Office Life – Example chapter

Wood parked his car as close to the office door as possible. He didn’t particularly like exercise as it tended to show his smoking in a bad light. Joan and Trandorf jumped out of the car and headed to the door.

“That bloody Phil Bracewell is outside again,” said Trandorf pointing, “he’s hiding behind the bushes, presumably despoiling the air around him.”

“Those bushes are looking rather ill, aren’t they?” replied Joan.

“At least it’s not us he’s gassing,” said Trandorf, “you have to look on the bright side.” With that he opened the door to be met by Roger Laurence.

“Hello Martian,” said Laurence.

“What are you doing here?” replied Trandorf.

“Just to warn you that Pete Brown is on the warpath; I think you might have had him arrested by mistake this morning.”

“What?”

Trandorf moved past Laurence and approached his desk.

“That’s him, that’s the bastard there,” said a heavily accented, male voice from the desk by the window. The man had a bushy, greying beard, a large forehead and had a well-developed suntan.

“Who the hell let you in here,” shouted Trandorf, “Ted and Roger why is there a homeless person sitting in my office?”

“I am not homeless,” said Brown, “‘let me in’ I mouthed to you through the window this morning. ‘Sod Off’ was your reply, you useless bastard, who did you think I was?”

“I didn’t know who you were and that’s the whole point; we manufacture weapons here and we can’t have any Tom, Dick, or Harry banging on windows and demanding to be let in to offices. You were lucky they just arrested you – I would have Tasered you, you idiot – why did you arrive so early – what was the point of that?”

“I wanted to start weaving, ‘let’s get weaving’ that is my motto, and people like you cut the thread even before I get started.”

“Why are you dressed like a homeless person with that scraggly beard, mad-professor glasses, and scrappy shoes? You’re supposed to be dressed like a contractor, look smart, even if you sound like a voiceover in a Hovis advert; ‘eeee appen me whippets deed, let’s get weaving, oooo a sit at foot of our stairs, it’s a bit black over Bill’s mothers’”.

Roger Laurence was laughing at Trandorf’s accurate accent whereas Ted was just content to smile. Brown, though, was not finished.

“You have no right to take the piss out of me like that, I can’t help the way I sound – and these clothes are my best clothes, so I can’t dress up any more than I already have done.”

“Dress up? You look like something that would appear in a Salvation Army shop window if they ever used mannequins to advertise their clothes for homeless people. If you look in a mirror you’ll probably understand why they don’t use them, because you look a big, hairy mess.”

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 9

Valladolid has a bewildering array of churches, statues, palaces, and plazas. I started in the Plaza Mayor, built after a fire in the 16th century. The buildings are all painted in a rich red colour, including the Ayuntamiento or City Hall, which takes pride of place on the northern side. This plaza was the first of its kind in Spain and formed the model for similar squares in Spain and most of South America.

Heading due south through an area of shops including the department store El Corte Ingles, you come to the area called Campo Grande, on the far side of which is the railway station. The Campo Grande is a park, with shade-giving trees containing a small lake with a jet of water. On the southern side is the Oriental Museum and the Iglesia de San Juan de Letran. The Museo Oriental has the largest collection of Oriental art in Spain.

The Augustinian Fathers christianised the Philippines and then headed to China and Japan. As they worked in these countries, they collected the best art they could find and sent it back to Spain. These items, including ceramics, sculptures and paintings, form the basis of the collection in the eighteen rooms of the museum. My fellow tourists in the museum were impressed and said so loudly.

To the east of the museum is the Plaza de Colon with a large statue of Christopher Columbus. Heading north again, I came to the Casa del Principe, the house of the prince, a residential building built in 1906 and an outstanding example of art nouveau architecture. The tower sits above the front door, has five storeys, and is topped by a dome. To the east is the Casa de Cervantes where the writer stayed between 1604 and 1606 during his time in the city. The inside attempts to recreate the atmosphere of a house inhabited by a seventeenth century Spanish nobleman.

Close by on the Plaza de Espana is the colossal facade of the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, completed in 1963, which can’t be missed because of the large parabolic arches that reach high on the facade. I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not the arches are ugly.

