternal line back to the early 1700s, to Henry, a pipemaker who hanged himself “in a fit of insanity after a night drinking at a local club”. I’ve also got rather a lovely document tracing the history of the surname Battersby itself, with a trail that stretches back well before the 13th Century. Should I ever decide to do some serious digging, there could be a long line to uncover. We have a coat of arms, awarded in 1605. We have a motto (“Before honour is humility”, and before you make any jokes about my personality, consider it in respect to my finances, and see how accurate it is…). The name is associated with a family seat that was first recorded before the Norman Conquest. There’s a sweet looking little village in North Yorkshire that shares the name, and which is, undoubtedly, the source of its English origin. There’s going to be a few things worth finding out.

The Battersby Family crest. A saltire paly of twelve ermine and gules, a crescent in chief sable. Whatever the hell that means.

I have an odd relationship with family, and with our history. The last 20 or 30 years haven’t exactly been covered in glory and gold dust, as far as I’m concerned, but then, of course, I’ve been living it, and I doubt anyone really thinks they’re part of the glory years whilst they’re actually happening. Maybe William the Conqueror, but was he really happy? (Laughing his fucking head off, I should imagine…) Maybe this whole novelist thing will really take off, and my great great whatevers will be on telly looking at photos of me and commenting about the number of chins I’m sporting. Or my brother will finally tip over the edge and assassinate an entire coastal town. Who knows? We wait with bated breath.

But deep history, history that illuminates a way of life and a prevailing culture that is alien to one’s own, that does fascinate me. To connect myself to moments of great import, or even just to see a connection to facets of existence which have fallen into extinction, to draw a line between myself and those events that have shaped the course of continents, that would be worth discovering, I think.

I’ve made a promise to Lyn– who, for a number of reasons, cannot trace her family back beyond two generations– that once we have the means to do so, we will find out how far back her line stretches, and who it encompasses. While we’re at it, we may see how far back we can stretch the Battersbys and the McMahons.

Here’s hoping for some world-class bastardry……

My paternal line, such as it is. Apparently, Oil of Ulay is good for removing lines…


Ever since I’ve started building Lego again, I’ve been looking for a way to display my MOCs in an easily-collated and viewable way, but nothing has really hit the nail on the head.

Now, however, thanks to boredom and the run of the computer, I’ve found MOCpages, which gives me easy uploads, a WYSIWYG editor, and general levels of technological simplicity even a buffoon like me can deal with. Added to which, easily accessible galleries that show me just how unsophisticated my little creations are when compared to some of the insane designs going around.

Still, we all have to start somewhere.

So here’s my page. Leave a comment if you like: all ego-rubs gratefully accepted.


It’s been a couple of weeks since it’s been announced, but word up to Perth writer Martin Livings, who has revealed the superb artwork for his upcoming collection Living With The Dead.

The cover itself is here, whilst you can also see the full wraparound in this post. Martin’s an underrated writer, and this is a collection that’s going to be worth the pocket money.


Like you, we in the Batthome care about the state of our house. That’s why, whenever we have visitors coming over, the last hour before they get here is usually spent in a mad rush doing all the cleaning up we should have been doing all week.

Oh yeah, like we’re the only ones who do that!

When our sister-in-law Amanda and our niece and nephew came over for lunch the other day, we launched into action. Blake was home for Christmas, and Aiden’s mates Jake and Jarryd were over, so they all pitched in to help.

My first port of call was the reading room, and the enormous pile of Lego that had been sitting on a sheet in the middle of the floor for the previous 4 days.

“Leave that,” Lyn instructed me. “There are kids coming over. They’ll want to play with it.”

Fair enough. And in that spirit, I’d like to present the outcomes of our 10 and 7 year old kids playing Lego with Amanda’s 10 and 8 year old kids on the day.

Clockwise, from bottom left, that’d be a spaceship by Connor (7), gunship by Jake (18), helicopter by Jarryd (18) and hovertank by Blake (17).

Kids, eh? 🙂


Ah, so, first day of the year. A time for looking forward. A time for making plans.

A time for breaking out, after a year spent in a holding pattern.

Every year I make a set of plans, lay out a bunch of goals. And every year I achieve…. some, at best. Last year I had 5 major goals, and achieved 1. If life was school, I’d be sitting up the back of the classroom with the guys who started shaving in year 5, wearing boxing gloves so I don’t interfere with myself in front of the librarian….

So this year, 3 goals.

Finish the Corpse-Rat King edits.
Finish and submit Marching Dead.
Finish and submit Father Meurte & The Divine.

Forget weight loss. Forget gardening. Forget nebulous feel good back rubs of the soul. 2012 is where I produce novels.