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Alan Camrose Posts

Brighton Beach Memories

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 in the company of a psychopath to the seaside for a look around the place that inspired one of my books…


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Brighton hasn’t featured prominently in literature or movies with a few outstanding exceptions that I’ve looked at in this post. (Brighton Beach Memoirs doesn’t count since it’s in a foreign country) I have embedded info about various of the treats in store. Keep it to hand for the better times that are coming.

Pinkie Brown is a psychotic and ruthless underworld figure in Graham Greene’s classic 1938 novel, Brighton Rock (and the classic movie in 1948 (Richard Attenborough), and the re-make in 2010 with among others Helen Mirren – Official Trailer. Pinkie would be an unlikely poster-boy for the Brighton tourist trade. The  brawling tribes portrayed in Sixties Brighton in the movie Quadrophenia wouldn’t be on their shortlist either. (Official trailer)

To give you an idea of the menace that is in this book and the movies, imagine you’re the teddy bear:

Pagoda Cat menacing an innocent teddy bear
Bear in the cross-hairs

On a brighter note, Brighton prides itself on its eclectic cultural scene: a challenging marathon (which I have witnessed, I confess, as a supporter rather than a participant), and the legendary annual Brighton Naked Bike Ride (2019 details) where riders struggle to stow their gear. With the Palace Pier, the towering Needle city observation deck (the British Airways i360) and the barking mad architecture of the Brighton Pavilion, there’s a lot to see.

I have been going to Brighton throughout my life, first with my parents, often to the pitch & putt on the front when I was a kid. I achieved a keen grasp of ’99’ tasting. Then I went with friends, and now family and friends. The city has changed from a more traditional seaside town of ice cream, sticky rock and fish & chips to the newer, more wide-ranging, place to be. I found it was a natural choice for me to use Brighton and its local area as the main backdrop to my new fantasy-thriller, Lost In Plain Sight. I was drawn to it by my familiarity with the place, the excitement that it still gives me to go down there and crunch over the beach and visit the Regency fish restaurant on the seafront for some hake and chips. And an edge to the place, created by the ebb and flow of visitors to the city. Never the same twice.

The West Pier is my favourite landmark in Brighton. Visit the webpage and you’ll see its Goth allure. It used to be an elegant slice of seaside glamour, then fires and the elements conspired to bring it down before its redevelopment, leaving what now looks like a black rib-cage hovering in and above the sea, no longer a counterpoint to the Palace Pier, more a dwindling marker of past glory. 

The sea and the sky danced on the horizon, impossible to tell apart, the view broken only by the brooding, spidery remains of the burnt-out West Pier, soaking up sparkles from the water with grim determination.  

Lost In Plain Sight

Pinkie would’ve attacked it with sledgehammers to finish it off, but it sits there now, reluctantly crumbling into the sea. It’s a symbol of keeping going against all the odds. Like the investigation team in my book. 

Brighton has evolved over the years, its history a backdrop for greasy doughnuts, beer and cults of human sacrifice. Keep it in mind for a future escape during these difficult times. I’ll keep it in mind for future books.

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Lily of the Valleys


This time, come with me on a road trip in Wales with a delightful companion called Lily


As a family, we hankered for the touch of the outdoor life, bracing, rewarduing, irresitible.

A few years ago, we came up with the idea of hiring a campervan in Wales. A tentative touch of the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, complete with pesky kids on board and a mysterious camping site owner.

Split up and search for clues as to why we’re all here

As a family – at least on the parental side – we had toyed for a while with the idea of owning a campervan, one of the originals. It was something to get out of our system, try it out, see how it fitted.

We were introduced to Lily by Pembrokeshire Classic Campers – they were very helpful and accommodating when we dealt with them. We – well, I – immediately developed a soft spot for Lily in our hearts, as soft as her brakes that required a ten-minute advance warning before being triggered. An introduction to the – for me – new concept of drum brakes rather than modern disc brakes – drum because they required a drum roll and crash of cymbals before they went into action and pressure was applied. Fortunately, her 0-60 was really 0-30.

