Where Am I?

Dark events are inevitably connected to the dark side of the internet, a far cry from what Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, intended.

The worldwide web turned 30 last week. To mark the occasion, its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee — in an event at the Science Museum in London — offered a cri de coeur. With more than half the world now online, Berners-Lee pleaded with every one of us to fight for “the kind of web we want”. It is, he said, “one of the most important causes of our time”.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tim-berners-lee-calls-for-a-fight-for-the-kind-of-web-we-want-wk95rjxls

 For those of us enjoying the many benefits of the internet and for authors using it as a ‘platform’ it seems incongruous that fellow bloggers, full of good cheer, have their positive posts deleted from Facebook while terrorists and extremists manage to post hate and the unthinkable.

Ever since I reluctantly joined Facebook nine years ago I have heard talk of it being ‘finished’ and people leaving, but most of us are still there. However, a few writers have now joined ‘MeWe’, planning to use it as their new platform. I had a look at it on Sunday and as it seemed simple to sign up, I did. What next I’m not sure, especially with my dodgy technical skills and the fact I keep forgetting what it’s called – WeMe, WeWe?

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Eons ago I tried joining Twitter, accidentally joined twice then lost both accounts. I have since recovered one, but I have not yet got a grip on it. It seems to be a lot of retweeting of greetings. My WordPress blogs are linked to Twitter, apologies to any fellow Tweeters I have ignored or not thanked for retweeting… I find WordPress easier to negotiate and blogs more satisfying to read.

My website I also started long ago, another ‘must have’ for new authors; it is a paid for template, a photo album with pages to fill in! If I had known about WordPress back then perhaps I would have done things differently, but when the most unexpected people mention that they have been looking at my website, I think it has a place in the ether.

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https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/

Instagram is a more recent venture; as I love photography I enjoy the challenge of seeking new views to snap most days, but I am not sure how one is supposed to use it to promote books or any other business.

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Meanwhile back at Facebook I have an author page where I post links to my blogs and website; posts there are all mine, though how many people find their way there is another matter! On general Facebook pages there is no logic as to what will pop up on your page and which of your own posts will be seen by friends and family. Facebook Messenger is a boon, so easy to send messages and photos instantly to groups of friends or family. Facebook groups are as good as the members in them. It was Author Chat Forum that started me linking in with other writers on line. Local groups can be handy, but sometimes lead to ‘discussions’ about dogs, cats or coffee shops and hundreds of comments that go on for days. I think I’ll be sticking with Facebook for a good while yet; after all, I would miss the hilarious cartoons and genuine fake news that get shared around.

Choose social media you enjoy for its own sake; otherwise you could be spending a lot of time for little in the way of book sales if that is your only aim.

What social media do you like to use?

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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Best Sellers

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If there is anything better than writing a best seller, it is writing a best selling series and a best selling series in a popular genre is sure to be a winner. The way to fame is for your series to be adapted for television, so that everyone knows you have written lots of best selling books, even if they haven’t read them.

Fame may come at a price, murder. Crime thrillers are always popular with the public and that’s not hard to understand; we all like to participate in the thrills without actually being killed ourselves. We all like to guess who did it from the comfort of the sofa without having to pound dark alleyways or lonely moors.

You only need three things for your fabulous fiction.

One or more dead bodies.

One or more detectives.

An interesting setting.

Optional extras are a few interesting characters who insist on getting involved in the investigation.

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I love a good crime thriller and some knitting after dinner, we all need a break from writing and computers. At Cheztidalscribe sub titles are our favourites; everything from gritty Paris to dark brooding Wales, from sunny Sicily to bracing Iceland. At present we are watching Trapped, set in a small town in Iceland; the fact that this fascinating country only has three hundred thousand people does not hold them back from having plenty of murders.

Much as I love hearing different languages and seeing a change of scenery, not speaking the language and never having visited are good reasons not to try and write novels set in another country. But there is still plenty of scope for new crime thrillers set in the British Isles. Popular novels can be set in ancient university towns; Morse in Oxford, Granchester in Cambridge. Then there are gritty cities such as Rebus in Edinburgh. Equally popular are quiet villages with an unbelievably high rate of crime, Midsomer Murders or islands such as Shetland where bodies appear at an alarming rate for Jimmy Perez to deal with.

