Life in Japan can be strange at times

I’m reprinting my Tokyo thriller, At the Sharpe End (it’s available as an ebook already). Strangely, my first two books (Beneath Gray Skies is the other) are the last ones that I have republished in print, following the demise of Inknbeans Press.

The book is about technocrime, fintech, and spies and agents insinuating their way into the lives of a very ordinary British expat scratching a living in Tokyo. It’s a little far-fetched in places, but there are some rather interesting predictions and coincidences in there.

However, looking through the text to reprint it, I’m still quite pleased with the adventures of the eponymous hero, Kenneth Sharpe. Tokyo is a strange place to live, and strange things do happen to those who choose to live and work there. I’m not saying that the exact interactions and events that happened to Sharpe also happened to me, but strange and bizarre things have happened in the past.

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New toy time…

Just treated myself to a decent keyboard (piano-type, not QWERTY). In Japan, I bought a Kurzweil MIDIboard, a heavyweight monster of a thing which was a beast to program and lovely to play (polyphonic aftertouch, anyone? Great with the Arturia CS-80). It lasted me for over 20 years, and when I came to leave Japan, it was still working well, and I had no wish to throw it away. It ended up with Morgan Fisher, former keyboard player with Mott the Hoople, who took it off my hands.


It was great to hear him play the opening to “All the Way from Memphis” using this as one of his test pieces when he was deciding whether to buy it off me or not.

But that left me with no keyboard when I came to England. I’ve been using a CME Xkey 37 – another poly aftertouch beast, but the action is very limiting, and I wanted to play some piano – 3 octaves are not enough.


So I looked around, and found what looked like a great deal – a Fatar keybed allied to a decent piano, with a tonewheel organ emulator (with drawbars!), and a subtractive synth – and some fairly sophisticated MIDI facilties.

It has only just made it into the mass market, after production difficulties, it would appear, and my Studiologic Numa Compact 2X made it here this morning. So far, so good, though I have already uncovered a few wrinkles, but no dealbreakers.

Soon I’ll be uploading something to Soundcloud to tell you all what it sounds like.In the meantime, this is what it looks like – and it really is compact (and lightweight at 7kg).


Starting all over again…

I don’t consider myself to be a complete idiot when it comes to computers, but HTML and Web sites drive me up the wall, even with products like Adobe’s Muse (now, sadly, RIP) and the like. So I’ve bitten the bullet and signed up for a paid WordPress site to replace whatever went before. At the moment it is obviously a WordPress site, but it will eventually (in a day or so if I’m lucky) have its own domain.


It’s taking me a little longer to get it going than I thought it would, but slowly but surely I am getting there. Eventually, I hope to be able to add all kinds of wonderful things, but for now, only the Sherlock Ferret books are being featured. More will appear soon, but there are only 24 hours in a day, and I only have 10 fingers.

Even though WordPress is much easier to use than it ever was, and most templates are responsive, meaning there are still problems with different browsers, HTML is far from a true WYSIWIG solution.

Which is why, I suppose, I still prefer books. But then, all new technology has its problems.