We stopped at a campsite for the night and deployed Lily’s ‘drive-away’ awning, the one with the ‘inner bedroom’ which clipped onto the side of the van as an extra bedroom to create a seamless barrier from the elements. The Boy and I were turfed out onto the, er, turf under the awning when the female members of our household flatly refused to move from the interior of the van. The cold, hard ground was not quite the Green, Green Grass of Home, that night, but I did catch sight of a couple of stars through a break in the clouds.

I have happy memories of sleeping under the stars – until 6:30 am, when a corner of the awning detached from its peg and started rhythmically slapping me in the  face with rain-soaked enthusiasm. 

Home Sweet Home

And you know what? It remains a glowing, magical memory, even now…The freedom, the freshness and the howling wind on that hill-top. Never mind my cricked neck or the swearing, this was a case of circling the wagon on the frontier and heading off the worst that Nature could throw at us. The wind made it clear that failing to pack up in short order would result in us not being in Kansas anymore. Well, at least myself and the Boy.

The rest of the Household were just fine.

We have not been in a campervan since, but it is one of those memories that I cherish. Not quite Scott of the Antarctic, but a peek into the fangs of the gale. And an itch duly scratched (and banged on the head with flapping canvas).

Much to be recommended in leaving the beaten path , just – ask my Daughter – not straying too far from three bars on the wi-fi…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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The magic of make-up: Lights…Camera…Joker!

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 and see me in my make-up studio, also known as my office…


Dressed as Joker in the office, the magic of make-up - nothing to do with my magic cats novel

I absolutely love the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie. He made me feel sorry for the Joker. Crazy!

Worth his Oscar every day of the week.

It’s been an epic journey for the Joker leading up to this point:

Cesar Romero was fantastic cavorting opposite without question the best Batman ever – Adam West. Cesar was the chortling Clown-Prince of Crime…Among others, the reckless and deranged Jack Nicholson, guilty of chewing up the furniture in Batman.  And the sadly missed nightmare of Heath Ledger’s take. Genuinely unsettling, and brings nightmares even now of his magic trick with a disappearing pencil…

But I think the Phoenix version had the extra dimensions of his aching need for acceptance and terrible mental health issues. All of that seeped into the character so much that even with the horrific crimes that he commits during the course of the movie and his thirst for chaos and destruction, we are still invited not so much to side with him as to at least understand him as a complete character rather than a caricature – an amazing feat when you think about him strutting around in lurid clothes and troubling make-up, the scent of coulrophobia burning your nostrils as you watch.

My stint as a villain (apart from the heinous crime of being a lawyer, that is) amounted to several hours at an office party a while back, heisting beer. You can see the office below…

I recall having taken a conference call that day in my get-up, asking the – very understanding, and amused – client to allow me to conduct the call on speaker, explaining that I didn’t want to smudge my make-up.

Becoming someone else for a brief time is amazingly liberating, as you can perhaps see below – a visit to the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong for tea illustrates that…

Make-up and costume of Joker in Hong Kong

I asked for a table for four in the Clipper Lounge for my wife and the kids. The staff are magnificent there, not even raising an eyebrow – they could have borrowed one of mine – as they showed us directly to our table. I suppose it made it OK because I was wearing a tie?

This feeds through into my writing – the liberation not the need to dress up in odd costumes. Each character unleashed in a book contains – worryingly sometimes – a little bit of me, my family, friends, acquaintances, history. Inevitably. Everything comes from somewhere. All part of my way of understanding the world and me, and me in the world, as part of my writing.

Take a look at my other blog posts: see if they drive you crazy…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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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Appearances are deceiving…

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 trip to Cuba and see the coming together of Santeria and roast chicken…


Santeria emporium, Havana, Cuba
Santeria emporium, Havana, Cuba

We wandered round the streets of Havana, Cuba drinking in the sights and some local beer. Our journey led us into a surreal world of crumbling beautiful buildings topped with optimistic modern extensions, watchful street cats, and the mysterious religion of Santeria (the Cuban version of voodoo).

