Thursday, January 12, 2017

I Hate Americans

I posted this on Friday, October 01, 2004. I probably didn't have any idea who Donald Trump was or who he would become then.  I would have had no idea of the political schisms and the economic crash that would happen to smash the American Dream.  Then I would have no idea that thirteen years later I would be living and working in China where some of my best friends are - Americans. 

Let me apologise right now. Friends this is my attempt at humour or just so you understand - humor. 

Of course the Americans are hating themselves now - so there is no need for me in 2017 to hate them. Half the country are hating the people that voted Trump in and those that voted Trump in are hating the Hillary supporters. It’s like a cult of personality there. Where celebrities seem to think they are important enough to preach to the rest of the country about who does what and the notion that politicians should have policies to help the country and the people seem to have gone out of the window.

I Hate Americans. 

Now I don’t really understand why I wrote that. It sort of just slipped out. I don’t really think that I do hate Americans. I mean how can I as the population is 294,410,526 as of today the 1st October -2004? If I only hated each person for say 10 seconds each I would have to spend the next 9 YEARs hating Americans. But between you and me I have better things to do with my life (But at the moment in 2017 - I still haven’t come up with a definitive list!). 

So I need to analyse my feelings just a little bit more. I mean I quite like the idea of America and thus should quite like the idea of Americans.

Look the country was set up as a refuge against religious persecution in Europe and a way for many English people to escape our mad kings. So the idea of the great melting pot that welcomes the shivering masses to its shores strikes a chord with me. I like that. And going back to the 294,410,526 I quite like Americans as individual people. By that I mean all the Americans I have met (with the exception of the immigration officials at JFK) I have quite liked too. We even visited a family in Portland Maine once! 
So why don’t I like Americans as a collective then? Well first off they are just obvious targets aren’t they. They are just so insular. What is that statistic about the number of passports per head of population? Blimey the Brits can’t wait to get out of there country – most of them buying houses in France, Spain (with no idea about the economic crashes to come, the weak pound decimating their pensions and of course BREXIT) and all points East and South and not getting on with their new neighbours if the TV is to be believed!

Another example is, I sell stuff on ebay, and I am happy to post around the world, provided the buyer pays the shipping (as the Yanks call it). But so many of them buy my stuff and then balk at the cost of the postage, they seem to assume that the UK is a few miles off California or somewhere close where the postage will only cost a few dollars. Never mind that it has to be put on an aeroplane and flown there! Perhaps they still have a pony express I don’t know (although I do get a childish thrill when I get payments from Wells Fargo!) 

Okay I am starting to warm to the subject now. For a country that was set up on the notions of freedom from persecution and so on, I really do not get their idea that they can be the world’s police. I mean, apart from sort of helping to end WW2, and this is only a marginal truth. I know for a fact that the Russian people seem to believe that it was their huge sacrifices that saw the end of that conflict. So what else have they managed to do successfully? Korea? Nah! Grenada? Nah!, That place in Africa with the helicopters? Nah! Vietnam – ah Vietnam, not a loss but a ‘tactical withdrawal’. Tactical withdrawal my arse or ass for my American readers! They lost! It’s their bravado then? Perhaps it’s that that I dislike? 


Or their contribution to world cuisine perhaps? The ubiquitous McD? KFC? And now why o why do we have to call Treats MnM’s and Marathons, Snickers? And this inevitably leads to big fat trailer trash women with HUGE bottoms and big Fat guys too. And now this cultural deficit, the ubiquitousness of fast food is impacting on our women too! 
Okay,  I’ll give you the film industry and some good actors, some marginally good TV programmes and yes I’ll give them some good, if not great Rock n Roll, Blues and some terrific writers - step forward James Lee Burke. 
But what’s all this red neck stuff up in the Ozark Mountains or wherever, what’s all this white Aryan nation stuff? All this gun ownership, the paranoia that someone’s out to get them. So lets waste them first before they waste us. Baloney! (more bad food!).

And since writing this we have seen the increase of cops killing black folks, white folks killing school kids and religious congregations, hell even going to the local restaurant is a dangerous pastime now - if the news out of America is to be believed. And another schism he Black Lives Matter issue. against the All Lives Matter movement anon one but no one dares say White lives matter too - thank you very much. 
And I’m not even going to mention their (mis)use of the English language. Like you know- whatever! 
Hating Americans is sort of complicated, it’s not like hating the cat or the next door neighbours. It’s like a general sense of uneasiness that they are out there waiting to come and get us. Like a damp fog across Dartmoor in winter, if you get my drift. I don’t really have time to hate Americans, not all of them anyway. So maybe like most people George W will have to do, unless you readers can come up with any more likely candidates? Whatever! 

