Although I have had numerous short stories and articles published, as well as an electronic book (Tenerife Unplugged), I still search for the Holy Grail of full book deals.
I have finished three books to date, one of which received more feedback than the others, although at first being turned down by agents and publishers. Some of the returns sited its highly charged material. PATRIOT ISLAND.
The good news is that PATRIOT ISLAND is now available as a paperback or Kindle on the AMAZON BOOKS web sites
Look inside feature only available on Amazon web site
The other two are more of a light-hearted nature.
I have decided to put a few chapters of each book on these pages, and let you the reader decide if any deserves merit.
This book is the second one to be published.
Back page blog:
Two young people, Barry Lindenbea and Belinda Prenderghast embark on courtship and marriage through the sixties decade. Their story of trials and tribulations is recorded through each other’s diaries. On the surface it would seem that everything is harmonious but it soon becomes evident to the writer that there are extreme differences.
Barry is convinced that he has a family wealth gene in his make-up whereas Belinda thinks otherwise. Eccentric characters such as the vaudeville Aunt Polly, the mysterious Uncle John and Eric the train spotter, plus a multitude of whimsical money making schemes, add to the drama within the walls of Gloucester House.
Enjoy both characters relaying their own perspectives on a story they share together and wallow in the nostalgia of ten bob notes, the local Palais de Dance and even bags of chips in newspaper for sixpence. The innocence and naïvety of the swinging sixties awaits you in the ensuing pages.
Any problems, just go into Amazon.co.uk books site or Amazon .com books, and then insert the title A Tale of Two Stories.
Available in book form or download to your Kindle.
If you enjoyed reading A Tale of Two Stories and found yourself subconsciously humming music from the sixties decade, I can probably tell you why.
It may be because, hidden away in the text of the book, are approximately twenty plus hit songs from that decade and you know what they say about subliminal suggestions.
For example, in one of Barry’s chapters (Chippy part 2), the first paragraph ( six lines down),contains the dialogue:
I’m a believer in getting stuck into things and never being afraid of hard work.
That is one of the easy ones. Of course, the Monkees first release and their only number one, I’m a Believer. It happened in January 1967.
There are a couple of repetitions and you’ll understand why when you find them, one being top of the charts in 1960. No more clues!
Others may be a little more devious and one or two may be for the sixties boffins amongst you. Not all are number one hits.
After a short while of A Tale of Two Stories being in publication I will have a list displayed on this web site www.stories4u.com just to ease the frustration for people who have searched the book.
This one (as yet unpublished) is for 5 to 10 year olds…and possibly the adult reader as well!
First two chapters of a book for the young and young at heart. Set near the end of the Second World War.
THE GIRL WHO TALKED TO CATS
He strutted down the country lane with no care in the world. The midday sun made his fur coat glisten. Every now and then he’d stop and roll over amongst some freshly growing flowers, or even weeds. It didn’t make a lot of difference to this cat. He just loved the smell of the countryside.
A passing butterfly would fly tantalisingly close encouraging the cat to make darting strikes with his paws. If he really tried he may have been able to catch it. But not today. Today was a resting, leisurely day. Another quick roll in some buttercups allowed his white underneath to feel the warmth of the summer sun, a colour much in contrast to his top of dark chocolate. Apart from his neck, that too had a base of white as well as the very tip of his tale.
A flock of sparrows chattered merrily and then went quiet as the cat regained his upright position. He gave them a casual glance as they nervously sat in the hedgerows. Another day, maybe tomorrow, he’d give chase and send them scattering into the sky. Today however was a resting, leisurely, strolling and rolling day.
Crossing the meadow gave him a sort of treat. He would walk in a zigzag fashion, (because cats never ever choose to move in straight lines) allowing the tall grass to swish past his body. He could eat one or two bits or allow clumps of it to caress his fur. The feeling always felt good. Every now and then he’d sit, hidden from view of prying eyes, and scratch away the disturbed pollen seeds that had become attached to his back. Oh, the gentle rub of countryside followed by the satisfying scratch of his own claws against his skin. Today was a resting, leisurely, strolling, rolling and scratching day.
