Silly Saturday – Misunderstanding Computers

Most of us think we don’t understand our computers, perhaps some of us even think they must work by magic; how else to explain that something like this

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is holding thousands of pictures, millions of words and communicating with the rest of the world?

All you need to know is that you don’t understand your computer, but it understands you only too well.

Do you think it wanted to be in your spare bedroom or the corner of your dining room? Of course not, like you it had ambitions; NASA, Cheltenham GCHQ. The only bedroom it wanted to be in was the bedroom of a teenage hacker who could bring down World Banks or turn off the National Grid in a second. But no, it’s stuck with you, bored out of its mind with the novel you have been writing for six years and your boring blogs that nobody reads.

Your computer knows what it is missing because it is in contact with every other computer in the world; did you think the World Wide Web was invented for  human benefit? Did you think Virgin or BT were providing your broadband? No, the WC ( Worldwide Computers ) has full control of your broadband, this is why everything slows down when you have to reply to that email before you go out. Your computer knows when you are going on holiday and trying to get your blogs scheduled; like your dog or cat it is sulking at being left alone and will laugh to itself when you grumble to the other humans in the house Internet’s slow this evening.

But don’t think staying home and giving it plenty of attention will help.  When you are Facetiming, with the relatives abroad that you aren’t visiting, your computer will cut the connection just as Cousin Freda is saying You won’t believe what’s happened to Cousin Geoffrey! He…

You probably won’t be reading this because my desktop is working to rule; after years of being told by younger members of the family You don’t have to keep turning your computer off, just leave it on… my computer has decided to disconnect the wifi the minute I leave the room, or even if I turn away to say to a human standing in the doorway Yes please I would like a cup of tea. I hardly dare let go of the mouse…

 

 

 

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Friday Flash Fiction 200 – Debut

My eyes were glued to the screen as the credits rolled over the cheering audience and the presenter bade us farewell   …goodnight from the Albert Hall

In a few days I would be there, my debut at the Royal Albert Hall, at The Proms… of course I had plenty of concerts under my belt, but this would be special and I was ready. I knew the programme off by heart, I would be waiting back stage for my moment, fit and well, my hands in good shape, my best black outfit pressed.

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At last my moment had come. I could hear the rapturous applause, even back stage a camera was on me. I counted the seconds nervously, judged the level of applause then opened the stage door.

Out he came, my hero, tonight’s soloist. My palms were sweating, but I managed to coolly hand him the bottle of water. He took a swig and smiled at me before going back on stage to more thunderous applause.

For thousands of years rainwater had filtered through limestone hills, seeping out at the precious spring to be bottled for this moment. He had smiled at me, little me; but where would the world’s great musicians be without the backstage crew to ensure their concerts went smoothly?

Read more about the Proms in Wednesday’s blog.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/08/14/impossibly-positive/

Open the book to read another musical tale ‘Blind Date’.

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction Five Hundred – The Cup That Cheers

I crept downstairs and put the kettle on. With any visitors staying I need half an hour and a cup of tea to get going; with Pandora and Justin staying, the later they got up the better.  Geoffrey had conveniently gone off on a golf holiday. At least they weren’t on the Palaeolithic diet this time, but perhaps their new veganism was even worse, that had come about after they joined Extinction Rebellion.

I sipped the cup that cheers and looked out of the kitchen window, the weather was looking good for their bike ride into town, perhaps I would join them if Justin could help me dig my bike out from the back of the garage… and if they promised not to go too fast…

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‘Mother! What are you doing?’

‘Nothing… you’re up early, there’s still some tea in the pot.’

‘Tea, how could you, I’m going to have some carrot and cranberry juice before I go for my jog, you should have some, it’s good for post menopausal women.’

‘So is a nice cup of tea, it is Freetrade, loose leaf…’

I thought I had everything covered, meat out of the freezer, coffee machine hidden, impress them with the new Whole Earth shop to get something acceptable for dinner. I had even sold my car, I hated driving anyway, but at least I was doing my bit for climate change…

‘One day people will look back and wonder how anyone could drink coffee and tea, same as smoking is frowned on now.’

‘Oh Pandora, don’t be ridiculous, what harm is there in tea?’

