Momâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Favorite Reads eMagazine is published monthly by Goylake Publishing
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Bernard Cornwell Interviewed by T.E. Hodden
Denise McCabeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Interviewed by Hannah Howe ............................................. 12
Laughter is the Best Medicine! by Hannah Howe............................................. 20
Off the Beaten Track Kefalonia by May J. Panayi ............................................. 18
The Emu and the Orange, by Clayton Graham ................................................. 21 A Fond Farewell, by DM Wolfenden .................................................................. 25 Weddings Another Superfly Tale, by Anthony Randall .................................. 26
Stan Phillips .............................................................................................................. 36
Growing Season by Maryann Cocca Leffler ....................................................... 23
Writing Romance by May J. Panayi .................................................................... 11 It Started With a BAM by Bridgette Bastien ...................................................... 14 Too Good to be True by T.E. Hodden ................................................................. 15 Food Journals by Christine Ardigo ...................................................................... 16 A Quick Swing At Tennis Elbow by Cassandra DenHartog .......................... 24 A Horses’ Pentathlon by Jill Hughes ................................................................... 34 Tracing the Cucumber by Millie Slavidou ........................................................ 38 July: Dog Days of Summer by Poppy Flynn ...................................................... 39 The Immortal, the Poor Laws, and the Bloody Battle by TE Hodden ........... 41 Tiger Bay by Hannah Howe .................................................................................. 44
Word Search by Mom’s Favorite Reads .............................................................. 33 Mate in 2—Supplied by Chess.com ..................................................................... 37
20% OFF First Book Promotion with the Fussy Librarian .............................. 46 Connections eMagazine ......................................................................................... 47 Nicole Lavoie, Graphic Design ............................................................................. 46
Bernard Cornwell Interviewed by T.E. Hodden On a rainy camping holiday in the late nineties, having run out of my own books, and read my magazines to death, I took the desperate measure of borrowing one of my mum’s holiday reads, The Winter King. I didn’t know what to expect. It was about King Arthur, but didn’t sound like it was going to have much in common with Prince Valiant, or The Sword In The Stone.
which was good because it gave me a grounding in prose. I was also fortunate that my father, concerned that the schools in south east Essex were not Christian enough, sent me to a boarding school where I was encouraged to read C. S. Forester’s Hornblower series. The missionary doctor couldn’t compete.
By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. I was the last of my family to be enamoured into that regular habit of walking into a branch of WH Smiths for something, and walking out with the new Bernard Cornwell (OBE) book instead. Cornwell is a perennial of the best seller lists, with two of his series Sharpe and the Saxon Stories (filmed as The Last Kingdom) adapted to mustwatch television. I reached out to a man who is, without a doubt, one of Mom’s Favourite Authors, with questions from the Moms.
You spent a decade working for the BBC, could you tell us a little about that?
If I may, could I begin by asking what sort of books you read in your youth and what influence they had on you? I read an incredible amount of fundamentalist Christian - dare I call it - propaganda? I was adopted into a family which belonged to a sect called The Peculiar People (I did not make that up) who are described in Blunt’s Dictionary of Sects and Heresies (essential bathroom reading) as ‘a very ignorant group of people’, which was unkind, condescending and entirely true. I’ve happily forgotten most of it, but remember an unending series about a missionary doctor who was a Jolly Nice Chap and preached the gospel in Darkest Africa. I don’t remember his name or anything else, but hope he was finally eaten. I also had to read the Bible, the Authorised Version,
One of the distinguishing features of The Peculiar People (honestly, I am NOT making that up Google it!) was that they disapproved of Everything; alcohol, cosmetics, cinema, tobacco, highheels, playing cards, Roman Catholics, television, theatre, military-service, wine, women and song. The list was endless and endlessly adaptable, and fortunately became a wish-list for me and I’m happy to report I’ve ticked off most things. I suppose because TV was a Forbidden Fruit I was attracted to it and managed to talk my way onto the Nationwide programme (Michael Barratt, Bob Langley, Sue Lawley, Frank Bough) and, because it transmitted live for an hour five nights a week it had an insatiable appetite for material. I learned a lot fast - film, studio, writing - and eventually became Head of Current Affairs Television for the BBC in Northern Ireland where two of my young reporters were Gavin Esler and Jeremy Paxman. I was in Belfast during the worst years of the ‘Troubles’ and fell in love with the place, not just with Belfast and Ulster, but with the whole glorious country of Ireland. After almost four years of good whiskey, marvellous friendships and exciting work I became the Editor of Thames Television News back in London. Why did I leave
What did you think of the TV series, and how you felt about the changes that had to be made to fit the books on the small screen?
television, a career I loved? See the answer to the next question. Where did the idea for your Sharpe story come from?
I loved the TV series. I had no problems, none, with the changes they made; indeed many of those changes were inevitable. When I was writing Sharpe I could invent 50,000 French soldiers and it cost me nothing, but extras cost a TV production a lot of money, even in the Ukraine where many of the episodes were shot (the crew flew into Simferopol which was henceforth known as ‘Simply Awful’). I think they did a marvellous job considering the restraints of budget, etc, and some of their casting choices were inspired. Sean Bean, of course, but Pete Postlethwaite’s depiction of Hakeswill was MUCH better than mine! I think they added more romance, which is great and the women, of course, added mightily to what might otherwise have been a boringly testosterone-rich series. The same is true of The Last Kingdom, which is on Netflix now – the 4th season comes this autumn, and of course they change things because they have to! I think of it as ‘added-value’, I have the immense delight of seeing what a team of very creative producers, writers, actors, technicians add to the original product.
Desperation. I was 35, divorced, and in Edinburgh where I was filming with Gavin Esler when the lift door opened in a hotel lobby and a blonde walked out. ‘I’m going to marry that one,’ I said to Gavin and no, I had never seen her before. It turned out that she was already married and, an added inconvenience, was American. Judy, for such is her name, could not move to Britain for good family reasons, while I reasoned that I really had no ties, except to a career, so I airily told her that I’d emigrate. Which I did, only to discover that the US government, in its wisdom, would not give me a Green Card (work permit). ‘Don’t worry, darling,’ I said, ‘I’ll write a book.’ It was insane, of course, but if the course of true love was to stagger on for another few
Were you expecting the series to be as big a hit as it has become?
No! I wish! I just wanted to earn enough money to stay in the States and marry Judy. I have to admit that I had always wanted to be a writer because I believed it was easier than working, and I always wanted to write the HornblowerOn-Land series, so simply earning a living from the books was a very pleasant surprise.
Did the TV show influence how you approached the characters in later books?
Only that after the series I heard Sean Bean’s voice whenever I was writing Sharpe, which was good - and I deliberately avoided saying he had black hair (which he did in the early books) because Sean didn’t. Sean was the perfect Sharpe.
You have written series, and standalone books, covering a bewildering array of historical settings, as well as some contemporary thrillers. Are there any qualities you feel are common to your heroes and heroines, or are they shaped by their time periods?
With impatience. I am always too eager to start writing the story itself, but the research must be done and, of course, it’s the research that throws up the ideas that eventually coalesce into the tale itself. You were kind enough to say nice things about The Winter King and I’ve never forgotten the research for that trilogy. I gave myself six months to research the Arthurian background, immersed myself in text-books, archaeological reports and so on, and after three months I was thoroughly bored so, one September day, decided just to try writing a ‘specimen’ chapter. I finished the book three months later - it just took off on me and the careful research was never really finished. Mind you it took another three months to tidy the book, but it’s still one of my favourites.
I’d have to say that most of them are outsiders (think of a boy brought up in The Peculiar People finding himself in the sophisticated world of BBC TV). Sharpe is an officer promoted from the ranks, Starbuck is a northerner fighting for the south, Uhtred is a pagan in a Christian world - the other thing they have in common is that they all like women. A lot.
Has your approach to writing changed over the years?
I don’t think so. I still approach each new book with trepidation if not outright fear, but there is the reassuring knowledge that I’ve done it fiftysomething times before and can probably do it again. And, I must confess, it’s fun! Truly! I tell stories and I’m not a story-teller who can plot the books in advance. Much of the enjoyment of reading a story is to find out how it ends, and for me that’s the joy of writing it - simply because I don’t know what will happen. I’ve just finished Uhtred’s 12th adventure, Sword of Kings, and I got to page 9 of Chapter 12 (usually the last chapter) and said to the lovely Judy, ‘I have no idea what happens next!’ I didn’t, but the next day I found out.
Is it satisfying to breathe life into the history and paint it in such vivid, beautiful detail? And how! It’s wonderful! When I’m writing I’m there - seeing what my characters see, hearing what they hear, smelling what they smell. It’s a privilege!
Are there any lessons from history that you think we should be paying attention to in these changing times?
How do you approach the research for the history behind your novels? -9-
I know people say that we must know our history so that we don’t repeat it, but then we end up with Donald Trump as President? Dear God above, how history has failed us! We’re human, we’re fallible, we put our destiny in the hands of ambitious, greedy, self-serving politicians and
New readers should be warned that I mostly write military historical fiction and there’s a good deal of bloodshed, which is why I mentioned Gallow’s Thief and Fools and Mortals, because both are atypical (no one dies in Fools and Mortals!). But happily I find a lot of women like Sharpe, Uhtred and the other heroes, probably because those men adore women. I also write strong women. I’ve always been annoyed by the film and TV convention that when a couple are running away, and the dreadful enemy is at their heels, it’s always the woman who trips over and needs rescuing. Why?
then wonder why we’re in a mess. We never do learn, which is no argument not to study history, because if nothing else it’s entertaining and often amusing. It was Samuel Butler who said that to those who feel life is a tragedy while to those who think it’s a comedy, and Schiller surely got it right when he commented that against stupidity even the Gods struggle in vain. If you could go back in time and see what any point of history was like, where and when would you go?
I’d love to be at the Theatre (Shakespeare’s first playhouse) to see the first public performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’ve always been a theatregoer and my fascination with Shakespeare led to Fools and Mortals, an attempt to recreate what his world was like. But can I take penicillin with me?
Where can we find out more about your work? Nowhere that I know of. Maybe my website? http://www.bernardcornwell.net
Are there any of your books we should be looking for right now (or pre-ordering)? Sword of Kings - coming in October 2019! And to all the Moms (and Mums) out there, thank you!
Which of your books would you recommend to new readers?
Sharpe’s Trafalgar, Gallow’s Thief, Fools and Mortals, The Winter King, The Last Kingdom, and I’m very fond of my one and only non-fiction book, Waterloo.
Bernard Cornwell, OBE, on behalf of all us at Mom’s Favourite Reads, thank you.
T.E. Hodden trained in engineering, and works in a specialized role in the transport industry. He is a life long fan of comic books, science fiction, myths, legends, and history. In the past he has contributed to podcasts, blogs, and anthologies. You can discover more about T.E. on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/t-e-hodden/ - 10 -
Writing Romance By May J. Panayi When I started writing my novel Sun Sea and Secrets, I didn’t give a thought to marketing and genres, I just got on and told the story. When the publisher, at the time Blurb- later Create Space, then Amazon, asked me to put the book into a genre; I really had no idea where to put it. I hesitatingly called it a travel romance. But romance tends to be very formulaic. Years ago, Mills and Boon, and later the erotic sister company, Black Lace, sent me guidelines for writing books for them. Essentially, as I’m sure many of you know, romance traditionally boils down to, boy meets girl (or whatever combo of that you want to use), they fall in love, meet a problem obstacle, overcome it and end up together. Sun Sea and Secrets does not follow that formula.
