Monday, 31 August 2015

FIFA corruption

I was reading an article in the UK Times newspaper today by Matthew Syed on corruption at FIFA. He contends that it is not that people are overtly corrupt but that the whole bubble they live in makes them ignore the corruption around them. They think that handouts, money transfers and dubious perks are just part of the system. To them there is noting wrong with what they do. In other words like Sep Blatter it is all part of the job. The whole process even when pointed out to them that it is morally indefensible is a way of carrying on business. There is nothing they are doing which should get censured by other people.
It came to me that this is at the heart of my novel An Ordinary Life.

An Ordinary Life by Edmund J Gubbins

Money laundering is illegal. Even Tom Houseman knows that. He, as an academic, makes a distinction between helping somebody to set up legitimate business and the source of the money.
The novel follows the life of Tom Houseman. From his early childhood on the edge of a hard council estate to eminent Professor with a worldwide reputation and great wealth. The story explores the manner in which most people regard themselves as honest and law abiding although there are times and circumstances when they ignore the rules of behaviour or of some moral code. These people justify their actions by ignoring their conscience or making excuses for their behaviour. In extreme cases they give the impression that morality is not an issue in their case.
Tom Houseman has a boyhood friend called Derek from the council estate and, though their paths diverge after junior school, he stays loyal to his friend. Derek becomes the right hand man of the criminal Mr. Big and introduces Edward. During his life, Edward accepts opportunities presented by his friends and his brother. These enhance both his standing in society and his wealth. All the time, he ignores and denies the moral and legal implications of taking advantage of these offers. As time passes, he has to accept the implications of his choices.
Will he finally have to face these hard decisions or will he sail serenely on living, to him, this ordinary life?

This book is available from Amazon, Kindle and for downloading as an ebook on all e-readers.
Also from Amazon and as a paperback.
Have a good read.

The Teacher of The Rombuli

Book 1 of the Rombuli Saga

The Teacher of The Rombuli

A Fantasy Novel 


Eddie Gubbins

Edward Eastland lives in an obscure country of the Parison Empire, son of the most powerful man in Alskar Province. Idris Eastland . For over a century, the small nation of the Rombuli has been bowed down under the yoke of the Parison Empire and the Imperial Army,. The Emperor and the Imperial High families are maintained in power by the mysterious group of magicians called the Covenent. 
Soon after Edward meets Kitty the daughter of the Imperial Army Commander, the Emperor plans a visit to this distant Province of his Empire. In Alskar Town Square he confronts a Covenenter using his power but has to back down.
Edward is taken to Nimmar the capital of Rombuli and is forced to confront the dichotomy of his hate for the Empire but his love and friendship for some of the Imperial servants? 
Follow Edward as he learns more of the secrets of the Rombuli, attempts to confront the Covenent as he learns more of his power and searches for the ancient Teacher of the Rombuli, Nelvask, who has not been seen for over one hundred years.

Available from Amazon and as a paperback, Kindle and Amazon for downloading as an ebook.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Speed Cameras

I was watching the television last night and there was some man wittering on  about speed cameras. There is a debate about how effective they are in slowing traffic. I found before I retired as a Senior Lecturer in Transport Operations that most people who oppose them do so claiming the local authorities are making a fortune out of them. The obvious answer to that is the same one as I have given to car drivers who moan about fines for parking in non parking areas. If they obeyed the law they would not get fined and local authorities would not make money. In addition the rads would be much safer.
My book Managing Transport Operations by Edmund J Gubbins (my full name) is the best theoretical text on transport management. It can be purchased from all good book shops, Amazon or Kogan Page the publisher..
After I retired, I wrote this short story on the subject of speed cameras.

