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Monday, 22 February 2010

H.M.S. Thunder Child at OneTrueMedia.com

Read the exciting pastiche novel of HMS Thunder Child in the War of the World setting. It is an extrapolation or pastiche story of H.G. Wells' great science fiction story set in Victorian Britain. Martian tripods emerge from meteorites and set upon the destruction of human kind. Civilization is all but at an end. This is the story from the perspective of the Royal Navy crew aboard HMS Thunder Child and the eyes of Ministry of Defence man Albert Stanley.
It is only on sale in USA but will be available in Europe in 2017.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

My Three Favorite Historical Figures

I suppose when we look at people of standing from our past, it is natural to look to your own country and creed. Over time, my outlook has changed, and I think I've become a little more right wing. By that, I mean I'm not as liberal in my views. So I think I look at characters that had to be self disciplined, or what I believed to be so.
Therefore, with that view in mind, I hope you can indulge my choice of favorite characters from history. I'm picking three and will list them for reasons over time.

1. Queen Elizabeth I of England: born 1533 to died 1603
 
I believe she was a person of exceptional substance and was around at the right time and in the right place. I'm not so sure the Queen would have thought so when she was going through her many trials and tribulations. She must have thought her life was cursed at first. Being thrown into the tower by Queen (Bloody) Mary. The threat of execution hanging over her head. However, she came through this to gain a very unsure thrown of England. Surrounded by many men who wanted her dead. Others that might gain power through marraige to her. Advisors who tried to put, what they believed, the countries best interests at heart. (By finding suiters for her.) She had to become very strong to take on so many protagonists. Then came Mary de Guise who ruled as regent in Scotland. She died in 1560 and then followed Mary Queen of Scots, who also laid claim to the English thrown. When this turbulent trouble was horrendously delt with, it brought about the Spanish Armada. In turn this colossus was defeated too. Looking back, her riegn seems like a complete success story, but it must have been very un-nerving to be in her precarious position. She must have had an iron nerve to come through it all.

2. St Francis of Assisi: born 1182 died 1226

Sometimes you can admire people that you don't always want to emulate or necessarly agree with. By that, I mean entirly agree. However, I think St Francis of Asissi must have been a very tenacious person and it is obvious that he went through an extreme change as a young man. Maybe in this day and age, we might suppose he had a nervous breakdown. I think he was very dissalusioned with the world about him, but I don't think his philosophy of walking about in rags and bare feet with his followers would be constructive for all persons to follow. But again, there is still the word 'yet' in my head and I can't help but admire and be facinated by him. He rocked boats and did form orders that achieved so much in that day and age when he lived and also had great influance after passing away.

During his younger life he took to drinking and womanising and had a very reckless atitude. He joined the military and went to war against Perugia in Italy. He was captured and confined for a year. It is believed that during this time he thought deeply about himself and the world he lived in. Upon release, he went back to his home of Asissi and fell ill. During this time he went through more tortured thoughts on his outlook to the world about him. He recovered and began to become reclusive with his deep thinking. He went to Rome on behalf of the poor and when he came back he took in lepers.

His father began to dispare of him and there was conflict between them, but he remained stubbonly convinced that he was doing something right by embracing poverty.

He gained followers and then moved about the district from town to town preaching. Once again, this time with followers, he went to Rome and got an audiance with Pope Inocennt III who allowed him to found a modest order at first, but of course it grew.

To me, this man is an enigma, because I don't think I would get on with him if I ever met him, but I still believe he must have been an extreamly sincere man - obviously devoted. For these reasons, he intrigues me.

3. Margaret Thatcher
 
Well I would not mind betting that there are a lot of people shouting "No Way" But then there will be as many appluading. When I was 18 years of age, Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of United Kingdom and she gave the country a blooming big kick up the arse. The trouble was, I don't think she always knew when to stop kicking and many of us imagined we had bottoms that were constantly smarting. The reason I have picked Margaret Thatcher is because I am 49 now and I own my house because of her. I did not appriciate it at the time. I thought she was as hard as nails, which she was.
I worked in the Royal Mail (Post Office) throughout the 1980s decade and it seemed to be a rather turbulant time. I remember the unemployment and the clashes with the unions, most notabley the miners strike. Everyone that confronted her was swept aside and I was one of the young who thought she was too harsh.

