Kindred Spirits…

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The jobbing actor remembered for all time as a British spy chief

As jobbing writers we can never rely on our work to feed us. So we must have an alternative source of income. In other words, a day job. Some like myself are now long since retired from the workforce. Therefore I am able to fully concentrate on my writing, be it another novel, or in this instance writing blog posts. Do I receive large amounts of money for all my hard work? No! Thank goodness for my small state pension…

When it comes to jobbing actors, they are those familiar faces we all recognise, even if we cannot immediately recall their names, that appear in movies, on stage, and in radio or television programs from time to time. Like us they love what they do despite being poorly paid. Like us they must still pay the bills. So like us they also need an alternative income. To keep the wolf from the door, many of them collect unemployment benefit between acting jobs.2c002d5b3d0959c7d1be525b87821f38

The British jobbing actor usually cast as the quintessential villain

Like us they would love to break into the big time. But in their business, unless you are a member of an acting dynasty like the Fox family, or perhaps the Redgraves, because of their looks the jobbing actor will only ever be considered for supporting roles, seldom the lead (see the above examples – Robert Brown and Ray Winstone). In other words once seen by casting directors, they are typecast forevermore, destined to remain a jobbing actor until the day they die with no substantial regular monthly income to rely upon.

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Whereas, can you ever imagine the likes of Bill Nighy (pictured above) in a supporting role as a spymaster or a villain? Just look at him! Quite simply his face dictates that he is not suitable for bit parts, thank you very much! He is much more likely to be successfully cast as a cad, bounder, lover or perhaps a dithering academic, whether on stage, screen, radio or television. Unlike the other two, for him the list is seemingly endless.

Why do I say kindred spirits? Think about it for a moment. We’re both dependant on fate. As writers we are responsible for coming up with the right set of words. Once strung together, if they prove acceptable as a new work of fiction worthy of adaptation into a screen, television, radio or stage play, the jobbing actor interprets them for the viewing and listening  audiences. In both cases we work our backsides off for very little gain. In both cases we are not afraid of what being actors and writers is all about – hard graft!

Whether either discipline realises it or not, we are connected to one another. I would go further – in both camps, the notion that what I say is a fact, simply does not arise in polite conversation! Even if it should…

So the next time you think you must be mad to want to write, know that you aren’t alone in your addiction. There are quite literally millions of jobbing writers like you and I. Equally, there are thousands of jobbing actors like Ray and Robert too, particularly in stage plays and on television and radio. Both of our occupations are addictive and often fraught with disappointments.

Not to worry, even though both disciplines are to say the least, financially precarious – occasionally the sun does actually shine on one or two of us. I’m still patiently waiting in my seventieth year for my turn…

😉

 

Remembering the First World War

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I wrote this a few years ago to pay tribute to the seven hundred thousand Tommys’ who didn’t come home…

~~~

Runner’s Gauntlet

Albert Johnstone and his pal Dick Madison had both enlisted at the same time, barely twelve weeks after war had been declared in 1914. At the time, Dick was nineteen and Albert was barely eighteen. Since then three long and bitterly hard fought years had passed in the ‘war to end all wars’. It was now 1917 and by sheer good fortune more than anything else in the corner of hell they called home, Albert and Dick were now the only two left alive from the newly formed ‘pals regiment’ that had marched to war in that first year.

To any newcomer to their section, both men seemed much older than they actually were. The last five weeks of constant barrage by the Hun artillery plus the filth, trench foot, body lice and chronic diarrhoea which everyone was subjected to in this small section of the trench, which they called home, had prematurely aged both men.

~~~

“Give us a fag mate?”

“Ain’t got any left Dickie,” Albert replied.

