Re-entering the Fray

Well it’s been a while but I have re-entered the fray, by which I mean begun sending out submissions and thinking about new writing projects.

I have submitted my main works to an agent. Annoyingly an agent that doesn’t respond unless they have some interest in your work but I daresay I’ll find that to be the norm these days.

Pernicia’s Influence was read by the grandson of a member of my tennis club who gave me a nice review which I’ve included verbatim in its submission. If that doesn’t work then I shall begin to suspect that some e-mails are sent directly into the electronic equivalent of an oubliette. it would explain a lot.

Over the last few months I have moved flat, had a laptop and many of my accounts die and just barely recovered from a cold that threatened at one point to be a pulmonary embolism. But these things are all potential material, particularly the experience of going through a CT scan, learning to inject yourself with anti-coagulants and attempting to bond with medical staff over the disaster of the election result only to find one person who morosely seemed to be wholeheartedly behind the destruction of our health service. That last experience brought to mind the old description of someone as having a face like a slapped arse.

But this little missive is in itself just an attempt to gee myself up and get the fingers dancing over the keyboard again. The WordPress interface has changed again. If you are reading this I will have found out how to publish an article and perhaps even how to post it on facebook, my only other literary outlet at present.

Writing of Facebook reminds me of a post of advice snippets from George Orwell that was posted on there a week or so ago. Very good bits of advice they were, all about brevity and simplicity of language. it made me want to seek out some of his writings beyond the copy of 1984 and Animal Farm that are somewhere on my disorganised shelves. And it got me thinking about advice so I shall share these nuggets of experience with you.

When I began sending submission out, about 25 years ago you could submit directly to nearly all publishers and they would write back with meaningful remarks. Many of them said of my work something along the lines of “It is difficult to employ thtre conventions of more than one genre”. The work they were referring to is The Hot Dragon, the first in a SF/Fantasy/Crime series. They may well have been right but how many genre hopping novels have sprung out since then? They also advised against Dystopian novels. Cue The Hunger Games which is both Dystopian and genre-hopping (ish). My point is that advice shoudlbe taken with a hefty pinch of salt. Write what you want to write. Write what you believe in. Make it as good as you can and then try and sell it based perhaps, on the prevailing marketplace either as groundbreaking or folowing in the footsteps of the latest massive success that it reasonably closely resembles.

But then that’s just another piece of advice. Take it with a hefty pinch of salt.

Oh wait!

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Relief

I’ve only just found my way back in after having my old laptop die and having to scamper around for old password reminders. If only I could manage the same for my e-mail and social accounts.
I’m close to moving now, though I feel that something is bound to go wrong, and then I shall be able to clear the decks mentally and physically to give the writing another blast. I may still have a submission outstanding but can’t get to my old e-mail to check.

All for now except to say to any friends that if you take the “.evans” bit off my old e-mail address it should reach me ok.

TTFN

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Unlikely Hero

I’ve just watched the film UNLIKELY HERO having picked it up in a charity shop earlier today.
It’s a weird little film and I really wanted to like it. I wanted to find it HILARIOUS as the ***** review by Letterboxed (whoever or whatever that is) described it. But I do at least come away with a warmer than tepid regard for it.

So why am I writing about a film which fails to use its material as well as it should have? Resonance I suppose.

Like the protagonist, Richard Dunn, I am an author – I bloody am! Being published is NOT the defining characteristic of a writer. Writing is.
Like the protagonist I am not writing. He is described in the blurb as suffering from writer’s block but I suspect that it is true of most of us that block has nothing to do with writing and all to do with ourselves. Some of Richard’s problems are not dissimilar to mine. Some are not. In particular he has an imaginary friend. This plot device is not well used and not really hilarious, though I did occasionally break out in a loud smile. The one point in which it does pay off is rather brilliant but fails to justify the movie or the gratuitous sex.

I suppose producers just feel the need to bung in a bit of fumbling about to try and seem like grown-ups.

I’m not quite sure what I can do to achieve that desired effect.

Perhaps write convoluted reviews of films that don’t quite hit the spot for an audience of near enough zero.

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First they came for …

It’s been a while since I posted and the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

With the rise of the fascists in Brazil and the USA I was reminded of the poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller written about the failure to recognise fascism for what it was and to react to oppose it in the Germany of the 1930s.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

If you now add in the homeless, gays, trans people, refugees and any weak and vulnerable group of people surely, SURELY it is clear to see what is happening across the world.

A wise man once wrote that “The love of money is the root of all evil”. Capitalism is by definition a wafer thin sheet of paper from being the love of money. Hitler rose to power using the tactics of hate and was backed by the huge businesses who stood to gain from re-arming Germany and merely from backing him. Those corporations had no morality. No corporation has morality. They did what their articles of Association demanded that they make more money.

Stay with me.

Corporations are predicated on some simple principles:

  • Buy low, sell high.
  • Minimise labour costs

Those very principles create the situation that is exploitable by the Fascists. Whether the Corporate classes are Fascists themselves is open to debate. At best they might not see what havoc they wreak.

