My Friends The Trees.

April 23, 2014

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What is it about Me and Trees ?

While writing a recent article on why I love trees it brought to mind another tree incident from my youth that brought me into direct conflict with the local law enforcement agencies of the period.

As I recall what started off a silly childhood prank quickly escalated way beyond my control and I was in danger of becoming the reason why the entire population of the village below the age of ten was grounded.

However, allow me to set the scene. We are talking about a picturesque English village set high in the West Country hills circa mid 1950’s. The sort of tranquil chocolate box scenes everybody thinks of when they think of England.

The roads into the village were like an upside down Y with a large tree right in the centre of the downward prongs, making a central feature and focal point for the village. Most of the village cottages radiated from that centre point along the three routes.

Close to the tree was the village public house, even more of a central vocal point than the tree, if you catch my drift, but don’t forget the tree, it’s important and we will return to it shortly.

Our cottage overlooked the centre of the village, and the tree was between our cottage and the pub. To my left and directly opposite the pub was the house of my best school friend, and co conspirator on this occasion. For the purposes of clarity we shall call him Alan… (I was going to change his name to protect the innocent, but what the Hell! He was as guilty as I was, and besides, I owe him one)!

Now to the central character, in those halcyon days rural crime wasn’t considered terribly serious so we had to share a solitary police constable with four other villages. Let’s call him Police Constable (PC) Plod.

Plod was a typical English country bobby, Ex Army recently returned from the Wars, solid and dependable, friend to all and known by all and of course a very obvious target for my practical jokes.

To cover his vast patch PC Plod was supplied with the standard black ‘Sit Up and Beg,’ Ex Army surplus bi-cycle, complete with solid rod brakes, battery operated front and rear lights, you know the type that wouldn’t attract the attention of any German bombers passing overhead.

Again for this time period in British history public house opening hours were something of laughable confusion to most people so it is hardly surprising that in far out of the way places like our village these laws were… shall we say stretched a bit.

Now enforcing said British licensing laws was strictly part of PC Plods duties, and on rare occasions he was known to do just that. To that end you had to know both the working code and the official procedure, If Plod entered the premises through the front door wearing his hat, he was on duty and had to be taken seriously and addressed in the formal manner, IE not called Fred, as was more usual.

If on the other hand he entered the pub via the backdoor with his hat and bicycle clips off… he was off duty and therefore answered to the name of Fred and available to drink all the beer on offer.

As I said this was a fairly well understood procedure for all pub customers and community members above the legal drinking age, it was not however, known to lesser mortals like us kids.
Please remember this small fact, because when I ask you to be the jury later my entire defence may rest upon your understanding of these facts.

One or two other small tit-bits of information that I’d like entered into evidence, for the defence, is that PC Plod was friends with and on first name terms with my father, they drank together and played darts on the same team. Our cottage had a Grandstand view of the centre of the village as well as the comings and goings from the pub. So it was not unusual to find Plod sitting on our stairs mug of tea in hand as he surveyed his patch in the warm. Our front door opened towards the stairs so I was well inside the house, door banging behind me before I realised he was even there.

Now, to find a fully booted and suited officer of the law in your house at any time is alarming if you are ten years of age, doubly so if you are me.

The trick here is not to show panic while your mind races in twenty different directions at once
A) trying to remember all the things that could possibly bring him here in the first place.
While B) is attempting to come up with a string of reasonable excuses why he’d got the wrong guy, or that one small child couldn’t possibly have done all that, or a big kid did and then ran away.

I suppose it was the silence that brought my mind back to reality; for instance my full formal given name hadn’t as yet been shouted out as if I was deaf… which was normal for these occasions and the fact that my mother was quietly getting on with dinner preparations. So whatever had brought him to our house that day it wasn’t me !

In normal circumstances normal children would just breathe a hefty sigh of relief head for the kitchen and food. But for some strange reason this man’s presence, hiding as he was behind the front door during my arrival home from school had annoyed me. He had scared me out of at least two inches of normal growth, which I never got back by the way, so some form of revenge was clearly necessary.

Later the same day Plod was back in the village after his rounds, Alan spotted him a good two seconds before I did, well he was well on his way to the six foot three inches he would ultimately reach, while I remained much closer to the ground. Of course by this time I had told Alan all about my recent scare and we had been discussing what I/We should do about it.

We watched as Plod headed towards the pub, pushing his bi-cycle and as he lent it against the wall he took his helmet off and headed for the back entrance of the pub.

With a fair amount of giggling a dastardly plot was hatched.

