Tag Archives: writing

Some thoughts on Enid Blyton and the 50p coin

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Recently, it was proposed to put Enid Blyton, the children’s author, onto the 50p coin. This was rejected on the grounds that she was a racist, homophobic and sexist.

This worries me slightly because we are judging someone from a different era in the light of our own. Admittedly, the three things she has been accused of are deeply unpleasant—at least to our more enlightened eyes. I personally abhor all these things.

She has also been condemned and removed from libraries, not because of this, but because some people thought that she used too simple language and did not stretch children’s vocabulary.

When I was a child, I loved her books. I read them avidly. They were exciting. Her Famous Five books, her Mallory Towers books, the Adventure books, the Faraway tree books, the Secret Seven, and my favourite as a child, Shadow the Sheepdog were all read with great pleasure.

Now let us examine the accusations.

Racism.

She certainly had golliwogs in the Noddy books, and they were the baddies. But golliwogs were common toys in the 40s and 50s and no one thought anything was wrong with them. There was The Black and White Minstrel Show on the TV, and the blacking up of white men as black minstrels was accepted.

Now I’m not saying it was right, Clearly it must have been deeply offensive to black people. What I am saying, is that when she was writing, golliwogs were not considered to be offensive, and so to brand her as racist on the grounds of having gollisogs in the Noddy books, and making them bad, was acceptable at the time.

Sexism.

Was she sexist? At that time, it women usually stopped working when they married. They then devoted their time to looking after the home and raising the children. That was how it was.

Because Anne, in the Famous Five, did the cooking when they were camping does not make Miss Blyton a sexist. She was reflecting the way things were at that time. Boys simply did not cook.

That they do now, shows how far we’ve come. When she was writing, boys didn’t learn cooking and needlework at school, neither did girls do woodwork and metalwork. Now they are all merged together under the title of Technology, or Design and Technology.

Homophobia.

Homosexual acts were illegal in England and Wales until 1967, but only between consenting adults over the age of 21, and even then, not in the armed forces, It was illegal in Scotland until 1980 and Northern Ireland until 1982. Thus, during the time when Enid Nlyton was writing, homosexuality was frowned upon by the state.

Having said that, reading the Famous Five books, Miss Blyton had a transexual (although the term was not used in those days.) Georgina, one of the five, and known as George, always dressed as a boy and had her hair cut short (unlike Anne who had long hair). She also expressed the desire to be a boy and behaved as a boy. That sounds very much like a transexual to me.

To conclude, I think that it is unfair to judge someone from a totally different era, with a totally different mindset by our much more enlightened and liberal standards.

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Miss Blyton was very important as an author. She got many children interested in reading. I am one of them. I devoured her books, as I said at the beginning of this post.
Some of her works, I understand, have been reworked. Things that we now consider wrong, why can’t they be altered. Noddy’s golliwogs could easily be changed into something else. Her baddies in the Famous Five, Sevret Seven and Adventure series, if people don’t think having them as foreign is right, could have their nationality changed.

The very first story I wrote was based on Shadow the Sheepdog. I was only about seven at the time. Would I have become a writer if I’d not had that early inspiration?

I think it’s wrong to judge people by today’s standards when the standards they lived in were so different.
I would love to hear what you think of this. Please post your comments in the comments box.