The second book in the series still does not follow the standard romance formula, although love relationships are formed between several characters, and a traditional Greek wedding is depicted. Return to Aegos is as close to traditional romance as this trilogy really gets. The final book in the series, which I am still writing; In Search of Small Treasures, is more of an adventure mystery than a romance, though there is an aspect of romance in it, but no spoilers. This concludes the Sun trilogy and gives a set of, by now well known, characters a conclusion- a happily ever after of sorts. At the moment, before the final book in the trilogy comes out, both books are available in one volume, for catch up purposes, and it is better value.
It is a story of love, but of different kinds of love. A woman seeks her long lost family and the love that is missing in her life from their absence, particularly her father. She meets people and makes friends along the way- another kind of love. She loves the Greek country and culture and food, and she also loves cats, and falls deeply for one in particular, Bob. There is also the unfolding historical story of her mother’s loves on the island. But although plenty of the male characters are interested in Ella, there is no traditional romance between the covers of this book. Having said all that, there is no lack of emotion in this story. Even though I wrote it and know exactly what happens when, I still cry every time I read chapter nine. But maybe that’s just me and my family issues.
I do plan to make my next project, Paradise in the Pumpkin Patch, a more traditional romance formula, though it will have a dark and socially pertinent twist, as the ‘obstacle’ factor. Also it is set in a travel location, which is an aspect I enjoy adding to my work if at all possible. I have to admit, I do balk at the standard Mills and Boon romance formula, and feel I have to tweak it somewhat, to settle into the romance niche. Having said all that, Sun Sea and Secrets has been, and remains, my most popular book; consistently selling above all my other titles, with Return to Aegos tagging along in second place
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Denise McCabe Interviewed by Hannah Howe Welcome to Hannah Interviews an occasional series where I interview authors I admire. The questions in each interview are based on the Proust Questionnaire and I hope they will offer an insight into each author and their books. For this interview I am delighted to welcome Denise McCabe, an author of children's fiction, a thoughtful blogger and a wonderful person. Over to Denise and I hope you will enjoy the interview.
What is your main fault?
What are your favourite qualities in a man?
What is your idea of happiness?
How long have you got! I suppose I am quite impatient. I tend to start things and if I don’t get hang of straight away I walk on to the next. There are times I can jump into things too quick, and while sometimes it can work out, others it’s “Oh dear, maybe, just maybe should have given that one a few more moments of thinking!”
What is your favourite pastime?
Reading, listening to music and of course writing. One of my goals is to get into song writing, I love Irish ballads so currently I’m trying my hand at that.
Having a good balance of life and not getting bogged down by things that are out of your control. Enjoying the now and accepting what you have. While I have my hopes and dreams, sometimes it can be just the simple things in life like chilling out in the park joining in playing with the kids, listening to a favourite song and having good positive people around me who I can just have a good chat and a laugh with.
The most attractive thing I find in a man is someone who can make me laugh. Also confident in themselves and treat you as an equal.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman?
Strong, independent. Ones who support and don’t feel the need to compete against each other and who is up for a bit of fun.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Hard one to answer as so many people admire through the ages for various reasons, so if I was to be someone for a while maybe, as I’ve always been fascinated with the thoughts of other life existing out there so would love to be an astronaut for a bit to see if I could discover other planets, other life.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Loyalty and knowing they will be there for me no matter what. One who I can be comfortable with and tell absolutely anything to and I know they’ll keep it with them and they won’t judge me.
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What is your favourite colour and flower? Baby blue and sunflowers.
Who are your favourite painters and musicians?
I listen to all genres of music from classical to modern heavy metal, depends on the mood I’m in but one of my favourite singers would be Stevie Nicks.
Who are your favourite prose authors and poets?
I like some of James Joyce’s works. I’m not really a fan of poetry to be honest but I do like some from Maya Angelou as I admire her as a person the way she overcame a great deal of adversity and inspired so many people.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction? I suppose one I would have just finished recently would be Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway as it was a story about courage and determination and despite his age he embraced his inner struggles to prove a point to himself, he never gave up wanting to catch that fish!
Who are your favourite heroines in fiction?
Top of my head would be Listbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson Girl with Dragon Tattoo books, young complex girl with her dark troubled past and prodigious skill for hacking, she turns lethal vigilante PI and uses her skills to expose corruption and to pay back those who wronged her.
Thank you, Denise. To learn more about Denise and her books please visit her Mom’s Favorite Reads website page.
Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hanna’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audio books, and are translated into ten languages.
You can discover more about Hannah on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:
https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe/ - 13 -
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Too Good to be True? Scams on Social Media Interviewed by T.E. Hodden Is the Scam already known? Because these scams are effective, they are used repeatedly, over and over again. A quick look on a search engine for “is [company] giving away [prize]?” will often reveal some of these offers have being doing the rounds for years.
If you spend any length of time on social media, it’s growing increasingly likely that sooner or later you are going to see a friend, or a friend of a friend, sharing the kind of competition or deal that seems too good to be true. You know the sort of thing: Holidays given away for liking a page, vouchers for everybody who shares a link, or some free gift for filling out a survey.
A lot of the time, they come from sites that look like they belong to the real company, and even the most wary of us could be forgiven for thinking it might be worth taking a punt.
Does the page have the Blue Tick? Most social media platforms have a way to verify a page represents a genuine company, celebrity, or known brand, often a blue tick. If it’s missing, beware!
Does the page have the Blue Tick? Most social media platforms have a way to verify a page represents a genuine company, celebrity, or known brand, often a blue tick. If it’s missing, beware!
Is the page new? If the page was created a few days before it started offering an amazing give away, then you have good reason to be wary.
Does the web address check out? Search for the company online, and check out their genuine address. You will often find that scams will send you to links that look genuine only at first glance, swapping a dot com, for a dot UK, for example. If the address has an unusual format, or uses dashes rather than slashes, you will want to be wary.
Always check the terms and conditions! Genuine contests will have to comply with the terms and conditions of the social media service, and will likely have their own legal protection. Take a few minutes to check they are fit for purpose.
Is the giveaway too big? Some of the offers are not just too good to be true, but too good to be viable. If a supermarket is giving away £50 to everybody who shares a link, and lets the post go viral on social media, that could potentially be far more than any company could realistically give away.
After all, they aren’t asking for money, so what’s the worst that can happen? Let’s start by considering what the scammers get out of their time and effort. Every time you like a page, you are adding to its value. Pages with a lot of likes can be sold on the black market, or it can be used to sell dubious products, target marketing, or gather data that can now be sold on. The same goes for all those fake surveys. Sometimes they might be there to encourage you to click dodgy links, and risk getting malware, or that use dodgy practices like “cookie stuffing”. It goes without saying, that for a lot of these scams, there are no prizes. All they are interested in is a like on the page, or a click on a link. Now we know there are scams out there, how do we spot them? There are some red flags which are common to a lot of the scams. If an offer or promotion has any of these qualities, you might want to be wary.
If you spot any of these warning signs, there will be good reason to be sceptical.
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Food Journals By Christine Ardigo
Why They Might Just Be the Ticket to Your Success Yes, it’s hard to bare your soul to a stranger (or a friend) and show them all your naughty, little secrets. But, these bad habits we can fix! Yup. That’s what we do, people. We don’t judge. We don’t laugh. We don’t talk behind your back. When we find problems, guess what? We can fix them! We can make great suggestions, too.
Food Journals are a fantastic way to help with your weight loss, and also as a teaching tool. It can be a REAL eye opener if done correctly. Diet is key, and if you’re not really sure how much food you’re taking in, it can blow your chances of losing any weight.
I’ve had clients that write down fake meals, omit snacks, don’t write down beverages, skip writing down the cheat-meals, fake portion sizes and think they only have to write down their breakfast, lunch and dinner and that everything in between doesn’t need to be recorded. The in-betweens are sometimes the cause of the weight gain.
How a Food Journal Works. Grab anything you can write on: a spiral notebook, a marble notebook, a small notepad, and jot down everything you eat and drink during the day. And, I mean EVERYTHING. You can even use the hundreds of phone Aps out there that track your calories. It’s a great way to keep track of what you’ve done over the course of your busy, crazy, forgetful kind of a day. There’s scientific evidence that people that keep food journals lose more weight than those that don’t. Sometimes TWICE as much. Mainly because it increases your awareness and your accountability for your actions. It also raises your consciousness and therefore, decreases mindless eating and makes you realize that if you eat something, you’ll have to record it, and then you might think twice about eating it at all.
I’ve had clients fail to mention all the binge alcoholic beverages on the weekends. Omit the weekly large bucket of popcorn and soda at the movies. Fail to mention all the sweetened beverages they drink all day long. They skip writing down any dinners at restaurants because they were ‘entitled’ to eat it. They record what they ate for lunch or dinner, but fail to mention it was at a restaurant where the portions are bigger and came with a few beers, an appetizer, and dessert. (you don’t have to record that, right?)
Are you telling the truth though? It’s only helpful if it’s accurate. I’ve had clients bring me in food journals with all the glowing foods that they think a dietitian wants to see. Lovely whole grain cereals with berries, a healthy salad for lunch, a splendid piece of fish with asparagus for dinner. They say this is what they eat ‘everyday’. That they don’t know why they can’t lose weight and why they are 75 lbs overweight. When I see a food diary like that, I know they’re lying, but what’s even sadder is that with a food diary like that, I CAN’T help you. I will just say: “This is great, keep it up,” and they leave with no suggestions. - 16 -
Guess, what? Write it down and we can help you. We can make suggestions and give you great substitutes. We can talk to you about WHY you’re eating this way and fix it. Maybe you’re skipping meals and over eating later on. Maybe you’re bored, or stressed out. Maybe it’s mindless eating and you don’t realize you’re doing it. Or, that you didn’t realize the food was really that bad. Maybe it’s just that your portions are a little too big. Maybe you’re eating low fiber, low protein foods, and all those crappy carbs aren’t filling you up, causing you to nibble every 2 hours on more junk. Maybe you exercised and feel you’re owed an extra snack because you burned all those calories.
Ready to Lose Weight? First and foremost: Everything that goes in your mouth, gets recorded. EVERYTHING. (Even that one M&M you found on your son’s rug.)
Are there a minimal amount of processed/junk foods? (One or two a day?) Are your carbs whole grain and high in fiber? (5gms of fiber per serving) Are your protein sources healthy, lean, fresh, and low in fat? Are there many snacks, sugary sweets and beverages? Are your fat choices healthy like olive oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, and real butter? Are there a lot of alcoholic beverages? Are there many meals of take-out, restaurants, and fast food? Did you consume 2-3 servings of dairy (milk & yogurt) a day? Are you listing your portion sizes accurately? Are you including ALL your snacks and nibbles throughout the day? Did you include all the beverages you drank today including coffees, juices, milks, sodas,and alcohol? Have you listed all the “Whys” of why you ate what you did & what you were feeling?