As the gloom of evening took hold of the day we removed Plod’s bike and with a bit of rope and a lot of grunting we hoisted it up the tree in the centre of the village and went home. As I described earlier both Alan and I had a clear view of the centre of the village from our respective homes so I was still hanging out the bedroom window awaiting pub kicking out time of 10 :30.

The following day was another school day, so at what point I gave up my surveillance and went to bed is long since forgotten. Suffice it to say the following day I arose refreshed and disappeared to school without a backward glance.
The only thing out of the norm for the day was that ‘Hissing Sid,’ the headmaster, (He had badly fitting false teeth that made him hiss whenever there was an S in the word, plus it was also beneficial to be seated in at least the third or fourth row of the class, a position reserved for the stupid but saveable). That day Sid had been called out of class mid morning and when he came back he declared an extra assembly before everybody went home.

No undue cause for alarm, this had happened on other occasions and usually was a forewarning of an appearance by the ‘Nit Nurse’ or other such grown up devised activity to cause embarrassment to children.

It wasn’t till we were ready to go home all classes duly assembled that ‘Hissing Sid’ returned complete with PC Plod to announce the theft of the policeman’s bi-cycle, a very serious crime and anyone who had any information was to come forward immediately….

Yeah… Like that was going to Happen ?

Like two old pros Alan and I didn’t flinch or even look at one another and even joined in with the growing clamour of chat until Sid brought the meeting to order and we were all dismissed.

I high-tailed it home making sure not to raise any suspicion as I rode my bike casually under the tree and hardly daring to breathe while looking up to spot that the bike was still there. “See ,” I reasoned with myself nothing had been stolen it was still where we’d left it.

Of Course unbeknown to Alan and I was the fact that it was well past midnight before the pub actually emptied and the bike was discovered missing. A local farmer had volunteered to take Plod home and lend him another bi-cycle until his was found.

Unfortunately for all concerned this borrowed bi-cycle merely added to Plod’s misery and to the list of things he was going to do to the culprit when eventually apprehended. I never fully understood the problem but apparently it had something to do with a wobbly misshaped saddle and piles. Piles of what was never explained to us.

However the missing bi-cycle was far more serious than two ten year olds could comprehend.

For instance it was official Police property and our pal Plod had signed for it and was responsible for its safety and wellbeing.

If in fact it had indeed been stolen then he had lost his official mode of transport and would have to formally inform his superiors (IE the desk sergeant) in the nearby town where it would be logged in the counties monthly crime figures as an unsolved crime. This in turn would look bad on the Chief Constables annual report to the Home Office Department of the Government and in due course all hell would come down from on high upon any humble PC who would be so careless to allow his bi-cycle to be nicked in the first place. Or put another way, he was in deep Do Do’s and looking for someone to share it with.

Of course all the usual suspects had been rounded up for questioning, well Alan and me… but faced with the criminal charge of stealing…. We hadn’t stolen anything. Relocated perhaps but not stolen, so needless to say we denied all know knowledge and decreed a wall of silence was necessary.

Now whether by cleaver police deduction and detective work or by sheer process of elimination the attention of the investigation again turned back towards the kids of the village. There were veiled threats of mass groundings, an increased police presence and the compulsory inspection of all
bi-cycles for road worthiness but even this was to no avail. Neither Alan nor I cracked and because we hadn’t bragged about our supreme cleverness either there was nobody to squeal on us.

Although it had to be said that all the kids for miles around started to have their own suspicions and if they were to be found guilty by association and grounded them the true villains would be shown no mercy from any quarter. This was getting seriously out of hand.

When those tactics failed and the mystery of the disappearing bi-cycle entered the fourth day and the weekend approached an area wide Amnesty was called. No action whatsoever would be taken against any party for any information that led to the recovery of the missing property, IE one official policeman’s bi-cycle with a PC Plod sized saddle.

So I cracked and told my father everything, well almost everything, obviously I had no idea who did it of course, I’m dumb but not that dumb, but I knew where the missing bike was and took him and showed him the offending article still swinging quietly up the tree.

Needless to say the whole village knew about it long before Plod arrived to reclaim it but now there was the more serious issue of what to do about it so as to protect the guilty from prosecution and prevent the local Bobby from becoming the laughing stock of his fellow law enforcement officers.

Over another late night in the pub and consumption of a considerable quantity of beer the grownups concocted a cover up story. Obviously some drunken ‘ner do well ’ had purloined the constables bi-cycle to get himself home but being too drunk to ride it got fed up pushing it and tossed it into a ditch where it was duly found by the neighbourhood children.

