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Alan Camrose Posts

Cuban Cool Cats

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, some Cuban reflections.


We were in Cuba in February 2020, a lifetime ago. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the cocktails flowed like, er, wine. Like Freddie, we were Havana good time, Havana ball… Far away from where we are right now after these dangerous months.

When I think of Cuba, I think of cars, cocktails and – slightly strangely – cats. At times, they blend together: when we first arrived in Cuba, a 1958 Plymouth ride back in time to La Guarida restaurant in the heart of Havana, its feline guardian in the entrance hall large enough to hold a dance floor, a rooftop terrace housing the open-air Mirador Bar dispensing life-giving Negroni Habanero cocktails – a mixture that includes aged Campari, red vermouth and the perfume of orange rinds. Plenty of ice.

I thought I would share a few memories like that of our trip to bring a little salsa (and, as you will see, heavy metal) back into life for a few minutes as we mingled with the cool cats of Cuba.

La Guarida restaurant in Havana, Cuba
Paladar La Guarida, Havana with a bonus game of Spot The Cat

More cool cats at the Buena Vista Social Club.

You have to smile when you see this much joy

Music is an enduring part of the place. Take a look at a few moments of this street sweeper practising asome moves to the beat of a nearby bar.

A brush with Cuban music

And in Varadero, a table band in a restaurant playing the final notes of some AC-DC…It’s a matter of great regret that I didn’t hit record sooner; too busy head-banging with the rest of the restaurant-goers…

Definitely not A Touch Too Much…

In addition to hearing some heavy rock on a violin in Cuba, I have also been lucky enough – quite a few years ago – to hear Jingle Bells on a sitar in an Indian restaurant in Sri Lanka to get us in the festive spirit.

But it’s best to leave the last words to the cats and cocktails of Cuba:

Please do not park on this cat

The cocktail below is an El Presidente (there are numerous variations, but this one works a treat):

  • 25 ml Bacardi
  • 25 ml White Vermouth
  • 5 ml Grand Marnier
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Beautifully cut Orange Peel, preferably sliced very thin and in one piece – the one below was from the maestro who served us at El Floridita in Havana

Shake with ice. Pour into a Martini glass.

Glorious

Harking back to AC-DC, this cocktail is perhaps a Highway to El…

Cheers!

Alan


Alan Camrose with beard

Alan Camrose writes books and a blog:

www.alancamrose.com

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Baby steps


Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose

It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, I’ve had a think about how I got going with my new book, based on past experience with the others…


I’ve written and published two books, one an urban fantasy-thriller, the other a (short) book of (ultra-short) stories. I’m in the middle of my third book, a novel, around 40K words in out of probably about 75K…

What have I learned from my earlier forays?

That a rapid lift-off is important. My first novel started as more of a “write one chapter of something and see how it goes”. The longest things I had written before that were long legal opinions. I wrote the first chapter, felt good and just struck out into the ocean from my tiny island beach, trying not to be swamped by churning waves and iffy Internet.

The first chapter proved not to be the first chapter at all in the end. My initial efforts were very much aimed at describing the world and some of the denizens, I suspect more for my benefit (and pleasure) than anyone else’s.

Nothing actually happened in the book when I started it. There was a set-up scene of the main character wandering around his London HQ, bumping into what I thought of as interesting locations and characters.

Nothing changed. It was like painting a mural.

Then, when I’d properly got the taste for it, came the painful evolutionary process of re-organising material and dumping some of it – particularly any over-indulgent scene-setting material that I was too pleased with (or it simply pleased me) but did not fit the needs of a Beginning (I hate prologues, I find them too artificial and jarring with continuity).

The pick-axes and shovels had to come out…What had to go was too info-dumpy, too self-obsessed, too whatever – too needing to be cut and then pasted into an “at some point may come in useful” file. You know, the file that you never look at again, like most clippings from the Good Food magazine or that recipe book based on Madagascan delicacies that Auntie Beryl gave you six Christmases ago.

I have read thousands of books, but had never really clocked how they tend to work. I have simply read them.

