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The Annexe

The Annexe

The Annexe
The complete (all fourteen chapters) story in the 'Lower Methil Annexe' series!
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Into the Fire.

You all had your chance to vote. You voted to leave the European Union. You will have to live with the consequences. I shall inform you that I voted to ‘Remain’. The EU is flawed, but the ideal is still something to be desired.

You believed the claim that £650,000,000 a week would be available for the NHS. A shabby statistic that Nigel Farage said, within hours of the result, was a ‘mistake’.
You rejected the Establishment run by the ‘Old Boy Network’ and believed Boris – with his flat cap, whippet, and hob-nailed working-man’s boots.
You started a petition (2,000,000 signatures and climbing) to say that you want another shot, in case people might want to change their minds. Stupidity multiplied by insanity.
You believed in ‘Independence Day’. (It’s a fictional film about aliens from outer-space. Starring Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith – neither of whom will feature on any ‘desirable immigrant list’. It is fiction.

What you will probably achieve is independence from Scotland, so the English can run their own country. Good luck with that.

The ‘Leave Campaign’ ran a photograph of a group of people from varied ethnic origins, with the words “These are the kind of people who will vote ‘Remain’.”

Donald Trump is in favour of Britain leaving the European Union. That, in itself, is a good reason to stay.

If Trump becomes US President, and Boris becomes Prime Minister of England, please do remember the words …

“These kind of people.”

What kind of Final Solution will the politicians come up with, this time, to deal with ‘these kind of people’?

[A couple of corrections]
The above figure of £650,000,000 a week, is wrong. But then, the actual figure claimed was a load of utter waffle, so it matters not a lot!
And, apparently, according to Boris, the subject of immigration had no effect on the outcome. So it is now claimed …
In fact, there seems to a lot of re-interpretation going on in the Leave camp. At least one fact is certain – you can still use English gold to buy votes. Unless you happen to be playing Iceland!

Hung Out to Dry

You may have noticed that there has been a bit of a kerfuffle (fun word!) about tumble driers. In particular, ones from the Whirlpool group – Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit etc. Some of them appear to have a tendency to gather fluff and catch fire, possibly burning your house down to the ground in the process …
You can check on-line to see if you have one of the (several million) dodgy driers, register the item, and Whirlpool will arrange for someone to fix it. Eventually. We registered in January. They made a guess at sometime in September. Maybe! Some people will have to wait till next year.
Or, they will sell you a new one at a discount. Some people have some very negative things to say about that particular offer.

We waited patiently. Things do go wrong in life, and a lot of dodgy driers take a long time to fix. We understand that.

In May, they emailed us, saying that they would be fixing ours in June (and would we like to buy a new one? We declined the offer to buy.)
In June, they emailed us, saying that they would be fixing ours in [blank], and would we like to buy a new one? Again, we declined the offer to buy.
Being a little concerned, we phoned them. The first try found an idiot who could not hear us, complained when we spoke louder, and couldn’t figure a post-code. I hung up, and tried again. This time, I got a better line, and a more intelligent agent. We were assured that [blank] was not a new month, invented by the Whirlpool group, but meant that they would arrange a fix this month (June).

Being a trifle cynical, and June having only a week left to go, I contacted Whirlpool via their Live Chat facility. I got a chap by the name of Kieran. It may even have been his actual name! I asked when they would be fixing my dodgy (potentially lethal) tumble drier. He fiddled around a bit, and told me that he had arranged an appointment for the 28th of August 2016. Not June. Not [blank]. August!

I complained that I had been told June. By email, by phone. He stated that email dates were ‘estimates’, but offered to put me on the ‘cancellation list’ in case an earlier opportunity came up in our area.

I told him that Whirlpool were throwing out dates ‘like confetti’, and were basically telling lies ‘in a potentially life-threatening situation’.

I told him that I could not accept his 28th of August appointment, and signed out of the live chat. So, of course, he emailed me a confirmation of that date. What an idiot. Kieran with a ‘K’.