You know what - I'm going to retract my statement about hating Americans. I don't hate you guys. In the main I pity you. I hope you can sort it out without resorting to war and gun play - you tried that once remember?

Monday, January 09, 2017

Writing re-visited - Piercings - at the sharp end of life

In these posts I'm going to revisit old blog posts and see if I can make the writing betterer. And bring it more up to date. Change the tenses etc.

Rewrite.

I worked at a large teaching institution in Sunny Devon. In late September and early October the place teemed with new students all going about their business finding out where the cheapest beer was. One of the perks of having a job in that sort of institution was the look but don’t touch rule. (I broke that one on one or two occasions when I was younger  but of course that’s another story!) It was very nice to be able to sit, whilst having one’s sandwiches, and enjoy the sprightly steps and varied body shapes of the young female students innocently wandering around the campus unknowingly being, I think the technical term is, 'letched.'

Anyone who has spent any amount of time doing this and I guess when I say anyone, I mean those of us guys in our advancing years who will glory at the sight of all those uncovered navels and softly swelling bellies. And blimey, if jeans and trouser waists drop any further south we’ll be seeing those things wot we are not meant to! I mean just what are the technical terms for the smooth creases at the top of the inner thighs. I mean those bits that sort of draw your eyes inwards and downwards from the belly to almost – yes almost to the pudenda!
Anyway I digress, see what a minefield this subject is! The whole point of this blog is summer is awaning and soon these very same girls will be covered up in their winter woollies and all we will get to see of them is their faces. So why is it that the uglier the girl is the more facial piercing she’ll have? I mean I just don’t get it. Why do people pierce their bodies? Okay I do have one earlobe pierced, it was done many years ago. And yes I do have a small but tasteful tattoo on my left shoulder (birthday present from ex-wife). And now tattoos up my arms. But facial piercing? Come on. I mean how they kiss; presuming that is someone does actually want to kiss them. 




There does seem to be some awful correlation that seems to suggest the uglier the girl is the more piercing she will have. What does that mean? Is she drawing attention to her features saying ‘I don’t care cos you don’t really know the real me’ or perhaps she hopes that the glare of all that steel will dazzle the eye of the beholder so that he or she won’t notice her looks?
Anyway I don’t want people to think I’m some sort of sexist or misogynist, I’m not, I love women, some of them are my best friends, but I just don’t get this piercing stuff and have simply noticed the ugliness/piercing correlation. I wanted to give it an airing and perhaps someone will illuminate me so that I get the point!
I am sure that as a student of the social I should be able to come up with some convincing theory. But at a base level I am just a man and I like women to look like women, and not like something out of a Steven King book.
And what about metal detectors at airports it must be hell. Beep! ‘O yes that’s my tummy stud’ Beep! O yes my clitoral ring (doesn’t bear thinking about does it) Beep! Ah my tongue stud.
Come on women get a grip! 




Edit edit edit and the horror of the Logline

Most of my free time these past few weeks have been taken up with editing. Not only have I been polishing the manuscript of Meditations on Murder for the hundredth time but also the drafts of the synopsis and the query letter. These are really difficult exercises in writing. One has to distill the 80,000 words down to one, two or three pages in the case of the synopsis and the query letter is an even shorter and more focused job.

Then of course there is the Logline.  What is a Logline? OK I had to google it too.

log line or logline is a brief (usually one-sentence) summary of a television programfilm, or book that states the central conflict of the story, often providing both a synopsis of the story's plot, and an emotional "hook" to stimulate interest. 


So now we have to squeeze out precious 80,000 words down into one line.  It gets better.
That one line has an optimum length of 27 - yes, TWENTY-SEVEN words.  Why 27 words you might ask, it seems such a random number.  Apparently the answer which is all over the internet is not 42 (google it) but - 'it just works' - there you have it the rational for driving writers crazy. 
My novel is 79,802 words at the moment. So a 27 word log line constitutes 0.0338% of the total words used. In 0.04% of all my words (I'm being generous to myself by rounding up) I have to use this sort of formula:

'When [flawed hero at start of story] is forced to [call to adventure], he has to [opportunity for emotional growth] or risk [what’s at stake]'.