Heading up Lopez Gamez Street brings you to the area near the Cathedral. Before visiting the cathedral, head right along R Hernandez to the Convento de las Salesas with behind it the Casa Colon. Christopher Columbus died in this house in 1506. The museum is over four floors and has many interactive exhibits. There are old maps that take you on a journey through Christopher Columbus’s trips to the Americas. The top floor describes Valladolid in the days of the great explorer.

Around four hundred metres north of the cathedral is the Iglesia de San Pablo. If you see one church in Valladolid, make sure it’s this one. I say this because of the carvings on the south-western facade, which are elaborate, beautiful, and many. Cardinal Juan de Torquemada commissioned the church between 1445 and 1468. The cardinal was the uncle of Tomas de Torquemada, Spain’s first Grand Inquisitor. The church was extended and refurbished until 1616 with various sponsors and notables asking for additions to the facade. They baptized King Philip II and King Philip IV of Spain in the church.

The facade of San Pablo is not the finest in Valladolid, though. From San Pablo, fifty metres along the street called Cadenas de San Gregorio is the entrance to the Museo Nacional de Escultura, housed in the former Colegio de San Gregorio. This facade was produced by the workshop of the master craftsman Gil de Siloe and contains children in the branches of a pomegranate tree, crowned lions, and coats of arms. It’s stunning and I can see why they housed the National Museum of Sculpture here.

This museum is on two floors, arranged around a courtyard, and houses works from the 13th to the 18th centuries, mostly from central Spain, though art from Italy and Flanders is included. The major works of art include A Raising of the Cross by Francisco del Rincon, the Adoration of the Magi by Alonso Berruguete, Lamentation of Christ by Juan de Juni, and an amazing Penitent Magdalene by Pedro de Mena dating from 1663-64. This last piece is remarkable. Mary’s hair is in a modern style and her loose dress made me think of 1964 than 1664.  There is also the complete set of choir stalls from the church of San Benito de Valladolid. During the Holy Week in Valladolid the national museum of Sculpture provides one hundred and four items from their collection to the brotherhoods for their religious processions.

The main city market, the Mercado de Val, is due south of the museum and just north of the Plaza Mayor. The building is one hundred and twelve metres long and houses several gastro cafes where visitors like me can take a break from their shopping, eat some snacks and choose from a variety of drinks. Just outside the market are some recycling bins for public use where I could discard certain items with no one taking too much notice. I had bought their replacements earlier in my tour around and I felt safer and less likely to be recognised.

Office Life

Office Life is a book. It is the story of 5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around. One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend and another has horrible personal habits. Some characters are quiet and others aren’t.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it although he is loathe to admit it. However, he does become the unlikely hero when he finds some information that will help save his company.

Office Life is available here at a reduced price of $0.99 from 20th April to 27th April.

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 8

Pat Walker had a single seat for her journey to Valladolid from Burgos. She placed her bag on the rack and glanced through the window at the police presence on the platform. According to the posters, a tourist had been attacked two days ago near this station. There was no description of the attacker, but Walker had taken no chances and changed her style, even though the hat didn’t suit her and the sunglasses looked out of place on someone so pale. She had work to do before things became serious.

On time, the train pulled out of Burgos – Rosa de Lima station. The carriage was full of families with small children, who were sleeping or playing with toy cars, racing them on the seats, windows, and tables. Walker pulled out her book and started to read. The assassin in the book was preparing well and seemed to have thought of everything. Walker hoped she had.

This was not her normal territory, her normal terrain, and she was nervous for this reason alone. Too many things were out of her control, almost all of them the people around her, the innocents she hoped wouldn’t be in the way when the time came. Too many things, too many people, way too many people. She had no means of truly defending herself, should the need arise. Walker wasn’t used to that; she didn’t even have a phone to call in a friendly drone to help. She smiled, as she was enjoying the nervousness this engendered. Deep inside, she knew she would do a good thing, a very good thing, for those who couldn’t defend themselves against bullets, for those who couldn’t understand others who kill just for pleasure and not for need… a gentle tap on the shoulder brought her back to the train carriage from her thoughts.

“Excuse me,” said a voice, a voice speaking English as a second or perhaps even a third language.

“Yes,” replied Walker, “can I help you?” She looked into the eyes of a young Spanish man wearing a bright orange shirt and blue corduroy trousers. Walker could speak other languages too, but few of them would be useful in this country, on this continent. Most of them were dialects of one language.

