Saturday, July 31, 2010

Well, My Dandruff Is Loose.

This is part 50 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”. Yes, you heard correctly, this is part 50 of my serial. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t sure if this would make it to the half century. It has got here though and there is certainly more to come.

If you are one of the stoical yeomen who has stuck with this from Part One, you will be amazed to learn that you have trudged your way through over 37 000 words! Hopefully, you have enjoyed your little foray into my synaptic meanderings and are able to follow what passes for a plot.

For the purposes of my own sanity, I would like to point out that there are some themes I need to develop and rework in what you have read so far. There are some serious points buried amongst the madness and these are tinged with satire in a couple of cases as well!

So, with my self-back slapping out of the way, I should see if I can find a quiz question related to ‘50’. This one is so easy you shouldn’t need the answer.

OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.   

The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!

Now read on...

Jones and Pippa, sat together on the sofa and thumbed through the files together until Jones suddenly closed the file and stared blankly at the far wall.

“Pippa, why don’t I remember all of this?” Jones asked quietly.

“I don’t know.” Pippa straightened up and gave a shrug. “I should remember too, but it is all rather patchy.”

“This case was two years of my professional life, the biggest case I ever worked on.” Jones continued to stare at the wall.

“Plus it was when we first met.” Pippa stroked his arm. “And my big break.”

There was a long silence.

“I’m not mad, you know that, don’t you?” Jones voice was a mere whisper.

“Of course not!” Pippa gave a laugh and gave him a hug.

Jones sat stiffly as Pippa hugged him for several minutes, before she kissed him lightly on the cheek and drew back.

“Do you want to talk about it, Glynn?” she asked softly.

Jones expelled a long breath noisily and then rubbed his face with both hands before biting his lip and staring at the ceiling.

“It’s very difficult. There are things...”The words trailed away as Jones turned to face Pippa.

He looked at her twinkling eyes and her concerned smile.

“It’s OK, Glynn. There is no need to hold things back. It will help us both if you talk it through.”

Jones couldn’t look at Pippa any longer and turned away.

“Glynn?” Pippa moved forward so she was in Jones’s vision.

Jones sat stiffly shaking his head, eyes closed and biting his lip. A tear trickled down his cheek. Pippa leaned in and held him close. Jones could feel her warm soft body pressing against him, feel her breath on his neck and smell her musky perfume. Despite everything, his body began to react.

“I can’t. Not tonight...” Jones let the words trail away. “It’s been a difficult day and I feel so tired.”

Jones extricated himself from the embrace and stood up. Bending at the waist he leaned down and kissed Pippa on the nose.

“Is there another woman?” Pippa pulled back and glared at Jones.

“What?” Jones’s mouth opened wide and he froze. “No! No, it’s not that. It’s just... It’s just that there are so many things that I can’t explain. The disappearance of McRamie, this moustache, my clothes, the sudden hero worship of Horace Adkins, the food, the priest and ......”

Pippa tilted her head to one side and said nothing. The silence lingered between them.

“I can’t explain it. Not tonight, I’m just too tired and I think I love you too much...” The shock of his words caused  Jones to drop to his knees at Pippa’s feet and clutch both her hands in his own. “Perhaps when I can explain one thing, anything, then maybe I could.”

Pippa leaned down and kissed Jones on the forehead. “Perhaps you should just get some rest, Glynn. You go up and I’ll be up in a bit.”

Jones lifted himself off his knees and kissed Pippa lightly on the lips. “I’m sorry...”

“Shhh.” Pippa cut him off by placing a finger on his lips. “You’ve just had a hard day. After a good night’s sleep you’ll feel better. I’ll be up in a bit, I just need to sort out a few things for work tomorrow.”

An hour later, when Pippa came up, Jones was lying on his back staring at the ceiling. He didn’t move when Pippa came into the bedroom. He didn’t react when Pippa came out of the bathroom in a pink satin robe.

Pippa slipped into the bed and snuggled up to Jones. Instinctively he placed his left arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. Pippa responded by raining light kisses on his neck as she stroked his bare chest.  

“I went to see Rosa today.” Jones stated flatly.

“How is she?” Pippa stopped stroking his chest and lifted herself up onto an elbow so she could see Jones’s face.

“Angry.” Jones turned his head to face Pippa.

After Jones had related the events at the restaurant, Pippa turned away and reached into her nightstand.