Dick lifted his Lee Enfield’s muzzle to his eye to check the cleanliness of its barrel. The section Corporal, Charlie Hobbs, had just threatened to put him on a fizzer if he didn’t do something about the state of his filthy weapon. “Bleedin stripes on his arm have gone to his bleedin head,” Dick mumbled to himself. “Go on Bert mate, give us a fag,” he pleaded once more, as he yanked on the string of his rifle pull-through once more, “You can have my extra tin of Bully for a fag, go on give us one.” Dick knew that his best mate Albert always had some spare cigarettes stashed away somewhere, deep inside the filthy confines of his clothing, competing for space against his skin with the thousands of body lice that constantly plagued him, which he reserved for those quiet moments during ‘stand to’ at night when they took turns on watch from the trenches’ firing step.

~~~

“Johnstone and Madison, over here. Quickly now – jump to it my lucky lads!” Albert and Dick waded through the fetid water that sat in the bottom of the trench, hiding the wooden duckboards along its length, dodging the huge rats that were swimming along looking for scraps of food, or to feed on the unburied human remains that still lay where they had died.

“Bleedin furry cannibals,” Albert muttered as he smashed the butt of his rifle into one of the rats. Eventually both men stopped in front of Sergeant ‘Bull’ Thomas.

“Got a job for you me lucky lads,” Bull grinned coldly.

“Bleedin hell Sarge – not again, why us, why not someone else?” Dick muttered out loud.

“Now then Madison, watch yer lip! Corporal Hobbs tells me you’re a filthy little bleeder my son. So pin your bleedin lugholes back and shut yer trap unless you want that bleedin fizzer he’s already threatened you with to bleedin multiply!”

Despite all of his bluster, Sergeant Thomas had a soft spot for his two most experienced soldiers. Like Albert and Dick, he had been here in the hell of the Western Front since it first began. Like them, somehow he survived when so many thousands of their fellow Tommies had not. “Now then me lads; as I was saying, I’ve got a job for you. The major needs a couple of runners to take a very important message back to HQ, because the bleedin telephone lines is broke again after the last bleedin barrage. I knows just the very lads for the job, sir, I says to him; Privates’ Johnstone and Madison I says. So my lucky lads, there it is.”

Albert and Dick’s faces, despite the thick layer of ingrained grime and dirt that plastered their skin, giving them the appearance of two men in late middle age, betrayed their natural lack of enthusiasm for being volunteered for something that in all likely-hood would prove to be far more dangerous than remaining here in the trench. “Like I said Sarge, why us when there’s plenty of new replacements to detail off as bleedin runners?” Dick replied.

“The major says that this particular message is far too important to be trusted to a newcomer, lad. Besides, none of them have your survival instincts. The route you will have to take is perishin close to the Hun’s front line as you know.” Bull sighed, realizing exactly what he was asking of them. Everyone knew that anyone who tried to get through that particular piece of the frontline trench system had less than a ten percent chance of making it to the other end alive.

~~~

‘Runner’s gauntlet’, as the way back to the HQ dugout was equally known by both sides of the stagnant frontline, was looked upon as the real life version of the popular fair-ground shooting galleries before the war.

