She’s Coming For You – Chapter 2

      Most people associate Pamplona with the Running of the Bulls – El Encierro in Spanish, part of the Festival of St Fermin which lasts from noon, 6th July to midnight, 14th July. The Bull Running takes place at 8 am each day from 7th July to 14th July and was first brought to worldwide attention by Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Sun Also Rises.

Four rockets inform the crowd what’s happening with the bulls. They set off the first rocket at 8 a.m. to alert the runners that the gate to the bull’s corral is open. The runners can now run, though if you get too far ahead of the bulls, the spectators will boo you, especially if you reach the bullring without a bull in sight. A second rocket signals all the bulls are free of the corral and are in motion. The third rocket signals all the bulls are in the bullring and the fourth that the bulls are in their corral, marking the end of the bull running event, for the bulls at least. For the runners, there is still the excitement of being chased around the bullring by bullocks with padding on their horns.

An encierro comprises six bulls that will fight in the afternoon, six steers that run with the bulls, plus three more steers that follow the herd to encourage any reluctant bulls to continue along the route to their demise.

The release of the bulls occurs near the Piazza Santo Domingo. They take between two minutes thirty seconds and four minutes to run the 800 metres along a fenced-off course to the bullring. As well as the steers, official pastores, or shepherds, are on hand with sticks to ensure the bulls don’t lose interest. The reason people come to spectate is to watch 2,000 people (this is the limit for each day), wearing white tops, white trousers, a red neckerchief, and a red sash around their waist, who run with the bulls while bashing them with rolled-up newspapers.

Having seen some local bulls, I doubt any of them would even notice a direct hit from a newspaper, so this hitting is just an act of bravado by the runners, who literally fall over each other to get close. The wonderful sculpture, Encierro, in the city centre, shows the perils involved. At each festival, at least one person is seriously injured and 50-100 others suffer non-life-threatening injuries. Fifteen people have perished in the last 100 years, since records began, mostly by being gored by a 1,100-pound bull.

There is a ninety-degree bend called the Estafeta Curve, where El Encierro takes a turn to the right down Calle de la Estafeta after coming along Calle Mercaderes. Known locally as “La Curva,” the corner of Mercaderes and Estafeta Street is one of the most dangerous sections of El Encierro, and not for nothing is it called Dead Man’s Corner.

Most bulls will not have come across a 90-degree bend before out in the fields on the edge of the city. Consequently, some bulls run straight on and collide with the wooden barricades, causing the crowd watching behind, who thought they were safe, to scatter. Other bulls crumple to the ground when their hooves can’t gain purchase on the cobbles. The officials help the bulls regain their feet and make sure they’re okay, which seems ironic given the bulls are going to die in the afternoon in the disgusting spectacle of the bullfight. Runners also slip over and get charged by the bulls. Those runners who stay on their feet have to navigate around pointed horns, cloven hooves, and stricken humans.

Another risk comes from runners falling and forming a pile at the entrance to the bullring which acts as a funnel, as it is much narrower than Calle de la Estafeta. When this happens, runners can suffer from asphyxia and severe contusions. Such a pile-up has occurred at least ten times in the run’s history; the first time was in 1878 and the last in 2013. A runner died of suffocation in 1977 when one of these human heaps formed. When a bull encounters such a pile, they don’t stop, but charge straight into its midst. This sounds like me when the odds are against me.

I have enjoyed my time in Pamplona. There are plenty of tourists and the ones I am interested in are heading towards Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, going via the train rather than walking. I will be catching the train to Burgos soon and I am looking forward to the journey – it gives me a chance to read my book, The Day of the Jackal.

I bought some new clothes here. They are very distinctive and memorable and totally unlike the clothes I normally wear.

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 1

         Alex Peters flew to Pamplona from Madrid. She was in her mid-thirties and her ginger hair flowed easily down to the collar of her light-blue shirt. Her blue eyes surveyed her fellow passengers on the turbo-prop plane as it rode the thermals just after takeoff from Barejas airport in Madrid.