“Yes, senora, I am sorry to bother you, I think you were thinking about your book, it must be interesting.”

“Oh, it is,” said Walker, “it is, but I am a writer myself and I was savouring the prose and the writer’s ability to transport me, the reader, to a particular time and place.”

“What type of books do you write?”

“I am writing a book about travelling on the wonderful Spanish railways,” said Walker. “I am so impressed by them, especially as they were built during a time when the economy wasn’t doing so very well.”

A child started to cry just behind Walker’s seat. The young Spanish man glanced behind him and then turned back to Walker.

“Could I trouble you?” he said. “My child has lost his Ferdinand Alonso Le Mans toy under your seat, could you please look for it?”

“Of course,” said Walker, “there was me babbling on about railways and your boy has lost his toy, which is far more important, hold on a moment.”

Walker put her book down, placing the bookmark carefully at the right page, and then got down on her hands and knees to look under her seat. She saw the grey car wedged between the seat and the wall of the compartment. She took out her Swiss Army knife, selected the corkscrew, and deftly hooked the car’s open window with the curved metal point.

“There you are, I hope I didn’t scratch the bodywork,” said Walker leaping to her feet from a kneeling position and handing the car back to its grateful owner.

“Thank you,” said the young man. “Where did you learn to do that with so much control, that was remarkable.”

“Oh, that,” said Walker cursing herself for showing off her suppleness in such a public place. “I trained as a gymnast, specialising in floor exercises, so that sort of thing still comes as second nature, even though it was many years ago.”

“I understand,” said the man. “Thank you, I will let you read your book.”

Walker smiled and sat down. On your next exhibition of physical prowess in public, she said to herself looking at her reflection in the window, get up more slowly and use one leg at a time. I hope no one was watching you perform your tricks, especially as you were wearing a hat and shades inside a train carriage! You are supposed to be undercover. Time to recycle the shades and hat, plus the blue-and-white striped top. Buy some others.

Hunting the hunters

 If you would like to read about trophy hunters getting their comeuppance, this is the book for you. This is a fast-paced thriller about animal lovers striking back.

The inspiration came because a number of things about trophy hunting strike me as evil. 

The fact that there are people out there who want to kill beautiful animals. 
 
The fact that these people gain pleasure from killing a sentient being from a cowardly distance.
 
The fact that they display the results of their hunting for the world to see.
 
It’s time someone did something.
 
As an author, I have the inspiration to make sure someone does.
 

Alex Peters had loved animals her whole life. When her friends expressed their sadness that no one was hunting the hunters of animals, she decided to rectify the situation. She was the ideal candidate. In her normal job, as a soldier behind enemy lines, she’d killed animal abusers when given the chance and the animals were given some respite from their ordeals.

Now she was not undercover. She was on holiday, travelling on the trains in Spain and Portugal.

There were no colleagues to back her up. She would have to take risks.

She doesn’t keep a diary of the deaths, but does like to write about the history of the places she has visited. This makes her seem like a normal human being – even when she isn’t.

The book is called “She’s Coming For You”. It is available for $0.99 today.

An example chapter will follow shortly on this blog. 

Let the hunt begin here

#ShesComingForYou

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 7

The tall man with three day’s growth of beard leaned against the black flag on the wall and listened to his friend talking on a satellite phone. Rapid bursts of Arabic were being exchanged as the evening sunshine came through the blinds and cast a shadow over the paintings on the wall. There was a time limit on the call, for security reasons.

As he watched and listened, the tall man received a text from his man on the ground in northern Spain. This follower was in place to catch the train from Valladolid to Leon in 3 days’ time, and then he would wait to follow the people, their target, to the ultimate and final destination – Santiago de Compostela – the end of their journey, the end of their pilgrimage. The tall man stubbed out his cigarette in a metal ashtray and smiled as the conversation ended.

“How are things in the Mediterranean?” he asked.

“They are on their way, there are no problems, and they are keeping away from the prying eyes of the western powers, looking for immigrants on board vessels. The Spanish navy in the Mediterranean is further north, making sure that no one upsets the tourists in The Balearics.”

“Good, good, let’s wish our fellow jihadis all speed on their journey to help us in our quest.”

“Do we know which cars we will take?”