When the frontline trenches had first been dug into the muddy soil two years earlier, the zigzag nature of the British frontline trench combined with the depth it had been dug made it relatively safe. But since then, constant barrages by both sides had reshaped it into a series of short intact trench sections and gaps consisting of hundreds of shell craters. Twenty yards beyond where the three men now stood was the end of the trench proper, and the beginning of the heavily damaged sector. The German snipers loved it. Whenever a Tommy runner tried to cross it, the snipers took bets among themselves over which one of them would send him to oblivion…

~~~

Bull thrust the message into Dick’s tunic top pocket and buttoned it up before shaking both their hands; there was no sense in wishing them good luck – it might bring them the exact opposite.

The pair moved off silently to the end of the trench. Albert carefully lifted the trench periscope just above the remains of the sand bags on top of the trench. Dick released his Lee Enfield’s safety catch in readiness.

“Two bleedin snipers mate, one behind the wall of the church and one behind the old iron gate,” Albert reported in a hushed voice.

“Wall first mate,” Dick replied quietly as the muzzle of his rifle slowly poked through the gap between two sandbags.

Meanwhile, Albert brought his sniper rifle up in readiness. “Ok Dickie, get the bleeder’s attention,” he said, as he shifted his telescopic sight in readiness.

Dick placed his tin hat over the back sight of his rifle and ducked down, seconds before a round from the German sniper’s rifle drove a neat hole slap bang in the centre of it, sending it flying behind him. At the same moment Albert squeezed his trigger and stayed only long enough to see the German sniper’s head explode before ducking down alongside Dick. “Gotcha you bleeder,” he muttered grinning with satisfaction.

Now there was only one more sniper to contend with. “Ready?” Dick asked.

“After you mate,” Albert winked as he stood up with his trusty rifle ready for action. “Go!”

Dick jumped and rolled over the edge of the first shell hole, flattening himself at its soggy base. Albert corrected his telescopic sight’s aim as he briefly saw movement behind the church’s old iron gate. “Go!” he shouted. Dick sprang to his feet once more and jumped and rolled into the next shell hole a split second before a bullet from the German sniper’s rifle kicked up mud behind the sole of his rapidly disappearing boot, when he dived for cover again.

“Gotcha,” Albert said once again with satisfaction as he watched the second sniper crumple lifelessly to the ground behind the iron gate.

~~~

With no more snipers to contend with for the moment, they crossed the rest of the pock-marked muddy landscape, shell hole by shell hole, until they were back in the relative safety of the next section of trench. The two friends sat for a few minutes savouring the exquisite delight of one of Albert’s precious stock of cigarettes, both laughing when the body of one of Alfred’s body lice, which had hidden itself in the tobacco, exploded as the cigarette burned down, before they navigated the trench system to the HQ.

