Monday, 2 November 2015

Driving

Having trudged up and down the M4 at the weekend I realised it is time to say it. And if anything should go viral in the UK, this should. People have no idea how to drive on motorways, in particular about lane driving. So for the benefit of those who have forgotten, have obtained their driving licences bogusly or are simply inconsiderate nobheads, here it is. In the UK we drive on the left and the rule of the road is ‘keep left.’

The majority of UK motorways have three lanes: the left lane, the middle lane and the right lane. The left lane is for driving in (see the ‘keep left’ reference above); the middle lane is for overtaking and the right lane is also for overtaking, that is, overtaking vehicles in the middle lane who are travelling more slowly but who, in turn, are actually overtaking vehicles in the left lane. Once you have completed one of these manoeuvres in the middle lane or the right lane, you should return to the left lane (see again the ‘keep left’ reference above) where you continue driving. However, there are drivers who for no logical reason, even when the left lane, the driving lane, is empty, think it is okay to drive continuously in the middle lane and ignore the left lane completely (see again the ‘keep left’ reference above).

So let us look at what effect staying in the middle lane has on a three-lane motorway. Given that the rules say you must keep to the left and should not overtake on the left, this means that anyone wanting to overtake a driver who thinks it is okay to stay in the middle lane, has to go round that vehicle and overtake on the right side, the outside lane. So, since driving in the middle lane for no reason is not confined to just a few drivers – there are lots of them out there - this means that there are queues of drivers just sitting in the middle lane when they should return to the left lane. Then those wishing to overtake those inconsiderate middle lane hoggers have to go to the outside of them, the right side, thus forming another queue. So we end up with queues of drivers predominantly occupying the middle lane and the right lane. Think about this. What that now does is effectively reduce a three-lane motorway to a two-lane motorway but with the same volume of traffic. In other words, three lanes of traffic are now occupying two lanes of motorway. The effect is slower moving vehicles, greater risk of accident and, guess what… traffic congestion. So next time you whinge about how slow it is on a motorway look at the appalling lane discipline exercised by people who like to think they are skilled drivers. The fact is, they are driving on autopilot without thinking about what they are doing.


The message here then is, STOP HOGGING THE MIDDLE LANE! (see again the ‘keep left’ reference above)

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

High heels and flat shoes ...

Cannes Film Festival has come under fire after reports women were turned away from a red carpet screening for wearing flat shoes instead of heels.

If I didn't know better I would come to the conclusion that Cecil Delaney was behind this 'initiative.' Check out his view in this brief extract from Diamond Pursuit, the third novel in the Pursuit Series......


“A nice bottle of Duvel would go down well mate.”
“What if they don’t have it?” I asked.
“They’ll have it or something like it. Mate, it’s a class bar. None of your nobhead clientele in here,” Cecil replied. He stood up and extended his hands out in a wide, sweeping gesture. “Take a look around. See them birds down there? That’s what I mean by a class bar. They’re dressed up proper. For a start, they got proper shoes on. None of that trainer stuff like the birds back home. What’s that about anyway? Birds going out at night in shoes they’d wear to a fucking festival. I wanna go into places where the birds make an effort, you know ... get dressed up, put some quality shoes on. Go in a place like that and it makes you feel good, yeah? There can be no excuse mate. It’s gotta be a blinding pair of shoes or else stay home.”


