Remembering.

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First of all, what’s the odds on finding someone else out there in my virtual world who has lived in Lund, Southern Sweden. There were other coincidences, too.

It was this virtual encounter that brought to mind something that happened 22 years ago. When I tell you, you might think it just plain spooky; reminiscent of that black and white television series in the 60’s, where 30 minutes of spine-chilling paranormal ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ were told. I am not a religious person, nor do I believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but when something happens that can’t be explained, you begin to wonder if there is someone with a scheme: a plan.

I awoke one night in the month of January, 1992, to the smell of smoke. As the smell got stronger I nudged Hubby who by this time had also woken up to smell, what he thought, was cigarette smoke. Our eldest smoked, and was in the habit of coming home in the middle of the night from his base, so we both thought it was him, home for a few days. But, we couldn’t hear anyone moving about, so we got up wondering if he was either raiding the fridge or his Dad’s wine rack. I looked into his bedroom first; no son, then went downstairs into the kitchen; still no son. I then looked out from the kitchen window hoping to see his motorbike, but there was no bike on the drive: nothing: only our cars. After checking around the house we went back to bed thinking we had either both been dreaming, or were finally going gaga.

It was many years later, about 20 in fact, when our son was going through a bad patch, that we discovered why it couldn’t have been him that night. A story began to unfold in dribs and drabs – I say story, but it was more like finding lost pieces to a jigsaw puzzle we’d had for years. One piece we did find, though, was that my son lost his best mate that night.

The troubles in the Gulf and Afghanistan go on, but its been 70 years since the end of the WW11, and there are war veterans still around from that era who can tell their stories: but most will take them to their grave: keeping the horrors of what they’ve seen, and done, to themselves. I have watched them all, young and old, on Remembrance Day, all standing in reflective silence, remembering their comrades who fell. Military men stick together like Velcro, forming very strong bonds with each other, leaving us civilians on the periphery, not being able to penetrate that exclusive club called The Armed Forces.

That is why we, as a family, support Help For Heroes. Its a life-line for ex-servicemen, and their loved ones, who can go to hell and back trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of not only serving their country, but also their time.

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Feeling dumped on?

 

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Me, I’m just feeling disappointed with the fact that whenever I write a comment to the author of the novel I’ve just read, I get no response from that author. My comments are never rude, but positive and objective. I have never given below a 3* and I always find something positive to say. This comes from teaching for many years, and I am aware that you cannot please everyone all of the time. But, only once have I had a reply of ‘thank you for your comments’ and since then have been in contact with that author, and he me. He has, in fact, formed virtual friendships with all his readers.

Perhaps I am being too naïve to think authors might be interested in what I’ve got to say, or are they so far up their own wazoo they don’t care? Come on, everyone who writes needs readers. And I would point out that I personally respond to every comment made, as does my virtual friend. But am I being too old-fashioned in thinking the personal touch is far more rewarding than the blog, or the newsletter.

It is sad to say, in my experience, the no comment not only comes from prolific writers, but new SPEA authors as well. Last year I wrote to one prolific author; after giving her book 3*  . . .  “I persevered and was half way into the book when it finally picked-up in pace, but the plot and the prose quickly became drawn-out again. I am 60% through the book and have had to put it down. I did find it jarring that your chapters were long, even though you had paragraph gaps. It might have faired better if you had considered the format, and put it in shorter, punchier chapters, with a hook at the end of each chapter. The hooks were missing in the long chapters and prose, and I think it was that that made the reading difficult for me. . . Otherwise your characters were well described, your writing and the story line, good”.

If writers don’t take on board criticism then they’re heading for a virtual train-crash. No one knows everything, and we all keep learning until the day we die – well I like to think this is the norm, but sadly I know it isn’t. But, I still love learning and that’s what urges me to write. So far, I have had positive reviews to my work and have appreciated all of them, even the one that commented on the filthy language. But, I cannot be doing with calling a woman’s private parts, her twinkle, or her Nancy, I am too old to pussy-foot around. Besides, I don’t think readers want descriptive passages on pubic hair – if you do, let me know, I could perhaps write a poem; or a Limerick might be better, but sitting thinking about it I can’t get into the rhythm. I was going to say iambic pantemeter, but thought I sounded too far up my own wazoo.

Anyway, being serious again, I would just like another author, apart from the successful one I am in contact with, to respond to my remarks, even if its only a ‘thank you’, you know then they’ve read the comment and this will spur you on to purchase their other novels. A win-win situation for all.

Good Book Hunting.

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How often have you dived into a book and not come up with a fish?

Luckily for me; not often. In the last 24 books I’ve read; all detective stories; I have only discarded one because it just didn’t satisfy me. To choose an eBook in the vast Serengeti out there, where the hunting ground can be strewn with the carcasses of dead novels; takes patience and time. And there is real pleasure when you’ve speared yourself a fat healthy one, which satisfies your hunger; satiates a need. Then, after devouring your kill, you ready yourself for the hunt again.

So, to all of you hunters out there, good luck on your book hunting safari. Hope you bag yourself a good one which will feed you for days.

Pull Yourself Together, Woman!

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I’m trying! I’m trying! I shout.

So what’s the engine room of a WW11 German U-boat got to do with anything? I don’t bloody know, I just felt like posting it; okay? You see, I’m really loosing it, big time. And no one pointed out I spelled Sverige wrong in my last blog.