Something happens to get the reader interested, the main character is introduced and is hopefully appealing, there is some sort of hook at around the end of the third chapter or so to keep the reader from the book equivalent of channel-hopping to yet another of the millions of available tomes. That all sounds very cold to me, but it wasn’t until I focused on that kick-start that things started to happen a little more fluently. And I had to realise that everything was a kick-start for the next part, phase , whatever of the book…

In my current book, I have three main protagonists, all on a collision course from the off. I have changed the running order of the first three chapters once, and I think that’ll be it. No navel-gazing, just an attempt to make sense of that and the following material. I’m just going along for the ride at the moment.

I’m eager to see what happens.

I have a rough idea of how it will end, but that’s up to Rebecca Slade, Greg Barker and Charles Fitzgerald, Cheung, Unusual Steve and the others.

In the meantime, here’s my proposed (not set in stone!) first line, which I hope you’ll find enticing…

It began with a cat, a single-decker London bus and the First World War, not necessarily in that order.

Guardian Angel

My plan is to give you periodic reports of where I’m at, now that my new book is more than a mere glimmer…

And I’m nearly ready for beta readers of the first half, if you’re interested.

Long way to go yet…!


My website


Alan Camrose with beard

At The Lair Of The Camrose: Everyone welcome!

Alan Camrose

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ALAN CAMROSE NEWSLETTER

I write books, articles and my blog


JULY/AUGUST 2020


Subscribers see these first

Alan Camrose with beard

Exciting news!

Another 5 star independent review!

Fresh from my Blog/Book Tour in June:

I freaking loved this!

BookishWoo: 5.0 out of 5 stars

“I freaking loved this! Yes you heard right, if I could sum my review up in 4 simple words that would be exactly what I would write!

So what made this so good I hear you ask?

For starters, Alan managed to bring 2 of my favourite genres together and it just worked, so well. From the 1st page I was sold, it reeled me in and didn’t let go. This was a book I could really sink my teeth into.

Told in multiple POV’s, which trust me when I say it doesn’t always work and you can easily get lost and have to go back on yourself, I can honestly say this flowed with absolute ease. Each Chapter is told by a one of the main Character’s and you know straight away whose POV you are reading as it’s a chapter heading. The main characters are relatable, quirky and I loved getting to know them.

This was really was well written and Alan is very descriptive when setting a scene. As this is not set in a fictitious world and set in Brighton, you can truly imagine yourself there, especially if you know the area well. This is one of the main reasons I loved this so much. As a fantasy lover, I am used to world building and imaginary places, but having the story set in a actual place with the fantasy element running alongside, was refreshing. Everything is there for fantasy fans…..magic, demons, fae folk, The list goes on. For thriller fans there is murder, mystery and an engaging plot.

All in all this had everything to keep me enthralled and not forgetting it had me laughing out loud in places, Alan clearly has a wicked sense of humour which clearly shines through in his writing.

I received Lost In Plain Sight by Alan Camrose for free in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour for Love Books Tours

Buy now


New-look blog

Alan Camrose with beard
Beard Me In My Lair!

I’m excited about my recently launched Lair Of The Camrose – my Blog – which has been very well received and I look forward to stuffing the Lair with much more content in the future. Keep those comments and messages coming, and remember to wipe your feet when you exit the Lair in case you stepped in some spilled ichor!

My latest blog post: not about books this time (except Nick Hornby’s classic Fever Pitch!) – my latest post is about the current dangers threatening football…

Charlie George Arsenal goal celebration 1971 FA Cup final vs Liverpool
Charlie George, the Snow Angel – FA Cup final, 1971

Mid-w.i.p.

I’m in the middle of my current w.i.p, a supernatural thriller.

First line:

It began with a cat, a single-decker London bus and the First World War, not necessarily in that order.

Guardian Angel

More details later, when I will need some help from beta readers, pretty please…


www.alancamrose.com

BE THERE AT THE LAIR!

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Merry Christmas (VAR is over)

First off, congratulations to Liverpool, the best team in at least Britain this year by a country mile. A great triumph, I’m delighted that it wasn’t the case in 1971.

