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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Pause and another chapter

So a long pause while Summer went by and I was busy running the bowls club events and teams.  Then, suddenly, Autumn is upon us. The trees have put off their dancing greens and soft silks that shift and sway in the evening breeze.  Now, they have donned russets and golds, yellows and oranges, walnut browns and deep crimsons. They wear necklaces and decorations of berrys and other fruits and bow their heads in the wind.

And all that time, I have achieved little in the way of writing.  If I'm to do this professionally, I will not have the leisure to go missing all Summer, that's for certain.  But there it is. I feel I have to soak up every moment and enjoy each bright day.  When your life is threatened with foreshortening, it is suprising how special every day can be.

But I laboured through a replacement chapter even though the mood was not upon me, I did a little editing, a little planning and considered finding a new editor with my choices both finding new contracts and commitments that meant not being available to me.

Ah well, time to get back to it, I guess.  I have a couple of other projects at this moment and there'll be the usual rush to ensure Christmas is ready to be enjoyed.  I look forward to having my family around me. Let's hope it's a warm one and that there is hope, again.

Now, where did I put that ink and quill?

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Closing Down Time

My main blog will become

Hope that you'll come across and follow me there if you aren't already a google+ member

This blog may still see a few entries from the squire's diary from time to time  :)

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Book of Shoals - Excerpts from the Diary of a Seaman.

I hope some of my old friends will remember that I wrote a few pieces for our sharing sessions some years back under the collective title "The Book of Shoals...etc" (as above). I entered Amy Knepper's story competition again, this week and decided to dust the idea off and write a postscript to the original tales.

At the same time, it struck me it might be fun to re-visit the originals so, without apology, here is the first entry from the diary for old times sake.  By the way, guys, don't forget to go to google+ and vote for my piece (please).  I could do with the exposure with Finn's tales in final editing with an aim to have a proper publishing house take them up.

The Book of Shoals - Excerpts from the Diary of a Seaman  - One.

They say the sea is cruel.

I should know. Fifteen years I have lain with her as an uneasy bedfellow and I would say this;
She is not cruel, just dispassionate about our fates.

When I wake for my watch she is always there although she speaks to me with many different voices.  Today it is a song about freedom she is singing as I watch the Shearwaters fly past, trimming the wave tops, dipping sails to steer after the seemingly endless stream of mackerel who flow against the current.  She is weaving with her mind on other things and I hear her song clearly.
I have heard this one before and it always awakes disquiet in my soul.

I turn to my duties;

"Looks like a storm coming"
Old Jack flaps his arms to keep warm. He’s always the pessimist. He was probably born that way in the Glaswegian slum that was his home, what, seventy odd years ago now? 
Born, more like forced screaming into a world he saw only the worst in. Jack’s mother was an alcoholic so he says, father when he was there, a bitter, repressed, angry man, well, he had his reasons I suppose. To find yourself skilled in shipbuilding, and only that, and then be tossed aside when the warships were no longer needed to protect these shores, it breaks even a tough man's spirit.   Some days, though, I think Jack only keeps up this act because he knows the rest of us will make light and chide him humorously. It's the closest he can get to feeling loved, I think.

Pete "The Wreck" stumbles out of the cabin, coughing, retching. Spits something, probably tobacco. His pale and haggard features give him the look of a first timer, seasick and lacking sleep. But, he’s in his eighteenth year of this. He always looks that way, dry land or sea, rain or sunshine. His wan grin as he smoothes out unkempt hair says he is in as good a humour as he gets. He whistles out of tune. 

I wince and wonder what is it with some folks. How can you be so tone deaf that you can't tell when you entirely miss a note? I shake my head.

Grey horizon, brooding. Perhaps Jack’s right, maybe there is a storm out there, grinding its teeth and waiting with hungry eyes and greedy hands to feed on our fear and exertion.

It is true. Any seaman will tell you, in that moment of quiet reflection, that however long you ship, the bad storms never lose their terror. You just expect the struggle and look forward to getting your hands around a hot mug of tea or coffee when its done.

The waves are darker now and the Shearwaters long gone. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Writing and the cry of "If only I had more time"

I like to think of myself as a writer.

Even during the thirty plus years I spent as a senior manager-exec-consultant-contractor, I still liked to think that way.

I imagine that just about all of us who love to write would like more time.  The problem is that when you get to work on something serious, there is a lot of real work around bringing it to fruition. Writing a book is just the start.  From first to second draft, editing and probably third draft, getting it reviewed, rewriting it, passing it to the pro-editor, re-writing parts of it, having that re-edited....

And meanwhile, you are trying to build up a head of steam behind it amongst potential supporters and those who might influence the final outcome.

Then it probably comes back from the publisher wanting some more work on it and you are into another round.

While all this is going on, you need to be focused on the work you are intending to publish.

But, we are writers and writers are always having new ideas and inspirations. So what do you do with all those other stories and poems that are clamouring to get written?

I don't know about the rest of you but I tend to write any good lines and thoughts down, sometimes a whole chapter or two and file it. Some I turn, temporarily into short stories to see how they look and whether they might have legs.  Others, I just lay the plan out briefly and boot into the same area for a review sometime.

How many of you have more writing sitting in various states than have ever shared beyond maybe one or two friends or your partner?

And now it's Summer, here and there are even more distractions.  We went for a long walk around a local village, this morning with in-laws and puppy. Ah, the English countryside is so full of wonderful sounds, smells and ideas.  When you have as much time as you want to do such things, there is never enough time. 