As the plane flew over northern Spain towards Navarre, she thought about why she was on this journey. Her friends had recently expressed their sadness that no one was hunting the trophy hunters, who killed animals to boost their egos. Peters was a lifelong lover of animals and the sadness of her friends hit home, hard. She had vowed to pursue those who hunt the defenceless from long distance, a cowardly distance. She had been provided with the name of an organisation who could help her in this quest.

They had provided her with the itinerary of some trophy hunters in Spain and Portugal and she’d been delighted with their help. In her normal job, working undercover behind enemy lines, she had killed many animal abusers – people who hit their donkeys with sticks and people who’d run their horses into the ground. These people, the abusers, met their end. The animals were given some relief, some respite from their ordeals.

Alex took out her diary and started to write. She liked to jot down her thoughts about the places she visited, especially about their history. It would be fun in a few years’ time to reread these diaries and see what her experiences had been.

Peters had no hold luggage and was planning to buy some clothes in Pamplona, almost certainly from El Corte Ingles, the department store found in every Spanish city she’d ever been to. She wouldn’t need a bag as her carry-on luggage comprised a neatly folded black travel bag inside a rucksack. There was no point in buying a suitcase she wouldn’t need on the flight back from Lisbon to London.

As for toiletries, she was used to not brushing her teeth for weeks in her ‘day job’ back in the real world. She was working now, but not for her usual employers; this was more a favour, a career break in terms of target, but not in terms of methodology. The showers in the hotels would be a luxury compared to rivers and lakes. She looked at her passport as she walked down the steps of the plane. This was the last time she would be using her own passport until Lisbon. After clearing customs here in Pamplona, she would become Pat Walker, a name she would use until Santiago de Compostela.

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

Office Life – Preview – 3

Another excerpt from a book about life in an English office.

As Wood finished his cigarette he noticed a programmer called Phil Bracewell coming towards him. Bracewell had scruffy, brown hair, a wispy moustache, and glasses that magnified the hazel pupils of his eyes.

“Eh Phil, I hope you’re not coming over to fart near me.”

“I have been told to go outside when I am about to break wind, as it’s no longer socially acceptable to do it inside the office.”

“It never has been, Phil, at least not in my book. It smells like rotting shellfish after you’ve polluted the air.”

“That’s just the way my innards work,” said Bracewell picking a bogey from his nose and flicking it away in an absent-minded manner, “and besides it’s not going to kill anyone unlike your filthy smoking habit, which will be a drain on the health service in a few years’ time.”

“I smoke on my own, whereas you seem to think your farts should be shared by everyone.”

“It’s a natural thing for anyone to do, it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” said Bracewell, “anyway, I can feel another coming on, so I will go and stand over there by that bush.”

“Good idea, and make sure you’re downwind of the office, we don’t want it seeping in to the office when no one is expecting it. You must contribute to global warming more than most people with all that methane you pump into the atmosphere.”

Bracewell gave a weak smile, thrust his hands into his coat pockets, and headed away from Wood.

Office Life – Preview – 2

Excerpt from the book Different Planet

5 Days in the life of an English office – there’s lots of banter and insults flying around in this story. One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend, another has horrible personal habits, but the main protagonist realises how he can become a better person – he undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it.

====

“I can only speak about the hair on her head,” replied Tranfield,”but it does look like the colour of shoe polish doesn’t it?”

“God, Martian, who taught you to program, Aristotle?”

“Harry who?”

“Aristotle the ancient Greek philosopher, you dimwit, this code is so complicated no wonder it takes a day to run.”

“Don’t you start criticising my work,” said Tranfield, “or I will stick you in that large recycling bag over there and tie the tag.”

“That’ll be the first time you ever use that bag,” said Joan mischievously, “you normally dump everything in the bin.”

“The recycling is for secure information only, Joanie.”

“It does no harm to recycle the other paper.”