Crossing Farmer Gregg’s meadow, in his own good time of course, would once again take him to the ten or so cottages that he’d wandered across last week.
The tiny village of Calder consisted of a handful of cottages, two small shops, a disused barn and Mrs Herbert’s Tea Emporium. Nobody really knew what an emporium exactly was but it sounded quite elegant. The quaint meandering river at the side of her shop was crossed by a wooden bridge which took you into the next hamlet of Tewksly, maybe a mile or so away, (or four if you walk like a cat.)
This day in the end cottage, found seven years old Bridget in the back garden watering some plastic flowers with her own plastic watering can. Her nine years old brother Jacob mocked her.
“They’ll never grow, you need to have them in proper soil.”
She ignored the intrusion, and stayed squatting on the ground, pulling absent-mindedly on her blond tangled hair. Her dolls house lay to one side; minute tables and chairs perched on the lawn.
“That one needs cleaning,” said Jacob, eyeing the rather dilapidated orange table, the one with the scratched top. Bridget ignored him, thinking only of last week, when a gust of wind had unceremoniously lifted the doll’s table in the air and whisked it over the garden gate into the nearby stream. She remembered running to the fence and watched helplessly as the water threatened to carry her favourite table down stream. Then of course came the Knight in shining armour. Well, cat really. She had watched the big tubby cat bound after the table and jump into the cold waters. He scooped it out with his paws and then swished his body triumphantly side to side tossing a flurry of spray into the air.
Jacob had never believed her story, telling his sister that cats hate water. But she had seen it, seen it with her own eyes. And there was another thing. She’d thanked the cat as he wandered away and he’d said, “your welcome.” As sure as eggs are eggs and Mrs Herbert’s Emporium sells tea, the cat had actually spoken to her. Again, Jacob dismissed this whimsical story. Those extra years of his seemed to bow to superior knowledge.
Bridget continued her chores on the dolls house, preferring to rearrange the tiny furniture than listen to the callings from her brother who was now leaning over the garden fence. His faint shouts brought her out of her daydreams as she turned to see what all the fuss was about.
“Is that him?”
“That cat that you’ve been on about. Come down here.”
Bridget carefully placed the miniature radio in the corner room and strolled to the garden fence.
“Look, over there at the end of the field.”
She couldn’t see anything. Today’s midday sun shone too sharply across her face.
“Looks like the one you described.”
She shielded her eyes with her hand and peered to the wooden poles that stood along the edge of Farmer Gregg’s meadow.
“It might be,” she said, he certainly looks big enough.”
“Hey, Tubby, come over here.”
“That’s not nice Jacob, don’t call him that, he’s probably got a proper name like…well, I don’t know.”
“Hey, Fat cat, Fat cat, come here.”
The cat plodded onwards, not really looking towards the garden.
“Maybe he’s deaf,” said Jacob.
“I don’t think so, he heard me say thanks to him last week when he jumped in the stream.”
Jacob scoffed slightly, then got bored and turned and walked back up the garden to the house.
“Anyway, I’m off to make a diary, do something useful whilst we’re stranded over here at Aunt Jenny’s.”
Bridget positioned herself on the gate; both legs straddled lazily either side. She fondled the small cloth badge that had been hastily sewn onto her cardigan. Her fingers traced over the letters. E.V.A.C.U.E.E. Mother had told her it was necessary for all children to have this kind of identification away from home. This war that the grownups talked about in hushed tones didn’t really mean much to her, only that her father was away fighting the enemy. She couldn’t really imagine him fighting. Not at all. Didn’t father always hug and kiss her and swirl her around in his thickset arms?
Maybe Jacob could explain more. He had told her that he had waved goodbye to father two months ago at the station. He’d told her the moist eyes were from the wind whipping across his face.
The summer breeze gently blew away her thoughts as her eyes focused back on Fat cat. Oh dear, now that name had stuck in her head. Still, he was kind of fat, although tubby sounded a lot better if she ever had to address him. Some white clouds lessened the glare of the sun and she stayed watching as he rested for a while, rolling slowly onto his back on the dusty track that led a few yards from the gate. The dust made him sneeze slightly. He enjoyed the occasional sneeze, the scent spewing across his nostrils. Today was indeed a good day he thought. A resting, leisurely, strolling, rolling, scratching and sneezing day.