Date: Not just the date but the DAY of the week. Monday will be very different from Saturday. Also include meal (“breakfast”) and the TIME. This is all helpful to see how your day pans out, when you have the most difficulty keeping on track, any obstacles, and if too much time passes between eating. Food Item: Don’t just write down ‘pasta’. Write the type, and how much. One scoop of ice cream is a lot different than a hot fudge sundae with a ton of toppings. Measure your food if you can. THAT in itself is a real eye opener especially if you read the serving side of an item on the Food Label. Quantities: Especially for those of you that like to pile it on. Writing down you ate a bowl of cereal can mean many different things. Is it the usual 1 cup serving? Or did you grab your giant mixing bowl and fill it to the top? Compare your portion size with that of the amount on the side of the container, and then record how much YOU had.
I hope you start a food journal tomorrow. Please be honest and follow these rules. Let me know how it goes, if it helped you realize your obstacles, and if
Comments: This part will be helpful not only to the dietitian, but more importantly, to you. Ate that entire sleeve of Oreos? Why? Write down your reason. Were you starving because you didn’t eat all day? Did you bring the package with you on the couch and mindlessly ate it while watching an exciting movie? Did you have a bad day at work? Write it down. Now’s a great chance to get your feelings out, too. This will teach you WHY you have certain habits. What You Can Look For in Your Food Diary Did you eat a variety of foods today? Did you eat 5-9 fruits and veggies today?
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Off the Beaten Trackâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Kefalonia By May J. Panayi
What a strange and amazing place Kefalonia is, indeed. Everything about it is dramatic. It was like being in overly large, open air, Greek theatre. The weather was either boiling hot, beautifully windy and still hot, or stormy and magnificent, yet still rather hot. We had several storms while we were there, but rather than ruining the holiday, I think they actually made it. They start with the most amazing display of lightning that comes in all types, and all at once, across a huge panorama of sky. Then some rain comes down hard and fast, like someone emptying a bucket above one; I have never seen rain like it in my life. Then after a few minutes, the rain stops just as suddenly, and the sun pours out again and everything is immediately dry. The mountains were incredible, we stayed halfway up one, in the village of Lourdata, which provided stunning backdrops; from crisp and clear, reflecting the colours of the sunrise and set in reds and pinks, seeming to change the colour of the rocks and soil, to cloud draped, moody presences, looming nearby. We saw a huge variety of wildlife including eagles, lizards, geckos, the usual variety of weird and wonderful bugs, birds and bats. We walked up the mountain to have a look. We walked down the mountain to the beach. We went on trips, visiting the islands of Ithaca and Lefkada, and saw the islands of Skorpios, (originally owned by the Onassis family, now bought by a wealthy Russian,) Meganissi, Madouri, Corfu and Zakynthos. On Ithaka, we stopped for lunch at the beautiful little harbour of Kioni. We had to walk down the hill to the village as there was no room for traffic. Melanie [our guide] recommended the Kremmidopitta and Thiropitta here, so we tried both, along with a very nice beetroot salad. The kremmidopitta is really much more than an onion pie. It is made with cheese, bacon and caramelised sweet red onions, and is delicious. Likewise, the thiropitta was not really a cheese pie at all, but more of a creamy three cheese flan. Afterwards we fed bread to the fish, and took photos of the feeding frenzy, then walked round the harbour.
We visited the Drogarati caves with their spectacular stalagmites and stalactites. We visited the underground lake Melissani. We visited the tomb of Agios Gerasimos at the monastery of the same name. Agios Gerasimos is the patron saint of the island. Gerasimos was said to have done good work during his lifetime, healing and so forth. Then when he died they buried him. The custom was to bury the person for five years then dig them up and move their bones to an ossary. After two years, glowing lights had been reported over his grave, so they dug him up early and found a completely intact, undecomposed body that smelt of sweet flowers. They put him in the tomb at the monastery and he was made a Saint. His slippers are kept in a casket and apparently become fresh and new each year. We visited the tomb, doing all the obligatory Orthodox crossing and kissing. Apparently there is also a tunnel you can crawl through on your belly to what was thought to be his inner sanctum, but we both gave that a miss. We went on a couple of wine tours, sampling the local Robbola grape. We visited the capital, Argostoli, and the original island capital Travliata, where we had the fantastic cake Ekmek, and explored the Castle of St George. The castle is huge, with huge areas of intact walls and towers. From its fortresses you can see panoramically over twenty seven villages below. We ate Kefalonian meat pie made of local goat, so succulent, lean and tender, at the port of Sami, where Captain Correli's Mandolin was filmed. We felt an earthquake that rattled the restaurant table in Lourdas. We had kremmidopita (a pie of cheese, bacon - 18 -
buildings. We saw Myrto beach, favourite for calendar photographs with it's white limestone beach and vibrant blue sea, swirling with changing colours. We went on three different boat trips. Our final trip was a lazy day on a glass bottomed boat, sailing about, having swim stops if you like that sort of thing, and having lunch on the beach.
and sweet red onions) at Fiskardo, the elite village, popular with the rich and famous, and untouched by the 1953 earthquake. We had fresh fish in the pretty little fishing port of Agia Efimia. Finally we drove up to Mount Aenos national park. It is a forty five minute drive up the mountain, so this wasn't one we were walking up. Mount Aenos is the highest mountain in the Ionian islands. Up at the top, the air is rare and crisp, and the views for many miles around were terrific. We were looking down on clouds and planes. It truly was stunning up there. Apparently you can walk along the top ridge for about six hours before you have to turn back, but we didn't have time for that, and just walked a few hundred metres in both directions for the views of neighbouring islands and mainland. On the way back down, we had to wait while large numbers of goats decided if they would like to get out of the way of the coach or not. Then it was on to the scenic, if not somewhat inaccessible headland of Venetian Assos, with its hilltop fortress. We bought locally made honey from a family that sell it on the bonnet of their clapped out old car, and it is the richest, most delicious, thyme honey we ever tasted.
We sailed out of Argostoli, watching the underwater life of the harbour. Once in open water and going along apace, there was less to see, so went up on deck. There was an old guy, who turned out not to be the actual captain, but a PR guy, but who couldn't have looked more like a captain if he tried. The actual captain looked like the captain's lad. Go figure, as they say. We sailed past the fish farms, where in one net there was a frenzy of foaming fish at the surface, feeding, as pellets were fired in from a giant pipe in the air above. In another area, a huge net of sea bass were being hauled out to be sold, and they were massive. We sailed up the coast past the little lighthouse, and Lixouri on the opposite coast. There were various swimming and diving stops, and pauses to look at fish and wrecks underwater. I took photos of Chris diving down, through the glass panels of the boat. He did not put a mask on, which made for better photos, but an hour later on the beach, he leant forward to put a towel down and sea water just poured out of his nose, to his great astonishment. It was quite funny. We stopped at Vardiani island [also known as rabbit island] for a barbecue lunch. We climbed off the boat into chest high water and waded ashore. The water there was beautiful and clear, and the seabed was flat, so I spent quite a bit of time in the sea. I even joined in a game of girls verses boys beach volleyball in the water, though I'm not sure I was any help at all to our team. Meanwhile the crew cooked a barbecue lunch of chicken souvlaki, grilled peppers, village sausage, thiropitta, garlic toast, bread, salad with or without cheese, and plenty of local wine. We helped make the salad. Afterwards we had watermelon and the sweetest honeydew melon I have ever
After this we went up the tiniest track up the mountain that I would not have dared drive a car up, but somehow the driver got a full sized coach up there. The skill of Greek coach drivers never ceases to amaze me, though at times it is terrifying, as we turn a bend and seem to be hanging out over thin air and thousands of feet drop, or reversing hanging over the edge of the cliff like a scene from The Italian Job. We stopped at the little Monastery Agrilion at the top. The views were amazing. The monastery was deserted, apparently the one remaining monk left, but there are plans to once again put it in use. There is also a tiny family church and shrine, that is opened and used once a year. We visited the pretty little headland of Assos with lots of ancient Venetian - 19 -
at the airport. Everywhere we went, goats roamed about, munching on wild thyme, and making themselves tasty for Kefalonian meat pie. Quite a lot of sheep too. The feta and kefalaterie cheeses of the island are made traditionally with goat or sheep cheese, making them richer and slightly more bitter than the usual version. It was a little slice of paradise, and we loved every minute of it.
tasted. After lunch, those that wanted to, spread mud over themselves. It's supposed to be therapeutic, and anyway these kind of things are more fun if you get into the spirit of them. The 'captain' stuck anenomes on Chris's head and we posed for photos as Shrek and the Princess. We had a laugh with a lovely Swedish couple who later came and hugged us goodbye
May J. Panayi has been writing since 1967, when she had her first poem called ‘In a Rage’ published in the local Gazette newspaper. That was the point at which she decided she wanted to write, and has been scribbling in one form or another ever since. She’s had poetry, short stories, articles and fillers, published in a variety of magazines, two book anthology collections, fanzines and websites. You can discover more about May on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:
I was driving my partner through the countryside when he said, “Can’t you slow down when you’re turning corners?” “Why?” I asked with an innocent smile. “Because you’re scaring the life out of me.” “Oh,” I said. “Do what I do; shut your eyes.”
Thought for the day: Why is it when you’re driving and looking for an address you turn the volume down on the radio…
I was driving along the motorway the other day when my mobile phone rang. It was my partner. He said, “I just heard a news report about a car that’s driving the wrong way up the motorway.” “I know,” I said, “but it’s not just one car, it’s hundreds of them...” - 20 -
The Emu and the Orange By Clayton Graham Sue gripped the wheel and swore. Opening the door, she got out and looked inside. Bloody hell! There was an orange underneath the brake pedal – well, what was left of one. It was split now, sporting a nasty skin wound. How the hell had it got there? Dropped from her bag, she guessed. She retrieved the offending item, caught the tang as she threw it as far as she could into the surrounding bush. Bloody thing! Take that. I’ve hit something! She looked back down the road. There was a shape on the blacktop. She approached it slowly. Kangaroo? Wombat? Neither. An emu. As Sue approached, the bird tried to rise. It did not succeed, fell back. A broken leg, somewhat akimbo, the amateur vet in Sue diagnosed. Other than that, it seemed okay. Another attempt to rise. Another collapse. A grunt. Sue knelt next to it. The avian head swivelled, beady eyes full of accusation. “I’m sorry,” Sue said. “So sorry.” The head and its neck sank to the ground. A stubby wing flapped feebly. The good leg scrawled across the road surface, as if trying to scribble a message. Sue’s eyes ranged over the bird. The only damage seemed to be the leg. Even so, the bird was doomed in the wild. “I have to get you off the road,” Sue said. “Don’t want you to become roadkill.” Then she added: “No. I need to get you into the car.” The head turned; the beak pecked at her hand. She rose and ran back to the 4WD, moved it to protect the bird from oncoming traffic. Just in time, as a car came throttling down the highway. Sue ran at it, waving it over to the other side of the road. It passed, horn blaring. Bastard, Sue thought. I could be marooned out here.
