We were drawn back to the Hofburg like moths to a flame. Looking at the size of it, I was amazed to read later that the Royal Palace in Madrid is even larger, though it certainly didn’t look like it to me. The Hofburg is also home to some very special horses, the ones that perform in the Spanish Riding school.
The ancestors of the Lipizzan horses can be traced back to AD 800 when Barb horses were brought into Spain by the Moors. In the 16th century, both Spain and Austria were ruled by the Habsburgs and Emperor Maximillian II brought a few of them to Austria and his brother established a stud to breed them. All Lipizzaner horses are descended from 8 original stallions and are very good at haute école or ‘high school’ classical dressage movements, with stylized jumps and other movements known as the ‘airs above ground.’ (They jump incredibly high and seem to float around in the sir waggling their hooves).
One other interesting fact is that Lipizzaner horses are born black and go a lighter shade each year. (In horsey language you never have a white horse, it’s always called a grey).
They stable the horses and have a full-sized riding school within the Hofburg building complex.
We didn’t go to the show, as we’d seen the performance several times before near Johannesburg where they also have a stud and give shows to the public on Sunday mornings.
They look so angelic, but one bit me while touring the stables in South Africa, we’d been warned they can be very bad tempered, even if they can hop and jump around very nicely.
Over many months I have posted about every king and queen of England starting from the very first king whose name I’ve quite forgotten. I’m a little nervous that if I say the wrong thing then I might be had up for treason – although there have been some amazingly critical programmes on television recently which ‘lift the lid’ on the nefarious activities of the royals and their bad behaviour.
However, they have not found any fault with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who at 66 years is the longest living monarch in the world. What is most amazing is that not once, in all those years have we seen her cough, sniff, scratch an itch in a personal place, pick her nose or do anything that wasn’t 100% ladylike. I wish I knew how she does it. Does she have special underwear that never wrinkles? Or special medicines that ensure her nose doesn’t run or allow her to sneeze in public?
She must be the nearest thing to a perfect human to ever grace this planet.
Next week in the history section I shall be telling the story of another great Queen. I have a few to choose from, any preference? Leave a comment.
I just wanted to share with you the fabulous news that Unhappily Ever After was the solo medallist in the New Apple Literary Awards for Excellence 2017 in the humour category. (Love that excellence bit!)
the third book in the Amie series Amie: Stolen Future was the solo medallist in the New Apple Literary Awards for Excellence 2018 in the Action & Adventure category.
A huge thank you to all their kind judges whoever they are 😊
As regular readers may have noticed every Thursday I host a guest blog. I am fully booked for March but no one earmarked for April. No publicity is bad publicity, so if you would like a feature, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or you can pm me on Facebook.
Since we had purchased a 24 hour ticket for the Vienna HOHO bus next morning we made for the bus stop and got on the wrong bus. We hopped off and while waiting for the bus we wanted, we visited the Votive Kirk.
This was built following the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, by his brother Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian to thank God for saving his life.
The next bus took us past the Burgtheater and then out into the countryside.
It was a pleasant drive, through Grinzing as far as the Klasterneuburg monastery. The weather was cold and overcast and no one got off at any of the stops, possibly because they were unsure when there would be another bus back to the centre of the city.
A third bus drive took us out of the city in the opposite direction, the north east, to Donauturn, which is the park area enjoyed by the Viennese. There is a huge tower there a restaurant and a fun fair. We also passed over the Danube with many cruise boats plying to and fro and tried to work out the where the Danube splits into 4, the river, the tamed river, the canal and the lagoon overflow.
We wandered round the city centre for a while found a great Italian restaurant and that day, despite the bus tours we walked 9.5 kilometres – a gold medal level for me.
By 1944, the eldest princess, Elizabeth had also joined the army, mending trucks and teaching drivers to drive and teaching driving instructors how to teach driving to people who couldn’t drive. I know this is true, because my mother was in the same section and she had pictures of them.
The second of my career memoir sees me returning to South Africa and once more writing scripts for video production. Eventually, I founded my own small production house and made dozens of movies for international conferences, awards ceremonies and … for heaven’s sake I made programmes for anyone who would pay me. Over 15 years I traveled Africa shooting (camera kind) in deep rural areas, meeting chiefs, witchdoctors, celebrities, politicians and ordinary folk. The tales are both heart-warming, sad and educational (did you know some animals are gay?).