Bridget gazed at his antics and then waved slowly towards him. Then to her amazement he sat on his backside in an upright position and waved a paw back at her. She nearly fell off the gate. She jumped off and ran to find Jacob.
“Jacob, Jacob, he’s just waved at me,” she shouted excitedly.
“Fat Cat, Fat Cat,” she squealed with delight, also cursing herself for calling him that. She dragged him down to the bottom of the garden again.
“He’s probably just pawing flies in the air,” said Jacob, not being too happy with his sister pulling at his shirt.
“There he is, look.”
The command lost a little of its authority as they both watched the cat try and catch some flies that were irritating his peaceful day.
“Told you, catching flies. That’s what cats do,” said Jacob, again underlining his extra years.
Bridget watched, and then decided to leave the cat to his own world and catch up with her brother who was duly fed up of everything. Then as she turned to go, Fat Cat looked her way and winked. She could honestly see the wink. Then he waved.
“Jacob,” she shouted. But it was too late; he was back up at the house. She shrugged her shoulders, turned and gave a halfhearted wave to the cat. As she started to walk away she could hear the faint voice of “Bye.” She turned back to look at Farmer Gregg’s meadow. Fat Cat had gone.
Bridget sighed heavily as she watched the faint raindrops start to trickle down the back window. Her dolls house had been left out over night and she knew Aunt Jenny would shout at her. Jacob watched, happy that his red and grey soldiers were safe and sound in the small roofed area at the bottom of the garden. Soldiers need a fort, but they also needed to look after themselves in emergencies. That’s why they were down guarding the gate entrance. Who knows what mischief lies in farmer Gregg’s meadow after sunset?
There was a paved path that wound to the bottom of the garden. It glistened with the quick pitter-patter of rain. Bridget pulled her cardigan across her head and ventured out into the garden, her mission to pull the dolls house from the grass and into the safety of the soldier’s retreat. Jacob watched again, probably thinking that at least he wouldn’t get a telling off from Auntie. Wet cardigans, dolls house in the rain; it all added up to an early bed for Bridget. He’d been down that road himself…or path, he thought, as he saw the rain begin to get heavier.
She slid, as one of her sandals became loose. Jacob smiled to himself at the problems like only an older brother would. He moved from the window and went to find his train set in the upstairs of the house.
Bridget pulled her footwear back on and then tugged at the dolls house, trying quickly to find the dryness of the soldier’s camp. Aunt Jenny must have built the little roof ages ago to try and shield some of the potted plants from the wind and rain of winter. The last few weeks they had made it their den, adding bracken and twigs to the side. It had worked well. So well, in fact, that both Bridget and Jacob used it as a retreat for their pastimes. In here, you could actually snuggle up against the sometimes-harsh wind that blew from Farmer Gregg’s field, or even find shade from the summer sun. Today it would offer protection from the rain.
She puffed and panted, but eventually made it to the dry floor, pushing some of Jacob’s soldiers to one side. The space wasn’t very big, maybe big enough to hold three dolls houses. But right now it was just right. She positioned her house to one side, allowing the soldiers to remain on sentry duty at the far end. The rain got heavier. A trickle of water ran outside, following the path to the gate at the bottom of the garden. She could imagine it flowing down the gentle slope outside the fencing and into the tiny stream below.
She stared as the rain became heavier, turning her mind to other places. That’s what rain does if you look long enough into it; it carries your mind away. This time it took her thoughts back to her house in the middle of London. The place didn’t really have good thoughts. Those awful sirens in the middle of the night; then the terrifying crashing of bombs somewhere in the distance. And after that, the smell of burning and fire engines going at full speed through the streets. Whatever Jacob said, this war was not a good thing. He could march up and down the house, shout orders at invisible people, fire his toy wooden gun at her or even play dead but her real memories made her shudder.