Come on now, tell me you ever feel like there is time enough.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

That damn election (again)

They have put a large television on the wall in The Surfeit of Lamprey. Now, I am not a man to stand in the way of progress. I have enjoyed the advent of the internet, mobile phones with cameras and the blue-ray DVD recorder/player as much as the next man. The problem is not the presence of the thing but that it is on every time I go in, blasting out the election programme at full whack.

The reason, of course, is that Ronald Mildpint is backing Robert's campaign and his wife, Jane, even more enthusiastically with her glittering purple rosette with "You have to luv Bobby" emblazoned on it above "VOTE UKVIP",  and yes, in capital letters.  I'm not surprised that Jane is bubbling over with Robert for MP. After all, rumour places her pretty firmly under him on a number of occasions in the distant past.

And there's nothing wrong with good old Auntie's presentation but I like to get out of the house for a quiet pint and chat. Poor old Ted Gracecrease has been crammed into the corner on the other side of the bar and still can't hear word spoken to him.

In protest, on Wednesday, when Maddy let me know she would be late in for lunch as she was at a meeting of the Allbright & Beautiful Singers, I walked down the hill to the Waggon and Tax Break.  Pushing open the door, I stopped and listened. Such bliss. A few murmuring voices around the bar and the sound of jugs and bottles.  I came around the corner and what do you think? Leaning against the bar, talking politics were Robert Awfullybuff-Headstrong with the Colonel, who is local Conserve-It chairman, of course, Maurice Dufferly and Jeremy Enjoyse-Silk. Robert was still sporting his stupid gold and purple monstrosity, beside which, Maurice Dufferly's restrained orange job looked like a quail set against a Norfolk Turkey.

'Townshend!' boomed Robert, waving me over, 'you just missed Merton and The Charlatan.'

'Who no doubt will be pillorying you along with that supercilious Nigel Barrage on this week's "Have I Got Some Views From You"'. I replied.

'Well, yes, there is a chance I might feature but they were jolly interested in my campaign. Merton even made a contribution. That is to say he bet me a fiver that I couldn't pull Viola Jane Singleton, my campaign manager and the ex-Olympic horse rider who just moved into the area.'

'You mean the one with the laugh like a drain and the sort of smile that sent Lord Nelson to sea?'

'That would be her.' he laughed, 'she is a bit of a drip isn't she? Thing is, I'd already had her twice after we went to the Borderfolk & Sheepshire Constabulary Dinner Dance the other night. Easiest fiver I ever won.'

'And you told Merton that?'

'Well how else was I to win my fiver?'

(I should explain at greater length, I see.  Merton Herflop and Charlie Brownsoup were always the jokers. At Warboys, they put on the end of term rag and review.  At Peterville & Gonwylde, they wrote that University magazine "Open Eyes" that went on to become a national publication. Now, Merton is editor but spends more time writing for and appearing on TV in a hugely popular Saturday night show that pokes fun at politics.)

'I suspect,' I said with a mock folorrn air, 'that they will put paid to any chance of you winning the election, here. Or anywhere else.'

Jeremy Began to laugh his snorting laugh, 'oh dear, Robert, looks like they saw you coming.'

'I can't see what the problem is.' Robert shrugged, 'Everyone knows what I'm like. Jenny's past caring, long ago.'

'Ex England Rugby Hero caught with his shorts down again'  I spread an arm wide, "UKVIP candidate lets down wife and electorate with local campaign manager."  Or maybe something less subtle from The Globe like; "Bonking Bobby gets Viola's vote." The accompanying speculation should nail it.'

'I might even come second this year' Maurice Dufferly's said from somewhere behind us.

Everyone hates Chapter 2

Sometimes, you write a chapter or part of one that is a scene setter or a "plot hook".  Sometimes, however many times you write it, it just doesn't seem to work.

I accept, with as much grace as you're going to get from me, reading group, that you were right and chapter two needs a radical re-write. There are other places to slip the plot item into the tale so all will be fine.

I hope you all like the new chapter two which is two thirds written and one third re-read (and no, it will go to an editor only when you have had a chance to like or maul it, first.) 

It did set me thinking about something two of you have said about the first Finn book. You both said it set an almost frantic pace that rarely let up and left the reader panting with exhaustion and drained by the time it exited, setting up the next.

I think it might want a couple of extra chapters carrying a little more background and slowing the timeline as well.  Maybe we could have an early first term one in Car Duris.  Then there is the opportunity to add cameo chapters which, those who have read the original "skeletal" work (that set this whole thing on the road) know are key to the remaining books.

I also have to make a final choice on the editor.  The two candidates that I like will need to look at the re-written two and comment on the two choices - with or without cameos along with the reading groups.  So, two sets of five chapters are about to be dumped unceremoniously on your virtual doorsteps.  Didn't anyone ever say that reading for someone isn't just all fun and frolics?

That'll teach you all for trashing my chapter. *snigger*

Thursday, 7 May 2015

(Spoiler: Game of Thrones Included) Divergence - The Books vs Series Arguement

So, like all lovers of Game of Thrones and the characters that stride through the many pages that GRRM has written to date, I was upset when the TV production team decided to call time on Sir Barristan Selmy, so excellently played by Ian McElhinney. I had hopes that we would see his sharp dismissal of the knights of the kingsguard come home to roost. I wanted a moment much later in the series when we would see him prove to Meryn Trant and Boros Blount that even an old man like him could beat them all.

Not to be. Instead a courageous death at the hands of terrorists   Clearly, designed to give us an emotional reaction and set us against the Sons of the Harpy and all who support them, I guess they had to make it someone we cared about. Purist arguements about their lack of technique being inadequate to face a knight or unsullied are irrelevant. It wasn't well done but the point was supposed to be an overwhelming number overcoming an elite few.