Sue was about a hundred clicks from Ceduna and running late. Ahead, a fierce golden sun challenged the dark, brooding clouds which temporarily held hands above the horizon. Rain tomorrow? Probably not, she thought. At thirty-five, with short blonde hair, steel grey eyes and a body honed by early morning jogs, she had been the quintessence of determination at the start of the journey. She had actually smiled as the old 4WD moved off, and even waved a middle finger at the imaginary figure of Tony which had stood in front of the bonnet. Freedom at last. Hallelujah! Now, some two thousand kilometres and a torn map later, she was fuming. Nine months they had been an item. Made for each other, Tony had said. He was enthusiastic about the trip when she first mentioned it: a drive across the Nullarbor, the great Australian motoring challenge. What could be better for knitting a relationship together? But two weeks later the jerk had backed out. Well, eff you, she had thought. I’ll go on my own. So here she was, driving solo, and hating every minute of it. There was movement on the verge. Something ran out in front of the 4WD, a blur on two legs. Sue braked hard. Except she didn’t. The pedal didn’t go down! There was a thump as the vehicle hit whatever it was. Sue kept pumping the brake. Nothing! She yanked on the handbrake and the rear wheels locked. The 4WD, groaning and moaning, slewing and sliding, ground to a halt. She could smell burning from the rear brakes. - 21 -
She went back, looked at the bird. The bird looked at her. Piercing eyes, she thought, wondering whether it was in shock. How can I lift it into the car? It’s at least fifty kilograms. She needed somebody else. She looked both ways. Nothing. Why hadn’t the other car stopped? People didn’t care these days. Another motor sounded in the distance. Sue ran and switched on her headlights, sprinted into the other lane to wave the approaching vehicle down. This time she would stand her ground. It was a truck, a big one. It would take forever to stop. If it did stop. She held her position. It stopped, air brakes screeching. A voice rang through the air: “You in trouble?” “An injured bird,” Sue called back. The guy was still in his cab. “You stopped for roadkill?” Disbelief threaded the voice. “I hit the bird,” Sue responded. The driver dropped from his cabin, walked over, looked at the emu. He was in his sixties, Sue thought. Grey hair, skinny, small to be driving such a big rig. “Do you want me to wring its neck?” the man asked. “No, I bloody don’t,” Sue replied testily. She gestured to her 4WD. “I want you to help me lift it in the back.” “It’ll have your eyes out,” was the only response she got. She took a deep breath. Perhaps she should cut and run, leave the poor thing to the roadkill statistics. The bird struggled to rise, gave up, flopped. “Wait,” the man said. “I have an idea.” He started to walk to his rig. Last I see of him, Sue thought. He returned, waving a large glove. “For over its eyes.” She smiled. Old trick. Good trick. And it worked. Together, awkwardly, blasphemingly, they manhandled the wounded bird into her vehicle. Sue closed the tailgate. “The glove’s on me.” Sue nodded. “Thanks.” The man held out his hand. “Sam,” he said as they shook hands. “Sue,” Sue replied.
The driver turned and walked away. “Good luck,” he said. “Probably be dead in the morning.” The truck roared and went on its way. “No it bloody well won’t,” Sue told herself. “Not if I can help it.” “No response from the vet, just an emergency number out of town.” The motel manager looked at Sue, eyebrows raised, bristling with helpfulness. “There’s a fauna rescue place nearby. Should I call them for you?” Sue nodded. She could still hear Tony’s words haunting her thoughts, see his blue eyes full of betrayal. “Cross the Nullarbor? Sounds great.” The manager was scribbling something down. She thrust the paper at Sue as she put the phone down. “Here’s the address. It’s okay to go now. Just down the road on the left. I’ve drawn a rough map.” And she was on her way, map in hand, wondering why the hell she was doing this. Dusk had fallen and she approached the old weatherboard with caution. There was a light in the porch, somehow welcoming. She rang the bell. And Tony answered the door! Or someone who, backlit from the hallway, resembled Tony. “Susan, is it?” the man asked. “I’m Sam Bannister.” His grip was warm and firm as they shook hands. Together they brought the bird inside, placed it on a table. This man had grey eyes, identical to her own. As he inspected the still-gloved emu, she felt in awe of his gentleness. He was built like Tony: tall, wiry, even carried a dimple in his chin. Probably early forties. “How did it happen?” Sam asked. She told him about the orange, the blaring horn, her aged knight in shining armour. “I’ll sedate and set,” Sam said. “Can you help, Susan?” He looked at her, eyes searching hers. It was like looking into a mirror. “Of course,” Sue replied. “I want to see it walk again.”
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“You’ll be staying in Ceduna a while then?” Sue took a deep breath, looked at Sam. From now on she was Susan, she decided. And there was no way she was leaving Ceduna. And there was no way she was leaving this gentle soul of a man.
Then she noticed the photograph on the wall. A man and his truck. No doubt on the Nullarbor. And no doubt it was the old man who had helped her. “Who’s that?” she asked, pointing at the photo. “My father,” Sam said. “He passed away last year.” Sue felt her knees go weak. She grasped the table for support. Coincidence? It had to be. There was no such thing as ghosts, let alone ghost trucks.
Growing Season by Maryann Cocca-Leffler Review by Christine M. Irvin Now El has two flowers. She plants them side by side in her garden. When the summer is over and Jo comes back, there is a surprise waiting for both of them.
When the school year begins, El and Jo are the shortest kids in their class. Because of this, they become best friends. They fit together almost like two peas in a pod. They like to do almost everything together. But, as the school year progresses, things change. Jo starts to grow, but El doesn’t. This causes an awkwardness between them and the two friends no longer do everything together.
The author includes a page in the back of the book that describes the life cycles of plants. This is a book about change that kids will certainly relate to.
At the end of the school year, the teacher lets each student select a potted flower to take home to care for during the summer. Because she is still the shortest kid in the class, El can’t reach around the other kids to choose a flower, so she is left with the last one, which of course, is the smallest one. Jo gives El her flower to care for because Jo is spending the summer with her grandma. - 23 -
A Quick Swing At Tennis Elbow by Cassandra DenHartog PTA, LMT Most people have heard of this, but not everyone knows it’s not always related to tennis. Tennis elbow’s real name is lateral epicondylitis. This condition comes about from overuse of your wrist extensors. Athlete’s get this often, which is why the term tennis elbow stuck. Back in 1873, a German physician named F. Runge was credited for calling the condition writer’s cramp. As an author, I can relate. Later it was called washer women’s elbow. In 1883 the surgeon Henry Morris published an article in The Lancet describing lawn tennis arm. This leads us to today’s term, tennis elbow, which first appeared in a paper by H. P. Major.
Symptoms of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) usually start as pain on the outside of the elbow that continues to get worse unless you rest it. The pain may get worse when gripping an object. Other symptoms can include shaking hands, weak grip, inability to turn a doorknob. So, what do you do? Going to your doctor may help but be aware there is no X-ray or drug test that can diagnose this. A diagnosis is based on your description of pain. Depending on severity physical therapy may be beneficial, but before you do, there are a few home remedies that can help.
Tennis elbow affects 1% to 3% of the population with fewer than 5% of tennis elbow diagnoses are related to tennis. Most often this can be seen in factory workers, construction workers, and even seamstresses. Any profession that causes an overuse of the wrist can cause tennis elbow.
First is rest, ice, and massage. This is an overuse injury, so it’s similar to a runner who’s been running daily marathons and has developed pain. Ice the outside of your elbow to decrease inflammation. Rest, meaning stop the repetitive task you’ve been doing. Massage your forearm, especially on the back side (the same side as the back of your hand). This will help relieve the tightness and tension in these muscles.
So why is the wrist affecting the elbow? It’s because the muscles that extend the wrist attach at the elbow. When the wrist is overused, it is constantly pulling on that bone in the elbow. Think of it like a rope of a swing. The more your swing the more the rope frays, but it almost always frays where it attaches at the tree. This is the same for tennis elbow.
Also, remember there is no cure, and if you continue with a repetitive task it most likely will return over and over again. At www.neoleafpress.com
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A Fond Farewell By DM Wolfenden The stairs are never ending. Her thighs burn. She can’t stop.
The emergency exit door to the roof comes into view. She attaches two more devices and adjusts the time. Four minutes.
Another flight, her heart hammers in her chest. The five-pound pack on her back feels like it weighs twenty.
She turns the handle; the door is stiff. Shoulder up against the metal she forces it with the few scraps of strength she has left.
Flight twelve. She attaches the device to the handrail and flips the switch. Bright red numbers flash in the dull stairwell. Ten minutes.
Bright sunlight floods the stairwell. She covers her eyes and staggers outside. Closing the door she crumples to the floor. If she’s lucky, they haven’t learnt how to operate a door handle.
Every breath wheezes through her parched throat. Whatever moisture she might have had dried up a few flights below, but she has to go on.
Moments pass, her heartbeat calms, but only a little. Out of the blue, thuds sound against the door making it vibrate against her backbone. The things are there. She pushes herself up and checks her watch. Two minutes. She makes her way to the edge of the building. The streets below are clear of the infected now.
Her steps are getting slower, but they won’t stop chasing her. She has to keep going, match their relentless pace. Flight sixteen. No time to rest. She sees the frightened face of her baby brother. “I’ll keep you safe.” She whispers. The girl attaches another device to the handrail. Nine minutes.
She fetches binoculars from her back pack and searches for their faces: Her mother, baby brother and the rest of the group. They are safe now. She spots her mother; a man is holding her back. She guesses she has just found out about the suicide mission.
Another two sets of stairs, her strides are even slower. They continue to get closer. She uses her arms to help drag herself up another flight. Rest, she needs to rest. The pack now feels like it’s forty pounds. Her legs feel like jelly. Everything goes out of focus. She slumps to the floor. Two minutes, then she drags herself back up. Another device is attached to the rails. She adjusts the timer. Six minutes.
She waves. Her mother drops to the floor, hand over her mouth. The metal bulges and gives way, a teeming horde breaking through, howling at the sight of her. Darkness behind them is obliterated in a flash of light. The horde’s howls are drowned in a thunder louder than a jet plane taking off.
Ahead the stairs look daunting. She hears the shuffle of their feet. Too close. Three more flights. That’s all. Just three more.
She smiles and closes her eyes. Find more Flash Fiction from DM Wolfenden in her collection, A Sea of Monsters and other Tales.
Dianne Wolfenden writes under DM Wolfenden. She loves all things dark and is a horror addict. She grew up watching the old British hammer horror TV movies. Most of her stories have a dark side and one of her friends said they represent her pretty well’ a little dark with a lot of heart. You can discover more about Dianne on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/dm-wolfenden/ - 25 -
Weddings Another Superfly Tale By Anthony Randall Everybody loves a good wedding. The trouble is not every wedding is a good one.