Eddie Gubbins
They are pervasive! They are everywhere! They flash! They make money for the government! They are not fair! Nobody likes them! They are an intrusion into everybodies life! They are an echo of  Big Brother from “ Nineteen Eighty four!” They should not be allowed to get away with this!
So thought John as he changed into his black sweater and black trousers. As he pulled on his black jacket, his heart raced at the thought that he was going to stand up to this menace. By his actions this night, he and his friends would take one small step in ridding the world of these things. He did not have words to describe how he felt about their existence, creeping silently without notice along many streets on the edges of towns and cities. They must be eliminated and not allowed to proliferate like some alien species breeding their way to taking over the land.
Before leaving his house to join his friends, John crept into the bedroom where his daughter Lisa lay sleeping. He gently lifted the duvet and made sure she was comfortable. Lovingly, he looked down at at her young, innocent face framed by that shock of blonde curls. He bent down and kissed her forehead. At the door, he turned and took one last look at her face framed in the small night light she always insisted on having beside her bed. She was smiling in her sleep, looking for all the world to John like a little angel in a stain glass window.
Carol, his wife, was sitting by the fire watching the late film on television and drinking her bed time drink when he looked into the sitting room. 
She looked up, smiled. “ I will be in bed when you get back. You will be careful won’t you John?” 
John kissed her cheek and smiled in return. “ I am always careful when on a mission. See you later when I get back.”
John had to admit to himself that Carol knew what he was up to on those nights he left the house late. She never objected, never tried to stop him going out, merely told him, as she did this night, to be careful. Whenever he thought about it, John was never certain whether she approved of what he was doing or not. Deep down he understood that she let him get on with his campaign, avoiding any argument which might upset the domestic harmony and in doing so, effect Lisa. Before leaving his house, John picked up the package he had prepared earlier in the evening, checked the contents and stuffed them into his shoulder bag.
Outside the house, it was dim under the widely spaced street lights lining the road where he lived.  As he came out of his drive, the lights of a car parked further down the road from his house came on. Seeing this, John walked quickly to the car. As he approached, the car door opened and he got into the back, depositing his package onto the back seat. There were two men in the car, both like John wearing dark clothes.
“ A good night for it,” George remarked from the driving seat. “ Terry has the hoods.”
Terry grinned, his teeth white in the dim light. John took the black balaclava from Terry and placed it on the seat next to his bag. Once John was comfortable, George drove off towards the outskirts of the town. Near a cemetery and a park, George found a quiet parking spot, parked the car and sat watching the road. All was quiet. With a grin at the others, he pulled his black balaclava over his head, nodded to Terry and John and got out of the car. Terry and John followed, Terry carrying a folded light ladder, John a shoulder bag.
With George leading, they walked towards the main road, keeping close to the hedge which surrounded the cemetery. As they approached the main road, George held up his hand as a signal for Terry and John to stop. Looking up and down the road, George made certain that nothing was in sight. He shrank further into the shadows when a car came over the brow of the hill to his right and round the sharp bend in the road a hundred yards from where they stood. The car slowed quickly as it came towards the cemetery and passed the yellow box on top of a post near the edge of the road. There was no flash as the car sped away, before slowing at the traffic lights near the junction further down the road to their left.
Once all was quiet, George waved and the three men moved out of the shadows of the hedge and ran across the open space to the post. Terry assembled the ladder while George stood watch. John placed the bag on the pavement and arranged some cans and wires on the tarmac. Giving half of these to Terry, John climbed the ladder. Hurriedly, he placed the wires around the yellow box and attached the cans to the lenses and the cover for the camera film. When this was done, he reached down, took the rest of the stuff from Terry and attached this to the back of the camera. Sliding down the ladder, John lit the fuse as Terry folded the ladder away. George signalled for them to run and they quickly rushed into the shadow of the hedge by the cemetery. There was a wosh and suddenly flames engulfed the yellow box. 
At this, George turned away and hurriedly led them back to the car. As they approached the car, they peeled off their balaclavas and slowed to a walk as though they were three men returning from the pub. By the time they were back in the car, the glow had faded.
They laughed and applauded once back in the car, patting each other on the back. Still laughing, George started the car and drove back towards the main road. When they passed the camera, it was blackened and drooping and obviously not working. They could not help letting out another shout of joy.
