Saturday, 4 June 2016

Grey days and boredom.

God knows what has happened to the British summer. It's been grey and wet since Tuesday. Boy am I bored. Certain other things are exacerbating the boredom but I have no wish to go out into a cold wet and grey world.

As for those things adding to the boredom, following a long dreaded operation on my eye, certain things are unavailable to me. I can blog on my tablet but my computer monitor is a blur. I cannot get my eyes tested for glasses (They fit standard distance lenses in cataract surgery, you still need glasses for reading etc.). till the other eye is done and then that has to heal. It is worth it. My eyesight was almost 0 but writing is, for the moment, a limited pleasure.

Reading can be achieved by holding a book at a minimum of 4 inches and a maximum of 6 inches away, and does not make for a comfortable position.

I also have to see my mother today, though my daughter is going with me. It is still not much fun as my mother has Alzheimer's and is not communicative or appreciative of attempts at conversation.

I may sound ungrateful about the eye operation but I am not. In the long run it will be great to see clearly again. I am sure it will be better weather soon. My mother may be more like her old self today. But all in all it is not shaping up as one of the most exciting days of my life.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

We can-but should we?

Please don't assume this is an attack on science and progress. Far from it. I love science and the wonders it has given us. I am no luddite. I wouldn't be using this computer if I were. I look forward to driverless cars which are carbon neutral. I love the fact that relatives and friends across the world can communicate instantly. I like the idea of robots to perform the unpleasant tasks, though I don't think they will if ever they reach the level of self awareness. However, I do have reservations.

The question in the title is relevant. We have spent a fortune in search of the Higgs-Boson, something which has virtually no relevance to our everyday life. We seek the origins of the big bang. Again not really relevant to me here and now. 

One of my favourite scientific thought experiments Scrodingers Cat was designed to show how matter, the cat, could exist in several states (Live, dead or presumably non existent.) until observed. It was in all these states simultaneously until you collapse the possibility waveform and open the box. You can't actually do this experiment because you would just end up with an angry and frustrated cat which, due to the booby trapped box may also be dead. Common sense tells us that all this is so much rubbish and, again, is only relevant to bloggers who ramble on about weird experiments. Really it was just a way of thinking about the actions of particles on a quantum level and trying to relate them to a macro event. Even the inventor of this experiment used it to express the things he saw as ridiculous in quantum theory of the time.

Space exploration may be necessary to our future but is very expensive.

Internet technology and the devices which are used to access it are very relevant to us but there is a price even to them. There are many who have mental issues due to the social isolation involved in long periods of communication via machine only. They do not develop social skills. I am sure many modern children's issues are exacerbated by this. There are issues with Pedophilia, scams, crime and radicalization too. Many actually believe everything they see on the net so these things are easier for the perpetrator. You need to develop filters and even a certain cynicism. Some never do.

I love archaeology but we spend large amounts on digs and equipment to tell us tiny details of our ancestors lives.

I guess this is O.K. all the time we have the luxury of the money to pursue these things but some science led theories which are now becoming reality scare me, Fracking is an instance. The idea is to release the gases from the Earth by pumping high pressure water through fissures deep underground. There is no correlation between the two but an increasingly high number of deep holes in the ground are becoming an issue all over the world.

Guatemala city.
They have appeared in many other places too. Now i am not saying this is a result of fracking, it is not and fracking is only now becoming a reality, but these must be due, in part, to mankind's need to impose his will on the planet by draining marshland and building in places not suited to it. These are usually deep but fracking is an activity which takes place much deeper.

Now my logic tells me that these fissures are filled with gas and oil for a reason and that removing it will result in either a vacuum or the filling of these fissures with water, which is notorious for eroding rock and earth. So if these collapses are happening already and deep down we create more weaknesses I can only see it getting worse.