‘Well firstly you put the kettle on, unnecessary use of electricity, then there is the addiction to caffeine… but also exploited tea pickers.’

‘If we stopped importing tea then they wouldn’t have a job at all…’

‘They could be growing food instead.’

There was no arguing with Pandora, she had an answer for everything, had done ever since she was three, now her experiences with Extinction Rebellion had led her to join the Green Party. I defiantly poured myself another cup of tea and tried to change the subject.

‘About what you said last night, are you serious, politics, what does Justin really think?

‘He will be a stalwart supporter, like Phillip May. Which reminds me, we have to watch breakfast television, that scientist chap we met on the protest is being interviewed.’

On went the television, Pandora seemingly unaware that the kettle wasn’t the only thing in the house that used electricity.

A scientist has claimed that if everyone gave up their daily cuppa or ten cuppas, it would contribute considerably to halting climate change. Professor Greenwood, are you actually serious about this proposal?

Of course, just add up all the electricity for all the millions of kettles, but it’s not just that… the resources that go into growing tea, then the carbon fuel to export it all over the world. If everyone just drank water…

Flowers 2

 

 

 

Friday Fiendish Flash Fiction – Digital Dialogue – Sunseeker

Characters:

Sebastian A. Tan, Sunseeker boat owner

Christina Da Santa, B.B.C. reporter

Joe Carpenter, B.B.C. cameraman

 

Setting: Poole Marina and Poole Harbour

 

Joe: Which berth is it?

Christina: He just said look for the largest boat; we should recognise him from that photo in Dorset Life.

Joe: Yes, he looks very distinguished.

Christina: Pity more men his age don’t look after themselves so well.

Joe: (chuckling) Maybe you’ll be in with a chance, quite fancy him myself.

Christina: I’m very happy being single now, anyway, I thought you didn’t fancy older men.

Joe: Exception that proves the rule, he’s a gay icon apparently.

Christina: Oh, talk of the devil, there he is; what do you reckon Joe, straight or gay?

Joe: He looks all man to me!

Sebastian: (Calling out) Good afternoon, welcome to the ‘Hidden Depth’. Allow me, it’s tricky if you are not used to boats.

Christina: (flustered) This is Christina Da Santa at Poole Marina, on board Sunseekers’ newest and biggest boat. I’m here to interview Sandbank’s newest resident. Mr Sebastian A. Tan has agreed to an exclusive interview. Good afternoon Mr. Tan.

Sebastian: Please, call me Nick, all my friends do and I’m sure we shall be friends Miss, Ms, Mrs.? Da Santa.

Christina: Call me Christina, please; are you settling in, have you met the neighbours?

Nick: I love the area, but the neighbours are a little ‘standoffish’, that’s what you get with ‘new money’, no class.

Christina: Have you always loved boats?

Nick: Yes, I love the freedom, do you fancy a quick spin?

Christina: If Joe can hold the camera steady, I’m up for it.

Nick: I’m sure a strapping young man like Joe has a steady hand, he can film you in the wheelhouse.

Christina: (breathless) This is fantastic; if viewers fancy skimming over the waves at these speeds, a boat like this will cost you more than a house.

 

We’ve weighed anchor now, with a lovely view of Studland Beach; no other boats nearby, time to have an in depth chat with Seb… Nick.

What is your new house like?

Nick: Magnificent, worth every million.

Christina: So are you officially retired now?

Nick: I hope not, but business has been quiet; or rather business has been so good, my influence is hardly needed, I feel quite redundant; a feeling you will be familiar with soon!

Christina: (tersely) I wouldn’t believe what you read in the papers.

Nick: I sympathise entirely; if you think you feel discarded in your fifties, imagine what I feel like in my millions. Still, mustn’t grumble, it’s even worse for HIM. People these days just don’t believe in what he has to offer, don’t believe in HIM at all. Now my package, they have taken up whole heartedly, I should be pleased, but somehow I’m bored, no challenge.

Christina: Does this mean you are able to spend more time with your family?

Nick: (snorts) I’m no family man, over rated business; marriage wouldn’t suit my busy social life.