“Here, take these.” Pippa held out her hand containing two pills. “They’ll help you sleep tonight and then in the morning, you will ring Rosa and apologise.”

Jones looked at the pills and then Pippa.

“It’s OK.” Pippa gave a small laugh. “They’re organic. Just take them and get some sleep. Everything will look much better in the morning. Promise.”

Jones nodded and took the pills.


Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm Old Tom Moore From the Bummer's Shore

Bob Dylan on Joan Baez

Have I told you about how much I enjoy playing Fallen London? I have? Oh, OK.

This is part 49 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”. The Inspector Jones fan club have asked me to point out that they are struggling with the number of enquiries at the moment. After all Mattress Madge has to fit in the admin work around her shifts in the ‘Rat and Ferret’ and young Glenda tries hard, but still struggles to open envelopes held down with sticky tape.

To help them out, I thought I would help out with a couple of FAQ.

Inspector Jones buys his Flying Jackets from the Portobello Road market. Terry ‘Bargain’ Innit is only there on Tuesdays. However, with the sudden interest in his wares he hopes to open a website selling his complete range of pastel coloured flying gear soon.

Inspector Jones has never tried Macramé. He is against its use in any circumstances and doesn’t believe that even social use is justified. He used to crochet, but gave that up after he found himself crocheting alone.

Inspector Jones has NEVER visited Swansea.

At school, Inspector Jones’s favourite subject was geography. His set of coloured pencils was the envy of his classmates and his water cycle diagram was so colourful it was briefly exhibited at the Tate Gallery.

And finally, for Ms Tuffyburton of Wolverhampton, Inspector Jones believes your suggestion to be physically impossible and has taken advice over its legality. He admits it sounds like fun, but feels that Pippa would almost certainly object.

Should you have any further questions for Glynn, feel free to add them to the bottom of this post and I will do another FAQ.

There is another quiz question associated with the part number. This one is so easy you shouldn’t need the answer.

OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.    

The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!

Now read on...

Pippa and Jones sat on the sofa and poured over the Maryfields case notes together.

On the 15th May 2006, the manager of the Maryfields Jewellery Repository came into work and found the alarms were all switched off. At first, he put it down to an oversight, a lapse in his otherwise meticulous routine. It wasn’t until 10 minutes later when a pale faced member of staff rushed into his office that he realised something was wrong.

It was a heist that could have been lifted from a Hollywood blockbuster. Over the weekend, while the alarms were switched off, a gang had tunnelled into the underground vault from a disused underground service tunnel.

Maryfields said they lost around £5.3 million of Jewellery. Then there were the deposit boxes that Maryfields rented out to private clients. The final official total haul was £7.45 million. The vast majority was jewellery, precious metals and used banknotes. Most of the new banknotes had been left behind.

The unset alarm made it obvious that the gang had somebody on the inside. There were three people who had keys to the alarm system. One was on holiday in the Canary Islands, one had left early on Friday to attend a family wedding in Yorkshire.

To everybody except Jones, the manager became the prime suspect. A couple of weeks later, Jones was proved right. A woman member of staff failed to return from a holiday that started the weekend of the robbery. More detailed checks on the woman proved her identity and credentials to have been stolen from a woman in Hastings.

After many interviews, eventually the assistant manager admitted that he had gone for a drink with the woman after work one night. He didn’t know how it had happened, but he ended up having  a few too many. He’d woken up the next morning, naked in a hotel room. Forensic tests on his keys had shown minute traces of wax.

The woman was never traced.

There followed nearly two years of dogged police work, successes and dead ends.

The first breakthrough came when Jones managed to identify the source of an empty gas cylinder found in the service tunnel. After visiting hundreds of hire companies and suppliers, he found it had been stolen on the weekend of the heist. Nothing else was stolen, which made Jones suspicious.

After running the names of the employees at the company, it emerged that one had a record for petty theft. Jones ran through a list of his known associates and one stood out, Terry Brazen. Brazen had graduated from the ranks of the petty criminal to bigger and more violent things.

They had tailed Brazen and he had led them to a small industrial unit in South London which he and others in the gang had converted to remove the gemstones from the jewellery and melt down the gold.

They had searched it under warrant when nobody was present, but there was no sign of any of the stolen goods. So they’d kept it under surveillance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and slowly tightened the net on the gang. They’d installed covert microphones and cameras inside the unit. Meticulously, they recorded everything that went on in the unit, but they were still no closer to jewellery.