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Carthinal 5

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Several months later, as Carthinal and Wren were just leaving on a job, The Bull charged into the headquarters.
“Green Fish on our patch.” He paused for breath. “Their boss is with ‘em., too. Think they want to try a takeover.”
The Rooster surged to his feet and began pointing and giving orders. “Fox, Wren, come ‘ere. Job’s cancelled. Porcupine, get th’ weapons. Bull, find th’ other big guys and come back ‘ere. Quickly. Everyone oo’s ‘ere gather round.”
Porcupine arrived pulling a large chest. The Rooster opened it and began handing out weapons. Daggers in the main, but he gave a bows to a couple of the stronger lads, who set about stringing them. Carthinal watched as they heaved on the heavy wood, realising the bows would need a great deal of strength to draw.
“Fox, take this knife.”
“I’ve never used one before.” Carthinal looked at the weapon, turning it over in his hands.
“Mind.” The Wren came up and took it from him. “It’s sharp. Very. You c’d cut yer fingers off.”
Carthinal grimaced and took it from her. “I’ll be careful. What happens now?”
“We go and fight Green Fish off our patch.”
Carthinal frowned and looked at his dagger again. “I don’t know how to fight.”
It was Wren’s turn to grimace. “Then you’ll ’ave ter learn quick. That or die.” She gave a little laugh. “I’d ’ate ter see that ’appen.”
The gang was making its way through the door and into the street. Wren and Carthinal rushed to catch up. Green Fish had set themselves up in the park where Carthinal had slept when he first found himself on the streets. The gang, about thirty strong, stood in the entrance to the park.
A few citizens were strolling in the park as it was a pleasant spring day. One of the first of the year. They stopped, frozen in their tracks.
The Rooster stepped in front of the rest of the gang. “You’re on our patch.”
Another young man stepped in front of the group facing the Beasts. “Sez oo?”
“Sez me, and we’re gonna see you gone or dead.”
He beckoned the rest of the gang, who rushed through the gates. As soon as the gate cleared, the citizens rushed out. Carthinal watched them go, wishing he could go with them, but he must fight. How should he do it?
“Come on,” Wren whispered. “We’re missing all the fun.”
Fun? What’s fun about probably getting hurt, or possibly getting killed? In spite of his fears, Carthinal rushed towards the fight, after Wren.
It looked like chaos to Carthinal. He grasped his knife trying to find someone who he didn’t know to stab. He looked around. He recognised everyone. Then he saw someone he knew. Someone who was not one of the Beasts. Someone who had tried to rob him.
He felt his anger rise from somewhere in his stomach. Carthinal deserved to have his own back on this young man, and, although smaller, he rushed through the melee. He almost tripped over a body lying on the ground, but managed to catch his balance. The trip propelled him forward towards his selected victim. He held his dagger before him and thrust it forwards.
The young man in question had his back to Carthinal, and the dagger entered between his ribs, and pierced a lung. He went down with a cry. Carthinal smiled.
He found himself in the middle of the battle. How dare these people try to take over his gang’s territory? His anger had not been assuaged. The stabbing of his enemy only fed it. He swung the knife at random, but, as luck would have it, he made contact with a young woman’s eyes. She screamed and fell.
So it went on for what seemed to Carthinal like hours. When the last of Green Fish ran away, leaving their friends groaning on the park grass, he looked at the sky. The sun had not moved far. The battle had taken no more than half an hour. He looked around to see how many of his friends had been injured.
There was The Rooster, covered in blood, but checking those lying on the ground. Some he helped to their feet, calling others to take them away. Some he sighed over, bent and closed their eyes, but most he left.
The sound of pounding feet brought Carthinal to his senses. The Cat, blood running from a cut on his cheek, called “Fox, run. It’s the guard. If they catch you, you might as well have been killed here.”
All those who could, scattered in all directions. The guards tried to pursue them, but quickly lost them as soon as they got into the poor quarter. Gradually all made their way back to the headquarters.

 

The Rooster counted them. “We lost five. I hope the injured make it back. I sent them off with help before the guards arrived.”
Slowly the injured, and those helping them arrived.
“Did we lose any on the way?” he asked The Scorpion, who was helping the injured.
“No. We all got back.”
Carthinal looked round the room. Some had minor wounds, others more serious. He had a cut on his hand, and one young woman had managed to cut his shirt, but the knife had not gone through.
“Where’s Wren?” he asked. He felt a hollow feeling in his stomach as he realised she was nowhere to be seen.
The Rooster searched the room with his eyes. He turned to The Scorpion. “But we didn’t all get back. The Wren isn’t here.”
The Scorpion hung his head. “Sorry, boss. I thought she was with Fox.”
“Thought? Thought?” The Rooster paced up and down. “What do you mean, ‘Thought’? Did you think to check with Fox?”
The Scorpion shook his head. “Sorry” he repeated, shuffling his feet.
“We must find her.” The Rooster began organising the search. “She wasn’t among the dead, so she left the park. Let’s just hope she’s not been caught by the Guard.”

Where is Wren? Has she been caught? Find out the first Tuesday in October.

This is the story of Carthinal’s youth. Carthinal is a young man in my Wolves of Vimar series which begins with The Wolf Pack. You can buy this, and my other books, by clicking on the images in the side bar.

I hope you are enjoying this story. Please let me know in the comments.

The Day on Vimar. How the people of that world break up the day.

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I’ve often wondered why we start the day in the middle of the night, and the year at a date that seems rather random.

Let’s think about the day first.

To me, it would seem obvious that the day begins when the sun rises. Or, I suppose you could say it ends when the sun sets, which would mean the next day begins at either sunrise or sunset. But why did someone—who?—decide the middle of the hours of darkness was a good idea? Anyway, midnight isn’t the middle of the hours of darkness all the year round, anyway.

Now if we say the day begins at sunrise, I can see that would be a problem, especially for the modern world. That can be solved by saying the day begins at the time of dawn on the equinoxes. That is round about 6am.