The colonel in charge studied the major’s message before dismissing Albert and Dick, telling them to go to the cook house for a meal before reporting back to him in an hour’s time.

~~~

On their return the colonel handed them his reply to take back with them along with a new roll of field telephone wire to pay out as they went.

“Bleedin’ hell mate,” Dick grumbled, “now all we have to do is get back home with this lot.”

“Like they say Dickie – be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home,” Albert joked.

“Ready?”

“Ready mate? Let’s go,” Albert replied as he patted his sniper rifle, prepared for what lay ahead of them on their return journey through ‘runners gauntlet’.

PS – When I first published this a few years ago, it attracted the attention of a totally clueless individual from the US who was convinced I’d stolen the idea from a film about the American’s much later involvement in the First World War when America’s President Woodrow Wilson finally got off the fence and declared war on Germany on the 6th of April, 1917. The film is entitled All Quiet on The Western Front about the American involvement in the latter stages of World War One.

Showing his woeful lack of knowledge, he had the nerve to call me a plagiarist. If he had really bothered to do his research he should have realised that the British and French as well as the soldiers of the British Empire (Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, North Africans, Indians and many other nations had been fighting the Germans in long lines of trenches since 1914. Don’t you just love complete morons like that?

Not…

🙂

I hate the way the gaming world treats the English language!

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I make no secret of the fact that when I’m not writing or researching, I’m a video gamer. As I prefer to write science fiction, it should be no surprise to you that when it comes to video games, my preference is for better than average sci-fi games like the Mass Effect trilogy, despite its myriad of faults. Whenever I’m in writing mode, taking an hour off to play is my way of relaxing. It also has the added benefit of giving me time to think a particular scene through in my latest MS. Some writers make a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe take a stroll to the pub for a pint to do the same thing. Not me…

Since my ancient PS3’s internal disc drive eventually died, fortunately for me I was able to download all three of the Mass Effect games directly to its sealed hard drive. Doing that means that the games no longer stagger as they previously did when the disc drive laboured to keep up with the much faster hard drive. Or when the heat inevitably builds inside the PS3, despite its internal fan system working to capacity to cool it, sooner or later the thin game discs crack rendering them unusable.

Thinking about it, why not do away with the disc drive altogether and make all video games downloadable? After all because of the material they are made from game discs naturally attracts dust, made worse when they are spun up. Internal cooling fans suck in dust from outside the unit, meaning that the disc player sooner or later grinds to a halt because of it. Have you ever tried taking a PS3 or any of the other video game units apart, to clean out the dust? It’s a total nightmare!

But that’s not the reason for this particular post. Well partly I suppose… Instead what I want to talk about is the appalling writing standards of the individuals employed by the video game industry, charged with creating character dialogue.

In Mass Effect’s case, while the graphics have improved immeasurably with each new game in the series (see my green-eyed blond heroine, courtesy of my TV below), sadly the writing has not.

The dialogue of all three games leaves much to be desired. Especially when they make the mistake of stating the obvious on numerous occasions. What do I mean by that? Take one small scene in Mass Effect 3 as a perfect example, when a lift door is being cut through right in front of your eyes. For some inexplicable reason the writers deemed it necessary for one of the characters to state – “Look, the door!” If you want another, how about when it’s blatantly obvious to anyone that the characters are being fired at by the baddies, the writers insist that one of the characters must declare – “We’re taking fire.”

No shit Sherlock, you think? The average gamer would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to notice!!!

Sorry about that, but there is no excuse for bad writing, especially when millions play these games! It’s bad enough that the young think text-speak is normal, without compounding the problem.

Then there is my other gripe. In this instance when characters repeat what has been said to them while in conversation with other characters. Why have the characters do it? It makes no sense at all. It’s bad enough that with practically every conversation in any given video game, that nine times out of ten its always in the vernacular of one or other of the two North American nations. What’s next, endlessly adding the word ‘like’ dozens of times into each sentence uttered? God forbid!!!

Where does the video gaming industry recruit their dialogue writers from – Idiots Are Us?

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Commander Shepherd – a lady not to be messed with

As for the many poorly written scripts in today’s films…

Bah Humbug

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A Truly Remarkable Man

Remembering my old boss Douglas Bader…

Have We Had Help?

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Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar

Back in nineteen seventy aged twenty-two, I returned here to the UK by sea aboard the Greek passenger liner RHMS Ellenis to see both of my aging aunts. Once I arrived I soon realised that the money I had wouldn’t last long. So after I had found a bed in a working mens hostel in a village on the western border of Heathrow (Colnbrook), I started looking for work.

I came across a low paid job on Heathrow airport thanks to my talking to a couple of blokes in the pub across the road from the hostel, as an aircraft cleaner for a small business situated on the south side of the airport – Field Air, that maintained business jets like the Hawker Siddley 125, and provided a fleet of aircraft tugs.

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That’s when I met Douglas for…

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Why do writers write…

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J.K Rowling

…when they know that there are bitter and twisted individuals who don’t want you to succeed. Those who can’t wait to attack your book(s)!!!

You may as well ask why do painters paint, or sculptors sculpt. Like them, we  writers have a burning desire within us to produce something for posterity. In our case, for your reading pleasure. The serious writer isn’t in it for the money, only the story. Nor are we attempting to become famous during our lifetimes, just to be read.

Sculptors use chisels and other tools to release that statue trapped inside the block of marble. Painters use brushes, palette knives and all manner of paints and pigments to produce that painting which you admire so much in an art gallery. Whereas we use words to paint a picture for your imagination to feast upon.

By its very nature, writing is a solitary occupation. You have to have a writer’s soul and a total commitment to the craft, not to mention a steely determination.

An editor or a teacher of English can give you an explanation for every part of speech in the English language, be it verb; adverb, noun or pronoun, etc, etc. But if you are a writer, what a particular word is formerly categorized as by the academically minded is utterly irrelevant? Leave that kind of thing up to the so called editors and critics of this world. Does a sculptor need to know how to make a chisel, or a painter how to make a paint brush? No. In our case what matters is knowing how to use words to their best effect. To achieve that takes years of practice.

To aid us in writing that story for you, we employ our equivalent of brushes and chisels by spending endless hours researching and fact-finding as well as using our dictionary and thesaurus for the best possible choice of word, plus by reading the works of others.

So, the next time you feel the overwhelming desire to pass judgment on a book you have just read, pause for a moment and ask yourself this simple question, “could I have written it any better?” If you are honest, chances are the answer will be no. Why? Because despite all of your efforts to dissuade others from reading it, the real reason is that you have never, ever written a book worth a damn!

Further to that point, in a post on Facebook a couple of years ago, put out by the BBC about J.K Rowling sharing some of the rejection letters she received over the years with would-be writers, certain sarcastic armchair critics, every one of them insanely jealous of her success, immediately went on the attack by amongst other things, claiming she can’t write. Nothing surprising there. Most social networking sites and internet forums automatically attract highly opinionated hate filled individuals. Not prepared to simply let them get away with it, I posted the following comment in support of Joanne – “I see a hell of a lot of envy by people who should know better going on here.

It’s interesting that after I’d posted my comment the criticism slowed to a trickle, particularly when many other people agreed with me. One of them went as far as saying to one of the critics, “tell you what, why don’t you give me the name of a book you’ve written?” Not unsurprisingly they received no reply.

While Joanne will never know how we rallied to her defense unless one of you tells her, it’s nice to be able to silence a handful of the highly vocal idiots out there from time to time, don’t you think.

Score one for all writers…

😉

An Egyptian fiction…

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Echoes among the columns

The great god Ra had not yet arisen from his bed beyond the world of man. Neither had the members of the royal household of Egypt who still slept soundly in the cool air of the palace.

No one heard the faint clattering sound of a wooden stylus and a wax tablet dropping to the floor, in the vast expanse of the heavily columned hypostyle hall, during the night. But when the new day began, and the body of Senenmut the scribe was found with its throat cut, the old hall and the palace would echo to the outraged cries of the pharaoh’s immediate court.

Amenemhat had carried out his task efficiently and without emotion. It had been easy to lure the deviant scribe with a promise of unnatural sex in exchange for a specifically prepared papyrus scroll. The first name on his list of traitors could be struck off at last.