“You’ll both be safer with Aunt Jenny in the country side,” had said mother. Her words echoed inside the tiny shelter as the rain pounded downwards. She remembered the hissing of the steam engine and slamming of carriage doors at the station as mother tearfully said goodbye. An old tablecloth wrapped around her dolls house and Jacobs train set were all the thing that was needed. So said mother.
This didn’t mean that she was totally unhappy with Aunt Jenny’s. Far from it. You couldn’t wish for a nicer house or place to live. In London the air was always thick with smoke from all the chimneys and in winter the fogs filled the air with an awful fowl smell. At Aunt Jenny’s even the rain had a smell of freshness, but it was no compensation for being without mother and father. Why didn’t Jacob feel like this?
She recited her name and address to herself. Information that had been told over and over again by mother. Her date of birth. “Twenty first of July nineteen hundred and thirty seven,” she said out loud proudly. “Twenty first of July nineteen hundred and thirty…”
“Seven” came the lone voice.
Bridget swirled round just in time to see Fat cat pounce swiftly into the refuge of the den. He shook his coat, depositing rainwater here and there. “Oops sorry, manners.”
“Fat cat…” she stopped herself instantly, “I mean…” She made room, pushing her dolls house to the side where the bracken was thickest.
“Where have you been?”
“Certainly not anywhere dry that’s for sure.” He carried on licking his fur and awkwardly placing one of his back legs into a position where he could pull at the wettest of his fur. “Can’t believe I didn’t see this rain storm coming. There I was chasing the odd field mouse about and I completely forgot about those damn clouds.”
Bridget wasn’t sure whether or not the word damn was a swear word or not. She was pretty certain it wouldn’t have been allowed in her London house. Maybe it was a country word that was used out here she thought. She watched intently as he recovered his posture.
“Would you like me to brush you with my dolls hand brush?” she said somewhat hesitantly, not knowing if this was an intrusion on his privacy. Fat cat eyed the ivory handled brush and nodded. Bridget gently pulled the small teeth of the brush backwards and forwards. Fat cat arched his back as the tingling sensation delighted him, reminding him of crawling under Farmer Gregg’s low wire fence. The purring sound grew louder, signifying his obvious satisfaction.
“I think that’s you done Fat cat…” Again she stopped herself.
He nuzzled up to her as an appreciation of thanks.
“Is that what you call me…Fat cat?”
“Er, no, or rather yes. It’s just a name that came up, I’m ever so sorry.”
“Sorry?” He said. “Why ever should you be sorry? I’ve never actually had a name before and I suppose I am on the rather biggish side aren’t I?” Bridget thought it best to say nothing. “Fat cat…Fat cat,” he said to himself, “yes, I think it is quite a grand name, and Fat cat I will be. Thank you. And what can I call you?” He looked at her badge. “Evacueeeee?” That’s rather strange isn’t it?” Bridget laughed, more at the long sounding eeee bit at the end. “No, that just means people will know I’m away from home, you know, because of the war thing.”
“Oh, that load of nonsense.”
“I’m actually Bridget, named after my grandmother.”
“That sounds like a posh name as well. I wish us cats had got the idea of naming ourselves.”
“Didn’t your mum and dad give you a name when you were young?”
“Me?” Fat cat tweaked his whiskers slightly in a kind of smile. “Goodness me no. We just go about our business as cats. No need for names. It’s only the house cats that get anything like that, the ones that actually get food from people on a daily basis.”
“You mean the cats that people have as pets?”
“Pets, pets?!” Fat cat nearly jumped up to the roof of the den. “Pets indeed. It’s us cats that adopt the humans. We’re a very proud race I’ll have you know. Pets indeed. Always independent, that’s us. I think you’ll find it’s only the lazy ones that stay at home and accept the soft life. Not for me.” He caught sight of his wagging tail and tried to stamp on it with his paw.
“I didn’t mean to offend you,” said Bridget feeling a little uncomfortable. The tail wagging stopped. He slowly blinked his eyes, then twitched his nose from side to side and wiped a paw across his face. He moved round in a circle then slowly nestled himself into the lap of his new friend. Being independent is okay some of the time, but every now and then it’s nice to be spoilt, especially when someone tickles you under the chin like Bridget was doing now.
This book contains strong language and politically incorrect passages (viewed from fictional characters).
