Come Home…Part 2

Come Home…Part 2

…I didn’t have a lot of anything in the spring of 2017. Well, with the exception of love from a soulmate who not only believed in me, but who stood by me through the damage and panic attacks and self-loathing which was the legacy of the old life’s grisly end.

And the reason my love believed in me? Beneath all the rubble, a light was still shining through the cracked fragments. That promise I made to myself was about to be broken by that cursedly curious mind of mine, abetted by the same defect which meant the whistleblowing was possible in the first place.

And so I turned my attentions to disinformation, elections, the far-right, and Russia.

Starting from nothing, I battered my way into journalism. Gathered a following and crowdfunding at Byline, and eventually managed to scoop the story which changed everything: Russia had engaged the West in hybrid warfare and won, destabilising its long-term adversaries with electoral interference planned over years. Deploying the most ruthless of all psychological weapons to drive wedges into every seam of our society, creating chaos. The installation of malware for the soul. A virus for the human mind.

When Alternative War was first released as a public interest project in 2017, barely anybody believed it. The trolling was intense, tasked, and incredibly damaging. I was dismissed and disbelieved at every step, leaving me burnt-out and demoralised.

And worse still, because I had started to come around to the idea of people being better than I dared believe, some other journalists laid into me to. From their privileged positions of stable jobs with nothing to lose.

This is only a shadow of the privilege which affects billions every day, and it was soul destroying.

Though the security services eventually caught up, and the media sneering was replaced with growing acceptance, I had seen enough. And the echoes from my time before the truth came out in the parliamentary inquiry were too much. Old scars had been re-opened – because in this world you can’t really do right until it also suits somebody else’s agenda. Or circulation figures.

We truly deserve better in this world, but we don’t have better yet. And who knows if we ever will. Battered and bruised, exhausted, I resigned myself to near defeat.

But that soft voice was still there. That love of mine. Whispering to me carry on the journey home. Smiling at me gently as she told me to take as many people along as possible.

And so I opened more doors. And now I’m opening them to you.

Because we do deserve better. And they only way we can get there is together…

Come Home continues tomorrow.



Come Home…Part 1

Come Home…Part 1

I once made a promise to myself. Lying in a ball on a rug, hoodie pulled up over my face, panicked breathing refusing to ease.

It was a fortnight after I left the police on the tenth anniversary of my starting in the service, and I was broken. Blowing the whistle to Parliament on the national failure to record crime properly and the manipulation of resource statistics had taken years but, by May 2014, it was done and I’d forced things to change for the better for victims of crime. The price was a heavy one: the loss of the career I loved, the loss of financial security, the unemployability which comes with doing the right thing.

The promise was a simple one, a child’s almost. I’m never doing that again, it’s just too much.

Just under two years later, I was lying in a bedsit in the dark, listening to the night-sounds of the sink estate and the alcoholic Scotsman screaming to the dark in the room above, stopping to urinate on the floor in elongated blasts. I had been bankrupt for a fortnight, after a road closure of several months killed off the pub I’d managed to renovate and restore.

Life really can be peculiar, because it’s there I found peace in myself for the first time in many years and started to write Forever Completely, a catharsis in fiction. An escape. Oddly, this running away had the effect of opening the door on a journey. A road home to a place where I belonged. A place I could build for my family. The Welsh word for this is Cynefin.

And so it was, in the most miserable of circumstances, Cynefin Road was born. A small, independent publisher working to make book magic on a wing and a prayer.

But this wasn’t intended to be some vanity project, nor a money making escapade. Just a place for beautifully written stories which gives authors a fair deal – a 40% royalty – though advances are still well beyond reach. And it’s slowly building into something wonderful.

My soulmate works full-time while we face the precarious nature of my work as a publisher and crowfunded journalist, but that’s part of the path to building something truly special and, though it causes its stresses, we are committed to the long term dream.

Cynefin Road now has a growing collection of titles, from a wonderful authors, from children’s stories, to sci-fi, to non-fiction – it’s a privilege to have writers like Stephanie Shields, Lu Thomson, Thomas Heasman-Hunt, Soledad Osraige coming home, with others on their way. And then there’s our fabulous house illustrator, Kathleen Day. Best of all, we are receiving new submissions all the time.

But what is home without people to share it with?

And that is why I want you to come home too.

But, I suppose, I should probably explain why things need to change from how they are now, especially as the things I’ve been writing about as a journalist take new turns and the tide seems to have turned. And I have to do that before I explain exactly where we are headed.

It all started because the promise I made to myself on the floor, laying there with palpitations, wasn’t one I kept. And after the door was opened an unexpected trip began…

Come Home continues tomorrow.




It’s not a great time of year for me, or should I say it hasn’t been in the historical sense.

My mum passed away on February 6, 2001 and I’ve missed her every day since.

Lord knows there have been times when I genuinely believe one cuddle could have changed things but, just as you have to let go of pain, you have to let go of dreams of unrecieved hugs too.

