7 Days towards Armageddon
It used to be said, a long time ago in the 60s, that a week was a long time in politics. Now it seems a day is. Another seven days have passed since I last wrote and it seems the world is becoming an ever more dangerous place. I hope my headline is an exaggeration, but . . .
What worries me? There’s almost too much to mention it all. Most seriously is the break down in democracy and freedom in Turkey. An ill-conceived coup attempt has apparently allowed Erdogan to reveal his true colours (if they weren’t clear before) as a right wing dictator fiercely against democracy, free speech, or even free thought. Then we have the declaration of Trump as the official Republican candidate for the USA presidency with his statements and actions becoming more and more extreme. That alongside the murderous war between sections of the coloured population and the police in some areas is drawing the USA towards a precipice. Even the news from the Olympics is worrying. The revelations about Russian doping can only make Putin feel more isolated and paranoid with, who knows, what outcome.
All that plus the Nice outrage (a different horror-weapon but as deadly) and the news that 1 in 10 people in the UK have experienced cybercrime across the whole population regardless of age, wealth (or lack of it), and location, all because of our reliance on and trust of the internet. (I’m probably as trusting as the next person).
That’s all before we come back to our own turmoil. The Labour party is going to take another 3 months before they even decide who the leader should be. The grassroots party has probably been taken over by left wing, Corbyn supporters, who will always be a minority in the country so making it extremely unlikely that a Corbyn-lead (if that’s not an oxymoron) Labour Party could ever win a General Election, particularly now that Scotland is lost to the SNP. I can’t see Owen Smith persuading a majority of the voting membership to choose him, but, hey, every week brings a surprise. Meanwhile the May government drifts with no perceived direction, while, for example, scientists’ links with Europe are cut back leading to probable cuts in numbers at universities and research establishments. At the same time our last world-leading technology company, ARM, is sold to the Japanese. Where is the control the Leavers’ voted for? It is noticeable that the BBC’s interviews with referendum voters around the country show the Leavers to be wearing blinkers if not actually hoods. Their focus on their own location seems to lead them to think that Brexit will miraculously give their local government more money to do the things they haven’t been able to do for 20 years or more.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. I don’t want to scare myself any more.
Simon Whaley’s article in the current Writing Magazine suggests that us authors who want to sell stuff need to interact with our readership through social media. Apparently photographing your breakfast or giving centre-stage to your pet is as effective as saying “Buy My Stuff” in big letters. Personally most social media bores me silly – a bit like small-talk. I hope this blog goes someway to fulfilling the requirement but I have no pet and I’m not filming my meals (so Buy My Stuff!).
Not having a Jasmine Frame novella on the go at the moment has given me time to complete the final (?!) edit of The Brides’ Club Murder and get on with the next September Weekes fantasy novel, Cold Fire. On Thursday evening I attended Ludlow Writers’ Group. This month was a “work in progress” session so we had a very interesting selection from most of my talented fellows. I gave my colleagues the choice of a short excerpt from either of my two novels. They chose Cold Fire so I’m going to post a snippet from TBCM to give you a taste of the alternative.
This piece is the opening.
The Brides’ Club Murder: The 3rd Jasmine Frame Novel
‘Good afternoon. I’m Vernon Vokins. I have a reservation.’ Vernon’s booming voice alerted the receptionist while he was still some feet from her, as he intended. Reaching the desk, he released the handle of the case he had been towing and used all of his six foot three inches to loom over the receptionist. She looked up and gave Vernon a welcoming smile.
‘Welcome to Ashmore Lodge, Mr Vokins,’ she glanced at the screen hidden below the reception desk, ‘You have the suite in the Pang Wing booked.’
‘I should hope so,’ Vernon said, ‘and I trust all the preparations have been made for our weekend activities.’
‘I am sure the Manager, Mr Adams, has everything under control, Mr Vokins.’
‘I will ensure that he does. This is a very special occasion.’
‘The Ashmore Lodge is very experienced with special occasions, Mr Vokins.’
Vernon glared at the woman wondering if she was being insolent. Deciding not to upbraid her he took the pen she offered him and signed the registration card on the desk.
‘Ah, Vernon, you’ve arrived.’
Vernon turned his head to see a buxom woman in a flowery dress and shoulder-length shiny black hair approaching him. He put down the pen and held out his hand.
‘Belinda. Pleased to see that you’re on the ball as always.’ Vernon’s hand received a powerful squeeze.
‘Well, as I’m no distance away I like to be here to welcome our guests.’
‘Of course. You have always been the perfect host, Belinda.’
‘How about your journey, Vernon. Not too exasperating I hope.’
‘The train was six minutes late, but one has come to expect that these days.’
Belinda gave Vernon a sympathetic look.
‘Well, you’re here in good time. Some of the girls have arrived but I haven’t see any of your group yet.’
‘Good. They were told not to arrive before two so that I could get here first and check arrangements.’
‘Ah yes, Vernon. You will want to make certain everything is tip-top especially as you have a real wedding as part of this year’s programme.’
Vernon felt a stab of annoyance at the thought that the official ceremony should take precedence.
‘Hmm. Yes. Well, that is an exception. Is your good wife here as usual?’
‘Oh, yes. Taking advantage of the calm before the storm to have a swim. Now I had better get on. I want to make sure the ballroom is ready. Shall we meet to go over things?’
Vernon glanced at his watch. ‘How about four-thirty. I should have completed my transformation by then.’
‘Very well. Four-thirty it is.’ Belinda swept off towards the doors into the ballroom. Vernon turned back to the receptionist who was holding out a plastic card.
‘Here is your key, Mr Vokins.’
‘That’s a card.’
‘We’ve gone electronic since your last visit. You just need to hold the key close to the sensor beneath the handle of the door, it will let you into your room. If you do the same as you leave it will lock.’
Vernon took the card from the girl and looked at it suspiciously. ‘I’m not sure what is wrong with old-fashioned keys. I hope this thing works.’