It is by no means an attempt to condone racism.
The ghosts of the old politician Enoch Powell and the do-gooders champion Mary Whitehouse, shifted uneasily, as once again their names reverberated across the ether of troubled Britain. The older population sat back, viewing the present turmoil that had swept like a plague across the ravaged decorum of their homeland, leaving the shreds of lawlessness and disrespect in its wake.
The odd solitary banging of some Government drum gave rise to a brief flirtation with hope as new Ministers would stir the hearts of their followers, promising a new charge against the marauding enemy of anti socialists. Unfortunately, the well-meant Crusade buckled, as always, against the weight of indecision and the flag of Apathy flew into the faces of the people.
The United Kingdom, England in particular, had chosen a policy (virtuous in its own right) to embrace fellow members of other countries and welcome them to its shores, naively thinking that harmonious relations would follow. In fact, with relaxation of law and order, the under belly of a truly great nation, had allowed its own members to infest the wounds and slowly bleed the country of its proud traditions.
The latest generation blamed the one before (as all generations do) but the difference now was the debate; how far down the line had we gone? The most dangerous animals are those that are cornered with no way to turn. Submission or attack? Those are the only options.
In a pub in England, probably no different than those that you and I might frequent, Raymond Kershaw is about to tread a path that yesterday he wouldn’t have dreamed of and become a Crusader with a different flag.
Late that night, the uprising had begun. The geography of Langworth estate was basically the problem. From its inception the planners had meant well, but as time has proved over and over again in these situations, the needs of the people were low on the list.
The sprawl of Langworth had pushed its outer edge against the once busy railway line to the East. The natural cutting had not stopped the spread of houses as two road bridges were built to extend onto the other side. Then some years later the railway had severed its link, leaving the cutting redundant and subsequently discarded, thus presenting an open invitation for people to dump their rubbish into its abyss. The two bridges were never maintained due to the usual council cuts and the extension across the railway was gradually run down as alternative accommodation was found for the occupants. The once up market houses were left to deteriorate whilst iron fences were placed across the bridges access. In the following years the dwellings had become the playground of inquisitive kids, tramps and drug dealers. Now they had become the new homes of some two hundred illegal Black African immigrants.
The low life of Langworth estate had watched from a distance as the squatters had moved in week by week. To them, this was a breach of their territory. They had already dealt with the gypsy movement, pushing them far enough away from their patch and were even tolerant of the Pakistanis, as long as they kept to the other side of town.
The past months had seen gangs of Africans roaming the town centre. It was debatable whether anyone had noticed the paler threats of Poles, Rumanians or other Eastern block interlopers. Maybe they just blended easier than the black intruders. Tonight as dusk descended, the gangs from Langworth were going to do what none of the police force could do; either physically or politically.
The blockages across the bridges had been removed in one earlier sortie and a parade of stolen vehicles was moved into position ready to cross the concrete structures. The fifty-gang members armed with knives, crude petrol bombs and fortified with a mixture of drugs and alcohol took up their positions. The trademark hoods were brought up about their faces as they advanced in a convoy of up market vehicles. It was part of the plan and something that appealed to their macabre and warped minds that they would only steal “posh” cars for the assault. No clapped out vehicles for this battle, they were going to do it in style; that’s what the ringleaders had stressed to the lemmings that clung onto every word spoken. The younger ones had no alternative. They were not programmed to challenge any ruling from the elders. There was no role model that could show them the evil of their ways. In this life they were brought up on a diet of violence and corruption, a place where the meek shall inherit the earth…when the bad guys have finished with it.
The ten cars revved up as one. The leading Mercedes spun its tyres as it drove towards the bridge. One occupant thrust a tattered flag from the rear window. It symbolised nothing except a mild rebuke at the establishment: this battle was for no one but themselves. In two minutes they were all across the bridge except the last two Jaguars, one of which stopped purposely on the hump in the middle. The other drove two hundred yards to the left and parked itself in the middle of the other bridge. The blockages were in place.
