Sour grapes and the dangers to your digestion

If you join us late, dear reader, to this teacup-sized storm in the world of Welsh writing, here is a brief overview:

Mr Julian Ruck has written some books. It seems several were self-published, but at least one was published by a small printing company looking to work their way into publishing. This probably wasn’t the best of all possible starts for them, because Julian’s books are startlingly bad. At least one respectable Welsh publishing house has (unsurprisingly) turned him down.

We need to be clear about this – that’s not startlingly bad as in we don’t like them, that’s startlingly bad as in verging on illiteracy. He scatters commas like confetti, enjoys writing about ‘anal gas’, uses apostrophes to form plurals, and produces sentences such as ‘Sleep sometimes chased them out of hiding, as dreams and their reality appeared from time to time’. No, you’re not alone in your confusion. He also indulges in occasional plagiarism, having published material in the Llanelli Star that he copied from Christopher Hitchens – see for more on that.

Not content with producing appallingly bad writing and spending his spare time trying to flog it to unsuspecting shoppers in soi-disant book signings, Julian rather bizarrely decided to hold a festival celebrating e-books, in Kidwelly. The decision seems based principally on the fact that he could call it the Kidwell-E festival; perhaps not the best of reasons for holding a festival.

Most people (including those who hold festivals!) think that holding a festival is a challenge. Not so Julian – he thinks if you offer a first prize of £10,000 and stick up a few tents, you’ll get 20,000 visitors or thereabouts – even if the Olympics just happen to be on at the same time.

Julian’s festival is a dramatic disaster, with less than 100 people turning up, and hordes of unhappy stall-holders. In a truly bathetic conclusion, Julian gives away the winner’s cheque in a haze of alcohol and swearing.

Since then, he’s been blaming anything and everything for his own short-comings – the people of Kidwelly, real authors who dare to disagree with him on Twitter, the backwardness of Wales in general, but most particularly authors who get grants in Wales or get published by Welsh publishing houses.

This last has become an obsession of his – in shouty, ALL CAPITAL posts on his blog and odd public meetings, he has been claiming that it’s all wrong, it’s all corrupt, and he is the knight in shining white armour who will bring the entire edifice of arts funding in Wales crashing to its knees. He is particularly vehement on the topic of authors who get grants for books that don’t get published.

And now, rather delightfully, it turns out that Gillian Brightmore, who likes to follow Julian around cyberspace agreeing with him and telling other people they’re horrible if they don’t agree with Julian, has received Welsh Arts Council funding for a book of short stories – which she appears never to have published (probably because her literacy levels are little better than Julian’s)!

Julian thinks it’s silly that anyone could see self-interest in his tedious attacks on the grants system for writers in Wales (which is essentially the same as the grant system for writers in England). It’s going to be fascinating (by which I mean of mild, passing interest) to see how he responds to the hypocrisy of his biggest fan.

You’d probably better stop eating those sour grapes, Julian. They seem to be giving you the most dreadful indigestion.



Filed under The Society for the Preservation of Commas

18 responses to “Sour grapes and the dangers to your digestion

  1. Mrs Penn-Thomas

    Sour grapes = anal gas. Hope he isn’t a smoker or Kidwelly could be blown off the map!

  2. riderofthewelshliteraturegravytrain

    Gillian Brightmore’s response on Ruck’s blog hardly provides much of an answer as to why she resents others from receiving funding.

    “It was to develop a series of short stories with a view to develop and publish them. I did this . A number of the stories I developed using this minor grant were published by , among others by Honno Press, Everywoman Magazine, Planet ,Big Issue and Open College of the Arts Teaching Manual STORYLINES where I have been a writing tutor for a number of years.”

    So, she received money to write stories, with no knowledge of when and where, or even if, they would ever be published.

  3. thelatteliterati

    I’m a bit in love with you, Jewelsfromjulian. And your monkeys.

    • The monkeys tell me they’re happy to discuss an hourly rate for themselves, but they’ll sing like canaries if they see me give in to temptation. I’m allowed to send you a little bit of love back, though.

  4. welshnot

    It’s good to see these charlatans getting smoked out. My next step is to see if Julian asked for funding for the Kidwell-E festival. While I know he didn’t get any, I’m thinking that since he lied about never submitting to Welsh publishers, he may well have applied for a ACW or Literature Wales grant and not got it.
    I am going to ask on Monday. Watch this space.
    It’s about time these bitter and dishonest malcontents were subjected to the appropriate degree of scrutiny.
    This is the tally so far:
    Julian Ruck claims never to have submitted to Welsh publishers, but has done, at least twice; he also claims to have an agent but doesn’t.
    Gillian Brightmore complains about arts council funding for writers, but received some herself, and wrote 3 short stories for 2 grand – 2 grand in 1990, which is about 5 grand today. No mean sum, as I’m sure Julian and Gillian would agree. The outcome of this was a few stories in Honno books, and boy does Gillian Hate Honno! Has Gillian applied for money since then? We should be told. In fact, I’m going to ask about that too. FOI and all that. To think she then leaves a message on Julian’s blog today about writers getting grants when disabled facilities are cut is a disgrace of dishonesty. I hope she pays the money back and earmarks it for front line services. Gillian – get your chequebook out!
    These people are nasty and poisonous, and their contempt for literacy is a further insult to anyone who cares either about art or about public debate about the arts.
    Sometimes they are a source of humour to us all, and long may it continue. God knows we could all do with a laugh in these dark times. But let’s not forget that they’re also bitter, envious, malevolent and obsessed; they hate success and they see talent as a threat.
    They are also, as the saying goes, TOTALLY, DISCREDITED!!!

