Sep 29, 2008

How old?

Well, yesterday was the day - I made 62! Loadsapressies and, except for Sarah and Paul who are sampling the delights of Thailand and Bangkok for a couple of weeks, a great family dinner. I am doing the school run for Rebekah and Amelia while they are away.

Feel knackered today. Not sure why. Maybe the conservatory remodelling or reboarding of the loft floor is catching up with me. Sequence dancing this afternoon - so I need to get myself together.

Found a site called Longstockings - a group of eight writers in the US - although, one is based in London.

Right, dancing shoes on Ginger.

Sep 22, 2008

The strategy for peace must match that for war.

My friend, marine biologist and writer Silja Swaby, telephoned to suggest I listen to a replay of an interview (with former soldier David McGough) which had been on Saturday Live on Radio 4. Silja thought the content would be of interest because of the theme of my book and the similarity of my character's problems to that of David, (a young medic who was suffering both physically and mentally because of his experiences in war zones). I managed to pluck the story from the Radio 4 'Listen Again' menu.

David's recounting of the incidents he and others had to face - especially being a medic (although, as such he was expected to be a regular soldier too) was heartrending. He talked of young men and women in their late teens / early twenties who had joined the army, he suspected, without fully realising what horrors lie ahead and how many when those horrors erupted - often with devastating results - wished they were elsewhere - usually at home with their families.
He talked of a young Iraqi girl of nine who approached his small patrol and to whom they gave water and chocolate. A crowd of armed men appeared and dragged her off. As the crowd grew more agitated and began making noises about hanging her - he had a decision to make. Did he and his men stay and try to save her from the baying one hundred and fifty armed men or did they leave? He knew if they stayed and a firefight ensued there would be blood shed on both sides. He made the decision to leave - a decision, he says, he regrets to this day - a decision that will never let him go, because the girl was hanged. David is home, now, but the trauma of war has left its mark on him. You can listen to the interview (it's around 18 minutes into the programme) on this link: iPlayer Radio Console

I and thousands of others, are so grateful to these young men and women because their bravery in volunteering means that, in my case, my grandsons will hopefully never have to face this sort of trauma.

The more we can let people be aware of the horrors of war and the responsibility we have to these young people when they return damaged, both physically and mentally the better. Maintain an army - it may be needed, but demand war is the last resort, not the first and demand answers of those whose agendas kill our young people so that we are not led blindly into conflict.

Sep 19, 2008

Back in the land of the living ... ?

Well, the hard drive in my laptop decided to give up the ghost just over a week ago and I have been wandering around the house like a lost soul without it. But I managed to refloor the loft and reclad the conservatory - so, not a complete waste of time. Jason (PC medics Plymouth) did a brilliant job replacing the drive, but when I came to reload AOL I found my emails for the last three years had disappeared - which is a real sod. I have business and private correspondence which I need, but can't get access to. I complained to AOL and received an email in response which began: With reference to your email, I understand that after reinstalling AOL your PFC got disappeared. Somehow this didn't instill the confidence I was looking for. The instructions then assumed that I had a file on my desktop which I didn't and a file in my system which was not there - so, I still have my problems with email. Another problem is that my research for the book - it was under my 'favourites' list, has gone walkabout. AARGH!

Silja, Jenny and Ed have been coming up with superb ideas and contributions after reading the first draft of Messenger and I am going to incorporate them in the final edit. Then it's off to Piers Russell-Cobb to see if he thinks it's a goer.

Fourtoldfiction is on the launch pad! Watch this space!

The sketch print of the new Harley 1200 (signed by the designer Bill Davidson) has arrived. Pity the delivery service smashed the glass in the frame, but hey ho can't have everything I suppose. It was, after all, a great first prize for my motorcycling recollections. Competition winner

Talked with Robert Shove today. His Tales from a Kit Bag is doing well. Lots of sales in Services related links. He said he's 2/3 through the new story (WW2 trek ) and off to Germany soon to research the survivors. Sounds an amazing story - certainly film material. He was also keen to push on the formation of a steering group for South West writers (Groups) and asked if I would join him at the funding meeting. I reported sadly there was no further response from Marjons on the adaptation of the Creative Writing BA modules. Maybe I should have approached Plymouth Uni instead.

Sep 7, 2008

Trains and boats and ...

So much has happened since I last posted - not sure I'm going to be able to get it all down.
Met with Ex UN Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter on QE2 in August. He gave four totally consuming lectures on the US in Iraq and anti-war strategies. Bought three of his books and found Waging Peace incredibly thought provoking - so much so that I have revised last chapter of Messenger manuscript to enhance an idea I had at one of the lectures. The trip was excellent too, Bay of Biscay rough on way out - mill pond on way back. Sardinia no go due to swell - tenders rocking all over the place. Cannes good - Lisbon beautiful - Barcelona was absolutely magic (must go back - it has changed so much since we were last there 35 years ago) Gib was Gib (Blackpool with wildlife). I have been really lucky with lectures on board both this year and last. On Queen Mary 2 last year I met with an FBI profiler who gave superb information on insurgent kidnaps. Rita's critique on story is and has been superb - I've suggested she start her own critique agency.

Granddaughter Millie (12) had an operation to assist hearing - hopefully it will do that although first impressions weren't that good, but it will take a while to settle I gather. Epilepsy tablets seem to be working thank goodness, but diabetes is still volatile at times.

Granddaughter Leah (17) had a superb month in New Zealand with grandparents. Helicopter rides and sheep and much much more! Officer, Fay, at Orewa Police did a splendid job - think I overreacted, but better to be safe than sorry!

House still alive with people which is lovely - and lots going on. Hopefully things will be resolved soon for those involved.

Slovakia January (after Wells) for Matthew and Lenka's continued wedding celebrations.

Excellent strategy meeting of our Fourtold fiction setup today. (Name is now domain Jenny Cole working on second detective mystery novel (prequel), Silja Swaby out to agents on The Deluge, Ed Evans in planning stage on third modern fantasy. I'm going to approach Piers Russell-Cobb, Marsh Agency, with Messenger. I spotted him on the Marsh site and he looks to be the man - also on Julia Hales blog and trekking last year. Small is beautiful and 'Fourtold' provides time and expertise to look in detail at all the projects each of us have going - not sure that would be possible with a larger group.

The more research I do for a sequel to The Messenger the more I realise that we owe the troops the best treatment when they come home. Whether people agree with Iraq / Afghanistan or not the soldiers don't get the choice - it's 'go there and fight'. They are risking their lives and we owe them good, private medical facilities and a chance to recover properly both physically and mentally. It's called authority with responsibility - you can't have one without the other.

Well, I haven't mentioned as much as I thought I would - oh well, there's always next time. Say goodnight to the folks, Gracie.