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Wednesday, 29 October 2014


It's a time to celebrate for me. (and perhaps cerebrate?) because I'm having a Summer and Autumn when the writing is flowing. Every time I sit at the keyboard, the fingers start to fly across the keyboard and the stories pour out.

I have recently finished a novel that I have been working on, on and off for several years. Although I keep picking at bits of it, I think it is ready for the professional editors to have a look, now.

And the second novel which was originally planned to have been the first (and was ready) is back under review with eight new chapters written and a good few more planned.  The third is alreday two chapters in and the fourth sketched out in broad terms.  They are all one series about Black Finn.

Yes, I have finally sat down and written the back story (as they say) and added many full-length tales to construct a novel rather than snatches and fireside style shorts.   I also have other books in development that are not about Finn including two straight fiction stories and one space fiction.

I have to give a big thanks to those who have read for me and returned notes or had conversations about the books. Also to the larger number of you who have read and commented on my short pieces over the last twenty odd years.  I hope that you will start seeing my first full novels published sometime soon.

The Debt Owed by a New Generation

I was propping up the bar down at the Surfeit of Lamprey last week with my old friend and fellow Peterville & Gonewylde man, Nigel Snipe-Razzel when we were joined by Henry. I should be more specific. I mean, of course, my long suffering brother-in-law, Henry Treadsoftly who is married to my sister, Hildebrande.
"Given a pass for an hour, old boy?" asked Nigel, with one of those grins.
"Oh, er, yes" Henry nodded "Hildebrande has gone off with the ladies of the Much Vexing Music Society to London. Apparently, they are seeing the premier of a new piece by Godfrey Overblown-Blythe."
"It's atonal" he added in a tone of dry distaste.
I digress, though. The issue I wanted to get onto was student costs. It came up because Henry and Hildebrande had laid on a meal for our nephew, Paul, my youngest brother's boy. He has just finished his last year at Warwick and is expecting a two-one or first in Business Dymanics & Demographic Accountancy. I am told it's going to be the in-demand skill over the next decade. William, being William refused to come to the rest of the family either to get the boy into a decent Cambridge college or for money so the lad is in debt to the tune of 16k before he has even started.
What I don't understand is why sucessive governments of this country thought that everyone needs to go to University in the first place. In my day, the top one to two per cent went, they were supported by grants and they came out and got decent jobs. Now, we are told that over half the pupils in the country are to go on to further education. At that level the country cannot afford grants or other intervention. Instead, we have a scheme that sucks them into a cycle of debt that many of them will not get out of for years after they qualify.
You know what this is about, don't you? It keeps the unemployment figures down while the interest fills the coffers of government. The losers are the students, of course. Set high goals, they go off, believing they have a bright future, come out the other end of this educational sausage machine and find the job pool won't support that many graduates so they end up working as agents in a call centre or in a pizza bar earning under twelve thousand a year.
And do you know how much it costs the parents if they choose to pay the fees and expenses for their progeny? About twenty thousand a year, I'm told, now. That's a fair whack even for us supposedly well-heeled types.
What I don't understand is why there is any problem with leaving school and becoming an electrician or a plumber. Lord knows, they cost me enough to bring in when there is work at the manor. I don't believe I have ever met a poor plumber, electrician or tree surgeon. They all tell me they are in demand and I can now believe it. The chaps who would have joined those ranks have all gone to university to study Applied Psychology or worse, Politics. (Although the latter isn't what it used to be. You can't even get your moat cleaned out on expenses, these days)
I have some sympathy with the young despite their noisy music, taste in clothes and that facebook thing. To be given aspirations and then let down is no way to begin your working life.