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So let’s choose a place with beautiful scenery and scattered remote houses which the police can never get to in time. A detective who must be divorced or widowed and a local population who don’t trust him, because he is an outsider. His only friends are a simmering love interest with a fisherman’s wife and the local vet, doctor or vicar who helps solve every case. The detective inspector can be of either sex, but their constable or sergeant will always be of the opposite sex.

I am going to set my series on the beautiful Scottish Inner Hebrides island of Iona, I have only been there once, for a few hours, but that won’t deter me. There are only about 120 permanent residents and it is only three miles long, but that needn’t prevent them having a serial killer; with lots of tourists coming over on the little Caledonian MacBrain ferry who knows what could happen and as visitors’ vehicles are banned this gives the police a head start on chasing them.

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When television producers adapt your thrilling best seller there may be some compromise. Your stocky dark brooding hero is replaced by a well known tall blond actor and they film most of it on the mainland because it’s cheaper. The programmes are so popular you have to write more novels at a frantic pace, if not you will find your intelligent stories replaced by increasingly ridiculous plots and your name will appear only at the end of the credits – based on the characters created by…

But the good news is your book will now appear at the front of the book store with the covers your friend designed with his holiday photos replaced by dramatic pictures of the television star on location.

Good luck.

 

Flash Fiction Friday – 963 – Stolen Identity

sunshine blogger award

Amelia DeVere was dreading her birthday; Brian and the girls were coming round with her present, a lap top. They had given her several other choices; a clever phone, an eye mask, a lozenge or was it a capsule? She had plumped for the lap top, at least she wouldn’t be expected to put it in her handbag and use it. She was quite happy with her mobile phone that didn’t take pictures, buttons 1, 2 and 3 were programmed for the local mini cab firm, Jenny next door and Brian.

But Amelia had not realised the full implications of her choice until it was too late.

You’ll be able to Facetime Aunty Phoebe in Canada and see pictures of the new baby on Facebook.

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‘I just want to do e-mails’ said Amelia, on the offensive as she answered the door on her birthday morning.

‘Of course, we need to do that first. But just think Gran, you would have been the first to know Constanza was expecting, instead of the last.’

Just as Brian’s marriage was breaking up, her younger son Roger had got his act together and met someone. It didn’t appear they were going to get married, but now she was pregnant they had reluctantly left the Orangutan sanctuary and returned to Constanza’s hometown, Melbourne.

She was soon sending Roger an e-mail, AmDev@gmail.com

‘Can we have lunch now?’ she pleaded.

‘In a mo Gran, let’s just look at Facebook and make sure there are no other Amelia DeVeres… oh look, there are…

Are you this Amelia DeVere?

They all laughed at the young woman with spiky rose pink and sky blue hair, but then Amelia felt rather miffed at seeing a member of the family she didn’t know.

‘That’s probably not her real name Mum,’ said Brian ‘look, she’s an author, got her own author page.’

‘Can we look at it?’

‘No, you have to be her friend.’

‘I don’t need to be her friend if I’m a relative.’

The screen was flashing, artificial fingernails were skimming across the keyboard.

‘Here’s her Amazon page,’ said her granddaughter ‘…author of fruity romances Strawberries in Surmmer, Peaches for Pandora, hundreds of reviews… The book every twentysomething must take on holiday, published in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.’

‘Let’s read a preview’ urged her sister.

Amelia had to admit she was quite impressed that they could turn the pages of a pretend book. ‘Let me read, I’m getting used to this lap top… Pandora ran her slender manicured fingers through the dark hairs on Mickael’s chest, then across his firm tanned stomach, bringing to life his…’ she peered closer with her bi-focals at the small print ‘bringing to life his what?’

‘I don’t think that’s your sort of book Mother’ said Brian, hastily moving his large hands across the keyboard.

Images flashed across the screen, more frantic tapping by the girls.

‘Look Gran, Uncle Roger’s accepted you as a friend, they must still be up, probably midnight there.’

Suddenly the bemused grandmother was confronted with a black and white picture of an alien, but her granddaughters screamed with delight.

‘It’s a boy, you’re going to have your first grandson.’

‘They can’t have had the baby already.’

‘No, they’ve just had the scan to tell the sex; four hours ago 23 comments and 40 likes already, you can make a comment.’

‘That’s revolting, looks like one of their Orangutans.’

