Sunday, 17 January 2021

THE JAB (Cue theme from Quatermass)

 Daft, yes, but there's a serious message, even if you do have to wait for it.



Saturday, 9 January 2021

A Full Moon Over Withernsea

All right, here’s a bit of a treat for you, designed to cheer you up in these dark days of winter and lockdown.

It’s the opening of an untitled project designed as pure humour. Comments welcome but they are subject to moderation.

***

A Full Moon Over Withernsea



Dennis Rockliffe yanked on the starter cord, confident that the lawnmower engine would roar into life. Much to his surprise, chagrin and puzzlement, the cord came away in his hand and the mower remained malevolently static, as if waiting for him to attend to its needs. He could almost feel the machine tapping an impatient foot on the dusty concrete of the workshop floor and muttering, ‘You made a right mess of that, didn’t you?’

Rocky, as he was known to all and sundry pushed back his flat cap and ran a grimy hand through his thinning hair. “Why did you do that?” he demanded as if the cord had committed some infringement of his human rights.

Through a side door in the workshop, he could hear the muffled sound of Eric Wharrier raising his voice at another piece of intransigent equipment.

Relieved at the opportunity to forget the lawnmower if only for the moment, Rocky shouted, “You all right in there, Geronimo?”

Wharrier, whose surname had given rise to the soubriquet ‘Geronimo’, emerged from the paint shop. His boiler suit, once a shade of pale blue, resembled a Jackson Pollock original, but less ordered and sporting more colours above the underlying grunge. His lugubrious face remained half hidden behind a mask covering his mouth, and stained goggles which kept the paint from his eyes. When he removed them, he had the appearance of a latter-day Lone Ranger, but where unknown hero of the old west had dressed in blue with a black mask, Geronimo was clad in what amounted to Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dream Overalls, and while the rest his features were equally gaudy, his mask appeared as a band of pale skin cutting through his splash coloured features.

“It’s this damn spray gun,” he complained holding up the offending item from which red paint dripped. “It leaves blobs everywhere. Here I am trying to put an even finish on Mrs Saperia’s G-plan kitchen cabinet, and it’s giving me blobs.”

Rocky scratched his balding forehead again, the oil on his hand turning the white skin a delicate shade of charcoal. Setting the cap back into place, he ventured, “I wonder why she wants it painted red anyway.”

“Well, now, that’s another thing. The instructions said ‘fiery’. I assumed that to mean red. I mean fiery usually means red, doesn’t it.”

“Or yellow.”

“Well, yes, flames can be yellow, but—”

“Orange is another fiery type of colour.”

“I can see where you’re coming from, but—”

“Or even blue if it’s aerated like a Bunsen burner.”

Geronimo paused to consider this. “Why would anyone want a kitchen cabinet that looked like a Bunsen burner?”

“Well, you never know. Happen she’s into chemistry. Or happen her husband’s into chemistry.”

“No, Rocky, Maggie Saperia is a dinner lady at Hallhowden Primary, and her husband, Tommy, was a bus driver until that incident outside the Woolcombers.”

Rocky’s eclectic memory clicked into place, signalled by a knowing nod. “Oh. That was him, was it?”

Geronimo nodded in unison. “A sad business. A twenty-year unblemished record gone in ten seconds of sheer madness. And look at him now. Part time glass collector and washer-up in the Carder’s Arms. And he’s banned from the Woolcombers for life, you know. Not that it bothers him. He lives the other side of town, and the incident was the only time he’d ever been in there.” Geronimo shook his head and delivered a series of sympathetic tuts which reminded Rocky of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. “It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d been wearing proper trousers. But he had those jogging pants on. You know. No, er, zipper.”

Rocky understood at once. “So he had to let them down to er… Well, even so he must have been wearing underpants.”

“Trunk shorts,” Geronimo said with sufficient gravity to make sure Rocky got the message. “He had to let those down, too, and that’s where his real problems began.”

Rocky examined the broken pull cord for the lawnmower while giving the Saperia situation some thought. “We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Walked into the ladies by mistake.”

