OPERA AND OPPORTUNITY

TRAVEL

Hidden along the Stephansplatz in the centre of Vienna are several little arcades, and I wanted to explore them all.

IMG_0838

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.

HISTORY

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.

 

buckingham palace
Buckingham Palace
WINDSOR CASTLE 2
Windsor castle, holiday home

 

 

 

 

 

ADD BREAK

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?

TLP HIGHER RES

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.

Till next week, take care.

Advertisements

CHURCHES AND CINDERELLA

TRAVEL

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.

IMG_0810

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.

HISTORY

Queen_Elizabeth_the_Queen_Mother_portrait

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.

ADD BREAK

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.

Till next week, take care.

IT’S 2018!! SO …?

Firstly, I want to wish you all a fantastic 2018 with everything you would wish for – you can fill aspirations and resolutions in here ………… and that all those things you hope for yourself, your friends and your family in the coming 12 months will come true.

fireworks 2
PIC BY SEMNOZ

If you think about it, it’s all a bit of a daft hype isn’t it? The date changes and we all rush around starving ourselves to death, taking a deep breath and checking out the bank balance, or tapping away feverishly on the keyboard to complete that first/next book.

And all this because the date has changed and it’s not as if every culture even had the same timing either.

Standard_World_Time_Zones

Did you know over 200 years ago they were not afraid to mess with the British calendar?

The year 1752 began on January 1 (no great surprise there) but to align it to the one used on the continent they dropped the Julian calendar and adopted the Gregorian calendar which meant losing 11 days in the September – so Wednesday 2 September was followed by Thursday 14 September that year which came in at only 355 days.

Would I have been cross if my birthday fell in one of those 11 days – no birthday party and no presents – though I guess I could take a year off my age, because if the date of the day I was born on didn’t happen that year …?

Just for interest (I came across all this delightful information as I was changing over paper diaries) in the era for:

Byzantine the year begins on September 14 ushering in 6527

The Roman era will start on January 14 for the year 2771

While the Nabonasser year (please don’t ask) 2767 will commence on April 19th

The Japanese share January 1st with most of us, but they have already reached year 2678.

Finally, the Islamic New Year of 1440 will dawn on September 12th.

So, do not panic if you’ve broken or failed to achieve your New Year Resolutions by the middle of January 2018, you now have lots more dates to start all over again.

calendar

As usual, being so serious and level-headed I’m setting sensible, realistic goals for 2018.

Writing:- at least 5 words a day

House cleaning:- at least twice during 2018

Marketing:- 5 mins a day

Checking sales stats:- down to 549 times a day

Reading:- only one book a week

Leaving pc to do other things:- 20 minutes a day (that will include dressing, showering, eating, talking to DH etc, etc)

Talking: communicate with one other real, live human being who neither reads nor writes, once a month (that will be a tough one).

So, it’s none of this trekking off to the gym, walking up mountains, trying to touch my toes nonsense for me.

I’m already quite relaxed about my resolutions for 2018, and if I get a film contract, or a TV series or complete another book (Amie 5) it will be a bonus and I can reward myself with more cherry liquor chocolates.

That reminds me, I must check out the symptoms for chocolate poisoning. I’m knee deep in them here, not that I’m complaining – sheer bliss as the coffee jar is full as well.

WRS PRINT COPY

 

Final word, the paperback copies for The very Worst Riding School in the World have arrived.

That is part 1 and 2 – limited edition and never to be on open sale, but you might win one in a competition I’m having soon for my newsletter subscribers only. So if you would like to sign up, I’d love to have you.

http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

That’s DH being camera shy again.

Till next time, take care.

 

YOU MUST HAVE A CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVEN IF IT’S A DISASTER

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.  Xmas church

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.

wrapped xmas 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. binos

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.

xmas present

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.

dashcam

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.

IMG_0918

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!

gift voucher

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.

Till then, take care and happy shopping.

DISTRACTIONS AND A DURBAR

If anyone is in any doubt about Singapore’s productivity, then this picture tells it all.

P1020686

No blurb about Singapore would be complete without a picture of their national symbol. The Merlion – the body of a fish to remember it was once a small fishing village and the head of a lion which represents Singapore’s original name—Singapura – meaning “lion city” and stands on Santosa Island. (That’s me on the Wishing Steps in case you weren’t sure which was which).

When we arrived there I was blown away.  Again, spotlessly clean and a paradise for those who live in a small area.

Within the complex apart from Universal Studios there was an aquarium, Funland, restaurants, shops and a hotel. I couldn’t resist this photo taken in the foyer.

IMG_0450

 

The place was pretty crowded and we just ‘sticky beaked’ as DH calls it – I think that’s a northern expression for being nosey.