Seeing that we had literally hours to kill (the start time wasn’t until nine o’clock), I had sugar coated a prompt arrival stance with a promise to bring along a portable TV so we could at least watch the first half of the match live, out of the way, in the function room. I didn’t want anyone sloping off to a pub and getting caught up in thirty years of hurt fervour, and chance them missing the start of the gig.
Superfly must have performed to at least fivehundred lucky couples during our term, and out of that many reception parties, only about three were undeniably enjoyable. Most were routine, formulaic packages laid on by hotels that churned them out a dime a dozen every weekend, some of the bigger venues catering for several events in different function rooms on the same night. Some efforts were homespun, often with marquees in spacious back gardens; a few were really dull; others a right pain in the arse, but just occasionally someone with flair and imagination would host a night to remember that was magical to attend. Here are a few vivid nuptials of note:
Seven blokes huddled around a small twelve-inch screen focussing intently on twenty-two tiny men kicking a ball up and down a field; it was riveting stuff! Many chances were had on both sides, but at half time the score was still an edgy nil-nil. Reluctantly I had to put the telly away; the speeches were winding down in the next room and guests were fidgeting in their seats, keen to vacate the dinner tables. The first dance was scheduled to be Paul Weller’s ‘You do something to me’. We were ready for them, but the bride and groom didn’t appear, instead, guests were wandering out into the gardens for some fresh air, so we downed tools.
Richmond Park, London, June 2000. The band had an early evening setup in the very beautiful Pembroke lodge, a pristine white grade two listed Georgian mansion with exquisite views of the leafy park. We were to arrive before the guests and setup discreetly in the function room next to the dining room. Not usually a problem apart from the obstacle off getting all the players to arrive at the required time. But today was especially challenging due to the fact that England was playing the old foe Germany in a Euro’s group match. Most of Superfly’s members on that occasion were into football, including Dale and James, our two Deps for the night.
At this point, the best man came over and said that he’d noticed we had a TV and could he and some of the lads from the party watch a bit of the match while they waited for the bride to compose herself. I of course said certainly not, it would be totally inappropriate and unprofessional. Unperturbed, he shot off and came back within minutes. “It’s okay”, he said, “I’ve had a word with the groom and he’s fine
“Are you sure?” I reiterated. “Yep, definitely.” “Really?” “Absolutely.”
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Ignoring my entire being screaming at me it would be a huge mistake to get the telly back out, I found myself setting it up anyway, much to the joy of my band, and around ten excited morning suited male guests.
Needless to say, at this juncture, he was only doing something to her head. She left the dance floor before the song concluded, comforted by a flock of hens and took some time before she was coaxed back into the party.
Our glee was elevated eight minutes into the second half when Alan Shearer nodded in a David Beckham wonder cross that eluded the German defence brilliantly. The goal sent people running laps around the lightly occupied ballroom, buoying the atmosphere suitably with shouts of “Come on England” and derogatory swipes at the Teutonic opposition.
I received an understandably severe dressing down from my agent over that incident, for which I apologised, but really, was it my entire fault? The Groom did say it was okay to get the telly out, didn’t he? A year later, England was once again pitted against the old enemy in Munich for a World Cup qualifier under the management of Sven-Göran Eriksson. Once more we were setting up for a wedding in a marquee in the garden of some mansion, but having learnt my lesson previously, I neglected to bring a TV. Instead, Micky and Paul (Keys) were listening to the match on car radios. This time The Three Lions belted the Nationalelf 5-1, abetted by a hat trick from Michael Owen. Each time England scored Micky ran down an expanse of neatly trimmed lawn towards the stage like a kid pretending to fly, aeroplane wings outstretched, incrementally excited beyond belief. “Five-one,” he shouted, “five-one!” The final score enhanced the celebrations no end.
One-nil would be the final score, but we weren’t to learn that until after the gig, because the bride had gotten wind of what was happening inside and was furiously threatening to combust. Men watching football on her wedding day! How utterly dare they? When you have performed to as many Broomstick jumpers as Superfly had, it was easy to forget just how special ‘The big day’ is to a Bride; how impeccable she wants it to be. We were always immune to the planning and stress the couple had shared in preparation for a few hours in twentyfour which to us was just another gig, but to them should remain indelibly perfect for the rest of their lives.
I relished a Saturday afternoon drive out into the country in the warmer months, finding a plush manor house or stately home tucked away in a verdant village, of some part of the world I’d never seen before. Manicured gardens and beautifully decorated halls festooned with garlands and astonishing floral displays, dining rooms spread with the finest linen and best silver.
The TV was speedily retired to its dressing room, whilst the disappointed ushers and the best man filtered to the sidelines, as Boudicca and her ruffled spouse rumbled onto the dance floor, sullen-faced and clearly aggrieved.
Being the artists for the night, we were more often than not revered with a slight air of eminence by the staff and guests alike. We’d get our own room to change in and a meal and drinks supplied. It made me feel like all my dues had been paid and, at least until the gig was over, we enjoyed a touch of importance.
The band struck up with the intro and was immediately stunned to witness the first and only time in our history where a pair of newlyweds had a fullblown argument, arms gesticulating wildly, whilst turning dance circles to their most cherished love song, the romantic climax of the day, centre of the floor, surrounded at close quarters by the full exasperated entourage. It was disturbing and painfully amusing.
It wasn’t always like that though. A stereotypical reception in an ugly square-box of a hotel somewhere near the M1 in Donnington, had the band sectioned off in a small conference room adjacent to the main function room, sat around a large table, patiently waiting to be fed.
“You do something to me, somewhere deep inside”…
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As per the contract we had arrived on time before the bridal party, and set up our equipment on stage; had changed into our suits, and were enjoying some banter whilst the staff went about their business of nourishing the guests with their standard wedding breakfasts. We waited, we chatted, we mucked about, we drank the supplied beverages (water), and we waited. The official time to start playing was fast approaching, but we weren’t worried, weddings always run late, and speeches can drone on forever sometimes. At last, our dinner came through the double doors, trundled in begrudgingly by a bored looking overweightress. A dry jacket potato each, no butter, no filling, no accompaniments, not even a lettuce leaf, nothing!
I put my fork down and calmly explained that our food had only just been served and it wasn’t our fault the service and speeches had gone over time. He was a stocky bald-headed bloke, crimson with rage, and obviously uncomfortable in his bulging light grey morning suit, sans jacket. “You lot have cost me a fortune and I want you on f…ing stage, now!” Greg sitting opposite me was heinously pissed off, he didn’t lose his temper but simply got up, towering above the man and said menacingly, “we will be out in ten minutes when we have finished our meal.” The bride’s father was seething, but suddenly seeing some sense in the situation, backtracked into the function room after only partially venting his spleen.
“Now come on!” I said, “You’ve got to give us something to go with these, some cheese perhaps and a bit of salad.”
The one thing you should never do if you want to be entertained for the evening is anger the entertainment, because you are not gonna get the best out of them, and so it was.
“I’ll see what the chef says”, she huffed before retreating, like I’d asked her to walk to London to get it. Our agent stipulated quite clearly on his contracts that the band members were to be supplied with a hot meal each during the evening, and the bridal party had paid in advance for the venue to supply us with one. Most of the time we had excellent food and exceptional service, but now and again the kitchen staff either didn’t get the memo or were trying to pull a fast one and save a few bob.
me for eternity.
Saturday 15th August 1998. My stupidity on this night will haunt
The gig was in a picturesque setting; a marquee in the rear garden of a house called Mint Cottage, a name which might conjure up for you a quintessential pretty country abode engulfed in a plethora of scented flowering shrubs, climbers and mature trees in acres of woodland, and you’d be right. It was situated on the corner of a rural cul-de-sac, in the sleepy village of Westcott, Surrey.
Some grated cheese and a bowl of mixed leaf salad duly arrived, we served it amongst ourselves and a fork full of lukewarm over-cooked potato dangled with flaky cheddar was just about to touch my lips, when the connecting door to the function room flew open and in burst an irate father-of-thebride, fuming that we weren’t on stage, and that he’d paid good money for entertainment, ordering us to get out there now and play some bloody music!
The arrival time was set at 7:00pm, on this occasion I was driving my van, a red Vauxhall Astra, with Nick my keyboard player as a passenger; he was yet to pass his driving test.
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We left Watford in good time and pootled steadily south/east on the M25 heading for the junction of the A3 where we were to turn off. Westcott is near Dorking and as anyone familiar with the area will know is on the outside of the M25 (a motorway orbiting London). For some reason, I had it in my head that Dorking was inside the M25 and I turned left at the junction heading into London immediately hitting a stationary traffic jam which moved at the breakneck speed of one car-length every five minutes.
When the crowd had dispersed, we packed up our equipment and went on our way. Nick being appropriately named, he’s a self-confessed kleptomaniac, helped himself to a crate of red wine on the way out, but I don’t think it had any bearing on what happened next. Come Monday morning, I received a call at work from my agent at The Wedding Music Company. He was deeply concerned; the bride’s Mother had called to complain that I had single-handedly ruined her daughter’s wedding. She did not accept my story of the traffic jam and offered her own course of events, a tale which involved me getting up late and having a ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude. Getting up late, at seven in the evening!!
It slowly dawned on me I’d done a wrong un, not just because of the traffic jam, no that was bad enough, but that I should be driving in the opposite direction, I was now faced with an agonisingly slow detour of three-miles into Esher before I could turn around and head back the other way.
She wanted a full refund, saying that her daughter was traumatised by the evening’s events and now very distraught. I absolutely denied her accusations; the woman was obviously trying to pull a fast one, lying two faced cow. I was incensed; it was a great night, eventually.
My mobile phone rang several times; various members of the band wondering about my whereabouts, each time further down the clock, getting more and more concerned. The anxiety was building within the bridal party, especially the bride’s Mother, who had organized the entire evening, so it seemed. Each time the phone rang it was always the same question, when did I think I would be there? I couldn’t say, of course, I was going the wrong way, frustratingly at a snail’s pace. When we did eventually about turn it was two hours later and I was dying for a leak, but I couldn’t afford to waste any more time by stopping to relieve myself, so put my foot down and made it to the gig half an hour later, bladder about to burst.
I asked for forgiveness from my agent, rendered my entire fee; it was, of course, my own fault that I was late, but insisted that the rest of Superfly get their money because they all, apart from Nick, were there on time and hardly to blame. David, my agent, said he would get a RAC report of the road conditions that night to prove my case. This he did and I was justified. She still wanted her money back though, but David refused, reimbursing her with just mine, which after protests she finally accepted. That was one expensive wrong turn and taught me that some smiley people out there are just despicable.
En route my bandmates had assured me that everything was fine, the DJ was cranking out the tunes and the party was in full swing. When we arrived, all the band members plus a few guests rushed to ferry my PA system up to the marquee and we set up in less than ten minutes (a minor miracle). It was smiles all round from the family, they fully accepted my predicament, showed sympathy and then, after a pee, the show commenced. We performed two extra long sets with a break inbetween, where we were invited to help ourselves to the buffet meal and as much drink as we wanted. The band went down a storm, it was a truly great party and we were massively applauded; well done us!