I used a different approach I found online and workshopped it a little with some other writers online and came up with this:

When a city boy's girlfriend runs off with his best friend he plans to eliminate them but his tactics are hijacked by a ghost with ulterior motives. (27 words)

My query letter is looking good now and is I think pretty strong. Again I have workshopped this with other writers on Facebook and Scribophile 

Charlie wants to murder someone. Anybody will do. He wants to be a killer like the men with chiseled looks and sexy five o’clock shadows in the movies. But he’s just a pasty-faced, floppy-haired, rich office clone for the company his family owns.

His psychopathic rage flares to life when his ex-girlfriend, Linda, runs off with his ex-best friend, Ross. So Charlie creates a kill list on his iPhone. His first target is the puppy sleeping peacefully on his bed and he decides on a more challenging second victim to test his resolve and his lust for blood.

But then his iPhone bleeps – a ghost changes the list.

Now Linda and his ex-best friend are on it. The daemon, a 12th century Scottish woman also adds Linda’s parents and her solicitors.

Nye, the spirit, appears on his doorstep wearing his Bob Marley T-shirt – the cheek.  She crossed the barrier from the beyond to save a blood relative who is in grave danger.  Nye haunts Charlie, cooking him breakfast, influencing his decisions about how to kill, and shaping his murderous quest for the sake of her family bloodline.

While on his mission to take lives Charlie crosses paths with Roger le Ferrier a serial killer stalking Nye’s relative, Annie. In an attempt to protect the girl he’s falling for, Charlie has no choice but to forget his own kill list. But then it’s too late – Charlie, powerless to help, witnesses the Annie’s brutal death at the hands of le Ferrier.

The next morning, Charlie finds the murdered girl cooking breakfast in his home.
Another ghost?  Or has he lost his sanity this time?

MEDITATIONS ON MURDER is complete at 79,734 words and is an Adult urban
fantasy.

Dr. Rob Burton has published academic papers and chapters in books, and is the co-author of an IELTS speaking test crammer for Chinese students (with a Chinese Author – ISBN 97873002052989 )

Twitter: @trebornotrub
Instagram: trebornotrub.
Blog: Dr. Robs Day - http://docrob.blogspot.tw
Blog: News from Nanjing - http://life-changes2011.blogspot.tw

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Characters

I've been thinking about my characters and ideas for book covers so have been looking at images online. But I saw this picture in a shopping mall here in Nanjing, China. 

This girl seems to have some of the characteristics of Nye my 12C ghost.





Thursday, January 05, 2017

New Year - Synopsis Time

So the first post of the New Year  and after rigorous editing on my Novel Meditations on Murder which has seen the word count rise to nearly 80,000 I am starting to struggle with the writing of the synopsis.  This is important as this is often the first thing the agent or publisher reads. I am aiming to start to query this with agents soon. This is my first draft of the synopsis - the 1 pager. (I will have to do 2 pagers and 3 pagers also). Any comments welcome.

Synopsis

Meditations on Murder
Synopsis.
Charlie Simpson wants to kill someone. Charlie’s life is turned upside down because Linda, his partner of 20 years, has left him for his best friend Ross. His plan is to murder them both.

He starts to plan the killings using his iPhone Notes function but he is surprised when extra names start appearing on the phone – the local paperboy,  Linda’s judgmental parents, the solicitors demanding millions off him on her behalf.  

Nye, a ghost from twelfth century Scotland has an ulterior motive for haunting the iPhone. Nye’s medieval influence and the fact that she does seem to have an in with God convinces Charlie that he should go along with the dastardly ideas she has for murdering Linda and Ross.

Malevolent fourteenth century dwarves from the Scottish borders the redcaps take advantage of the split in the mystical veil to come a hunting Charlie drawn to his murderous energy.  He comes across them in the warehouse he’s scoping out for his wet work but he gets sidetracked as he finds himself in the lair a serial killer.

Charlie has to face the Redcaps in order for him to fulfil Nye’s secret quest. Using a hypersphere  - a device first mentioned by Dante he sends the Redcaps into the screaming abyss of hyperspace. What Charlie is unaware of is that Nye has manifested herself in this world to save a present blood relative who is being stalked by the serial killer Roger Le Ferrier.

At Nye’s insistence Charlie tracks Le Ferrier to the George Inn in Southwark. Le Ferrier drugs a girl WITH A RED BOB and absconds with her. Charlie throws himself desperately at Le Ferrier to try to save the girl.

