As a thriller writer I have to believe in serendipity, otherwise none of my books would hang together. Sam Green would not run from catastrophe to catastrophe without major artistic license, which I dress up nicely as serendipity. And so, what about this?
I’m am currently reading Narrow Dog to Carcassonne, a book about a retired couple who sail a narrowboat from London to the south of France. It is a scream – written more like a series of paragraph-long poems than anything you and I would consider to be English. But, if you step back from the prose, the story is one helluva tale. Narrow boats are flat bottomed vessels without a keel. They aren’t designed for waves – and they’re easily pushed about by the wind. A 15-foot wide canal is what they’re best at.
Well, as you can imagine, the couple bounce from near-disaster to near-disaster. Their first major exped is to sail from Bristol to Gloucester, up the very tidal Severn; the Channel follows soon after. The comedy is strong and the accompanying dog, Jim (a whippet – hence ‘narrow dog’) is beautifully narrated.
What’s the coincidence? Well, on our first day away in Doris we stayed at John’s, just by the M48 Severn bridge. We took our bikes for a ride, over the bridge, and for the first time ever we spotted 2 narrowboats heading up the river to the Sharpness canal. Now, we lived on the Severn banks for almost 2 years, so to say that we were surprised is something else.
We’re now mid-Wales, at Builth Wells – a very Welsh town where everyone speaks in a tongue which we do not understand. There’s a sing-along thing happening at the Welsh showground and so the place is teeming, in a very understated, middle-of-Wales sort of way. We cycled to the showground to have a poke around and were greeted with a £15 entrance fee – each. Now, call me tight (I know, you already do), but mostly these shows are about lots of stalls selling things with the odd spare piece of grass being used to show off some cattle. So I say £15 is a bit on the stiff side? It’s a bit like turning up at Ikea and the Swedes asking a tenner to get in before you spend £150 on stuff you really don’t need. We probably missed something special, like a cow with two heads, or a prize bull as big as an elephant. Never mind. Doubtless it will be on Wales Today later.
The really good thing about being in Doris is that it makes you sit still and not do a great deal. Now Mrs Sun has buggered off and is browning the knees of some other vitamin-D deficient soul, we’ve spent the afternoon sat not doing a great deal. C has been reading and I have been catching up with a whole load of e-paperwork, like bank statements etc.
And, how about this as a back page for For Good Men To Do Nothing? (Still in draft form – so comments welcome.)
Someone’s messing with the Global Positioning System and no one knows who, or why. The CIA report that there’s a major terror attack planned for the Middle East, but they cannot get a handle on the detail. And the ultra right-wing christian sect. The Church of the White Cross, is back doing what it does best: laying down carnage and inflaming anti-muslim hatred.
Sam Green’s been fired from SIS/MI6 for being a maverick operator. Skiing on a shoestring in Austria, she spots a face in the crowd. A face that doesn’t want to be recognised. But it knows that she knows – and that can’t be allowed.
Then someone lets slip the dogs of war.
Sam’s back; this time without the comfort blanket of SIS back up. Pursued from Europe to Venezuela, via The Bahamas and Miami, her enemies are seemingly one step ahead. With a single act of terror the world is about to be plunged into a religious war that will last for decades. With only the support of her old German hacking pal, Count Wolfgang Neuenburg II, together can they prevent Armageddon?
And, for the record, C bought me a new phone the other day, a Motorola G5. It’s an Android one and costs £118 from Argos. It is just brilliant (and my 4th Motorola). So, top tip. If you need a new phone, come off contract, go to Virgin (or similar) and ask for an all-inclusive deal – unlimited data, minutes, texts. It should cost you now more than £18 a month. And then buy an off-the-shelf G5. Fab. All four of us (me, C, Jen and Bex) have a G5. Works for us.
That’s it from me. We’re back in Bristol on Friday and then up to Jen’s on Sunday for her birthday. And … then it’s just 7 weeks until freedom. I must keep my hands away from anything that’s likely to set the school on fire. If I manage that I might just make it to the end …