“I have identified one car we need; we just have to make sure the owner doesn’t miss it while we’re gone.”

“She will be pre-occupied with other things, won’t she?” The man stood up and leered at his taller friend.

“Don’t get too comfortable with their western ways,” the friend replied. “The caliphate won’t approve of such behaviour.”

“They teach us to do anything for the cause,” was the reply. “When we have succeeded, we will be forgiven in heaven.”

Hunting the hunters

 If you would like to read about trophy hunters getting their comeuppance, this is the book for you. This is a fast-paced thriller about animal lovers striking back.

The inspiration came because a number of things about trophy hunting strike me as evil. 

The fact that there are people out there who want to kill beautiful animals. 
 
The fact that these people gain pleasure from killing a sentient being from a cowardly distance.
 
The fact that they display the results of their hunting for the world to see.
 
It’s time someone did something.
 
As an author, I have the inspiration to make sure someone does.
 

Alex Peters had loved animals her whole life. When her friends expressed their sadness that no one was hunting the hunters of animals, she decided to rectify the situation. She was the ideal candidate. In her normal job, as a soldier behind enemy lines, she’d killed animal abusers when given the chance and the animals were given some respite from their ordeals.

Now she was not undercover. She was on holiday, travelling on the trains in Spain and Portugal.

There were no colleagues to back her up. She would have to take risks.

She doesn’t keep a diary of the deaths, but does like to write about the history of the places she has visited. This makes her seem like a normal human being – even when she isn’t.

The book is called “She’s Coming For You”. It is available for $0.99 today.

An example chapter will follow shortly on this blog. 

Let the hunt begin here

#ShesComingForYou

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 6

Susan Del Piero, a staffer dealing with medical questions at the American Embassy on Calle de Serrano in Madrid, took the call at 9:20 am, Spanish time. She jotted down the details of the five-minute conversation on her I-Pad, and when the hospital had rung off she went to see her boss, Claudia Reyes.

“Claudia, do you have a moment?” Susan adjusted her glasses as she spoke, a nervous tick she was trying to stop, but it kept resurfacing in times of potential stress.

“Sure,” said Claudia, smiling at Susan, “is there a problem?” Claudia was thirty-five, and now she was in Spain she enjoyed wearing stylish clothing that brought out the dark hues of her Mexican heritage from the south of Texas.

“I think there might be,” replied Susan, slipping into the black leather chair opposite Claudia. “I received a phone call from a hospital in Burgos. The Spanish inspector on the train coming from Pamplona found an American citizen unconscious in a washroom on the train. His name is James Adam, from Vermont, and he has serious head injuries on account of someone smashing his face repeatedly against the rim of the toilet. Mr Adam has not regained consciousness.”

“Is this a terrorist attack in any way?” asked Claudia. 

“It is at least a hate crime,” replied Susan. “Mr Adam was travelling around Spain, minding his business, and he gets knocked into the middle of next week. He had been volunteering as a translator in Barcelona.”

“We are always trying to help people and this is what we get by way of gratitude,” snorted Claudia. “It’s terrible – we should let these countries sort themselves out and not be kind to them in any way.”

“Mr Adam spoke to no one on the train from what other passengers told us, but he had a big Stars and Stripes on his backpack, so there’s no doubting his place of origin.”

“Yes, some of our citizens could do with toning it down and not ramming their nationalistic agenda down other people’s throats, but they shouldn’t end up unconscious in the bathroom of a train.”

“Should I head up to Burgos and wait for him to regain consciousness?” asked Susan.

“Not yet, if you can get the Closed-Circuit TV footage from Burgos station for the people who got off the train there. Once he regains consciousness, it would be good to have some descriptions of potential suspects. I think the attacker got off the train there rather than risk being associated with the crime by staying put. Sounds like we have someone with anger issues.”

“Thank you, Claudia. I’ll write up the notes from the phone call and from our conversation and put them in the system. I’ll request the footage of the station platforms and forecourt from RENFE and see if we can find the attacker. He won’t get far.”

Hunting the hunters

 If you would like to read about trophy hunters getting their comeuppance, this is the book for you. This is a fast-paced thriller about animal lovers striking back.

The inspiration came because a number of things about trophy hunting strike me as evil. 

The fact that there are people out there who want to kill beautiful animals. 
 