As much as it pains me to say this, I believe she got more right then she got wrong. I can visulize myself as a young man in his twenties - full of high ideas and morales - being disgusted with this older me, who is writing this. But if I could, I would like to reach down that time corridoor and grab myself by the coller. I'd spit. "You are so full of Bull - you know nothing and she will do you right in years to come." She did, and to be fair on Maggie, she is one I did not appreciate at the time. I think a lot of us secretly miss her. Sometimes undesirable ellements took the country on and I could not have wished such enemies upon a more formidable opponent. (I almost felt sorry for them)

If I could make one complaint to Margaret Thatcher it would be: Why did you steam roller through the Pole Tax without properly reviewing such things. It could have been a good idea if you had taken the many variables of income into the equation. You really did drop the ball on that one and then it was the old "And you to Brutus" from most of your ministers. It all stemed from the Pole tax - I'm certain it did. You could have had a few more years, but for that.
 

My Mum's Notes From Sixties London


When I was a kid I stumbled upon these old notes in the back of a pocket Oxford dictionary. They were my Mothers and she had aquired the book on 11th October 1958. The front page reads:


Miss Shirley Hayward
52 Gough Grove
Poplar
London. E14

My Mother and Father were married in 1960 and I was born in February of 1961. Today is 14th February 2010 - one day after my forty nineth birthday. The next one is the big 50. Today I visited my mother and she dug out the old dictionary and gave it to me. I was pleased to recieve this because I thought it was lost back in the late seventies, because that was the last time I remembered reading it. I have come home and photocopied the pages and pasted them on this blog. They might be of interest to some people who like such rum little ditties. They are written blogs on each year - small notes of things in her life and mention of the bad winter snow of 1963, the US President's assasination in 63 and Winston Churchill's death in 65, plus other things concerning our family. To me, these notes are special because they start just before my first birthday in January 1962. I was so pleased my Mum came upon these and it was a nice little unexpected suprise when she dug the book out and gave it to me for a keep sake. 

You will need to click on each page to see whole page layout. When you have done this, if you click onto page along the top lefthand tool bar, go down to zoom and click 150% then you will get larger text and be able to read the writing more clearly.






Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Growing Interest for Science Fiction War of the Worlds Adaptation.

CLICK HERE


The science fiction adaptation story of the grand ironclad – HMS Thunder Child will be on sale in the UK from 2017. It is available in the USA now. 

This adaptation is set in the original time of 1898 in Queen Victoria's Britain. A nation of steam and iron where the notion of something or someone greater was unthinkable.

That was until the Martians came with their gigantic fighting machines that spewed heat rays and poisonous smoke upon the little creatures that tried to scatter before the inhuman onslaught.

Read the new adaptation on sale in the UK from 2017. It has already generated rapid interest in the USA.





Thursday, 4 February 2010

Looking Forward to 2010 World Cup South Africa.

My Valhalla of Noble Football Players. (Looking Forward to 2010 World Cup)


If you have loved watching football over the years, then like me, I’m sure you are all looking forward to the World Cup South Africa 2010. I, of course, will be cheering for England but I’m sure you will all be cheering just as loud for your respective country.


We all love to watch our nations compete in the glorious and wonderful game and we all admire some of the skilful players from other lands – all competing for their countries’ glory.
As a kid of nine years, I remember watching the dazzling Brazil 1970 team. I thought they were magic and was proud that England only lost 1 – 0. The Brazil team included the fabulous Pele who rightfully sits in my special room – a Valhalla of glorious football players.


