A PALACE AND THE DEVIL’S CLAW

TRAVEL

To make up for not being able to have a seaside cottage for the summer holidays, the Habsburgs built lovely gardens round their holiday shack which stretch way into the distance. We were there in May and the flowers, despite me not knowing a dandelion from a tulip, were delightful. I was rather surprised I didn’t see a single gardener as we walked around – they don’t mow the lawns and tend the gardens at night do they?

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There was also another surprise attraction I’ll share with you next week.

HISTORY

Last week I left poor little princess Isabella growing up lonely in a huge, dark, empty, dank castle in the middle of nowhere. (You may get the tissues out here).

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Her father John II had arranged in his will for his children to be financially well cared for, but half-brother Henry doesn’t comply – either from a desire to keep his half siblings restricted or simply through ineptitude. Like his father before him, he is a totally incompetent king.

He just likes playing all day long and letting his advisors run the country (as you do when you’re king). Come on, be honest. Would you be bothered by your insane sister in law and her brats miles away when you could hunt, sit for your portrait, whore and play with your crown jewels all day long? Of course, you wouldn’t. So, he didn’t either.

 

AFRICA FACTS

There is a pharmaceutical company in Germany (I suspect there are several) who have discovered the benefits of a root growing in Africa that helps control arthritis. It’s called the Devil’s Claw. We were sent to make a programme about this which led to one of my most embarrassing moments.

The moment we stepped out of the car, we were greeted as we often were, with a group singing and dancing in national costume. I was then led into the village hall and to my horror up onto a stage and a paper thrust into my hands. It read “REASON FOR DAY MRS (REAL NAME)”

I was then asked to make a speech and I had no idea what to say. What I knew about their work digging up the Devil’s Claw roots you could write on a pin. This often happened to us, budget and time were so tight there was no chance of researching beforehand and no internet to take a quick peep.

This is what the root looks like and I’ll tell you more next time.

devils claw

THE FINAL WORD

WRS 13 FEB 2018

Till next time, take care.

Lucinda

 

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VIENNA AND A VICIOUS ANIMAL

TRAVEL

Now because I’ve decided we need more pictures in here, these are two statues in Vienna, but sadly I can’t tell you anything about them.

I thought I would be really mean and pop up a couple more pics of the scrumptious cakes they have in Vienna. Austria is renowned worldwide for its cakes and hot chocolate.

Saturday, we got up early and walked to Karlsplatz and got on the underground for a trip out of town to visit the Schönbrunn (beautiful spring) Palace.

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This is the tiny country cottage that Empress Maria Theresa inherited and then extended it a little (as you do). She enlarged it to 1,441 rooms in the Baroque style making it one of the most important monuments in Austria. It’s been the summer holiday home for the Habsburgs, and it’s very sad they couldn’t play on the beach or swim in the sea as Austria doesn’t have a seaside.

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These days, in fact since the mid 50’s they let any old people wander around it, so we were let in too. The palace reflects 300 years of history, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

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HISTORY

Over 500 years earlier in Spain, in the castle of Avila, the Dowager Queen constantly tells her young daughter “If your stepbrother Henry dies without heirs, then your younger brother Alfonso will be king.  If Alfonso dies, you, Isabella will become queen.”  This is a little daunting when you’re only 6, but the really scary thing is that the Dowager Queen is terrified that the new king is out to harm the little Princess Isabella. Don’t forget she is mad.Henry IV 6

So, she whisks the kids off to the lonely castle of Aravelo to keep them safe. Princess Isabella has lessons and, under instruction from her mother spends an awful lot of time praying. She spends hours and hours each day on her knees.  Court etiquette is rigid, it’s more nunnery than a royal court.

Aravelo castle 2

AFRICA FACTS

I thought that as all but one of my books is set in Africa I would try and include an interesting fact that you might not know.

Ask anyone which animal is the most dangerous in Africa and they will probably quote one of the Big 5 – lion, Cape buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros and elephant.

However, many local Africans living in rural areas will tell you it’s the Honey Badger.