When I devised my world of Vimar for my Wolves of Vimar Series, I had to decide on how the people would break up their day. This is a totally different world from Earth, although, for simplicity’s sake, I still use hours and minutes. The people on Vimar hold the number six as sacred and all multiples of six also have power. Thus 60 minutes in an hour, and 24 hours in a day makes sense.

So, on Vimar, the day begins at what we would call 06:00 or 6am. That to them would be 00:00. They begin counting from there. 7am would be 01:00. 10am would be 04:00. What we call midday, to someone on Vimar would be 06:00.

They also use the 24 hour clock.

If a person wanted to have a meeting at, say, 10am, by our standard, they would say, “I’ll meet you at the fourth hour.”

I don’t use the time very much in the book, but I thought it would be essential in my world building to try to think about this.

I will go into the year on the third Tuesday of next month,

If you want to read more, and about Carthinal and his friends and their adventures on the world of Vimar, you can buy the first 3 books by clicking on the covers in the sidebar. I am serialising Carthinal’s early life on the first Tuesday of every month.

Please leave a comment in the comments box. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Carthinal part 4

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Carthinal spent the next few weeks learning the language of the underworld. The Rooster would not allow him to leave the headquarters until he was reasonably proficient. He must be able to talk with other members of the gang without the Guard understanding.
One day, after he had been with The Beasts for six months, The Rooster called to him. “Fox, you go with Wren. There’ll be lots of punters out in the market. She’ll pick a pocket, then pass it to you. You leave in th’ opposite direction an’ come back ’ere. Don’t run. That’d raise suspicions.”
Carthinal grinned. At last The Rooster trusted him to do a job. His eyes glowed with a seeming inner light, and he jigged on the spot.
“Fox,” The Rooster called as they passed him. “Cover yer ’ead. Yer auburn ’air is too distinctive. Can’t do anything ’bout those eyes, but don’t look straight at anyone. No one else ’as eyes that dark blue.”
Carthinal nodded as he pulled a hood over his hair, and left in the company of The Wren.
The Wren had brown hair and eyes, and was of small stature. They walked to the market, but as soon as they entered The Wren whispered to Carthinal.
“We separate here. Keep me in sight. When you see me bump into a punter, come to me. Don’t stop. I’ll put the stuff into your hand. Keep on going and don’t look at me.”
Carthinal mingled with the crowds, pretending to look at the goods in the market, but always keeping The Wren in sight. She passed many people, and Carthinal wondered how she chose her victim. He saw her stumble and bump into a rich-looking woman.
He walked quickly towards her and heard her say. “I’m sorry ma’am. Caught me foot on summat.” She looked down as if to search for what had tripped her.
Carthinal walked by, close to the woman and The Wren, and felt her hand touch his. He gripped something and continued walking, After a few yards he turned in the direction of the gang headquarters.
“Well done. You’re a natural.” The Wren caught him up.
Carthinal grinned at her. “I did alright, then?”
“Very good for a first time. In fact, I’ve had buddies worse than that after years of practice.”
Carthinal puffed his chest out. He would make sure he was the best in the gang.
The Rooster patted them both on the back. “Looks like you’ll make a good pair. A good haul here, too. There’s even an emperor in the purse.”
He held up a large coin made of platinum. “A few copper royals, ten silver crowns, and three gold monarchs as well.” He grinned and then sent them to get some food at the opposite end of the large room.
Carthinal had been sharing a room with The Cat who hoped to be a cat burglar and had begun his training. Soon, Carthinal and he became firm friends.
“What do you want to do, here?” queried The Cat one day.
Carthinal shrugged. “Not sure.”
“How do you fancy being a burglar? Lots of excitement.”
“No, that doesn’t appeal to me, really.”
“Y’ could be a pick-pocket, like The Wren, or The Rooster could set yer up in a shop in town, an’ you could be a fence.” The Cat’s gaze scanned Carthinal from head to foot. “I don’t think you’d be very good as security, though. We need people built like The Bull for that. Then there’re th’ beggars. They play on people’s sympathy. Usually with an injury or summat. You ain’t got no injury, but you’re pretty enough to make punters feel sorry for yer.”
“I’ve not thought about it, Cat. I suppose I should, really.’
It was decided for him, eventually.
The Rooster called him one day. “Fox, yer must earn yer keep. We ain’t a charity. Go over to The Snake and say I told ’im ter teach you ‘ow ter pick a pocket.”
Carthinal began to learn the art of picking pockets under The Snake’s tutelage. The Snake, as his name implies, was a slippery customer. He was tall and slender with thin, brown hair and green eyes.
“ I ’ave a pouch in me pocket. I’m gonna walk over there.” He pointed to the opposite side of the room. I want yer t’ get it out of me pocket. Dunna worry ’bout me feelin’ yer at th’ moment Just get it.”
This Carthinal did, In spite of what The Snake said, he tried to get it without the young man feeling him.
“Not bad. Yer technique’s not quite right, but we’ll work on that. Yer did well for a first time.”
So it went on over the next few months. Carthinal became better at picking pockets, until eventually, he was allowed to go out with The Wren again, this time to be the ‘dip’ while she received his stolen goods.
They came to the market, and Carthinal sighted a man with a bulging pocket. He stealthily walked towards him, looking the other way. Then he stumbled and bumped into the man, reaching quickly into his pocket and extracting a full purse. The Wren walked past as if she were looking at the stall, and Carthinal pressed the purse into her hand and walked away in the opposite direction.
The victim put his hand to his pocket to get his money to pay for a purchase. “Hey, I’ve been robbed.” He scanned the marketplace. Turning to the man next to him he said, “Did you see anything?”
The man shook his head.
Carthinal looked back and saw this exchange, but continued wending his way towards the gang’s headquarters. No one noticed the boy weaving between them, but concentrated on what went on at the stall, where the victim stridently called for the guard.
Back at the headquarters, The Wren handed the pouch over to The Rooster.
“Well done, the pair of you. Fox, you’re proving yourself a handy pickpocket.”