You make peace, when you stop falling. You breathe.

Then, of course, March looms. The 17th to be precise – and ironically what would have been mum’s birthday.

It was this day, in 2016, I walked into Colchester County Court, broken, and was declared bankrupt after a three month road closure saw to the end of my pub – a business opened to claw myself back from the brink after whistleblowing and losing the career I had loved in the police.

But you make peace, when you stop falling. You breathe.

I was left with nothing – selling even childhood posessions for food – and served my time in a “shared house.”

The soundtrack to my nights were the shouts and screams of the man upstairs as he fought his alcholic demons and urinated on the floor above my head in long, deafening streams. My days were filled with the sharp, omnipresent headache and perma-tiredness of malnutrition while doing a physical job. I was a wreck, living on rationed biscuits.

But you make peace, when you stop falling. You breathe.

Knowing that there are people who will never forgive the loss of money is something which simply takes time to get over and there is no easy reconciliation with your sense of self-worth, I assure you. But I found happiness after the horror, once shame faded away and all the emotional pain stopped.

The social leprosy of a court ruling does its work in this.

But you make peace, when you stop falling. You breathe.

I was discharged from Bankruptcy a year on, on mum’s birthday, and soon it will be another year down. In four years I will have served my credit sentence and return to being a financially acceptable human once more.

It is a relief, the weight of a quarter of million of debt being lifted, but nobody must ever think this comes for free. The worst of it isn’t the public record, the sneering, or the assumptions, either. It’s what you do to yourself.

But you make peace, when you stop falling. You breathe.

Rather than spiral to terminal velocity, I stopped the sharp descent and even fell in love, real love. Which was just coming home in truth.

One day, I may even be to soften up on myself too. Because once you can breathe again, and you come home, you can move.

And I haven’t stopped moving since.

I’m flying, I suppose. Completely free for the first time in almost forty years of life.

Shatter The Night

Shatter The Night

Love belongs to no single day,

Resides in no single heart,

Fills no single soul.

The love I know is home.

The sun,

The moon.

The earth beneath my feet does not ground me,

Family provides me roots.

The skies cannot contain my flight.

My love soars with me to the stars,

For we were born of a dance in darkness,

And our glow shatters night.

My heart is set within a ruby,

For now.


E-Commerce #FlashFiction

E-Commerce #FlashFiction


That theer dingy bog at’t’ Blue Note reeked uh stale wazz un Southern Comfort but thon cubicles were miraculously clean – folk vommin’ in’t urinals un ower’t’ sticky, black dogshelf instead, leaving glowin’ globs ayit int’ UV light tuh avoid contaminatin’ true heart uht’ club – them flat, white ceramic cistern tops frum weer speed un coke were dabbed un snorted, once t’often wettin’ wraps – sliced un cut frum magazines then artfully folded – ‘ad been tecken frum kecks un pockets un socks un mingin’ shoes. Only’t’ unlucky ones, back in them days, would find ’emselves awkin about wit’ condensated dealy bags – them little plastic ziplock packets in whicht’ stodged gear would sweat un liquify. There wah no banging ont’ doors, no disturbance frumt’ bouncers. Both were ont’ payroll, patiently ignorin’ allt’ drug use un only turning away’t’ types uh punters likely tuh disturb’t’ peace by gettin’ bladdered, bein’ bladdered, or wearing shoes which indicated thay’d not come tuh enjoy’t’ secret delights uh Aas Music un illicit, class A chemical substances. Int’ dark club, painted blacker thun sky ower Bill’s mother’s, which would accommodate nuh more thun three-hundred people at its wost fire risk, provision uh’a weekend ‘aven at’t’ Friday Club wah crucial tuh its continued success as a tax free, money makin’ vehicle weert’ bulk uh legitimate sales come frum bottled water un dinky lollipops.

Sat’day night saw its return tuht’ drinkers, tuht’ owder generation uh Derby’s more tradishnul sloshin’ culture, but Friday wah a day uh worship at t’alter uh thumping beats un uplifting vocals, weer DJs like that Jeremy Healey un Alistair Whitehead would be just as mashed as t’ dancin’ throng, whoopin’ un blartin’ theer hearts int’ old disco style, un shaking euhporic sweaty ‘ands at th’ends uh theer sets.

‘Ad it not been furt’ escape tuh Wilmorton’s grubby inner-city college, away frumt’ maddening snootery uht’ wannabe grammar school int’ village, Billy might never uv come tuh experience t’ bitter taste uh anphetamines, t’ nasal burn uh coke, ort’ sheer joy uh a white dove. Ecstasy. A stomach-tinglin’, man-made joy int’ form uh a tiny stamped pill, cooked up in an Amsterdam lab un lovingly smuggled intuh his ‘and at’t’ cost uh a ten pound palm cross tuh Winston. T’ big, hamfisted lump made t’ perfect stooge, uh course. Imbecillic un delighted tuh carry enough drugs un cash upon his person ‘tween ‘andovers tuht’ club tuh send him far on wi’ slops fur a very considerable period. He wah equally happy, happen, tuh carry a lock knife in case things went wonky, despite also bein’t’ only punter int’ joint who wah allowed tuh hold ontuh a glass pint pot, in case a glassing wah required.