Does divergence ruin a series?  I have seen a great deal of debate on line over this latest change and I have an opinion, of course.

I read and re-read the books long before the TV series was announced. When it started, it stuck pretty much to the books and I loved it but did think we were not going to be surprised. If a series is going to have it's own place, it has to be able to consider changes to such a long set of books. For one thing, a vast amount has to be cut out to allow for the series to keep to a manageable budget and number of episodes. That means some characters may be left out altogether. It usually means that some absent characters' key moments are then handed to those retained in the series. That is tv economy and is necessary. Then, there is the need to keep the series lovers with you not just the book lovers. One could argue that the book lovers will go buy the books but the series followers could drop off if you bore them. 

Given the awful quality of the last three books which probably could have been produced as one book and the rest left on the cutting room floor of "rejected and original chapters" on a pc somewhere, the TV production team were going to have to do something. Even the most avid readers that I know thought the last three books went nowhere and were overlong as well as often irrelevant.

So yes, I was disappointed that Barristan has been dropped early on.  Not as disappointed as I was at GRRM for killing off Rob Stark.  I liked the TV series giving Brienne a less boring wander about the world and maybe killing off Rob Stark's wife and child to reduce the complexity and possible split loyalty later on when I have little doubt that a Targaryen restoration will result.  Danaerys will (my view) meet the other two heads of the dragon, one of whom I believe will be Jon Snow, revealed as the Targaryen heir saved by Ned Stark and raised as his own.  With dragons, they can drive back the white walkers and save Westeros. All hail the Targaryens.   (And yes, I know what happens in the books but I have thought how that will work through given what will happen when fire is introduced).

There is a lot more in the books that could be played about with to make some interesting episodes.  I wish, now, they had the Mountain wound Oberon badly but as he rose to kill him, he had been called off by Tywin to avoid a more serious diplomatic incident. I liked Oberon (Pedro Pascal was excellent) and he would have been good to use in the series to play out some of Dorne's moves.  But there we are. That was a rather important book moment and has repercussions which I think we will see on a larger scale in the series.   BTW, TV guys, give Darkstar( aka Geroald Dayne) a big part. You've got to imagine what Arthur Dayne's brother can do in a fight!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The editing challenge

I have been making a list, this week.  Now that I am about to make a choice on a professional editor, I also have some other tasks to undertake.

Top of my list is to get my reading group to re-read chapters 1-4 old and new styles, once both have been edited, and to tell me which they prefer - with or without cameos and with or without additional description.

Secondly, I need to go to one of the broader criticism groups and post a new extract with the additional paragraphs and again, perhaps a cameo included to get a more general reaction.

I have to go over chapters 3-5 and 3b, 5b so they can be edited once I have decided which route we are taking.

I need to go through the rest of the chapters one more time to be sure they are ready to edit. That means continuity and date checks, a run through the event order, again and a final review of the overall story.

I've probably missed something. It would be nice to get back to writing Book 3 and moving onwards while the ideas are still flowing but the first book needs resolving, now.

It feels like we are on the way, me, my book and the people who have gathered about me to help push this enterprise onwards.  I still think there is a substantial road ahead.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Editing time and a new excerpt

Hi All
Moving forward, Book One is about to go to a pro-editor so we can work through it and produce a polished enough manuscript to submit to the publishing house I have already contacted. It will probably be the right time to knock on another couple of doors, as well.

 I have held back from trying any of my most preferred companies/agents yet as I wanted some opinion and feedback from houses that I would work with but equally, wasn't bothered about if they flung it back. So far, still just the one response and that was a good one. I hope they will be first in line to put Finn out there.  I notice the other two are both saying they have a huge backlog and one has stopped taking submissions for now.  I suspect I will not hear anything from either.

Meanwhile, I am looking at whether the first novel ought to contain some of the cameo style chapters that feature a particular character in the way of the other books.  It was, after all, the characteristic that belonged to the Finn novels and made them different. It seemed odd to then remove that one feature and revert to a more standardised format.

Anyway, here's the opening of a test chapter about Finnmeyer, mentor to Black Finn who at this point is Edmund, half brother to the duke's legitimate children and treated as one of them. Those of you who played the Sigil RPG will not recognise him as he never featured but the novel test readers will now be familiar.

The Shield

Not that long ago, someone asked me to tell a story about Finnmeyer. I recalled, then, a night of fear for us, the duke’s children. It was an attempt at a simultaneous strike during the Dreswig Dispute. . Assassins were despatched to Falkenberg and to intercept the ducal party which was visiting Riassa. At the time, I was about fifteen, Frederick was a year older than that and the youngest of us, Viktor would have been nine.

It was late in the month of the Old Ones and the first snow lay upon the ground in places where it had maintained a grip. A persistent wind nagged at the towers and walls of the Lord’s Keep and The Eisentor. The great black bastion and gatehouse that was the only substantial entry point into the city squatted over the road defying any to attempt to force a passage. No invading army had ever succeeded in breaking through those gates.  But there are many other ways into a city and the larger it is, the more numerous and easier to find those entry points are.

The Grand Duke, my father, his official wife, Lady Francesca, my mother, Lady Estelle and Lancingor along with a substantial portion of the ducal guard were away in the imperial capital. They were using imperial mediators to discuss a long running feud and trade dispute with Nordia. Meanwhile, we, my brothers, sister and the family servants slept in peaceful confidence. Around us, the many guardsmen, the walls of the keep and beyond that the city walls with their patrols and watchtowers wrapped us in their embrace. Consequently, ours was an untroubled sleep. 

