Hands up…

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Akhen

…who read my science fiction space opera Onet’s Tale, the sequel to Turning Point, the science fiction story I wrote in 1995? Not many of you I suspect since after falling out with me, the publisher pulled it off the market!

A few days ago I was looking for some of my unused saved material for my fantasy anthology Goblin Tales, which I am currently re-working. In amongst everything stored in the sideboard I came across my original MS for the story in question under its original title – The Berserker Saga, saved on a CD. Before you ask, I wrote it while on a trip back to New Zealand in 2003. Needless to say I spent many months more than I intended back in Nzed while I wrote it. It all came to an abrupt halt when my then laptop objected to having coffee spilt all over it. Thank god for the CD!

After returning here to the UK it would be seven years before I was in the position to offer it for consideration to a publisher, let alone afford a replacement laptop. As it was, it was available on Amazon for barely six months back in 2010…

So, once I have finished re-working Goblin Tales, I’ll be tackling The Berserker Saga once again, minus all the nonsense the publisher insisted must be added, such as his curriculum vitae of the characters, just because he couldn’t remember who is who, plus his adding his and his then business partner’s names to the by line. The latter being the reason we fell out!!!

The more astute among you will have read it chapter by chapter already, since I published it here on my blog over many weeks last year. As its 102, 518 words in length on 196 A4 pages, which equates to a little over 324 pages for both the ebook and print versions, I fully expect it to occupy me for most of next year (2018).

More later

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Thoughts of Yesteryear

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It’s funny the things you miss. Over half a lifetime ago when I was still living in New Zealand, I used to love hunting a Captain Cooker pig like the one pictured above once a year, or the odd feral goat.

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I owned three firearms. The first, and my favourite, was my 45 calibre Pedersoli, Flintlock action, Kentucky Long Rifle.

91S.210It was the perfect tool to dispatch a Captain Cooker, because unlike a modern rifle, the undergrowth of the New Zealand bush muffles the sound of a shot fired from a black powder weapon. Providing I got to within one hundred yards of the pig, and managed to get myself behind, and slightly to one side of the beast, to aim just behind the ear, the rifle’s lead ball did it’s duty quickly and efficiently. Anywhere else and all you would do is wound the animal. Trust me when I say that you do not want to be charged by an angry, wounded Captain Cooker!

ย Even when I went after a goat, while I sometimes took my Ruger Winchester Action 30-30, or my Ruger Bolt Action .270, I still preferred the flintlock. Unlike a modern rifle, you only have time to load and fire one shot, so you must make it count. By the time you have reloaded, any animals still in the area will be long gone. With the Kentucky it won’t be the sound of it being fired that makes them take flight, but the thick sulphurous cloud of smoke.

I really miss the taste of roast wild pig, and barbecued goat haunch. Mind you, I miss being the age I was back then, not to mention being as fit as a buck rat. I needed to be. Even skinned, boned and butchered, there is a hell of a lot of meat on a pig that size. Which is why you only kill what you can carry on your back.

Hey ho, happy days, now long gone…

Merry Christmas one and all…

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Calling For a Change of National Flag Is Nothing But A Political Red Herring

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New Zealand’s flag

If ever you wanted to divert a nation’s attention away from what is actually important to its citizens, just let someone like a leading politican suggest that it is time to change its flag. The current argument in New Zealand led by the country’s Prime Minister, John Phillip Key, that the old flag no longer represents the country, is nothing new. A previous National Party Prime Minister, Sir Robert David Muldoon, was a past master at pulling the wool over the general public’s eyes like this when he was up to no good while in power. In that regard Key is a rank amateur. Just think back to when Muldoon pushed legislation through over night to use the nation’s pension pot to pay off the country’s debt while the nation slept, before standing down the following day as Prime Minister. The older generation doesn’t forget political betrayal…

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The debate on keeping or changing the New Zealand Flag started before May 1973, when a remit to change the flag was voted down by the Labour Party at their national conference.

In November 1979 the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Allan Highet, wanted the design of the flag to be changed by suggesting that a new one bearing a silver fern would be more appropriate. Not unsurprisingly the proposal attracted little support. For those who don’t know, the familiar Silver Fern logo is emblazoned on the clothing worn by New Zealand sports men and women competing in international sporting events like the Olympic and Commonwealth games, and when New Zealand plays Cricket, Rugby, Hockey, Basketball and Soccer against other lands.

As you would expect everyone and his dog has an opinion, particularly on the internet. What people like Key and others forget is that the current New Zealand flag, while still retaining the UK Union flag as part of its design, alongside a representation of the Southern Hemisphere constellation, The Southern Cross, does not make it outmoded. Far from it. If Key and his hangers on want a different flag, what’s next, insisting on withdrawing New Zealand from the Commonwealth, thereby rejecting its head, Queen Elizabeth II? It would be political suicide for the National party. But Key already knows this.

Since the First World War, many New Zealanders rallied to the flag to fight on the side of democracy and freedom, as I did back in the 1960’s. Many never returned. But apparently none of this matters to the disaffected who think Key is right to want to change what is the nation’s internationally recognised badge of courage since World War Two.

I saw a few comments on a post about this very subject on Facebook yesterday. Inevitably it didn’t take me long to realise that most of the comments in favour, were being written by people with a huge race chip on their shoulder, sittting alongside the misguided feeling of inferiority that some kiwi’s still have, brought on by New Zealand being so far away from everything and everyone. They couldn’t be more wrong. The very fact that the country is physical isolated is its saving grace.

I couldn’t help myself, I just had to pitch in defending the existing flag, ending up having an online argument with an expat Kiwi living in Australia. His initial argument was that the existing flag harks back to when New Zealand was a British colony. Next he declared that it was only representative of one ethnic group within the land, which is laughable when you consider that New Zealand has always been a mix of many cultures, ever since it was first settled by migrants in the 1840’s. When I challenged him on both counts he soon backed down, knowing that he was in error.

What people like him and Key conveniently forget is that the first time the current flag appeared on the international stage was when it was raised in battle aboard HMNZS Achilles, the New Zealand Navy’s Leander class light cruiser during the Battle of the River Plate in 1939, soon after the Second World War began. Therefore it is a flag to be proud of, not to be abandoned, just because some idiots want change.

Come on New Zealand, wake up. No politician ever suggests something like changing a flag without an ulterior motive. Perhaps Key has dreams of becoming the President of the new South Pacific Banana Republic of Keyville? Here’s hoping common sense prevails when the referendum on the subject is held in 2016. Click on the following link to find out more on the subject:- http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/29/new-zealand-to-hold-2016-referendum-on-scrapping-union-jack-national-flag.