“Not all of us.” Geronimo put on a disdainful look, which lent greater emphasis to his Lone Ranger impression and caused Rocky to glance over his shoulder in expectation of finding Tonto there. “Besides, Tommy didn’t walk into the ladies.”

Rocky’s eyes popped. “Not the ladies?”

“You see, you have to remember that it was a new route for him. He’d been doing The Mill to Alderman Barncroft Memorial Park for years. And like I say, he’s never been in the Woolcombers. Well, what with the beer garden and the picnic tables, he thought the little shed was an outside, er, convenience.”

“And it wasn’t?”

“No. It was where they keep the empty beer barrels. Course, it had a bucket for cleaning up and Saperia thought it was… well, I don’t need to draw you a diagram do I? And it was pure bad luck that Annie, the landlady, happened to bring a couple of barrels out just as Saperia was using the, er, convenience.

Rocky screwed up his face. “Rotten bitta timing.”

“Couldn’t have been worse. Annie said it reminded her of the Full Moon over Withernsea.”

“Aye, and no one knew better than Annie Allsop what the full moon over Withernsea looked like.”

Geronimo agreed with a sanguine nod. “She did have that kind of reputation when she was younger, true. Anyway, she reported Tommy to the bus company and they called his eyesight into question. They said there had to be something wrong with his eyes for him to mistake a storage shed for the, er, conveniences.”

Rocky injected serious outrage into his voice. “And they sacked him for being short-sighted?”

“Not quite. They sacked him for the jogging pants. The company issued him with a uniform and jogging pants were not part of it. Tommy argued that since his waist is wider than his hips, his uniform trousers won’t stay up. Even with a belt. So he wore the jogging pants. They fasten with an elastic waist and a pull string. And because he was sat down all day, no one knew the difference.”

“So why didn’t he use braces on his uniform pants?” Rocky wanted to know.

“He did originally. But you can’t get trousers with buttons these days.”

“Or zippers, apparently.”

“I didn’t mean those kind of buttons,” Geronimo said. “I meant the kind of buttons you fasten braces onto. You know what I’m talking about. We all had them at school.”

“Aye, and they were holding up short trousers, too. I remember ’’em, all right. Especially in winter.”

“Well, modern braces fasten with little crocodile clips. Because he’s so tubby, when he sat in the driver’s seat, it put intolerable strain the crocodile clips at the back and his braces used to twang off and rattle him at the back of the neck. He said it was quite dangerous when he was driving along. Many’s the time he thought he was being attacked by a karate expert practising for a half-contact tournament. And one time, he happened to be leaning forward, adjusting his seat. The crocodile clips snapped off and the braces shot forward, right over his head and hit the windscreen. He spent ten minutes looking for kids throwing stones at the bus before he realised what had happened, and he only guessed then because his pants were falling down.” Geronimo shook his head sadly. “Nigh on a riot that night.”

“A riot?”

“Well, it was raining and he was late picking up at the bingo hall on Pickling Street. He finished up with a busload of soaking wet bingo freaks threatening to wreck the bus.”

Rocky placed the pull cord in a vice on his workbench and began the search for a replacement connector. “I don’t care what you say, there’s never any good comes of wearing jogging pants.”

Geronimo agreed. “Not when you’re driving a bus.”

***

Enjoy that? Then let me know.


Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Canary Island Adventures

Last week, in conjunction with darkstroke books, I announced the 20th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, A Tangle in Tenerife.

Here’s the promo:

 

© David Robinson 2020

 Feel free to share.

 Music: “Radio Martini” by Kevin MacLeod

Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4127-night-of-chaos

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 www.dwrob.com

***

Joe and thirty of his 3rd-age pals jetting off to the Island of Eternal Spring.

But as usual, all is not so simple. Who would wipe the images from a digital camera? Why do the young couple from Lancashire look so ill-at-ease, and why are they constantly arguing with a fellow holidaymaker from the same area? What kind of trouble is the courier in, and those card sharks… are they cheating or not.