Since coming back to the UK from Sweden, I’ve been on a downer. Nothing has gone right. Don’t, for God’s sake, feel sorry for me, that’s the last thing I want: just want to vent my spleen. Firstly, my nephew – the only son of my baby brother – you know, the one built like a brick s**thouse – had to have a third operation to remove a brain tumour: my daughter lost a much wanted baby, and yesterday I had an enormous ding-dong with a jobs-worth from the council who wouldn’t pick up my rubbish. He really got me firing on all cylinders and quickly fled the scene. In fact if I wasn’t a lady, I would have punched him. But, to my credit, I never used any foul language either, which can be my want, especially when someone cuts me up whilst I’m driving. Have you noticed it’s always those t**ts in beamers or Audis, I think they compete with each other; notching up their slices on their steering wheel.

You may laugh: nay you are going to guffaw when I tell you, but I have a Vauxhall Agila – yes, its an old persons car, but it’s economical on petrol and I my arse doesn’t drag along the tarmac when I sit in it. Hubby always had a Volvo, ending up with a four-wheel drive Freelander which died on us. I’ve had a variety of makes, but I loved driving my soft-top two-seater down the motorway: once overtook a Ferrari. Alright, it was in the nearside lane, doing about 40 as the driver was lighting up a cigarette. When he’d got himself settled I heard this roar from behind only a Ferrari can make and he passed me at about 100. I’m about to drop a little anecdote here: talking to a garage mechanic last year I happened to mention I started driving at 17 in a column change. He didn’t know what one was: I had to explain.

Anyway, the German U-boat in the picture: went aboard this in Malmo dry-dock: went down into the engine room. Couldn’t scratch your head, let alone swing a cat. It was very claustrophobic. Perhaps that’s why I’ve posted it. I’m feeling hemmed-in. And editing my third novel seems a very slow process at the minute. That’s what it is, I’m frustrated that nothing seems to be going the way I want. Oh, well, that’s life as the French say, or is it c’est la vie? Whatever it is, I’m fed-up with it at the moment.

Like that woman at the hospital last year; can someone just say, “Pull yourself together, woman!” and I will be a very happy bunny. Oh, by the way, this is serious. I’ve even gone off sex. Hope it’s only temporary.

 

Hej då, Sverige.

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What’s with the ceramic stove heater? I have a thing for them. Discovered them in the early 80’s in Germany. Son No.2 had one in his living room in his first house in Sweden; a lovely white one it was. I take snap-shots of any I see. Thought it might prove different to the normal chat-up line. “Hey, gorgeous, would you like to come back to my place to view my ceramic stove heaters?” Who wouldn’t?

Must apologise for not blogging sooner: only been back in the UK about a week.  My excuses are: the lawns needed mowing, the house was freezing cold and it took two days to thaw out the mattress. Then I had to clear the garage of 15 years of crap. Why? Son No. 2 son is leaving Sweden and coming back to the UK. He is still working for the same company but he will be based in the UK, visiting Lund every so often. I asked if his firm would pay for a business class ticket with SAS for me as I was beginning to clock up some serious air miles. Guess what they said? Don’t know the Swedish for ‘on your bike’. The removal company arrived at his apartment first thing yesterday morning after a pick-up in Copenhagen the day before. Gear of mine that had been left with my son for the past few years, and stuff I packed in boxes before I left, is now on its way to Landskrona, Gothenberg, then on to Stockholm. Where my undies are going after that, I have no idea, but some of my knickers will be more travelled than me.

Back to the crap in the garage which is now in a tidy heap on the back patio waiting for some men to come and shift it. Still can’t get the car in the garage though, but there is now room for son no. 2 to store his stuff. If anyone says, ‘isn’t that what parents are for?’ I will shoot them. Kids, no matter what age they are, always come bouncing back. When you think you’ve got rid of them they suddenly appear again. Even when I thought I wouldn’t hear from him for a while, son No. 1, who I thought was fighting a war in the Gulf at the time, rings me up at 3am one morning just to let me know he’s pissed.  Love him, you might be thinking, even when he’s off duty and pissed he thinks of his mother. I should point out that’s the only time he thinks of his mother.

Back to Sweden: my lasting recollection will be of being accosted by a drunken man at 11am one morning. I was out shopping with my family and my dogs were really barking, so I sat down on a bench which happened to be just outside a Systembolaget. Wrong place to sit: outside an off-licence. This drunk approached me and started speaking to me in slurred Swedish. Couldn’t understand a word, so I, very stand-offish, said, “I am English.” If I had worked for the diplomatic corps I would have definitely been sacked that day. Then the man put his hand on me. Whilst he was feeling my upper arm he asked, in perfect English, if I had a light. I told him I didn’t smoke, which is true. At this point I was cursing Hubby blind as he’s never around when you need him. Five minutes later the same drunken Swede followed me into the lavatories inside an art museum. I’m being stalked, I thought. But he was only in there to relieve himself which he did whilst the door was open. He was then quietly escorted out by an attendant. Thinking that was the last I would see of him we left the gallery only to find the same man passed-out on a bench with two policemen gently coaxing him to get up so they could cart him away. He probably spent the rest of that day and night in the drunk-tank. Hubby, as usual,  was amused and said, “If that man bothers you again I will kick his guide dog.”  I just yawned; I’d heard it before.