Saturday, 18 September 2010

Th-Th-That's all,folks!

"Well, my bags are packed (nearly), I'm ready to go (almost)....." strains of John Denver ring through my mind. Just need to round up the last bits and pieces!

Daughter R and I are watching 'National Treasure" to put us in the mood for the forthcoming trip across the pond and we are certainly ready for it! Despite injuring myself, I'm hopeful it will not affect the holiday too much - just need to take things at a leisurely pace!

I will try to keep adding to my blog with piccies etc. and detail what we get up to in the 'colonies'! ;-)

Well, a brief intermission will now ensue.....and I'll catch up with you all when I get back!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Pre-vacation recuperation....

One week to go - and then I'm off on hols, avec daughter :-) but sans OH :-(

So, my usual fiction challenges and aspirations are on hold, but depending on my access to the 'web I'll hopefully keep up with all the 'usual suspects'!

In the meantime, I have to get my gammy knee to rights (hobbling around IKEA yesterday was probably NOT the best of activities!) so today I plan ......... very little that requires movement! So - feet up, a bottomless teapot and excellent reading material will be the order of the day!

Also, I need to plan which literary works to take with me to while away the seven-or-so-hours' journey time 'across the pond' - currently on the list are Peter James "Not Dead Enough", Sean Black "Lock Down" and (in view of the fact that there will be a visit to Maine included in this trip!) John Connolly's "Every Dead Thing".

Meanwhile, keep taking the tablets and back to the tea.......aaaaaahhhhh! :-)

Monday, 6 September 2010


For the FFF challenge this week, Cormac Brown ran a poll on different starter sentences and this time The Professor's entry came out on top. (well done, Prof!)

Thus, our literary efforts for this week have to begin with the sentence:

"He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk."

Thanks, Cormac, for facilitating the whole event, keeping us on track and allowing us to flex our literary muscles!

So,without further ado - here you go!


He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk. It was hard not to look but I was fighting that urge because looking at it might finally make me face up to something I’d been tying to avoid for the last few months.

“Frank, I need you to look at this for me.” The policeman’s voice was firm but there was a kindly edge to it. Or maybe I’d just grown used to it after all this time.

Since Debbie had gone missing six and a half months ago Detective Sergeant Peter Guidrey had been in contact with me in some form or another every few days. Lately he’d taken to calling into my office, sometimes with possible news, sometimes just touching base, as if to say ‘We’re still on the case’. It was a kindly gesture, rather than being summoned yet again to the police station.

In the first harrowing hours of her disappearance I’d seen the finger of suspicion waver in my direction. That was normal I suppose. I’ve read somewhere about the number of abduction cases involving a known family member, usually a parent, often a male. My alibi had checked out, but I wonder even to this day, if somewhere lurking below the surface of formal Police procedure, they still suspect my involvement.

Peter pushed the photo towards me, prompting a reaction. Trouble is, the reaction I might give would not help matters.

“Please, Frank. Let’s settle this. Take a look.”

Settle it? Doesn’t he understand how much I want it to be settled? To see my beautiful Debbie come springing into the room in all her teenage youthfulness, with her music playing way too loud and her pleading for a newer, smarter phone…..?

He doesn’t understand the hours I lay awake at night going over and over in my head the last time I saw Debbie. I’d dropped her at the station. She was meeting her friends and they were going into the city to shop for new clothes and spend far too much money and hang out together and whatever it is that teenage girls get up to these days.

I should have waited; made sure some of her friends were there, but she’d waved me away. I shouldn’t have looked at my watch. Perhaps that’s why she told me to go. She’s a good kid. She knows the business pays the bills and the pressure to keep the whole thing afloat takes every minute I have. I should have waited.

So when Peter asked me to look at the photo and settle it I really wanted to, believe me. But I also want to rage and curse because my little girl is missing. She walked out of our lives and just disappeared. No trace. No explanation.

Sometimes I imagine she’s walking down a street, carefree and happy. Other times, the imagination turns the opposite way, to a darker reality. In the moments when hope is at its lowest ebb I secretly wonder where her body lies, her soul crying for us to bring her home.


My attention returns at the sound of Peter’s voice and my eyes focus on the white edge of the photo. I take a deep breath and reach out, my fingers tracing the corner of the print as I pull it towards me, like all the others I’ve pulled close to scrutinise before.

Slowly, I force my eyes to focus on the image. The air in my chest is frozen, hard, a leaden weight. Such beautiful hair. A cute, button nose. A fine bone structure. The picture blurs as my eyes fill with tears. The photo is obviously post mortem.

The heavy weight in my lungs escapes in one long, low groan as I push the photograph back.

“No,” I say quietly. It is not my beloved Debbie. Part of me is relieved. Glad to see that this is not my daughter, and yet somewhere her own parents will see this picture and their world of restrained agony will explode.

My relief is tinged with the pain of yet another day of uncertainty, another monochrome day in a world of technicolour, of putting one foot in front of another and working every hour God sends because to be at home is to be close to all that reminds me of Debbie. Stephanie, her mother, understands. She copes in her own way, seeking comfort from alcohol-induced inertia. What right have I to take that from her?

“No, it’s not Debbie,” I say, looking back towards the policeman who must now go back and cross her name off a list of missing girls, before the photo is circulated to other grieving, waiting families.