You hear people saying we should put the brake on sciences and put the money toward social problems, like feeding the starving and housing the homeless. This is an invalid argument. Stopping all scientific research would NOT solve these problems and some research is essential to food production, health an so on. I do not think throwing money at social issues will ever solve them. I do think we should look at some scientific research and evaluate costs, benefits and relevance to real life. Do we really need to work out exactly how and when the universe began or try to work out when it will end. We cannot do anything about it and both the beginning and the end of the Universe are separated from us by billions of years. We need to have somewhere to go to if our Earth becomes overcrowded so shouldn't we try to work out ways of making Mars habitable before trying to find a distant Earth ready made.

This all sounds silly and it is a little tongue-in-cheek but I feel a time may come when we will need to address the issues facing us in real life, here and now, before contemplating the topography of our navels and the likely effects on time of a black hole billions of light years away.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

"What's all this EU stuff about?" Says Johnny Foreigner.

I know that many non Europeans, I.E.Americans, Australians, Asians etc. are having problems with the U.K. and this absurd (To those not directly involved!) idea that we want to leave the EU. Most Europeans are of similar mind. Why would we want to leave? I think it depends on your perception of the EU. I would like to explain why I have a problem with it and why I feel it is in Great Britain's best interests to leave.
First you have to try to understand the mindset of the average Briton. We are not racist but in 2 major conflicts we stood alone against a Europe controlled by Germany. We are a proud independent nation and, like our American friends, value democracy. The EU claims to be democratic and indeed has a parliament of elected members. They vote on proposals from the European Commission. However many, myself included, feel that the commission, being unelected is not Democratic. Many feel differently.
 I feel that you cannot please all the people all the time and that 20 odd countries will never share similar agendas and ideals. Some EU officers have openly spoken of their dislike for the U.K. The contempt with which we are treated was shown by the meagre concessions offered to us when the referendum on leaving was mooted. We are also perceived as a non team player because we have refused to join with directives before. We refused to join the Euro common currency and are resisting any moves towards further integration.
The fact is we can stand alone in many areas. We do not need a superstate and a common army. This does not endear us to those countries who definitely do need these things. The myth of those who wish to stay with Europe is that Britain cannot stand alone in many areas. Security is one, the myth being that we will lose intelligence from Europe if we leave. This is frankly stupid. No one will refuse to share intelligence which could save life. In fact security will be reduced if we stay. The open borders policy will mean that, when Turkey joins the EU there will be a direct route from Syria (And ISIS.) to Calais a few miles from the U.K.. That is frightening. It is designed to allow for free travel but would allow free access to terrorists too.
Our dear Prime minister has tried to scare us by telling us that the E.U. is the only thing standing between us and a third European conflict. I think he shot himself in the foot on this one. it is totally unbelievable and has, I am sure, shown his other pronouncements to be as ludicrous as this one. We are founders of NATO, G8 and G20 with power of veto. These organisations are more than capable of looking after security.
Open borders and Migration is another issue. Imagine if you will that the U.S.A. has opened it's borders to allow free travel from any country in north or south America (including Canada.), that anyone from those countries can migrate to U.S.A. without any paperwork apart from a passport. Imagine that many claim welfare as soon as they arrive. Further they take these benefits and send them to families still in the country of origin for years. Imagine the burden placed on the welfare budget.
In Britain we have free healthcare. They can use this too, as soon as they arrive placing strain on the infrastructure of the N.H.S. Other services become overwhelmed.
To return to our American analogy, now I would like you to imagine that the U.S.A. can make laws, but that directives from Canada would, as enshrined in the Greater American union constitution, be obligatory in the U.S.A. Any purely internal laws would need to be in line with GAU law. Furthermore all those countries who have had a chequered past with U.S.A. could vote on GAU  laws which would not be in their interest. For instance Mexico could vote (and persuade others to vote) to instigate a trade deal which would be very detrimental to the U.S.A. The TTIP deal currently being negotiated in Europe is seen as a way of slipping privatisation of the British National Health Service in by the back door. To my mind it is all about profit over fair play. No wonder Mr Obama wants us to stay.
All this is My opinion but there are other reasons I wish to leave. We were originally asked, in the 1970's to vote for membership of the EEC (European economic community.). There was no mention of losing sovereignty, common currency, common army. There was no mention of political integration. All this will be done with no mandate from us if we stay. If you wish to know how high-handed the EU is just look at the way Greece has been treated in order to be rescued from their financial woes. They have been made to fell like the losers in a war, a subject nation.
We are a great nation, we have the 5th biggest economy in the world and are quite capable of standing proud on the world stage. The EU need us more than we need them. I remember as a teenager being able to find a job with no trouble, indeed I was offered many. Now, since the migration began, there are 60-100 applicants for every job. We were paid according to worth. Now any job is paid at the basic minimum wage because migrants will work cheaply. In a capitalist nation that ensures that bosses would much rather employ migrants than British Citizens.
All this is opinion. There are those who feel that this is xenophobic nonsense. I have seen the effect of the EU and I do not like what it has done to the U.K. All I want to do is to persuade those who think we are mad to even think of leaving that there are some very valid reasons to wish to do so. I don't think that the U.S.A would willingly sign up to the restrictions I have described and I am voting to leave. I hope this gives you some idea why.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Put it on wordpress so it might as well go on here too.