It’s a Gordian knot for Joe and his chums as they try to unravel…

A TANGLE IN TENERIFE

 ***


 A Tangle in Tenerife, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #20, exclusive to Amazon, released September 4, 2020, available for pre-order now at:

 https://bookgoodies.com/a/B08CZWJMGK

(universal link takes you to your local Amazon site)


Saturday, 6 June 2020

Chatting with Miriam Drori


It’s not often I do guest posts. TBH, it’s not often I put up posts at all, but today I’m making an exception, in the shape of a conversation with the lovely Miriam Drori.
It started out as a video chat, but a morass of technical problems at both ends meant we had to revert to good old-fashioned written words.
Miriam is a writer and editor, a resident of Jerusalem, and a producer of high quality work. Which only begs the question, why would she want to talk to an idiot like me?
Still and all, let’s get on with it.
*
Welcome, Miriam. One of the questions people ask me is, what prompted you to become an author. Fact is, I had a good education which was a complete waste of the taxpayers’ money, and when I retired from the rat race ten years ago, I took up scribbling more seriously. So let me put the same question to you. What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

Ooh, you've thrown me in at the deep end and forced me to start with those two letters: S. A. No, that's not South Africa or South Australia or even Société Anonyme, which is the first one that Google gave me. No, for me, SA is social anxiety, which I've been unfortunate enough to share most of my life with. It probably sounds strange for me to say that social anxiety prompted me to start writing, but I can explain. When I eventually discovered that was my problem, I joined an online forum for 'sufferers' (for want of a better word). I 'met' a lot of people who were much worse off than me. And I noticed that almost everyone who joined the forum wrote, "I thought I was the only one." Also, I noticed that people on the forum wrote a lot about not being understood - even by professional people who should have known better. In other words, people who had it didn't know they had it, and people who didn't have it didn't know anything about it. So, I became passionate about raising awareness of social anxiety. As writing was something I knew how to do, I started writing about social anxiety. That was in 2004. The book, Social Anxiety Revealed, was eventually published by Crooked Cat thirteen years later, in 2017, stayed with them for three years and is now published independently. It was when I finished writing it, in about 2005, that I had the idea of writing a story and so began the long… well, never-ending period of learning the craft of fiction writing.

Another question people ask me is what’s a typical day like you. Disastrous is the first word that springs to mind. A jackrabbit mind like mine needs something to keep it occupied, so there is no typical day. I could be talking to the webcam, writing, marketing, or (when the missus is in that kind of mood) working in the garden. Your turn. What does a typical writing day involve for you?

A typical day… I wish I had one! I wish I could say I spend the mornings writing and the afternoons editing and marketing, but it doesn't work out like that. I have lots of days when I don't do any writing at all… at least, not the fictional sort of writing. In November, on the other hand, I spend whole days writing. That's because of NaNoWriMo - that month when certain crazy people around the world try to write 50 thousand words in a month. I don't always reach 50 thousand words, but I always have a great time doing it and that's because of all the other local crazy people doing the same thing and the meetups we all have where we eat, drink, discuss what we're writing and write together. So, this is the time that writing isn't a solitary activity.

When I think about my work, I often ask myself, what’s the best part about writing? For me it’s typing those two magical words THE END. What’s the best part of the writing process for you…and the worst?

The best part is reading through something I've written and thinking, "That's really rather good!" The worst part… I don't know. It's certainly not finding a section that doesn't work. That happens all the time, but I know that if I think about it, I'll come up with a better idea, or else I'll ask for advice. So, I can't think of a worst part of the actual writing process. In the wider context of being an author, marketing is the worst part.

I’m a panster. I never plan anything. If I do, the plans are invariably go wrong. Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?

I've tried both. I think the writing process flows more quickly when I plot in advance. I prefer to know the ending so that I always have a goal in mind. Having said that, nothing is engraved in stone - any part of my plot can change as I'm writing.

I frequently struggle with deciding on names for my characters. Is it one of your problems too?

In general, I try not to have two with the same first initial. Also, I try to choose names that would sound familiar to English-speakers even if the characters are not English-speakers. That's not always possible, so my second choice would be names that are short and hopefully easy to remember.

In the first novel I ever wrote, I didn't know what to call the main characters, so I called them M for male and F for female. Eventually, they turned into Martin and Fiona. Luckily, I decided to scrap that novel, but the characters remained with me, keeping their names in a new plot that became my latest novel.

