Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A Legacy from Mary

My thriller A Legacy from Mary is in the proof reading stage. It will be out in paperback in a few weeks. 
Ken Flood was an academic and events in the wider world did not effect his life. Then his friends Joshua and Mary were killed. The only connection was a country called Mengambi, Joshua was a Mengambian and Maria untook short courses in the country. Suddenly Ken was caught up in the game of power excersised in Mengambi when he agreed to take Mary’s place teaching on the short courses in Mengambi. What he wanted to find out was if there was more to his friends deaths than reported. Can he survive the pressure from his employer in Mengambi and the request by his brother to gather information.
It will be available in paperback from Amazon or in addition to being available as an ebook for download from Amazon through Kindle.

Fines for using bus lanes.

I get very angry when motorists complain bitterly about getting fined for using bus lanes. They bleat that the local authorities are making money out of them. In many ways it turning the spot light onto the greedy local authorities,  an easy target. What they forget is that using bus lanes to drive round traffic congestion is illegal. They it is who are breaking the law. They are so arrogant in their belief that the motorist is above the law when it comes to using the roads that they cannot see that they re wrong. If they do not want the authorities to make money from illegal use of bus lanes all they have to do is not use bus lanes!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Parking restrictions

A girl lies bleeding t the side of the road outside a school. Paramedics struggle to save her life. A car is slewed across the road. Cars parked in the no stopping zone outside the school gates. The girl rushes to see her friends but cannot see along the road. Parked cars all because parents defy the restrictions. It is too far or to wet to make them walk 40 metres.
An electric scooter lies mangled in the road. The elderly lady being placed in an ambulance. A van is parked on the pavement even though there are double yellow lines designating no parking. The elderly lady has had to go into the road to avoid the illegally parked van
A fire engine rushing to attend a fire cannot get through the traffic. It is congested because two cars have parked on double yellow lines so that their drivers can get money from a cash machine at a bank. Paramedics struggle to save the life of the man in the ambulance.
Parking restrictions are in place to make roads and all their users safer. They are not designed as cash generators for local authorities. If car drivers do not want the local councils to make any money from parking fines there is a simple answer. Do not park where parking is not allowed or over stay the proper time.
I think that linked to this is the problem of people being over weight. When I was on holiday there were many men and women grossly over weight. All the these fat people had hired cars and did not walk very far. That is the link to what I wrote above about car drivers parking illegally so that they do not have to walk anywhere. The minister for Local Government should lose weight and resign for suggesting that parking restrictions should be lifted.

Tales from the Sea

I have reduced the price of the Kindle download addition to 3.99

Friday, 8 November 2013

Tales from the Sea

Tales of the Sea is a semi-autobiographical novel based on my life at sea between 1957 and 1969.
In its pages the reader will meet the characters with whom I sailed and their antics. They will experience nights ashore and visit through my eyes exotic places. Read about the different ships, old and new as they plough across the oceans carrying the products of the world Throughout there is the sea and its dangers. The sea can be angry or benevolent.

The essence of the novel can be summed up in a poem:
The Call
The sea is calling, always calling
Even when the sailor has long left voyaging behind.
The sea calls, ever calls,
Over the noise of this sometimes dreadful life.
To sail away , to leave this life behind,
But to where?
That is what adds to the thrill.
Let the voyage be long or short,
Let the oceans be calm or fierce,
In the urge to sail away,
Lies man's eternal quest
For something new.
Why oh why does man always strive after the new
When accepting the present would save a lot of heart ache.
It has long been a mystery to me but,
More than in any other profession,
The sea  offers a greater chance to satisfy this need.
The sailor never arrives
Because each new port is a stepping stone to the next
And on to the next
Until the nomadic lifestyle grows too much.
It maybe that the sailor observes other people
Settling into a pattern of life which brings rewards
Such things as family and home,
Anchored to other views of living
Rather than constantly on the move.
So the sailor leaves the sea
And puts down roots.
Or does he?
The sound of a seagull screaming ,
The wind moaning around the roof of his house 
The sound of waves lapping on the shore
Will awaken in the hidden recesses of his mind
The longing to feel the excitement once more
As the ship goes silent,
Ready to leave for the sea.