There are many fine players that came and went during the decades of this competition and particular nations had wonder teams that echo in the football eternity. Teams like Holland. Does anyone remember the Dutch side of the 74 and 78 World Cup? If ever a nation deserved to pick up the trophy but didn’t; it has to go to the super Orange sides of 1974 and 1978. Both times they were defeated in the final – in 1974 by West Germany and in 1978 by Argentina. One of the 74 players sits in my special room and his name is Johan Cruyff.
Moving on and searching among teams for new football Gods to sit in my Valhalla of great football players, I can’t help selecting the dreaded ‘Hand of God’ man. Diego Maradona. As an England man I still wake in a cold sweat when I see his first goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. However, if an England player had pulled it off, I would accept the referee’s decision with joy and giggle afterwards. In all fairness the second goal was great and his skills through out his career speaks volumes. So therefore, Maradona must also sit inside my illustrious hall because he was a great player.
There was another player who could sit among these greats, but his country never got to the World Cup when he was playing. I am referring to Northern Ireland and Manchester United’s great George Best. He should sit at the great banqueting table in Valhalla too because his talent was sublime and I think he is, so far, the best player to come out of the Isles.


Zinedine Zidane must also sit there because he was, in my view, a complete player. He picked up the World Cup trophy for France in 1998 after beating Brazil 3-0 in the final.


Today, I would like to pick Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal - the new kid on the block as far as the other Valhalla greats go, but he deserves to be in such a special room among such greats.


Of course there are hundreds of stalwart good players that don’t share in the glory of my Valhalla room, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be mentioned. Maybe the players I have picked get the more glamorous headlines because most score goals and are instrumental in assisting.
If you are a German, you might be aggrieved that there are none of your great players in my Valhalla. Well Germany, to my mind has produced some of the most excellent teams ever. They are always near the mark in competitions – there or there abouts as the saying goes for German sides in prestigious competitions. There have been endless good players from Germany and a continuous production of strong sides, but the entire side works as a unit much more efficiently then most football teams I’ve seen. It makes Germany great with good players. So good, those teams with great dazzling individuals are not always enough to beat Germany. Not when they were up against the likes of steady Beckenbauer or the incredulous Gerd Muller. The later was a total nightmare for opponents. He was a wonderful thief of dreams and would mug teams with simple goals that were devastating. I remember 1970 when Germany won 3-2 against England and that was after we were winning 2-0. Muller the nightmare – Muller, Muller, Muller - he never seemed to do anything except score sneaky goals and break hearts. I bet his team mates loved him to bits for he did have a crude but effective talent. I think our English Gary Lineker was a bit like him, but did not share in half the glory that Gerd Muller did. This was because Muller had a more effective team around him as much as it pains me to say it.
(Stewart Pearce)
We get all sorts of other good players that don’t get the adulation they deserve. I think England’s Stewart Pearce was a great defender. I know we had other good players who done wonderful things, but I always liked Pearcey – he never gave up.


Higuita of Columbia
What about Roger Miller of the Cameroon 1990 side. I think he was 38 and still playing and scoring goals for his country. He pulled off a few grand ones with Cameroon during that competition. I always remember Columbia’s goalkeeper – a man called Higuita who would dribble outside of his goal area and venture too far out into the field of play. He termed himself (the best goalkeeper in the world) and would keep dribbling the ball far out of his goal area. He would also stray out to pick up loose balls. I think he wanted to be a midfield player and was a wonderful, over confident, pantomime villan. Well, he came out and met a stray ball during the Cameroon game and casually passed to one of his players who nervously shot it back. Higuita was suprised by the hastily returned football and could not bring it under control. Roger Miller had him for breakfast and mugged him good and proper as he planted his second goal of the game for Cameroon. Higuita got caught with his trousers down and to everyone’s amusement because commentators kept predicting it would happen – terrific stuff.


You will giggle at this.(click below)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwM4z8xD_cU

 I think a European team is going to win it in South Africa this year - that is my prediction. What is yours…



Tuesday, 2 February 2010

What Type of ship was HMS Thunder Child?