So Carthinal is learning to be a pickpocket. How will that square with his upbringing? Find out next time on the first Tuesday of August.

If you would like to know more about Carthinal’s later adventures, you can buy The Wolf Pack by clicking on the link here, and it will take you to amazon where you are. It is available both as an ebook or a paperback.

Please leave a comment in the box. I would love to hear your views on this little tale.

Review of Relissarium Wars, Part 1 by Andrew C. Broderick

 

I’ve just finished reading Book 1 of The Relissarium Wars and found it an excellent read.

It is, in fact, more of a novella than a book, but it is the first part of a series, and so is probably simply an introduction.

The characters are introduced in this book, along with the main storyline, which will, I presume, continue through the other books to come.


Theo is a farmer on the moon of Reliss, but is persuaded by his brother to pick up a package for him on his regular trip to the market. Little does Theo realise that this simple favour will land him into something much bigger and more dangerous than he thought. He is in over his head, but has to take part in a rebellion as there is no way out for him to get back home. Especially as his moon home has been annihilated, and so, with a price on his head, he has no choice but to help the Carbonari.

The book is well written. I was delighted not to come across typos and grammatical errors! There is plenty of action and the characters are believable, if not much development, but this may come in later books. This is after all a very short book taking place in a very short time. Hardly enough time for anyone’s character to develop.

I would recommend this book to any scifi fan and fans of action adventure.

A Poem from my Work in Progress.

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This story is set in Britain, in what is now Yorkshire at the time of the Danes and tells of the trials and tribulations of Helgha. This is a saga told by a scald (the Danish equivalent of a bard.) It tells of how Erik won Helgha from her father.

“Erik loved the beauteous maiden, Helgha,
The most beautiful maid
Amongst all the Danes.
Her flaxen hair flowed like moonlight on the seas
And her blue eyes glowed like the sky in summer.
But they could not marry.
For Erik was promised to another.
He visited his love often
Until her father challenged him
To a battle.
Sword rang on shield.
Axe split the air with sound like thunder.
Young and strong, was Erik,
Older and wily was Biorn.
Who would win?
Youth and strength or
Guile and Experience?
Biorn struck first with his axe,
But Erik raised his shield.
Biorn’s axe glanced off.
Erik fought bravely
Until Biorn’s shield broke.
Biorn hit Erik with the edge and drew first blood.
Brave Erik did not flinch.
Blood streamed from the gash in his cheek
But he fought on, ignoring pain and blood.
The battle continued for hours.
Erik parried the axe with his shield.
His sword longing for blood.
His eyes burning with the pleasure of the fight.
Then Erik saw Biorn tiring
The man’s steps became slow,
His axe dragged
As if reluctant to hit this brave young warrior.
Erik backed into a barn wall and feigned a slip.
When Biorn came with raised axe
To finish the battle and send Erik to Valhalla,
The young warrior rolled beneath the axe
And as Biorn raised his weapon,
Erik sent his sword upwards.
Into the heart of his foe it went.
Blood flowed over both.
As Biorn crashed down, Erik rolled away.
Helgha screamed.
Her lover and her father both drenched in blood.
Who lived and who died?
Then Erik rose and seized the maiden.
He fled to Stjarna, his horse,
And leaped to her back with Helgha.
They galloped all night
Until at dawn they arrived in Jorvik.
Now Erik has a beautiful bed-slave.
And a scar on his cheek
To remind all of his bravery.”