Poor owed Winstuhn di’n’t really see what wah coming when Billy first spotted his own opportunity tuh make a dent ont’ local economy – though it di’n’t cross his mind until’t’ end uh that first three months as a recreational fuckhead, coz’t’ high wah new un obliterated everythin’ but’t’ absolute enjoyment uh it. T’ tingling sensation int’ chest or belly as’t’ glorious concoctions began tuh release ’emselves intuh’t’ body, that shimmer-shake int’ major muscle groups as ‘is blood pumped’t’ artificial stimulation tuht’ limbs, then’t’ owerwhelming headrush as allt’ brain’s electrical impulses began tuh fire un’t’ world changed shape un tone under’t’ forced dilation uht’ pupils – greedily takin’ in light, even int’ black uht’ club.

Billy ad’n’t been very good at cannabis, neither skunk nor resin had particularly enthused him, un buckets un bongs had always led him tuh coughing fits, red eyes, un a slight nausea which disrupted his enthusiasm. He wah also an outdoor lad un theer wa’n’t much worse than sitting in a aas, surrounded by a cloud uh thick un smoggy pipe smoke produced by a group uh five or sex teenage boys, stale stench uh bongwater mixing with that unpleasant pong uh trainers. Even whent’ drinking years had started, when he wah fourteen, Billy had never really taken tuh that either. ‘E could shotgun a can uh lager witht’ best uh ‘um, un he could wipe aat a tenner’s worth uh one pound pints at Berlins no bother, but alcohol, like weed, provided too many setbacks fur it tuh be fully enjoyed. Hangowers were a cripplin’ ruination uht’ day which followed t’ night out un when you took it a step too far in taan, un theer wah always’t’ risk you’d end up spewing all ower yourself just as’t’ girl yud been watching all night met your peepers. No, neither dope nor booze were a good fit fur William Howard but, ‘s’if tuh prove t’old parental fear about gateway drugs, it wah both which provided Billy wit’ access tuh a world in which he found himself as happy as a pig int’ prowerbial shit. It wah through college he met Matt and it wah through a night aat fur drinks wiy Matt that he finally became acquainted wit’ delectible feast uh Derby’s controlled substance underground uh 1996…

The Plan…

The Plan…

As I said on the Twitters:

Okay, here’s the plan, neatly contained in a thread, which I will also put on my blog to make things easier for those off Twitter too…

A few months back I hit on the big data story and began writing for You can catch up here:

This has led me into so interesting territory, which led me to a crowdfunded fight with the Alt-right:

In the wake of the Stockholm attack, I travelled to Malmö to investigate crime and immigration in Sweden. To uncover the truth…The first article in the series is now published by with many more to come. Read it here:

Working as a journalist with Byline, I am signed up to comply with the new Impress regulations on journalistic conduct. The platform is also designed to fund its investigative journalists directly from public donations, to preserve impartiality. I’m currently working on a hard hitting exclusive on hidden crime in Mexico, which you can find out about here:

The Mexico story is a world exclusive based on unprecedented access to state level Mexican data, now hugely relevant given US rhetoric.

The series itself forms part of my column which you can read up on here:

As a result of my rock-kicking so far, starting with and moving on to Malmö, I’ve uncovered something pretty grim. Behind all the right wing parties, the hacking, the psychometrics, and the fake news stands an enemy. Supported by a tangled web. And I want to chase them down. Hunt them out. I used to be a good cop, and it’s still in my blood. But I can’t do this alone. Nor can I do this from behind a computer screen. That will only take me so far. Not far enough. Boots on the ground is the only way.

Using the platform I want to fund this fight in the and start fighting back with the truth. The only way I can do this full time is with the financial support of you. Doesn’t matter if it’s £1 or £1000. This is too important.

The leads I’ve picked up as a result of mean I need to head to France, before the elections and kick the rock over on Le Pen…There is something very wrong there, and even the latest polls are saying so. And it’s almost too late. Without you, it’s all footnotes.

From France it’s going to be Germany, then who knows? I’ve leads to follow everywhere and this puzzle is one worth unpicking. All I know is that Byline provides an opportunity for all of us to get to the bottom of this. To get out in harm’s way and do some good.

I know it’s a lot to ask, especially given the state of Brexit Britain, but, if you can, please head over to my Byline pages and pledge.

Alternatively, I have also added a direct way to support my independent journalism with a Paypal button which you can get to by scrolling down here.

Thanks for listening and best wishes to all of you, James.