I am posting a few pages from my ongoing novel, just as a sample. Enjoy.

Stone castle in Kent-seat of the De Reigner family


Sir Marcus De Reigner, The Earl of Kent, stared pensively out over his lands from the strong walls of his castle. The fields and villages stretched as far as the eye could see under a hot summer Sun. He could see the men working in the fields, like so many ants. The odd Church spire could be seen amongst the hills, roads and trees. His eye unconsciously followed a cart making it's way slowly along a narrow track towards a farmhouse. It was loaded with barrels but the driver seemed in no hurry. No one seemed to be in a hurry. It was too hot for haste.

The walls and keep of his home were made from the flints, so common in this part of the country, and immensely strong when used for building. The buildings within were set out in ranges against the defensive walls. Some were the homes of servants who shared sleeping accommodation. Many housed guards and officials of the Castle. The bailiff had a cottage on the grassed and cobbled Bailey. All were roofed with local tiles, giving the buildings a reddish appearance. The great Keep rose above all, it's towering crenelations inspiring confidence and trust in all the inhabitants.

Marcus was familiar with this view from the walls, he had been born in this castle. He had learned to use a bow from seasoned archers within it's walls. He had played in the fields he could see from his vantage point.

At the entrance to the Castle several men stood talking and Marcus wondered idly if they knew they were being observed. He recognised them all and knew, should the need arise, that they would leap into action. Apart from patrolling his lands for outlaws and guard duty, they had little to do.

Like the walls of his castle, Marcus was solid and reliable. His family was an old one which fought with the Conqueror when he invaded this land. For generations now they had been favoured by his successors and were trusted allies. They had much land, some granted by various monarchs as tenants-in Chief and some they had bought in their own right over the years.

They also had the living of several parishes on their lands. They had gifted some to sons of families who had chosen the ecclesiastical life and thus had put those families in their debt. They were, in fact, one of the most influential families in the county of Kent and also held lands all over England.

Marcus had been blessed with 2 sons before a fever had taken his beloved Wife and it was these children that he was thinking of now. The youngest, Phillipe, favoured his mother, with blonde hair and eyes of green. He was a sturdy and affectionate child, just turned 7, golden haired and bright. He was polite and well spoken.

His older son, Godwyn, was the image of his father. Raven black hair and a strong square face topped a well muscled and co-ordinated body. He excelled at sports and games and had told his father that he wished to fight in the Kings wars. God knew he would get the chance soon enough. The King always seemed to be warring on some country or another. Marcus felt his eldest son would have been more at home in the great days of the Crusades. He was now 12 and would soon start training in earnest for a military career.