“ One less for the money grabbing government to make money out of,” Terry giggled as they sped back to their homes. “ They should trust us motorists to drive safely without all this nineteen eighty four stuff. I know when I am driving too fast and always slow down.”
“ See you in the Royal Oak on Friday, John,” George said as John got out of the car. “ We can talk about which one will be next.”
“ See you Friday,” John replied as he shouldered his bag, waved to Terry and walked the few yards to his house.
All was quiet in the house, the windows dark. In the hall Carol had, as usual, left the light burning. John took off his coat and hung it on it’s peg in the hall before going through to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and stow away his bag. He sat for a while thinking about their campaign and how successful they had been so far. Though they had never tested his theory, he was convinced that most people supported what he, Terry and George were doing. Sighing, he rinsed his cup, placed it upside down on the draining board and went up the stairs. 
He looked in at Lisa. She lay on her back, her eyes tight shut, her blonde curls framing her face and a beautiful smile on her lips. Crossing the floor silently, John kissed her forehead and closed the door gently as he left her bedroom. Carol was asleep, curled up under the duvet one hand under her cheek, her face looking so peaceful in the light from the landing. John took off his clothes, slid into the bed by her side and kissed her gently on the forehead.
The sun was shining on the park making the grass appear more green than normal. The flowers in the flower beds gave a flash of colour and the ducks on the pond looked up in anticipation everytime anybody walked by. 
The little girl skipped along the path, her blonde curls bouncing on her head and a smile on her face. “ Look Mummy,” she called in an excited voice. “ The ducks want some bread. Did we bring any?”
The woman walking by her side smiled and reached into her bag. “ Here.I didn’t forget. Now you be careful of the water.”
The little girl with the blonde curls and washed out jeans, trotted across the grass to the pond. The ducks, as though they had been waiting for this moment all afternoon, came squawking and pushing across the pond to where the girl was standing. With an excited giggle, the girl slowly broke the slice of bread into pieces and threw them into the water. Her squeals of laughter were almost drowned out by the squawking of the ducks as they fought over the scraps of bread.
“ Come along,” the woman said taking her daughter’s hand. “ We have to get home to cook your daddy’s dinner.”
The girl smiled her angelic smile and skipped along beside her mother. They left the park and turned onto the main road by the cemetery. Getting to a place along the road where there was a traffic island in the centre, they paused to let the girl look right and left and right again just as her mother had taught her. There was nothing in sight. The girl looked curiously at the blackened yellow box drooping on its pole like some tree which had been struck by lightening. She did not say anything to her mother. They started across the road, then there was a roar as a car came up over the brow of the hill turning sharply right passed the camera. There was a squeal of tyres, the car bucked and rocked and then a sickening bang as the car smashed into the little girl and her mother. They did not have a chance. The car was travelling too fast in the knowledge gained from the email grapevine that the camera was inoperable. After hitting the girl and her mother, the car skidded uncontrolled and smashed into a wall by the cemetery. Silence descended, broken only by the blaring sound of the car horn. People came running, cars stopped and the smashed car was soon surrounded by helpers.
John followed the policeman down the long, dimly lit, concrete corridor. Their shadows stalked along the wall at their sides like ghosts accompanying Macbeth as he went to meet the witches. Their footsteps echoed off into dark side passages. John felt numb. He had felt numb inside ever since he had been called into the human resources director’s office that afternoon. A policeman had been standing there by the desk and as gently as possible had told him what had happened. 
At the end of the corridor, the policeman pushed open a door, asking John to wait. John stood by the door hardly hearing the rumble of voices from inside the room. After a while, the door opened and the policeman waved him inside. The room they entered was white tiled with a row of what looked like over big filing cabinets to one side. In the centre were two metal tables with white cloth covered shapes laying a on top.
A man in a white boiler suit smiled faintly at John and motioned him over to one of the tables. Taking hold of the white cloth, he gently drew it back. The blonde curls were now revealed framing a bruised face. The blue eyes were closed. John nodded trying desperately not to sob out loud. The man in the white boiler suit replaced the white sheet. Walking to the other table he lifted the white cloth. Carol lay her face bruised and puffy. John nodded and turned away.
The policeman held open the door to the room and led the way back down the corridor, the footsteps once more tapping their echoes down dimly lit side passages leading to the depth of the hospital. Their shadows accompanied them like the ghosts of John’s past come to heckle him.
“ If those idiots had not damaged that speed camera, the car might have been going slower and might have been able to stop.” The words of the policeman dropped into the lengthening silence of their passage along the corridor.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The Return of the Exiles