The book is undergoing the editing process at the moment. I’ll keep you all informed as to how it’s getting on. Nearly through the first rewrite.

Carthinal’s Story Part 3

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“I’m not moving from here until I see the lawyer.” Carthinal set his mouth in a straight line.

The woman stood and rounded her desk. She took Carthinal by the arm and tried to propel him to the door. He planted his feet onto the ground and pulled back. The woman slipped and almost fell. She cried out.
A door behind the woman’s desk opened. “What’s all the noise about, Hiroma?” Then he caught sight of Carthinal. His face reddened and his hands formed fists at his side. He iseyes glam]nced from side to side.
“What do you want?” he growled.
Carthinal’s mouth formed a firm line. “I want my house back.”

 

“What are you talking about, boy? You are, what? thirteen years old? How can an thirteen-year-old have a house? Go back to your parents.”
“I have no parents. And I’m seventeen.”
Gromblo Grimnor laughed. “Seventeen? Seventeen? I’ve seen taller twelve-year-olds than you. Don’t try to kid me. Now, what do you really want? And who sent you? Do you want money? If you’re in some gang, they’ve not done very well with this scam.”
“You know who I am.” Carthinal looked Gromblo in the eye. “I am Carthinal. My Grandfather was Kendo Borlin. He left his house and money to me. He told me so.”
Gromblo narrowed his eyes. “So that’s your game. Trying to impersonate Carthinal. Well, I have to tell you that Carthinal is dead. He died of pneumonia last year. Some say his death was the cause of his Grandfather’s illness. That the old man never recovered from the shock. So,. You see, you can’t be Carthinal.” The lawyer laughed.
“I’m not dead. I’m here. And I want to know why you stole my home.”
Gromblo turned to Hiroma. “Go and call the Guard. We need to get this child out of here.”
As she left, Carthinal felt a tightness in his chest, and a familiar feeling welling up from his stomach. Clenching his fists, he ran at Gromblo and kicked him in the shins. The lawyer yelled, hopped on one leg for a few seconds and lunged at Carthinal, who slipped beneath his arm. Steadying himself on the wall behind the bench where Carthinal had been sitting, he turned and, with a roar, launched himself once more at the child. This time he managed to catch Carthinal’s arm. Carthinal bit the hand holding him, but Gromblo managed to hang on to the boy.
Carthinal screamed at the man. “I’m not dead. I’m here, and you’ve stolen my home and my money.”
The door opened and Hiroma appeared with a guard.
“What’s going on here?” the guard asked.
“This little rat is trying to say he’s Kendo Borlin’s grandson. You know, the head of the guilds, who died last year. I think he’s trying to get money from me.”
“Too right I am. You owe me a fortune.”
Gromblo turned to the guard. “See what I mean? I grant you he looks a bit like Carthinal, with the red hair and blue eyes, but that child is dead.”
“Do you have proof of the child’s death?”
Carthinal looked at the guard. He had not thought of that. There could not be anything to prove the demise of Carthinal. He stood right here in front of them, very much alive.
Gromblo turned to Hiroma. “Go and get the Borlin file.”
The young woman left, to return a few minutes later with a thick file. Gromblo took it and laid it on his secretary’s desk.
He fumbled through a lot of papers then pulled one out. “I did a lot of work for Kendo Borlin “Aah! Here’s the paper giving details of Carthinal’s death. Very sad it was. A lovely little boy. Such a sweet nature.”
Carthinal frowned. He had hardly seen Gromblo when he visited. Neither had he ever heard himself described as having a ‘sweet nature’. He had been too much of a rebel and short-tempered for that epithet to be applied.
The guard looked at the paper. He frowned. “Looks as if the name could have been scrubbed out.”
Gromblo paled. “Well, you know how it is. Secretaries aren’t like they used to be.” He flashed a look at Hiroma who started tapping her feet. “I expect she made a spelling mistake or something.”
The guard grunted. Carthinal thought he saw something pass between the guard and Gromblo as the guard passed the paper back, but he could not be sure. Then the guard grabbed him and propelled him towards the door, pushing him so that Carthinal rolled over in the dust in the road.
“Get out of here.” The guard gave him another push, but more gently this time. “I don’t want to see you anywhere near here in future. That lawyer’s sneaky, not like the old man who used to be there. He’ll try to do you harm if I’m not mistaken.”
With that, the guard stomped away, looking at something in his hand.
Carthinal watched as the guard disappeared round the corner of a building. What did he mean? Did he mean he believed Carthinal and not Gromlo? He made his way back to the park where he had slept. He sat on the grass and pulled out what money he had left. As he counted it, a shadow loomed over him. Carthinal looked up. A boy of about fifteen stood over him, with another standing just behind.
“Hand over your money.”
Carthinal jumped to his feet, stuffing the coins back into his pocket. “No! Why should I?”
The boy was much bigger than Carthinal. In fact, he stood a head taller, and he was broad-shouldered. His friend was a little smaller, but not by much.
“Because if you don’t, we’ll punch you until you drop it, then we’ll get it anyway. Your choice.”
Carthinal backed away, keeping his eyes on both boys as best he could, and his hand on the coins in his pocket. If he gave these thugs his money, he would have nothing to buy food with. He would starve.
They both came at him at once. Being smaller, Carthinal managed to duck under both their hands, but then he felt a blow on the back of his head. He went down, but kicked out his feet as he did so. The second boy, as luck would have it, happened to be coming in for another blow and Carthinal’s kick took both his legs from under him. He crashed down on top of his victim.
The first boy dragged his friend off but the blow Carthinal expected did not happen. He looked up to see his assailant held in a firm grip by another, even larger boy, while a smaller one pummeled the second.