“It all goes to the same place in the end, anyway,” said Tranfield, “it all goes in the landfill.”

“Recycled paper doesn’t go in the landfill,” said Mark Atkinson, who was walking by from another area.

“Who asked you to intervene in our conversation?” asked Tranfield, “go and polish your TOTR BMW or speak to your TOTR wife. With your hair tinged red like that you look like a thin paintbrush.”

“What’s TOTR?” asked Joan.

“Something you’re not Joan, top of the range,” replied Tranfield.

“What’s wrong with him?” asked Atkinson.

“He’s just being normal” said Roger smiling at Tranfield’s discomfort.

“Go away, Atkinson, or I will stick in you in the recycling bag.”

“It’s going to be crowded in that bag soon, isn’t it?” said Joan.

“It’ll have to be another bag for Atkinson, because Roger will fill the first one up completely.” said Tranfield smiling.

“Do you practice making threats?” asked Atkinson.

“He does, whilst he’s waiting for his programs to run to completion, so he gets plenty of practice,” said Laurence ducking under the wet teabag that Tranfield threw at him.

“Martin,” said Wood, “don’t throw things in the office; I think you should come with me and see one of our suppliers.”

“I thought that Welsh git was going with you?”

“Ted? He’s from Nottingham, not Wales.”

“He lives in Wales though.”

“Yes, well he’s had an accident on his way in to work.”

“What’s he done this time? Run over a field of daffodils.”

“He drove into the barrier of the motorway at 100 mph, sideways.” Wood failed to stifle a smile that showed his nicotine-stained teeth.

“Sideways – why did he do that?” said Laurence.

“Well, he thought he was in the middle lane and he pulled out to overtake the car in front, but he was in the outside lane not the middle lane and so he he hit the barrier, quite hard at around 100.”

“What an idiot,” commented Tranfield.

“He’s alright is he?” asked Joan looking at Wood over the top of her glasses.

“He’s fine, he drives one of those Saabs, so there wasn’t much damage to the car,” Wood replied, “Ted will be in the office tomorrow – I think the barrier was a write-off though.”

“How can you drive sideways into a crash barrier at a hundred?” asked Tranfield, “I wonder what was distracting him?”

“Perhaps he was playing his harp and singing a song from the Eisteddfod, whilst eating a leek,” said Laurence, “you know, Martin, like Welsh people do, according to you at least, not that you’d ever stereotype people.”

“Shut up you scouse git, perhaps one of your fellow Liverpudlians stole his wing mirrors, so he couldn’t see in which lane he was.”

“Oh no, Martin, my fellow Liverpudlians would have stolen the whole car, not just part of it, not that I am stereotyping of course.”

“Martin, come on let’s go and see our supplier, Samlesberry Holdings. Roger let me know how your changes are going – give Barry Dingle a ring in about an hour and we’ll be there.”

“Give him my regards,” said Joan.

“How do you know him?” asked Tranfield.

“Joan went with me last time, Martin,” explained Wood, “anyway let’s go.”

“You took Joan to provide Barry with some hot stuff to look at while you told him we weren’t going to pay him for another three months?” said Laurence winking at Joan.

“Something like that,” said Wood.

Office Life – Preview – 1

An excerpt from a book on life in an English office

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.”

 

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe is a classic story inspired by the experience of Alexander Selkirk marooned for 4 years and 4 months on the largest of the Juan Fernandez Islands 400 miles off Valparaiso, Chile.

This is a story that builds up slowly and becomes more and more readable as the time passes. It is a testimony to how adaptable a man can become in order to survive and I marvel at Defoe’s research that makes this story so believable.

After 28 years, 2 months, and 19 days Crusoe leaves his island home, but will he return? Read the book and find out.

And there’s one line which surely must count as one of the greatest understatements in a novel:

It is true I had been very unfortunate by sea

Keeping in Touch – Chapter 3

Sheila opened the front door and shouted “Hello everyone I’m home.” The silence was almost audible. All she could hear was the cat miaowing.