~~~

Ever since Hatshepsut had taken up the exalted double throne of Upper and Lower Egypt, becoming pharaoh, her nephew and stepson, Tuthmosis, the third to bear the divine royal name, was incensed by the thought of a mere woman ruling Egypt. As he grew to manhood, the young prince slowly gathered together a small group from within the royal household, who had all gladly changed their allegiance in favour of a male pharaoh.

The politics of pharaoh’s court bred an atmosphere of fear, lies, plot and counter plot, jealousy and corruption. A tiny handful of Hatshepsut’s more ambitious junior scribes, servants, priests and astrologers formed a ring of spies working for her scheming nephew. All were willingly feeding him information, equally appalled by the unnatural abomination who currently sat upon Egypt’s throne, eager to please their future god king.

In his fevered mind Tuthmosis firmly believed his coldly efficient assassin Amenemhat was his most powerful weapon. As a means of persuasion, there was none more suited or highly adept at recruiting the more cowardly and reluctant courtiers to his cause.

~~~

But the coldly efficient killer had a secret agenda of his own. It suited his purpose to go along with Tuthmosis for now, professing undying devotion and loyalty to the upstart prince.

His exalted position as Hatshepsut’s trusted bodyguard meant he had free access throughout the palace and the ear of her loyal generals, scribes, priests, judges and astrologers. When Hatshepsut went to war, Amenemhat was by her side, on guard and ready to give his life for her. When she toured Egypt, his eyes and ears were constantly on alert for trouble. When she needed unbiased and honest advice, she always sought him out. As the god king of Egypt, Hatshepsut regarded him as her one true ally within the royal household. Above all she knew he had no personal agenda of his own. Amenemhat’s only desire was to please the woman he loved more than life itself – his pharaoh Hatshepsut.

Unbeknown to Tuthmosis, Amenemhat had added a few more names to the list of those who were to be assassinated on the prince’s orders. Names of people who he deemed to be dangerous in the extreme to his pharaoh appeared alongside the rest. What did it matter if when he exposed her nephew by revealing the list, a few more enemies of his beloved Hatshepsut had also been done away with?

To divert Tuthmosis should he become suspicious, whenever the prince was attending his aunt feigning devotion and love, he continued to praise his pharaoh in public.  But when he was alone with him he made a great pretence of cursing her, despite the emotional pain it brought him to utter such vile traitorous oaths.

Since he had first entered her service, and despite the barbarous act inflicted upon him when he was but a child ending his chances of ever being a real man, Amenemhat’s deep unspoken love and his longing to share Hatshepsut’s bed even though as a eunuch he knew that would never happen, meant he would always protect her. He would never allow the young pretender to end her life, be it by poison, foul accident, act of war, or any other means that Tuthmosis decreed.

Amenemhat would continue to add names to the list. Then he would turn his deadly gaze in the direction of Tuthmosis and his band of conspirators. When the time was right he would expose his beloved pharaoh’s nephew for the foul cur he truly was.

