He who laughs last ~ laughs longest!

alesiaandreabanner-620x274I’m not afeared of things that go ‘bump’ in the night. I know that ‘spook’s’ are people who work clandestinely for government agencies, and that ‘spirits’ are distilled beverages of varying strengths.Pussers_Spiced_Rum_orig-156x300 But! Strange happenings over the past few days have made me question my sanity on occasion.419px-Secret_Intelligence_Service_logo.svg

Oddly enough the occasions in question have happened whilst driving and parking my truck, the manifestation being an odd croaky noise barely audible. Parking up within my garage late at night provided the eeriest experience – even though the lights are automatic as the garage door opens, it still made me act cautiously as I locked the truck door.

 This morning I  took Nipper of the North into the garage with me – just to see if he would react at the sound, which more than anything else would prove I’m not losing my marbles. I buttoned the key to unlock the truck doors, and Nippers ears swiveled – we both heard the ‘voice?’IMG_0488

Obviously Nipper heard it louder than I, as his head cocked as I locked and then unlocked  the doors once again. Upon opening all four doors as well as the tail gate, I then shook the truck. Nipper was in it like a rat up a drain pipe, and dropped to the gap under the drivers seat with his head cocked and ears locked.

“Is it a rat?” thought I, as I reached for a claw hammer. Without further ado I can tell you that it was not a rat, though a rat placed the offending irritant there quite securely. No doubt you will have now sussed out the little blighter with the automated built-in tremble sensor – whose vocabulary changes to three different intermittent sounds when disturbed; “England” – “Ahh-hah-hah” – ha-ha-harr” A bloody McDonald’s Happy Meal Minion Toy!511tcVUW6sL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_

I know who you are, and you know, that I know, who you are… In fact I gave you a spare brand new copy of a book to read on your first few days holiday, when you and your Mrs came to visit prior to your flight to Spain that late evening. I was expecting something from the dirty tricks bottom drawer. So as to respond in kind, I surgically removed the last two pages of the books EPILOGUE (273/274/275/276) and posted them to your home address, where they await your return. He who laughs last ~ laughs longest! Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh!  😉 Yours_Aye.

Lord of Misrule

Lord of Misrule: The Autobiography of Christopher Lee.683749 

Part Quote: “The life story of Christopher Lee is “colourful” to say the least. His childhood has him unknowingly meeting two of the assassins of Rasputin (a character he would go on to play in later life), exploring Europe and witnessing the last public execution by guillotine in France before evacuating back to Britain due to the impending German invasion, to choose but a few events from before his eighteenth birthday.”  Customer reviews

I’ve just managed to ‘bag’ a copy that should arrive tomorrow. It may cure past childhood nightmares, or just add to them. I’m hoping for the latter, and a bloody good read.     Yours Aye.

Dracula would spin in his grave!

Whitby loses the plot as it runs out space for graves! THERE may soon be nowhere for the dead to rest in peace – in Dracula’s favourite seaside town.Whitby-579511  

Council chiefs have been trying to find a site for a new cemetery in Whitby, North Yorkshire, ever since landslips tore open dozens of ancient churchyard plots two years ago, showering residents with bones. The bustling port where Dracula arrived in England in Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel is hemmed in by the North Yorkshire Moors and the sea, leaving very little land available.Whitby_EastThe original churchyard of Bram Stoker fame was St Mary’s, which suffered the 2013 landslips – and was the site where Dracula hid in a suicide victim’s unmarked plot.

My parents would often book a weeks summer holiday at Whitby when we were youngsters. Having an active mind and being an avid reader, sleep never came easy  when I was 7-years-old – especially knowing that Dracula slept in a suicide victim’s unmarked plot in St Mary’s graveyard. Which wasn’t helped by the fact I had sight of St Mary’s church tower in view from my bedroom window. Thank Gawd the bones of the deceased never rattled down from above when we stayed there…       Yours Aye.

Terry Pratchett has crossed the bar

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett, OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)ad_162745772British fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett has died aged 66 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his publisher said today. He sold more than 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages. “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” – Terry Pratchett2693063800000578-2991774-image-m-83_14261750339252693063C00000578-2991774-image-m-84_1426175060328269304C300000578-2991774-image-m-85_1426175069308Terry Pratchett’s books brought laughter and a smile to my face through some tough times. “If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards!” RIP Mate, and very many thanks for the bright light at the end of the tunnel.       Yours Aye.

Fifty Shades of Battleship Grey

Why the Fifty Shades Of Grey book is better than the film: Novels evoke emotions in women more so than movies – and it’s all down to evolution.1412270415715_wps_2_This_file_combo_made_of_bYou can’t escape Fifty Shades of Grey at the moment as its promotional machine has been gearing up for the film’s release this weekend. But despite the book’s huge global success, critics have called the film adaptation boring, drawn-out and a turn-off.800px-Uss_iowa_bb-61_prI received a call earlier this afternoon from a good friend who is an ex-Jenny WREN (who has an almighty fiery temper when angered – a true Redhead as it happens!) 