That was a departure from the usual boat-like classic automobiles and challenging-coloured cocktails). 

We discovered a voodoo shop around Calle O’Reilly (O’Reilly Street) in Old Havana. There must be a magic spell over it; I would never find it again, tucked away off the main thoroughfare. The street was named after the unlikely sounding Alejandro O’Reilly, 1st Count of O’Reilly of the Spanish Empire, rewarded by Spain for among other things during the course of the 18th century re-building Havana’s defences after they’d proved to have been set in the wrong place. So, who did your building work last time…?

The exotic emporium was festooned with bowls (for offerings), trinkets, candles and candlesticks, figurines of Catholic saints, necklaces, and coloured beads called elekes. The authentic, sacred versions of elekes are carefully prepared by santeros (think, priests) to reflect and guide initiates in suitable ways; other beads are…just beads.

Elekes Santeria jewellery, magic, voodoo
Elekes

The religion of Santeria developed undercover as a shadow of Catholicism, when slaves from Africa arrived at their new enforced homes in places like Cuba, and were discouraged from openly practising their beliefs. They used Catholic saints as avatars or proxies to cloak their own style of worship, an intriguing sleight of hand to allow them to continue to follow their old ways. 

Orishas – the Santeria equivalent of selected saints – have specific colours, behaviours and powers associated with them, practitioners emerging from behind the disguise of Catholicism to make offerings of food and sometimes blood (animal sacrifices). The latter adds something of a sinister element to the religion, often over-shadowing its predominantly uncontroversial ways and discouraging open practice.

I made more of Santeria in my novel, Lost In Plain Sight, which portrays a menacing arm of the religion allowing – demanding – human sacrifice, not merely chickens. 

Roast chicken at Hixter

Is this a horrific memento that I stole away out of the back of the Santeria shop allowing me to make an evil Hand Of Glory to strike fear into my enemies and lay waste to their souls?

No, It’s a roast chicken served at Hixter restaurant, Bankside, in London. It’s presented at your table done up like a, er, chicken, including a very fine looking pair of feet. Took me back to our days in Hong Kong, where chickens’ feet are alarmingly popular, espacially when employed to bait foreigners at dinner. 

They’re not for the squeamish, but neither are they a monstrous display of dark magic. The chicken is moist and succulent, run through from the base with an uncomfortable nod to Edward II. 

I picked out this image to illustrate the power of connection and association.

I used the concept of Santeria in my book, albeit distorted and made more alarming by the introduction of higher levels of sacrifice rather closer to home. 

Here’s a passage from my book that talks about it, a taster perhaps, using authentic names but for more diabolical purposes:


EXTRACT from Lost In Plain Sight

The leader intoned in a voice that melted into the African drums and the chant as the chorus writhed in anticipation, all in time with the ancient rhythms: 

‘Babalu-Aye, Oh Lord of Healing, Lord Ọbalúayé, Wise and conquering One,Your Worshipfulness Erinle, Your medical wisdom we need and implore, Lord Esu, Your Tricks and Wit are our Guide, Lord Kokou teach us your Warrior ways, Obatala, help us to create human bodies in your divine image, Lord Shango put your trust and lightning in us, Lady Aje share your bounteous wisdom and wealth, and Mistress Oya, let us know the secrets of your Maagic, we beseech you.’ 

The leader motioned to his entranced entourage, like a king cobra conducting at the Royal Albert Hall. They responded immediately. I am horrified to say that we responded immediately, just far enough away to escape the strangling power of the combination of beat and words and song. The circle of acolytes and spheres tightened; the intensity and volume increased. I could smell its dark ululations, feel the texture of its cloying taste, hear the jangling of harsh colours, even from where we were.  


Religion covered over with religion in the real world, a chicken that tastes wonderful/ looks demonic, and the modification and distortion of reality to provide grounding for some pretty anti-social behaviour in my book. All things that were unexpected for me related to my experiences, woven into fiction because they fitted in with what I wanted to show.. 

Nothing’s wasted. 

Like the chicken (well, maybe those claws this time around)…

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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