~~~

A terrible cry echoed throughout the columned hall –“Murder, foul bloody murder!”  Illuminated by the first shafts of light, the body of Senenmut had been found.  Meni, chief advisor to Pharaoh Hatshepsut hurried with the news through the vast corridors of the palace.

The guards to the pharaoh’s private apartment silently opened the door allowing the old man access.

“Grave news majesty! Senenmut has been murdered,” the old man said as he prostrated himself before her.

Hatshepsut rose from her bed in alarm, waiving away her young hand maiden and current lover, Nefer. The pharaoh’s classically beautiful face saddened. A single tear flowed down one cheek as she gently assisted the old man to his feet.

“Good Meni bring Amenemhat to me.” The old man breathlessly backed away bowing low, then turned and quickly left.

Maatkare, Hatshepsut’s old wet nurse, appeared from the side room where she always slept close by her beloved charge and put a comforting arm around her trembling shoulders. She had always been at her side throughout her life. The old woman tenderly wiped away a tear from her pharaoh’s cheek, comforting her as she had done when Hatshepsut was but a child.

Amenemhat soon strode through the door. “Majesty I have just heard the news.” The tone of his high pitched voice did not betray him. “I have already taken the liberty of sealing off all access to your majesty’s palace. If the assassin is still hidden within as I believe he is, I shall seek out the truth of this evil act. By nightfall I swear the assassin shall be despatched or be grovelling here before you Majesty, pleading for his worthless life.”

Hatshepsut tearfully nodded her assent. “Dear friend, leave no stone unturned in your search, now go,” she commanded with a weak smile.

Amenemhat hesitated for a moment at the door before issuing a command. From beyond the entrance to the pharaoh’s bedchamber, six heavily armed members of Hatshepsut’s imperial guard quickly entered. “Majesty until the assassin is found, these guards who I have personally chosen, will protect you. I have also ensured that guards have been placed around prince Tuthmosis’ apartment,” the eunuch said finally as he bowed low, before turning and quickly leaving.

By leaving the dead scribe’s body where it would easily be found, Amenemhat had changed the rules of the deadly game to his own advantage. Tuthmosis was no fool. He would now suspect the eunuch had betrayed him. But by sealing the prince off, effectively Amenemhat had silenced him, at least for now.