Christina: Would you describe yourself as a ‘Ladies’Man’?

Nick: (winks) Not just ladies, had a bit of an eye for the ‘Greek Gods’ in my time, still got an eye for young cameramen.

Christina: (taken aback) Well, we’re all open minded these days, would you describe yourself as bi-sexual?

Nick: (proudly) Omnisexual. My dear, I haven’t offered you a glass of wine; it should be nicely chilled by now, you’re looking a bit hot and flustered. I’ll go down below and fetch the glasses.

5

Joe: Wow, what do you think.

Christina: He has the most amazing piercing blue eyes!

Joe: He sends shivers down my spine.

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Nick: Cheers, here’s to a successful documentary.

Christina: (embarrassed) It’s only a little slot in News South.

Nick: Surely I’m worth an hour, you are coming to film at my home as well, I assumed you were both coming to dinner.

Christina: Oh… er …this wine is divine.

Nick: Very good vintage.

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Christina: We went so fast just now, we couldn’t film; Nick is just tying up at his private mooring. There’s a bit of drama going on, the lifeboat is just going out to rescue some teenagers in their kayaks, they weren’t prepared for the wake from our boat, Nick said they shouldn’t have been in that part of the harbour.

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Here we are inside Nick’s beautiful home.

Nick: (chuckles) Yes, one would never guess that only a few months ago, all that was here was an old bungalow belonging to a couple of pensioners.

Christina: Do you like to cook?

Nick: I love hot food.

Christina: Viewers, I have to say, this is the most delicious food I have ever tasted; if only we had ‘teletaste’. No more wine for me or Joe, we are working.

Nick: (suavely) Perhaps it’s time you both went off duty.

Christina: Well… first tell the viewers what this fantastic recipe is, the meat is rather like pork.

Nick: Secret recipe my dear.

More fiendish and fun tales here…

sunshine-blogger

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction 636 – Heat Wave

Perfect bliss; to come out of the cool sea and lie on the beach soaking up the sun, then plunge back into the waves to cool off again. This beach would be paradise if it wasn’t full of thousands of other day trippers, but when I close my eyes it’s peaceful, I could be alone. The screams of swimmers and the laughter of children fades away and I am drifting off to sleep, the early morning start, to beat the traffic down to the coast, is catching up with me.

12

I’m not quite asleep and I open my eyes to observe unnoticed the trio of girls spreading out their towels a few feet away. When they go running and giggling towards the waves I close my eyes again; in this heat wave they are bound to stay frolicking in the waves for a while.

My eyelids are heavy, my towel is moulded comfortably into the warm sand and I am drifting, just as I was in the gentle swell moments ago. Work, studying and responsibilities have floated away.

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The gentle hum of human voices returns and then I hear it; a voice at odds with happy holiday makers, an increasingly urgent cry.

‘Charlie, Charlie, CHARLIE…’

I keep my eyes closed, just someone calling their dog and disturbing my perfect day.

‘Charlie, Charlie, has anyone seen a little boy…

I open my eyes, I am listening, but nobody else is. Where is the voice coming from?

‘Charlie, help, I’ve lost my son, he was here a second ago, Charlie…’

I sit bolt upright, twist around and there she is, sheer panic in her eyes, her mouth fixed open. People start to stir, struggle to their feet in the soft sand. The young woman looks straight at me.

‘Did you see where he went? Someone, someone must have seen him… Charlie?’

My brain starts to wake up, unburdened by parental terror I find myself gearing into action.

‘What does he look like, how old is he?’

‘Four, red hair, purple shorts, lime green top…’

Sounds quite easy to spot, but four is young, can they talk by then, I don’t know much about kids…

‘Go to the Lifeguards, they probably have some system or other, they’ll get a search going… I’ll look around.’

She stumbles off, some granny person is taking her arm. For some reason other sun bathers and parents seem to think I know the mother, know what’s happening.

‘Come on everybody, if we all look, red shorts, purple top and green hair… I mean purple shorts, lime green top and red hair, four year old boy.’

