This weather sucks…

This weather sucks. I mean. Come on: British summer = rain and wind. I had to put a fleece on yesterday. And this morning we were thinking of walking over the way to the local car boot, but apart from a few hardy souls with wet tat, windly distributed all over the field, it’s not going to be worth the effort. Typical. Anyhow, I’m going to be too busy lavishing myself with after sun to find time for anything else. I don’t want to peel before I get my cossy on in France next week.

Notwithstanding the turn in the weather, it’s been a couple of days of decompression. We saw Bex off to the airport (again) on Thursday so she could fly up to Scotland for a friend’s wedding. Steven, who has been in Prague with his best man, flew into Edinburgh to meet her. They’re catching the train tonight, are in London to pick up their Korean visas, and are meeting us in Penkridge tomorrow. We have a couple of days with them before they fly out for their new adventure in Seoul and then we’re off on the continent for 3.5 weeks, via Mum and Dad’s and R&C’s for a sleep over. All of the latter in Doris. She has been packed, spruced and is ready to go! How exciting is that?

Books are selling. Not at a rapid rate, but enough to see me over. Yesterday three copies of For Good Men To Do Nothing and one of The Innocence of Trust flew off the shelves. I have three marketing prospects running, more of which later, and a fourth ‘big idea’ which may start to kick in in the middle of next month. And I still have this director friend of a friend who has Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay in her mitts. The law of averages means that nothing will come of it – but you have to press on. I have also put For Good Men To Do Nothing into Amazon’s UK Storyteller 2018 competition. It’s for self-published books put out there in the first half of 2018. I think there’s some crowd-funding algorithm that helps the judges complete a shortlist, so if you haven’t bought a copy yet – or, if you’ve finished the book and not written a review – then please, please do. Reviews are the life-blood of self-published authors. So take a few minutes today and pen something. Please. And, for the record, I’ve still not spent any cash marketing the series.

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One of six 5-star reviews on Amazon for FGMTDN. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you. And please pen a review…

I have already updated FGMTDN‘s  script once. There were a couple of typesetting issues that have popped up in the Kindle version and I had to put those straight. Which leads me onto typesetting. It’s a nightmare. The problem is embedded formatting transferring between GoogleDocs (where I currently write the original) and Word, where I do the editing. Things happen in the e-subtext of the scirpt which means that when you publish, which inacts a further layer of formatting, things can go crazy. And at the end of a long journey, it’s a struggle. Never mind, I do get paid famously for my troubles… (please write a review!).

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still running…

Well that’s me. I could finish with a few words about His Donaldness blatantly lying to the American public about how the latest quarter of US growth broke 4%, something Obama never achieved. Actually during the 16 quarters of Obama’s presidency US growth broke 4% five times. And, Your Orangeness, according to the experts, yours has only popped up this time as overseas companies buy US goods to beat the imposition of tariffs. It won’t last.

We bring our children up not to lie. And as a schoolteacher, and C an ex-housemistress, we are unforgiving on kids who don’t tell the truth. And yet, here we are at the front edge of a bright new dawn where mankind is making real progress in health, energy, science, engineering and cycling (well done Geraint Thomas), we have the so-called leader of the free world lying consistently and openly for his own gains.

Sorry, America. But no matter what your politics are, you really shouldn’t condone that.

Am mechanic

I am a free man. I suppose you could call me a retiree – again. But it’s not like that. Writing, leadership mentoring and Jen’s business are all things I am working on. But, and it’s a huge but (and I am so lucky to have this opportunity), any agenda is my own. I can do as much or as little as I like. And money can’t pay for that. Fabulous. Just Fabulous.

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Bradley Stoke shopping centre. Looking fab.

I could use today’s ramblings to talk about the US trade war that His Trumpkiness has randomly put in place. The fact that the US are having to find $12bn to subsidise their farmers (mostly soya bean) due to lose of revenue, has rather dented the ‘trade wars are good’, mantra. Since the US placed tariffs on all of their allies [to be fair the tariffs are also slapped on China and Russia (sorry, I forgot, the State that has invaded Ukraine, shot down an international airliner, messed in everyone’s elections and killed one of theirs with nerve agent on our soil, is in fact now a friend of the US’s)], US farmers are struggling to sell their stuff abroad. Did Donald not see that coming? And now that steel is now 25% more expensive for US companies, which may be good news for a few thousand steel workers in the Rust Belt, but not so good for the tens of thousands of US workers who make stuff out of steel (and aluminium), anything made of metal is becoming more expensive. Everything. No worries. Ordinary US folk had a massive tax cut in the recent Trump tax give-away, so they can afford to pay more for their washing machines.