Just get on with it…

Second, there are more important things around at the moment in the world, but the empty stadiums have somehow managed to magnify and accentuate the dire problems that football governing bodies are creating for themselves right now.

I have always loved football, even when I didn’t know better and had a Man City kit as a small kid because I liked the light blue top. That was when Man City had no money and were rubbish. How times change. My Dad supported QPR, what was I to do? Follow his lead or follow my own path?

Then Charlie George changed my football life.

I have never been to an FA Cup final, but oh boy the 1971 final, Arsenal v Liverpool, would have been the one to cash in a pile of tickets to go and see. Charlie George was majestic that day, imperious, commanding, spraying dangerous passes from midfield, buccaneering forward to let off a few long range rockets.

And then the Snow Angel Moment.

In extra time after he’d lashed home what proved to be the winner. Collapsing on the floor spreadeagled, his unspoken words, Yup, that’s how goood I am. Captivating.

That was the moment. When I became a Gooner.

My love for the club has not diminished over the years, it has kept strong, helped by the merry band of Henry & Co. and despite agonising dips and painful moments (I give you the Champions League final). They have often done stuff the hard way – That Moment in 1989 is one of the best examples. If you’re going to do it at all, please make sure you leave it more or less to the final kick of the game. Nick Hornby, take a bow for capturing the pain and the ecstasy.

My choice was rewarded by the footballing Gods when Charlie was the Legend on my Legends Tour of the Emirates. (Awesome! Like being a kid again.)

So, what’s my problem?

Three nasty little letters. V. A. R.

And two words: Handball and Offside (the main VAR issues).

My cosy little arrangement with Arsenal to scare me to death watching them – often in glorious failure – is being torpedoed by these things.

The equation is straightforward:

Football is a sport played by and refereed by human beings (for now). Human beings make mistakes. What to do about that?

The answer is not to use technology to eliminate EVERY SINGLE MISTAKE ON THE PITCH EVER. Ask Sheffield United about the Hawkeye goal-line technology (I am a fan of that tech which had been faultless until the recent debacle against Villa, but it supports my point: nothing is infallible).

That means the Powers That Be, bless them, need to get a grip before they kill the game as a spectacle.

VAR is purportedly there to get rid of stupid, obvious errors, not to take five or more minutes to pore over a video fifty times to see if one pubic hair of an attacker was in an offside position.

I guarantee that normal fans do not give a damn. Offered a choice of 100% accuracy against a free-flowing game, they would absolutely go for free-flowing. The issue that needs to be grappled with and put into a locked box on the ocean floor is that the game is the important thing, not the micro-millimetres…The argument that the money in the game makes it important to get it faultless is misguided: any cock-ups wash out over time, just get rid of obvious howlers…(If they’re not obvious, it’s not a howler.)

Yes, VAR is fledgling technology, but it is how it is applied that is the disaster area (not how it is said that it is applied).

Give the VAR referee say twenty seconds (and some Prozac: no pressure) to review an incident. If they can’t say it’s a clear and obvious error, then play on.

Until then, I will keep an avuncular eye on My Boys, but at a distance. I’ll keep my Red membership, I’ll watch them but VAR has turned off the excitement:

Gooooooal! Celebrate! Over-rule. Wait to celebrate then. Look over your shoulder after scoring, wait for it, wait for it…Maybe celebrate now? As a fan, that does not work, waiting to be told that it’s OK to yell…It’s all about the immediate adrenalin rush, not being given permission to get excited.

So:

My BT Sport subscription: Cancelling.

My Sky Sports subscription: Cancelling.

Match of the Day when things normalise more: Maybe every now and again to see if the boredom has abated.

Sad but true. I don’t want perfection, unless it’s in the form of a Charlie George screamer, not grey suits sweating not to make a mistake over the odd pixel.

Merry Christmas.