Marcus sighed and walked towards the great central keep. He was proud of the castle and his standing in the area. He loved his two sons and wanted the best for both but today news had come which filled him with dread.

The King, as always, was demanding money for incessant wars in Europe but was also facing trouble from Scotland and Wales. Today he had received a message telling him to report for military service. It was an honour but also a burden. One did not turn down such requests, specially from Edward who had a fearsome temper and spread his anger liberally.

The men at the gate were also going with him. The Castle had not been under threat for years and soldiers who had nothing to do often became lazy but he let them rest for now, they would soon be called on to serve again.

His sons were too young to be left but he had options. His late wife had had a brother, Myles, and he had shown some skill for organisation. He was also literate and numerate. Marcus had been thinking about the problem while he stood alone and had decided to leave Godwyn, nominally in charge, with his uncle as a kind of regent. The boy would offer to go with him and the thought made Marcus smile. He had some training with weapons but he wouldn't last a day against an army of fully trained veterans. No, he must learn his duties at home. Marcus knew he wouldn't live forever and Godwyn needed to be ready to take over.

More of a problem was Phillipe. He was too young for anything except education. Marcus trusted his older son but knew that having his younger brother around would distract him from learning how to manage the Castle and estates.

He resolved, reluctantly, to send his younger son to a Monastery which would provide a good education. He was unsure if the happy child would ever make a Monk, Friar or Priest but time would tell. If not there was always the Universities. Oxford was well entrenched as the senior University, having been founded not long after the invasion by William, but the town of Cambridge, in the fen district to the north of London, also had a well respected university. It had been founded at he beginning of the century and was rapidly gaining a good reputation. Phillipe could do well with a start like that. A training in Philosophy, logic and rhetoric could open many doors. Even a life as a physician could be lucrative.

He felt sure this was all for the best and there was really no choice. His eldest son would learn to be a man and his youngest would sow the seeds of a scholarly, or at worst clerical life. It occurred to him that his children may not like being separated but this was his best course of action. He was sure of it.

This issue had been worrying him since the messenger arrived and he had turned it over and over in his mind. His sons were dear to him and wanted to ensure they were safe and happy. Having made a decision he strode towards the living quarters in the Keep. He went to the small room that he used when he was conducting business. Sitting in his favourite chair he sent a messenger for the parish priest and asked a servant to fetch Myles, who had quarters in the range of buildings bordering the bailey. He had acted as a scribe since Marcus married his sister and had continued after her death.

Hopefully the Cleric would know of religious establishments providing educational facilities. Even if he didn't know, Marcus felt sure he could find out. That part would be easy. Myles was a different matter. He was not a confident man and may need to be persuaded.

Chapter 1

1445-Sittyngborne in the county of Kent.

Sittyngborne was shrouded with fog on a cold morning. Puddles in the street boasted a crust of clear ice over the mud beneath. The figures of early risers engaged in various activities seemed ghostly until they were almost upon you, then appeared suddenly, as clear as day.

The sun would struggle to burn of the fog by mid-day if at all. Winter had come early to this tiny town on the north downs of Kent and the fog itself sent a chill through the bones. The guard on the east gate shivered, looking forward to his relief arriving. There was a warm fire in the guard house and they would be having breakfast about now.

He had heard sailors who plied their trade along the tidal creek and up to London gossip that the Thames was likely to freeze. There was even talk of a great frost fair, where Londoners would indulge in business and pleasure on the frozen river itself. It was rare but so was the arrival of the north winds which bought these conditions so early. At times the great city was cut off in bad winters. If it's early arrival was anything to go by this year was likely to be one. It would be hard on those who relied on trade with the city.

A few hardy souls were about. A hawker up early to get the best patch and a merchant on his way to open his small shop walked along, peering into the white mist that shrouded everything. They almost bumped into each other.