US history has a liturgy of examples of how tariffs don’t work. How free trade is the only way. And that your own workforce has to adapt to the market, even if that means closing down unprofitable businesses. But, it seems, that the current administration knows better. I might be wrong, but this going to end in tears.

I am, by the way, a mechanic. Really. Recently I have fixed three things. First the habitation door on Doris which has both ‘stuck’ and locked itself when you shut it with too much force. I have tried to fix it before, but never really got it right. Anyhow, I’ve done it now, including losing a key piece without which the whole thing was useless, to finding the piece by complete chance just before I was about to run out into the traffic with my eyes closed. Done.

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Bex and I took a trip to London to sort out her Korean visa

Then I fixed the Ford Focus’s bonnet release catch. Ford, for some reason known only to them, put the bonnet release under the grille badge – using the key. The problem is the key/lock joins the release mechanism by way of hard wire – which breaks (actually the plastic bit at the end of the wire breaks), making the bonnet impossible to open.

It’s a common problem (thanks Ford). So, as with any would-be mechanic, I looked on YouTube and was briefed by the most boring man in Europe on what I should do, which included sticking my head under the front of the car and, with long arms, getting my hand between the radiator and the engine block and undoing some bolts. I have very long arms. And I just about made it, although my forearm looks like it’s been attacked by a bear. How short or large people can reach the bolts is a mystery to me. But obviously not to the dull man on YouTube.

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we took a trip to Birmingham to pick up some furniture we had left in one of Bex’s friend’s house

Finally I have fixed a leak on Doris’s air suspension, which has been like that since we bought her. I have tried many time to sort it, but eventually managed it by tightening an almost impossible to reach nut under one of the rear wheels. Now both air suspension bellows stay up, and Doris’s back end no longer looks like it’s had a stroke.

I think that’s enough for me. Books doing well. Still decompressing from school. And spending all my time ferrying (our) children about the place at ungodly hours.

Oh well…

Phew

[For those of you from Twitter looking for the Sam Green short story, please scroll down.]

For the rest of you…

… it’s all been a bit of a rush, like my bum’s on fire and I can’t find a puddle to sit in. But … we’re hoping that any time soon it’s all going to settle down a bit and we can refocus on the everyday. Like Ikea.

First, school. I have half a day left on Tuesday. I survived the end of the week without major breakdown and unless one of the sweeties brings a bomb to the class on Tuesday, then I think I’m going to make it out the other end with my sanity intact. It has been a close run thing, and I guess in a couple of weeks I’ll give you all a resume of life as an ageing school teacher. It won’t be pretty, but, having been given a lovely handmade-card from two Yr 9 girls, the front of which says, ‘We will miss you’ (and there are an assortment of lovely notes inside), there are bits of it I will cherish. But, importantly, sanity frayed but in one piece. Tick.

The whole family got together on Friday night in Gloucester. It was lovely to see them all, and C and I marvelled that whilst none of us are completely ‘all there’, we do make a great team. Both of our sons-in-law are the perfect foil for our daughters and both couples are making a much better fist of early marriage than we did. Well done them. Bex and Steven fly to Seoul next Thursday, and we are seeing a lot of them between now and then. And Jen’s business continues to flourish: £200 worth of e-orders on Friday. We attended a fayre (actually it was more of a v small fun day) at a village close to Gloucester yesterday. I had made a display trunk, C loads of bandannas, and Jen a good many leads and collars. It looked fab. And the weather was kind – when is it not at the moment? But she only sold one collar, which paid for the pitch. To be fair there were only a few people there and she did hand out some cards. So, no great sales rush, but at least we have a system.

 

I remain unsure of how my part in her business will look over the coming months. I’m going to have to balance it against book stuff, and my leadership mentoring. Whatever – it will keep me occupied. Which will be a good thing.

