It seems like only the other day that we were talking with the crime novelist, Kate Charles.

Our water-colour design for Kate Charles' stained glass window

Our water-colour design for Kate Charles’ stained glass window

Kate was adamant: “Aspiring writers often think there’s a silver bullet, a secret formula – something which, if only they knew it, would magically confer on them the fame they badly want”.

"Do I have to read this?"

“Do I have to read this?”

I said: “Ah, yes, the fame! It’s like when people say ‘I want to be a writer’, what they really mean is, ‘I want people to read what I write’. And it’s really quite an imposition on my time, a writer wanting my undivided attention for 10 hours or more when I can’t answer them back!”

If this reply of mine sounds rather too word-perfect, you’re right: I’d once said exactly the same thing to Darley Anderson, the literary agent. He it was who then eyed me rather sadly and, with an air of infinite regret and limitless sorrow, confessed, “But, dear boy, that’s exactly what I did want – to be the next Dostoevsky – to be read!”

He's also a discerning client with impeccable tasts and knows exactly where to go for his stained glass door

Darley Anderson knows exactly where to go to commission a simply magnificent stained glass door

Not at all the same thing, I thought … but Darley Anderson is an exceedingly literary, literary agent.

Anyway it was at this point that David joined in the conversation between Kate and me.

You need to know that the three of us were on our way to the Grand Opening of Anne Bulley’s “Country Caterpillar” – an annual show featuring eccentric objects made by many of England’s finest artists.

And Kate, having been President not just of the Crime Writers’ Association but also of the Barbara Pym Society, was there to open the show with a fascinating talk on literature.

So here we were in a car – me, Kate and David – on our way to this colourful, annual event.

When David began to speak.

And the only reason this matters is that he was also driving.

And, if this doesn’t concern you, then you haven’t been driven by David.

Even 5 minutes in a car with David driving can make strong men faint

“Give me Doc Brown’s driving any day!”

For those of you who remember “Back to the Future“, David’s driving makes Doc Brown look like the 50-times winner of the “Safest Driver of the Year” award.

So now, regardless of our manifest anxiety, David spoke …

“It’s the same with our work …” – meaning Williams & Byrne‘s work – ” … there isn’t any One Perfect Way of designing a stained glass window – just as there isn’t any particular secret to ‘being a stained glass designer’. But people often come to us looking for the ‘quick fix’, for the Elixir or for something that will somehow turn them into Artists and magically cause the whole world to fall at their feet! But the truth is, you’ve just got to get on and do it. Definitely, no silver bullets: silver bullets be damned!”

Anyone could see that David was really worked up.

Art does that to him.

And then he tends to wave both hands in the air.

And if this really had really been “Back to the Future”, then I promise you by now we’d have been 1 million years B.C., encouraging that witless tyrannosaurus rex to succumb to the blandishments of Raquel Welch.

(I think I’ve got that the right way round.)

As it was, Gentle Reader, we had in fact arrived at our destination. And, lo! There was our wonderful hostess coming to welcome us.

Kate’s talk was a great success.

Anne’s show was a great success. (Each year, it raises considerable sums of money for charity.)


“Silver bullets? Bah! It’s axes you should worry about. To get ahead, just get an axe!”

And now, for our part, with no pretence about the existence of silver bullets, we, Williams & Byrne, propose to engage your interest with a catalogue of stories – each one them a “round, unvarnish’d tale” – about the stained glass doors and windows that we ourselves have personally designed and made.

A dark and exciting tale ranging from a lavatory in mid-Wales to a mansion on the shores of Lake Geneva. And – who knows – we may even enjoy a joyeux quart d’heure in the English Houses of Parliament (if we aren’t arrested, that is).

But be prepared now.

We don’t do “normal”. We don’t do “regular”. And we don’t do “routine”.

What we do do is this: we engage with our clients and with their homes or buildings.

And we throw ourselves into preparing them a stunning design.

That’s the really difficult and exhausting bit: the design. Actually making the stained glass door or window is relatively straight forward – rather like an orchestra imaginatively and creatively playing a musical score that a composer already has prepared for them. (We’ll return to this idea on another occasion.)

So, for now (because each time it’s different), it all begins like this …