Sunday, 29 April 2012

When the Saints go Marching Up

On you Reds
I bet some of you thought I had gone into a convent. It would certainly be a challenge to write a Romance in that setting - but by no means impossible. I'll never forget seeing "The Nun's Story" starring Audrey Hepburn. I'm not sure I'm allowed to say this - but I've always liked those sexy priest type stories - you know, broken hearted hunk turns his back on love and celebrates the celibate by performing some kinda priestease. Oooh - all the ladies want him but no one can admit it or make a move. But there's always one isn't there!

My guess is that hobbling about on one leg is not likely to attract any kind of hunk. Until my meeting with the wet deck of the Brittany ferry "Bretagne", the words medial collateral ligament were unknown to me. Now, I trot them out all the time. On Friday I made it back to the steering wheel of the bus. I was just in time to share in the public mood surrounding one of the greatest moments of all historical time. A great unity between religion and legs gelled into a synthesis. The Saints have been promoted to the Premier Division of English football. For anyone not familiar with the "Saints" this is the popular name for the Southampton football club.

The kids on the bus are hardly the most advantaged or ambitious in our society. On Friday, a rare unity gripped the city. The following day, Saints had to win or draw to gain the greatest prize in many lives. As I dropped them off we exchanged tense glances and repeated the magic formula "On You Reds". Fists were clenched but there were few smiles. We all knew that the next time we met, the world would be a different place.

Now, in fact I'm not any kind of football fan - but I do not entirely mind the odd muscular leg. (By the way, I think they shave them - does anyone know about this?). Football stands as a metaphor for many things that real community used to be. It offers shared aims and equality of voice. We know that in a merciless money driven society the greedy and the selfish get the most, but no supporter is more or less than the other. Many poorer fans could not afford to see the matches very often and yet their tribal passion is no less. Last week Gilles and I had dinner with a local University Professor. In all seriousness he told me that they were watching the league tables intently because as a Premiership football town, many more students would apply. 

And here is the world business news: My book "Knockout" is now available on Amazon USA in paperback, priced at $9.99 +P&P.   The UK is slightly more complicated as the book has to be shipped from the USA so it costs a bit more on Amazon UK £12.41 + £ 2.80 P&P.  I will be holding stock in the UK too and this will be available for £10 per copy, including 3-5 day shipping.  Just email me if you would like to buy a copy by this method.

In addition I am giving away two signed paperback copies to winners of a draw on Goodreads. To register your chance to win, click this link before May 21st. The prizes will be mailed to the winners,  anywhere in the world. 

In total now there are 28,000 Kindle copies of "Knockout" somewhere out there thank you to all the kind folks who have purchased or downloaded for free - will you be one of the first to grab the paperback?

Emma thinx: Struggling writers - Enjoy your posthumous success on credit today. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Kiss-met Hardy.

I have that first Wednesday insecure feeling. Looking back on previous insecure posts I see that I have rambled on about broken love affairs whilst trees fell around my ears. Just imagine - I thought I knew something about insecurity. Until a few days ago I knew nothing. That was when I could stand up and support myself on two legs. That was before the Red Cross issued me with a wheelchair and crutches. 
Being a believer in determinism I have to accept that since my birth and the first design concepts of the Brittany ferry "Bretagne", I had been hurtling towards a moment of destiny. Ahead of us lay a starry night, our traditional Earth moving kiss on the deck as Angleterre slipped away to the north and a hairy Frenchman in orange overalls spraying water with a hose. As we crossed the heli-pad my leg folded under me with an agonising pop. As I lay felled by the French like Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar, I began to wonder how the crew of the rescue helicopter would be able to reach me on the treacherous gloss painted skid pan deck. I guess they carry a good supply of crutches. I knew that my Easter at home in France was not to be. Gilles cajoled and dragged me to the cabin and we summoned the nurse. She found the solitary ship's ice pack. 

On arrival in France my leg resembled a black blue and green mottled snake that had swallowed a football. Our home lay 300 miles to the south and I could not bend my leg. We decided to keep me on ice in the cabin (they pickled Nelson in Brandy - but I did not think that Brittany Ferries would supply a barrel) and go back to the UK where we live a few minutes from the port. As a Brit I can get medical attention in the UK without complication and a long stay in a hospital miles from any home lacked appeal.

If you really want to feel insecure - plonk yourself in a wheelchair as a captive patient. The following afternoon as we approached the shores of Britain, Gilles decided to take me out for a spin. Watching paralympic sport on TV had obviously inspired him into some kinda wheelchair sprint fantasy accompanied by Formula One racing car noises. He'll make someone a lovely husband when he grows up. He does the same tricks with supermarket trolleys. You do realise just how tough it is for folks in wheelchairs. All manner of lumps and gulleys become hazards. With my leg straight out in front of me like a lance I felt like a jousting knight on a runaway horse. At the self service restaurant a chef tapped rather impatiently on his steel pots of vegetables demanding to know which I wanted. I would have told him but my eyes were about level with the tray track. "Does she like beans?" he asked Gilles. 

About halfway across the English Channel the UK coastguard carried out a helicopter rescue exercise. Gilles wanted to offer me to the Captain  as an authentic casualty. The red and white whirly-bird 
hovered above the ship while a guy dangled with a stretcher above the deck. Luckily he kept himself clipped on to his rope. 

Eventually I was trundled back to the car deck and levered into the car. Some 23 hours after we had boarded the ferry we got off again at exactly the same point. I must say that all of the crew of the Brittany ferry Bretagne were kind and helpful - but I'm not so sure about the orange guy with the hose. 

As for the future - well it looks a bit insecure on one leg. Much talk of quadriceps tendons and cartilage looks certain.  

Emma thinx: If you're hoping the Earth will move, find firm ground.