So I phoned Whirlpool again. Got a lady who would not disclose her name. She found no trace of Kieran with a ‘K’. Said it would be June. She checked with her manager (hopefully not Kieran with a ‘K’), and again confirmed that it would be June.

I asked “What would be in June?”. She had difficulty in answering my question. She could not what would be happening to who and where, but it would be ‘in June’. I asked her again and again, like some recalcitrant witness in a court case.
“Would a repair be happening in June?”
“Would they be contacting us in June?”
“Would they be arranging an appointment in June?”
“Would that be June 2016, in the Christian Calendar?”

I eventually got her to agree to “Whirlpool would be contacting us in June, 2016, to arrange a date for the repair of our defective Indesit tumble dryer.”
To be frank, I do not believe that she understood anything that she was agreeing to. I did emphasise to her (and Kieran with a ‘K’) that all these communications would feature in any court case that arose, in consequence of their actions.

Whirlpool has slightly less than one week to go. I predict that I will NOT hear from them in the next week. Then I will contact them again, and see what utter nonsense they come up with.

This is a situation where several tumble dryer fires occur each and every week. And the remedy is being conducted by people who lie, get confused, and are hopelessly incompetent.

I find myself trapped between Scylla and Charybdis. (it’s a classical situation. Do a Google, and look it up!)

Whirpool. Indesit. Hotpoint. Creda. (and a few other home-brands). Remember the names. Remember how they deal with their own mistakes. Look elsewhere before buying. Your home may depend on it!

Hanging on

Been a fairly miserable month. Not been good for the wife and myself; doctors, dentists, and other ‘professionals’. Lots of running to and fro – not a lot of getting things fixed. Costing lots of money, though …

Have been through the latest batch of submissions.
One acknowledged receipt (no human intervention required) but said if you don’t get a reply within 3 weeks, assume that they are not interested. I guess that, after 6 weeks, they will not be getting back to me.
Others proclaimed that they would ‘reply within 4 weeks’ or ‘a month’ or ‘always reply within 6 weeks’. Been 6 weeks. Nobody bothered their arses. (No apology for crudity!)

I have to ask myself …
“Is my story worth the effort?”
and
“Would I ever want anything to do with an agent whose word is not worth the (electronic) paper that it is printed on?”

To answer first question. It was worth the effort to write it. Others can judge if it is worth the effort to read it. Perhaps, if I let it slip that my real name is J. K. Rowling …

As for the second question. One of my previous would-be agents stated that “if you don’t hear anything after 6 weeks, give me a prod!”. I do NOT have a cattle prod! If I did, then I might have been tempted.

Marlon James, the 2015 Man Booker International winner, had his first book rejected 70 times before it was finally published. I will never win that prize because I do not write ‘literature’, I simply write stories. But it encourages me to keep hanging on.

The Honest Soldier

The Honest Soldier

Brave knight, come near
And I will give you gold
A ring around your finger
Of cost untold,
And craftsmanship beyond your knowing
Just pledge to me
In battle, bold
That you will crush my enemies
And lay them low
No mercy spared
Or die in battle glorious
Victorious in my cause.

An honest soldier thanks you, my queen
But I am merely mortal
And if in battle, I should fall
The enemy triumphant
A ring of gold
Would further not your cause
Instead serve only as a prize
For those who rob the dead
If I should chose to flee
Not lie awaiting plunder
Would you still give me your gold?

Away! You coward
Thinking only of yourself
I will move on
and seek a braver man!
Begone!

Bold knight, come near
and I will give you silver
A ring around your finger
For service paid,
And service yet to come
Just pledge to me
In future times
That you will come when I shall call
A sturdy staff
A mirror held
Reflecting me
In my vanity.

An honest soldier thanks you, my lady
But I am merely mortal
And after battle, chose to stand
The enemy triumphant
A ring of silver
Would further not your cause
Instead would pay for ale and cheer
Remember those no longer here
If I should chose to flee
Not lie awaiting plunder
Would you still give me your silver?