More Truth, Lies and Propaganda
Caroline died last night. It was a long, lingering and particularly nasty death – just as I had planned. I had originally decided to kill her by chopping her to pieces under a combine harvester, lots of blood and gore flying everywhere. I could see the birds flying up in protest, small insects bombarded by pieces of her, and the cries of the crowds gathered to stare at the miniscule remains of what had once been a beautiful, young lady. But then at the last minute I changed my mind. Why destroy the peace of the English countryside?
I promised at the end of my last book (Truth, Lies and Propaganda) that I would tell you how I finally got rid of Caroline, so I have described her demise at the end of this book.
Are you curious to know what Caroline had done to deserve a vicious and torturous death? Quite frankly I haven’t the faintest idea. Perhaps she is the heroine in a book I’ve not written yet. She is a marvellous example of how you can do exactly what you want to do if you are a writer, as long as you don’t put it into practice in everyday life.
As authors we control the lives of those we create, it’s one of the perks, but we have a lot less control over our own lives. What was I doing, sitting in a small front room in London, my feet freezing despite the thick woolly socks and furry slippers, my fingers numb as they pecked at the keyboard?
I glanced up at the grey, leaden sky and shivered. I could hear the swish of the cars passing by as their tyres skidded over the wet tarmac and the slap, slap sound from wellington boots as people walked past the house. Years earlier I hadn’t even heard of SAD, the syndrome where you get depressed by bad weather and lack of sunshine. Here in London, I had not seen the sun for several days. I remembered my first airplane trip when we rose above the clouds, and there, to my amazement, was the sun, throwing its beams over the top of the fluffy white pillows in the sky. It was still there, of course it was! How stupid of me to think the sun had deserted us, but that’s the feeling you get when you don’t see it for days and days.
What was even worse, this weather was destroying my creativity. I battled to put words on paper, even though I had a contract to write a series of radio programmes for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. (I shall refer to them as the SABC in the future as I’m far too lazy to type it all out each time).
I had recently returned from living in Durban, a city on the east coast of South Africa, fronting the warm Indian Ocean. There, the words flew straight from my brain and magically appeared on the screen, well sort of if you get my drift, I’m using a little poetic licence here.
I began daydreaming about the work I had done in the past, the fun I had with the amazing people I had met. I remembered the excitement of working in the SABC radio studios in Johannesburg, the friends from the Communications Department in Durban and all the wonderful experiences out in the African townships with the crew, while filming a wide variety of programmes.
But that was all over. I had just finished the last SABC programme and I doubted they would ever give me another series, I lived too far away. The classroom beckoned a return to the profession I had trained for decades earlier.
I was not looking forward to it one little bit. I had heard tales of the modern monsters who now inhabited the hallowed halls of learning. If it was bad 30 years before, it was even worse now, ‘Health and Safety’, and ‘I Know My Rights’ had seen to that. It seemed to me that a black belt in judo and other martial art qualifications prepared you better for the classroom these days, than the three years they offered you in teacher training college in the 1970s.
What was worse, I was not living in the best area of London either, so I was expecting the worst if they even considered offering me a job. I’d not graced a classroom for years, and I was just a little bit out of touch. No, I was a lot out of touch. The kids would make mincemeat of me.
Now I’m cheating a little here because in October I had Adrian as a guest in my newsletter, but I just adore the way he strings words together and I didn’t have enough space to include everything – so, here he is again 🙂 Making no excuses!! We all need a good laugh, especially on a Thursday morning. 🙂
Adrian Sturrock is a writer, occasional musician, teacher and ethnic minority (except when in Wales), specialising mostly in observation and unconsidered opinion. He currently lives in Buckinghamshire UK with wife Natalie: his travel companion, best friend and the person responsible for keeping him out of trouble on social media. They have three children between them.
Adrian has been published on www.dcpolitick.com, and excerpts of his poetry/lyrics displayed alongside those of Benjamin Zephaniah in Luton Town Hall (though it is very unlikely that Benjamin is aware of this). He has been smiled at by Madonna and once spent an afternoon watching Ace Ventura, Pet Detective in Barry Gibb’s living room, where David English remarked on his shoes.
He is the founder member (singer/songwriter) of the highly unsuccessful band, God of Small Things, with which he recorded two studio EPs. (There are rumours that some of these songs even sold on iTunes.) His solo sets include the highs of playing to an audience of thousands at Lord Rothschild’s 82nd birthday bash and the lows of having to endure an audience of three elderly women eating soup. Tony Visconti once said of his songwriting, ‘Sorry, not my cup of tea’. Adrian intends recording again in the near future.