Near the Creek was a small building with a wooden frame and simple stone built chimney. The framework was covered in wattle and daub. The thatched roof was in poor repair. Bits of the dry and cracked outer covering were falling off in the freezing conditions. Windows and doors were covered by bits of sacking. It was built on what was little more than a large garden, almost barren now, but the state of this plot was the last thing on the mind of one of the two occupants. The other was barely aware of the world around her.

Inside the hut Philip Reyner sat on his dirty straw mattress. He was a small child. His oval face was framed by unruly brown hair, shaped roughly like a pudding basin and his ears were hidden beneath it. He had green eyes over a thin nose and a narrow mouth His arms and legs were well muscled for a boy his age. They got a lot of use. He was thin but that, also, was to be expected given his situation.

Numbers meant little to him but if truth were known he could not have been more than nine years old.

The family dwelling had two small rooms, the first containing two small straw mattresses on the floor. One was his and one his Mother's. Apart from that the only other furniture was an old Chest, a stool and a table. There was a small fire in the hearth, barely enough to warm him on this cold night. The sounds of the livestock could be heard in the other room, separated by a curtain of old sack cloth. It hadn't always been like this, once they had lived in a cottage with a kitchen and bedchambers. Philip sighed at the thought. He had known hardship and sorrow but tonight was the worst of his young life.

He held a Ring in his hand. It was his only legacy from his late and unlamented father, Matthew, who had died of a mysterious infection four winters before. No-one knew what it was. The town gossips had attributed it to everything from the pox to the plague. The town had seen people suffering with various ailments. They thought they knew the symptoms but this was different. Towards the end he vomited blood a lot.

A physician may have provided a diagnosis but they were expensive, very expensive. The apothecary took some eggs and milk in exchange for an unintelligible diagnosis about humours being out of balance. He had bled the man and assured his family he would be well in a few days. It was not common practice for an apothecary to do this but, aside from the cost, Sittyngborne boasted no Physician.

They might as well have saved the food for themselves. Medical cures rarely worked, even those prescribed by a Physician. The Apothecary who attended Matthew Reyner had a large shop in Sittyngborne near the 'Lyon'. He often boasted medical knowledge so they had taken him at his word. He may have put more effort into saving Matthew if he had been paid in coin but it was doubtful he could have saved the patient even then.

Philip often wondered about the Ring he held. It looked like Gold to his young eyes but he had never really seen any before. Even so it had to be worth something. Could they have saved his father if they had sold it? After his father had died he had asked his mother that question. She had answered that the Ring was his legcy, or something like that and that it had been in the family for many years. She also said it was important, though she did not know why and She would not sell it.

In any case Matthew had been a drunken sot. He seemed to blame everyone but himself for his laziness, drinking and womanising. Mary had suspected that that the illness was God's punishment and it was his sins that killed him.

So, Matthew died and his wife scraped together the cost of a poor burial by selling a little of their produce. After the rents and the tithes there was barely enough to feed them that year. They were reduced to eating what little they found or could scavenge. They had once farmed a few strips of land around the town and it had provided a good income but then his father gradually sank into the mire of drink, gambling and whores. He was able to exchange the tenancy of his fields, one by one, for cash. His neighbour Master Tyler was hungry for land and took all that he could get. Mistress Tyler felt a little guilty that her husband took advantage of Matthew's situation and tried to make up for it by making small acts of charity and sending Mary cast off clothing for her and Philip.

Things settled down eventually and they actually found life a little easier without Matthew. They would never admit the fact, it would be disrespectful. He had been absolved of his sins and if God forgave him who were they to argue. Even so It soon became apparent just how much Matthew had been spending when they found they were able to amass some coin in the following years.

Sighing, he replaced the Ring in a small bag around his neck. The bag was a Yule gift from his mother, she had made it from some spare leather and it contained all those things a small boy treasures.