Let’s throw you right in the deep end. Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

Yes, I can summarise it because this is something I've considered. In 3 words: Japan smashes walls. In 7 seven words: Social misfit's journey through Japan and life. That one was suggested by my friend and author, Katy Johnson.

And the inspiration for the book?

The original idea came from a writing course I attended. We were told to describe a character and I chose Martin, who I knew well from my discarded novel. Then they told us to place the character in a country we hadn't visited. At the time, I hadn't been to Japan, but I'd heard a bit about it. So, I imagined how Martin would fare if he was sent to Japan, and that's what led to the novel, Cultivating a Fuji.


I’m sure it’s a winner.

I spent much of my working life travelling all over Great Britain, so I don’t need to do a great deal of research for my books. Do you do much research?

Oh yes, but not an enormous amount, because I deliberately used places and facts I knew. I researched sites in Japan that I didn't get to see on my visit there. And I discovered new places in Bournemouth, which is where Martin lives. And various aspects of life in the '70s and earlier - like songs that were popular then, and even the weather. I discovered I'd included a waxwork in London's Madame Tussaud's that wouldn't have been there at the time. It took me some time to find another one that was there and that suited my story.

Other people ask, do you have a message for your readers? The answer for me is, yes. Read and enjoy. So again, I put the questions you, is there a message for the reader?

Mostly, I wanted to create a good story. If readers enjoy the story (and they have), then I'm satisfied. If it causes them to rethink anything afterwards, that's an added bonus. There are several messages they could take away, starting with this one: The effects of childhood bullying can last a lifetime.

Last question. Do you remember Desert Island Discs? If you were stranded on a desert island, what luxury item would you like with you?

I still listen to Desert Island Discs, although I always expect to hear Roy Plumley! (Yes, I'm that old.) I'd take a piano. Hopefully, I'd finally have time to practise. Hidden inside the piano would be lots of notebooks and pens, because I can't imagine not being able to write!

I think that’s cheating isn’t it?

Miriam, it’s been absolutely wonderful talking to you, and I wish you every success with all your work.
*
Miriam’s novel, Cultivating a Fuji is published by Crooked Cat Books and you can find it at:




Friday, 22 May 2020

Life in Lockdown

Here's a light-hearted look at exercise for the elderly and  vulnerable (that's me) during lockdown.

© David Robinson 2020

 Check out my main site at: www.dwrob.com

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Chatting with Sue Barnard

A slight departure for me. I'm in conversation with fellow author and good friend, Sue Barnard.



Please feel free to share. You can learn more about Sue at: http://broad-thoughts-from-a-home.blogspot.com/ and as always, I’m at www.dwrob.com


Sunday, 19 April 2020

For Charity



Here in the UK we’re in awe of Captain Tom Moore’s efforts to raise money for the charity NHS Together. At the age of 99, with a couple of weeks to go to his 100th birthday, he decided to raise £1000 for the charity by simply walking 100 times round his garden. According to media reports, he raised a staggering £20 million.
I take my hat off to you, sir.
It made me think about what I can do for charity. Ultimately I came up with the idea of taking five of my self-published titles and donating all profits from them to the same charity, NHS Together.
Here’s a video which I posted on the subject yesterday.

The idea wasn’t mine. It was down to my good friend, Iain Pattison, who is donating profits from his Quintessentially Quirky Tales series to the same charity, and I don’t think either of us is planning on emulating Captain Tom’s efforts. If I can raise even £20, never mind £20 million, it’s something and it will ease my feeling of uselessness during the present crisis.
Four of the titles concerned are thrillers written under the pen name Robert Devine. The fifth, an oddball, off -the-wall comedy, is written under my real name David Robinson, and you can find a full list, along with links:

All five titles are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so you members of Amazon Prime can download and read them as part of your allowance.
From now until the end of the coronavirus crisis, all profits from sales and page reads will be donated to NHS Together.
So what do you get out of it? Entertainment at a reasonable price and the satisfaction of knowing that the profits go to a worthy cause.
I thank you all in advance.