Ramster Hall, Chiddingfold, Surrey. A lovely venue, not too large, inevitably christened Hamster Hall; we played there a number of times. This one time, however, was marked by a pushy bride. We arrived promptly, it may have been a Friday night; I remember it being dark, so it probably wasn’t summer. Dale was Depping on bass, a close mate of Shane our drummer; they’d both been in Beats international with Fatboy Slim. He has a unique style does Dale, he does his own thing, offpiste you might say, one hell of a player and a lovely guy. He was bass player and musical director for - 29 -
Amy Winehouse at the time of her death. Dale had a penchant for wandering off stage whilst playing, often disappearing into other rooms with the aid of an unusually long guitar lead. He’d keep playing mind you, never dropping a beat; he was out there! On this particular occasion, we had to wait in a small side room for the dinner to be cleared away and a space to be created at one end of the room for us to step into. A makeshift cloakroom of sorts in which young mothers frequently brought their babies to be changed on the floor in front of us; so many in fact it was like a nursery in there. As per normal, the reception was dragging on, way over time; we’d been hanging about for around an hour-and-a-half, when suddenly a frantic Cruella De Vil type woman in a wedding dress appeared and barked that we ought to be playing now! Well yes, it was past our contracted start time, but we couldn’t even get in the room until now, be reasonable woman. She wasn’t a reasonable woman. Next there took place a frantic double-time set up procedure; I was sweating, dry-throated and anxious, but no time to get a drink, no, she wanted her penny’s worth. Cracking her flame whip in the humid air, sparks flying in all directions, she demanded we start playing immediately, not even time to get the guitars tuned. And she danced, danced like it were her last night on earth, grabbing centre stage, dominating the dance floor and throwing some sharp animated moves. At the startup of ‘Hot, hot, hot’, I encourage people to form a conga line; she pushed another woman out of the way, sending her flying into a table and chairs, so she could head up the procession. She was a tyrant. Alas, I don’t recall the husband at all that evening, but I do remembering thinking what a hard life he had waiting for him.
Speeches: That after dinner tradition most people dread. Nervous pre-written anecdotes about the happy couple, which only those who were there at the time find amusing, mundane drivel droning away like the by-product of living on a busy main road. But just once in while we got a showstopper, a stand-out diatribe that is ingrained for the rest of
your life. Such was a time in a large marquee, in a large garden of a large house, somewhere in the home-counties. The room was silent, all bar the odd clink of silverware on glass and the hushed shuffle of waiting staff clearing away the empties. All eyes were on the best-man who was delivering an informed and witty banter about his best pal seated beside him, to outbursts of genuine rapturous mirth from the guests, and doing a fine job. Until he came unto a story from the boy’s youth, a time when the groom’s parents were away on holiday and the pair of them had taken guns from the cupboard and shot a fox trespassing through the grounds in the early morning fog. A beautiful native predator, a wild, defenceless opportunist intent on nothing more than finding food for its babies. Only it wasn’t a fox the Groom had killed. In the blurry grey dawn, they had mistaken the next-door neighbour’s Alsatian dog for the visiting canine and opened up on it instead. If you thought the room was silent before, you could have heard an eyelash drop now. The neighbour who was present, sat stunned; he had no idea what had become of his beloved pet all those years ago, had no idea it was buried in the woods at bottom of this garden. Maybe he had presumed the dog had just run away, now he was the butt of a heinous secret. We had to bite our lips and turn away; it was the ultimate cringe moment. In my humble opinion, too much emphasis is put on choosing an expensive venue with all its flouncy trimmings and strained etiquette for a wedding, rather than concentrating on having a really good party, one which will have a lasting impression on your nearest and dearest. Most people won’t remark on the beautiful flowers or the ornate décor of the room in twenty years time, but they will remember a good old knees-up.
The right entertainment is essential of course, great food and plenty of free booze, but it’s the atmosphere you create that lingers a lifetime. A case in point, which was probably the most enjoyable Superfly wedding we ever attended, was at a stud farm in Kent where the reception was held in an odd sort of barn. A curved roofed long tunnel of - 30 -
a thing made out of corrugated asbestos sheets, the floor of which was compacted earth, below ground level and bedecked in natural foliage bunting and simple blue and white Gingham table cloths over long wooden benches. I think there were also straw bales to sit on. A bouncy castle for adults was in full swing in the field when we turned up and we were encouraged to partake. The ambience was lovely; a warm summers evening, friendly carefree hosts with a laissezfaire attitude. The party was immediate, no stuffed shirts standing on the periphery waiting for intoxication before they ventured onto the dance floor; everyone was up, young and old, smiling, laughing, charging around breathless, the whole room was elevated. The home-cooked food was superb and we were made to feel like old friends rather than employees for the night. Our dep bassist (who shall remain nameless; you know who you are), enjoyed himself a little further by indulging in some extra curricula activity with one of the local lasses in the field; unfortunately, next to a stinging nettle patch that ravaged his arm. Nevertheless he came back with a smile on his face. A most enjoyable night made brilliant not by a fancy hotel or castle, but by the people involved. Ironically it’s an evening which remains unforgettable for two very juxtaposed reasons, for it was also the night that Princess Diana died. Nick and I were heading back home along the M2 early in the morning when the news broke over the radio. It was surreal, like an awfully bad prank, altering my reality. That tragedy took some days to sink in. Several other weddings are memorable for different reasons: We were flown up to Aberdeen, Scotland, booked into a hotel and ferried by taxi to the baronial mansion of Ardoe House, an exclusive granite pseudo castle based on the designs of Balmoral, over in the wooded grounds of Blairs, close to the banks of the river Dee. The family of the bride were called Bond, the people who own the red helicopters that take oil workers out to rigs in the North Sea; they weren’t short of a bob or two. I felt like I was in a proper rock band on that gig, of course for
most of the members it was old hat being flown to a venue and they thought nothing of it, but for me, it was my first time. The flight was made extra special by the passing round of the comic book compendium of Viz’s 1st edition Roger’s Profanisaurus, I’d never read anything so funny, we were in tears. Another time, the actress Emilia Fox stood next to me on an outdoor stage and sang ‘Diamonds are forever’, at her friend’s wedding, in the grounds of a pretty country house in Wiltshire. She has an amazing voice and is just lovely. Shane, our drummer, hooked up with the bride’s sister in a marquee in their massive garden in Surrey. They went out with each other for quite some time afterwards. This wedding was marred by a perverted photographer taking pictures of the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready in the bedrooms. I don’t believe he got paid for that one. We played to an amazing gathering of Italians at a reception in Kew Gardens, London. The couple who tied the knot were both exceptionally good looking people and the guests were without exception all in exuberant festa mood from the off. It was a pleasure to sing for them, Europeans are generally so much more enthusiastic at a get together than us Brits. And when it happens, it makes our task so much easier. When we finally got out of there, after several encores and chats with the jubilant gathering, I checked my phone to find that I had 18 missed calls from my wife! Of course with all the noise of the band and the party, I hadn’t heard the phone ringing at all and was panicked to know what was so urgent, so called her at once. It transpired that the newly moved water tank in our loft had sprung a leak and water had been cascading down our bedroom walls for hours, with my wife freaking out, not knowing what to do or where to find the stop cock. In the end, our neighbour Gordon, a builder, had got out of bed, come over and turned off the supply, but the wallpaper had decided to leave the walls and our bed and carpet were soaked. Needless to say, the plumber received an earful from me and I got some money back as compensation. He’d simply fitted an olive seal back to - 31 -
front and the water pressure had blown two pipes apart.
No wonder very few guests lingered long in the conservatory, it was tantamount to torture, an experiment in audio disparity. It would have been more entertaining if we all just stood there motionless for four hours.
Probably the worst sound we ever made at a wedding was in the conservatory at Syon House, Brentford, West London, a sandstone and iron building with acres of glass, topped with a huge glass and iron dome, akin to an observatory plonked on the roof.
In the end, we called it a day after just one agonising set, agreeing it was pointless to struggle on. At least my agent was there to witness the debacle this time, and we’d get paid regardless.
The players I had for the evening were all top class musicians, including the two Deps, Derek on Bass and Jason on Keys, both of whom have played with megastars in the music industry; Jason has recently toured with Mark Ronson. My agent had also hired in a decent PA system and lighting rig, complete with engineers so we should have had the best sound ever, we were in the hands of professionals, and I was really looking forward to it.
Yes there were good and bad weddings, but mostly they were average, nothing of value to write home about. We went through the motions, acted professionally, behaved, mostly; enjoyed our own company and often connected artistically on stage, that musical union, the buzz that makes it all worthwhile, an addictive synergy that to the uninitiated is hard to express. Oh, I’ve just remembered a time at Pinewood studios, in the manor house, a room that had been used in countless films. We were eating our dinner, waiting for the speeches to end. Greg didn’t like the fish we’d been served up and duly flicked it up with his fork into an ornate glass light shade dangling above our round table, much to our mirth. You couldn’t see the flying fillet, but I bet after a week or so the workers at the studio were complaining of a hideous smell! It’s quite possibly still there.
We met the Bride and Groom, they were sweet, everything was hunky dory, our agent David was there, for this was an auspicious event for important clients and he wanted to oversee the entire evening. During the sound-check, away from the gathering, it soon became clear that the very nature of the building was having a disastrous effect on the acoustics. The sound was bouncing around all over the place, there was very little in the room to absorb the frequencies, just glass and stone. It was awful; it hurt in fact.
I think it was at this reception that a young lad came up to the stage and asked if we could play ‘Firestarter’ by the Prodigy. Firestarter, at a wedding, that would work wouldn’t it; we did get some strange requests!?!
The engineers turned everything down and down until eventually the PA was switched off, the guitar amps were on the minimum and the drums had to be played with feathers. I would be singing without amplification, it was nonsense, and it still sounded terrible.