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Many Africans will tell you they are the fiercest of all the animals. They’re not really badgers and though only 28 centimeters high, they’re notorious for their strength, ferocity, and toughness. They have been known to savagely and fearlessly attack almost any kind of animal when escape is impossible, even repelling lions. They will also attack horses, cattle and Cape Buffalo and their skin is so thick that bee stings and porcupine quills rarely penetrate it. When they attack they are virtually tireless and urban legend has it they will jump up and grab a large animal by the testicles and refuse to let go.

I scripted a video for National Geographic a few years ago, where a couple hand reared a cub before releasing it into the wild when it was old enough to fend for itself. It was one of the best projects I have ever worked on.

Finally, a quick reminder about my books with this advert.

WANTED READERS 27 MARCH 2018

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/

Till next week, take care.

Lucinda

 

CAFE AND CASTILE

We’d found a good Italian/Austrian restaurant to dine the night before in Vienna, so we earmarked it for the following night, their menu was extensive and the prices reasonable.

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But although we wandered the streets we were never to find it again!

We visited several more churches and I noticed with surprise that they were mostly Protestant. Living in Europe I’ve become used to seeing Catholic churches, but of course, it was in this part of the world that the Protestant movement began.

I found this amazing shop in the cellar and was tempted to buy until I remembered our small our little rabbit hutch at home.

HISTORY

I’ve decided that as I now live in Spain I should next showcase a very famous Queen, a woman I have to admire as she was so strong.

Her story is stranger than fiction, you couldn’t make it up.

Like many of her generation, she was very camera shy. Her grandfather was Henry III of Castile and this is a map to show where that was.

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Based on Image: Conquista Hispania.svg de HansenBCN derivative work:

And he married Catherine of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster.  They had a son called John and he reigned as King John II of Castile from 1406 to 1454. He was only a year and 10 months old when he became king and he was one of the most incompetent kings on record.

(Don’t worry, we’ll get to the heroine next week), this is just the opening preamble just to confuse you).

ADD BREAK

Since all my books except one are set in Africa, I thought I would share some of my photos with you.

I took these when we were filming in the Northern Cape, a dairy farmer, and his family.

We found that it’s generally the women who farm, along with the household tasks, childrearing, water collecting and just about everything else. This then was an exception and the old man was a delight. He’s taken onboard every new practice he can and was making a real success of his farm. They even arrange for school visits to show what can be achieved.

Another reminder about the Thursday guest blogs. 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 lucindaeclarke@gmail.com   or lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com   or you can pm me on Facebook.

Till next week, take care.

 

REINS AND REIGNS

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.

HISTORY

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. The Queen at Madame Tussauds, London

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.

ADD BREAK

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!)

2017 NEW APPLE AWARDS MEDAL AMedal1000x1000

AND,

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 😊

You can find both on my web page

http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

or my Amazon page

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/

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 lucindaeclarke@gmail.com   or lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com   or you can pm me on Facebook.

Till next week, take care.

 

 

PICKS AND PROSTITUTES

Once upon a time when I started writing for radio, I learned very quickly how to think in sound. It was easy to transport listeners from the bottom of the Mariana Trench to the heights of Mount Everest. All you needed was a sound engineer, a box of pebbles, a few whooshing noises, bubbles blown into a glass and so on.

Later when I graduated into writing for television, I was hauled over the coals more than once for including stock shots that would need to be purchased at enormous cost, so I learned to think in visuals – finding innovating ways around expensive underwater scenes and moon shots from Cape Canaveral.

In between, there were articles for magazines, speeches, newspapers, adverts etc etc.

Then, after a pretend retirement came the books. This can’t be so difficult I thought. I was wrong. The grammar Nazis criticised what I thought was perfect English, I’d been at it for years after all. But no, I’d erred on the wrong side of the written rules, which for a book novice like me, were unacceptable to the general reading public. So, enter the editors and hopefully, all those niggly things were put right. I had a better idea of where I was heading.

Now we come to the nasty bit. How to tell the world you have written a masterpiece (well a full-length novel) it was time to learn the marketing side.