I had originally intended to lie to you. I haven’t had a change of conscience on this issue. It’s just that I realise that I probably won’t get away with it. That’s the problem with the general public; they tend to eventually work things out. So I’m afraid that you are now stuck with the truth.
It was never going to be a dramatic lie. I wasn’t about to try to sell you a dodgy time-share or claim to be a kidnapped Nigerian prince in desperate need of your bank details. It was more about the timescale of events in this book. I was going to lead you to believe that this road trip was one single linear journey, a grand forty-day adventure across some of the best roads, towns, cities and mountain regions in central Europe. In reality, the trip was completed in three sections. This is due to the fact that I have a day job to factor in. Life is indeed a cruel mistress.
Between road trips one and three, the Syrian crisis happened, Brexit divided the UK pretty much down the middle and Prime Minister, Theresa May, declared herself the personification of ‘the will of the people’. There have also been a number of terrorist attacks across Europe, including Paris, London, Brussels, Istanbul, and Nice, allegedly born out of perceived cultural or religious differences but really due to a lack of respect between peoples.
Since this book was written, Donald Trump has become the US President and Mike Pence his Vice-President. Not even Mr Disney himself could have anticipated that one day Donald and Mickey would be running the White House.
What had prompted me to buy a sports car—for those who care, the car we used was a Mazda MX5 Roadster Coupe Sports 2ltr Graphite Limited Edition—was a sudden threat of redundancy at work. Yes, I know! One would have thought that I might have opted for quickly consolidating my financial position. I thought I might have considered this too. Instead, my feelings of insecurity led me to a surprise epiphany—it struck me that one can play safe all one’s life and still be screwed over; that good guys neither come first nor last—mostly because nobody is really watching.
Sometimes, the best way to stick a finger up at ‘the man’ is to defiantly indulge in something that excites you. Then, even if you lose, you win. So I bought the car—though I didn’t speak this train of thought out loud to my wife at the time. (Actually, I probably did. A few large glasses of pinot noir can make me a prolific and uninhibited orator. My dancing gets better too.)
As things turned out, while there were a whole series of redundancies at work, my own position remained safe. My first reaction was, ‘Woo-hoo! I’m still standing.’ My second reaction was, ‘Shit, I’m still standing … here!’ But that’s a conversation for another time.
Having bought the car, my mind then moved on to the question of how I could make best use of it. I felt that only using it for the ten-minute journey to and from work and for grocery shopping didn’t really cut it. I needed a proper reason to own a car like this.
‘I was thinking,’ I said to my wife one Sunday morning over breakfast, ‘how might you feel if I was to take off into France for a few days, you know, to get to have a proper drive of the car?’
‘If you want to,’ she said. ‘You not inviting me?’
‘I didn’t think you’d want to come,’ I said, surprised by her response. ‘For me, it would be an exciting drive. For you, well, I thought you’d see the idea of it as just a “bloody long time in a car”.’
‘I can do a bloody long time in a car,’ she said.
‘Okay,’ I said.
So I began to map out our bloody long time in a car.
“Adrian takes you on a journey of story, introspection, and wit; a journey well worth taking”
– Lane Belone, Founder of Increase Freedom
“This read is a lot of fun, especially for travel-lovers and adventurers! I came out admiring how the author communicated the culture of the places he visited through an original voice, portraying his own expertise as an artist. Would definitely recommend to other travel enthusiasts!”
– Casey M. Millette, Author of the Cursed series
Keep up to date with all things Adrian Sturrock by subscribing to his rather lovely website: www.adriansturrock.com Here, you can find out more about the locations in this book, and explore, amongst other things, photos taken during the road trip, together with information about routes and even a selection of hotels used.
Also, follow Adrian on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
His second book, RANDOM: a collection of articles, will be published in early 2019. Well, that is a while to wait, but in the meantime, this one is definitely going on my TBR list. Thank you, Adrian.
Hidden along the Stephansplatz in the centre of Vienna are several little arcades, and I wanted to explore them all.
and then, much to my surprise there was this huge screen outside the Opera House showing an operatic performance. We stood and watched for ages until …
DH spied a Hop on Hop off bus and there was no stopping him – there is no shortage of them in Vienna which is geared up for tourists. We took the complete circuit of the Red route to get our bearings and got off a stop early to visit the Theseus Temple. It’s a rather strange place, even if you ignore the statue of the naked man outside, but what this uh, sculpture represents I have no idea.
By this time we had walked 8.2 kilometres, so time to find food – schnitzels of course and make for bed.
King George and his queen were very brave and stayed in London during the war instead of running away. They did send the princesses to stay in their holiday home in the countryside.