The fact that these people gain pleasure from killing a sentient being from a cowardly distance.
 
The fact that they display the results of their hunting for the world to see.
 
It’s time someone did something.
 
As an author, I have the inspiration to make sure someone does.
 

Alex Peters had loved animals her whole life. When her friends expressed their sadness that no one was hunting the hunters of animals, she decided to rectify the situation. She was the ideal candidate. In her normal job, as a soldier behind enemy lines, she’d killed animal abusers when given the chance and the animals were given some respite from their ordeals.

Now she was not undercover. She was on holiday, travelling on the trains in Spain and Portugal.

There were no colleagues to back her up. She would have to take risks.

She doesn’t keep a diary of the deaths, but does like to write about the history of the places she has visited. This makes her seem like a normal human being – even when she isn’t.

The book is available for $0.99 today.

An example chapter will follow shortly on this blog. 

Let the hunt begin here

#ShesComingForYou

She’s Coming For You – Chapter 5

The train from Pamplona arrived at the station called Rosa de Lima on the edge of the city of Burgos. Buses to the centre of the city run roughly every thirty minutes – there was an electronic schedule to the right just before I exited the station – and the best destination to alight is Plaza de Espana, which is not the nicest part of the old town, but things soon improved as I headed towards the cathedral.

Top of most people’s list of priorities is the cathedral. It was certainly the first place the people I was following went to. The western front is spectacular and you can see the twin spires from most of the old town. A long period of cleaning now means the cathedral shimmers in the sunshine and the carvings are all delicate and finely done.

The cathedral was busy, but the edifice is so vast that the numbers soon dropped off as I moved further into the depths of the cloisters. The central dome exhibits Moorish influences and is supported by four piers that fan out into buttresses that reminded me of the Plateresque style similar to silver filigree. There’s a multitude of carvings to admire.

In the cathedral’s floor, right under the dome, is a slab of pink-veined marble, the last resting place of El Cid and his wife Jimena. El Cid is the national hero of Spain and his story is worth knowing. Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a Castilian knight in 11th century Spain. The Moors called him El Cid, which meant the Lord (probably from the Arabic Al-Sayyid), while the Christians referred to him as El Campeador, meaning ‘champion’ or ‘outstanding warrior’.

On the north wall of the cathedral is the remarkable Golden Staircase or Escalera Dorada by Diego de Siloe, the son of Gil de Siloe, the greatest Spanish sculptor of the 15th century. Diego’s sculptural style is a mixture of Italian Renaissance, Gothic, and Mudéjar, called Plateresque. Influenced by both Michelangelo and Donatello – he studied in Florence as a young man – Diego animated his figures and create forceful compositions. He sculpted the Escalera Dorada between 1519 and 1523, and it combines both his sculptural and architectural gifts in a work of painted and gilded magnificence.

The main entrance to the old town and the cathedral precinct is via the Arco de Santa Maria, a south-eastern facing arch that used to be part of the city walls. The arch has exquisitely carved statues of King Carlos V and famous people from Burgos, including El Cid. These carvings were made between 1534 and1536 to appease Carlos, who was upset that Burgos had taken part in a noblemen’s revolt against their monarch.

From the arch, I headed over the Puente de Santa Maria and turned right. Following the signs, it was a twenty-minute walk to the Monasterio de las Huelgas, a Cistercian house remarkable for its Mudejar craftsmanship. This monastery dates from 1187 and was built as the future mausoleum of Alfonso VIII and his queen, Eleanor. The main church contains the tombs of sixteen Castilian monarchs, including Alfonso and Eleanor. Napoleon’s troops ransacked the church, carrying away its treasures, but they left the tombs intact – hopefully as a mark of respect – and when the tombs were opened, many regal jewels and costumes were found. These now form the core of the exhibition in the museum.

Back in the old town I headed up the hill, past the western front of the cathedral, and walked past the churches of San Nicolas and San Esteban, plus the city’s newest arts centre, the Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, that houses art installations and contemporary art exhibitions. At the top of the hill is the Castillo that survived a siege by the Duke of Wellington before being destroyed by the French in 1813. The interior and exterior walls have been reconstructed, and it’s worth looking around the castle to see the various views over the city and the surrounding countryside. The views from the mirador, about one hundred and fifty yards down from the entrance to the castle, are even better.