The girl in the white dress

A short story which was incorporated into my semi-autobiographical novel Tales From The Sea.
The girl in the white dress

The San Fortunato arrived in Balak Papan, Borneo, late one evening as the big red ball of the sun was setting into the dark green of the jungle. As soon as the ship docked, the agent boarded and informed the Chief Officer that the cargo would not be ready to load for two days. 
The next morning while sitting my cabin entering safety information in the oficial log, the phone rang.
“ Good morning Third Mate,” It was the Captain sounding amused and unusually cheerful. “ Mr. Bolton, the Managing Director of Eastern Operations, is visiting the ship for lunch. He will be accompanied by his aide and his daughter. She has requested to be shown round the ship. As you are the youngest officer, you will be the ideal man for that job.”
“ Do I have to?” I asked. “ She will be impossible. Educated at some private boarding school. We will have nothing in common. Why not ask the second mate?  He mixes with people like her all the time.”
The Captain laughed. “ This is an order, Third Mate, not a request. I have asked the chief officer to look after the ship while you are entertaining Mr. Bolton's daughter. Try not to upset her with too much of your social comment!”
As I put the phone down, I had a mental picture of the Captain chuckling to himself about how I would be uncomfortable showing this teenager round the ship. I sighed, anticipating the morning was not going to be much fun for me.
Later,  a sailor opened my cabin door after knocking loudly.  “ Third Mate. There are couple of official looking cars approaching the ship along the jetty.  I think it would be a good idea if you were on deck to greet whoever is in those cars when they arrive.”
Standing at the top of the gangway a few minutes later, I watched curiously as two Mercedes cars approached the ship. They stopped at the bottom of the gangway. Three white shirted, dark trousered  Indonesian men got out of the second car and adjusted their sun glasses. They spread out along the jetty facing away from the ship and the cars. Like the bosun who was standing by my side, I laughed out loud. It was straight out of one of those B gangster movie. 
Once the bodyguards were in place, the doors of the lead black car opened and a man got out. He was tall with slicked back grey hair and glasses, dressed in an immaculately cut tropical suit and shiny shoes. As soon as he alighted from of the car, he placed a panama hat on his head. Trailing him, a younger man carrying a brief case and dressed in a short sleeved white shirt and white trousers. Finally, a girl followed. 
From where I stood she looked about fourteen and my heart sank. Her brown hair glistened in the sunlight and like her father, she donned a hat as soon as she was out of the car. She wore a short white dress and white sandals. This was the girl I was going to have to show round the ship.
Mr. Bolton ignored the duty seaman and climbed onto the gangway unaided. The girl and the man with the briefcase followed. When they reached the deck where I was standing, Mr. Bolton nodded to me.
“ Show me the way to the Captain's cabin, Third Mate,” he ordered without so much as a goodday. His accent was clipped. 
The girl looked at me with large brown eyes. Close up, she was pretty with a good figure and was older than the fourteen I had first estimated. Her expression was that adopted by the local Lady of the Manor for one of the local peasants she happened to meet. The next few hours were not going to be pleasant, I concluded
“ This way, Sir,” I answered indicating the ladder leading to the accommodation deck. As he followed me, he was looking round the ship as though checking that all was in order. The girl looked sraight ahead. The man with the briefcase trailed in their wake mopping his forehead with a white handkerchief.
After showing them to the Captain's cabin, I returned to the deck and walked round the ship. As everything was in order, I returned to my cabin and the safety log. I had not been there for long when the phone rang.
“ Come to my cabin and collect Mr. Bolton's daughter, Third mate.” It was the Captain and he still sounded amused. 
I grunted into the phone but dutifully climb the ladder to his cabin. Deep within myself I was cursing the Captain. How was I going to show this apparently bored, spoiled girl around the ship without saying something out of place or upsetting her? I imagined the rest of the crew laughing behind my back at their egalitarian Third Mate looking after a girl from a very privileged background.
Mr. Bolton smiled when I entered the Captain's cabin. “ Lydia is ready to be shown round the ship. I will leave her in your capable hands.”
Lydia climbed to her feet, smoothed down her white, short dress and placed her sun glasses on her small nose. She was almost as tall as me.
I led the way out onto the boat deck and waited for her. The sun was high in the sky and the jungle looked particularly green across the river from the berth. Heat haze distorted the trees and the boats drifting with the current further down the river.
“ Well Miss Bolton,” I said smiling,” What would you like to see?”
She looked at me, though I could not read her expression with her eyes hidden by dark glasses.
“ If we are to spend the next hour in each others company, you had better call me Lydia,” she said without a flicker of emotion.
“ Eddie,” I replied.
She shrugged. “ Daddy said you would show me all over the ship.  Lead on McDuff.”