While my first memoir Walking over Eggshells focused on my relationship with my Narcissistic mother (thank you, Donald Trump, for explaining this condition to the whole world) and the effect it had on my life, my other two memoirs focus on my career in writing for radio and television. The first is called Truth, Lies and Propaganda – and I’m a master in propaganda, in fact, I deserve a Ph.D.in the subject.
Truth, Lies and Propaganda
I have decided that tomorrow I am going to kill Caroline. I’d like to squash her flat under a road roller, or push her off the top of the Empire State Building, but I’m not sure how I could get her there, and I suspect Health and Safety have got it securely enclosed by now. I can’t shoot her as I’ve no idea where I’d get a gun, and a knife means getting up close and personal and I don’t want her blood all over me. I could poison her, but then I don’t know very much about poisons, and I really should dispose of her in a more interesting way. I’ve grown to hate her, and I want her death to be lingering and painful.
For months she has caused me unmentionable pain and heartache. I’ve sat up all night worrying about her, and if I give up and go to bed, her very presence has caused me to toss and turn until the early hours. I have to put an end to this. She’s got to go. So, how am I going to dispose of her?
A combine harvester, that’s the answer!
I will mash her to pieces in a peaceful and idyllic cornfield, while the birds sing and the soft wings of the butterflies barely disturb the air. Her screams will resonate as she is dismembered into bite-sized chunks between the rotating blades and her blood spurts metres into the air turning the ripened, golden maize a brilliant red.
Yes, that’s what I’ll do tomorrow.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a writer. In those early days, it seemed such a glamorous occupation, I so admired those people who could transport others into a land of fantasy, take them back in time to another world or forward into the future on another planet. What was more, you, the writer, were in control! You could give your characters a headache, or better still, break their legs or pop them into a wheelchair, and you could kill them off in so many different and exciting ways.
How about leaving them to be gnawed to death by rats, or drowning them in a vat of vintage wine, or poisoning them with their own birthday cake?
Of course, you can be nice to your characters as well. You can present her with a loving, rich, faithful and successful husband and four adorable children just like those in ‘Little House on the Prairie’, and make her stunningly beautiful at the same time. Now she’s beginning to sound nauseating, and you hate her already don’t you?
It’s time to make things go wrong. Enter the nymphomaniac, blonde secretary with the very, very, short skirt barely covering her knickers, legs that start at her armpits, big boobs and a predatory nature. Now, that’s more exciting isn’t it?
As a child, I had very little control over my life so writing was extra important to me. It was the only way I could escape from the misery of everyday life. I would sit in my room and scribble silly little stories in an exercise book and then run and show them to my mother. She was not kind and sneered at my earliest attempts to influence the world of books – although my grandfather, a reluctant writer himself, was more encouraging.
A huge influence on me in those days was Jo in ‘Little Women’. I can’t remember how many times I read Louisa May Alcott’s story. Jo began writing when she was young, and I cheered for her when she sold a story and bought a carpet for the house, and then another story which helped keep the family comfortable in difficult times while their father was away fighting in some war or other. (At least that is what we were told. He wouldn’t have run off with another woman, would he? Or been serving time?) Jo was the heroine of the family for me, and I dreamed of making a fortune by writing such wonderful books that everyone wanted to read them.
Of course, life isn’t like that, and the usual questions came up as I reached the last of my school years.
“Do you want to be a secretary, a nurse, or a teacher?”
Frankly, I didn’t want to be any of them. My vision of secretarial work was being a lackey to some overbearing, loud-mouthed man in some dingy office. I would be sent to collect his dry cleaning, sharpen his pencils and spend hours thumping away at a typewriter making thousands of mistakes. I would never make a good secretary. Even today, I’m ashamed to say, I can’t touch type, my eyes are constantly glued to the keys, and even at my advanced age I still make thousands of mistakes.
Nursing was a definite no-no. I fainted at the sight of blood, not a prerequisite for a medical career, you’d agree. Even in primary school, they sent for my mother to come and take me home after I had fainted in class. The doctor was called, and I was put to bed for the rest of the day. And what had been the cause of all this? It was the human nervous system. The teacher had told us to open our biology books at page such and such and there, in bright, luridly coloured pictures, we could see what happens when you prick your finger. They showed the path taken by messages as they sped to the brain along the nerve highways and back again, armed with the new information that ‘Ow! That hurt!’
I even feel a bit queasy now just writing about it.