Me; “War office – do you ‘wanna’ fight?” ~ “No, I have two tickets for 50 Shades of Grey, are you free to watch it this evening?” ~ “Sorry, not this evening as I’m washing my hair and trimming my moustache” ~ “What about tomorrow?” ~ “Sorry, I’m trimming my toenails and then each of the dogs” ~ “You don’t want to watch it do you?” ~ “No – not really…!” The call ended courteously without ‘Jenny’ firing off a broadside; no doubt I will incur her wrath some other time. Now if she had tickets for a digitalised showing on the big screen for ‘Zulu’‘In Which We Serve’‘The Cruel Sea’ or, ‘Cockleshell Heroes‘ – I’d have cancelled my imaginary domestic chores & accompanied her ‘tout de suite!’   Yours Aye.some red head card

Un-politically bloody correct!

The most riotously un-PC travel guides ever! The informed, detailed, authoritative and unguardedly rude Baedeker’s.  An Englishman on holiday in Spain a century ago found a country with little to recommend it. Waking up on the first morning and consulting his guide-book, he would have read the following description: ‘Spain is a bleak and often arid land, with few traces of picturesqueness.’  Heh-Heh; Some things never change…!1408921700822_wps_7_Edwardian_tourists_ridingThe towns, the guide continues, are wreathed in tobacco smoke and the cafes are ‘very deficient in comfort and cleanliness’. The guide further warns that the service from waiters, chambermaids and porters is generally very slack and that the traveller should always count his change. In the Spanish countryside there is great danger of highway robbery, while in the cities the police will arrest anyone they can lay their hands on. The railway carriages and omnibuses are so filthy that a clothes brush, a duster and some insect powder should always be at hand. As for the national sport of bull fighting, it is ‘the most unsportsmanlike and cowardly spectacle’ a civilised man will ever see.Baedekers

This is the account of Spain given in the 1914 Baedeker Guide. These small, red books, bound in leather, were the first recourse for an Englishman abroad in the late 19th and early 20th century. The tone of the Baedeker guides is informed, detailed, authoritative — and riotously, unguardedly rude. “The Spanish are indolent, the Greeks filthy, the Italians dishonest and the ‘Orientals’ as stupid as children.” 

“In Syria, you are advised to ward off stray dogs with an umbrella and in Egypt it is acceptable to hit a cab driver with your walking stick.” Germany, of course, is beyond reproach. But what of Great Britain? “As for the British themselves,” Baedeker observes “that the country is a place of parsons, puppy dogs and peculiar people”images  

The Baedeker’s guides reflect an imperial attitude that would be unthinkable today. For a century, Baedeker’s — founded in 1832 by German publisher Karl Baedeker — was the indispensable guide to Europe, the Middle East and beyond.  The most riotously un-PC travel guides ever! The informed, detailed, authoritative and unguardedly rude Baedeker’s

Oh for a time machine to return to the age of pre-digital, pre-policitcal correctness, and pre-health & safety.            Yours Aye.

D-Day Minute by terrifying minute

381d402fb171b4a1e9e74b7bfac4cf5bDrawing on memoirs, diaries, letters, and oral accounts, D-Day is a purely chronological narrative, concerned less with the military strategies and more with what people were thinking and doing as D-Day unfolded, minute-by-minute.d-day-9781476772943_lg-1 Moving seamlessly from various perspectives and stories, D-Day sets the reader in the midst of it all, compelling us to relive this momentous day in world history.  A snapshot follows…

Monday June 5, 1944

07.30hrs: At this moment precisely, naval officers are breaking open their sealed orders and discovering the best-kept military secret in history. Tomorrow, they’ll be sailing for Normandy. The Allied invasion will centre on five beaches, each of which has been given a code name. The British and Canadians have opted for Gold, Juno and Sword — from a list supplied by the British Army. The Americans will land on Utah and Omaha — names chosen by their generals.D-Day 0309.00hrs: Already, the biggest invasion force the world has ever seen is mobilising off the South Coast. In all, D-Day will involve more than 6,203 vessels — 1,213 warships, 4,126 landing craft and 864 merchant vessels.

13.00hrs: At the Berghof, Adolf Hitler’s headquarters in the Bavarian Alps, his personal doctor Dr Theodor Morell is arriving for his daily appointment. The 54-year-old Fuhrer is a hypochondriac — and willingly takes the 28 different pills and injections Morell gives him every day. At Downing Street, as usual, Winston Churchill is having a large lunch with plenty of wine.