‘We all looked like that once, in the womb, I can’t believe how ultrasound has improved since we had the girls,’ said her son ‘but I don’t think I would put it on Facebook.’

The girls giggled ‘We can’t put what Gran said, how about Wonderful news, do u want to Facetime tomorrow?’

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Over lunch the girls discussed Constanza and why there were no pictures of her on Facebook and would Dad pay for them to visit their new cousin, but Amelia returned to the subject of the other Amelia.

‘Of course I would know if she was a real DeVere, can I complain if she’s an impostor?’

‘Let’s Google and see what else we can find out.’

‘Yes, never mind the dishes, let’s get back on the lap top’ she said.

She was surprised to see her own DeVeres mentioned, but it was Amelia the novelist who had page after page of blue writing devoted to her, image after image came up as they visited websites. The young woman was everywhere, The Word Hut, Writers’ Room, Romantic Novelists Association, Twitter, she even had her own Blog.

‘Why does she think we want to know how the romantic holiday with her gorgeous man went?’ puzzled Amelia.

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But after the family had left she felt compelled to switch the lap top on and practice her new skills. She couldn’t resist Googling Amelia. The writer was planning to attend literary festivals and book signings, perhaps it would be possible to see her in the flesh…

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A few days later the grandmother’s notebook was full, she was pretty certain she had looked up every internet mention of Amelia and written it down, she had also read the openings of all her books. She wasn’t even very good at writing, the older woman wondered how she had become so famous.

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A week later the door bell rang; Amelia DeVere was very surprised when a plain clothes policeman introduced himself. He was equally surprised to find she lived alone.

‘D.I. Benson, C.C.U. Cyber Crime Unit. We’re investigating the stalking of a young woman, she has been trolled on Twitter, someone’s hacked into her e-mails, various other online abuses… I can’t go into details. We noticed that the most on line activity connected to her internet presence was coming from this locality, we may need to take your computer away to be examined.’

 

Read more short stories in my four collections;

from 99 pence.

 

 

Sunshine Blogger – 2

sunshine blogger award

Carol at Blog: https://carolcooks2.com/ has kindly nominated me for Sunshine blogger Award.

Visit Carol’s blog for plenty of sunshine, good food, healthy living and fun.

The Rules….Well, there are always rules are there not?

Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and make a link back to their blog.

Answer the 11 questions sent to you by the person who nominated you.

Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award, and then write them 11 new questions – or cheat and use the same questions 🙂

List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog

Here are Carol’s questions  and my answers.

  1. Marmite or Vegemite…Think carefully…lol 

Both, I liked Vegemite when we lived in Australia, I love Marmite ( spread thinly ! ) on toast when I’m in the mood.

2. If you were stranded on a desert island what two books and 3 music albums would you take and why?

This had me stumped. Not very original, but I think I should take the complete works of Shakespeare; I certainly haven’t read all he wrote, all life is there and it would take a long time to read, so I wouldn’t be bored while waiting for rescue. And for something light, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome, an hilarious trip down the Thames in an age I romantically think I would enjoy; it would also remind me of where I was born and many other happy times by the Thames. Albums even harder, I love so much music of all sorts I would probably get fed up with just three.

3. What or who scares you the most and why?

Fire; it can pop up anywhere caused by terrorists, war, accident or nature.

4. If you could choose who would be your next door neighbour …Who would it be and why?

My sister. We live on opposite sides of the world, too far. I’m sure we would both prefer not to actually live in the same house, but we could pop in and out and look after each other’s gardens and dogs. I haven’t got a dog, but if my sister lived next door I would get one.

5. Having a dinner party? Who would be your 8 guests dead or alive, famous or infamous and why?

A bit worrying that I had to think about this… out of all the billions of people in the world, but after a few days I came up with some possibilities. Greaves, my favourite character in my trilogy. He strolled into the first book uninvited, nameless and ended up writing his own story for the second; he is kind, wise but vulnerable and has experienced  a very different life that I want to hear all about. I love listening to the radio and a varied selection of some of my favourite presenters will make this a dinner party to remember; Michael Ball on BBC Radio 2 has a lovely speaking voice, Brian Cox on Radio Four is enthusiastic about science and would love answering impossible universal questions. Woman’s Hour has accompanied me through life since I was pregnant the first time and the presenters feel like friends, so we’ll have Jenni Murray, Jane Garvey and Lauren Laverne who presents Late Night Woman’s Hour and is at present hosting Desert Island Discs, voted greatest radio show of all time, one of my earliest memories – it has been going since 1942 and is still inspiring questions for bloggers! I must invite my sister, she wouldn’t want to miss this dinner party and Greaves is one of her favourites. Now my eighth guest… I thought why not, why not invite Jesus. What would he really be like, would the other guests even recognise him?