    • Mrs Penn-Thomas

      The logic of both Ruck and Brightmore shows no grip on reality. Do they really think that money taken away from literature will find its way into health and social care budgets?!

  5. Gillian’s line now appears to be that she received the grant to ‘develop’ some stories rather than to publish a collection. The Writers of Wales entry for Gillian reads as follows:
    “Gillian received a John Downes Award in fiction in 1989 and a WAC Writers’ Bursary for a short story collection from 1999-2000.”
    Gillian ‘developed’ 2 or 3 stories with £2000 in 1990. That’s a good whack of money, i.e. between 700 and 1000 quid per story. In today’s money, we’re talking almost twice that. The ‘collection’ never materialised. Most writers only get about 500 quid, and that’s for books they publish, as advances on sales. I’m amazed that she can attack other writers for getting grants. The problem with her and Julian is that they have no shame, and that Julian’s blog is their fantasy world for slinging insults at people and smearing them, shitting on their own country and its people, crapping on its education system while being barely literate themselves, mocking and belittling Welsh speakers, laughing at Anglo-Welsh culture, and generally whoring out their nasty views to right-wing English newspapers like the Daily Mail.
    I’ve laughed at these chumps enough, and now I’m getting a little bit angry, so I’ve decided to chase things up.
    My latest find is a video on Youtube where Julian boasts that his Kidwell-E festival with have £16,000 of prizes, including a special prize for a first time young writer. Apart from his 10 grand prize which was given in front of packed audience of 7, the other prizes seem to have disappeared into (possibly anal) gas. So what happened to the other prizes?

  6. welshnot

    Gillian is getting angry with Julian. This clearly means she’s actually been reading his stuff.

    February 2, 2013 at 11:17 AM
    Re: 2000 bursary: I merely did what,’ it said on the tin’: I developed and published my short fiction ,and what I did was transparent. Bursaries are meant to be ‘enabling’ and not for celebs or ex- members of WAC to monoplise. I am neither of these.
    My concern over the last ten years or so is the repeated , and very large awards being paid to a small selection of writers of bursaries, as far as I can see ,without any accountability in place or any public scrutiny.
    Btw. if Mr. Ruck is now developing literary criticism as one of his traits then perhaps he should think what gay women think of his rendering of us in his latest, BENT BRIEF. Personally I think a little more research would and less gratuitous fantasy have been used as titillation, and I have read it, would have been a good thing rather than the stereotypes he depicts and is so often the case with so many male, ‘straight’ writers using sexual identity as a sort of male, ‘turn-on’.
    Grow up boys , you no longer monopolise porn !


    • riderofthewelshliteraturegravytrain

      Welsh writing funding doesn’t need to be stopped, it needs to be rethought. Does Brightmore want writing to only become a luxury retired middle-class pursuit, or does she want to see challenging writing supported by new voices? Ruck wants none of these things. He is against any funding for writing. Brightmore seems to want rid of certain people from the Welsh writing world. Some of her comments suggest she wants a more diverse culture, and that funding should support that, rather than university academics and celebrities. So why is she supporting Ruck, who essentially, is just another side of the same coin of elite Welsh male bigotry that has always existed?

      Brightmore says that what she did was transparent. Of course, we only have her word for that. If others are seemingly part of some elite culture, what makes her the exception to this? She seems, from the outside, to be another creative writing tutor in a university taking money for nothing, and part of the culture she’s attacking.

  7. Mrs Penn-Thomas

    Good on ya Gillian. Go for the balls. Further evidence that Ruck is an insensitive bigot. He can’t even be nice to the people who support his ‘so-called’ cause.

  8. David taylor

    Whoops! Julian has deleted Gillian’s post. Good job Welshnot saved it for the nation, above. These people are like the Taliban – the moment you get them on the run they go back to killing each other.
    Good spectator sport though!

    • That’s the thing about teams motivated by malice – it never takes much for them to end up savaging each other when they realise they’re getting nowhere. What a delight that Julian should preach about censorship while wielding such a heavy red pen himself.

    • riderofthewelshliteraturegravytrain

      i wondered where this comment was. Did he have a response to her?

  9. David taylor

    No, but he’s now deleted his own stupid Comment about pressups in the cucumber patch too. Decided phallic vegetable jokes won’t butter any parsnips with Gillian .

  10. Rider of the gravy train: that is a good point, and the problem with the way these people, Ruck and Brightmore, conduct themselves is that they are simply so nasty and bitter that they make reasoned criticism impossible because they pollute the field of discussion with their ordure.
    I have many positive things to say about Welsh publishing, and I like Welsh literature, but there’s certainly room for improvement: paying authors properly and on time, sorting out promotion and distribution, publishers being more professional about treatment of authors and especially the concentration of power, which has only got worse in the last 2 years, in the hands of a few administrators centralising power to themselves in Literature Wales, Academi, Arts council Wales, etc.
    The problem is that this debate is hampered because people like Ruck have not just queried the pitch but shat on it.

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