I collapsed several more times in high school, each time they decided to rip open a heart, an eyeball or some hapless animal’s lung. But the results were less dramatic and I was no longer in the spotlight for my disgraceful behaviour. The teacher simply instructed two of the biggest lads to grab me under the armpits, drag me through the door, and prop me up against the outside wall of the biology lab.
So that left teaching. I agreed to become a teacher as it seemed the least daunting career that could possibly be suitable. Not that I had any experience of children, they were about as foreign to me as the pygmies in the Congo. However, I convinced myself that teachers had nice long holidays, and they finished work early at three o’clock every afternoon.
I tried one more time, but my last few whines about wanting to be a writer were firmly ignored, and that was that. Dickens, the Brontë sisters, and Shakespeare would never have to turn in their graves worrying that I would pose any threat to their sales revenues.
As the obedient daughter, I would attempt to pour information into the heads of unwilling and recalcitrant children and earn a proper and respectable living.
Now I’ve had to scramble looking for where I left off before Christmas and the Best Reads posts, and yes, DH and I were in Vienna. In my usual boring way, I had sussed out what there was to see and do, making copious notes before we left. We didn’t hang around but walked into the centre of town to the opera house.
We meandered up the main central pedestrian way – the Stephansplatz and visited St Stephen’s Cathedral, an imposing Gothic edifice which was begun around 1350 or so, so it’s quite modern as you can see!
I was eagerly eying the shops but Dh managed just in time to whisk me into St Peter’s Catholic Church with its impressive dome.
In the middle of the Stephansplatz is this amazing statue. It was commissioned by the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I at the end of the last great plague to hit the city in 1679. It’s probably the most intricate column I have ever seen.
I recently read a book about Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, written by an insider who painted her as less than loveable, although she won the hearts of the British people.
Without her, George would have struggled as king, a role he certainly never wanted. To begin with, she insisted he have elocution lessons so he would sound posh without stuttering and so, of course, she chose an Australian to tutor him. Makes perfect sense. She was said to be very controlling and very bossy.
This week the opening pages of my comedy Unhappily ever After. You didn’t really think that Prince (now King) Charming and Cinderella would live happily ever after did you? Come on, she was from the wrong side of the tracks, and if truth be told, he was a bit of a wimp. The other famous Fairyland characters, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty get a similar treatment. Throw into the mix the Green Giant sent by the ‘Red Party’ to rouse the simple, stupid peasants into revolting against their royal masters and the stage is set for disaster.
(I should mention this book comes with the following warning which is inside the front cover).
This book is not suitable for children, nor is it recommended for adults who are of a gentle, sensitive or nervous disposition. The opinions as stated by the characters are neither politically correct, nor in fact even kind or considerate. The author takes no responsibility for their appalling actions. It should be remembered that it refers to a time before the new laws about correct speech were promulgated. No offence is intended to any race, gender, creed or belief of any persuasion, and as such this narrative should be treated as a work of fiction.
The death of Charming’s parents – they simply adored chariot racing and misjudged that final bend – brought untold wealth to the young prince and power beyond belief. In his hands was the authority to dispose of any or all of his subjects as he saw fit. He was a total autocrat in a land that did not expect to be ruled in any other way. Yet Charming remained his own sweet self. The result was a happy and contented kingdom where each day was as delightful as the one before and would be forever more. Nothing would happen to disturb Charming’s idyllic life or his upright, well‑bred existence – not even his wife.
Of all marriages theirs must have been the most mismatched in the history of time. Everything that Charming was, Cinderella was not. She’d had a hard upbringing, in one of the poorest areas of Charmingdon and she’d never shaken her common accent. She’d been born a peasant and she would die a peasant. Not all the royal trimmings in the world would ever change that. Not that Cinders had ever been seen to make an effort. Since becoming a royal she’d had all the advantages of dancing classes, elocution lessons, instruction in etiquette, even horse riding lessons, but having made it to the top without such accomplishments, Cinderella really didn’t see why she should bother now.
Time had not been kind to the Queen’s figure either. She had a particular fondness for chocolates, toasted marshmallows, cream cakes, doughnuts, waffles, sugar buns – oh let’s be honest – Cinderella had a passion for anything edible. She spent the greater part of her day consuming everything in sight, and as her figure grew outwards, her appetite grew in tandem. She was of average height, with dull, mousy hair, and the fair complexion and freckles to match. Her large bulk made it impossible for her to ever look smart despite heroic efforts on the part of her many dressmakers. As soon as she began to move, her flesh wobbled in every direction, and at the extremity of a pair of very stout legs were the most amazing feet you’ve ever seen. Even she had to admit they were not exactly the most beautiful feet, but, she had a lot to thank them for. She was the only female in the whole land whose foot fitted that slipper lost at the Ball, and that made them the famous feet that had become her trademark. They were always bare. She liked, she said, to wiggle her toes at all times.