13.55hrs: Out in the Channel, on board the British troop ship Princess Ingrid, almost every soldier is on the upper deck, waiting for a church service to begin. Suddenly, a gust of wind catches the cloth covering a makeshift altar, and a small silver cross falls on to the deck and breaks in two. The padre and the troops are distraught at this terrible omen. Ronald Seaborne, a naval telegraphist, reflects that he now knows the exact meaning of the phrase ‘fear of God’. On-eve-70th-anniversary-new-book-relives-D-DAY-MINUTE-BY-TERRIFYING-MINUTE.Waves_of_paratroops_land_in_HollandTuesday 6th June 14:35 hrs: German medical orderly Fritz Müller is on a mercy mission, looking for wounded troops in the Normandy fields. Right now, he’s walking beneath trees filled with parachutes. Some have empty harnesses; some hold corpses. In a clearing, Müller finds an American paratrooper lying motionless on the ground, but he can’t tell if he’s dead or unconscious. Kneeling over the American is a German soldier who’s rummaging through his pockets, and making crude comments about a picture of a girl that he’s found in the man’s wallet. Müller yells at him to stop talking about the girl and leave the poor man alone. The soldier refuses, pulls a ring off the paratrooper’s finger and walks away. Suddenly, there’s a gunshot and the German soldier drops down dead. Müller freezes, then kneels by the American parachutist, who he can now see is alive. Getting out his medical kit, he starts treating him as best he can.

As Müller works, cigarettes start to fall around him. Only later does he realise that the cigarettes have been dropped by American parachutists still hanging in the trees. It was they who’d shot the German soldier, and the cigarettes were a thank you to Müller for defending, and then treating, their injured friend.

A trusted friend and military historian gave me the ‘heads up’ on this book by Jonathan Mayo. I feel it is a fitting tribute to place it here on Memorial Day. My order for the same was made this morning…  Yours Aye.

John Wayne~The Life & Legend

John Wayne, who made 162 feature films, was one of the 20th century’s biggest Hollywood stars. Here are 10 things we learned about the Oscar-winning actor from an impressive new biography by Scott Eyman. Martin Chilton-The Telegraph Culture Editor john_wayne_life_legend

He cheated at chess; John Wayne was actually very good at chess (film director and experienced player Josef von Sternberg “was livid” when beaten by Wayne) and the actor had a chessboard permanently set up on his 136ft boat, The Wild Goose. Wayne once said of fellow actor Rock Hudson: “Who the hell cares if he’s queer? The man plays great chess.” Wayne repeatedly cheated when playing chess against Robert Mitchum (Wayne had huge hands and would carefully slide a piece into a different position as he made a separate move) and Mitchum eventually plucked up the courage to tell him he was cheating. Wayne replied “I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set ’em up, we’ll play again.”
He loved literature; Wayne liked the novels of Agatha Christie but his two favourite books were written by Arthur Conan Doyle and both are historical novels – The White Company (1891) and Sir Nigel (1906) – both set during the Hundred Years’ War. Wayne was also a fan of Charles Dickens and if the actor agreed to a business deal, he would always say “Barkis is willing!”, a phrase used by Mr Barkis when he tells David Copperfield that he is ready to marry Peggotty.JohnWaynesummary_2874969b
Just call him MMM or Duke but never Marion: Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison (on May 26, 1907) and earned the lifelong nickname Duke, after Big Duke, the family dog. Big Duke, an Airedale, would chase fire engines, and the firemen christened Wayne Liitle Duke, which was shortened to Duke. Wayne said: “The guy you see on the screen isn’t really me. I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne. I know him well. I’m one if his closest students. I have to be. I make a living out of him.”
John Ford called him a “poached egg:” Ford’s four Academy Awards for Best Director (1935, 1940, 1941, 1952) are a record but he missed out in 1939 for Stagecoach. His behaviour on set angered Wayne, who said of the director “I was so f–king mad I wanted to kill him”. Ford kept baiting Wayne during filming, yelling at one point: “Don’t you know how to walk? You’re as clumsy as a hippo. And stop slurring your dialogue and show some expression. You look like a poached egg.” Privately Ford said of Wayne at the time: “He’ll be the biggest star ever”.stagecoach 12Wayne was once a sports journalist: Wayne was born in Iowa but went to the Glendale Union High School in California, where he played for the football team. Although he was seen as sporty, he also did well academically. He was part of the high school debating team and president of its Latin Society. He graduated with an average score of 94/100. He was also a member of its newspaper staff and wrote sports reports under byline ‘M.M.M’.