The remaining convoy had now run alongside the sixty derelict houses and started its mayhem. Coming to a halt and taking their signals from the lead vehicle, they produced a volley of cocktail bombs across the front façade of the houses. The bottles crashed heavily against the brickwork of the houses producing searing flames that leaped from the bottom window ledges and then zigzagged to the guttering. Some of the missiles reached the roofs and then poured their lethal potions downwards. There was no escape from the front. In the ensuing brightness they witnessed the disbelieving faces at the broken windows and then the expected result, a mass exodus from the rear by the Africans. There were no children and only a handful of women, but if there had been, it would have made no difference to the rampaging assault of the Neanderthal gang from Langworth. More bombs were thrown, just to ensure that none of the escapees thought of returning, and then there was only the blood curdling hollering of the victorious tribe as one of the leaders shouted.
“Out of the fucking cars, everybody. Quick! Torch the fuckers.”
They all followed his lead running blindly to the rear of the houses, chasing a quarry that ran haphazardly into the open spaces of the night. More bombs were hurled, most landing on rough ground than on the intended victims. The Leader signalled a halt. They obeyed instantly.
“Right, torch the fucking cars, now!”
The cars were set ablaze as were the ones on the two bridges. The distant screaming of the establishment’s sirens would prove to be no challenge to them. They all retreated down the railway embankment and returned to some location where they would get higher on legalised class C drugs, legalised alcohol and laugh into the face of authority. If you wanted it sorted, you sent for the Langworth gangs. That was their belief.
Sadly it was a belief that Douglas Heywood, aged fourteen, would not be bothered with anymore. The back door of the second Jaguar had childproof locks fitted and in the carnage no one had noticed his cries for help as the bottle of blazing petrol rolled under the car and exploded.
For good or bad, fate strokes its presence on us all at some time or other. Its willowy fingers define our destiny, changing fortunes haphazardly amongst the winds of time. Raymond Kershaw entered his local pub at his customary time of nine o’clock. In one hours time his future would change dramatically…as well as the numerous lives of other people. Kismet.
The “Bishops Mitre and Stipend” had seen many alterations over the years, none more disruptive to the locals than a change of name. It was now the rather bland “Miners Arms”. Incoming landlord, Dave Smith, had flexed his authority and rights, and chose to bury historical past connections, preferring to reflect upon his own earlier occupation in the new naming of his hostelry.
The far corner of the pub had luckily seen little disruption and remained the domain of Raymond and his small motley crew of friends. The Snug area they called it. This particular evening it was patronised by just two of the usual Snugites, quite a low turnout than the usual quota.
Raymond Kershaw was no spring chicken, although he still used the facilities of the local sports centre. Badminton had now taken the place of squash. A welcome pint of beer after these workouts had also superseded the beneficial vitamin filling orange juice over the recent years. Forty-eight years of age offered some form of compromise.
His early five-year apprenticeship in the printing trade as a compositor had been classified as wasted energy as had his failed seven-year marriage. Similar followings in the same vein had been tracked through differing flirtations with journalism, car sales and one disastrous flurry with window glazing. Jack-of-All-trades comes to mind. Never one to cry over spilt milk, Raymond would venture onwards with scant regards for past failures, the optimist who forever saw his pint pot as half full as opposed to half empty.
Recent years had seen a turnaround in his fortunes, sadly due to the demise of his parents. Sadness at the loss of his mother and father in close succession had been tinged with the rather beneficial acquisition of a rather large estate of property. This had turned him from being a man forever chasing money to a person who could actually sit back and lead a rather comfortable life. No one knew how much he had inherited, but as time passed by, many of the original guestimates of his friends rose probably higher than the bank interest he was receiving.
The upturn in his life had taken him down a path that he may never have considered some years back. A hobby in computers and a thirst for more knowledge of their workings had pushed him into the league of computer whiz kids. Re-inventing himself in the college night classes, even surrounded by youngsters, had only driven him on to succeed with distinction. What he once thought of as a hobby changed to a passion and one that was now reaping dividends in the financial stakes. Repairing computers as favours for friends had now been surpassed by a business type outlook as he challenged even commercial firms with his growing knowledge. Designing and maintaining web sites had taken him into the super league. All in all, Raymond Kershaw was for the first time in his life a contented man.