Diamond Pursuit 2015

http://amzn.to/1HckFsr

Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Bar

I was in a bar last night. Clearly the wrong bar. The chat up line was, “awright gels ow u doin.” There was a woman dancing like she was looking for the loo but had lost her satnav, a sort of bent over stutter that took her north and then south with the occasional look in her mental map at what east and west had to offer. The guys had dressed up … t-shirts and jeans. If that was dressed up then god knows what the daywear was. A couple of rinsed out blondes stood next to the DJ in skirts short enough to match their IQ's, chewing gum in time with the throbbing base beat that vibrated through the floor, threatening to undermine the planks.
Ordinarily, I don’t mind a bit of spit ‘n’ sawdust but I had gone out seeking sophistication, an air of elegance, not the feeling that I should be holding a luger instead of a lager. I went to the bar. The barman kept calling me 'mate' until I ordered an expensive Belgian beer (which took four minutes to find on the till since the usual clientele drink beers that you wouldn't experiment on a rat with) and thereafter he referred to me as 'buddy.' I wasn't sure if I should take this as an upgrade in my status or whether it was just that the barman had suddenly discovered American roots.
I sipped the beer slowly, struggling to decide whether to move on or wait until the place 'got better.’ A glance around told me that sipping was not the preferred method of consuming drinks in the venue and that perhaps I should try the ‘glugging’ style employed by everyone else in the venue. I didn’t want to stand out.
Too late.
“Wanna boogie babe?” The question caught me by surprise, not only because I didn’t understand, thinking that a ‘boogiebabe’ was some sort of cocktail, but because I hadn’t noticed anyone close enough to ask a question.
I spun around. At the bar, two girls giggled like teenagers, which is a misnomer as their combined ages divided by seven may not have hit the teens.
“Err, a boogiebabe?” I said.
“Yeah babe. Fancy it?” the shorter of the two said, combining her response with some sort of hip wiggle that was designed to demonstrate what a boogie was. At least I hoped that was the intent.
“I’m ... uh ... I’m okay ... just having a drink first,” I said, hoping that my answer would be taken as a diplomatic refusal but aware that the use of the word ‘first’ could give the impression that I was up for some future boogie. I wasn’t.
My answer seemed to suffice and she took a long slurp straight from the neck of the bottle of beer that she was holding. Her companion decided to get involved.
“You’re all right you. Ain’t seen you here before.”
And you won’t see me here ever again, was my mental response.
“Err ... no, I’ve not been ... first time tonight. I am meeting ... err, meeting a friend.” I felt the need to excuse my lone presence.
“Stood you up then has she?”
“No ... no. He’s a bloke.”
“Oh, right. You gay then?”
I momentarily marvelled at the leap of logic that had concluded that if I wasn’t meeting a girl, but was meeting a bloke, I could possibly be gay.
“No ... just a friend. A work ... work ... person.”
The two of them giggled again.
“He handsome like you then, babe?” the short one asked.
It was a question I couldn't answer, not only because the 'work person' did not exist but a yes would have come across as narcissistic arrogance and a no would have come across as .... narcissistic arrogance! I decided to ignore the question.
"Err ... I am just going to ... outside ... for a cigarette." (I don't smoke.) I turned to walk away.
"We'll come wivya. Fancy a fag meeself. Wot about you Sue?"
I jumped in before Sue could respond.
"No ... I mean, I haven't got any cigarettes ... fags. I meant I have to ... to go to the shop ... down the road, to err, get some. Won't be long. I'll be back for that ... boogie."
"Catchya laters," the short one giggled.
'Laters' wasn't going to happen. I would sooner take up smoking.





Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Diamond Pursuit - Behind the scenes.....

My new book, Diamond Pursuit, the third in what I call 'The Pursuit Series' (the others being Cupid's Pursuit and Vegas Pursuit) is out now. Diamond Pursuit, once again follows the misadventures of its central character, Matthew Malarkey, who, on what is supposed to be a chilled out break in the sunshine of Ibiza, gets himself mixed up in a diamond smuggling ring. Matthew has a tendency to find himself in difficult situations and his Ibiza trip provides several.

So, how did this book come about?

Well, first of all I enjoy the fun of writing about Matthew Malarkey and his 'crew' Cecil Delaney, Carlos MacFadden and Jasper Kane. They allow me to create comic situations and I also like the 'banter' that evolves between them. Often it is not pre-meditated. As the scene evolves so does the banter. It can be natural, similar to what would happen in real life. So there is no need to think about how, for example, Cecil, the cockney roguish character, would react to a particular situation. I just know, so it emerges. Sure, I sometimes have to fine tune when I edit but most of the time it stays the way it came out. And I also wanted to take the characters to a third and final story. A trilogy works these days so I ran with it. But the story.....