6. Chillies do you love them or hate them?

Hate, I don’t do HOT

7. Would you change anything about your blog and what would it be?

I would have animations and me as a cartoon.

8. Your three favourite foods ...

 Cheese, rice, roasted red peppers

9. Cats or Dogs?

Dogs – see above

10. What is your pet hate? Mine is.. I cannot stand anyone digging at the butter.. scrape it nicely…

Litter Bugs of any sort.

11. Which of your blog posts is representative of you? Please add a link.

I hadn’t realised I wrote this over two years ago.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/opting-out/

 

Here are the bloggers I have nominated, people I follow regularly or who I have just discovered. Will they  like the challenge or enjoy a bit of fun? No pressure, have a go at some or all of the questions, if you have the time or feel in the mood. Anyone else who wants to have a go is welcome.

https://gracelessageing.wordpress.com/2019/02/24/bajan-escape/

https://rachelmankowitz.com/2019/02/23/snow-and-a-haircut/

https://crowonthewire.com/2019/03/05/cupcakes-by-mark-tulin-friday-flash-fiction/

https://whatwordsmaycome.com/2019/03/07/splinter-15-minute-fiction/

https://thestoriesinbetween.com/2019/03/06/a-little-longer/

https://popsiclesociety.com/2019/03/07/dont-think-too-much/

My Questions

1.Tell us three things about the place and country where you live now.

2.Can you name a teacher you remember for their influence or words of wisdom?

3.Have you been to a school reunion, if so were you glad you went?

4.If money or rarity were not problems, what would you like for your next birthday present?

5.If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing and let’s face it, if you were shipwrecked you are not likely to have your favourite books etc. Would you rather have any person with you or be alone?

6.If you were offered a part as an extra in a film, what would you like to be?

7.If reincarnation is true, who or what would you be next time?

8. What is your favourite mode of transport?

9.City, suburbs or rural retreat?

10.What is your idea of a dream night out?

11. When you are buying birthday cards do you choose flowery or funny ?

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Journalism

TERROR GRIPS QUIET CUL-DE-SAC AS BODY IS FOUND

Report by Charli Dickenson for Sunnytown Gazette

Police were called to Primrose Close, Sunnytown this morning following reports of a suspicious death.

Mr. Ron Wood was just returning from fetching his newspaper when he was shocked to see blue lights flashing. Talking to News South at lunchtime he said it was normally very quiet in their neighbourhood.

Mrs Anne Fletcher told Sunnytown Gazette that she had been out walking her four year old Labradoodle Rosie in the Sunnytown memorial recreation ground when she was startled by sirens. On returning to Primrose Close she was very worried to see an ambulance and thought it might be Mr Trotter at number six, with his heart.

‘Then I saw ambulance crew going into number nine, I don’t know her name, I think it’s her son who comes once a week. Then a police officer, in one of those yellow jackets, says do you live here Madam and I said number three, what’s happened and he replied he wasn’t at liberty to say.’

Mr. Bert Todd who lives next door to the bungalow being investigated thought it might be an incident involving plutonium and said they had never had plutonium in Primrose Close before.

Police later confirmed that a ninety nine year old woman had died in her home at Primrose Close of natural causes.

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Fewer people are buying paper newspapers these days and local newspapers are also under threat. If you have bought a local newspaper lately you may well have lost the will to live, or at the very least wished you hadn’t bothered. You could go on line and look at the same news for free, but that is even more depressing if it features comments by the public; the public being those who have nothing better to do or no one else to listen to their opinions.

The comments usually look like this, only ten times as long.

Comment deleted.

The Sunnytown Gazette does not tolerate comments that are abusive.

Another shop brake in, oviously the yusyool yobs from..

Comment deleted

People over eighty shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

Hanging’s too good for them

Comment deleted

Comment deleted

Are the days of real journalists and press photographers over?