So the villains became the heroes, so to speak, and I may well have got off completely unscathed if I’d kept my mouth firmly shut. But alas, full of heroic pride I had to ask if there was a police reward as a result of the recovery!

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“It is necessary to establish a universal regime over the whole world.”
(Writings of the Illuminati, 1780.)

SYNOPSIS

Information is Power: For thousands of years men have created secret societies, brotherhoods and used religion in their never ending quest for the most addictive of drugs POWER. The main tool of control had always has been…FEAR! That was until he invented MONEY!

Today there are many who ask; Who really wields the power behind the world throne?

Rumours and conspiracy theories have haunted the secret world of Freemasonry for decades. This has prompted questions as to the existence of an Inner Circle, a group so powerful that they have an unnatural influence over Governments and World affairs.

Could it be that there is a New Illuminati ? Or has the old order just resurfaced as the invisible prophets of Capitalism. An elite group so powerful they control the financial resources of the world and would seek to recruit their disciples from within the organised and highly disciplined ranks of Freemasonry itself?

To Detective Chief Inspector Nick Burton such things as wild conspiracy theories belong in the world of goulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. Or at least they used to, unfortunately some of his more recent investigations have led him to challenge everything he thought he knew.

Doctor Jill Tindell, his fiancée, and her boss professor Harman-Jones of Cambridge University have been studying and experimenting with the powers of the human mind; Para psychological phenomenon such as telekinesis, and projection of the mind beyond the confines of the body.

At first Nick was enthralled but his jaundiced policeman’s eye quickly saw a frightening downside to their experiments. His biggest fear was that if he could see it then so could others… people who would not hesitate to use such power to their advantage.

The problem is has his dire warnings come too late and is his worst nightmare about to become reality? And if so….what the Hell can he do about it?

Mankind is a creature of the sun. It is against the natural order of things for him to be alert during the long dark hours of the night. At such times his senses are dull, his eyesight poor and his reflexes slow.

Conditioned over a long period of time by the five day working week the weekend is for fun, relaxation and a time to regenerate for the trials of the coming week.

Therefore two a.m. Sunday morning is when man is at the lowest peak of his mental efficiency.

The perfect time for an attack!

Chapter 1.

In the warm stuffy atmosphere of the reception area the night security guard stretched, rubbed his tired eyes and laid the book he was reading back onto the desk. He looked up at the big clock on the wall; it was nearly time for his external rounds. He quite looked forward to it, it gave him a chance to stretch his legs, have a smoke and above all relieve the terminal boredom.

In the area beyond the back of the desk a bank of CCTV monitors glowed eerily in the dimmed light. Had he been watching them at that very moment it is just possible that he may have notice the image on one screen flicker and change very slightly.

One minute, nothing except an empty car park clear all the way to the shrubbery border. The next the most subtle of movements behind the bushes as a dark vehicle inched into view and stopped.

From outside the van the grey tinted glass made it virtually impossible for normal vision to penetrate the internal gloom. But to the people sitting inside things were just as they should be. They all sat quietly patient and still.

Of the two figures sitting in the front of the van there was a strange almost alien look about them. Clothed entirely in black even their heads and hands were covered but most sinister of all was the one single green eye just above where the nose on a normal face would be.

“Time?” The question came from the figure sitting in the front passenger seat.

“Zero Two Twelve, Sir.” The reply came from somewhere in the black interior.

“Insertion on my mark, check external scanners for movement.”

“External scanners clear, no visual or heat readings, Sir.”

“Insertion team ONE, you have a GO!”

Eerily silent an opening appeared in the side of the van and three black shapes slid out keeping low as they disappeared into the bushes beside the van. The van door closed just as quietly as it had opened.

Once under cover the figures moved with stealth through the shrubbery until they reached the wide open space of the empty car park with the low lying buildings beyond. For the most part the buildings were in darkness except for a few external lights and an area that was clearly the front entrance and reception area. Within that lit area they could see movement. One of the crouching figures raised his right hand and made a quick signal that sent a team member off in that direction. To the other he held up a fist and pointed to the ground… the pair settled and waited.

They didn’t have to wait long before a tallish man wearing a security uniform came out of the building and stood off to one side. The flare of a match and a telltale puff of smoke told them that he had just lit a cigarette. A couple of puffs later and he wandered off around the far side of the reception building and out of sight.