Outside, however, our enemies had found one of the many weaknesses. Sometime after darkness fell, they came. Swiftly, silently, the men and women sent to strike against our dynasty slipped through side streets and across the empty squares. Here and there, they killed a soldier, a watchman, a passer-by who saw too much. The bodies were stashed out of sight. By the time they were found in the light of day, it would all be over.

Whether it was a sixth sense in Finnmeyer or just his eye for detail, something alerted him to missing guards on the watch. In a moment, he had confirmed two bodies down where the gate guards to the keep ought to be and he was on his way.  We were sleeping when he entered, shaking us awake, urgently. Behind him, our sister Diana pressed against him. He had obviously got her out, first.

Our room was really one but divided by partitions so each of us had our own area. The partitions stood only about six feet and were fronted with soft wood boards so we could put up our own decorations. Mine and Frederick’s both had maps of the famous Joldisian Campaign fought by Darius II, The Desert Wind. We were working through it, fighting the battles on the war games table. We’d just reached the moment where he was about to lay siege to Makanos but decided to ignore it and march west to the crossing point of Bar-Del-Sagdor where his forces met Alexander of Joldis and won a great victory.  We had pins with pennants to show where all the forces were, according to the historian, Vordilus of Harn.

‘Boys, put on whatever you have at hand and some footwear as fast as you can and follow me.’
 ‘But why?’ Leopold began to whine with a tired yawn.
 ‘Because Finnmeyer says so, Leopold. Just do what you’re told and shut up.’ Frederick hissed, crossly. His bed was just across from Leopold. 
Viktor stumbled out from his corner, clutching a blanket which he was trying to turn into a cloak. I slipped out of my bed and helped him on with it, pulling it up and tight enough that he wouldn’t trip. Viktor flashed a smile over his shoulder, ‘thanks Ed.’
‘Stay close and do whatever I tell you. There are assassins in the house, sent to kill us all. Come on.’  Finnmeyer pushed the door open and looked out.
‘Too late. All of you, back under one of the beds. Quickly.’

We all rushed to Frederick’s bed which was the big double. Viktor’s might have been best as it had a hidden door adjacent that led down to the servants quarters and the ante-room to the kitchens. Our meals were often brought up this way when there were functions on that were only for the adult visitors. 

We all lay looking towards the door, seeing the feet and ankles of the intruders as they burst in. There were four of them; ‘They’re not here, either. This is definitely the right room. Look at the toys and the beds. They have been moved, already.’  The first voice was harsh and sharp like a whip crack or a tun being forced open.
‘So they knew we were coming?’ said a softer voice, also male but quieter, calmer.
‘Of course not, Olicander, they had no idea. But the duke’s huntsman is missing. Find him and you find the children.’  Responded the first, cuttingly.
‘Hey!’ The shout was from the other end of the room. Evidently, they had found the servants’ stairway.
‘You three go down there. That’s obviously how they escaped from here. Work around and keep in touch with other patrols. Someone must have seen them or got a hint on where they have been. I’ll wait here by the door. The boys are tacticians. They may think heading back to this room would throw us and that we wouldn’t think to look in the same place again.’

We waited as the three sets of footsteps became quieter and the last man closed the door to the stairwell. He strode across the room and opened the door just enough to look out. Softly, he closed it again. There was a hiss of steel as he drew two blades and stood, easily and relaxed, arms hanging by his sides, points of the swords resting on the ground.

We waited, trying to hold our breaths and be as silent as possible. Finnmeyer gestured that he was going to slip out behind the bed and get up to have a go at the assassin. As he began to slide out, Frederick and I, having using gestures to agree, shot out from under the bed and each grabbed one of the man’s ankles, pulling hard, we slid back towards the cover of the bed, yanking him off balance as Finnmeyer rose from behind it. His bolt struck the man’s head and he went down. We dragged him back from the door while Finnmeyer vaulted the bed and made sure he was dead with a well-placed blade. 

‘That was helpful but stupid.’ Finnmeyer hissed at us, ‘you could have been killed or at least disfigured by a blow from one of those blades.’
‘You’re welcome,’ I said, archly and helped myself to the shorter blade. Frederick took the longer one and the buckler off the man’s back. That left nothing for the other three. Leopold, searching for a knife stood up with a sulky expression. He hadn’t seen me take that, as well and tuck it in my breeches at the small of my back; ‘You should have come for us, first, not Diana.’ He addressed Finnmeyer with a critical air.
‘And you’ll be the first tonight to get a punch in the nose if you speak to Finnmeyer like that.’ Frederick turned on Leopold, angrily, ‘he’s in charge at the moment so you treat him as your commander.’
‘Then there’ll be a queue,’ I added, ‘because I’ll be coming at him as well.’ I gave Leopold a nasty look which made him swallow, hard. He looked from me to Frederick and back again.
‘I was close to Miss Diana’s room when I realised we had been invaded but you are correct, my lord, Leopold I ought to have come for the male heirs, first.’ Finnmeyer gave a short bow to my half-brother.
‘Yes, well, we’ll forget it, this time. You did the right thing, of course.’ Leopold said, hastily.
‘What do we do next?’ Frederick asked Finnmeyer, ‘We can’t stay here. The others will be back, soon.’
‘We follow them down the servants’ stair. The three who went down will come around in a circle, I expect, and so enter from the balcony again.’

Friday, 27 March 2015

Another appraisal goes for the "stand alone chapter"

For those who were in at the start of my project to get Black Finn and his friends published, you will remember that the original format was a series of Finn's tales, in no particular order, with no particular continuity and looking back into the past (thus giving away who was probably still around and who died or otherwise exited stage left.)