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Books? Well, I’ve sold 75 copies of For Good Men To Do Nothing, and have three 5-star reviews on Amazon already. Indirectly I also received two comments from pals: ‘bloody loved it’ … ‘pretty amazing piece of writing’, both of whom I know will post reviews. What I love about the second comment, which is written by my brother who I know does not hold his punches, is that he didn’t say ‘that’s a great story’, or, ‘loved Sam’. But he actually commented on the way it was written. My writing. Pretty amazing? Fab. I will hurry along all of the reviews from people I know over the next 10 days or so. And all of this gives me a good feeling.

On Goodreads I am at 98 reviews for Fuelling the Fire, with an average score of 4.20/5.0. I think, in comparison to nearly everyone else with a big chunk of reviews, that’s good going. I still believe The Innocence of Trust is a fabulously complex book (25 ratings on Goodreads, with an average of 4.64/5.0) and I am very proud of Unsuspecting Hero (58 ratings; 4.19/5.0). Goodreads is the world’s readers’ forum and they’re not shy from telling you that your stuff is rubbish.

So what? I have to keep going at this. I have to believe that one day someone with a big voice in the literary business will pick up one of my books and think, you know what, this is a good series. It’s different. Sam Green is a lovable character with whom everyone empathises. We should let everyone know about this. And then order a plateful of minions to make it so.

That’s me sewn up until I’m unable to think/type then. Certainly I’m v excited by book 5, which is going to be dark, brooding and ever-so slightly off the wall. Stand-by!

I have numerous articles in for possible publication and, via a good friend, I have a second director reading Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay. The initial comment from the director was that she was ‘liking it’. We shall see.

That’s it from me. Bex and I have a day in London tomorrow. She’s going to get her Korean visa. Then one final morning at school … uh, yippee?!

[And thanks for all your comments on the short story. I’ll let you know if it makes publication any where.]

Sam Green (Prequel) Short Story

I could go on and on about His Trumpkiness’s attempt to dismantle NATO, the way he stood in front of The Queen before they inspected the guard, so she had to move around him, and the follow-up submission that was the Helsinki summit. Oh, and the fall out, back-tracking and subsequent undermining of Article 5 of NATO (collective defence) with his very recent comments about Montenegro. But I won’t.

Instead, a treat (I hope). I have written a Sam Green short story. It’s a prequel to Unsuspecting Hero. It is short – about 1,000 words, and designed for magazine submission, which I am working on.

It has a happy ending. But originally I wrote a much more Sam Green ending. I have added that ending at, well, the end, so you can compare and contrast.

Let me know what you think. And have a great rest of week.

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Sam Green Short Story Prequel

C Company Ops Room, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Helmand Province

Five years ago

It didn’t look right. It just didn’t. Sam raised a finger to the screen. She drew an imaginary circle around an area of the photograph. She stared. Worry lines on her forehead were amplified by the harsh, artificial light.

There’s something here.

She dropped her hand, turned and focused on a second screen to her right. It was smaller: 24-inch rather than 32-inches of the central screen. Its image looked identical to the larger one. A top-down view of the same beige and brown landscape. Sand and rock. A few shrubs. A gravel road. A culvert helping a trickle of a stream under the road. About a kilometre square of unforgiving Afghan terrain.

Sam raised her hand to her mouth and chewed on a knuckle. A bead of sweat formed in a fold in her neck, headed south and found its way under her combat shirt. It stopped where her already damp bra met her skin. She ignored the sensation. She ignored the heat. She ignored the enveloping tiredness of 14-hour days. She ignored the noise from the other operators in the room. The squawk of radios. The distant thump-thump-thump of the medivac Chinook landing.

She was totally focused. A touch of autism, mixed in with some OCD, enabled her to ignore everything but the task. She was an image analyst. No, she was a very good image analyst. Autism gave her an almost savant ability to see detail. And her OCD the doggedness to never give up; to find order when none wanted to be found.

Her two screens were loaded with the same satellite images. Except they weren’t the same. One set was taken yesterday at midday, the second from today at 8 am. A section of Route Pelican, a supply route between the FOB and Camp Bastion. Sam’s job was to assess the route. Look for where new engineering works might be needed as the gravel and tarmac had broken away after winter rains and the relentless pounding of Army trucks and escorts. And to find anything else that shouldn’t be there.

The series of images were taken less than a day apart. The rainy season was over. There had been no military traffic on the route during that time. Nothing should have changed.

And yet …

Hang on.

Sam leant back on her chair so she could take in both screens with the slightest of movement of her head.