It was a month before a white van arrived at the site and a man in a brown uniform delivered several large boxes.

While the others had arranged the raid on the unit, Jones had followed a hunch and followed the van back to a farm in Essex. That too was raided and there were more arrests.

In all they recovered about £5 million worth of the stolen goods. Then the real police work began, cross checking phone records, checking computers, analysing bank accounts, breaking alibis and pulling together a case against the fourteen accused. A case which they won and saw long prison sentences handed down.

The files showed that the case was closed, yet in the front of the last folder were some of Jones’s own notes which suggested he felt that there were still others to be found and more of the stolen loot to be traced.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hope To Chain This Memory

Life has far too many distractions. Things that lure you away from what good boys and girls do with their time. Well, I have found another one of those distractions, Fallen London. A well thought out and deceptively simple on-line game based around Twitter, this has really got me hooked. If you take time to explore it, you will discover why. It has the same kind of strange sense of humour and imagination to which I would aspire. The really good news is that you are limited to 70 moves a day, which means it doesn’t lure you too far away from the good boys and girls.

For those of you who want to stick close to the stereotypical good boy, Glynn Jones, here is part 48 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”.

There is another quiz question associated with the part number. Another one where I’d never heard of the artists or the song, still, it’s a doddle if you know the answer.

OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.    
The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!

Now read on...
Jones hated liver. Well, Jones hated liver cooked the English way, fried until a pale grey and then casseroled until it made a passable shoe leather substitute. It was fine flash fried, with a touch of garlic, but Pippa’s version came served with lumpy gravy and stringy onions, accompanied by pale green cabbage and runny mashed potatoes.
Jones had his left elbow on the table with his head resting on his hand as he prodded a piece of liver around the plate.  Pippa kept talking about people he didn’t know and how they were going to break the story about Horace Adkins working for the Government.
“What was that?” Jones looks away from the liver with a start as something Pippa said penetrated the fog.
“You weren’t listening to a word I was saying were you?” Pippa looked at him and smiled. “I said I wouldn’t be surprised if Simon Cowell had to resign as PM over this.”
“Really?” Jones narrowed his eyes and shook his head.
“Oh yes, he’s losing all his popular support with his refusal to give poor Horace Adkins a State Funeral  and this, combined with some of the statements he has made over the need for the highest integrity in office could well be his downfall.”
“So what would happen then?” Jones
Pippa gave a shrug. “They’d probably be a leadership contest. Until then, I guess the Deputy PM would be in charge.”
“So, they would put old Brucie in charge?” Jones shook his head. “He must be eighty if he’s a day!”
“He’s eighty-two, but it would only be temporary.” Pippa took a mouthful of liver without flinching. “They’ll run the leadership contest quickly. There will probably be only one candidate, Sir Terence Cauldron.”
“What!” Jones spluttered, and then regained his composure to add. “No proper contest?”
Pippa looked at him for a moment. “Why do I get the feeling there is something you are not telling me?”
Jones gave up his chasing of the liver and looked at his wife. Pippa fixed him with a seductive stare. “You know that I have ways of getting you to tell everything.”
Jones laughed it off and left the table.
After clearing up dinner, Jones went to his study and started searching through the drawers of his desk. After a couple of minutes, he became aware of Pippa stood in the doorway.
“What are you looking for?”  She asked.
“I’m missing a folder from work. I wondered if I brought it home by mistake.” Jones answered without looking up.
Jones opened a draw and was confronted with several thick folders. He pulled them out of the drawer and dropped them on the desk.

“The Maryfield case.” Jones sat back in his chair and looked at the pile of folders. “There must be months of work here. Why on earth can’t we remember it?”

“You are a one, Glynn Jones.” Pippa rolled her eyes as she spoke. “It was what caused us to first meet, remember?”

Jones could remember. Pippa Hucknell had been working for a local paper. She was already at Maryfields when Jones had arrived with Smithy and Watson. Jones remembered the way her blonde hair seemed to glow in the damp morning gloom. Jones could remember being totally distracted by her legs. Jones remembered the way she glided towards him, held out her hand and caused him to gibber a greeting like a lovelorn teenager.

“I don’t think I’d ever forget that.” Jones turned and smiled at Pippa. “It is just for the life of me, I cannot remember what the Maryfields case was all about.”