They had managed well until his mother had found a growth where her breast and armpit merged. Such things were rare but she had seen it in elderly people. They usually wasted away quickly and invariably died within a few years. She had not mentioned it to Philip, hoping she was an exception but after six months it had grown considerably and she was losing weight rapidly. She bowed to the inevitable and consulted the apothecary. Once again he blamed the humours building up and bled her. When the lump didn't go down he bled her again but it was an expensive business. If it had been working she would have used all her meagre savings but the treatments were obviously not achieving anything.

Philip had heard his mother discussing it with Mistress Tyler and asked her about it and she saw no point in lying to the boy, if things went as they had with the other sufferers he would have to know. She told him about the growth and that it was likely to be the death of her.

He overheard another conversation between the two women a few weeks later about a man in a nearby town who claimed to remove such lumps with a knife but he charged more than the physicians. Rumour had it that more patients died than survived but it offered a chance of his mother recovering. He was sure the Ring would raise enough for the operation and offered it to his mother to sell, but this time she became angry and told him that she would never sell it no matter how pressing the need. She had also said that, if it was God's will she should die, she would accept it.

His mother lost more weight, becoming little more than skin and bone. She seemed to be in pain most of the time. The symptoms got worse as time went on. Even Philip could foresee the inevitable conclusion. And today God had called her.

After a night of listening to his mother's pain filled attempts to breathe and offering what comfort a boy could offer to a dying adult, she had called him to her.

Hold my hand my beautiful boy.” She said weakly. “I go to God soon, I hear him calling now.”

He held her hand which was almost skeletal in keeping with the ravages of the disease that held her prisoner.

When I am gone fetch the Priest, he will do what is needed. I have saved some money in the Chest, enough to bury me. You will not be in debt for my sake.....”

Once again she drifted off into a troubled and pain filled sleep for an hour or so. Just before dawn as the light began to show through the sacking covering the tiny window, she started as if remembering an urgent errand. She panicked when she saw Philip was gone from her side. The boy rushed over to her and held her thin hand again. Her voice was so weak he could barely make out her words.

My son you have kin over Maydstone way, find them, they will help. They are in our debt. I must go to God now.....I am sorry to leave you to face this harsh world alone...”

Tears rolled down his mother's face as she kissed her son for the last time.

I Love you my boy......” She whispered and then with a dry rattle in her throat she expelled her last breath and her eyes turned flat and glassy.

Philip cried over the still form of his mother for what seemed like forever but eventually he laid her hand down and closed her eyes as he had seen her do for his father. He kissed her cold forehead and sat once again on the mattress to wait.

As soon as it was as bright as the fog would allow he went to the large Church of St Micheal near the spring at the east end of the High Street. He took a moment to kneel before the statue of the Virgin. It was set into a niche in a buttress of the Church and offered the parishioners a chance to pray when no services were in progress inside. He dutifully prayed for his parent's souls, but his prayers were hasty because of the nature of his surroundings.

He was in the midst of grey, lichen covered and ancient gravestones. It was scary enough at night but in the fog it seemed eerie and menacing. His imagination peopled it with ghostly apparitions hiding behind each stone. As soon as he felt he had prayed enough the literally ran around the walls of the great Church, expecting a skeletal hand to grab him with each step.

He wiped his face with a dirty hand on the way but all he managed was to spread the dirt on both. The Priest, a kindly man who had visited both his parents when they were ill, was in the Church porch unlocking the great wooden door. The boy tugged at his black robe.

He told the man of his mother's death and the Vicar, Father Mark, went back to the hut to perform the necessary rites for her.

The Priest was out of breath when they arrived at the tiny structure. The boy picked up a wooden cup and offered him some beer from a small barrel which he accepted. He drank it, though it proved to be very bitter, and when he regained his breath he thanked the lad.

