Backward Toad reviews “In Complete Circles”


I received an anonymous e-mail from someone calling himself (or herself – but I assume he’s male) “The Backward Toad” who’s written a review of my book and asked me to put it on the blog. He said that if I didn’t publish it on the blog he would unleash a deadly virus that would wipe out all of humanity. So in the interest s of saving the human race from certain extinction here goes…

Nostalgia, Nostalgia, Nostalgia!
Once I started, it wasn’t too long before I was finished, but it is the sort of memoir that I could easily pick up and read again when the mood takes me. The author’s schooldays appear to have been quite similar to my own. If you like a bit of nostalgia, then you’re in for a real treat with “In Complete Circles.”

I think that Ward’s greatest achievement with the memoirs, is to make the familiar and commonplace seem slightly off-beam and new. All of us who attended an all boys’ school surely have memories of the “fight after school” to which two blazered gladiators had challenged each other to, and which we spent most of the day waiting on with anticipation? More than nine times out of ten these turned out to be spectacularly anti-climatic affairs, with the “fight” either being pre-empted by a teacher or other adult (much to our consternation!), or else the two warriors proved to be much less warlike when they faced the deed, and ended up either walking away or even making friends again! This proves the point that it is much more difficult to fight/hate people that you actually know! Not that this prevented some budding authors with brilliant imaginations spreading tales of a bloodbath the next day at school – again he brilliantly encapsulates these common memories in a very droll way. Similarly, we all recall teachers from school who were real characters (the teaching profession sometimes appears to attract them), and Ward again has captured our memories of one such character, and turned him into a live and animated figure.

Sometimes memoirs can carry a melancholy strain or an edge of bitterness about certain incidents and issues: there is none of this spleen here, and neither does he seek to settle any old scores with anyone. These would simply seem out of place in the scheme of this book. Overall, you get the impression from reading the work that this is a individual with a dry, wry sense of humour, with a magnificent memory for detail, who strives to be happy and see the funny side of life.

Whatever the result of the book’s publication in terms of sales, I strongly suspect that we have not heard the last of CW as an author, and “In Complete Circles” will prove to be merely the first gold coins in a large and rich treasure trove which has yet to be unearthed. Keep watching, folks!!

The Backward Toad


Tyrone Herald: “On The Spot”

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A bit more media coverage for the book via the Tyrone Herald’s “On The Spot” feature.

The picture was taken in the Cabo de Gatos National Park in Almeria, Southern Spain, where many “spaghetti westerns”, notably those directed by Sergio Leone were made in the 1960s. How appropriate – it’s certainly bad and ugly, but I can’t see much good there.

In Complete Circles – The first reviews

Here’s the latest reader feedback on the book:

“I really enjoyed it. It was great to be reminded of the retreats and trips. Hard to disentangle the real from the fiction in a few places, as the author probably planned. I saw on one of my old teachers in Belfast today. Greyed but not bowed. As I drew near him I registered a flicker of recognition in his eyes. He probably realised then that I might be an ex-pupil, and stared straight ahead ignoring me. I shouted after him “Alright sir!” A true eccentric.”


“Very funny and it brought back some great memories, particularly the formal and the car park battle.”


“A very amusing  book, and one which brings back many similar memories from my own schooldays!”



“So funny… nice contrast at the end . ..surreal.  Keep the memoirs coming!”

“Anyone at school in the 1980s or early 90s should give this a read lol …”

Another shameless plug…

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In Complete Circles: The Memoirs & Travels of an Ageing Schoolboy…

Available now from Amazon for £4.95 or $10.50 or €8.24 (in Italy), €8.12 (in France), €8.56 in Germany, €7.90 (in Spain).

Previews available.

“In Complete Circles” book published

I’m relieved to finally announce at long last that my book In Complete Circles:  The Memoirs & Travels of an Ageing Schoolboy has finally been published after almost two years of graft.  Copies can be ordered from Amazon – which also lets you have  a look inside.  More extracts can be found on this blog.

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“A comic and at times irreverent memoir of school life and adolescence in a Northern Irish town during the 1980s and early 1990s with accompanying rants on the absurdities of modern life, nostalgic reminiscences on the news events and popular culture of the era and the subsequent fulfillment of youthful ambitions through travelling, sometimes verging on the surreal. This book is part memoir, part travelogue. The chapters alternate between episodes from the author’s school days and subsequent travel writings (incorporating the Baltic states, Australia, New Zealand, Romania, Spain and Morocco) from several years later – but always with a connecting theme linking the two eras. Examples include a schoolboy fascination with horror films linking a visit to Transylvania, daily reports of the Balkan war during the author’s schooldays in the early ’90s linking a tour of the region 15 years later –and a childhood addiction to tangerines with dreams of trekking through the Sahara on camelback leading to a trip to Morocco.”

Thanks to all who provided me with the valuable support and encouragement during the writing of the book!