Pippa looked at Jones and stroked a long finger over her lips. “You know what, darling? Neither can I!”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's Supposed To End In My Mind, My Baby

Here is part 47 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”.

There is another quiz question associated with the part number. I’d never heard of the artists or the song, still, it’s a doddle if you know the answer.

OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.    

The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!

Now read on...

Jones took half a step back towards the restaurant before shaking his head and walking slowly back towards the parked Datsun. As he walked, he examined the business card in his hand. It was the same as before, “Postulant Wayne Bright, Our Lady of the Assumption” with a mobile phone number.

“Not even an actual priest.” Jones said to the Datsun as he climbed in.

The Datsun gave a short “proop” as Jones tucked the card into a loose panel on the dashboard.

For the rest of the journey home, Jones stayed silent, ignoring various inquisitive noises from the car. When he reached his home, he remained in the car for a several minutes, staring blankly ahead at the back of Pippa’s Mercedes. At last he gave a sigh and with a quiet groan climbed out of the Datsun and went inside.

The house smelt of frying onions and cabbage. Jones threw his flying jacket over the banisters and headed for the lounge where he collapsed into an easy chair.

“You’re back!” Pippa peered around the door to the kitchen at Jones. “Dinner won’t be long. You relax and I’ll bring you a beer.

Jones kept his eyes closed and said nothing.

“You better switch on the news. There’s something you’ll want to see.” Pippa shouted from the kitchen.

The news channel was showing a crowd marching on Trafalgar Square with banners demanding a state funeral for Horace Adkins. The reporter on the ground was describing the mood as fun and good natured as the camera panned to a group dressed as Clement Atlee carrying a litter with bust of Horace Adkins made of recycled tin cans.

Pippa came in with the beer, handed it to Jones and sat on the arm of his chair.

“This lot were what me late home. I had to go the long way round.” Jones grumbled and took a sip of beer.

“This isn’t it.” Pippa ruffled his hair playfully.

The news station cut back to the studio and a stern faced newsreader dressed in a garish striped blazer with a clashing orange cravat. Behind him, a picture of Archie McRamie’s book, “The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty” came up on the graphic.

Jones choked on his beer and leaned forward.

The newsreader, in solemn tone, talked of a story that would appear in the next day’s Guardian newspaper that would allege that the events in the book were sanctioned at the very highest levels of Government and that the Prime Minister, Simon Cowell, had sanctioned them personally. 

“There, what do you make of that?” Pippa reached down to the remote control and turned off the television. “It turns out that Horace Adkins is a national hero.”

“You’ve changed your tune.” Jones looked up  at his wife. “On Monday you were linking Adkins to the macramé trade.”

“Me?” Pippa’s voice was a high pitched squeak. “I would never do such a thing. Horace Adkins was such a wonderful man.”

Jones looked at her then sagged back into the chair. “Besides, I knew about Adkins working for the government. Joanne Schooner, Archie’s agent, told me all about it today. When I discussed it with somebody at the station, they already knew. It isn’t much of a surprise.”

“Really?” Pippa’s eryes widened, then narrowed. “Are you saying that people have been trying to hush this up?”

Jones gave a weak laugh and shook his head. “You and your conspiracy theories.”

“Goes with the territory, darling.” Pippa kissed him on the forehead. “So why was it that you gave such a start when you saw the story on the news?”

“Sorry, to disappoint, but I thought they were going to announce that Archie had been abducted and as you know, that story is being kept under wraps just in case it is a kidnapping.”

“Aha! I knew it, Archie has been kidnapped!” Pippa stood up and grinned.

Jones gave a tired laugh. “No, my love, we don’t know what has happened to Archie; just that he is missing, presumed abducted. Trust me, as soon as I having something to tell the press, you’ll be the first to know.”

Pippa observed Jones closely. “Just make sure that I am. Now come on, let’s eat. I’m famished.”


Sunday, July 25, 2010

She Dug Down When They Took the Town

I hate the fact that I suffer from hay fever. The long sneezing fits, the runny nose, the itchy eyes all combine to make me a very grumpy old Hector.

This morning, the hay fever was so bad that I decided to take the last pill in the packet of the hay fever remedy.

Seeing the world through streaming eyes, I struggled to the medicine cabinet and withdrew the little blue box before pausing for a sneezing fit. I got myself a glass of water and paused to blow my nose.