Arsenal Bear football cuddly teddy bear
Difficult to bear…
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Behind The Scenes – Behind The Typewriter

Author Interview

This interview is reprinted from the one that I took part in for Jazzy Book Reviews during last week’s book / blog tour for my new book Lost In Plain Sight:

1.       What would you consider to be your Kryptonite as an author?

Gin (even with tonic)…

2.       If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Just get it down, then stress about it. I still need to yell that sometimes at myself…

3.       What book do you feel is under-appreciated? How about overrated?

Difficult. I have my opinions on books, but we’re all entitled to our opinions, right? I’m not too bothered if I’m in the minority or the majority.

4.       Favorite childhood memory involving books?

Discovering Isaac Asimov, or as an only child trying to re-enact bits of the Lord Of The Rings in the back garden.

5.       If you could dine with any literary character, who would it be and why?

See below about my fictional friend!

6.       What fantastical fictional world would you want to live in (if any) given the chance?

That’s a tough one, but I’ll plump for the absurdities, wonder and awesomeness of the Discworld. But only if I could be head of the City Watch.

7.       Did you want to be an author when you grew up?

Yes. Being a lawyer in the intervening period from not being grown up to being a bit more grown up has allowed me the privilege of having a go at it…

8.       If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Me: creativeirreverentobsessive

My wife when I asked her about me: stubbornannoyingobsessive

All a question of perception, I’d say…

I’m not even going there with my nineteen-year-old twins, but grumpy would no doubt feature as one …

9.       What is your most unusual writing quirk?

Writing while my Burmese cat drapes herself on the right side of my chest and sleeps. That causes problems of course: I need to choose a lot of words on the QWERTY side of the keyboard…

10.   What’s one movie you like recommending to others?

Has to be Die Hard. Yippee-ki-yay!

11.   If you could own any animal as a pet, what would it be?

Drogon from GOT’s looking good. I stopped being afraid of heights a while ago.

12. Have you ever met anyone famous?

Not really.

13.       What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty.

The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett) made me cry with laughter. It was my first exposure to his extraordinary perspective on the world. (Bambi was the first movie that made me cry when I was a kid, and I vividly remember Gallipoli as a teenager…)

14.       How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written two.

The novel, Lost In Plain Sight, took around two years or so to write; the collection of ultra-ultra-short stories much less time. I’m hoping for about twelve months for my next novel (currently in production at Chapter 4 [now 20]…).

15.       How do you select the names of your characters?

They just come, probably from people around me, the media, whatever. It then takes a while to get comfortable with them if they’re major characters. My half-human character, Meyra, in LIPS started as Grace (too serene for what I wanted), then Miranda (too witchy) before settling on Meyra (Other, without being too odd). Sam Franklin came straightaway. And Pagoda? Well, that’s my cat’s name…

16.       What creature do you consider your “spirit animal” to be?

A Giant Panda – they seem pretty chilled.

17.       What are your top 5 favorite movies?

Favourite rather than best, I hasten to add:

Die Hard (see above)

Aliens

Blade Runner

Gattaca

Parasite

18.       If you were the last person on Earth, what would you do?

Find an iconic place to do a Charlton Heston impression and yell something iconic. Not the Statue of Liberty, he’s already done that. Mind you, it might take me a while to get to New York from Surrey.

19.       What fictional character would you want to be friends with in real life?

Sam Vimes (from Discworld). Although, given my answer about where I ‘d want to live, I would want his job, so that might cause friction…

20. What book do you wish you had written?

I like the books I’ve written and am writing, but I love The Old Man And The Sea (Hemingway) for sheer bang for word-buck. The simplicity of the language, the timeless themes, the bleakness and the hope, all wrapped up in such a compact package. Awesome.

21. Tell us 10 fun facts about yourself! 

My Joker wig is in a hat box in my wardrobe, just in case. I keep my other nine fun facts tied up in a purple bow next to it.

22. If you could live in any time period, what would it be and why?

Another wow question. Three immediate thoughts: in the 1920s, but only if I could be Bertie Wooster; mid-nineteenth century if I could invent something to get the industrial revolution going and be allowed to wear a stovepipe hat; as a 15th century explorer when anything was possible and there still might be dragons.