Another one of the newer members of the reading group came back yesterday, preferring that approach.  Sylvander still thinks it is what makes the books stand out.

I am split between the two.  I lean, mostly, to the viewpoint that without the story being told in a rough time order, loss of tension is a serious threat.  If the reader knows that certain characters were about later than the story which places them in peril,  it's too obvious they will make it out, safely.

I also think linear time works better for most readers as it is how we live life. I know a few people who never could get their heads around how Pulp Fiction was presented. (btw, it's one of my favourites, if you ever read me, Quentin ;) ) (That'll be the day, eh?) 

I do wonder if the mix of singular tales about one or other character will mix well being interspersed between other tales which span multiple chapters.

I can see some sort of revision in the final order that I deliver, certainly after The Shadow is Cast, assuming Finn's beginnings does go in as book #1.

Still hoping to hear from a few old stalwarts. Someone give Dun'one and Dimitri a poke with a stick.

More sample stuff soon....

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

LHC Treasure Hunt Set to Continue

Great news within the scientific community and those who follow such things, that the LHC has been fixed, and those causes of anomalies in its performance have been found and overcome.

For those who are unclear about what goes on in the miles of tunnels beneath the alps at Cern, here is a quick guide.

You will probably all be aware that many pirates, particularly such famed individuals as Captain Flint, buried their treasures at points marked x on, at that time, uninhabited islands which went on to become such places as Florida Keys, Majorca and The Canaries. You may begin to see the issue.

The majority of these pirates never actually recovered any of this treasure which, therefore, continued to lie at the points marked x

According to pirate legend (from post binge tittle tattle, arcane notes on map edges and lists of those passed the black spot), there was one boatswain who worked for Captain Flint and, after a spat with the aforesaid buccaneer, transferred his loyalties to one Captain Higgs. His name being obscured by time (and struck from all good pirate lists for this infamous act of treachery), he is remembered only as Higg's Bosun (Boatswain - Ed). Since he was on every pirates' most wanted list and had been slipped a world record 67 black spots, he only survived a few weeks after taking up his new role.

In addition to this, there are some facts to back up the existence of this man who had made a study of all Flint's spots marked x and other pirates through that connection.

- Captain Flint's famous parrot was actually recorded, upon any query about gold to say 'Eight million pieces of Nano'  (Obviously a reference to the nanometers). His favorite unbidden phrase was 'twenty six pieces of string' (Ed - look it up yourself).

- The famous pirate captain Theodore Kaluza set off seeking a site on one island which was called "Scalar Field" on his re-named ship, The Graviphoton. Sadly, we do not know the outcome because all that was found after his disappearance was a piece of whalebone on which was written
 \widetilde{G}_{ab} \equiv \widetilde{R}_{ab} - {1\over 2}\widetilde{g}_{ab}\widetilde{R}
This note has puzzled those who have studied pirate notation ever since. What we do know is that he believed he had proved a theory on locating the point x by sailing outside our normal dimensional field.

- While tachyons were no big deal to the piratical community, one Captain Brute wrote extensively in his ships log about the possibility of reverse tachyon particles or anti-tachyons which would enable a message from the past to be sent. He postulated that Higg's Bosun would certainly have attempted this in some form and so, with the right laboratory conditions one might be able to pick up this echo from the past.

-  The works of the famous pirate Captain Plank also give us some clues.  (He was originator of making captives walk the same into the jaws of waiting sharks or worse, momentary black holes created by his fiendish device "The Collider Under The Lapland Eastern Snowbound Straits" (C.U.T.L.A.S.S.).

Plank postulated that Higgs may have removed some of the treasure from what he learned off his bosun and re-buried it at a new point x in a place which Plank called "Higgs Field".  This being so, the right development from his own early device might recreate a theoretical Higgs Field allowing future pirates to discover the point x.  All that would then remain is to relate that to a point in the real world.   Sadly, that seemed to be where the whole theory fell apart in all subsuquent efforts by such lesser pirates as Firmi, Einstein and Hawking.

Now our story moves on. Sometime in the late 20th century, a clever dick who was intrigued by pirates and particle physics postulated that with the right interaction of electrons, neutrinos and of course tachyons, one could identify and even recreate, if only for an instant, Higgs' Bosun himself and, if one was spectacularly successful, within Higgs Field.

This being the case, there would be potential to uncover the spot marked x and thus open the way to a treasure hunt with far reaching implications (such as some particle physicists becoming very rich).

There was a rush to put together a new generation of colliders and so, now the LHC is fully on line, there is much hope that this whole matter of x and what is at it can finally be solved.


Thanks to a number of scientific journals for source material including;
- Huffington Post
- Old Scientist
- Willie Deacon's (Aged 7) School Project
- Clickhole
- The Pirate Times
- Ladybird Book of Particle Physicists (and Pirates)
- How the point x proves there is no God (Dawkins)
- Brian Cox's 10 things you should know about the Higgs Field

Friday, 20 March 2015

The upcoming election - From the Squire's Perspective ;)

There has been an awful lot of activity in the local villages by the new UKVIP (UK Very Independent Party) activists. Mostly, the action has been led by their local chairperson, one Ms Viola Jane Middlething whose pink bmw sports car has become a common sight on the roads around here.

What set me back was walking into the Surfeit of Lamprey for a pint and maybe a sneaky pie (seeing as dinner wasn't going to be until 8 as Maddy was busy organising the Beavers and Brownies Village Boot Sale) and there was Robert Awfullybuff-Headstrong sporting an enormous purple and gold rosette with a pint in his hand, having his picture taken alongside a slight blonde woman with a rather fatuous smile.