Then, withdrawing the last little white pill from the box, I placed it on my tongue.

Another sneezing fit hit. The little white pill was projected out of my mouth, bounced off the kitchen window and vanished. Finding the thing through streaming eyes was a real pain, but eventually I did.

Such was the ferocity of this particular hay fever attack, I still took it. I hope it works!

Anyway, here is part 46 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”.

There is another quiz question associated with the part number. I’d never heard of the artists or the song, but trust me, it is worth listening to the answer.

OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.    
The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!

Now read on...
Rosa was setting a large table when Jones entered; she carried a tray of cutlery on her lap as she wheeled herself around the table. It was only when she turned at the top of the table that she noticed Jones.
“Hello, Guv!” Rosa gave a smile that made her eyes glisten, even in the gloomy back room. “I’m glad that you came. It’s been a while. How are you?”
“I’m fine” Jones walked over to Rosa, bent at the knees and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “More importantly, mind, how are you?”
“All things considered, not so bad.” Rosa gave a weak smile and a shrug.
Taking a handful of cutlery from the tray on Rosa’s lap, Jones started to help lay out the table. The two of them lapsed into gossip about the police and reminisces. Occasionally, Rosa shot Jones a quizzical glance, which, if Jones noticed, he chose to ignore.
With the table laid, Rosa spun her chair round to face Jones.
“So, why are you here?” Rosa glared at Jones.
“I was just passing and I thought I’d pop in and say hello.” Jones moved round the table, pulled out a chair and sat down.
“So just a social call?” Rosa sneered and crossed her arms. “Not here on business?”
Jones nodded.
“If you’re still on that ludicrous guilt trip of yours, well, forget it, I can’t remember anything more than I’ve already told you hundreds of times. The truth is, I don’t want to remember. Face reality, guv. Some things are best left alone.”
“That’s not why... I was just passing...” The words trailed away from Jones as he faced Rosa’s anger.
Rosa gave a snort. “Sure you were. You’ve come over here to give your sympathy to the cripple and try and do something about that misplaced guilt of yours.”
“Cripple? I’ve never considered you...”
“Why not? Everyone else does!” Rosa cut him off. “It’s got to the point where I can’t go out in this bloody chair without some gang of thugs taunting me and tipping me out of it into the gutter. At first, that was why I thought you came, but no, you are still hung up on the past.”
“Tipped you out of your chair?” Jones stood up. “What morons would do something like that?”
Rosa gave a sarcastic laugh and shook her head. “You didn’t even know did you? So much for looking after your own.”
“I didn’t know. When did this happen?”
Rosa shook her lip and curled her lip. “Don’t patronise me! You better go. You’ve obviously got more important things in your life than to worry about me.”
“I want to help.” Jones bent down and put an arm around Rosa’s shoulder.
“Just go!” Rosa shrugged the arm of vigorously. “I don’t want your pity!”
Jones stood there and looked at Rosa. She shuddered with rage. Her face was flushed and there was a sheen on her brow. Her dark brown eyes flashed.
Jones turned and left.
As he passed through the restaurant, he heard a man’s voice calling out his name. He didn’t break stride and kept his eyes fixed on the door. Once into the street, he headed back towards his Datsun.
“Inspector!” the sound of a breathless shout rose above the sound of running footfalls.
Jones turned and found himself facing the priest.
“I thought perhaps you may have mislaid the original.” The priest smiled and handed Jones his card. “Whenever you want to talk, please get in touch. Any time.”
Jones stared at the priest with open eyes and mouth. The priest gave another smile before returning to the restaurant.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One Not Subtle, One Not on the List.

Here is part 45 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to get round to posting this. I have been working on it, just not actually posting the results. I think it must be that I re-read one of the earlier bits and gave it a thorough overhaul – it rather broke my routine.

There is another quiz question associated with the part number. I’d never heard of the artists or the song, but trust me, it is worth listening to the answer.

OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.    
The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!