Newspapers just have to wait for readers to send in their own photographs or report instantly from their mobile phones as incidents are actually happening.

 We are all journalists now, but to be a top journalist you have to have a blog. Bloggers are the new press, but we don’t have to worry about keeping our editor happy. Whether you present daily reports on your dog or political commentary on world events you are a journalist. Your blog is a newspaper with colour supplements, far more interesting than the heavy Sunday papers.  But we still share something with the printing presses of old, we are usually up late at night getting the next edition out.

 

 

Winter Weekend West – Part Two

Most of us find places to stay for holidays or mini breaks on line and a good way to choose is to pick a bed and breakfast that looks interesting and will make good photos for Instagram, Facebook, your website and your WordPress blog – though my WordPress gallery of pictures is chockablock full now…

We picked Primrose House in St. Ives, Cornwall. February is hardly peak season, but the weatherman promised fine weather. It was half term and we were booking at the last minute, but we got a room.

The journey down was thick fog all the way, as you will know if you are one of my three followers on Instagram or Facebook. Our breakfast stop turned out to be a Macdonalds; in the fog we just saw a sign for Services, no HGVs and a white house shaped building. We decided its proximity to Poundbury, Prince Charles’ life size toy town near Dorchester, was the reason for the absence of the usual bright red and yellow sign. Inside it was bright and clean and packed with customers and more staff than I have ever seen; we later heard from one of the staff they were expecting an unexpected visit from the big boss. That explained the enthusiastic clearing and wiping of tables.

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Although the fog cleared just before we got to St. Ives it was impossible to find Primrose House. Like lots of West Country towns St. Ives was built for fishermen and real people walking about their business, not for tourists. We knew there were steep narrow winding lanes, that’s why we wanted to stay in the town and walk everywhere, but we still had to get to our accommodation in the first place. Sat Nav’s directions made no sense. The place is right by the branch line from St. Erth, how handy it would have been to arrive by train; except that journey involves five trains ( four changes ) and takes over nine hours from our home.

We stopped in the car park of a big hotel we had stayed in once before and phoned the B&B. We had missed the tiny lane that was the road to Primrose Valley. It was so steep we could have turned the engine off and free wheeled down. At the bottom were a couple of sharp U turns under, then back under the branch railway line. ‘We’re not moving the car again until it’s time to go home’ I said when I opened my eyes again – I’m not the driver…

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Luckily Primrose House lived up to my expectations. It was within yards of the beach if you walked under the branch line. Run by friendly young proprietors who have made the spacious 1908 guest house bright and attractive, it is all white walls, timber and minimalism. The only criticism being that it might be described as a touch too minimalist. Our big room had lots of floor space, but not a single chair to sit on or many surfaces to put anything down. The bathroom was good with a lovely big shower. Anyone who knows the saga of our bathroom will appreciate that a powerful shower is part of the holiday treat.

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There was lots on the breakfast menu, freshly cooked and plenty of fruit, cereals etc to help yourself. On the first morning there were lots of guests, but Sunday and Monday nights the owners told us we were alone; literally as there were no staff staying overnight. Possible inspiration for a story! The other strange thing that happened was our room didn’t get serviced due to a mix up, but they gave us a bottle of champagne and deducted money off the bill to make up.

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Did we ever manage to get the car back up the hill? Find out next week.

https://www.primroseonline.co.uk/

https://www.visitcornwall.com/places/st-ives

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Stream of Consciousness

Today is another in my occasional series of guest blogs by family members. This is a stream of consciousness written on a mobile phone on a plane – prepare for take off!

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Ladies and gentlemen there will now be a break in the service to allow the crew to have a break.

The crew need a break do they? I need a break as well!

This is going to be a whinge. I don’t whinge that often but I’m about to right now, so get ready.

This time last year I was still chuckling to myself about the Guild of Master Sunbed Arrangers while flying back to Blighty. I say Blighty because of a recent commitment to watch every series of Dad’s Army on dvd. The language of your current binge watch TV programme can rub off on you in a big way if you don’t watch anything else. I also learned that they said TTFN ( ta ta for now ) back then, which surprised me as I thought it was a 90s yuppie thing.

Before I digress, I was about to discuss flying back from holiday. It’s a five hour flight, which is probably about my limit for a little winter holiday on this type of airline. I recently went on a big long haul plane and let me tell you it was a whole different experience (Good).