Wait.

She leant forward so that her face was just a couple of inches from the left-hand screen. She could make out the LED’s pixels.

Yesterday. Gravel road. Culvert. Trickle of water.

She moved to the right. Again she was close.

Same road. Same culvert. Same stream. But this time … the stream didn’t enter and exit the culvert like the earlier image. This time there was a build up of water, a large puddle, on the northern side and no water on the other.

No!

Six things happened at once.

Sam spun on her chair, her concentration on the screens broken. Her pulse rate shot up and the accompanying adrenaline joined the blood pulsating in her ears. Her pupils widened as she took in the view she had experienced day in, day out for over four months. Large tent. No windows. Outward-facing desks and monitors. Maybe 20 staff. A large map table, with ink-scrawl symbols decorating the glass top. To one side of the map was a two-man trestle table: the boss and his signals operator. Black radio handsets and a green speaker. On the other side of the map table were three white boards displaying all manner of information. Above them, hanging from the tent’s metal frame, an analogue clock and a hand-made sign. It read: Think IED!

IED. Improvised Explosive Device. Terrorist made and planted. The scourge of the battalion. They’d lost two men already to Taleban devices. An armoured Foxhound blown over by a roadside bomb, killing the vehicle’s commander who had his head out of the top hatch, his neck snapped in the tumble. A second soldier lost as a remote-controlled RPG penetrated a Mastiff with a thin jet of molten copper, slicing the man in half. A lucky shot, missing the side armour and finding one of theirs.

One of mine.

The sixth thing Sam did was scream.

‘Boss! Have we got anything on Pelican?’

Captain James looked up and across at her, and then shot a glance at the white boards.

‘Hang on. Yes. Three-Zero Charlie. Routine patrol. Three vehicles.’ He glanced back at Sam …

… who was ignoring him.

She had to find the the culvert on the map. Water either side yesterday. None today, but a pool upstream. The culvert was blocked. It was a small thing. Tiny. Could be nothing.

But it might be …

‘Potential culvert IED. At …’ Sam was on her feet leaning over the map board. Her eyes and her fingers desperate to find the grid reference of the culvert.

‘… grid one-two-seven, four-six-six.’

She stared at the Captain, who now had a hold of a handset.

‘Hello, Mike Three-Zero Charlie, this is Zero. Over.’

He looked across at Sam. She was clenching her teeth; her heart bashing strongly against her rib cage.

Are we too late?

Nothing. The whole Ops room had turned, looking in. Their stares focused on the green speaker.

‘Hello, Mike Three-Zero Charlie, this is Zero. Over!’ Louder this time from the Captain. He was almost shouting at the handset, his knuckles white as he pressed the pressel on the handset.

Nothing. A crackle.

Still nothing.

Then, ‘Mike Three-Zero Charlie, Roger. Send, over.’

As relief swept across the room, the Captain replied.

‘Zero. Potential culvert IED at …’, he glanced at his notepad, ‘Grid one-two-seven, four-six-six, over.’

Nothing. Too long a pause?

‘Mike Three-Zero Charlie, Wait …’

A further pause. The only sound in the Ops Room was the steady hum of computer fans.

The speaker broke the silence.

‘We’re just short. My lead vehicle has pulled up 50 metres from the culvert. We debussing now in all-round defence. Thanks. Wait out for a further sitrep. Out.’

The captain looked across at Sam. Their eyes met. Hers were already filling with tears.

‘Good job Sergeant Green.’

Or

‘Hello, Mike Three-Zero Charlie, this is Zero. Over!’ Louder this time from the Captain. He was almost shouting at the handset, his knuckles white as he pressed the pressel on the handset.

Nothing. A crackle.

Still nothing.

Then, ‘Mike Three-Zero Charlie, Roger. Send, over.’

As relief swept across the room, the Captain replied.

‘Zero. Potential culvert IED at …’, he glanced at his notepad, ‘Grid one-two-seven, four-six-six, over.’

Nothing. Too long a pause?

‘Mike Three-Zero Charlie, Roger. We’re …’ And then a split second of terrifying noise. A shattering explosion and an accompanying cry. The speaker seemed to momentarily shake.

Silence.

The captain looked across at Sam. Their eyes met. Hers were already filling with tears.