Taking her instructions literally, I led on. Viciously ignoring her white dress and sandals, I started with the engine room. Well not exactly ignored the white dress but took a certain pleasure in the thought that she might learn what dirt was all about. She listened politely as the engineer told her about the boilers and the turbines. Followed me down to the propellor shaft and the steering engine room. Going back up on deck I climbed the ladder behind her. The dress was so short I had a good view of her sturdy legs and floral panties. Stop these lewd thoughts, I seemed to hear my mother saying.
Then to the galley to glimpse lunch being prepared and the dining room. Down the corridor to the games room. I followed this by walking along the deck to the focastle, the anchors and the chain locker. What amazed me was that despite my best efforts, when we emerged back on deck again, she appeared as clean as when we started.
Finally I led her onto the bridge. We lent over the chart table looking at the charts of the area. Rapidly I showed her the wheel and the magnetic compass on the top deck. Lastly we went to the radio office and the sparks explained the wireless system. 
We stood on the bridge wing looking over the deck when we had finished. “ Would you like to come to my cabin for a drink before you go back to your father?” I asked tentatively.
For the first time that morning, she smiled. “ That would be nice. What can you offer?”
“ I have beer, fruit juice, coke or gin.”
“ A beer would be fine.”
She looked curiously round my small cabin when I showed her inside and sat her down in the chair. After I had served the beer, we talked about ourselves. I found out that she had lived a sheltered, rarified life compared to mine. It sounded great but there were drawbacks. Her father and mother had moved around the world on company orders. Lydia had been deposited in various boarding schools for most of her life. Then in the holidays, if she could not join her parents, she would stay with relations. I started to feel sorry for her.
“ I take my A levels next year,” she remarked which told me she must be seventeen. “ If I get good grades I will be off to Oxford. I already have the promise of a college place.”
“ What will you study?” I asked being polite.
“ Ancient history.” She smiled. “ There is no need to to pretend interest. Daddy cannot order you to listen to me or take an interest I what I am doing.”
“ I was enjoying hearing about your life,” I remarked truthfully.“ We have to get you back to the Captain's cabin so that you can go to lunch.”
“ Thank you for showing me round,” she said politely.
Over lunch, Mr. Bolton invited me to spend the afternoon with his daughter  at the club in the compound. To my horror, the Captain concurred.
That afternoon, I rode to the company accommodation compound through the oil refinery in the car sent for me. Laid out like a village were bungalows of differing sizes surrounded by manicured lawns and flower beds. At the centre was the club house with bar, shops and a gym. Across the road from this was a nine hole golf course. A bit apart from the other buildings was the large, sprawling bungalow of the Boltons.
The car dropped me outside and the driver told me to phone the car pool when I needed a lift back to the ship. I stood at the edge of the lawn for a while looking round and then walked along the path to the bungalow. A maid met me at the door and took me around the back where Lydia was waiting. She smiled in welcome. Pulled round her body was a wrap.
“ Come on,” she said taking my hand. “ We must get to the pool.”
The pool was large surrounded by tiled terraces with sun loungers. Lydia chose a spot and waved to the other people sitting or lying on other sun beds. She pointed to a changing room back from the sun terrace and I quickly changed into my swimming trunks. When I rejoined Lydia,  there were towels on the sun bed. A white coated waiter stood waiting, a tray in his hand.
“ I have ordered my drink. What do you drink?'
“ Bacardi and coke.” I said quickly reaching for my wallet.
Lydia laughed. “ You don't have to pay. Everything goes on my father's account. In fact every member of the club pays for their guests because there is no cash used on the compound.”
It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. Though Lydia had at first appeared superior and stuck up, by the pool we were like any young people enjoying each other's company. As we talked and swam, I came to realise that Lydia must be lonely unless other expatriates brought out their teenagers to stay. Also, when coming aboard the ship, she must have been nervous. Why she could have been apprehensive, I could not imagine. Her up bringing must have taught her to handle such situations. That afternoon, I suppose she grasped the opportunity to talk and be with somebody close to her own age.
I was invited to stay for dinner at the bungalow of the Bolton's that evening after our swim. 
After dinner, Lydia and I went for a walk around the garden. It was very pleasant with the insects chirping in the shrubs, a soft breeze  and stars twinkling in the sky. To my surprise Lydia took me to a summer house at the bottom of the garden and we made love on a bench illuminated by the moon. A perfect way to end our day, Lydia remarked, as we walked back to the house.
As the ship sailed, I was surprised to see Lydia waving goodbye from the river bank. There had been no promises of long lasting friendship or undying love. Just a pleasant day spent in each other's company.