So you take off and the second the seat belt light goes out they send out the first trolley. I have visions of the cabin crew waiting behind the curtain checking the tyres and oil, rubbing their feet on the carpet like a raging bull about to be let loose on a rodeo clown. The trolleys come out from both ends of the plane, rushing towards the centre, crushing any poor soul who thought they might use the toilets (which are at either end).

I will now list the order of the trolleys and my objections in full.

  1. Duty free that has been ordered on the flight out.

This should be made available to collect upon landing. Why the f#@k are we flying bottles of Johnny Walker round the world so people can take them back to Britain? I mean there really isn’t any need for any spirit manufactured in the UK to travel thousands of miles on an airplane, only to end up in a glass drinks cabinet of a retired couple from Dudley who will just refill it with gear from Aldi when it runs out.

  1. Teas, Coffees, Beers and wines in proportions that would leave The Borrowers thirsty.

I get that people might need a drink or some nibbles, but can’t they just flog it from the gate or have a man with a tray on the sky bridge. I like beer, honestly I do, but I like it enough to not do it the disservice of consuming it in quantities of anything less that 500mm. Don’t forget about the deals! The people in front of me are discussing how four little beers for just £12 is a very good deal indeed. I can only imagine they get all their shopping from the farmers’ market and their holiday books from the Radio Times mail order book club.

  1. Ad hoc duty free that hasn’t been ordered already.

Can you believe that people still buy cigarettes on planes! We just came from a country where they cost £1 a pack. Maybe it’s because they must have their brand that can only be bought in the UK and on planes! I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind where my slow inevitable death comes from cos its coming and where it was made ain’t gonna make a difference.

Imagine if you will, a hypothetical crackpot dictator in some warm dusty land, sometime in the 70s, sitting upon a throne made from water melons at the end of a long walkway with a giant light up piano on the floor ( as seen in the  film Big). Why watermelons? Because I leke them that’s why. Let’s call him Charles or Charlie to his chums at Eton (All good dictators have been educated in Britain).

One of his generals walks casually up the piano whilst trying to maintain an even step and not tread on two keys at once (doing so would be a capital offence).

‘General, where are my bullets’ barks Charles in an impatient tone.

‘We have been shopping around great leader’ says the general confidently. ‘We wanted to get you a good deal and get the most bullets for your money.’

‘I want British bullets, they are the best’ says Charles in a dismissive tone.

‘British bullets are like any other your highness, they have much the same effect as the others we’ve looked at.’

Charles is miffed. ‘Look at the empire they built with those bullets, they must be the best.’

The general is becoming worried about his position and not just his position in the government. His position on the floor has changed and he is in serious danger of drifting off the piano key he stands on.

‘Ok great leader, we will get you British bullets. I’ll put the order in when the HMS something or other next docks for a cocktail party.’

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I may have gently slid off the programme for a moment there, but I’m sure you get the point. People like their brand.

  1. Drinks and snacks again

Same shit same trolley. Now this is the bit where they very proudly announce that there will be a break in the service of around 40 mins… 40 mins out of 5 hours. Less than 20% of the flight will be spent in peace! Thankfully I managed to shoot out and use the toilet before the next gauntlet was set. Then they have the audacity to announce that now everyone has had a nice rest they will be resuming the trolley service. Aghhhhhhhhh I want to scream!

Can’t we just shut our eyes and wait till it’s over, why must I look at all the wonderful deals you have. I don’t even know what’s going on any more I feel like a poor lost animal stuck in the centre of a dual carriage way surrounded by f#&king trolleys whizzing by.

It’s at this point that I feel I must end my observations as my silent rage may boil over into me writing a sternly worded email.

Safe travels and happy holidays.

By   Alastair J Gogerty

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007tlxv

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Borrowers-Puffin-Book-Mary-Norton/dp/0141354860

 

Winter Weekend West – Part One

February may not be thought of as a holiday month in England, except for going abroad for sunshine, but there is plenty to do on a long winter weekend. We headed west through three counties and thick fog to reach Saint Ives on the north coast of Cornwall, nearly at the most westerly tip of England. A three night stay gave us two days of fine weather to enjoy photo opportunities, a blogworthy bed and breakfast establishment and too much inspiration for just one blog.