Despite all this Charming adored her. In his eyes she could do no wrong. He did not recognize her common behaviour, her faults, her gross appearance, her appalling manners. To him she was perfection incarnate. True, she had a bit of a temper, but everyone has their little foibles and if she possessed an interesting way of expressing her feelings, well, that was part of her enchanting personality.
Cinderella was not so inclined to adore her spouse. The thought of being the most important queen in the land had thrilled and excited her two centuries ago; to get ‘one up’ on those snotty sisters of hers was a dream come true. But it all turned out to be very boring. She began to despise her adoring husband. He irritated her with his goodness, yet it was his very goodness that made it so difficult to be really nasty to him. He failed to understand her snide remarks, her sexual innuendoes, her criticisms. She sat for hours wondering how to free herself from this marriage she had come to loathe. Perhaps she should come straight out and tell him in a language even a four year old would understand. Yes, she’d procrastinated long enough. She’d tell him today, this morning, at breakfast.
I’m taking a break this month from the usual travel, history and ‘buy my books’ blurb because it’s the festive season and if you were ever going to buy my books, you probably already have them.
With all the talk this year about refugees and religious difference I was surprised to see that Christianity still has the largest number of followers worldwide. Not that religious practices seem to be the main focus on 25th December. No, it’s all about spending money – possibly even going into debt – to give our loved ones presents.
It doesn’t matter that they don’t even know what they want, or that they don’t need anything, they MUST receive a present from everyone near and dear on the festive day.
One good thing about being a writer is that you can unload all those first edition books that are cluttering up the shelves, as you’ve now re-published them in nice new covers. The relatives will probably never read them anyway, but it clears your conscience.
When I asked DH what he wanted for Christmas I was expecting the usual shrugs and grunts.
To my horror, he’s asked for new binoculars – and I know he doesn’t want the Christmas cracker variety. Nor is it going to be a massive surprise as he’ll comb the web for days choosing just the right ones. I’ll dig (as cheerfully as I can) into my book budget account and order them from eBay or the Big A and the parcel will arrive at the door.
Then I will stupidly cover the box with expensive foil wrapping paper, place a shiny red bow on the top and watch him rip that to shreds and express surprise on Christmas morning.
No, that’s not DH, he’ll smile, give me a kiss say ‘thank you’ and go and test them out by spying on the donkey in the farm below our terrace.
Last year I bought him an in-car camera. Now that was a surprise but it caused days of angst. Firstly, he didn’t want to attach it to the windscreen as per instructions. No, he wanted it on the dashboard. Weeks of finding the right sticky pad and it was ready for testing but to his horror, it recorded all his journeys upside down.
More hours were spent combing the internet, until he found a programme to download that promised to cure this problem. It did. But now it reversed the picture and showed DH driving on the left-hand side of the road – we live in Spain where they drive on the right. Not good if the police view it in the aftermath of an accident. How do you explain in broken Spanish you were kerb-crawling on the right when the camera tells them otherwise?
Emails flew back and forth from DH to the manufacturer until finally the camera was parcelled up and sent back (he had to pay the postage). A new one arrived and DH set it up only to discover – yes you’ve guessed it – it recorded everything upside down.
Now I come to think of it, I’ve not seen it around. He’s probably stuffed it in a drawer somewhere.
I’m happy to give at Christmas, but I hate wasting money – buying just because the advertisements on the television, newspapers, and radio tell us we must.
That said, DH will get his stocking. Oh yes, he gets one from Santa every year, but because Santa is buying the contents I don’t have to worry about spending my money. Luckily the old man from the North Pole is very practical and fills it up with chocolates, (particularly the ones I like) toiletries, an orange, nuts and other disposable and necessary things.
Nothing here goes to waste. If DH notices there were 3 oranges in the fruit bowl yesterday and only 2 today, he wisely says nothing. Even the Christmas we were away on a cruise, Santa managed to sneak DH’s stocking into my suitcase, probably an easy task for him after scrambling down all those chimneys!
Now if DH asks me what I want it’s always the same old boring thing – book vouchers. I’m happiest if I can keep my Big A account in credit so all I have to do is click on the ‘buy now’ button and not ferret around searching for the credit card.