The next day in the secret murder room in the Wapping warehouse Charlie is forced to watch the girl with the red bob being tortured, abused, mutilated and murdered by the killer Le Ferrier. Charlie is helpless and unable to move and can do nothing but watch - held in the sway of Nye’s powers. As she lies there the dying and mutilated girl is blinking a secret message to him but its meaning evades him as his senses give in to the sensory overload of what he is being forced to observe.


Charlie wakes up in his apartment. The girl with the red bob, ANNIE, is stood in the kitchen cooking a full English breakfast.  Is she another ghost haunting him? Nye takes Charlie aside and explains that Annie is family and the only way she could be saved was for Nye to latch on to Charlie’s murderous rage to slip through the veil. She promises Charlie that all would be well now…for the moment.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Coming back to life with - Ta Da! My Novel - the query letter.

Hello, its been a while.

I'm resurrecting this blog as in the interim - apart from living and working in China for the last 5 years - which you can read about via the link to my China blog on the side bar - I have been writing a novel.

The novel is ready for submission to agents and/or publishers so this seems a good place to start posting stuff before I create a website and another dedicated blog.

This is the query letter I am sending out with the submissions.

Happy to have any comments on this.

...........................................................

Meditations on Murder

Charlie wants to murder someone. Anybody will do. He wants to be a killer like the men with chiseled looks and sexy five o’clock shadows in the movies. But he’s just a pasty-faced, floppy-haired, rich office clone for the company his family owns.

When his psychopathic rage flares to life because his ex-girlfriend, Linda, has run off with his ex-best friend, Charlie creates a kill list on his iPhone. His first target is the puppy sleeping peacefully on his bed and the second is a more challenging victim that will test his resolve and his lust for blood. But then his iPhone bleeps – a ghost changes the list. Now Linda and his ex-best friend are on it. The daemon, a 12th century Scottish woman adds Linda’s parents and her solicitors.

Nye, the spirit, appears on his doorstep wearing his Bob Marley t-shirt – the cheek.  She has crossed the barrier from the beyond to save a blood relative who is in grave danger.  Nye haunts Charlie, cooking him breakfast, influencing his decisions about how to kill, and shaping his murderous quest for the sake of her family bloodline.

While on his mission to take lives, Charlie crosses paths with Roger le Ferrier, a serial killer stalking Nye’s relative, Annie. In an attempt to protect the girl he’s falling for, Charlie has no choice but to forget his own kill list. But then it’s too late – Charlie, too powerless to help, witnesses the girl’s brutal death at the hands of le Ferrier.

The next morning, Charlie finds the murdered girl cooking breakfast in his home.
Another ghost?  Or has he lost his sanity this time?

MEDITATIONS ON MURDER is complete at 74,525 words and is an Adult urban fantasy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Work poem


When sat at a desk
And watching the clocks
Life doesn’t exist
Every. Thing.  Stops.

Mud fills your brain
Blood pools in your feet
The vitality drains
You’re just meat

Each minute an hour
The seconds slink by
Each moment an eon
Recurring like pi

Slave to the moment
The flickering screen
No doubt about it
It’s no dream

It’s death by boredom
This terrorist time
Each second a cut
A pain sublime.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wedding Poem


Back to you... - by Dr. Rob Burton

Published: 22 Jun 2011 - in wedding poems
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It's icy on the outside
The fields go flashing by
Dark skeletons of tree branch
Against the darkening sky.

White fields of icy sculpture
The grass an icing froth
Sheep huddled against the hayrick
The lakes a solid broth.

Ghostly shapes emerging
From the riming mist
Bushes sparkling brightly
Whitely blushing, frosty kissed.

Quilted horses blowing steam
Above the icy stream
Trains hot blasting
Through this winter dream.

England in the winter
A monochromatic view
From my speeding window
On the train right back to you
Back to your smile
The one that saved my life
Through snow and rain and ice
To the warm arms of my loving wife.

By Dr. Rob Burton
Plymouth

This poem was selected as a runner-up of a nationwide poetry competition run by Marriott Hotels in March 2011.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

That there London by a small town boy.

I’ve been working in that there London now for three months so it’s about time I wrote something about it.