Carthinal’s nostrils flared and he clenched his fists. How dare these young thugs try to steal his money. Taking advantage of the fact that he was held, he bunched his fist and slammed it into the midriff of the larger of his two assailants. The boy holding him swung him round and punched him as well. Gasping for breath, he took off, running as fast as his legs could carry him.
The smaller of the two new arrivals dipped and dodged and got in quite a lot of blow without being hit himself, but as soon as his opponent saw his friend running, he, too, turned on his heels and fled.
Panting, the smaller of his rescuers turned to Carthinal. “Right. ’oo are yer and what’re yer doin’ on our patch?”
Carthinal frowned. “Patch? I don’t understand.”
“Yer not part o’ our gang, and yer not part o’ Th’ Green Fish, either. So oo are yer?”
“Green Fish?”
The boy frowned and ran his fingers through his dark hair. “Start by tellin’ me oo yer are. Bull,’old ’im t’ make sure ’e don’t run for it. Right. We’ve never seen you ’ere before. Tell me oo yer are.”
“I’m Carthinal Borlin. I live, or rather used to live, up on the hill.”
“A rich kid,” growled Bull. “Let’s kick ’im.”
“I’m not a rich kid anymore.”
The smaller boy put his head on one side. “What d’yer mean, ‘anymore’?”
“The lawyer has taken my home and said I’m dead. He had a paper to prove it.”
Bull released Carthinal’s arms. “What d’yer think, Cat? Let him go?”
Cat shook his head. “’e’s not part o’ Green Fish. We can’t ’ave ’im wanderin’ round operatin’ on ’is own. We’ll take ’im to ’eadquarters.”
Carthinal did not know what they were talking about, but as he had no other ideas as to what he could do, he followed the pair.
They led him to an area Carthinal had never been before. Near to the docks, it was very run down. He wrinkled his nose at the smell of rotting food lying in the gutters, and carefully skirted other unmentionable things. A skinny dog barked at them as they passed, and half-starved cats jumped onto walls. Dirty children ran wild in the streets, and people looked suspiciously at Carthinal’s expensive, if dirty, clothes.
They came to a dark alley where his escorts turned off the main road and arrived at a door whose paint had mostly peeled off. Cat knocked a complex pattern and the door opened a crack. Just enough for Carthinal to see a grey eye peering out.
“Oh, it’s you.” The voice was female. Carthinal saw the eye turn to him. “Oo’s this?”
“Someone oo might want ter join us. Come on, Shrew. Open up. We need to see Rooster.”
The door creaked on its hinges as Shrew swung it back. The three entered into a long corridor.
Carthinal looked around. Inside it appeared cleaner than outside. The wooden planks on the floor had been polished and the walls looked clean and painted.
“Come on. Rooster’ll want ter see yer.” Shrew beckoned them towards a door at the end of the corridor.
Carthinal followed and found himself in a large room. Several small tables scattered around with a few people sitting at them. Some played Rond, a card game popular on Vimar. Others sat around talking or mending clothes and tools.
Light streamed in through two large windows opposite the door. As with everything else, they were clean and polished. A large table stood under one of the windows, and a man sat on a large chair behind it.
He stood as the three entered the room. He was dressed in a tunic of red and blue, with green trousers. He had his hair dyed red and it stood up. His nose was long and he craned his neck forward as he looked at them.
“What’s this you’ve brought?”
“We found ’im. Green Fish attacked ’im,” the boy known as The Cat replied. “Well, a couple of ’em, anyway. They were on our patch, so we saw ’em off.”
“Why bring ’im ’ere? ’e looks like one o’ them rich bods.”
“’e was, but ’e was cheated of ’is ’ouse, ’e sez.”
The Rooster came round the table. He walked all round Carthinal, looking him up and down. Carthinal shuffled his feet as he watched the man.
He does look like a rooster, Carthinal thought. He even walks like one.
When he returned to face Carthinal, The Rooster turned to him. “The Cat says you might want t’join us. What d’you say?”
Carthinal looked around the room. All eyes looked in his direction, and a few people had left their places and now stood around looking at him.
He turned his eyes at the person referred to as The Cat. “I never said that!”
The small, dark-haired boy grinned. “Not in so many words, no. But you were on our patch. You’ll be stealin’ soon. You steal on our patch, you better be in The Beasts or we’ll deal wi’ you like we did Green Fish”
“Who says I’ll steal? Stealing’s wrong.”
The Rooster stood up from the table and approached. “’ow much money ‘ave you, boy? You say you got no ’ome. Your money’ll run out soon. Then you’ll steal to live. You can join us or not. Up to you, but if you don’t, expect us to sort you out like we sorted Green Fish. You’ll not survive long. Green Fish’ll be after you, too. You join The Beasts and we’ll give you food, protection and a ’ome.”
Carthinal stood looking at the young man in front of him. What he said was true. He closed his eyes as he thought.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you.” The Rooster interrupted his thoughts. “We hold everything in common. You have to give us what you have.”
Carthinal stepped back. “I only have a little money left. You can’t take that.”
The Rooster shrugged. “Have it your own way.” He turned to go back to his chair. Then he stopped and looked back at Carthinal. “We’ll get th’ money anyway. One of us’ll catch you and take it. Pr’ob’ly beat you a bit, too, ’cos you’ll be on or patch, see. So you lose it anyway.”
“All right.” Carthinal felt in his pocket and pulled out his few royals, He handed it to The Rooster.
“Sensible lad.” The Rooster took the money and called to a young man sitting by the window. “Tiger, bring th’ money pot. We’ve a bit more ter put in it.”
Tiger lifted a pot from one of the shelves and carried it carefully over to The Rooster, who dropped Carthinal’s money into it.
“You need a name,” one of the girls said.
“I’m called Carthinal”
“No, a gang name. We don’t use our given names here. As we’re the Beasts, we all have animal names. I’m The Porcupine.”
Another boy chimed up, “I know. ’e’s got red ’air. ‘e can be The Fox.”