It might have well as been Nigel Barrage, the over-photographed leader of the newest nobs on the old soapbox.

"Robert old man," I finally managed, "what the devil are you doing?"

"Ah, Townshend, my old mucker. (he looked slightly uncomfortable at being spotted) At last, I am taking responsibility. No more forty-two pint binges, no more policemen's helmets removed and hung from Old Father Time's scythe. No, I am a reformed man, ready to do his bit for his country."

"But you've gone and joined UKVIP, that's worse than any of those minor misdemenaours, "I replied, "you know who this Barrage is and what he's capable of?"

"Who?" He asked with a puzzled expression

"The blasted leader of your party."  I retorted, getting a little hot under the collar. I don't know why I should be surprised. That's about the standard I have come to expect from some of their candidates.

"Don't you think Bobby will make a really good candidate?" Viola Jane draped an arm about him and oozed admiration. "He's a real Englishman through and through, an icon, the sort of man that the younger voter looks up to and the older voter can trust not to drop the ball."

"I don't see why," I came back, unable to resist it, "he did in the world cup semi against The All Blacks and they picked it up and scored the winning try."  I ignored her calling Rob "Bobby" although I was thinking "oh dear".

She laughed. It sounded a little like glass breaking in an adjacent room, "You are funny, Mr?"

"De Grincheaux." I replied, "And I can tell you that however good he may look in a blazer, "Bobby" won't win this seat."

Her smile kind of curdled the way cream does when you add pineapple juice to it, "oh and who will?"

"Farmer George Stanville, of course. The Conserve-Its always win Borderfolk & Sheepshire Central. Frankly, they'd beat Robert if they put up a jackass penguin up against him."

At that, Viola Jane grew quite waspish and said we'd see, "come on Bobby" she dragged Robert by the arm and huffed out with him complaining he hadn't finished his pint.  I hoped I was proved right. If anyone could challenge the Conserve-it safe seat, it was UKVIP and after all, Robert was ex Peterville & Gonwylde, Warboys and a sound member of The Shenanigans Club as well.

A two horse race, for sure.  Oh, Maurice Dufferly (Liberal) is a very nice chap and he's run for the Libs for the last fifteen years. He is never going to change opinion unless there is some kind of revolt led by people demanding boredom.

As for this time's  Laborious candidate, they chose a strident woman who wears trousers, swears like a bloke and has no sense of humour.  I rather liked the old candidate who had been an mp previously for Woolcote and Leftfield, Donald Cooper. He'd been shifted when his party decided it didn't want mavericks who had their own views and put over here against a huge Conserve-it majority. He subsequently used his influence with the left to get a better seat this time and we got Tabatha Lee-Jones,

That only leaves the latest party to pitch its views here and that's the Green Tea Party. I happen to know my oft browbeaten brother-in-law, Henry Treadsoftly has joined. I bet Hildebrande doesn't know about that or you'd have heard her yells all the way from Much Vexing. I quite like Sarah Shortcrust, their candidate, although her chances are not helped by being a St Brunhildas Cambridge gal and rather outspoken. She's married to Wilbur Dovecott, the ex England opener but then he's an ex Bignose man and went to Owngall.

Had my first leaflet through the door today, don't you know. It was from the Vacuum Cleaner Action Party against the regulation of Domestic Motors.  Get what they're about but that's a party heading for a loss of deposit for sure.

Anyway, I'll keep you up to date with the runners and riders. They're going 8/11 on Farmer George just now. You can get fours on "Bobby" (more like Booby) Awfullybuff-Headstrong. But there's still some way to go, I'm sure.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Casting a vote rather than a shadow

I have always enjoyed general elections.

I try to ensure I have watched a good selection of party political broadcasts as well as the debates on Newsnight and so on.

Just try breathing easily. Sit down if you must. It's all going to be fine.

I admit, politics in this country could be a lot more interesting than it is. That's why I urge you all to consider carefully before you cast your vote for one of the main two parties, especially if you vote that way because you always have, your dad or mum (or both) did or because the paper you read have pointed out all the reasons you should.

There has been a lot of nonsense written (and said) about why coalition politics don't work. The people who have said this most loudly have always been from those two main parties.

So consider this. If someone asked you which government(s) in Europe would you consider to (probably) be more advanced than ours how would you answer?  Which society in Europe you would consider (probably) looks after its people better than we do?  If you weren't British, which country would you prefer to have been born in?

Did you answer with any Scandinavian states?  Perhaps to more than one of those questions?

Many of our European neighbours and particularly the Scandinavians know a great deal about coalition politics because it is rare for one party to have a workable majority.

So, as  certain elements of our two main parties would have you believe, do they spend their time in unproductive deadlock, unable to function or be progressive?
Well, oddly, not. In fact, we probably regard some of the Scandinavians as the most progressive societies in Europe. They also have very strong economies. Go and see how much it costs you to buy a beer in Denmark and Sweden if you don't believe me. Their average workers have a higher expectation than ours.

The truth about coalition is that it involves compromise and compromise involves sensible negotiations.  In the end, the parties find enough common ground to do what is best for their country and people.  The result is that the politics are a lot more grown up.

I find the level of arguement that we see trotted out, here, to be largely disappointing. To watch Ed Milliband in particular, waving his finger and filling the air with insubstantial rhetoric reminds me of David Cameron at the last election. They behave like schoolboys and when you see some of the behaviour in Parliament, our Parliament, held up by so many to be an example to the world, don't you cringe? Howling each other down, shouting and booing. It only needs the hurling of bread rolls and we are back at high tea in Cambs or Oxon, Eton or Harrow, ragging some of the other fellows.