He bent over the body of Philip's mother. She had taken on the pallor of the deceased. The Priest muttered words the lad couldn't understand as he made the sign of the cross over his mother's chest several times. Afterwards he sat down and tried to offer comfort to the boy. Philip spoke very little. This kindly fat man was the same man who preached about sin and hell fire every day and small boys always had sins, imagined or otherwise, on their conscience. He was intimidated and his tongue refused to co-operate.

Your mother was at peace with God, she had already confessed her sins to me when I visited a few days ago and was absolved. Now we must make enquiries as to what we can do for you, young Philip. Have you family nearby, friends of your mother possibly?.”

Mistress Tyler.” The boy said shyly. “She lives up the lane.”.

That appeared to use up his meager store of words but the Vicar knew the woman well. She helped in his magnificent Church. It was not far. He had time before mass to visit her.

Father Mark broke the awkward silence.

I will see her on my way back and discuss your sad case with Adam Smith, the Sherriff's man and we will see what can be done. Mistress Tyler will no doubt bring you when she comes to mass today but it will take some time to arrange things. Come and see me tomorrow after Morning Mass.”

After the Priest left Philip set about the daily routine. It was not much different today. He had been used to doing the chores alone since his mother's illness took a turn for the worse. He was no stranger to hard work. He was often out before dawn gathering Chestnuts and picking up windfalls in the orchards which proliferated in this part of Kent. He had even worked in the fields during harvest. His mother often went fruit picking, taking Philip with her. These were his favourite memories of his mother, industriously picking apples and singing or telling him stories. It was all this and his mother's hard work and prudence that kept them from starving.

Even so he knew that someone like him would not be allowed to continue to farm the land. His home would have to be given to someone who could make the most of it, not a young boy who would be incapable of working it alone. He sensed his time here was nearly over. He had no idea what would happen next. Philip possessed a quick and questioning mind. All the time he was carrying out his daily jobs, he was thinking about different futures and where he would end up. His thoughts presented scenario after scenario for his consideration. None seemed as good as this tiny hut with his Mother but that was over now. He looked around while he worked. The Sun had broken through the fog now though small patches lingered. Apart from that the hut was bathed in a weak wintry light.

With the animals fed he thought about finding his friend Ned, (Mistress Tyler's youngest boy.) if only to get away from his Mother's body. He knew it was not Mary, According to Father Mark her soul was with God, though his treacherous mind started asking questions about that too. It was the shell that remained which scared him a little and he was sure it made a few odd noises.

Before he could set off to find Ned, Mistress Tyler and her youngest son walked down the lane towards him. Ned was a few years younger than Philip and wanted to play, seemingly unaware of his friend's grief. His Mother ordered him curtly to show some respect and sit quietly. It was awkward, Philip would have welcomed the chance to discuss all this with Ned. His mother bustled around tidying, though in truth there was nothing much to tidy. Mary's body emitted a low grumbling noise. It was extremely loud in the silence. Mistress Tyler, who had seen death many times, ignored it. Ned, like Philip, was fearful of it's brooding presence.

Thankfully Some men arrived with the parish coffin on the Tyler's handcart. They took his Mother's body to the Church. Mistress Tyler, after ensuring the place was clean, though Philip wasn't sure why, took him to mass at mid-day. She was pious and attended services most days. He prayed for his mother's soul but part of him wondered, irreverently, how much more prayer it would need. The Priest said she was already with God so he didn't see how his prayers would make much difference.

After Church he was taken to the Tyler's neat thatched cottage and seated with Ned at the huge table for the main meal of the day. He sat quietly and picked at his food while the family chattered around him. Of course his Mother's death was the main topic.

For the rest of the day he endured Master and Mistress Tyler and even some of the older of the 5 Tyler children ordering him about. It was all bustle and rush.
Master Tyler told him he would be staying with them for the night.

Towards evening Tyler went to tend the Reyner animals with his oldest son Edward. They made sure the house was secure. All Tyler could do was tie the sacking covering the doorway with leather thongs, the hut boasted no real door. Edward Tyler proudly thought about their cottage, which had a wooden door and crude bolts top and bottom.