The idea for the story came out of an unfortunate incident that occurred in real life in the summer of 2013. Two young ladies, who came to be known as the 'Peru Two,' were jailed for allegedly attempting to smuggle cocaine from Peru to Ibiza. Clearly that was a very serious matter and there is nothing in that story to find amusing. However, the smuggling angle gave me an idea for the next Pursuit book. I had been to Ibiza in the past and gradually the idea evolved. I went back to Ibiza and began to take in the atmosphere and the locations and simply let the 'vibe' fuel possible scenarios. I then began to jot down the basic outline. Given the smuggling angle, there was a ready-made direct conflict emerging in the fact that Matthew's girlfriend is a police detective and smuggling is a crime! So I began to build on that as a central plot. I decided to use diamonds as the object of the criminal activity rather than cocaine. I didn't want to use drugs (in the written sense rather than actually taking my research to the experimental stage!) as that was too close to the real life case. And also, diamonds had an ironic twist since it is Matthew's intention to get engaged on his trip.

I wrote the main plot over a period of eight to nine months and had a finished manuscript by August of 2014. However, I had a nagging feeling about some of the locations - gaps in my memory from my earlier visit - and I felt the need to go back and visit a number of places. I went back in September 2014, notebook at the ready (iPhones are good too as you have the Notes app and voice record apps) and did more research. That research took me to the Sunset Bars of San Antonio (Mambo, Cafe del Mar, Savannah to name a few), to the West End Strip and its chaotic late night carousing and on to San Rafael in the centre of the island and Ibiza Town on the east coast. My visit to San Rafael by bus and foot, on a blazing hot day with little respite from the sun, took me up to its amazing 18th century church that stands on a hillside overlooking the town and across to Ibiza Town itself in the distance. I liked the location so much that I focussed a particular car chase scene there, in the square next to the church. In Ibiza Town, I visited the hospital where Matthew and Cecil end up, inadvertently, as Matthew tries to escape the attentions of one of the bad guys. I toured the back streets, taking in the sights, smells and sounds even though the final detail may end up as nothing more than a few paragraphs. The plot also involves Matthew being locked away in a beach side cave. I already knew about such places from my previous visits (they are used for storage) but I went back to check out the locations. One evening, just after midnight, I strolled out into the dusk to explore my beach side cave location as it would be in the dead of night. There is a scene in Diamond Pursuit that meant I needed to 'feel' the area at that particularly time in order to describe it properly. I took the steep pathway along the rockface, heading down to the beach. The moon glistened on the water and I stopped to get a picture. All was quiet, a spooky, eerie atmosphere, the overhanging rocks looming over the path. I raised my iPhone and fired off a shot. For the record when I returned to my writing, I aimed another shot down to the beach. Just as the flash went off, a number of shouts came from the beach ... and they weren't happy. I have no idea what was going on down there but clearly somebody did not want a flash going off in their direction. I turned and legged it, the experience adding to my sense of danger, thus enabling me to get the right 'feel' for the scene I eventually wrote.

Research isn't all hardship - well, if hardship is the right word when you are on a sun kissed island! I spent a day at Cala Bassa, a short boat ride across San Antonio Bay, fine tuning and correcting my manuscript under the shade of the juniper trees that line the back of the beach. That visit also enabled me to evolve yet another scene towards the end of the book.

Finally, there is an aircraft scene that was technically quite demanding. Without revealing the who or why of the scene, I studied at length, via video and written details, the mechanics of flying a commercial aircraft. I did have enormous help and guidance too from someone who actually flies commercially, so it is based on reality. The difficulty is, although the end product that appears in the book is fairly short, there is a need to 'understand' what is happening so that it can be transferred to the page. Consequently, far more time consuming attention is given to something that ends up as just a small part of a story.

I hope that this gives you an insight into the creation of this book and, I am sure in one form or another, any book. I will not bore the pants off you with the editing bit!