Away! You wastrel
Thinking only of yourself
I will move on
and find a better man!
Begone!

Gentle knight, come near
And I will give you flowers
No ring around your finger
No gold or silver,
Only memories
Just pledge to me
When battle done
That you will remember me
And come the day, come home
To tell a tale
Not die in battle glorious
Forgotten in my cause.

An honest soldier thanks you, my love
But I am merely mortal
And if in battle, fall
The enemy triumphant
A wreath of flowers
Would adorn my grave
No prizes there
For those who rob the dead
If I should chose to return
Unburdened with the weight of plunder
Would you still give me your flowers?

Come here, my love
That I might kiss your hand
And wish you safe
When others wish you harm!
Go safely!

Why?

It is now May. I am certain that, for the past few months, it has rained more days than not. Spring is here, the temperature is gradually rising, flowers are beginning to bloom. The grass everywhere, is green, and growing rapidly. My mower can barely keep up.
So I find it difficult to understand why one of the locals had a lawn sprinkler working away, saturating his lawn with tap-water. Why add more water, when the puddles from the last shower are still evident on the road?
I could understand if there had been a drought, but the desertification of the British Isles is still some way away, global-warming notwithstanding.
Perhaps they have been reading one of those ‘Expert’ books from the local garden centre. They have ‘scarified’ the lawn until it looks in desperate need of a ‘comb-over’, then buried it in ‘lawn sand’ until it resembles a desert. I trust that the book was not written in Mumbai, as the required elephant droppings for fertiliser, might be a trifle difficult to obtain.
My grass (‘lawn’ seems a bit overdone!) gets hacked down with a rotary mower when I get round to it, and is never likely to be done in ‘stripes’, but it is green, thriving, and only has a few dandelions and the occasional ant-hill.

It looks so much better than the lawn of Mr & Mrs Sitzsprinkel.

Found in Translation

When I first started writing, I wrote in the Methil dialect. Obviously, this made it somewhat difficult for most people to read.
Then, I had to contend with all the ‘experts’ who told me that Scots was not written that way. The ‘apologetic apostrophe’ was the main complaint. Sir Walter Scott may have used it, but ‘proper’ writers never would.
(Dear Mr Scott. Concerning your ‘improper’ use of punctuation …)

Well, to hell with them. The ‘proper’ way was decided by 3 literary types, who ‘decided’ what would be what. Sorry chaps, but I do not write in ‘Lallands’ (Lowlands Scots), Doric (bit further North), or Glaswegian.
Not even in Fife dialect (there are many!). I wrote in Methil. (which my blog spell-check does not recognise!).

Anyway, the readability was a problem. I tried many ways in the past: putting the story into 2 columns – one English, one Methil; putting a button on the page to swap between the Methil version and the English version; using the ‘title’ function in HTML. That works fine for spoken dialect in an English story …
see the ‘Glesca Patter’
… but isn’t so good when the whole story is in Methil.

A Fifer's Lament

At last, I think that I have cracked the problem! I have taken the ‘Fife stories, and done a simultaneous write, in English and Methil. If you simply look at a paragraph, it is in Methil, but if you place the cursor over the paragraph, it translates instantly in English.
On an iPad, you don’t have a cursor, but a quick tap of the finger does the job. That may also work in Android, but I have nothing to check it on.
Perhaps someone may care to let me know.

These are stories from my youth. That was a long time ago.

Click on the book, and let me know what you think.

Cara

Count the days
   and make them precious
Live the hours
   as though they were your last
Spare a minute
   to ease the fears of others
In a moment
   all of this will pass.

Born Free

For the past few weeks, I have been working on tachras, my website.

A few years ago, it was totally wiped out when my, then, internet website host, went down the tubes, with no warning at all.
I had to rebuild the site from my backups, notes, and original scripts. It was a massive task, and many parts never were brought back to full condition. I had lots of other work to do, few helpers, and not a lot of free time.