Anthony Randall has been a singer and song writer for nearly thirty years, recording and performing hundreds of pop tunes all over the world. You can discover more about Anthony on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/anthony-randall - 32 -
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A Horse’s Pentathlon by Jill Hughes In the equestrian world, the three-day event is seen, by many, to be the pinnacle of equine supremacy. Why would be this be so? Simply put, the three-day event tests all of the innate skills of the horse and of horsemanship by combining three equine events into a challenging series of obstacles that tests not only speed, endurance and courage, but also accuracy and temperament. It perfectly encapsulates all that makes horses and horse competitions so enthralling to both the equine community and the general public. Three-day eventing and the horses and riders that participate in it forms the central platform of my debut novel, Spirit of Prophecy, with one of the principal characters Juliet Jermaine being the current Olympic champion in the Three-Day Event and her horses the focus of much of the action that takes place in the story. For this reason, I’d just like to explain how the three-day event works and give readers some insight into why it is such an esteemed event within the equine community. Although eventing is extremely popular all over the world these days, it is and always was a quintessentially British sport. Like so many other sports Britain has introduced to the world, the students have, to a large extent, become the masters. The sport still has plenty of British champions, but the powerhouses of three-day eventing are now to be found in the colonies; New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada, and
parts of South America. It is truly a world-wide phenomenon and incredibly popular, as both a televised and live spectator sport. As hinted in the title of this piece, the three-day event is comparable to the human pentathlon or decathlon, in that it tests all aspects of a horse and rider’s skills, ultimately looking for, if you like, “the best equine athlete in the world.” Although some events are held over one or two days, in general terms, the event is performed over a three day time frame. It consists of three very different and challenging disciplines; dressage, cross-country, and showjumping. The dressage could perhaps best be put in terms of human endeavour. In many ways it is similar to a ballet performance, but one that requires the horses to undertake a series of predetermined moves, within a specified, enclosed arena. This is the only subjective part of the three-day event and a judge or team of judges awards demerit points for horses and riders that do not perform exactly to the laid-out requirements. Judges will be looking for balance, rhythm, suppleness and most importantly perhaps, cooperation and affinity between horse and rider. The basic idea of dressage is to show that a horse is not only capable of strength, power and endurance, but also can perform in a graceful, relaxed and precise manner. Demerit points awarded in this discipline are then carried over to the cross-country and slow-jumping phrases of - 34 -
the three-day event. The key to winning, for horse and rider is to score the lowest number of points. The cross-country is the most physical of the three events and truly tests horse’s and rider’s, speed, stamina, courage and endurance. Cross-country courses vary all over the world and are unique to the designers, but they all have one thing in common; they aim to offer the rider an opportunity to take risks or to play it safe. There is often more than one way of completing an obstacle in the various challenges set. Many cross-country courses are set in exceptionally beautiful countryside, which encourages spectators to flock to the event for a “family day out”. Two of the most prestigious and beautiful such sites in Britain are the annual events held at Badminton and Burleigh, both of which are considered “must wins” for a three-day eventer to say they are at the pinnacle of their sport. As with the dressage, crosscountry is about trying to score zero points (that is, make no mistakes to incur demerits). The usual demerit points in the cross-country phase are, 20 points for a horse refusing a jump or running out of the obstacle area, without jumping the obstacle. In addition to this, the cross-country is a timed event and demerit points are added to the horse’s total if they fail to complete the course, in under the specified time, commonly, this is 0.4 of a
penalty point per second over the optimum time. The show-jumping phase of the event is usually held the following day from the cross-country and before any horse is allowed to compete in this phase, they must pass a thorough veterinary inspection to ensure they have not been damaged in any way by the gruelling cross-country phase. Like all show-jumping events, demerit points are awarded for fences knocked down (4 points), refusals (4 points for the first and elimination thereafter), and time performance (1 penalty for every second over the optimum time). Finally, after completion of the three stamina-sucking events a horse and rider, with the least number of demerit points over the course of the event, can be declared the winner and proud owner of the title; “the best equine athlete of the event”. One reason why this event is so popular as a sporting contest is that it is still one of the few sports where women and men compete alongside each other as equals. Many of the top eventers in the world are female. Do, please, take a look at my exciting novel, Spirit of Prophecy, set in the exciting world of three-day eventing. You can find out much more about it, here, on my website. http://bit.ly/2LeRJ84
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Poem By Stan Phillips We were forged once, Long ago, In a crucible of fire. To float As small fragments of stardust in an empty always. Drifting apparently aimlessly down the echoing epochs Till suddenly Maybe accidentally All those fragments came together To fashion this place This time This us For one brief Never to be repeated Shining moment. Which we waste With our squabbles Our wars Our worries Our regrets Before we return Unfulfilled Into the furnace from which we sprang Becoming stardust once again Hovering on the winds of forever. And what I wonder Will be the legacy we leave lying in our wake?
And stood where the land melted into the sea. Where the solid became liquid, With the slumbering sky awash with stars And a billion reflections of the moon dancing upon the restless waves. The carefree space twixt day and night trembling upon an unspoken word, or an undrawn breath. The pause between where we are and where we will be Seductive Enticing Uncertain Beckons with the Inevitability of it As the sea leaves the shore and carries us to unknown tomorrow's To unlived life.
Stan Phillips 2019ÂŠ
Stan Phillips 2019ÂŠ
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Simple-looking Mate in 2 Supplied by Chess.com This is a simple-looking mate in two, but it is surprisingly tricky for some people. Black has to be careful not to stalemate White, but also not to let him escape. Be sure to VISUALIZE your move before you make it. If you can, visualize what your opponent's response will be (remember, if you're making a forcing move, he will probably only have one or two possible responses). And if you really want to stretch your brain, also visualize what your second move - the checkmate - will be! If you can see all of that in your mind before making every move, you will become a much better player.
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Tracing the Cucumber by Millie Slavidou A summer salad including cucumbers is a popular addition to the table, and it seems that this has long been the case; there are references to cucumbers in some of the earliest writing in English. Before you assume, however, that this means the word comes from Old English and a Germanic route, I should point out that there are references to the vegetable in early texts, but not necessarily under the same name. Let’s start by taking a look at Middle English. We can find a small variety of forms, such as cucomer, cocumer, cucumerber, kikombre and also the familiar-looking cucumber. I have chosen this rather intriguing reference from 1440:
such as Italian cocomero, meaning ‘watermelon’, Spanish cohombro, which means ‘cucumber’, Portuguese and Spanish cogombro, also meaning ‘cucumber’.
Tak brok grese..& þe leues of cucumerbers. (Take badger fat and the leaves of cucumbers).
This has been taken from the Thornton Medical Book, a fifteenth century transcription by Yorkshire landowner Robert Thornton of earlier texts from London and Lincolnshire. It's not every day that one thinks of badger fat, and indeed, you may be raising your eyebrows wondering what on earth the badger fat was for, and what the concoction was supposed to heal, but I am afraid I am going to disappoint you. Our interest in this instance is in the word for the cucumber.
We cannot trace the word any further back into the past, except to say that it does not appear to have come from Proto-Indo-European, and may instead be from a Mediterranean language predating the Italic languages in the region. Now, you will recall that I said that there is mention of cucumbers in some of the earliest texts in English. This of course means that they can be found before the fourteenth century and the advent of the word ‘cucumber’. In earlier forms of English, they are known by a different name. Let’s take a look.
The word came into English in the fourteenth century. As was the case with a large number of other words adopted at a smilar time, it came from Old French. The term in French was cocombre (which can be compared with Modern French concombre; similarly very little changed). Old French took the word from Latin cucumerem, which comes from the nominative form cucumis, meaning, guess what; ‘cucumber’. This Latin word is also the source of words in a number of other European languages,
Cúciíméres, ðæt synd eorþæppla Cuciimeres, that are cucumbers. This line comes from the Anglo-Saxon version of the Book of Numbers, dating to the ninth century. If you look carefully, you will notice that the English word used is eorþæppla, which literally means ‘earth-apples’. I rather like this term.
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July: Dog Days of Summer by Poppy Flynn In last month’s article on the origins of the month of June, I outlined how the Anglo-Saxons collectively called June and July Liða, pronounced lee–thuh with Liða itself possibly meaning calm or mild and July sometimes being referred to as Æftera-Liða, or second Liða.
Things associated with July
With the rise of the Roman Empire, the calendar was revised in the 700s B.C.E and replaced by the ancient Roman calendar which borrowed parts of the earliest known calendar from the Greeks. This calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days and since July was the fifth month at the time it was named Quintilis, the Latin word meaning fifth.
However, some rather more unusual celebrations in July include:
In addition to the USA, many other counties celebrate their Independence Day in July – twenty-three, in fact, including France, Canada, Slovakia, Peru, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hong Kong and the Bahamas.
World UFO Day - July 2nd International Kissing Day - July 6th International Town Criers Day - July 8th Teddy Bear Picnic Day - July 10th World Population Day - July 11th National French Fries Day - July 13th National Nude Day - July 14th Cow Appreciation Day - July 15th National lollipop day - July 20th National Talk in an Elevator Day - July 26th Bagpipe Appreciation Day - July 27th National Lasagne Day - July 29th
After the Calendar reform in around 450 B.C.E, when the additional months were added, Quintilis became the seventh month, but still retained its name. Then in 45 BC Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in an attempt to correct some of the astronomical discrepancies which were by now causing major issues and in 44BC the Roman Senate decided to rename Quintilis in honour of Julius Caesar and hence we now have July, which was the month of his birth.
In the June issue, I mentioned the annual meteor shower, the Beta Taurids which belong to a class of ‘daytime showers’ that peak after sunrise. These are active until July 18th but are best observed by radar techniques. 2019 will be their closest encounter with Earth since 1975. The next close approach is not expected until 2036.
July is, on average, the warmest month in most of the Northern Hemisphere where it is the second month of summer, and of course, that also makes it the coldest month in much of the Southern Hemisphere where it is the second month of winter where July is the seasonal equivalent of January in the Northern hemisphere.
For something a little more obvious there is the Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower, which will peak on the night of July 28. It can produce up to 20 meteors an hour, so there’s a good chance of seeing one.
The ‘Dog Days’ of summer, those hot sultry days connected to heat, drought, lethargy, thunderstorms and mad dogs are generally considered to begin in early July. As a christian name July is a boy's name of Latin origin and while it is not common as a name in itself, popular modern names like Julie and Julian originate from the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, just like the month. That said, in 2013 there were fifteen girls and seven boys who were named July which served to put the name into a gender-neutral classification. - 39 -
Notable July Events Following his invasion of Egypt in 1798, Napoleon ordered a group of scholars to seize cultural artefacts. On 19th July 1799 a French soldier found a black stone outside the town of Rosetta, the slab, approximately twoand-a-half feet wide and four feet long, with different inscriptions on it including Egyptian demotic, Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphics. It became known as the Rosetta Stone and led our understanding of hieroglyphic writing
Flowers associated with July are the Blue Delphinium, (or Larkspur) and the Water Lily and July's birthstone is the ruby which symbolizes contentment.
On 6th July 1885 French microbiologist Louis Pasteur successfully gave the first antirabies vaccination to nine-year-old Joseph Meister, who had been bitten by an infected dog.
The zodiac signs for the month of July are Cancer (until July 22) and Leo (July 23 onwards).
The Apollo 11 launch on July 16th was watched by an estimated 530 million people on TV and even more tuned in on July 20th to see Neil Armstrong take the very first moon walk.
Famous July birthdays include: Diana, Princess of Wales and actress Liv Tyler 1st July. Actors Tom Cruise (3rd) and Sylvester Stallone (6th) Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr (7th) Ferdinand Von Zeppelin (8th) Airship designer Actor, Tom Hanks (9th) Roman Emperor Julius Caesar (12th) Actors Harrison Ford and Patrick Stewart (13th) and Donald Sutherland (16th) Roald Amundsen, polar explorer (16th) Ginger Rogers, dancer (16th) Nelson Mandela and Sir Edmund Hilary (20th) Actor Robin Williams (21st) Harry Potter actor, Daniel Radcliffe and aviator Amelia Earhart (23rd) Louise Brown, worlds first test tube baby (25th) Actress Sandra Bullock and singer, Mick Jagger (26th) Beatrix Potter, Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (30th) And author, JK Rowling (31st)
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The Immortal, The Poor Laws & Bloody Battle by T.E. Hodden Be very quiet, and watch very carefully, what you are about to see probably didn’t happen. It was probably a local myth, a tall tale that has grown with the telling, but this is the version of history that the story-teller in me chooses to believer.