Tuthmosis would have to be watched constantly now, which was why Amenemhat had asked his old friend general Djoser, the man Hatshepsut had placed in charge of her imperial guard on his advice, to take charge of the prince’s safety personally. The serpent would try anything now to escape his gilded cage. Knowing this, Amenemhat had given Djoser specific orders that there was to be no communication whatsoever between Tuthmosis and the world beyond his door.

~~~

All of this had happened moments after the alarm was raised and before Amenemhat had been summoned into Hatshepsut’s presence. Now it was time for the next move.

Amenemhat entered the office of Nebhepetre the pharaoh’s personal scribe. “You have heard the news by now?” he enquired.

The scribe nodded. “Truly we live in terrible times Amenemhat,” he said with a note of fear in his voice.

Amenemhat produced the papyrus scroll for which the traitorous Senenmut had paid with his life from the folds of his kilt with a flourish. “This bloodstained list of traitors was found on the body of the dead scribe. Copy the names for the archive quickly now, then deliver the original to your pharaoh. Hurry now, an assassin is on the loose within the palace!” The frightened scribe’s eyes bulged in sheer terror after Amenemhat left when he quickly scanned the list before making a copy. At the top was the name of prince Tuthmosis.

Hatshepsut’s hands trembled violently as she read the bloodstained papyrus Nebhepetre had just delivered. For a few brief moments she hardly dare believe the evidence of her own eyes. Yet here was clear proof of a devious and deadly coup d’état, designed to end her reign and her life. What really saddened her was that the leader was her much loved nephew Tuthmosis!

Under Amenemhat’s orders, all named on the list were quickly rounded up and executed on the spot, before their bodies were duly put on public display outside the palace walls. By mid morning there was only one left alive – Tuthmosis.

On Hatshepsut’s personal orders general Djoser entered Tuthmosis’ apartment where he forced the young prince to drink poison, away from the eyes of the court and the world in general. To keep up the illusion of the royal family being living gods, not one drop of their blood should ever be spilled in public. In one fell swoop, Amenemhat had delivered his beloved pharaoh from the nest of vipers within her household.

~~~

A proclamation was made and sent to the farthest corners of the land. All Egypt was told of the tragic passing of Tuthmosis. At the end of the month, his elaborate funeral, worthy of a prince of the royal line, was duly held. Hatshepsut shocked all assembled there that day, when in her deep gratitude she declared the eunuch Amenemhat forthwith to be supreme general of her armies and co-ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt.

While he may never share her bed as her lover, he would ensure that no one would ever again threaten the woman he loved beyond all else in the savage world of the Egyptian court until the end of her days. From now on there would be no more echoes among the columns, only whispers…

Footnote:

While the above story is a fiction, in reality on the death of the most significant female pharaoh ancient Egypt had ever known, her successor Tuthmosis III did take great pains to wipe away all mention of Hatshepsut. On his orders, all images of her and cartouches bearing her name, were destroyed.

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How many more times must I state that when it comes to love scenes, it’s always better to suggest than describe!!!

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Ok, so does this stunningly beautiful young woman meet with your approval? She does? Good, now that I have your complete and undivided attention, let’s get on with what I want to talk about today.

I know I tend to bang on about what’s acceptable in literature and whats not when it comes to sex scenes. But let’s face it, the vast majority of writers don’t think before they write! When it comes to a lot of the books on offer under the heading of romance, what you get these days is pure porn. If only the authors concerned had taken the time and trouble to think things through first. Instead of being in such a blinding hurry to get themselves noticed for all the wrong reasons. There really is no need to resort to spelling out every detail in such an explicit manner as some writers tend to do, when describing what’s going on…

Suggestion is always the key to writing any and all scenes of a sexual nature, never full on description.

In the first draft of any such scene, I start by spelling it out, leaving absolutely nothing whatsoever to the imagination, merely to get the scene firmly fixed in my mind. Then by taking the sentences one at a time as I go back over what I initially wrote, by carefully choosing my words. I then rewrite each one until they still say what I originally intended. I do this purely by changing the wording so as not to give offence. That way I leave it entirely up to the often over fertile imagination of the reader to fill in the blanks for themselves.

In other words, unless you have been living in a cave, cut off from the rest of humanity for your entire life, you will know exactly what is happening in the particular scene without my having to spell it out for you.

The art of suggestion is not a difficult technique to master, providing you are prepared to think about how you want the scene to finally end up looking on the page. In other words, take your time to ensure that the reader will totally ‘get’ what you are saying without being shocked or disgusted by what they have just read.

Not too many years ago, the way I currently write love scenes would definitely have enraged some narrow-minded individuals, while the romance lovers back then would simply enjoy them for what they are, as they still do today…

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