I signed up for numerous ‘helpful’ newsletter and blogs, studied their advice, tried all kinds of different approaches. Most, however, were invitations to spend money on learning this technique or another. If only I spent anything up to $/£1,000 I would be an instant overnight success.

Not having that amount of spare cash lying around, I took what little I could gain from the ‘free’ bits, but it was only after a few months that I realized that one course of action contradicted another.

Use Pinterest – No, Pinterest is out Twitter is the new shout out.

Give book 1 in the series away for free and readers will buy the rest – no, a free book is only read by 2% of the readers who download it.

If you’re an unknown writer, you will only gain readers by giving your books away for cents. No, if you price them that low, everyone will consider them worthless.

Every day I must receive at least half a dozen ‘offers’ in my inbox. I’ve investigated the people behind these and it seems that most of them have had success with books – but mostly ‘how to’ books.

Many of them must be so busy running courses, recording podcasts and writing enticing emails to sell their advice to find the time to actually write. So, does that suggest they are making far more money from selling courses than they ever get in royalties?

The Big Hole, Kimberley

It reminds me of the stories of how so many people got rich during the diamond rush in Kimberley. They were not the miners at the rock face, nor the farmers who originally owned the land, but the merchants who supplied the shovels, picks, beds, tents, beer, and prostitutes to men who’d trekked for miles across land and oceans to make their fortune. The shop and brothel keepers may not have found the one diamond that made them rich, but they made a steady living supplying the tools along with hope to desperate men who handed them their last pennies.

The ones who succeeded in making a fortune from the diamonds themselves were those who could afford to buy several shares and then rent out their claims for a share of the profit, or, the men who determined the price of the diamonds once they were liberated from the rock.

Many of us probably feel like those miners. We don’t buy picks and axes, we buy space in promos, we burrow into the pages of social media, we collapse at the end of the day juggling life and marketing and networking while trying to find the time to write the next novel.

And that’s usually the bottom line for many of these promotional guides. ‘If you’re not selling, then write another book, build up your back catalog.’ That’s enough to keep most of us from complaining their system doesn’t work for writers who are now hundreds of dollars poorer while their sales figures barely peep over zero most days.

Of course, the bottom line is maybe our books are not good enough – our genre is not in vogue right now – the market is saturated – we don’t have the high-level contacts  – readers are now trained to only read free books – most people don’t read they prefer games and Netflix.

There could be any number of reasons, but the poor writer is left wallowing in a pit of self-doubt and worthlessness. Being driven to write is a disease we can’t escape and like a fly in a spider’s web, we are trapped vacillating between writing and marketing with only so many hours in the day to allocate.

What are your thoughts?

MEET ROBERT FEAR (FRED)

This week’s guest author I know from chats on FB, particularly in the groups Indie Authors Support and Discussion and We Love Memoirs. I’ve also read many of his books and enjoyed them. How many of you will pick up on the word ‘time’ in one of his titles? I’m really pleased to welcome Robert/Fred Fear on this week’s blog, starting with a brief biography.

Robert Fear has lived in Eastbourne, on the south coast of the UK for half his life. He moved there to be with Lynn, his future wife and is still there with her thirty years later. As cat-lovers they have taken on several rescue cats over the years and are owned by three at the moment – Hazell (tabby), Jet (black) and Sparky, a bouncy ginger one-year-old.

For his day job, Robert works as a self-employed software consultant. In his spare time, he writes, edits and self-publishes books, and organises annual travel writing competitions.

Robert’s interest in travel goes back to his twenties when he spent most of his time abroad. His experiences included; a summer in Ibiza, hitch-hiking around Europe and touring the USA & Canada. His most eventful trip was in 1981 when he travelled around Asia.

Born into a religious sect known as the Exclusive Brethren, his father John took the brave step of leaving it with his young family when Robert was nine years old. Robert never saw his grandparents again but is thankful for being able to grow up outside this restrictive group. His life has been full of adventures that he would never have experienced otherwise.