London smells of piss and the tobacco smoke that blows in your face from all the smokers stood outside the buildings, pubs, cafes, restaurants and the underground. This is combined with various food smells, car exhaust and nasty aftershave (or is that just the Lynx effect?). This aroma smells like the last vestiges of the 16th century when piss and shit was thrown out of the windows and people carried stinky posies under their nose, now they wear it all over their bodies. This pissy smell is probably something to do with the dearth of public toilets and the availability of a handy shop doorway, lane or alley. Indeed one doorway on my way to work seems to be the place to have a shit. This is made all the more remarkable that its about 50 yards from Kingston Town Hall and 100 yards from the police station!

This back doorway never seems to be cleaned but I’m sure some young minimum wage slave has the unenviable job of disinfecting shop doorways fouled with piss, vomit and worse from the night before. Indeed one morning I saw some poor guy with a kettle of boiling water trying to wash the hardened remains of last nights’ puke off the front window of the shop simply by pouring hot water over it – he didn’t have as clue and looked like he was soon going to add to last night’s outpourings.

In all of my travels it always astounds me that after 2000 years of so called civilisation human beings still haven’t sorted out how to piss and shit in some form of sanitary conditions once outside of our own homes. In China for example people just shit and pissed (and gobbed) everywhere, In France and vast swathes of the world they use holes in the ground, and just because the put porcelain around them doesn’t make them better. The so called toilets I’ve seen but not used, in Africa are indescribable; mainly they’re just places where people go to shit. I prefer the anonymity and the relative sanitary conditions of the bush.

So yes, London, a great 21st century city, it smells of piss and smoke, diesel fumes, chip fat, burger grease, sweat and dust. Time Out describes it as such:

‘London is an olfactory cornucopia, a maelstrom of elements that attack and delight the senses: at once repelling and compelling us into a blissful, schizophrenic frenzy.’

Or asthma, I might add.

Perhaps as a way of avoiding registering this stink in their brains people in London have stopped looking where they are going and walk now eyes cast down to the screens of their phones, kindles and iPads. That means you are the one doing the dodging. It means not being able to walk in a straight line but having to have a 360 degree awareness to miss the people coming towards you not paying attention. Plus you have to skip out of the way of the idiots on bikes cycling on the pavement, even though there is a perfectly useful cycle lane next to the pavement as well. So one needs to be aware! I admit, in Plymouth I ride on the pavements, but in Plymouth the pavements are pretty empty, in London the pavements are usually pretty packed, so riding a bike through it is idiocy especially when there’s a perfectly good cycle lane about 2 feet away.

This is not to take into account of the people in front of you who will stop dead for no obvious reason and because you are in a stream of people you crash into them. That they are usually trailing luggage whilst looking at their digital thing adds to the jeopardy. On the train and underground stations one is constantly being battered and run over by people’s luggage. It’s as if they have no spacial awareness of how much room they need to get past you so you just get battered. It’s probably more that they just don’t care.

I mean I know I don’t do that. I don’t just barge through any gap I see. I stop and wait (obviously that means those people behind me not looking where they are going crash into me as well). It makes sense to hug walls and stay away from open spaces. On the stations people run for trains with a frantic look in their eyes knowing they’ve already missed it, but they barge right through you anyway as if you are not there. There is no concept of personal space. Just a muttered ‘sorry’, drifting back on the slipstream, if you’re lucky. Or you get glared at and sworn at just because you happen to be filling a piece of space that they seem to believe is theirs.

However, whilst I am complaining about this there still is a modicum of manners that mediate our social interactions in the UK. Despite the bumping and jostling and frantic sprinting across railway termini London is still better than my experience of China. In China people don’t wait, they don’t give way. There are no manners or even the smallest amount of social grace despite this myth about ‘face’ and ‘loss of face’. On the Chinese Metro the hordes of people waiting for the train pile in through the doors just as soon as they open regardless of the hordes inside trying to pile out. Try this with a colleague on crutches with a broken leg. I did. I soon became physical, straight arm tackling people out of the way just so he could get off or on the train.

I have to admit that this is one of the main things that is making me grumpy about London, the number of people, the bad manners, the constant jostling, the rudeness and the general anonymity one feels amongst this mass of people.

The great thing about London is also the self same hordes. Millions of people from all across the globe; all living and working together in generally a harmonious way and generally not trying to kill each other apart from during the rush hour. Never a day goes by without one having heard a multitude of different languages, seen a rainbow of different skin tones, hair colour, style and clothing.