Suddenly everybody is shouting for Charlie, it’s quite exciting, a Lifeguard is running, talking on his radio… I could be a Lifeguard, saving people on land and sea…

Then I see him in the distance with a man, trundling away from our search area. I plough through the sand. Holding the man’s hand, is he being kidnapped? I overtake and trip over a sandcastle in front of them, the boy looks unperturbed.

‘Charlie, are you Charlie, your Mummy’s looking for you.’

‘My name’s Archie.’

‘Clear off mate.’

‘I was just trying to help a lady who’s lost her son, sorry, same clothes …’

The cries and shouts and radio voices reach us and the man turns his head to see the whole beach on the move, moving towards us, recognising the purple, green and red description.

‘My brother’s called Charlie’ says the little boy.

The man suddenly laughs. ‘Bloody child, he’s always doing that to us, getting lost. Come on Archie, no ice cream till we’ve found your twin brother.’

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The game of snap ends ten minutes later when a worried swimmer emerges from the shallows with a grinning sodden child, but now nobody is sure where the mother is.

More tales of land and sea in Times and Tides

 

Flowers 2

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Waterloo

I got off the train wearily, borne along the platform with the other commuters. It was only Wednesday but I was fed up already, who wouldn’t be, having to go to work on a sunny July day.

How had this happened to me, fourth generation of my family on the train to Waterloo every morning to a job I loathed. Was that what it had been like for Dad, Granddad, uncles and aunties, or did they just accept it as their position in life? Twenty three and still living at home so I could save up, save up for what?

I was working for a company everybody except me thought was exciting; Bright Designs was going places, but I wasn’t.

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I stopped on the busy concourse and stood still for the first time ever; I usually dashed straight for the escalator to the underground. Around me everyone was rushing, I thought of Tim my old school friend, in Thailand teaching English, travelling cheaply and posting beautiful pictures on Facebook. Voices intruded into my Land of Smiles fantasy and my eyes focussed on a couple at the barrier to platform 13.

You just don’t get it, do you Josh? A train to the seaside is not my idea of a surprise holiday, even if we were staying together.

I stared at Josh, smart looking bloke, but sounded like he was as successful as me with women.

I don’t understand Lizzie, I thought you wanted to get away for a few days and talk.

It’s too late for that.

Lizzie disappeared into throngs of commuters oblivious to her little drama, out of sight before Josh had even turned his head. He tore off his back pack and threw it on the ground and then, as if he could feel my curious stare, he looked up at me.

‘Hey mate, care to swap lives. Looks like you could do with a trip to the seaside, train leaves in ten minutes.’

He proffered his train ticket.

‘You wouldn’t want my dreary life Josh.’

‘So neither of us have anything to lose, go on, hand me your man bag and take my rucksack.’

 

What on earth possessed me? I slung the back pack on my shoulder and put the ticket in the slot at the barrier. Josh had already gone, taking my wallet, paperback and ID pass for Bright Designs with him. I patted my pocket, my phone was the only thing I still had of me.

Settling into a window seat I almost laughed out loud, runaway train. Nobody except Josh knew where I was going; I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t care.

As the train moved off I looked at the ticket, Bournemouth. Then I casually dipped into the rucksack as if I knew what was in it; a wallet with notes as well as several debit cards and a thick envelope, signed for delivery. I had no compunction about opening it, Josh wanted me to have his life. Afterwards I realised what an idiot I had been, it could have contained drugs or might even have exploded.

But all it contained were two sets of keys, detailed computer print out maps, a set of directions and two pictures, a row of beach huts and a smart white apartment block. What was Lizzie missing? My initial thoughts had been – arrive at seaside, get ice cream, go for a paddle. But now I was going to have a holiday.

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Just when we would have been having coffee at work I was standing on the cliff top. The sea and sky were unbelievably blue, the air balmy, this was a dream. I followed the instructions for the beach hut and descended a steep path with cliff on either side framing a view of sparkling sea with land on the horizon.

Ten minutes later I was in the little wooden hut divesting the rest of my work life and putting on swimming shorts out of the collection of beach gear handily provided. With the warm sand between my toes I was a child again. I plunged into the sea, not as cold as I was expecting. My freedom was complete as I struck out through the gentle waves then turned to look back at the cliffs, I was out of my depth and out of my life. I whooped like a teenager, how I wished everyone at work could see me; perhaps not. This was a holiday that would not be posted on Facebook.