Cornwall has its own language, flag and nationalist movement. In the past it must have been very remote from the rest of England and in 2014 Cornish people were granted minority status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. But if you are in a holiday town you are more likely to be continually bumping into Londoners and others seeking the good life. Perhaps the locals are busy going out in their fishing boats rather than sampling fish restaurants.

Incomers are not new, Saint Ives famously has attracted artists since the nineteenth century with the quality of light and beautiful blue seas. Now the town is also well known for its Tate Gallery, squashed between housing association flats on the promenade. Inside, the light and airy building comes into its own, with a beautifully framed view of the beach, which my photograph doesn’t do justice to!

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The town has layer upon layer of higgledy piggledy old buildings and narrow lanes clinging to its steep hills; a tourists’ delight. When we see modern tiny houses being built we think them ridiculous, but minute old dwellings most of us find irresistibly cute. Wandering around the maze of lanes we saw  a door only two foot wide at the top of steep steps and one building where a few steps took you below ground to two tiny front doors crammed at right angles; they were holiday lets.

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Out on the moors there is plenty of space; the attractions for visitors include the old mine workings and the rocky coast where unbelievably blue seas with snow white surf pound black rocks. Fans of the Poldark books and television series will be familiar with the Cornish scenery and it is as fantastic as it looks on television. Winston Graham the author was not a local by birth, but did live in Cornwall for thirty five years from the age of seventeen.

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https://www.visitcornwall.com/places/st-ives

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Photography

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A hundred years ago this girl and her cousin managed to cheat at photography, even Sir Arthur Connan Doyle was taken in and was convinced these were real fairies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

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With the advent of digital photography everyone can have a go at cheating, not just the enthusiasts lurking in the dark room.

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The experts and enthusiasts are still around; they like playing with big lenses and buy expensive software to digitally manipulate their images – sometimes beyond all recognition.

http://www.photogog.com/inmymindseye

Visit Cyberspouse’s website to see some creative work.

 

39982808_671374146565963_2316413924456529920_nBut those of us who only point and shoot with compact cameras and smart phones can still produce strange pictures.

I don’t actually phone anybody with my smart phone, I just use it to put pictures on Instagram and send photos to family and friends on messenger. One day I discovered you can write on the pictures. On Instagram you can turn your picture black and white or brighten it up, share on Facebook, then download to your computer and use it for your WordPress blog. On WordPress you can crop pictures, reverse them or turn them upside down.

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We bought an ipad to Facetime two continents, but I discovered you can take photogaphs with different effects.

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A saucer of floating flowers.

 

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The hot summer of 2018.

 

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But you don’t have to rely on magical equipment – this is the Odeon cinema taken through the bus window on a rainy night.

 

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…and this is not my nice tidy garden shed, but a picture of the side of the garden centre’s truck.

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A puddle.

Visit my picture gallery to see more pictures or spot some cheats.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-three-picture-gallery/

 

 

 

 

Into Infinity

Writing about infinity presents endless possibilities. Most of my scientific understanding comes from listening to BBC Radio Four while doing the housework or cooking. The Infinite Monkey Cage is a programme combining comedy and science which I can understand, then there was the serialisation of Professor Stephen Hawking’s last book Brief Answers to Big Questions; if I didn’t take that all in I blame it on domestic interruptions or a noisy washing machine.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w

Here is my handy guide to the universe. I think Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing; one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. I prefer my theory that if the universe is infinite it will go on forever, so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the observable universe is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or work out how much more of it there is. Apparently even clever scientists, who can cope with the thought of billions of light years, still find infinity a bit creepy. They are no different to young children ( or was that just me? ) who ask ‘Who made the universe?’

‘God’ the parent replies and then they ask

‘But who made God’ or ‘What’s outside the universe?’

Another theory is that the universe could curve round on itself, making it both finite and infinite. Could that mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter or a chord we would be in a different time, thus making time travel possible? But is time merely an illusion? If so, time travel is still on the cards…

Talking of space, there is a lot of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, a person would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we removed the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, so perhaps the universe is not so big after all.

Whatever the truth, authors who enjoy writing about time travel are never going to concede that time travel is impossible. Science fiction writers in general vary from those who are scientists to those who make it all up and who can prove them wrong if they set it in the future; unless a book reviewer travels to the future to check…

If you want to stretch your mind and go somewhere different why not dip into Someone Somewhere.