Peter retrieves the image and straightens up. We’ve had this conversation before and he knows not to pressure me to be sure.

“I’m sorry, Frank,” he replies. “You know we have to check each unidentified victim.” The word ‘victim’ cuts yet another sore in my heart.

“We will find her, I promise you,” he says as he turns towards the door. It’s a hollow promise, one he probably will never be able to make good on, but still he makes it, each and every bittersweet time we meet.
I raise a hand in acknowledgement as he opens the door and leaves, curbing my gut feeling that we will go through this charade again, sooner or later.

The clock has moved on ten minutes.

Another six hundred seconds of waiting.

As the empty, cavernous, fear of unknowing devours me yet again, how many more will there be, I wonder, until my daughter finally comes home?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Well, is IS Sunday....

For all I moan and whinge about the things in life where I feel hard done by, I have so much to be thankful for. I have a roof over my head, food to eat and a job (however much I moan about that, I'm still lucky to be able to work!).I have clothes to wear, a car to drive and something called 'leisure' time. Yet, for so many people in the world today these things seem unnattainable.

Even someone earning £25k per annum is in the top 1.42% of the world population! (As calculated here)

On that scale, it makes you appreciate what you have. (and not what you don't!)

Though we can support charities both here and abroad it makes me wonder if my own little drop in a bucket can make any difference. But if all those drops around the world get together, the bucket would soon start to fill up.......gets you thinking, right?

Anyway, thought I'd share one of my favourite bands with you, Big Daddy Weave.

This track was what got me thinking through this whole issue....

Friday, 3 September 2010

J.M. Prescott's 'I Dare You' Challenge

Rising to the challenge by Paul Phillips, guest 'editor' on J.M. Prescott's Weekly Dare, I submitted a piece entitled 'RECALL'.

The remit was to use the term 'passage' in whatever connotation that took our fancy, be it a 'passage' of time, or a physical 'passage' as in thoroughfare, etc.

Herewith, my entry (which actually is a prologue to a bigger work, but that's another tale!)


He knew he was a dead man.

He knew, because the intense pressure and pain in his chest had ceased.

He knew, because the noise of people and machines around him had gone and he heard – nothing. Not even the steady pulse you hear when you jam your fingers in your ears; the sound made by your heart pumping blood around your body.

He knew he was dead because his body didn’t feel cumbersome and heavy and uncomfortable any more. In fact he felt weightless, as though he was floating.

But he was puzzled.

He remembered he'd read accounts of people dying and being led towards a bright light. There was no light as far as he could see, but he did have a sensation of moving along a passageway. He could see a series of what looked like half-open doors moving into his field of vision. In fact, he wasn’t sure if the doors were moving or he was.

Whatever; just as he drew level with each one it closed and he moved on to the next, and the next, each one closing as he reached it. Finally, there was just one left; straight ahead.

He was torn between wanting to know what was behind the last door and yet there was the urge to turn back, almost sensing that he’d forgotten something; like when you run to the top of the stairs with a purpose and then when you get there you have no idea what you planned to do when you got there.

He turned his head, or what he assumed was his head because at this point he had no sensation of having a body at all. As he tried to look back he felt a searing pain. It was unfamiliar. It hit him almost as if he’d never, ever, experienced the concept of pain before. Going from a state of feeling absolutely nothing this was shockingly raw, crude, gut wrenching pain. A pain that seemed to arc out from his chest, pulsing down the insides of his arms, speeding to the tips of his fingers.


And a third time.

After the fourth, he’d felt like his body had been slammed onto a concrete floor and he could hear a cacophony of noises and voices and sensed a flurry of activity.

“He’s back! I’ve got a pulse!”

He heard the words, somewhere above him, like the melody line over the accompanying chorus of mixed voices calling out stats and codes. After the previous, almost peaceful, silence this was bedlam but no matter how much he tried he couldn’t summon command of his muscles to even flicker open an eye.

He felt trapped and immobile and there was an intense sensation of pain and pressure all over his body but the relentless pulsing rhythm in his chest told him one thing - that he was back in the real world and that he’d left death behind.

Yes, he was back.

But, given this new unadulterated agony, there'd better be a damn good reason why!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

What are YOU doing this weekend?

I have to work Saturday and Sunday, again! :-( (groan)

The up-side is that my 'weekend' starts now! :-)

Two whole days to myself - so I'm hoping to squeeze all the housework-type-stuff into tomorrow morning, leaving plenty of time for creativity of the literary kind! (oh, yessssss!)

Plan is to get a few more K's added to the WIP (finally get all the thought-out ideas into a readable format) and also take a look at the previous work to pack a bit more punch into the opening chapers before I send it off out there into agent-ville again! (have invested way too much time to give it all up now!)

Need to also factor in more reading time!

Last weekend disappeared into a Joe Hunter void...... don't want to reveal too many spoilers but Matt Hilton's latest JH adventure, 'Cut and Run' is absolutely sublime! Get your reading-faculties round a copy at your soonest! (hurry, hurry - then we can discuss it!!!!)

So, this 'weekend' I want to get to grips with John Connolly's 'Every Dead Thing' - the first Charlie Parker story, esp. as the books have a Maine connection (which destination is also part of my upcoming holiday to New England!)