So Carthinal has joined a street gang! Will he be able to fit in? What will he think about committing crimes?

Find out on the first Tuesday of August.

Are you enjoying the story of Carthinal’s early life? Please let me know what you think in the comments.

If you want to know more about Carthinal, you can find out by reading The Wolf Pack. You can buy by clicking here, or on the book cover.

 

Sunshine Blogger Award.

sunshine blogger award.

 

I read about  House of 1000 Books excitement over this award, and read the question answers with interest. Then I came to the list of nominees. Imagine my surprise when I saw my name there.

I would like to thank House of 1000 Books for nominating me for this award. It’s a great honour, and I’m so excited. You can visit by clicking the name above. Here you will find many helpful reviews of books you might wish to read.

The rules of this award are:

Thank the person nominating you and link back to their site.
Answer the questions they pose.
Nominate 11 bloggers.
Notify the nominees.
List the rules and display the award logo on your site of post.

So with no further ado, here are my answers to the questions.

Pepsi or Coke?
I don’t usually drink either, but I would go with Coke. (But not the diet kind!)

What type of books do you like to read?
I like Fantasy, Science Fiction or Historical. At least that’s what I usually choose, although I’ve read many from other genres that I enjoyed. I think I stick with those for ease. I can go straight to that genre.

Have you ever bought a book on vacation?
I can’t believe I’ve never done so, but recently I take umpteen books with me on my iPad. I do like a real book, but it’s so convenient to be able to take a large number in something not much bigger than an exercise book.

What would you do instead of blogging on a rainy day?
I would play my piano, or do some cross stitch, crochet or tatting. If it’s near someone’s birthday or Christmas I would make cards. I might also do some painting or drawing or even play a computer game. Sometimes I wish there were more rainy days!

Do you like cats or dogs?
While I acknowledge that cats are attractive creatures, I’m more of a dog person. I have an objection to the effect cats are having on our wildlife. In some places, they are causing the extinction of some other creatures. They are also no respecters of property, and will happily poo in other people’s gardens (never their own).