Diamond Pursuit is available on Amazon. Information on my other books can be obtained from www.pursuitseries.com and if you would like to ask a question regarding the books, please contact me on author@pursuitseries.com

Patrick

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Date

She had been right. It was about a two hour drive to the Royal Oak from my location. But I managed to get there a few minutes early. I was excited about the prospect of meeting my date. She looked great in her website pictures and we'd hit it off on the telephone. I took a seat in the bar and ordered a small beer. The pub was buzzing, a convivial Saturday night crowd.
The main area consisted of a large open plan room featuring a huge rectangular, centrally situated bar with a dining area tucked away discreetly to one side. My date had yet to arrive - I can handle fashionably late - when my mobile rang.
"Hi Matthew. It's me. Where are you?"
"Hi,Fiona. I'm in the bar. Where are you?"
"Just arrived at the pub," she said. "I'll come and find you."
Five minutes later my mobile rang again.
"I can't see you. It's quite crowded. Whereabouts are you?"
"Uh..." I glanced around. "I'm sitting at the bar, on the restaurant side"
Another five minutes passed and my mobile rang again.
"Still can't see you Matthew. What're you wearing?"
For some reason I checked. Nerves, I suspect.
"A dark blue jacket and an open neck white shirt. And you?"
"A short black dress, black heels and a light grey jacket. I am over by the restaurant now."
"Okay...great. Stay there. I'll come and find you."
I clicked off the mobile and pushed through the crowd towards the restaurant. There were just couples and groups standing around. No lone date. I called her back.
"I'm by the restaurant right now. I can't see you? There's only one restaurant isn't there?" I asked, a sense of doubt creeping in.
"I think so. Are you sure you look like your picture? Oh my god...you're not one of those dodgy guys who's got a ten year old photograph posted, are you?"
"Err no...don't you mean, does my picture look like me?" I said, trying to make light of the sudden concern in her voice. "Tell you what. I'll go and stand outside the main entrance and wait underneath the Royal Oak sign. That way we can find one another. Okay?"
"Cool."
I stuck my 'phone in my jacket pocket and made my way outside. The pub had one very prominent sign at its front that declared it to be the Royal Oak. I stood right underneath it. Ten minutes later my mobile rang again.
"Where are you now? This is getting silly. I've been here twenty odd minutes. You haven't stood me up have you?"
"No, of course not. I've driven for two hours to be here. I'm standing under the Royal Oak sign right now, like I said, waiting for you. Whereabouts are you?"
A deep sigh breezed across the line before she answered.
"Well, oddly enough, I'm standing underneath the Royal Oak sign too and I can't see you Matthew. Whatsmore, it's bloody freezing out here."
"At the front?"
"Yes. Why? Is there another sign at the back?"
I was beginning to get concerned about the tetchiness that had crept into her tone. "I don't know. I'll go look."
I hit the end call button and legged it to the back of the pub into the car park. There was no other sign. I raced back to the front and stood directly under the tall wood structure that held the signage, my shoulder leant against it to convince myself that it actually existed. I tapped the phone icon and called up the last number.
"Fiona, it's me again. Listen, I'm at the front, standing right underneath the Royal Oak sign. I don't understand why I can't see you. And you're right...it is cold."
There was a long pause before she responded.
"You sure it says, Royal Oak, Matthew?"
I glanced up at the colourful emblem that swayed gently in the wind, a huge notice that had a mature oak at its centre. The words, 'Royal Oak' were emblazoned with an artistic flourish beneath the picture.
"Err...yes, it does. I can read," I said, trying to inject some humour into my voice.
"Ooooh, that's always a bonus. A date that can read."
I regretted my attempt at humour as soon as her sarcasm hit me. "Definitely, the Royal Oak," I said.
"Okay. The Royal Oak...in the High Street?"
"Yes, definitely. That's the one."
There was a brief silence before she spoke again. When she did, the single word she uttered sent a shiver down my spine, a shiver that had nothing to do with the falling temperature.
"Southampton?"
"Sorry Fiona...did you say...err...south...south...Southampton?'
"I did," she replied, "Why?"
I paused for a moment, gulping in oxygen whilst I considered my reply. There was not much else I could say.
"Err...I'm in Northampton..."