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Fred was a nickname that Robert Fear was given while at school. It became his travel name and he is still known as Fred to this day. In this blog post Fred talks about the background to his self-publishing ventures.

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia is the edited version of a handwritten diary that I kept during my travels in Asia between February and July 1981. The final collection ran to 600 pages of closely written detail.

It was almost forgotten for many years, only making an appearance when friends asked to see it or to read it.

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In 2005 I decided to start typing up my diary onto the computer. I managed to get the first two months done but then ran out of motivation.

A couple of years later there was an article in a PC magazine about Kindle and self-publishing that sparked my interest.

The second part of my diary was released in 2009 and its title, Time in Thailand, probably indicates to you that things didn’t go as planned. £99 to Hong Kong was published in 2011 and covers the first part of my trip where I did some work as an extra for Chinese television.

By now the bug had truly bitten and I started planning the release of the whole diary. Over the next two years, I typed everything up and started editing the diary for publication, all in my spare time.

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia was self-published in December 2013 and was relatively successful. It was a long book though. The paperback version ran to 564 pages and contained 165K words.

During the first few months of 2015 further editing was undertaken and the second edition, released in October 2015, contained less than 100K words, with around 360 pages. It has also had a professional final edit and a wonderful new cover.

A lot of my spare time over the past couple of years has been devoted to making my father’s dream come true.

It started for me back in 1992 when my father, John, was becoming increasingly frail and was confined to bed most of the time. Visits to the hospital became more frequent and the doctors were talking about months, not years.

John had been working on his memoirs for several years and had already typed up many of the chapters. He also had plans in place for finishing the remaining chapters of his book. Now he was unable to continue and my mother, Mary, called me to see if I could help. I was more than happy to.

In the evenings and at weekends I sat at my computer and transcribed the chapters that John had already finished. These were duly printed off and sent back to him. It was a period of reconciliation between father and eldest son as we discussed the changes that he wanted made and planned for the missing chapters.

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During the months following his death, I continued working on John’s memoirs with the help of Mary and my brother, Alastair. The limited edition was published under the title Exclusive Pedigree and if it hadn’t been for a chance remark the life of the book could have ended there.

Towards the end of 2015, I was visiting my mother for a few days and gave her a paperback copy of the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia, which she wanted to read. The conversation turned to self-publishing and we started talking about John’s memoirs. Then came the bombshell, “Did you know Rob that John always wanted to have his book published properly?”

Thanks to the tremendous support of beta-readers and fellow authors alike, my father’s memoirs were professionally self-published in July 2016. I think John would be proud of the finished result, a fabulous tribute to his life entitled Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren.

Travel Stories 2017

While working on the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia, I started a blog in February 2015 to assist me with the editing process. To encourage people to visit my blog fd81.net I started a Travel Story competition for entries of between 500-1000 words which I ran in parallel with daily diary extracts.

It was such a success that I subsequently ran another competition for Travel Highlights of between 50-100 words. Again this went very well. I decided to publish all the entries in a new book called Travel Stories and Highlights.

Travel Stories 2018

In 2016 I re-ran the two competitions. Again, there were a lot of fantastic entries and a 2017 Edition of Travel Stories and Highlights was published in December 2017 with the best 50 travel stories and 50 highlights from both sets of competitions.

This year was the third year for the competitions and the response has been so terrific that I have been able to publish a brand new 2018 Edition containing 60 compelling Travel Stories and 40 absorbing Travel Highlights.

Twitter:  @fredsdiary1981

Fred’s Blog:   fd81.net

Facebook:    www.facebook.com/fredsdiary1981

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia   getBook.at/FredsDiary1981

Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren  getBook.at/ExclusivePedigree

Travel Stories and Highlights: 2017 Edition   getBook.at/TravelStories2017

Travel Stories and Highlights: 2018 Edition   getBook.at/TravelStories2018

Thank you, Robert, for being my guest today and I can personally recommend his books, especially if you like traveling.

Till next time, take care.

 

TOURS AND TRUTHS

votive church

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.

HISTORY

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.

ADD BREAK

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?

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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.

Till next week take care.