Now read on...
Early progress soon became a crawl as Jones encountered other commuters who were taking the long way round. To try and make better progress, Jones took to the side roads.
After several twists and turns through the backstreets, Jones turned into a familiar road. His foot lifted from the accelerator and the Datsun slowed.
A large truck shot from a side street and hurtled down the opposite street, a few yards in front of the car. Jones didn’t react, he just stared down the road.
The sound of a klaxon behind Jones caused him to look back over his shoulder and see an irate llama carriage drive urging him out of the way. Jones sighed and moved a short distance up the road and parked the car. The llama carriage passed him in a flurry of expletives from the driver.
“So, what do you reckon, girl?” Jones whispered to the Datsun. “Do you reckon this is fate?”
The Datsun stayed silent.
Jones stared down the road for a few seconds before slowly getting out of the car and walking slowly down the footpath before pausing in front of a restaurant.
The sign on the restaurant read “Nicks Pie and Mash Place”. Jones fought the urge to add the apostrophe as he examined it. The original name had been painted over, but “Nico’s Cypriana Grill” could just be made out under the streaky white paint.
This was where they all came after the Maryfield’s case. It was an evening of a constant stream of hot, spicy Mezas kept afloat by gallons of cheap red wine. It was an evening of joking, dancing and shattered crockery.
They’d all been there; even the Assistant Chief Constable had turned up briefly before leaving a bundle of notes behind the bar, making diplomatic excuses and slipping away. The Superintendant had shown real talent when he blasted out some Tom Jones numbers. Tom Watson and Dougie Brown had attempted traditional Greek dancing and ended up in a writhing heap on the floor, incapable of getting back to their feet through drink and laughter. Brian Watson and Rosa had shown everybody how it should be done amid rowdy applause. Jones had embarrassed himself by murdering a Greek folk song, yet still managed to get the loudest cheer of the night.
Jones hand took a tentative grip on the door handle as he took a deep breath.
A bell tinkled somewhere in the gloom as he entered. He’d barely taken a step before the short, dumpy form of Cipria Constantine rushing from behind the bar.
“Inspector! It is you! Come in! Come in!” Cipria gushed in a thick Greek accent as she enveloped Jones in a breath sapping hug.
“It’s good to see you again, Mrs Constantine” Jones gasped as he extricated himself.
“You are looking well.” Cipria spoke deliberately and managed to almost subdue her accent. “Rosa is in the back room.  You go through. I’ll get Nico to fix you some pie.”
“No thanks, Mrs.C” Jones laughed as he held his hands in mock surrender. “I can’t stay long and I have dinner waiting at home. “
“Are you sure?” Cipria had her accent fully under control now.
“I’m sure, now if you were offering up some of those meatballs of yours...” Jones gave a grin and a wink. “Absolutely delicious, I can’t understand why you stopped serving those wonderful home cooked Greek dishes of yours.”
“Us British, we don’t like the spicy foreign foods.” Cipria gave a shrug and then drew herself up to her full height. “So, we just give them what they need, good wholesome British Pies.”
Jones nodded slowly and decided against taking the subject further. “Rosa’s in the back room you say?”
Cipria nodded. Jones gave her one last hug and turned towards the back room.
As Jones started to make his way through the restaurant, he noticed a priest sitting alone at one of the tables, his wide brimmed hat hung on the chair opposite. The priest looked up from his large meat pie, noticed Jones and gave a wave. Jones gave a half smile and a nod and continued through to the back room.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I wore my .44 so long, I made my shoulder sore.

Delayed by my soapbox and foray into mobsourcing, along comes part 44 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”. Given my recent foray into trying to change the world, getting back to writing has been bliss.

There is another quiz question associated with the part number. This is an absolute stinker, even with the picture clue, so you’ll need the answer although the original artist is actually here.

OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.    
The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!