What type of ship was H.M.S. Thunder Child? The fictitious ironclad from H.G. Wells’ story: War of the Worlds.

How do you imagine her? Obviously late Victorian and because I think most of us see her without any rigging, she would probably have been built after 1871. She would have had revolving metal covered turrets and probably breech loading guns. At first, revolving turret guns were muzzle loaded. The barrels were short fat stubby casks that barely went through the turret ports. However, the Royal Navy outdated muzzle loaders after 1879 and refitted all ships with longer barrelled breech loaders. However, I wanted H.M.S. Thunder Child to have muzzle loaders, so I had to go against history a little. Well, after all, Martians never really came either, so why not take a liberty for my pastiche story of War of the Worlds’ H.M.S. Thunder Child.


The reason there were no more muzzle loaded turret guns was a terrible accident in 1879. This happened on board H.M.S. Thunderer, the sister ship of H.M.S. Devastation. The Thunderer was doing a routine gunnery exercise one day with her muzzle loading guns. These antiquated weapons were pulled inside the turrets and turned muzzle down towards the floor were holes lead down to the deck below. Here the armourers would load a charge and ram it up a gutter type contraption through the hole in the ceiling and into the waiting gun muzzle above where the gun turret crew was. Then a shell would be loaded up the same way so that shell sat on charge inside the gun barrel. The gun was then pulled back up into a firing position and wheeled forward so that the short nozzle protruded out of the turret’s gun ports. There were two cannons to each cylinder covered turret. When the guns were fired one of the barrels did not ignite, so a shell complete with charge was still in the barrel. The turret crew were none the wiser and pulled both guns back in for reloading. Of course a new charge and shell was placed on top of the old unexploded charge and shell. When the guns were wheeled forward and fired, one of the guns with two charges and two shells blew up inside the turret, killing eleven and injuring thirty five. After this, all Royal Navy ships were equipped with breech loaders, except for one – my fictitious idea of H.M.S. Thunder Child.


I imagine the fictitious Thunder Child as a ship kept out of the way and outdated because she had no refits to modernize her. So in the world of fiction, my image of H.M.S. Thunder Child is that she still had the obsolete muzzle loading guns. She was an abomination because she was built after an argument between Edward James Reed and supporters of the late Captain Cowper Phipps Coles, who was lost at sea when he was aboard his newly designed ship H.M.S. Captain. The ship with revolving turrets and rigging had sunk in 1870 with great loss of life. Her freeboard had been designed to be only eight feet above the water level, but due to construction mistakes with added weight, the finished ship floated another fourteen inches lower – under seven feet. During a storm she capsized and Captain Cowper Phipps Coles perished with many others.


Edward James Reed used the turret design on H.M.S. Devastation and the sister ship Thunderer. I wanted to pretend that Thunder Child was an accidental design that went ahead when it should not have because of a squabble between both camps. When it was done – the ship was put in obscure locations and by 1898 it was going to be scrapped. It had missed out on refits and was generally neglected by the admiralty. I wanted an excuse to go against history and to invent a reason why my idea of H.M.S. Thunder Child could have obsolete muzzle loading guns. I needed a historical event when one of these early ironclads went into action. Of course none in the Royal Navy ever did see action except for a few off shore bombardments around various parts of the British Empire. I think it was called Gunboat diplomacy. But now in the H.G. Wells’ Victorian Britain of Martian invaders, a muzzle loading Thunder Child can come out of the closet and fire her obsolete guns at the alien tripods.


Hooray!


Monday, 1 February 2010

West Country Brit Folklore that brought about R.D. Blackmore's Great Novel: Lorna Doone.

Lorna Doone.
I know nothing about R.D. Blackmore except that he is English and he lived some time ago. Oh, and he also wrote Lorna Doone, which is a fabulous period story set in Britain of 1680s to 1690s.

This is one book where the story eclipses the man who wrote it for me. I don’t mean this in a rude way to R.D. Blackmore because his story is a wonderful gem. The tale contains wonderful characters and I loved walking around and living the adventure in West England of this period.