In certain areas there is more than a hint of foreign climes. Tables outside cafes, relaxed middle eastern looking men lounging around sipping espressos and smoking together, scents that take one back to foreign holidays emanating from kitchens and Sheesha pipes, interesting looking food behind glass, welcoming smiles and nods of the head from beckoning waiters. I’m sure that every cuisine from anywhere in the world could be found in London if one wanted it. Anything from Mongolian to Azerbijan to Nigerian to Kenyan they’re all here I’m sure.

Yes there are loads of restaurants and places to eat in London - so is that why all the Metropolitan Police I’ve seen are fat? Or should I say ‘burly’. Burly policemen knocking people over and killing them (oops a bit of politics there). But they are fat, burly I mean and their flak jackets or stab vests make them look even errr, burlier. So that’s why I stay away from them Oh yes we all know about the ‘Met’. I guess all big cities are the same, the rescue services are always busy. So the nights, and it does seem to be busier at night, are full of the scream of sirens and the flash of blue lights. Behind that the rumble of traffic drones in ones ears all night. I’m lucky that I stay in the centre of London and there never seems to be a quiet time.

One can understand why people want to move to the country or have a second holiday home in the country. It’s probably just to get away from the constant noise, and the smell, and the people and the burly policemen. I’m glad I live in Plymouth, even at midday, in the summer, my back garden can be a tranquil haven of sunshine and silence, and I live pretty centrally. The nights are dark and as silent as the grave. That’s another thing where I am in London, it’s never dark, just the acid orange tinge of street and security lighting which slips round the curtains as they flutter in the hum of the night.

You’re never more than 20, er, 10, er 8 foot from a Rat in London is how the sayings go. In Kingston by the river where I work, the Thames, this reduces to about 2 feet. Where I sit and eat my lunch some days the bits of landscaping are infested with rats, big and small. They come out snuffling around the benches, no doubt looking for bits of dropped sandwich as this is a popular place to eat lunch. It’s right next to the river and quite picturesque with boats going past and suchlike activity on the water. They patter about, totally unfazed whiskery noses whiffling, little pink feet pattering; they’d be quite cute, if it wasn’t for the Weil's disease from them pissing everywhere (typical Londoners) and the Black Death of course!

I guess I’m just a small town boy really as there are just too many people for my liking. Too many aggravations on a daily basis, maybe I’m getting all the bad of London and not being here long enough to enjoy the good of London. I have a long day at work, up early for the commute to Kingston and back latish. So I’m not really getting to see much of what’s on or the starry attractions of our capital city. Sadly in one of the most hot and happening Cities in the world, I am usually in bed about 9:30 in the evening, just when everything is starting to happen.

I’m also doing that thing which I have derided in the past. That is ritualising or doing things repetitively, especially when commuting. This starts with wanting to get the same seat on the coach, both to London and back to Plymouth. There is a slight sense of elation and pleasure if I can get the seat in the fifth row back on the left hand side of the coach (walking up the inside of the coach). I am strangely disappointed and discomforted if I don’t get that seat. Also I really want it to be a ‘double seat’ and not to have anyone sit next to me.

Then on the underground I find myself following the same routes (which make sense to find the quickest route) but I find myself drawn to the same spot on the platform so I can get into the same carriage. And you know what, most mornings I get to see what by now are familiar faces, so they must be doing the same thing!

On Waterloo station, I buy a paper, get a coffee and once through the barriers I stand at the second ‘Mind the Gap’ sign, waiting for the train. Once the train gets here and disgorges the 50 odd (I’ve counted!) passengers I suffer a slight sense of unease until I have got to ‘my seat’ which is the one (turn left through the doors) at the back of the carriage, on the right, by the window. Only then can I relax, open the paper and drink my coffee. Going back into London though is a different matter. After 5 the train is a bit busier. So most days I just hope to get a seat. There is no way that I could aim for a particular seat in a particular carriage, and strangely I’m not at all discomfited by this.

I think to sum up this post I must say that I am not enamoured by London. Maybe this is because my experience is part-time and mediated by the time I spend travelling from the centre to Kingston and back again which takes all my energy. All I see of the City are the suburbs rushing past my train windows, some iconic views of the City as we get closer to the centre and the Tower of London, where I am fortunate enough to spend three nights a week because my sister is married to a Yeoman Warder there and the tunnels of the tube.

I miss the sights, smells and sound of the sea, the fresh air and clean smells it brings, the rain, the view from Plymouth Hoe, Coffee and a Cake overlooking the sea, the distant glimpse of Dartmoor and Cornwall on the horizon, the lack of crowds (usually), my dog and friends. Yes I am a small town sort of boy.