23. What is your favorite genre to read?

I love books that defy pigeon-holing. But if forced to choose, then it’s Fantasy. Or Thrillers (especially Noir). Probably Fantasy-thrillers. I need some humour in that, not just bleak and dark. If any Sci-fi comes along for the ride, then so much the better. And neo-Victorian, I like a bit of that. It’s very difficult. The Maltese Falcon’s Magic Blade Runner That’s Dreaming Of Electric Sheep. There. Perfect.

Check out Jazzy Book Reviews for a bunch of interesting stuff, including a blog and reviews: https://www.jazzybookreviews.com/2020/06/lost-in-plain-sight-by-alan-camrose.html

WEAR A MASK!

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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Daddy Lockdown 2: The Legend of the Lockdown

Life is more complicated these days, not necessarily in ways we would expect. It has shown us the encrusted treasure map (encrusted with spilt curry) showing the way to the Sacred Vault Of Treasures and Wisdom.

In a stale fortune cookie delivered before the Lockdown and batted by the cat under the sofa was the following list of prophecies and wise sayings which have proved to be true and have come to pass:

Confucius, he said:

  • There’s no need to dial 111 if Ocado doesn’t deliver the promised tub of Phish Food.
  • Nor is there a setting on the Sat-Nav to figure out the whereabouts of the smallest saucepan, or indeed The Mythical Teaspoons From Antiquity. Alexa is on the side of the Sat-Nav on that one, in electronic solidarity.
  • No matter how many times everyone looks under the cushions, the identity of the villain who changed the Amazon account password to something obscure and then forgot it will be lost in the Eternal Mists of Forgetfulness. Even though the list of suspects is short and unchanging.
  • If anyone so much as peeks at something on the Interthingy, a horde of Visigoth suppliers will descend on you and besiege your computer hurling entreaties to buy a 100″ TV. Be warned!
  • It is possible to attempt the ‘I hate you’ teenager to parent per day world record on consecutive days for the whole of Lockdown.
  • It is important that opened tomato ketchup bottles are left out in direct sunlight for as long as possible to ensure a proper degree of crustiness, ideally when the top has been taken off for the first time. Bonus points for hiding the lid.
  • The dishwaher should not only be on for every second of the day , operated in the same way as chain-smoking but with washing tablets. As a rule of thumb, it is forbidden for anyone under the age of 20 to put anything into the machine or take anything out.
  • Sleeping is something to be done during the daylight hours or at night. In case of confusion, treat twilight and early dawn as either daylight or night. Short breaks from sleeping are permitted to allow access to the fridge.
  • The high priority items in any Sainsbury’s order are party food for seven-year-olds (to feed a pair of nineteen-year-olds).
  • Dirty laundry is precious and should be cherished and put away in sacred – obscure – places until its blessed revelation and its casting into the Washing Machine of Purification.

And the Eleventh and most important:

Four adults can co-exist in good humour and tolerance during this period of craziness and frustration (with a bit of letting off steam)

Raaaaaaargh! Letting off a bit of steam…

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

WEAR A MASK!
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The Number Of The Beast: 0.8 to 25


Welcome to my Blog at The HAIR Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, come with me on a further look around the Household during the Lockdown through Cousin It’s fringe


The nth + whatever week of Lockdown and Father has been wondering about the follicle-related issues in the Household but is not tonsure of the results

The Family has accumulated a lot of hair over the past few months of Lockdown (apart from Jasper the Retriever who is now in full-on shedding mode for the Summer, to increase the R number in the House (Rug number)).

It is now more appropriate to refer to:

Locks-down

Shaggy hair, shggy by nature, Zoinks scary!
Zoinks!

Father has always been sub-optimal at gardening, but hair is something that he has been able to cultivate in the privacy of the House. Oh, yes.

Forget toilet paper supplies, the availability of personal grooming kits plummeted on Amazon in the early days of Lockdown. It was fuelled by crazed stockpilers. They had the determination to build up stocks of home barber kits, scissors (didn’t matter what size) and precision personal care systems (on a scale where non-precision is a strimmer). It was TOO MUCH of a temptation. Like collecting first-day covers or commemorative coins. All pristine and even now unopened.