Now read on...
Jones lifted up his left hand and inspected it closely, repeated the process with his right, pursing his lips, and then giving a big sigh.
“This is different, Mike.” Jones gripped his hands together then rested his chin gently on them. “Last time it was like the whole world was trying to get me. Now it is a bit like I’ve been transported to a different place. Like I’m on the very edge of the world looking in. Not the same at all.”
“Yeah, like you’re sort of detached from everything.”
Jones dropped his hands and stiffened. Smithy’s eyes seemed focussed on a point several feet above Jones’s head.
“I’ve felt like that a bit recently.” Smithy continued slowly and deliberately. “It soon wears off though. You just have to roll with it. I find if you try and question it, things just feel... worse. Better to just go with the flow.”
Jones waited for Smithy to provide an explanation, but it never came. Instead Smithy just sort of apologised for running to the Superintendant whenever Jones behaved a little oddly and said it wouldn’t happen again.  It seemed a little flat and unfulfilling. Jones wanted to explore it further, but Smithy just laughed and then excused himself on the grounds he was taking his wife shopping for an ornamental windmill for the garden.
Leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands across his stomach, Jones watched him go back to his desk, gather up his things and rush from the office. For a while, Jones just sat and stared blankly at the empty office. In the end, he gave a sigh and headed back to his desk.
However hard he tried, Jones found his mind wandering from the paperwork in front of him. In the end, he did the bare minimum needed for bailing Dunker Phil and decided to call it a night. He’d started to tidy his desk, but when he found himself lining up the pencils, his hand had shot back as if scalded. Jones looked at the pencils before slowly, very slowly, reaching out and disorganising them. His hand lingered over them for a moment before Jones grabbed his flying jacket from the back of the chair and resolutely striding from the office.
As Jones entered the car park, the Datsun chirruped loudly, flashed its indicators furiously and flung open the driver’s door. Jones gave a smile as he walked over to the car and climbed in.
“At least you will talk to me, eh girl?” Jones patted the steering wheel as he closed the door.
The Datsun gave a “pre-preeep” in response.
Joining the evening rush hour traffic, they crawled through the London streets. Jones turned on the radio. Two politicians were discussing the need for greater social responsibility. Jones turned the radio off again.
A protest march brought any progress through the traffic to a halt. Hundreds of people danced in the street to the accompaniment of a traditional folk band. As they danced, the crowd swelled as others came from side streets, shops, offices and houses to join in. The growing crowd were parading banners and placards demanded a state funeral for Horace Adkins.
 For a while, Jones contented himself with reading the various banners until one caused him to look again. At first reading, he had taken it to read ‘Entertainer’, but he suddenly realised it read ‘Entrepreneur’. Jones pursed his lips and stroked his moustache before he swore under his breath. The Datsun gave a “Proop” of admonishment.
“I may have had a breakdown, but I am not mad.” Jones stated as he gripped the steering wheel tighter.
The “preeeeooop” from the Datsun was taken as agreement by Jones.
“Looks like we’d be better taking the long way round tonight!”
Flinging the Datsun into gear, Jones made a U-turn in the road, narrowly missing a group of grey haired ladies carrying a bust of Horace Adkins made out of low fat cheese. The ladies swore at the retreating Datsun. Jones smiled.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Revenge of the Soapbox

It pains me to admit this, my postulant yeomen, but the last couple of weeks have convinced me that I am not capable of changing the world for the better.

While this is probably not the most earth shattering revelation known to mankind, the method and nature of its discovery has shaken me to the core, for it has challenged my philosophical belief in the inherent goodness of mankind (See Note 1).

I know I should be old enough and ugly enough to withstand such a challenge. That I should pick myself up, dust myself, wade back into life’s brawl and land a telling philosophical punch. Yet, somehow, it all seems pointless.  My mojo has been lost.

The idea behind this post is to see if I can vent enough to get my mojo working again. Be warned! This could get messy (See Note 2).

The catalyst that brought me to my current state is the UK Government’s websites designed to utilise crowd sourcing to highlight where the government can improve freedoms and save money (See Note 3).

The journey to these sites started innocently enough, a soapbox rant over the messages being given out by the US and UK Governments over their commitment to safety, particularly with regard to GM foods. This grew into a discussion over corporate ethics, during which, my soapbox mysteriously appeared – and like a fool, up I climbed.

With one of those cruel co-incidences contrived by Fate (See Note 4), at the very moment I climbed up, Nick Clegg launched his Your Freedom initiative. It caused me to rush headlong onto the site and post my thoughts on ethical corporate taxation.

The website was so poorly implemented and thought through that I ended up writing a blog entry that suggested that there could be some grand conspiracy behind it being so bad.

Yet, for reasons I cannot explain, when George Osborne (See Note 5) opened up his crowd sourcing site looking for options to save money (See Note 6), I jumped in on that one too. In order to publicise my involvement and drum up a bit of extra support, I wrote a couple of blogs about the idea, visited a couple of forums that might be interested and generally tried to whip up a bit of thought and discussion on the idea.