HISTORY NONSENSE

So, George V ascended the throne in 1910 or somewhere around that time, in my version of history, you may have noticed that dates are not very important. And it looked as if he got around a bit (don’t they all?) as he hopped over to India to attend a Durbar. This was all to do with being the Emperor of India – I suspect they never asked the Indians if they minded. Anyhow there was a big bash held in Delhi every time there was a new Emperor and this was the third one they’d had. Here is a picture of the great event and you can clearly see a close-up of them sitting on the dais in the middle.Delhi_Durbar,_1911

Do I really have to do this embarrassing bit? I’m a bit weird, because if I read the proper advertising hype ‘like wot it shud be done’ – Buy now! Last few seconds on sale! Grab yours now while you can! And so on and so on and so on – my automatic response is “Shan’t! I will not be coerced, forced, persuaded or enticed. I can promise you that the door to door salesmen never knew what had hit them by the time they fled down our front path.

So all I’m going to say is the Amie book 1 is still at $/£0.99 as an introduction to the series or free on KU   myBook.to/Amie1   also available on audio https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725CYNYG

and book 4 is on pre-order now. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

Take it or leave it as you like, no pressure, they are not going away anytime soon.

Till next time, take care.

 

MEALS AND MARIE BISCUITS

Now why did I ever think it was clever to alliterate all these headings, can you imagine how long it takes me to think them up? That’s right about 10 seconds.

THE TRAVEL STORY

Now I loved travelling around the Far East I really did, but, there comes a time when you just long for a good roast, or maybe an Italian and you feel if you ever look at another noodle you’ll slit your wrists. So, you can imagine our delight when we found this place in Penang, left over no doubt from the days of the British Empire.

We would never have found it but for a kind friend who has a holiday apartment on the island and was worried we were not having a good time.

We spent much of that in the shopping mall, just as good as many I’ve been in, but before we flew out the next day we decided to dine in the hotel.

IMG_4233

At first we thought the restaurant was closed, but as we peered in through the door, a kitchen person appeared and kindly called the staff in, laid the one table for us and we ate in total splendour, in total isolation watched by a fascinated and assorted crowd of hotel employees. I tried to reassure myself it was only because we were using knives and forks as honestly I think DH and I eat the same as everyone else. However, it was time to leave the next morning for Singapore.

HISTORY – THE NEW VERSION

Prince Alfred, Bertie’s younger brother announced his intention to marry the Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, the daughter of the Tzar of Russia. Bertie thought this a great idea as family members of his wife Alix had also married Russian royalty. Of course Queen Vic wasn’t keen but this time she didn’t get her own way

The wedding took place at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, and to commemorate the occasion a small English bakery made the Marie biscuit with the Duchess’ name printed on the top.

But there was trouble when they got back to London, for the pompous Marie insisted on taking precedence over Alix, since her father the Tsar considered the Danish royal family quite inferior. Really, you’d think being royal was enough without being snobbish about the hierarchy of such posh families.

PROMO TIME

Of course the reason I write a weekly blog is not so you’ll buy my books (uncross fingers from behind back).

However if you like erotica, fairies, dragons and the wild west you won’t find any books written by me.

If you do like action adventure, biographies and memoirs and comedy you just might!

And this is the link to my author page on Amazon as I like to be helpful

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

My memoirs are wide and available on other channels.

Till next week take care.

DRAGONS AND DISASTER

THE TRAVEL STORY

Penang was a nice place, but it was almost impossible to see much. Not from the top of the bus, that was too scary, but because of all the people, you could hardly put a pin between them (well a little more artistic licence here as one of the photos will show).

Altogether we spent 5 hours on that bus and the heat was unbearable as it wended its way down to Butan Ferringhi. Most places were incredibly filthy, the food stalls grungy, the public loos a disgrace and we were bombarded with rap and other raucous music and horrendous traffic jams.

We’d become so used to the row outside, people, car horns and delightful screaming children that I was slow to realize the dragon dancing in a house across the road. So apologies for the blurred pictures, I missed most of it.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now those of you who are really switched on will have noticed that I’ve hopped back in time a little to tell you more about Bertie. (I’m not too fussed about precision if you’re not). At this point I wish to remind you of my disclaimer as to the accuracy of these lessons and should you fail any exam by quoting from my blogs I take no responsibility whatsoever.

Now just when you were thinking that Bertie was an absolute cad (an old British word for scumbag) you should know that when Lily Langtree became pregnant, Mr Langtree went bankrupt and left her and she was forced to retire from society.

Lillielangtry1ACTRESS

She moved into a small apartment and was astounded when Bertie – (by now called Teddy by most of his friends), knocked on the door.

He proved himself loyal and helped her begin her acting career by introducing her to all the right people. They had ceased to be lovers, but the Prince remained a good friend. That’s not probably quite as his wife Alix saw it however.

 

THE EMBARRASSING PROMO BIT

uae-with-5-star-review-medal

I’ve not pushed my comedy book for a while and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re feeling a little depressed. I take you back in time to Fairyland, two hundred years on from that memorable ball, to tell you about Cinderella, now fat, blousy and very, very common. She’s had enough of King Charming and is planning on how to get a divorce. Add to this the elegant and prissie Snow White, married to King Harold who beds anything within reach, and Sleeping Beauty who is making up for lost time and terrorizing her wimpy husband King Augustus who can’t afford to feed the 28 children they’ve already produced. As if all that wasn’t bad enough enter the Green Giant who has been sent to cause a revolution among the happy peasants who are just that – happy.  http://amzn.to/2j26YUd

Till next week, take care.