So, if you want adult politics, if you want to hear thoughtful propositions that differ on key points and if you would like a government where we get compromise on bills to replace the dogma, perhaps you will think longer before you put your cross in the box.

Read the flyers, at least. Decide which party actually sounds like it best matches your current thoughts on what should be done and vote for them. Or vote for a local MP because you actually like what he/she does for the local community.

I have alway loved watching the returns coming in from our elections. The only thing that has saddened me over the years has been people's cowardice in voting to retain the two party system when they could have brought a third and a fourth into a stronger position with others returning a handful not just one mp.  The swing is artificial. The reality is at each election, there is a blank slate. If the majority came out and voted for whoever they wanted, how different might it look?  

So don't afraid to show your True Colours.   (They might be beautiful like a rainbow)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Saturday, 14 March 2015

And especially for Del... the Unedited 4th Chapter (Book 1)

Or how Finn got his name - Chapter 4 - Stones 1

Leaving Rosgovia, I had travelled south-westwards, stopping at the oldest walled city of Acondium and then by the Imperial Northern Canal to Jordis.   While we were in the country, off the main trail, we ran into some trouble but Finnmeyer showed why he was my father’s most trusted man and I was able to see some of his other skills, first hand. That was an interesting journey but not relevant to this tale.  Suffice to say that Acondium greatly impressed me. It has a slumbering magnificence, reflecting its past history as the original imperial capital. The city is still the seat of one of the ecclesiastical electors with buildings that date back to the time of the Fondlanians and the ancient races. Capital of the buffer state of Convar there is a wonderful atmosphere around the great water market and the regal buildings that became the university.

 Jordis was also impressive by comparison to the much more functional towns of my own country.  A sprawling port on the south-western coast of Valcoria, it is smelly, bustling and cosmopolitan. I had never seen so many different races mingling in one street as on the Street of Bazaars. That thoroughfare leads to the great square which was almost as impressive as Acondium with its soaring buildings of white and black marble. 

It was in Jordis that I said farewell to Finnmeyer and the honour guard that had seen me this far. Finnmeyer was wearing a hardened black scale gilet over softer leather, his favourite bow on his back and a short sword on his belt. He stroked his black beard, momentarily and then straightened to his full six and something feet, the light catching his slightly craggy features so that his blue eyes seemed like two gems in a rough wedge of stone. 
“Remember lad. It’s how a man lives and dies that matters. Your actions remain as the evidence of your life, their consequences sometimes forgotten but at other times echoing long after you have departed this world. You may never be a lord or lead an army but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have an important role to play in the events of the empire and its surrounding lands. Always be ready. Keep up your practices with weapons and skills, study tactics of the great leaders and when you listen to tales about them, try to evaluate what they did well and when they went wrong.  And take care of yourself.  Next time you’re home, we’ll catch another snow tiger and this time you can bring it back for all to see.”
His face softened and the eyes crinkled into a smile. We shook hands.  Finnmeyer put a hand on my shoulder. He looked like he had more to say but he merely nodded and turned away.  I knew he was still troubled by the alliance with Drachefauste but try as I had done, I could not draw him out on the subject. I raised a hand and saw him turn and do the same. Then, they were gone and I was alone for the first time.

I departed Jordis on an elven trader bound for Gwythaor. It was docking at Orsiliath and from there, I’d take a river trader, a wherry or similar to Warvane.  I’d never sailed on an elven ship, before. It was a revelation for me.  Elves are not a common race in the Imperial lands. There are a few, of course and I had seen elven hunters coming to barter over furs and other items. The elves on the ship, “Windsong” were very serious. They sang, but the songs were all of legend and rather sombre. They worked with a quiet efficiency, each member of the crew seeming to know their place at any time.  There was none of the good-humoured jibing or the yelling or orders that you would expect on a human vessel. No one ever seemed to raise their voice. Bells rang and jobs were changed. The vessel cut through the waves so lightly that you hardly felt the swell.  I recalled that the elves were the first race to create fleets and taught men to sail. Watching them at work, you could see a thousand years and more of refinements in the way they handled a vessel.

In Orsiliath, I simply bade them farewell and departed the ship. There was no camaraderie or shouts of well-wishers. I felt rather sad and lonely, then. For the first time, I realised how far from home and how utterly alone I was.  My father still had some influence here but House Vas-Coburg ruled Gwythaor. The extent of the Von Tacchim presence was an embassy in Warvane. The Ducal Isles were recently established at this time, representing the westernmost border of the Nordovician Empire. The throne in Riassa depended upon the fairly autonomous lords to rule, protect and provide tax from the islands.  Left alone with the power to build their own armies, the seeds of rebellion were sown. They lay dormant for now upon these rich islands, awaiting the right circumstances. 

 And so, by what Myneus the Navigator would have described as “By divers routes withe many a winding and a twisting”, I reached Warvane and saw, for the first time, the beauty of the nearby woods. They rose to the hill at the centre where the Lorefast Stone Circle stood as it had since perhaps the dawn of time. It was here that I was bound.

As advised by my father, I took rooms at a local inn rather than request shelter in Lorefast’s tree village.  After a slice of hot game pie with vegetables and bread, a pint of dark ale and a pipe of cherry wood tobacco, I felt a lot better. 