Oh, God. No …

 

And now for something completely different

Happy Sunday. By the way, do we ever protest against a foreign leader? Really? Just because he/she comes over here? In numbers? How can one man and one man’s administration cause so much angst that people from a foreign country have to give up a Saturday to say ‘bog off’? One of the placards said “I don’t normally protest, but come on…”. Another… ‘feed him to the Corgis.’ Perfect.

On a different note, I thought you might be interested in an article I’ve submitted to the military’s pension magazine. Here it is – and have a good Sunday. At least today we’ll be rid of His Trumpkiness. I don’t think he’ll be coming back anytime soon. He does love to be loved, you know.

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on week to go and then this will be our future…

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Beware. There’s a heretic on the loose.

A quick résumé. Man joins the Army at 18, works reasonably hard, does lots of stuff – ticks boxes, commands his father’s battalion, stays married to the same woman and then … surely, sees it through to 55, buys a house in Suffolk (or Wiltshire), becomes chairman of the parish council and spends his days walking his garden whilst tending to his black lab? The perfect model of tweed, corduroy and Viyella?

Uh, well, no. Okay, so I am married to the same woman. And I did command my dad’s battalion. But at 44 I put my beret in the top drawer and became a teacher of mathematics at a school in sleepy Somerset. I still struggle to explain to myself why that happened. I guess much of it was about my need to break the mould. Both Claire (still my first wife) and I are Army brats. She was an Army nurse. I went away to the Army sixth-form college and was beasted around Sandhurst’s square at the tender age of 18. We were more institutionalised than a pair of Broadmoor inmates.  And yet, as time went on, we could imagine something other than the well-trodden path to our future little cottage in Wotton-under-Fire, just down the khaki-brick road.

Also, we were both tired. It is true to say that I had not spent as long away from my family as most – my medals dangling bashfully in a single row. But the Army knows how to take a couple of kilogrammes of flesh. Don’t misunderstand me, it is a fabulous institution. It looked after the pair of us as if I were its only employee and Claire its only unpaid social worker. But, ‘no’ is not a word in its lexicon, and it encourages you to grin and bear it. And, as I left, the 150,000 strong behemoth that I joined to face down Brezhnev and 3 Shock Army was leaner than a whippet, and heading for more cuts. I’m not uncomfortable admitting that I was shattered. So, with absolutely no qualifications at all other than armed with a mantra that I would treat all my students like little soldiers, I became a teacher.

I’m quite good at maths.  I’m also confident on my feet – you know, “Come on chaps…follow me”. How difficult could teaching be?

I was rubbish. No, it’s true. You can have the confidence of ten men but, until you get a grip of the syllabus, learn the tricks of the trade in the classroom (like: don’t smile before half-term) and suffer the exam cycle, confidence counts for not a great deal. You also have to remember that, having reached a rank where you have a small team of people to whom you can delegate wantonly, as a teacher you are at the bottom of the food chain. Okay, if you have a bad day you can take it out on your pupils, but there are few other privileges.  If you want a minibus to take the kids somewhere, not only do you have to book it yourself, you have to drive it as well.

And being a teacher is tough; the classroom an unforgiving place. Your pupils may look as innocent as a bunch of well-trained Naples pickpockets but, underneath their angelic facade, they’re a pack of hyenas. Kids can exploit chinks in armour better than an immaculately-placed arrow. And where else in the workplace is your output as starkly associated with your own competence than on exam results day? If Johnny doesn’t get the ‘A’ he needs to get into the university of his choice, then put on your body armour as Mum and Dad will want to know why. There is no hiding place. And it is tremendously hard work, day after day of classroom theatre where you are actor, stage manager, director, choreographer and make-up artist.

Is it rewarding? Oh yes – undoubtedly so. There is no feeling anywhere near close to watching young people improve in and enjoy your subject. Seeing them ‘get things’ which previously were as mysterious and opaque as a distant planet is something close to magical. As such, I can’t recommend teaching enough as a second career, I really can’t. Provided you’re happy to sweep the floors and order the pack lunches.

A few years in, and with Claire a houseparent (and uncomfortably outranking me), I made it onto the School’s senior team with responsibility for staff training, the non-academic programme and a bellyful of jobs that no one else wanted. And I did become an adequate teacher. But none of this was without effort … there’s a theme emerging here. So, after eight years of teaching we decided to transition to Stage Three of our lives: do nothing.