But Father had a head start on all of them (not the Joker wig).

A few years ago, Mother-in-law bought him the Beast for Christmas. It may come in useful when you’re older: The mark of a visionary Christmas present and its ticket to the back of the wardrobe.

And now, the Beast has re-emerged.

The Beast is a Hair Clipper Gift Set. How Father laughed at the time. It has a Precision (that word again) Trimmer; an Ear-Nose Trimmer (presumably for if you feel your nose is too long or your ears too large, or you otherwise want to jam a miniature threshing machine up your nose or into your ears). It also has Precision (!) Blades in minute increments from 0.8 mm to 25 mm, 8 of them. Scissors, a barber comb, a Thumb-Adjustable Taper Lever (no, no idea).

It’s still in its packaging, in the brutally efficient-looking hard plastic carrycase that seems more suitable for an assassin to keep his silenced snap-together rifle. It’s black, of course, for added glamour.

Father is terrified of it.

When it is unleashed, it will howl and roar with the full fury of its three AAA batteries, and tear at Father’s hair and facial fur in an orgy of primitive topiary. It will make offerings of slabs of matted fluff to its ancient gods.

Father has fought it off for the moment, but the time will no doubt come when it is invoked by Mother, when Father is given a (probably justified), er, wigging about his facial furniture. She has already tackled her own head of hair in a modest and well-executed way, but Father truly believes that is a ruse to lull him into a false sense of security while she teams up with the Beast for a Shearing.

Would Father’s nineteen-year old Offspring join in? In a heartbeat. But they would only be able to do so over Father’s beautifully coiffured dead body. Anyway, they are looking after their own glut of tresses for the moment blossoming out of their heads at a frightening rate.

Resistance may be futile for Father, but until the Day Of The Beast, he stands firm (and furry).

The Lockdown has made us re-evaluate how we do many things, and hair maintenance is not exactly top priority, but this period has allowed a degree of freedom that cannot be restricted or spoiled by That Bastard Virus.

Role model for the well-haired

A BIG Thank You to the NHS, Emergency Services and Front-line workers for making the world a safer place. for all of us

 Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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Daddy Lockdown

It’s a Madhouse!


Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, come with me on a journey around the Household during the Lockdown – forget the Olympics, it’s all here…


DADDY SMASH!!!

The nth week of Lockdown and Father has been re-evaluating his place in the Cosmic Order.

He thinks about the unexpected joys of the Offspring back from uni for an undefined and unknowable period, and the close bonding rituals that could therefore be entered into by the family to achieve a Nirvanic Utopia of harmony and shared purpose.

Then the need for another cocktail kicks in, one of the high points of the situation: a carte blanche to practise making cocktails at increasingly bizarre hours of the day. Father is the Cocktails Master, his signature chemistry experiment being an El Presidente – rum, vermouth, Grand Marnier and Grenadine, a twirl of orange peel, and see you tomorrow morning.

Not only that, his position as Regulator Of The Bins has been upgraded to Bin Czar. There was absolutely no competition whatsoever for the role, but with increased teenager presence (Father hesitates to use the word activity) it has become more of another career than a vocation. The increased fun of 4-D (with added aroma) Hide and Seek to Feed the Bins: searching for increasingly obscurely stashed ancient plastic and glass objects. Many dusted with a delicate layer of darkening yoghurt or a veneer of pasta sauce starting to glow in the shadows.

A joyous game for all the family to play.

Is Hide and Seek the correct comparison? Perhaps more a game of Jenga, where increasing archaeological layers of food are added to the sedimentary terrain until, finally, Father breaks.

When he breaks, he utters the magical words much sought after in the teenager community as the sign of a High Score: Where have all the bloody teaspoons gone?!

The answer of course lies in the Dark Regions of the Offsprings’ lairs.