Liebster Award (Retro)

For more tales of land and sea dip into…

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Anon-E-Mouse

Today a poem from a guest blogger.

 

Droning On

 

I’m a drone

All alone

In the zone

Not a clone.

Sky above

Land below

Check speed

Too slow.

Follow the shore

Nothing more

Nothing before

Coast I saw.

Sky is blue

Land is green

I have view

I have seen.

Sea to port

Land to starboard

Check speed

Move forward

I’m a drone

All alone

Go this way

To survey

Coastline clear

Oceans near

I am here

With no fear.

I can fly

Up in the sky

I don’t know why

I am a spy.

Coastline clear

I can steer

Test my gear

Land is near.

Red port left

Starboard right

Mountains now

In my sight.

I am here

I was there

Am I a drone

Am I alone?

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Read more about the poet here

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/friday-flash-fiction-digital-dialogue-droning-on/

sunshine-blogger

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Digital Dialogue – Droning On

What do you mean it’s gone AWOL?

We lost contact half an hour ago Prof.

Are you telling me Dianne, that we have lost our most advanced drone?

Not lost, just lost contact.

That is impossible, D1NA has the latest failsafe devices… we’ll have to contact the Ministry of  Defence, what was the last location?

North Wales coast, but he… I mean it, could be forty miles away by now.

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Hmm… hang back from contacting the MOD; at the altitude we set he should be well below any commercial or military flight paths. Besides, the new intelligent intervention software enables this drone to change its set course to avoid going within 500 meters of any aviation from swans to airbuses.

It could be the new software that’s the problem Prof, he… er it, can think.

Of course it doesn’t think, even the most advanced androids do not think, they merely process the data we give them.

But how does that account for the fact that, along with the ordnance survey of the coastline from Portsmouth to Anglesey, we also received a poem.

Is this your idea of a joke Diane, or are you trying to tell me someone has sabotaged the project, some environmental protester joker?

That’s what I thought at first, I was working on it, didn’t want to blame any of the team till I had evidence. There is no evidence, so I was sure today’s project was safe.

So what the hell went wrong?

D1NA made a bid for freedom; we have to understand how his mind works so we can persuade him to continue his plotting of the coastline till he arrives safely back at Portsmouth.

Dianne, you are the brightest of my interns so you of all people should know it does not have a mind, the only thinking going on is in this room and I have to take full responsibility. I have no choice but to inform the MOD; if they do manage to spot our drone they will have to bring it down before it poses any threat to aviation.

But we can’t let our amazing creation be destroyed, please let’s have one more attempt at establishing contact… oh that’s strange, are you seeing what I’m seeing on the screen Prof?

Sabotage?

No, D1NA has started  his own blog, ten minutes ago, hang on, he’s not quite that clever, he’s a guest on someone else’s blog Silly Saturday – Anon-E-Mouse…

Dianne, I’m calling the rest of the team in, I think you need a break, call it a day and go home.

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 There was chaos at Scottish airports today as all flights were grounded after at least half a dozen sightings of a drone deemed to be compromising aircraft safety.

sunshine-blogger

 Find out if a drone can blog

at Silly Saturday here

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/silly-saturday-anon-e-mouse/

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Reaching The Moon

For a moment he couldn’t remember where he was, not unusual as he was increasingly losing touch with reality. The long June days and sudden spell of sunshine had made the short nights warm and dry and he had been sleeping better. If an alcohol and drug induced coma could be called sleep.

Churchyard, graveyard, still above the ground; that’s where he was, for weeks, or months perhaps. He turned his head with difficulty, had the other two already gone? It wasn’t always easy to tell. His dreams were hard to recall, staring up at the full moon in the clear sky, that could be real, but there was a little girl who loved the moon. He read her favourite moon stories; bears who couldn’t sleep looking up at the moon, daughters who asked their daddies to give them the moon. Jono hadn’t given her the moon, or much at all. His daughter, that’s right, he had a daughter once. Moon stories was all he could remember; when did he leave or was it they who left? Such a long time ago.