It is sometime in the 1950s and a pathologist, working for the coroner, somewhere in Kent is having a clear out. He finds, amongst decades of accumulated junk, that their predecessor has left of the shelves a large specimen jar containing a preserved heart. He studies the hand written label, dated 1838. He studies the heart that floats in the murky yellow fluid, and adds it to the other materials to be destroyed.
That heart once belonged to a man who called himself John Nichols, also known as Sir William Courtenay. He died in what is generally considered the last armed uprising in England, and was, according to legend at least, preserved in safe keeping just to be sure an immortal crusading knight didn’t come back to claim it. Let’s start at the beginning.
This quiet little corner of Cornwall is St Columb Major. It’s 1799 and in the Joiners Arm, the innkeepers, William and Charity Thom are about to be blessed by their son, John Nicholas. They probably can’t imagine the prospects that lay
ahead of their son. He will attend school, and as a young man will secure a good position with a career in law.
Things were shaky for a while. He bounced out a solicitor’s firm, had a spell as a clerk for a wine merchant, he bought out the company on the retirement of the partners and seems to have made a success of it. Then a strange series of tragedies began. Thom’s mother was taken ill to a lunatic asylum, where she died. Thom’s business premises was burned down, but he seemed determined to rebuild, and the business recovered well. Thom, less so. He was treated, briefly, for a bout of insanity, himself. Then, while escorting a shipment of malt, Thom wrote to his family to inform them that he was going to France. And he promptly vanished.
Mind where you step and don’t mind the smell. This is Maidstone Prison, and that man, sitting in the corner of the courtyard, in his late twenties, athletically built, handsome and charismatic may look familiar to you. He may, in fact, look like Thom, but that, my friends, is Sir William Courtenay, the last knight of the crusades. Or perhaps not. Perhaps that is Count Rothschild, or Sir William, the Knight Of Malta.
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This is an age of revolution in agriculture. How the land was farmed was changing. Mechanisation was making farming more efficient, which meant that fewer men were needed to achieve the tilling, ploughing, harvesting, and all the other jobs of the farm. There were fewer jobs, meaning there was growing unemployment.
Thom’s identity is somewhat mercurial. When he leaves prison, he will make his way to Canterbury, where he will be in the habit of making cutting, satirical and popular speeches. He will briefly flirt with politics. The Conservatives will convince him to stand as an independent candidate in the local ward, to sabotage the Liberal votes. He did not fair badly, but didn’t win, so he briefly turned his talents and polemic to publishing a newspaper.
At the time of growing need, the common folk were being met by the new poor laws, with few options to avoid their fate.
Let’s leave Thom for a little while and take a look at some other happenings.
Thom railed against this new cause, and rapidly grew a devoted following. He took his protest to the road, marching with his followers, of labourers, small holders and artisans, growing with number as he called upon the farms, as he promised the destitute and desperate the hope of a new life.
First, let’s look pop to Westminster where the Poor Laws of 1834 are being passed.
In short: Earl Grey’s government was worried about the number of people claiming support from the welfare systems, and was worried that the great unwashed were being taught that it would be easier to claim support than to strive to work, and would become a lazy burden on the honest classes, if left unchecked.
Local landowners began to worry, and action was taken. The magistrate issued a warrant and a constable, with a pair of stout men, were sent to intercept and arrest Thom on Bossenden Farm. In the ensuing scuffle Thom shot the Constable and in an instant the peaceful protest melted away as the small band knew they
This was the law that would pave the way for workhouses and the draconian attitudes towards the less fortunate, the attempts to discourage the poor from being poor, by creating a more hostile environment.
It is hardly a new idea to scapegoat the poor as workshy or lazy, and to find excuses to talk about their cost rather than their need. It is something of a constant in politics, before and since, and is rarely the whole truth. If we hop back to Kent, to the farms that surround Canterbury, around Blean, Herne Hill, and Dunkirk things look a little different.
would have to fight for their very lives.
The local gentry harried Thoms band, shooting at it as it made its way to Herne Hill. Many of the band managed to slip off, along the way, making their - 42 -
Lets stick to the facts for a little while. Thirty or so survivors from Thom’s band face their day in court in Maidstone. They are sentenced to death, but are shown clemency. Two men are sentenced to a life in Australia, one to ten years in Australia and the rest to a year in prison. Now for the local legends. One local tradition states that the body of Thom was ordered to be displayed in a pub in Dunkirk village, to prove to the world he was not immortal and his rebellion was over, before the stories could spread, and the character, the legend, could take on a Robin Hood like mystique.
escape. Over there though, in the knotted woodland and bluebells of the Blean, the woods that surround Canterbury, in a clearing, that the battle proper will be fought. On one side was Thom, the immortal messiah knight, armed with a sword and pistol, one of his followers with a pistol, and forty or so other men armed with sticks. Moving through the woods to meet them are a major, three junior officers, and a hundred men, all armed with pistols or rifles. The soldiers split into several small groups, and it is one of these sall groups, lead by a Lieutenant, that surrounds Thoms men. Listen to the battle. That ripple of cracks is the gunfire, over in a few moments, followed by the roar of a bayonet charge.
In Faversham, when I was growing up, I would learn of the story, through the legend where we began, of the immortal’s heart being preserved and kept to prevent his return, until it was forgotten and destroyed. But there is one more legend I choose to be true. We now stand under the blistering sun of the Australian outback, in one of the most inhospitable places the world has to offer, and once again, what we are about to see probably never happened… A sickly looking man toils on the land, digging a well for the farm on which he will have to labour, to scratch his survival in the life he has been sentenced to. The journey has been an ordeal and the life ahead of him is harsh. Until…
Then silence once more descends upon this green and pleasant corner of England. It should be safe for us to take a closer look. Right, that body being taken away is Bennet, the Lieutenant, almost certainly shot by Thom himself. And there, is Thom, considerably less immortal than he thought. We will catch up with him later. That chap is one of the magistrates men, George Catt, from Faversham, the town where I grew up (and a few miles down that hill), he was shot, probably by mistake by one of the soldiers, in the confusion. Eight more bodies lay over there, members of Thom’s band, either dead or too far gone to save.
His pick strikes a rock, and it glistens in the sunlight. He crouches, and inspects it. The fragment of opal he holds is worth more than all the money he has ever held, and is the start of a mine, that will offer him security and wealth. He will return to England with riches beyond his wildest dreams. A fairy tale, perhaps, but this is the ending the story deserves.
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Tiger Bay by Hannah Howe The film Tiger Bay is special to me because Tiger Bay is the setting for my Samantha Smith novels.
Filmed during the winter of 1958-59, Tiger Bay stars Hayley Mills in her first screen role, her father, John, the ‘German James Dean’, Horst Buchholz, as a Polish sailor, Korchinsky and a host of fine character actors. Originally a novel, the screenplay was adapted by John Hawkesworth and Shelly Smith and the film was directed by J. Lee Thompson. From the start, J. Lee Thompson wanted John Mills in the film and so he arrived at the actor’s house to discuss the role. There, he saw Hayley Mills acting out TV commercials in the garden. Sensing that she would be ideal for the project, the director organized a screen test for Hayley Mills. The young girl, twelve at the time, shone during the screen test and was offered the part. However, there was one problem – in the novel the child was a boy, so John Hawkesworth and Shelley Smith had to adapt the role to suit Hayley Mills and in doing so they created Gillie, a ten-year-old tomboy.
The film opens with Korchinsky returning from sea. He is furious to discover that his lover has left him for another man. An argument ensues followed by a crime of passion when Korchinsky shoots his lover. The crime is witnessed by Gillie who steals the murder weapon. From that moment on Tiger Bay develops over two interweaving strands. In the first strand Korchinsky abducts Gillie while in the second strand Inspector Graham (John Mills) attempts to uncover the murderer and then find Gillie.
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In a key scene in the film Korchinsky considers pushing Gillie from a transporter bridge into the water. However, he is not a murderer at heart and even though this action would ensure his salvation, he cannot bring himself to do it. A friendship then develops between Gillie and Korchinsky. She dreams of becoming a sailor while he seeks to escape to sea. Filmed in the late 1950s, a time of innocence compared with today, the relationship between Korchinsky and Gillie is a natural one with no undercurrent of sexual tension. They are two lost souls and their friendship is both believable and touching. At the dĂŠnouement of the film Korchinsky has to decide between freedom and saving Gillie. He is set to escape on a ship, only to discover that she has stowed away, soon to fall into the sea. Korchinskyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision brings 102 minutes of quality filmmaking to a satisfying conclusion. Hayley Mills, and the cast as a whole, is outstanding and although Tiger Bay was intended to be a oneoff for her, her performance attracted the attention of the Disney studios. A year later she was filming Pollyanna for Disney and a successful film and stage career was launched.
Tiger Bay was filmed in the Tiger Bay district of Cardiff, in the Welsh mountains and at Talybont along the River Usk. The location scenes were filmed first, then the scenes in the studio. As well as excellent entertainment, Tiger Bay also stands as a wonderful social document, capturing life as it was in the 1950s along with the prevailing attitudes of the time.
If you enjoy quality storytelling and beautifully filmed and directed movies, then I urge you to watch Tiger Bay.
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In our experience, the Fussy Librarian is the best book promoter in the business. When we promote with him, our free books always reach the top five of Amazonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s genre charts, most often they reach the top three. We promote with the Fussy Librarian every month and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Prices start from as low as $15, minus our special discount of 20%. Click here: https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake for full details. And, at the checkout, be sure to enter this code: goylake20 to claim your 20% discount. Thank you for your interest. And good luck with your promotion! - 46 -
Meet our Designer
Melanie P Smith Executive Editor | Graphic Designer Melanie P. Smith is an American, Multi-Genre author of Paranormal, Criminal Suspense, Police Procedural and Romance novels. For over 26 years, she was employed as a civilian member in law enforcement serving most of that time in the Special Operations Division where she worked closely with SWAT, Search & Rescue, and the Child Abduction Response Team. During that time, her writing was limited web articles, professional magazines, and internal commendations and brochures. She now uses her education and experience to make her novels action-packed, gripping and realistic. Melanie is an adventurer and a photographer. When she’s not writing, she can be found riding her Harley, exploring the wilderness on her ATV, or capturing that next great photo.
In addition to writing and joining the Mom’s Team, Melanie also produces and is the sole Editor for Connections eMagazine. This magazine was created as a way for authors to connect with reader’s, reviewers and bloggers.
Connect with Melanie through her website here:
Connections eMagazine is a FREE quarterly publication founded by authors Melanie P. Smith and Rhoda D’Ettore. It is currently produced entirely by Editor, Melanie P. Smith. The Over the years, the magazine has evolved, and it now features promos, freebies, blog articles, and short stories in every issue.
Discover more about Connections eMagazine on their website here: https://melaniepsmith.com/emagazine-landing/ - 47 -
HANNAH HOWE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/ hannah-howe/
MELANIE P. SMITH EXECUTIVE EDITOR | GRAPHIC DESIGNER https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/ melanie-p-smith/
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