Unfortunately, this meant actually using the site. You would have thought that George would have looked at what was going on over in Nick’s corner of the interweb and learnt a few lessons. Well, he didn’t. George’s site performs even worse than Nick’s (See Note 7). A situation made all the more frustrating by the continual self-congratulation and shameless self-promotion contained in the blog of Delib, the developers of the product. If they actually tried to use their offering and see what is happening on the site, one of the first changes they would make would be to remove their name from it!

Yet what really divested me of all hope were the entries that appeared on the site. As I read them, I found all my confidence that this could make a difference slowly evaporated. The views that are posted are frightening. If these posters are genuine, then it would seem that the British people want to see an extreme right wing agenda. The lack of any moderator on the site has meant that some of the views expressed are not only abhorrent, but probably illegal (although consistent, a fair number of the posters want to see the repeal of all anti-discrimination laws). Not only did the views expressed depress me, it was the semi-literate way they were presented and the lack of any thought as to the consequences and repercussions should they be implemented.

The good ideas were swamped by repeat postings of people seemingly intent on isolationism, creation of an underclass without rights or hope and opening up divisions within society. Debate seems to consist of heaping insults and scorn upon anyone who disagrees or points out flaws in the argument. I would imagine that many like myself have withdrawn from the debacle leaving the site to slowly putrify in their bile.

Frighteningly, I became increasingly worried that our current Government might start using the views expressed as a mandate for carrying them out! Yet despite this, I couldn’t bring myself to continue on the site.

In short, I could feel my faith in my fellow man seeping away. As a result, any confidence that I could bring about positive change also vanished. All hope was crushed.

As Samuel Smiles (See Note 8) reportedly said “Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for whom so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.”

So, Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg. Mr Osborne et al, you and your initiatives are slowly wringing out the last vestiges of hope from so many at the moment, where can we draw some confidence of future success?

Now, I am off to bury that soapbox of mine nice and deep in the garden. When I get back, I will give up trying to be a catalyst for positive change. It really does make me feel too ill.

As for my mojo? Well, let’s hope some honest soul hands it in.

Note 1: For those of you who are interested, I have covered this before in my blog. Sadly, I cannot seem to locate the blog entry that discusses the differing views on human nature put forward by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. In that entry, I stated that I believed that mankind was naturally a social animal and that human nature is characterized by reason and tolerance. The Hobbes view that mankind was naturally a solitary beast with lives that were destined to be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" just seemed too depressing to contemplate. For you Merkins out there, you might be interested to know that Locke’s belief that man had the right of “Life, health, Liberty, or Possessions", is believed to be the basis for the phrase in America "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".
Note 2: I am talking metaphorically about the likely writing style here - not literally as in the last line reading “Farewell cruel world...........” and some poor soul having to clean the soft furnishings. Besides, I’m not sure the world is cruel. It could just have an inappropriate sense of humour and no access to dried frog pills.
Note 3: Yes, seriously I have been to the very brink of hopelessness by a couple of websites! It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but sadly true.
Note 4: It seems that on this particular day, Fate had awoken with a hangover to discover in the most unfortunate manner that her cat had been sick in her slippers. The toaster went on the frizz the moment she decided on breakfast, the postman delivered a summons for a speeding offence and she discovered that a pigeon had pooped all over her washing. If all that wasn’t bad enough, she also discovered that the Prince of Darkness had somehow wangled a book deal and managed to sell the serial rights to the Evil Empire.
Note 5: Regular readers here will know that I am no fan of Mr Osborne. What makes me more uncomfortable about this man having such a position of power is the Locke theory that that the character of a man is shaped by circumstance, experience, sensation and reflections. If correct, then this would make this story regarding George Osborne’s brother an omen for things to come.
Note 6: I like to imagine that George Osborne stormed into David Cameron’s office in a fit of pique exclaiming that David is ‘Sooooo unfair’ and that David ‘likes Nick more than me’ because of Nick Clegg having the Your Freedom site. After much stamping of feet, tears and tantrums, David patted George on the head and caved in to grant him a website too. I wonder if George and Nick stick their tongues out at each other in Cabinet Meetings when David isn’t looking?
Note 7: Which does give rise to a whole new conspiracy theory that David Cameron is trying to discredit both his squabbling schoolboys. Perhaps he wants Boris Johnson, another of his Bullingdon drinking buddies, to move in next door.
Note 8: Yes, Samuel Smiles is a real person. Who apart from being an author and social reformer is also the great-great-grandfather of popular explorer Bear Grylls.