There are other games that can be played with Father, to the extent that there’s no need to pine for the postponed Olympics when there’s a Pentathlon just sitting there at home, ready to go. All participants are certified to be at gold medal standard.

How about the High Hurdles?

The indoor version involves leaping over clothes carefully sorted into mountainous piles of mixed washed and unwashed clothes strewn between the bedroom door starting line to the finishing line at the window. As a word of warning, a lap of the room is not feasible except for parents who can fly.

The 4×100 Empty Box event, a test of Father’s nerve and resilience as empty cardboard boxes, cunningly disguised as part of the food supplies, are left lurking in out of the way cupboards. With. No. Food. Left. In. Them.

There’s also the Puss In Boots Eyes triple jump event in the pokey cupboard off the living room which houses all the Internet kit. Mummy joins the field on this one. Father particularly enjoys this sport, especially during the Lockdown when the country’s Internet resources are being taxed to the limit.

Once properly kitted out, all the contestants adopt a doleful, big-eyed stance (points are awarded for style) and take careful aim at Father with a brisk and accusing The Internet Isn’t Working. Like the sport of throwing the javelin but with a live target.

That is followed by the second element of the event: the deeply disappointed look. This is deployed when, after a record breaking 35 seconds of Father turning the router off and then on again – using his mystical (and unknowable to the rest of the household) Turn Off/Turn On Manoeuvre, the chant from the terraces is that the Internet Is Still Not Working.

The third and final phase has Father adopting enforced yoga and Turkish massage poses to fit into the Cupboard – the Shrine to the Interweb – with a bent paperclip and the Virgin manual written in Japanese to Reset The System.

Eventually, whether by Father’s efforts or the service provider quietly pressing a few buttons in their secret base to get rid of him, the Internet comes back on with the joyous return of Three White Lights, doing what it had been doing an hour ago.

There is no ticker-tape or open-top bus parade, instead a quick check of the stop watch by the participants to see what performance improvements could be achieved next time.

Finally, it’s onward to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Marathon, all the movies in chronological order.

With the whole family assembled.

Bliss.

Time for another cocktail.


Cheers,

Alan 😎


Alan Camrose
https://www.alancamrose.com

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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ALAN CAMROSE NEWSLETTER


APRIL/MAY 2020


Blog, books, reviews, human sacrifices (by appointment only)

Dare to explore my Lair

This time:

Shows my playful Joker face

Exciting news! Look out for my blog tour about my book, Lost In Plain Sight…Available on Amazon for 0.99 (free on Kindle Unlimited) Buy now

More details soon!
Shows my playful Joker face

I have just launched The Lair Of The Camrose, my Blog stuffed with articles, musings, pics and other stuff, including a video trip into the heart of the Lair.

Latest blog post: reviews of selected thrillers from the bookshelves in my Lair…

www.alancamrose.com

BE THERE AT THE LAIR!

Shows my playful Joker face

Try out my cat lovers literary quiz at Goodreads. A Magic-based one is coming shortly! It will ruffle your fur…

The Art of Paw

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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A magician’s flesh in the light of a blue moon


Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, come with me on a journey around a few of my books to see what I read and how I read it, which in turn informs my own creative process.


I have taken a closer look at a few books that I have finished recently:

Blue moon the way of all flesh the magician lee child maugham
Spotlight on thrillers old and new

Blue Moon by Lee Child

The Way Of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

The Magician by Somerset Maugham

I chose these more or less at random to reflect some of the genres that I favour and my thoughts on these books. And any influences they have had on my fiction writing.

Blue Moon is a knock down drag out action thriller, the 24th in the hard-nosed series by Lee Child.

The Way Of All Flesh is a thriller set in Victorian Edinburgh.

The Magician was written in the early part of the 20th Century, a Gothic supernatural thriller where there is more to it than meets the eye.

They satisfy the reader part of me that wants some escapism, delivering to varying degrees and covering a range of time periods, from contemporary to the early 19s to Victorian, written from different starting points, Blue Moon and the Magician contemporaneous to their authors, the Way Of All Flesh looking back.