This day had been one of the longest of Philip's life. There was little room in the home of such a large family so he was put in lean-to where the animals slept, on a bed of straw. He knew his mother was with God, he had been told so endlessly today. Only now did it hit him, though, that he was alone and he cried, great heaving sobs that racked his small body. They seemed to go on forever. His sobs eventually subsided and tiredness took over as he slid into a troubled sleep.

Writing should be enjoyable but not on Wordpress lately!

Looky here, I was on both blogger and Wordpress. I got more responders on Wordpress but less views. Thus, not having much time to keep posting on both I went with WP.

Roll on about a year and I have shiny new windows 10 on my PC but lordy it does not seem to like WP. Took me two hours to post 1083 words and 3 pictures. I had duplicated images, lost pictures, disappearing sentences. Pictures appeared and disappeared seemingly at will. I have typed these few words and linked to 1 picture in a matter of minutes. Granted the subject matter was not very serious but it is still much easier to use than WP has been lately. Think I might use Blogger again and see how it goes.

Monday, 26 October 2015

How many stories are there? Less than we think I guess.

Originally posted on Wordpress.....

As an avid reader and watcher of film I have often wondered if there are a finite number of stories in the human imagination. I am not saying everyone who has written a book or made a film is committing deliberate plagiarism. It is undeniable though that  many films and books are retellings of older stories. Many are fairy tales set in the modern day and a large well known City. The same is true of Shakespeare's work. Romeo and Juliet, The taming of the Shrew and many others have been told multiple times in different settings.

Another repeated tale is that of the Hero, often a troubled or unloved soul, who battles against untold odds against an arch enemy of superior intellect and strength. Needless to say he always triumphs in the end-even if it takes a film trilogy for this to come to pass. This story is the basis of most super hero movies.

Even the Crime novel, no matter where it is set, follows the same pattern. Mostly these feature a baffling murder or death attributed to natural causes. A detective, normally with a sidekick, is assigned or works out that a crime has been committed. The sidekick is there in order for the slower reader/watcher to have things explained to them. After a twisted and tangled web is followed, with many false leads eliminated, the villain is revealed in a dramatic way. By and large the criminal is the most unexpected character and there has to be a twist in the ending. The hero must also be menaced occasionally.

An updated version of the Hero story is the type of thriller written by Dan Brown. The hero faces danger, violence and injury that would fell a lesser mortal. He/She is in  pursuit of a theory based around an ancient document or artefact. His opposition is a person or group whose interest is in suppressing the aforesaid theory. They are also quite prepared to kill the hero and sidekicks (Once again for the slower reader/viewer!). After Mr Brown the market was deluged by books of this type and they are still popular but are essentially the same basic plot.

The Romance novel has seen a resurgence with T.V. adaptations of classics and, inevitably, the updated modern versions. These are largely seen as women's books or films and are concerned with the rocky path to idealised romance. There must be angst, there must be opposition to the match, there must be a mysterious enemy of the couple who will do anything to stop the union but in the end there must be marriage or the modern equivalent.

There is a new breed of Romance novel typified by the 50 Shades trilogy which is essentially a love story but explores the more physical side of the relationship.

The list goes on, Disaster movies, Horror and Science fiction. All of these have different settings but most have features in common with the core stories I have mentioned Even these usually include a love story, a ruthless enemy and a hero.

I know that there are some original stories which do not quite fit these things. Dickens Christmas carol is unique in my experience but is about redemption which is a common theme in the aforementioned genres.

The fact of the matter is that we like having our favourite tales spoon fed to us. A truly original novel is rare but they are unlikely to be made into films because they do not have the dramatic plotlines. As a book they are enjoyable but that is all they will remain.

Given the Hollywood habit of Rebooting even recent tales, especially in the Super hero genre, you have to wonder if the 'original' story exists. I am a writer but find it very hard to come up with a plot which has not already been done to death.