As they watched him go they saw the dark shape of their colleague leave the protection of the shrubs as he moved fast and low towards the main door. One of the watchers smiled under his mask as he saw the door open almost immediately. Obviously the guard had not bothered to lock the door behind him, careless but useful.

Two static clicks in his earpiece confirmed what he already knew, his man was inside.

Thirty seconds later two more clicks told him that the computer recording device linked to the CCTV cameras had been deactivated but the cameras remained on. You would still see everything but only if you were right in front of the monitors.

Another minute passed before the next two clicks, this confirmed, “in position and concealed.”

Outside they watched as the guard came back into view, he wasn’t hard to spot he was whistling loudly and waving his large torch around all over the place. It was one of those big brash yellow contraptions with a beam so big and powerful you could practically climb up it. Nevertheless, even accidentally, it was a major threat to anyone on night operations; getting caught in the beam of that thing would seriously bugger up your night vision for a goodly while. The two concealed figures flattened themselves to the ground listening rather than watching. Neither moved until they heard two clicks announcing that the guard was now safely back in the building.

Security officer Jim Stephens having completed his external walk round inspection of the buildings under his care went back through the front door locking it behind him. He walked back behind the front desk and put the heavy torch back in its cupboard. He tossed the keys in the drawer scanning the bank of CCTV screens as he did so. These screens showed certain key areas of the building complex both inside and out and as usual for this time of day they showed no activity whatsoever.

He crossed over to a small fridge that stood concealed in the far corner of the reception area. On top of the fridge sat a microwave oven and an electric kettle, in fact he had all the necessary paraphernalia to make his rather boring job just that little more comfortable. He flicked the kettle on and started to make himself some tea.

Over on the desk area there were a few more comforts of home. He and the other regular night guards had clubbed together to make their fairly monotonous lives more tolerable. There were books, a good quality radio, a decent TV set with built in DVD player and if there was nothing worth watching he had brought along his lap top computer stuffed with enough games to last a lifetime.

Mug of tea and a large packet of McVitie’s chocolate digestives in hand he gave the CCTV monitors a quick look as he settled down behind the desk sipping tea and casually flicked through the TV channels.

That would be the last thing he would remember doing that night.

Outside in the bushes a further ten minutes elapsed before they heard an open language message, “he’s out.”

By the time they returned to the van the side door was already open and they were joined by four others similarly dressed figures but without the night vision goggles. Between them they carried two heavy canvas bags across the car park and quickly disappeared inside safe in the knowledge that there would be no record of their visit.

Inner Space Book Two

July 2, 2010

Inner Space Book Two
The Reluctant Nemesis

 

Sleep depravation is considered by many Governments to be a legitimate tool of interrogation, applied scientifically it will ultimately overcome the strongest of mental ability. Taken to extreme or in an uncaring hand the mind can be damaged beyond repair.   Self inflicted… the destruction of the mind can be equally assured.

 

Quick Synopsis

Imagine how you would feel waking up in a strange bed in a strange place and finding blood on your hands. Even worse, you have no idea of where you are, how you got there, or why!

 Deborah Patterson doesn’t have to imagine such a nightmare… she’s living it. Something or somebody is taking over her mind and her body. With dreams so frightening she has to stay awake to avoid them.

 Follow another case for newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Nick Burton.  Called back from leave to cover staff shortages due to a flu epidemic Nick soon discovers that there is no such thing as a routine murder.

 As the bodies pile up he struggles to find a decent motive; could it be, as some suggest, just family rivalry…Or perhaps a hostile business takeover by the Russian Mafia.  Or is it something completely different?

 His investigations lead him into inter departmental conflict and he crosses swords with Special Branch and falls foul of his own superior officers. The fact that he suspects corruption at the highest level of the police force doesn’t endear him to anyone.

 Trouble mounts with every new step in his investigation leaving him with his finger pointing at the most unlikely suspect ever, much to the annoyance of the woman he loves and may lose if he is not extremely careful.

Change of Tack

July 2, 2010

What a tough world it is for a ‘ Wannabe Author’ the publishing world and their minions control a closed shop where only the privileged few are allowed in and only if they think you have the potential to make them loads a’ money!   I’d like to think I could but for the moment I am a minority of one.

The alternative is almost as bad as professional suicide, wander down the Self Publishing route and you are automatically branding yourself as not considered good enough for the establishment and their system and of course in many cases they are correct.

Many Self Publishing authors do so on an Ego trip to see their name on a book cover with little regard to the readability of their book content,  especially in the proof-reading and editing departments. (and no this isn’t something your best mate can do. Unless he’s a professional).    This puts readers off taking any Self Publishing author seriously, no matter how good a growing percentage of these authors maybe.