My Dad never understood why I left the Army. So he completely dismissed the notion of Claire and I loading up a motorcaravan and disappearing into the sunset, pursued by a cloud of unburnt diesel. To be fair he had a point; we had no plan other than to decompress. The Army had taken the wheels off; the School had burnt out the alternator and removed the wiper blades. We were exhausted and seeing family members and good pals struggling with life-threatening illness, we decided we’d take our chances on vagrancy. And, wow, it was fun.

Actually, it still is fun. Four years later we have just moved into a two-up, two-down in Bristol, but we still travel extensively in our charabanc. The intervening years were, without doubt, the best of our lives. Europe is a big place. And over La Manche they do love and cater for motorhomes. With a multitude of would-be foreign pals, we spent four years browning our knees and shaking hands with the most delightful of non-Brits.

Phew. Done that. Now take stock.

At 56 I have, from a old-fashioned taxman’s perspective, about ten years’ productive work in me. And that strikes a chord with some people. Other than the withering ‘oh’ (accompanied by a face that looks like it’s just chewed on a lemon) when you tell them that you’re living in a motorhome, the most popular comment is along the lines of, ‘So, you don’t work, then?’. You can see the cogs turning. That means my taxes are paying for you?

Mmmm. Not contributing is certainly not the reason why I am actually working – of sorts – doing two things. It’s more doing things that I enjoy. First, I mentor headteachers and senior school staff on leadership. It may surprise you that headteachers get no formal leadership training before they take the helm of a school. Some of them need help. I do what I can.

Second, and this surprised the bejeezus out of me, it’s writing novels that has caught my imagination.  During our extended sojourn I have written four thrillers: Unsuspecting Hero, Fuelling the Fire, The Innocence of Trust and For Good Men To Do Nothing. The series has Sam Green as the main protagonist, ‘a sort of female version of Jack Reacher but more edgy and much more prone to tears’. Even if I say so myself, all four books have received a good number of very positive reviews – please check them out. And I am about to embark on the fifth of the series which, I hope, will be out next year.

Do we regret any of the choices we have made? If I had stayed in the Army my time would be up and I would be haplessly looking for a job. A security consultant maybe? A small house in the country and a seat on the parish council? My own stool in the local pub? All of these are laudable ambitions and in so many ways I wish that worked for the pair of us. But. I really love the writing – and I’m fond of the leadership training and trying to make a difference where I can. So I guess we have no regrets.  We wouldn’t have missed a moment of our time in the Army, or at the School, but we don’t miss any of it for a moment.

What next? Currently the plan is ‘more of the same’. [For the record I am just finishing a 6-month part-time stint at a state school in Bristol. That is an altogether different story. Maybe for another time …] I’m waiting to see how my latest novel goes down in the market, and I have the plot for the next in the series firmly in my head.  That will take us through to next summer by which time we might be longing to settle down, get a red setter, buy some secateurs and volunteer to be the secretary of the village flower show.

But somehow, I doubt it.

 

Am culinary genius

It’s all a bit overwhelming. I am coming to the end of my 7 months work experience at a state school in Bristol. I left my classroom door open today because it was too hot to teach the little darlings. As I was one-to-one with a pupil, another threw a pen at a kid and it landed outside in the corridor, narrowly missing another teacher who was unaware that this was a new form of sport. She came into the classroom and, unbeknown to me, took a kid out to pick up the pen. As I stood to identify the next student who needed my help, I realised that I was not alone. Anyway, between us we sorted out the indiscretion, I apologised for teaching the worst class in Christendom, and the teacher left with that vague look of ‘who’s the idiot in charge of that class?’

Interestingly, at the end of the day another teacher caught me and said, ‘Mmmm, that’s a difficult class you’ve got there. I know those kids. Mmmmm. My sympathy.’ What he doesn’t know is that’s the class that I have the best handle on. If he came to any of my other classes, he’d need to wear a hard hat and boots with steel toe-caps.

Seriously, though, I have (trust me) made progress. I think out of all the 130 kids I teach all but a handful have had their grades improve. The fact that it has almost killed me is neither here not there. Whatever – just over a week to go…

…and that’s something I can’t get my head round. What will it be like in 10 days time? When I don’t have to get up at 6.20 and face the orchestra? What will it be like when I don’t have to cycle into Bristol murmuring under my breath, ‘I won”t let the so-and-sos wear me down’? We shall see.