The Boar at Bay Inn had an interesting clientele.  I studied them over my pint and tried to take in the faces for future use.  I was particularly intrigued by a young rat-catcher who seemed to be a lot more than just that as he advised groups of younger lads who were obviously impressed by the silver coins he produced to pay for food and beer.  When an elder man tried to fetch him a clip around the ear, for cheek, he just slid away from the blow with a laugh and a wink. 

There was another man who intrigued me, there. He stood out because he was so different in manner and dress.  He wore a long coat made, primarily, from a strange hide with strands of the soft coat of some beast in a ring around the collar, the cuffs and the upper arms.  The coat had an odd smell, too. Beneath this, he wore a light jacket in deep crimson and gold with a chain mail layer from collar to just below the heart.  It had chain mail at the waist, also, to keep it hanging straight. Under the jacket, he had a plain tunic of midnight blue the same colour as his leggings.  A dagger was slipped through a band towards the top of one of his long black boots. The dagger was curved as was his blade, a well-fashioned scimitar.  He sat, one leg crossed over the other, watching everyone. He had deep olive brown skin with a thin moustache and a small, short goatee.  Upon his head, he wore a deep blue turban with a small cluster of garnets in a brooch pinned to it.  It was rare to see arabic folk in the north. It seemed even rarer to find one seated in this tavern, apparently unbothered by any of its patrons or, indeed, by anything.

Finding me watching him, a smile touched his lips and he raised his stoneware tankard.  Another incongruity, it seemed. Most of the arabic folk that I had seen, rarely touched alcohol and then, only very strong spirits. This man was drinking beer.  I was drawn to take a seat nearer him;
“Your pardon, good sir” I said “I did not mean to offend by staring at you”
“No offence taken” His voice was rich. You might call it creamy, smooth and unhurried. The twinkle of humour remained. “You are new, here, yes?”
I nodded. “I am not from these parts either so we have something in common, my young friend” he continued.
I smiled.  I couldn’t help it.  There was just something likeable about the way the stranger was so at ease. “I am Edmund Von Tacchim” I offered my hand which he took. His grip was quite firm despite the elegance of his slim, long fingered hands.
“Kharr.  You might wish to be careful with that title, Edmund Von Tacchim.  Some may realise that you have lord’s blood in you and think you might make a good ransom.  I would adopt a suitable adventuring name while you are here”
“I’m bound for Lorefast, to study, as a bard” I told him. He inclined his head,
“A worthy profession. Nevertheless, a name less liable to attract attention would serve you.  You are a long way from home, no ?  Which branch would you be from? “
He pondered, momentarily “Not Littesburg. You’d be wearing one of those ridiculous grey and blue jackets with golden buttons and already attracting the wrong kind of attention.  Convar, perhaps or maybe... Rosgovia.”
I started, wondering if he might be some spy or agent but he seemed to be just curious and again, I decided I could trust him.
“I was born in Rosgovia. My father is....”
“Shhh. Best not speak of your father, here. There are ears that you do not see.  You are obviously the son of a small noble sent to make something of yourself and that is good. “
 “Yes, yes of course.  That’s it, sir. How do you know so much about them?”
“You could say that I am a well-travelled man.”  He smiled, again, “would you like another drink?  The inn here is not a wonderful place to spend time thinking or indeed sleeping but it does serve a very good ale.”
I nodded and smiled, a little uncertainly and then added “please, yes, that’s very good of you” We had one more ale, together and I learned that he came from the borderlands of  The Ephiniate Kingdom of Surmey  He was indeed a traveller. He had seen so many states that I lost count. It was more a case of where he had not been.  In turn, I explained why I felt that learning the skills of a bard at Lorefast would enable me to open doors as both ambassador and spy.

I wandered Warvane for an hour or two after that. That was how I found myself in an alleyway in Cheapside, having taken a wrong turn.  I say a wrong turn because I had found a large, bulky man looming behind me who had the look of a brigand written all over him just as the weasly looking individual who stepped out ahead, holding a long knife, looked like a cutpurse. You could have placed them with any crowd of peasants and picked them out as the thief and the thug.  I’m sure you know what I mean.   Anyway, there they were. I wasn’t a defenceless young man, even in those days.  I spun, kicked the thug between the legs, slipped by one grabbing hand and caught only a clipping blow to my shoulder from the club. I might have taken care of these two but then two companions appeared, drawing knives.
“Bugger kicked me in the bollocks!” the thug pointed at me “do ‘im boys”
At that moment, a fifth man loomed behind these two, took both of them by the scruff and crashed their heads together, kicking the pair to the ground. The metallic hiss of a scimitar being drawn was heard as he stepped over them.  I parried the weasel’s knife and opened his arm from wrist to elbow with my own. 
“Bloody ‘ell, its Kharr” the thug yelled. That was enough. They all took off down the alley, the weasel trying to wrap something round his arm as he ran. Two of them stumbled, still dazed from the bang on the head.

“Having trouble with the local wildlife, my friend ?”  The laconic voice was still edged with humour.  I turned and offered my hand again.
“Once again, I owe you, sir.”
He shook it. “I really suggest that you do something about finding that name.   I did warn you that the thieves guild will be a lot less interested in a common student than they will be in the son of one who might be able to afford a ransom or have wealth of his own.”
I nodded. An idea was coming to me. If I could not be my father’s son, then how about Finnmeyer’s son. He was no noble and I admired him, greatly.
“Finn” I said “how does that sound?”
“Not a bad start, my friend. It should serve”
“No, better, Black Finn” And there it was. Meyer meant black in the islander tongue. Finn-Meyer. Black Finn.
“Ah, now that, I like. It has a certain suggestion of roguishness or danger about it.  I approve. Come, Black Finn, let’s walk”