The fact is that any government coming to power on the basis of targeting their opponents and vulnerable groups with what we now call hate-speech, (aptly Orwellian), is almost by definition a force for evil.

At present in the west we have the thin, fragile veneer of a democratic system. I urge everyone to vote for those opposing the hatemongers and the lovers of money. Because if you don’t then we will not long have even that thin veneer of decency to console ourselves with.

There is still time to prevent the falling of the dark, but like climate change that time is running out.

© 2018 J Huw Evans

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It’s been a while

I had hoped this year would have been spent revising a few of my complete novels with a view to web-publishing them myself.
“The best laid plans gang aft agly.” And so I have instead spent my time grinding my teeth, failing to deal tactfully with idiots and making bad decisions for very good reasons.
The main bad decision being to wait for some maintenance to be done on my building before selling my flat.
I don’t want to write about it. But I suppose it’s a form of catharsis.
I won’t because this would, although truthful, be actionable. I would use words like stupid, senile, demented, ineffectual and a wide and varied array of expletives.
“Least said”, as I like to say.

So I am waiting for some decoration to be done on some repairs. It may be another month yet. even though the repairs were done a fortnight ago.

I am therefore faced with a decision: To move locally which will cost a lot or to move further afield which will allow me more money to live on while I give the writing another serious crack for a few years.

Yes, I have given up on gainful employment. I think I have reached a point where interaction with other humans, particularly stupid ones that I am forced to work for, is likely to provide the proverbial final straw. I really don’t want that to happen.

I am though beginning to realise that my propensity for making bad decisions for what were entirely sensible reasons is a recurring theme in my life. I could try and screw the odds by doing the exact opposite of the sensible thing but I fear that would itself be a bad decision made for the best of reasons.

Does any of this sound like insanity to anyone out there, because it does to me?

© J Huw Evans 2018

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Random Political Niblets

Apologies for the bittiness of this post. It’s rather lazy to just pin together a load of facebook posts but – do I need an excuse? I think I don’t. So here it is. Enjoy.

The way that the UK’s Conservative government (with the accent on the CON), has co-opted the term Living Wage for the minimum wage is such a blatant example of doublespeak that you would think they would be embarrassed to be seen in public. Utterly shameless and despicable (I just added the despicable bit as a little added value).

News I have faked:
The Conservative government are working on plans to breed compliant workers for industry.

The Hunger Games movie was televised a few nights ago.
I am amazed the film hasn’t been withdrawn as a blatant attack on Trump’s presidency. Then again he doesn’t have the charm and wit of President Snow.

Bright Bart, the American influencing group that promulgates bigotry and political ignorance: Did they name themselves that because they think Bart Simpson is the archetype of the US voter ?

A longish one from the 13th of March.
Today I have been wondering which of these two are stupider, greedier and corrupter; The British Tory or the USof A Republican.
Sure the US representative is brasher and bolder, really “in your face” with their naff sales techniques that wouldn’t even serve them well at a back-street chop-shop (apparently a place they mix and match stolen vehicles for onward sale) but there is a lot to be said for the posturing, patrician condescension of the British Tory as they sell off the NHS, the military and any other bits of national assets that they can get their grubby mitts on while claiming with remote and fake (obviously fake) protestations that this will improve the economy (not the national economy obviously, just their personal and household economies) and that we should trust them to know what’s best because they are posh and expensively educated while we are all just plebs who have had to make do with the half-arsed, asset-stripped education they deign to allow us.
It’s a tough one.
Vote below. Tory or Republican. Because there really is no other choice. The rich have society sown up for their own benefit and don’t give a shit about you even when their gods tell them they really should.

First they came for the Orang-utan and I did nothing because I was not an Orang. Then they came for the Cappuchin Monkeys and still I did nothing.
Then they came for the gorillas, the chimpanzees and the bonobos but I did nothing because I was afraid. And then they came for me because I was the lowest, least powerful primate remaining and they had the legalities and immoralities all sown up and I was royally fucked.

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So that was Dad.

My father died a little over two weeks ago. Like so many people he finally died of a myocardial infarction but that tells so little of the story. He had vascular dementia. That was the defining illness of his later years, robbing him of himself. He missed this year’s six nations rugby union tournament in its entirety.

I won’t go on.

I just want to post the tribute I wrote for the vicar to read at his funeral. It’s far from a work of literary genius but I hope it will give a sense of the man and his life.

JOHN RICHARD EVANS

John was born on the 14th of July 1932.

He had an eventful childhood and indeed an eventful life. During the second world war he and his mates swam the river to the army camp to equip themselves with weapons in the event of an invasion. They may still be hidden somewhere around Builth Wells.

The US army had a base near the town and John made enough money selling the G.I.s newspapers to enable him to pay for his own education, including uniform and books at Llandrindod Grammar  School. He even flew in one of their spotter planes.