Would you rather be captured by aliens or kidnapped by Sasquach?
This is a difficult one. I don’t suppose I’m allowed to say ‘Neither’? Thought not. Mmm! I’ll go with the aliens. I think it would be interesting to see inside the spacecraft of another species. Also, we have a vague idea as to what Sasquach look like. We have no idea about aliens.

If you learned one thing about blogging, what would it be?
That it’s not easy? You must make notes of ideas you have for posts, otherwise when you come to write it, you’ll have forgotten. That’s happened to me so many times.

What are your hobbies?
Apart from the things I mentioned above, I enjoy cooking and gardening.

What do you hate most about bloggers?
Nothing, really. The people whom I follow seem to be very nice, intelligent folk.

What do you love most about bloggers?
I love the variety of posts out there in the ether. Bloggers all seem to be friendly and helpful. That’s something I love. There’s a community of bloggers, and that’s good.

What is a place you’d like to visit?
I would like to visit St Petersburg in Russia and see the Hermitage Museum.
Am I allowed to have more than 1? I’d also like to see the Grand Canyon, the Yangtse River Valley in China, Niagara Falls, The Northern Lights…

Here are my nominees:

Bluebird of Bitterness
Clancy Tucker
Charles Yallowitz, Legends of Windemere
K Morris-Poet
Jenanita01
Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo
Little Fears
Alexander ONeill
Viv Drewa-The Owl Lady
Sheila Renee Parker
Nicholas Rossi

And here are my questions.

1. What is the first book you remember either reading or having read to you?
2. Who is your favourite author?
3. What is your favourite book?
4. When did you start blogging?
5. Do you write to music? If so, what music inspires you?
6 Do you have any pets?
7. When you go out to eat, what type of food do you prefer?
8. Do you prefer the city or the country?
9. Would you prefer a holiday buy the sea, in the countryside or in a city?
10. What city would you like to visit?
11. When preparing your blog, do you write to music, if so, what do you prefer to write to?

 

Inclusive Language

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I heard a programme on the radio yesterday. It was about domestic abuse. Specifically, coercive control. It got me thinking.

Why do men (it’s usually men, although not exclusively, I admit) think they have the right to control their partners or spouses?

Well, I think that it’s because these people consider themselves to be superior and ‘know what’s right’, as well, of course, wanting power over someone. But you can only get power over someone whom you think is inferior to you.

How has this come about? And how can we change attitudes?

This is not an easy thing, but there is one thing that, I think, adds to the problem, and that is exclusive language.

When I was growing up, the common term for our species that was in use was ‘Man’ (With a capital letter to distinguish it from ‘man’, the male of the species.) Nowadays, I often see ‘man’ as referring to the species as a whole. No capital letter to distinguish it from ‘Man’.

If we consider the animal kingdom, often we refer to a species by a name that is the name of one gender or the other. Cow, Goose, Hen, duck, dog etc. We say to our children ‘Let’s go and feed the ducks.’ Or ‘Look at those cows in that field.’
We call these creatures by the name of the gender that is most useful to us. Hens lay eggs. Cockerels don’t. Cows give us milk from which we make butter, and cheese. Bulls don’t. Ducks and geese lay eggs. Drakes and ganders don’t, and when I was growing up, a dog (male) was the preferred gender to have. And ‘bitch’ is a derogatory term, anyway, as are so many female names. (witch and cow, for example.) And if you want to insult a man, you can call him a bit of a ‘girl’ or ‘woman’.

In the north of England, a term of endearment is ‘duck’, but I think it has a certain condescention about it. Probably that’s just me, though

Male names are often, or were in the past, used as praise. A very long time ago, the term ‘a gay dog’ meant that the man was a womanizer. But that was not considered too bad, really. In fact it was often said with some hint of approval. Yet if a woman did the same type of things, she was a ‘slag’.

The male names for animals applied to men do not have the same connotation. A stag party is a group of young men out to have a good time before a wedding. Stags are imposing beasts, strong and beautiful. Now think about the female version—hen party—. Hens are silly, fluttering and noisy clucking creatures. If you want to say someone is unpleasant, you can call them a bitch, or a cow. Even a mare is occasionally used. All names for the female animal.

Now what about the males. I’ve already talked about ‘dog’, but ‘bull’ isn’t used derogatorily. It usually implies the man is strong, and stallion that he’s good in bed, to be polite.

Now to language, which is what this post is all about. Here are some alternatives you can use in your writing (or even in your speech).

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 Man: Human, People, Humanity.
 Man-made: Artificial, Synthetic. (Not only men make goods, you know.)