I have thought of asking for the professional photo package, the makeup, hair and proper lighting, the works. But, I suspect it won’t up the sales in any way. I’m practical enough to know I was not first in the line when the visual images were handed out, and will more people want to buy my books because I have long, flowing, golden locks and eyes the size of flying saucers? They would get a horrible shock if they ever attended a book signing and compared it to the real me and, I’ve met several FB book friends and they could so easily give the game away. No, guess I guess I’ll stay as I am.
Next week I’ll be showcasing the first 5 of the best books I’ve read this year, so keep an eye open for that.
Now on the first Monday of the month, I usually write about a book thing rather than my travels – such as they are. Right now I’m in the “Shall I, shan’t I?” stage regarding my next book. Do other writers suffer a sort of empty nest syndrome after launching their latest offering out into the world to meet the general public? (Not that Amie has gone anywhere she’s still lurking in the shadows!)
This time after the flurry of all the screaming and shrieking about the launch – delicately of course – I sat back and thought ‘what now?’ I was physically and emotionally drained. At that point, I heard a little voice from under the bed crying out to me. Don’t laugh! I’m a very sensitive person and I have these flashes occasionally. It was Horatio, begging to be let out.
Back in the 1980s, I wrote several short stories for children which went out on the South African Broadcasting Service. They asked for more Horatio tales, but I had a miserly thought that instead of receiving a few Rand for every flighting I could add a few extra stories and have a whole book. Of course, this would sell millions overnight and I’d be off on my mega yacht in no time at all. I submitted a different series of stories about a witch to the SABC, completed Horatio and gave the manuscript to my then agent. I even produced what I now know is called swag to go with it.
I understand she tried Penguin in London who wrinkled their noses and that was that under the bed it went in South Africa, through 10 house moves, then packed into a cardboard box and flown to Spain and thrown under yet another bed, along with all those awards I shall never look at again.
So in my indecisive mood I decided to take action – not an easy feat getting under our bed the hydraulic lift thingie doesn’t work too well and I nearly sliced off an arm hoisting it out. Would you believe the two copies I have are typewritten on real, old-fashioned paper!
Yes, that’s how long ago I wrote it. So now I’m labouring away, got an illustrator lined up and soon I will pluck up the courage to tell DH that the next offering will have pictures in it! I must just tell myself that I will not have a nervous breakdown trying to get it out for Xmas, or I’ll aim for Christmas 2018.
Since I’m already out there in 3 genres, what’s one more? I’m probably schizophrenic as it is, and it gives Amie a break for a couple of months.
Not only was Edward or David as he was called – they like things to be very complicated, downgraded to a Duke, the British royal family refused to be friends with him. He had broken the unwritten rules by saying he didn’t want to be a king anymore.
That was not on. If you are born a king or queen then you become a king or queen and you rule whether you like it or not and you stay ruling until you go to the big throne room in the sky.
The House of Windsor does not do this abdication thing and let the youngsters take over and have a go. In the UK the Heir Apparent might wait for years and years and years.
But there was no stopping Edward from making history and after a lot of fuss, his younger brother had to step in and take over.
THE BOASTING BIT
Just have to share with you that October was a great month with two really unexpected awards. Amie African Adventure was a Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards in the Adventure category and a Finalist in the IAN awards in Literary Fiction.
And, Walking over Eggshells was a Finalist for First Non-Fiction in the IAN Awards, so I am very thrilled.
The Big Trip was nearly over and even though I love our little rabbit hutch, I was still not ready to go home after 2 months. I adored the warm climate in Singapore and I was not looking forward to February in Spain.
For our last meal we went back to our roots and had huge steaks in the Black Angus Steakhouse – though to be honest, since we left South Africa I’ve yet to have as good a steak as we ate there. The steak was OK, the price was horrendous!
Then it was off to the airport – as smart, clean and efficient as the rest of the country and we were on our way home.
Our next trip would be seven months later, but that’s for next time.
I really have my doubts about this king, George V. I read that two months after the end of the war, the King’s youngest son, John died at the age of 13 after a lifetime of ill health.
George was informed of his death by Queen Mary, who wrote, “[John] had been a great anxiety to us for many years … The first break in the family circle is hard to bear but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us much.”
This poor little prince who suffered from epilepsy was hidden away from the public and ignored by the rest of the family. It was thought he was autistic and they didn’t want him to embarrass them in public. Prince Edward, who was eleven years older than his brother and had hardly known John, saw his death as “little more than a regrettable nuisance.”
That is so terribly sad.