Sheila took off her shoes and went into the kitchen. Her husband, Walter, was sitting at the table pressing his Blackberry with a pointer. He was frowning with concentration.

“Hello Walter, how are you?” asked Sheila.

Walter sighed and replied “I’m busy Sheila, just finishing off some things for work.”

“Did you feed the cat?”

“What?”

“That furry thing we bought from the shelter six months ago.”

“Oh that, no I didn’t have time, no, I’ve been busy since I got home.”

“Where are the boys?”

“In their rooms I think, I really didn’t check.”

“You didn’t check?” Sheila was alarmed at the lackadaisical attitude of her husband on some occasions and this was one of them.

Walter waved his hand vaguely in the direction of the bedrooms upstairs “Well, I looked in and they were on the Internet, so I left them to it. As I said I have some things to do for work, emails to check, and a couple of meetings to set up.”

“Walter, when did you leave work?” asked Sheila.

“At about five, I drove home and then started working again.”

“And did you talk on the phone when you were driving?”

Walter looked guilty as he said “Just a couple of conversations yes.”

“So how many meetings did you have today?”

“Four, just four.”

“Are you interested in what I did today?” enquired Sheila.

Walter wasn’t concentrating and was going through the motions of being ‘interested’ as he replied “Of course what did you do today, darling?”

‘I entered the customer details for fifteen insurance cases on to the system and I must have heard the snippets of around sixty different phone conversations from people walking by my cubicle…”

“Sixty phone calls – you should get an i-Pad and then you could store them all so you can access them later.”

This book is on sale at a discount between 22nd February and 28th February here

Keeping in Touch – Chapter 2

Sheila waited at the bus stop. After 10 minutes the bus arrived. There were a few seats available. Sheila sat next to a young man wearing headphones. The bus started off. Immediately, he stood up and stared at her.

“Do you want to get off?” asked Sheila.

The youth stared at her. Sheila gesticulated at the aisle and the youth started to push past her. She hurriedly got up.

“You could have asked. Politely.” Sheila spoke to no one in particular.

The youth stared at her and then walked to the front of the bus.

It’s like he’s in a video game, where you just move around and don’t have to speak to anyone, just follow your instincts and do as you please. If someone gets in your way, you just zap them.” thought Sheila as she moved to the seat by the window vacated by the youth. She looked around at her fellow passengers.

On the seat in front, one male passenger was staring at a screen, watching something, Sheila wasn’t sure what. The female person next to him was playing a video game, vigorously using her thumbs. Around Sheila various conversations were going on with distant people.

“Yes, I’m on the bus. I’m on my way – I’ll be there in 10 minutes. Yes, I’ve got the milk and cabbage.”

“I’m on the bus, yes still on the bus like I was the last time I phoned you.”

“The cat’s done what? How did it even get in there I thought it was locked?”

Sheila looked at the seat opposite her. A young, good-looking girl was smiling as she spoke into her phone, quietly murmuring “Yeh, can you feel me touching you– is that good for you?” In front of this girl, a schoolgirl was using a small plastic pen to press buttons on a matching pink keyboard.

“No, just on my way home – I’ve not heard that no, why – your parole officer said what? That’s out of order, so when will you be going back to prison?”

Sheila reflected that she was on the bus too and was going home, but she didn’t feel the need to tell anyone. She took her book out of her bag and started to read.

“Hi, is this seat taken?”

Sheila ignored the voice as she has tuned out the background noise.

“Excuse me is it OK to sit here?”

Sheila looked up and replied “Oh yes, it is, sorry, I thought you were talking to someone else. With all these mobile phones you never know if someone is talking to you or not. I assume people aren’t talking to me.”

“That’s fine. I haven’t got a mobile.”

Sheila looked at the passenger, a young girl of around 21 who had a couple of bags.

This book is on sale at a discount between 22nd February and 28th February here