On one memorable occasion he saved a local girl from an assault in a barn by dropping a bale onto her attacker, who chased him up a hill where John evaded him in bracken and set the hillside ablaze to make good his escape.

There were many memorable stories, from fighting off dogs when delivering boots for his father to meeting Lord Baden-Powell who spent summers in Builth. Some of these stories are unsuitable for this occasion.

He was a keen rugby player and became a regular in the Grammar School’s first team in his first year there, after filling in for an older boy who fell ill, and scoring the winning try.

Having acquired a bicycle from a trainer of boxers, John thought nothing of cycling to Aberystwyth and sometimes back in one night.

After school he worked his apprenticeship in his father’s boot and saddlery shop in Builth. Drawing the, seemingly never ending, apprenticeship to a close himself, and without his father’s knowledge he contacted the authorities to declare himself ready for national service and joined the 52nd Locating Regiment of the Royal Artillery in January 1954.

John was soon playing rugby the first team in both the regiment and the garrison. He also boxed as a light heavyweight remaining undefeated for his two years in the army.

Having learnt to drive before the army, John impressed the assessors by being able to drive their biggest truck, not mentioning that he’d been taught to do so before joining up. This led to him driving for the regiment’s officers and occasionally the Brigadier. Driving for the Brigadier though had its drawbacks. On one occasion having been urged to drive faster, they were stopped by the police for speeding. This led to some time in the cells before the Brigadier eventually rescued him.

Another time, while driving the regiment’s, rather portly, second in command in a landrover with a faulty door he saved the officer’s life by grabbing him when the door opened on a bend and threatened to tip the man out over a precipitous drop.

John also saved another officer, who against his advice, insisted on driving a landrover across a morn pool. The vehicle did not survive.

On leaving the army, as an acting sergeant, in January 1956, John was offered a commission and also the opportunity to play professional rugby league. He turned down these opportunities to return to run the family business. It soon became clear that the business was failing and his father’s promise to hand it over would never happen.  This led John to work as a representative for a footwear and clothing wholesaler in Liverpool where he played the occasional rugby match for Waterloo who were then one of the leading English clubs.

John was re-called by the army to go to Egypt during the Suez Crisis, but fortunately the crisis ended just as he was preparing to board ship.

John married Coris Elizabeth Bufton on the 12th February 1958. Janet was born the following year on the 20th of March. Soon after the family left Llandrindod for the wilds of Shropshire, otherwise known as Meeson, a tiny hamlet which appears only on the more detailed maps. Their son Huw was born in July 1962. He has turned out to be a scientific and literary genius, who coincidentally wrote this tribute. Meryl was born in April 1966.

For many years John travelled for a variety of companies, mainly in the shoe trade, but also in fashion and as a land agent which led on to him managing a department store in Market Drayton for some time before it was sold. These jobs took him across the country, covering the Midlands, Wales, the West Country, Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire and London. He was a Chairman of the the North Wales Federation of the Commercial Travellers Association and was Chairman of the Shrewsbury and Shropshire branches of the British Benefit Society.

After that his previous military experience led to a career at the Ministry of Defence in Donnington where he rose to a civilian rank equivalent to a Colonel on retirement. Among his accomplishments during that time were:

  • Overseeing the preparation of the Green Goddesses to provide emergency cover during the Firemen’s strike in 1977
  • Recommissioning all manner of materiel for the first Gulf War in 1990 in the absence of his senior managers who went on sick leave.
  • Becoming the depot’s Radiological Protection officer
  • Organising equipment for D-day Commemorations in Normandy

Later in his career he specialised in packaging becoming a member of the Institutes of Packaging and Industrial Managers. In his last year with the M.O.D. his manager awarded him top marks but his manager refused to accept that anyone approaching retirement could possibly work that hard. His ex-colleagues have said how much they enjoyed working with him.

After their retirement John and Coris moved to Deuddwr. Sadly Coris succumbed to cancer in 2004. John busied himself with gardening, learning Welsh and was a high tenor in the Offa’s Dyke choir until it disbanded, a highlight being a performance with them at the Royal Albert Hall.

He represented this church at the Diocesan Council and, until his health prevented it, enjoyed running the skittles at Penrhos sports.

One of the greatest regrets of his later years was that his failing eyesight meant that he was unable to drive as so much of his life and career had involved driving. Sadly this meant that, despite the help and support of  his family and friends, continuing to live in Dol Awel was no longer possible and so in the autumn of 2015 he moved to Caergwrle near his youngest daughter Meryl where, with her particular help, he was able to enjoy independence for all but the last few months of his life.

John broke his hip in a fall at home in October past, and despite a good recovery from the operation to repair it, that nevertheless precipitated his final decline.

The Vascular Dementia which assailed him over the last few years failed to dim his humour, intelligence and love for life until close to the end. He died on the 30th of January after several weeks in hospital.

His children Janet, Huw and Meryl, and his grandsons: Christopher and George will cherish their memories of a generous, witty and loving, father and grandfather.

 

Copyright 16th Feb 2017

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