It is a passionate love story between John Ridd who is a layman English farmer and Lorna Doone – a young lady of more noble status - a Scottish Reiver clan.

Why a Scottish Reiver clan should be living in South West England might puzzle most people. After all, you could not get a further corner of the Isles from their origins. Therefore, I would like to fill you in on few little ditties concerning Reiver clans.

The story is set some time after the forced deportation to Ireland of the Reiver clans by the Scottish King James VI = (English King James I). Once the king had control of both kingdoms he could control the borders of Scotland and England. He rounded up the Reiver clans and forced them to live in Ulster province of Ireland, where the Protestant Reivers would have their hands full fighting the local indigenous and rebellious Catholic population. This was about 1605 and stopped the cross-border clashes of the Reiver clans but caused a new conflict in the North of Ireland. Hmmm, does it still go on today?

The Doones, however, had escaped deportation by fleeing deeper into England. First to Yorkshire, where areas were remote enough to stay out of the king's attention and with status enough to control the local militias and magistrates.

They remained in Yorkshire for around forty years and would abduct the young woman from the surrounding areas and soon the rouge Reiver clan was full of Fitz-Doones (illegitimate offspring) Legend has it that there were many in this ‘fallen from grace’ clan of Land Owners.

When King James died, his second son Charles became king and by the 1640s he had thrown the kingdom of England into civil war. His parliament rebelled against him and the English civil war began between Royalists and Parliamentarians.

The Doone clan saw an opportunity to regain their ancestral homelands in Scotland by helping the king and so joined the Royalists in the English civil war. They, of course, backed the losing side and once again found themselves on the run from the newly formed and short-lived English Commonwealth/Republic. They ran deeper southwest to the borders of Devon and Somerset – again a remote place and far from the London government of the time.

1660, the English Commonwealth government falls and King Charles II returns from exile and so begins the restoration. The mad Christian fundamentalists are gone. People will not get branded or have ears cut off for not attending church, Witch-finder generals are told to lighten up on spinsters with black cats and things get more relaxed. Rainbows appear and little bunny rabbits hop about in the meadows while the Doones go back to doing their gypsy thing of upsetting the local peasantry. Except now they live on the other side of the Isles – miles away from their Scottish homelands and a couple of generations removed. None alive can remember the borderlands anymore.

It is around 1680 when the story begins and John Ridd goes to the market as a young boy with his father. The Doones ride down from the moor into the market like a bunch of cowboys from a western and the trouble starts there.

The story transcends years and we see John Ridd grow up loving Lorna, who is a Doone. Her clan is responsible for killing John’s father. The word bereaved comes from Reivers who kill someone of your own clan.

There are many trials and tribulations during the story and some of the characters in the yarn actually lived. For instance Judge Jefferys – the hanging Judge is real. Thomas Fagan – the highwayman is real. Although his character is around many years before he lived. Thomas Fagan was notorious in the 1740s as a highwayman and so was his white steed but they were not about in 1690s Devon. The Doone clan was real, but Lorna, Carver, and Ensor Doone are fictitious as is John Ridd.

I have got to be about the most unromantic bloke going, but I have to confess, that I secretly fell in love with Lorna Doone. If you are a guy and you think this romance is not for you, please reconsider. John Ridd is a real champion with a reserved and decent demeanor. You might imagine you are him winning your own Lorna. The story is great and many of the events are intertwined with real things of the time, especially the Monmouth Rebellion and the rebels going before Judge Jefferys. For me, it is a complete adventure with a fabulous hero and heroine – an excellent villain in Carver Doone that you’ll love to hate. Lorna Doone has got it all.

Lorna Doone is Ensor’s Doone's granddaughter, but he hides a dreadful secret about her and is bitterly opposed to her match with a common farmer. He wants her for cruel Carver Doone, who she loathes. If you have not read this one, I would strongly advise you to give it a go. It captures a part of Britain during a very dramatic time and much of the story is made from a mishmash of West Country folklore.