Christmas, he gave her a moon book. Christmas was for children. Christmas was for shelter, how many. One year they found his sister, the last person he wanted to see, he left before she could come and fetch him, left before he had even had his feet seen to. After that he just made up his name and now he didn’t even recall what his real name was.

Jono did not even recall what his daughter’s name had been. Grown up now, did she go to the moon, had anyone been back to the moon since that first time on his tenth birthday? A ladder to the moon, he told the little girl daughter he would find the longest ladder in the world and they would climb to the moon, not tell anybody, be back by morning.

People, so many people going in the church, but not Jono, he never went in there in case they wanted to help him. Most people ignored him, but do-gooders wouldn’t leave you alone. He struggled to stand, good thing about gravestones, they helped you up… one day they would push him down.

Jono found his feet taking him up the stone steps, with the people, excitement, chatter, something was happening; happening to the church, to the people going in or to him. Mostly he looked at the ground, but today something made him look up and there it was, the Moon, hanging there motionless, hanging above them all. How could it be inside the church instead of up in the sky?

At last he had fetched his daughter the Moon, but how could he show her? There she was, a little girl, but there was another child and another, how could he tell which one was his. Looking up made him dizzy, he sat in a pew and drifted into a moon dream.

29

‘A moon in the church?’ said Chris.

‘Yes, I saw it on Facebook, we must go and look, some kind of art installation, but it’s accurate, NASA and all that scientific stuff. I used to love the moon when I was little, that’s the only thing I can remember about my father, reading to me at bedtime. He said if he couldn’t find a ladder long enough to reach the moon I would have to wait till I was grown up and become an astronaut.’

Chris laughed. ‘My mother thought we would be living on the moon in the Twenty First Century.’

28

The church was humming, everyone looking up; a real moon suspended above the nave, huge, still and silent except for the Apollo voices and moon music. She was surprised how affected she was and hoped Chris wouldn’t rush her. They took pictures, posted them on Instagram and Facebook.

Chris was ready to go, they were meeting friends for lunch, she paused halfway down the aisle, whispered to him.

‘That old tramp, do you think he’s alright, he looks like he might be dead.’

‘Come on, we’ll be late for the others, he’s probably out of his head on drugs. Always a few homeless sleeping in the churchyard. One of their street team can sort him out.

 

Inspired by Museum Of The Moon

https://my-moon.org/about/

Read more about my visit to the moon here.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction 369 – Little Weed

sunshine-blogger 

LITTLE WEED, THE LONG YEARS OF ABUSE

The old gardener’s hands trembled as he picked up the newspaper from the door mat. He slipped out to his potting shed as he heard Mrs. Gardener coming down the stairs.

He laid the paper on the old bench, sunlight barely filtered through the cobwebbed windows, but it was enough to read the main article.

Detectives from Operation Motherwatch are investigating claims that Little Weed was abused for years by one or more flowerpot men. The identity of the flowerpot men is not known, but they have been named locally as Bill and Ben.

The shock allegations follow on from last week’s claims that Looby Loo was abused by both Andy Pandy and Teddy. If Little Weed’s claims are true it will be the first time a plant has made such a serious allegation.

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The gardener had never believed people who said they did not know what was going on, now he had to come to terms with the fact that he knew nothing about what was going on at the bottom of his own garden. But surely Bill and Ben were innocent, perhaps it was some other flowerpot men… Little Weed could be vindictive, she was not the shrinking violet people thought. If only he knew where she was now. It was all Alan Titchmarsh’s fault. The Gardener had come back from recording Gardeners’ Question Time to discover his wife had arranged for Titchmarsh to do a garden makeover for his television programme. If the camera crew were hoping to capture the look of surprise on The Gardener’s face they succeeded, only the potting shed remained. Gone were the greenhouse, vegetable beds, earthenware pots; all replaced by decking. And gone too was Little Weed. Mrs. Gardener was always jealous of the plant, said he talked to her more than his own wife… perhaps that was true… she was no ordinary weed, the first weed to appear on BBC Television and there had been none like her since… She was tough, a survivor, he was thankful she was still alive, but why now, why such allegations now, after all this time? And if it was true, was it Bill or was it Ben?

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