When I finally had the time for myself, I concentrated on my writing, trying to produce a professional piece of work. Something worth publishing. I had to learn all sorts of new stuff. Learn how to submit my work in the manner of the ‘true professionals’. Let us just say that this is ‘a work in progress’!

I decided to get my website back in order. So far, I have worked for weeks, sometimes putting in a 12 hour day (or more – it is currently after midnight!). I have struggled to do all the editing, and proofreading, that I had already done – and lost. I have tracked down the pictures that adorned some of the original series. I have created new titles, artwork for the animated pages, re-designed all the Annexe books (the ‘Angel’ was re-drawn), and tried (still working on some) to improve beyond the old, lost copy. It has been back-breaking work. But I am working to the acceptance standards of someone who insists on getting it right. ME! No interns, no literary agents, university graduates or middle-class intellectuals. No hangers-on, no purveyors of ‘form letters’, no ‘experts’.
For the very few who have helped, I say ‘thank you’. You are truly appreciated.

tachras

I will be working for quite a bit longer, but do not let that stop you from reading what is there. There is a lot of good stuff – and not only mine, but the efforts of others. Read it, enjoy it, and go back for more.

Here is the amazing thing. All this work has given me immense satisfaction, and the aches count for nothing compared with the result. Even if not one single soul ever reads one single word of it – I will still know.

I have laboured – and what I build is good. I believe in myself. Even if I am some poor deluded fool, and all my works are ashes, I will still enjoy the effort.

Read it, and decide for yourself.

Oh! and by the way, the little mouse, that you may encounter, is call ‘Darwin’. You may even see him at the top of this page. If you see him, and give him a nudge with the cursor, he may have a message for you!

Feel Free

I have been polishing, checking, re-writing and re-reading my series -The Annexe. For the past year, I have been submitting it to various publishers, and literary agents. It has been a long, frustrating process. One publisher lost the submission, then told me that they won’t be accepting any submissions until March. Well, March is here, and I will not be re-submitting to that particular publisher. Another asked for the full manuscript (sent by post with a SAE – not cheap!). After much prodding, they claimed that they were still interested, would be back in January … and, guess what? Here we are in March!
As for literary agents …
Two sent a standard rejection (so standard, that the words were almost identical). Fair enough. At least they were polite enough to reply. Thank you. I cannot force anyone to like my work. I like it … but you could say that I was biased.
Two have yet to reply. One states that if they reject it, they will signify this by not replying. Cheapskates! And you want 15% of my sales, if you had stooped to assist me. I don’t think that they are my kind of agent.
The last says ‘If you don’t here from me after 6 weeks, give me a prod!’. That will be at the end of this week. They also say that if I email them without an attachment, then they will automatically hit the ‘Delete’ key. ‘Got to be cruel to be kind!’ My confidence in them is low.

The Annexe

I had locked off the story, while submitting it, to be fair to the submittees (if there is such a word). No longer. If you want to read it, feel free …

This post will gradually drop down the list. The link will remain in the Left Hand column. Just click on the book, if you want to read it. You can make up your own mind. Let me know, either way …

Also, you may want to read some of the other stories on my website. Don’t worry too much if the words are a bit odd – some are written in a variety of dialects, BUT you will find that many of them have a ‘Translate’ option. Just move the cursor over the words. You won’t find that feature in too many books!

I apologise in advance, for the items that are not quite ready. I am working on them. I have been so busy, that I have ended up neglecting the website. No more!

Dubious virtue

I offer this quote from Gordon R Dickson, a venerable SF writer, and a favourite of mine.

“Why should there be some sort of virtue always attributed to a frank admission of vice? ”

Very appropriate in this age, what with famous tennis players and expense fiddling politicians. When did any misdeed become acceptable, as long as the perpetrator makes a ‘frank’ admission when finally caught?
Get it right, you numpties! Don’t do it in the first place!