Book 2 of The Rombuli Saga

The Return Of The Exiles a fantasy novel by Eddie Gubbins

The Empire is disintegrating. There has been no communication with the Parison the capital of the Empire for years. People report strange creatures being seen in many parts of the Empire. Sending troops to investigate what is happening has proved futile. As soon as they cross the border between Sandoria and the rest of the Empire, nothing is heard from them again. The plan is to hold onto Rombuli while somebody finds out what is happening.
Edward is given the task of finding the Walloonian army at a place called Bryants Ridge. He has to leave his new wife Kitty accompanied by her brother Boric and his friend Tag. In the event, they become cut off from Rombuli. With his friends Boric Borovic and Tag he sets out to find his way back home by a circuitous route.
Edward wonders whether his power, magic as Tag calls it, will help him overcome any problems and keep them safe. Will he learn more about the extent of his powers as he struggles to return to Rombuli? He wonders whether there are forces with greater powers than he has waiting to prevent him reaching his goal? During the journey, will his friends keep following his lead no matter the dangers they encounter? 
As they set out they have to face the possibility that the Empire will no longer exist when the get back home.

This is the sequel to  Book 1 of The Rombuli Saga - The Teacher of the Rombuli.

Available from Amazon, kindle and createspace

Friday, 7 August 2015

Labour suicide?

Are the UK Labour Party about to put themselves in opposition for the next 15 years?  It is as though they have not learnt the lessons of the early 1980's. Electing a hard left candidate opens them up to the hard left taking control of the party organs. This means putting forward left wing policies that the majority of the electorate do not want. They ignore what has happened when countries when they have been taken over by  the hard left. There is always the danger that the hard left are so doctrinaire in their beliefs they will not tolerate any dissenting voices or criticism's thought that in order to put into legislation the party's policies, they have to win a majority of the electorate is ignored.
I discussed this very theme in my novel An Ordinary Life:

 After the vote Mr. Reynolds moved a point of order. “ Are we quorate? There don’t seem to be many people here.”
“ Of course we are quorate,” Dave Dowling now back in the chair snapped. “ I would not have taken a vote if we were not quorate.”
“ Another thing,” Stan persisted. “ Why was such an important item placed towards the end of the agenda? A lot of brothers and sisters left before we got to that business.”
“ They knew what was on the agenda so it is their fault they were not here for the vote.”
“ Who draws up the agenda?” Stan asked not giving up.
“ The committee, you ass hole!” Dave Dowling snapped.
“ There is no need to call me that. I was asking perfectly valid questions,” Stan stood his ground.
“ No it wasn’t a valid question. The committee draws up the agenda from all the business that needs to be discussed. That is the trouble with the party. We have to keep faith with members like you and your wife. You are from the past. You want to be civil with all sides. You believe in decency and equal opportunities. Redistribution of wealth but not getting rid of those who exploit the working class. Christ, you should not be in the party. We need to turn back to a Marxist agenda. Nationalise all the means of production, finance and business. The best thing you two could do is to leave the party to the likes of me and Mike.”
“ That is not right. My wife and I have been working for the party for years and years. We have supported it through the good times and the bad.”
“ Look old man. Go home and leave the proper politics to those who know what they are doing. You are not wanted. You are part of the problem.”
Tom could see they were almost in tears and reacted angrily. “ There is no need to insult these good people, Dave Dowling. You might think that your education and ideas are superior to theirs but they are only ideas. Leave them alone.”
Dave Dowling smiled cruelly. “ What do you know of working people, Tom Houseman? You are the product of an elitist system. You went to grammar school and then to university. You work in a university now. What do you know of struggle?”
“ Coming from you that is rich,” Tom laughed. “ My father is at least a working man. Yours was a school teacher just as you are a school teacher. My convictions come from a deep rooted source. I believe in equality of opportunity and redistribution of wealth. But there has to be the creation of wealth in the first place. People have to earn money before they can pay taxes.”
“ But as is shown in Russia, there can be wealth without exploitation.”
“ Rubbish! Which is the richest country on earth?” Tom asked. “ The United States.”
“ But they exploit the poor unlike in Russia.”
“ Rubbish again. In Russia they put people in Gulags who disagree with the government. In the United States you are free to criticise the government. You can vote out those in office.”
“ To help the working class we have to have a left wing agenda.”
“ To carry out your agenda you have to get elected.”
“ With a left wing agenda and ideas, there are more working class than the rest, so we will get elected. The trouble with this government is that it is not radical enough.”
“ Now you are either being silly or you have your head in the clouds. With a programme like Mike is always advocating there is not a cat in hells chance of this party getting elected. Hopefully the Tories have shot themselves in the foot by electing a woman as leader. If Jim Callaghan goes to the polls this autumn, we have a chance but not with a manifesto like you are going to advocate at the party conference. Now you leave these good people alone in future. They have a perfect right to be here and a perfect right to ask questions. If you are so unsure of your position that you have to insult life long Labour members, there is something wrong with your arguments. Come on Mr. And Mrs. Reynolds. I will give you a lift home.”
“ Don’t you dare call me a coward, Tom Houseman!” Mike exploded.
“ Mike grow up and start acting like an adult. You are going to put this party in a right mess if you are not careful.” Tom grinned. “ The next thing you will do is start to advocate  locking up anybody who disagrees with you. All you have to do is look at dictatorships down the ages to see where that leads. Even better, go and buy a copy of animal farm and read that if you can read and understand what it is saying. It will save you a great deal l of heart ache in the future.”
Tom ushered them out of the building and into his car.
“ Thank you for standing up for us,” Mr. Reynolds said as they arrived at his house. “ I don’t know what the Party is coming to when people treat other people like that.”
“ We have to make a stand against the bullies of the left,” Tom smiled in reassurance. “ Lets make sure we are there next time.”

An Ordinary Life by Edmund Gubbins available from Amazon and as a paperback.
From Amazon and Kindle as an ebook for downloading to most ereaders 

Monday, 3 August 2015

Calais immigrants - thinking outside the box.

It is costing the UK government and industry a fortune in trying to stop immigrants camped in Calais from attempting to enter the UK illegally. The citizens of Kent are having their lives disrupted and made almost impossible by the process of stacking lorries on the M20. It reminds me of the story of King Canute. He stood on the  beach and demanded that the tide stop coming in. Needless to say. his feet got wet. I can understand David Cameron's stance on the immigrant problem but he is like Canute in one way. Despite all his efforts and words the problem will not go away. Until the countries from which these people come are made peaceful and prosperous, they will keep coming.
Is it time to try something different? Why not use all the money being wasted on trying to stem the tide to accommodate these people. Instead of finding Defence Department land to park lorries and add the the expense, why not use the land to process the immigrants? Instead of this negative attitude, why not find out how they can enhance the economy and prosperity of this country? All they want to do is work here. They do nit want handouts but a peaceful and productive life for themselves. Why not find out what skills they have and how these can be utilised for the benefit of the country.
I know this is not in the nature of this government. They are making it harder for young people to come here to study. Then when they graduate, they want them to leave rather than spend some time on research or putting their skills to use. If we as a country welcome these people, they will eventually return home with affection of the UK and an attraction for British goods and culture.

As the Bible tells us through the word of Jesus:

For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me:
I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

As a nation and a people we have to start acknowledging that these are fellow humans. 
May you all walk with your particular God.