This is a shame for many reasons,  at this time of World monetary recession the established publishers are even less likely to take a risk on a ‘Newby’ and who can blame them in these days of growing pressure on paper books sold in High Street book shops of the world.  With  E Books and online sites taking a bigger and bigger slice of their markets they are going to concentrate their efforts on guaranteed sales opportunities even if this is pure celebrity driven drivel and  slop !   Just what the world needs more ‘Kiss and Tell Cookery Books….!

For my part I did go down the Self Publishing route and yes I made all the mistakes imaginable and it cost me dear as everybody in that world came at me with their hand out dumping just as fast when the money runs out.

However, never let it be said my mother bred a quitter,  I learnt a lot in that shark infested pool who to trust and who to avoid and yes in my own way I will put a dent in their world and hopefully by reading of my experiences I can at least prevent the unwary from making the same costly mistakes I did. 

No matter which route you eventually take to bring your work to the market it has to be the best you can make it.  Hire professional proof-readers and a good editor, yes HIRE this is how those guys make their living.  We need them, no matter how good your mate or spouse is at the end of the day it pays to get the work done professionally.  At least as professionals if they screw it up you can always sue the crap out of them.

Do this even before going looking for a literary agent,  remember they sift and sort their way through hundreds of manuscripts so if your work is untidy, not properly laid out as they want to see it, full of typos, spelling, grammar and punctuation errors your file will hit the floor in very short order.

Even if you are planning the Self Publishing route from day one still make it as good as you can.  If not for yourself at least do it for the rest of us struggling Wannabes.  Who knows one of us maybe the next JK Rowling or Dan Brown and wouldn’t it be nice to raise two impolite fingers at the established publishing profession knowing they are not going to make a bean from your efforts..

I personally have a growing list of Literary Agents to whom will get a signed copy of my book with the message, “Not as good as you thought you were are you ?” 

Readers are the real judge of a writers work,  In my case I write to entertain I have a style that I hope is just a little different from the norm, No Superheroes,  no unbelievable plots just hopefully a good read that will while away the time on a long journey.

My trilogy of  Inner Space stories is now complete and out there.  www.lulu.com  or www.merlin-fraser.com

please check them out and let’s prove Self Publishing works.  Or if you need a better reason you might just help a poor Wannabe stave off starvation !

A few years ago I had an idea for a book.  I thought; hopefully, that I could be different and not just follow the herd, so to speak.  Trying to write a new novel is tough; what is even tougher is to find ways to get all the potential readers out there to recognise that you exist.   Easy enough if you are rich, even easier if you are famous.  In our celebrity driven culture it seems the only books today’s publishers will back are those that are guaranteed to sell and make a quick profit.  WAG’s Kiss and Tell; High quality Glossy biography’s of the sporting or Soap Star TV heros of the moment.   

For the publisher it is an endless conveyor belt; with reality TV programmes such as X Factor, Big Brother and the like churning out instant stars for the media  to promote and the public to idolize it must seem like a dream come true.  This year’s Christmas or Birthday presents; next week’s Charity shop junk.

So is anybody interested in new author’s; I suppose if they knew we were around they might be.  After all if you enjoy a good ‘Murder Mystery’  reading one by someone new might be fun.  It never ceases to amaze me that although Crime writing has been around since the beginning the sheer ingenuity of my fellow writers to keep finding new ways to add a different twist or find a new angle in story creation.

For my part I deliberately tried to steer clear of the ‘Who Dun It’  style of story telling.  To be honest I was never very good at it and considering the wealth of experts out there who have produced some masterpieces over the years I would be pretty dumb to try to compete.  So I have tried something different.  What is refered to as ‘Gendre Blending,’  simply taking two or more genre’s and bringing them together in one story.  for instance; Crime and the Paranormal. 

In my book;  Inner Space: Book One.‘  I give a seeming common  police murder mystery a paranormal twist and take my characters out of their comfort zone; Way Out of their Comfort Zone!   It’s not a Who Dun It, because strangely enough I tell who did it within the first few pages.   So; what’s the rest of the book about ?   Sorry !  Can’t tell you, that you will have to find out for yourselves.

Why Inner Space;  Book One,  I hear you ask; good question and the answer is simple;  it is a trilogy of stories all called Inner Space.   Book One is Out There ready to delight you.   Book Two:  The Reluctant Nemesis will be out in a couple of months from now.  With Book Three : The All Seeing Eye by the end of the year.

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