I think the transition is going to be sharp. Jen’s business is on the cusp of taking off. She has more orders than she can manage and we will have to hire help soon. C and I both intend to help, but I don’t see me/us as actual members of the workforce. I’m much more interested in business development, and will be more than happy to organise outsourcing some of the sewing. But something needs to be done.

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Jen’s new business cards

And then there’s the books. If you haven’t bought For Good Men To Do Nothing, then please do – and please pen a review. The mood music after just 4 days is very strong, and, if you check out the reviews on Amazon, you will see that readers do really like the series – Sam Green is #1. I am currently fishing around, trying to develop a coherent marketing strategy. I don’t have the time nor the energy to get it right yet, but it will loom large in 10 days time. Book sales have shot up, and what’s promising is that all four books are selling at a decent rate at the moment – and I don’t quite know why. Well … I’m not complaining.

C is down with Mary at the mo. I’m joining her tomorrow to help with Mary’s annual bash over the weekend. As such I am on my own. I’m not sure I like it that much, although it does mean that I can look at Twitter without an accompanying look of disdain from my beloved. And, what was fab, last night I got on the trike and hoofed it up to Gloucester to watch the footy with Jen and James. It was brilliant fun – a bit windy around the nether regions at 50 mph on a scooter, but brilliant fun.

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dinner for one – I am a culinary genius

Anyhow. You have a quiet rest of week and I’ll come back to you with a further instalment on Sunday.

It’s here – hurrah!

Well, what a couple of days. First and foremost you can now preorder For Good Men To Do Nothing here: FGMTDN – Kindle preorder. If you order now (please do) then it will be delivered seamlessly onto your Kindle overnight and be ready to read tomorrow – as you slip your bathing robe off and head off down to the beach with your ice cooler full of gin and tonic. If, however, it’s the paperback your after then go here: FGMTDN Paperback. Unfortunately there is little I can do about the price of the paperback – I make about 50p a book. That’s the trouble with print-on-demand.

For Good Men To Do Nothing (3)

Whatever your choice, I really hope you enjoy it – and please pen a review once you’ve finished.

It is an exciting time – for me it has been with every book. And I have been delighted with the response as I’ve pulled it together. Thanks for all your comments. However, whilst I might expect to sell maybe 500 copies over the next year, it’s hardly best-selling territory. So I do need to think through marketing v seriously; spend some quality time looking at the problem and probably forking out a bit of cash. That will have to wait until after I finish work. And probably until after Bex and Steven fly to Korea a week later. I’ll keep you informed.

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the crossing point dream team

School is fine. Friday was sports day and, because I am part time and don’t work Friday afternoons, I was put on crossing duty. With two other members of staff. It was a tough job – our crossing was a cycle track used irregularly by dog walkers and older folk pulling their shopping trolleys. I think we did OK. In the afternoon I drove to my mentoring job in Farnham for a couple of hours work, and then back again. That’s going well, I think.

And in between our feet haven’t touched the ground. Bex arrived back from Madeira and came and stayed – we watched ‘the match’ (hurrah!) and then drove into Bristol to see old Army pals. Last night we picked up a friend of Bex’s from the station and early doors this morning I drove them to Bristol Airport so that they could fly to Florence for a couple of days. (What a life these youngsters lead.) And in a couple of hours some more Army pals are coming for lunch before we head off down to Wells to join the farewell party for our old headteacher. Phew…only time to draw breath before … tomorrow, we drive up to Gloucester to help Jen prepare for a show she’s doing next Saturday. C and I will be making lots of collars and leads.

I could tell you about the next couple of weeks, and how busy that’s going to be, but having got up at 4 this morning to do the airport run I’m too tired to think about it. We’re going to need a holiday at the end of this.

So. Who’s going to London on Thursday to blow raspberries at His Trumpkiness? I would, I really would – if I wasn’t working. I’m looking forward to seeing the balloon of Donald in his nappies, floating above Westminster Square. And, I wonder what The Queen will be thinking? She’s a bright girl – she’ll have him registered. I bet she’ll be glad she’ll be wearing gloves, although I wouldn’t put it past His Donaldness to touch her. It makes me shiver…

Anyhow. Two weeks to go. We’re getting there. I really hope you get on with book 4. I do believe it’s the best I can do. Whatever, let me know…