An interesting cocktail, hence the mash-up blog post title…


BLUE MOON

The Grim Reacher (with automatic weapons)

love the Reacher books. Hats off to Lee Child.

Blue Moon has been my first wobble after what I regard as 23 previous triumphs…I’ve read all of them, and most of the short stories (as fixes until the next novel).

Killer main character, clever plots, but in this one not so much.

Why?

Setting the novel somewhere un-named immediately distanced me from the action (which is ruthless and efficient as usual); it made it seem more artificial. In a bubble.

The plot is considerably more linear than its predecessors, easing us into the action with crowbar intensity but then becoming more by-the-numbers for me. Some parts reminded me of a shoot ’em up video game, with dim villains dutifully stepping up to be dispatched by Reacher. The underpinning subject matter of the operation is satisfyingly topical (in a non-COVID world) but in many ways could probably have been any other subject matter without having disturbed the flow of the book.

Having said all that, despite being a little disappointed by Blue Moon (and, mind you, all things are relative), I STILL enjoyed it. Roll on #25, even if under a different pair of hands… 


THE MAGICIAN

Gothic. Horror. Fantasy. The intrigue of a new century (in this case, the 20th). – what’s not to like?

Set in a mostly dour Britain, it’s spiced up with Bohemian Paris and a roam across Europe, made as exotic as the mysterious East. The novel plays with archetypes and stereotypes and creates genuine menace from its diabolical villain, Haddo, who entices his victim to his towering lair in the dark depths of the British countryside. Why does he do that? Revenge. And because he can. Because he is a Magician.

It’s a quest, it has a hero called Arthur (the baggage of that name was probably not an accident!), and a satisfyingly villainous villain.

So far so formulaic.

But once the reader starts to peel back the various roles and behaviour of the characters,, it becomes a fascinating look at how the world was changing around the time Maugham wrote the novel. And to add a further dimension, all fueled by a scandalous public “duel” of words between the author and the notorious Aleister Crowley, who was allegedly the “wickedest man in the world” around that time, a label that the alleged Satanist seemed to relish. Crowley was the clear “inspiration” for Haddo.

The timelines in the book are odd to modern eyes, some of the decision-making bizarre, but the darkness feels very real in these pages.

Allow some rope for some of the archaic mores and style and your suspension (hanging) of belief will be rewarded with an iconic ending bringing in a new day.


THE WAY OF ALL FLESH

An odd mixture of Scottish episodes of Call The Midwife and Ripper Street

All in all, I enjoyed The Way of All Flesh, but I wasn’t captivated.

3.5 stars.

The feeling of place and time is very good, and the burgeoning relationship between the two main characters. The other thing that I liked was the inclusion of evidently local words and phrases to increase the grounding and credibility. The use of medical terminology has the same effect – and plenty of that given some of the disturbing detail… The periodic commentary on women’s evolving rights and place in society in those times was I thought well handled. The final resolution, in the circumstances/time period, was effective. Overall, very atmospheric.

So far so good.

My main difficulties with the book amount to the big reveals not feeling particularly big; I found them somewhat telegraphed. There is also a tendency at times for the inclusion of long explanations of what we have just seen, which I feel drew me out of the action. In addition, I found parts, particularly toward the end, somewhat melodramatic.

Overall, perfectly readable and enjoyable; good escapism in the context of our current travails.

ALL TOGETHER NOW…

Thinking about them as an unlikely package, they all tick the thriller box, the action driving forward to allow a return to some form of equilibrium.

Villains are thwarted, resolve is tested, there is a satisfying “normality” and even solidity to the structure of the novels despite their wide-ranging subject matter and their place in the literary continuum. Precious little humour in any of them, but a sound and relentless approach to finding resolution.

That is what I find pleasing in thrillers, re-setting the world albeit with changes that spill over into the next offering, more relevant to the Reacher series as a means of retaining control over what develops around characters imbued with their own wishes and needs after, in Reacher’s case, such a long time on the road…


Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

You will find his fantasy-thriller, Lost In Plain Sight, on Amazon directly, or through his website.

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