I’ve decided this week I won’t tell you I write books and I’m trying to sell them and I want new readers to sign up for my newsletter http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf and buy my latest brilliant book on the last few days of its pre-order so I’m not going to put the link in for that either. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB
I need counseling, I do. I was very reluctant to leave my work in South Africa and retire – circumstances dictated it and was the head over heart thing and we were sensible. When your domestic cleaner is shot on your front lawn and the perpetrator WALKS away having relieved her of less than £5 in cash and a bank card he had no pin for, we recognized the writing on the wall.
Well at first the novelty of sitting leisurely over breakfast began to pall and in a couple of months, I was bored out of my mind. We moved north, so that occupied me for a while and then I got bored again. I taught myself power point and gave a few historical lectures and talks and then I decided to write a book, well finish off a manuscript.
Why did I ever do that! Before I knew it I was on the merry-go-round to blogs and Facebook and Twitter and all the paraphernalia that entails. The upside I met a lot of great people and made some good friends and I was bowled over by how kind and friendly everyone was. I’ve been lucky so far in that I’ve only met a couple of cyber bullies and lost one dear friend I still miss terribly.
I sweated for weeks trying to work out how to use MailChimp, Bookfunnel and WordPress – again wonderful people came to my rescue.
I signed up for lots of blogs from experts on how to sell, how not to sell, how to build mailing lists, how not to alienate readers, give out free books, never give out free books, don’t spam, announce your book on every channel, people have to see it 7 times before they buy. Sign up for this course, you’ll hit the NYT list overnight – no that course is £800 down the drain, try this one for only £799.
I researched different promo sights, asked for advice and shared what I had learned with others. Give it all time to grow I was told. Time! At my age! By the time I let all this filter through to huge sales I’ll be pushing up the daisies – one of the reasons I have not even considered looking for an agent or publisher – and anyway I like being in control of my work. I wanted to cry when I saw what traditional publishers had chosen for the cover of my book.
The bottom line is I’m now working as hard as I ever did running my own production company and I don’t seem able to stop. Apart from reading and entertaining DH and a weeny bit of socializing, during which I’m groveling under the table checking my sales figures, puzzled as to why I’m met with blank stares when I bounce in and cry “I’ve got a BookBub!” – I can’t settle. If I’m not writing or pounding the keyboard I might do a little house cleaning, and watch DH as he dons his boots and gardening gloves to tend to our four window boxes. Most of the rubbish on television doesn’t grab me much either and I’m usually tweeting as the pictures on the screen flash past. The only time I concentrate is when they show foreign language films and I have to read the subtitles. If you took my lap top away I’d be prowling around the house, fingers wiggling searching for the keys, ideas crowding through my head screaming to get out.
I guess I’m just a lost cause and there’s no cure for it.
Guess I should mention that Amie 4 is up on pre-order
Anyway, having had a moan I feel a lot better now.
Oh, if you’re wondering why I’ve included totally inappropriate pictures of African wildlife – it’s because I’ve read three blogs this week warning about prosecutions for using uncopyrighted material, and these are my own pictures and I’m not planning on taking myself to court anytime soon.
I can’t resist posting more pics of the cable car ride. I just adore these flights suspended in the air, swaying gently like a bird. The most frustrating thing is trying to clean the glass to take clearer pictures. DH wouldn’t let me open the door and hang out for the really good shots.
At the other end, our first port of call was Fort Soliso. DH took an inordinate amount of interest in this fortification built to protect Singapore. He simply had to explore everywhere and I got pretty fed up. The only picture I took was this peacock sitting on a wall.
I must admit they had set up some pretty impressive displays. DH spent hours yesterday looking for the ones he’d taken but they’ve gone to ground in some file on his laptop and so it was back to the internet.
George V’s full name was George Frederick Ernest Albert; I’m very puzzled why they give so many names to royal people, it’s not as if they are likely to get mixed up with the common folk. I guess too they don’t have to fill in those fiddly forms which give you 2 centimetres to write a seven line address. Now that part would be easy for them, Buck House, London would find them I’m sure, but 4 Christian names? It’s just as well they changed to Windsor from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. I bet he never filled in a form at the post office NAME: ……… on which he had to fit George Frederick Ernest Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Several people have asked me if there is a synergy between me and my heroine Amie. I have to confess there is, except she trained for film work and I fell into it. She was left destitute in the African savannah, which was similar to me being left in the bush with a 9 week old baby. Admittedly I didn’t slog across the veld for days, but I did plenty of walking looking for that one pony who escaped more often than Houdini. The one huge difference is she’s a brave heroine and I’m the world’s biggest coward! Have you read her books yet (I’ve had very little to do with them).