Wayne was a strange political beast; John Wayne was known for his right-wing views (he was scathing about actress Jane Fonda’s anti-Vietnam war pronouncements) and was a fervent supporter of President Richard Nixon, insisting in 1971 that “Nixon is too great a man to be mixed up in anything like Watergate.” But Wayne also liked debating politics with the actor Paul Newman, who would send him political essays written by progressive liberal thinkers.John Wayne Smoking

He was a deeply superstitious man; Among the many things (normally wives) that made a volatile Wayne fly off the handle was the act of anyone leaving a hat on top of a bed. Also, no one in his family was ever allowed to pass salt directly to Wayne, it had to be placed on the table instead and then he would reach for it. He was not superstitious about his smoking, though, getting through five packets of cigarettes a day, something that brought him first a persistent hacking cough and later lung cancer.

Don’t wet on his blue suede shoes; When he first met Michael Caine, Wayne gave him some friendly thespian advice. “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too f—— much”. He then baffled the Brit by adding “and never wear suede shoes”. When Caine asked “Why?”, Wayne replied: “Because one day a guy in the next stall recognised me and turned towards me and said ‘John Wayne you’re my favourite actor! And p—-d all over my suede shoes. So don’t wear them when you’re famous, kid.”

He was in awe of Churchill; Wayne would often tell friends how highly he thought of Winston Churchill and had a complete set of the British Prime Minister’s prose on his bookself.

Wayne was a gracious winner; When he won his Best Actor Oscar for playing Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969), Wayne whispered in presenter Barbra Streisand’s ear “beginner’s luck”. Wayne later spent the night drinking with Richard Burton (who had been nominated for playing King Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days), having knocked on the Welshman’s door, thrust the Oscar statue at him and shouted: “You should have this, not me.”jima_2874943kMore Here Of Interest in the Washington Times Book Review: ‘John Wayne: Life and Legend.’  

Well it looks like another book order is going into Amazon. “The hell it is!”    Yours Aye.

SOE ‘Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’

Volunteers for British clandestine operations within WWII had many reasons for doing so. It was never for the extra money or the glamour of the work, the extra money was negligible, and there was very little glamour attached to the work; it article-0-1BB708DB000005DC-124_634x549was also too secretive to reveal outside of a very tight knit organisation. Most agents of the Special Operations Executive were square pegs in round holes as far as regular service life was concerned. Potential Agents joined for the love of their country, or to avenge a loved one or a family member. Christine Granville (her cover name, her true name was Krystyna Skarbek) was one such woman  Never-before-seen pictures of SOE agent whose extraordinary courage paved the way for the liberation of France  Christine Granville – the favourite spy of Winston Churchill – worked for years undermining the Nazi regime despite SOE agents having a short life expectancy in the field. As a specialist agent trained in sabotage and destruction, she operated in heavily occupied territory to fight for her country, and her Jewish mother who was killed in a Nazi concentration camp.hs9-612a-enlargeAs a young 14 year old, I read the original true story of a different SOE agent; ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ by R. J. Minney [published 1956] that tells the amazing story of Violette Szabo, a young woman who joined Britain’s SOE after her French husband was killed in the battle of El Alamein. On her second mission in France, she was caught by the Nazis, tortured, and sent to the women’s concentration camp in Ravensbrück, where she was eventually shot. Her four-year-old daughter, Tania, collected her mother’s posthumous George Cross from the wartime King, King George VI in 1946. Carve_her_name_with_pride_2

The Life That I Have is all that I have, and the life that I have is yours. The love that I have of the life that I have is yours and yours and yours. A sleep I shall have, a rest I shall have, yet death will be but a pause. For the peace of my years in the long green grass will be yours and yours and yours

We will never see their like again. I still have the book, which is typically written in the ‘ever-so-matter-of-fact’ sort of way that you would expect from the 50’s; still a great read.                          Yours Aye.

Aptanagrams, eunonyms & portmanteau words

English is full of wordplay, witticisms, puns and quirks. On work related issues I am a stickler over the correct use of grammar, punctuation and spelling. When it comes to sending a text message I rarely, if ever, abbreviate a word.zz080910bede 490 (Roman Catholic education, was a painful experience for those that dared to adapt their writing style)

Being a natural born rebel of sorts, I often dabbled with the written word, trying to squeeze out a hidden meaning by abusing punctuation within a scribed sentence; however, six of the best (three hearty whacks of a bamboo cane on each hand) put paid to that… imagesNow, here I am, in my element, with not a bamboo cane in sight, nor a care in the world as I pixilate before you!

Crossword puzzlers will be familiar with anagrams, words that mean something else when the letters are rearranged, but what about aptanagrams, eunonyms and portmanteau words?

An aptanagram is one reason why a mother-in-law, is a woman Hitler          Yours Aye.article-2399493-1B665FB4000005DC-365_634x322

Navy Orders, by Academy Grad Geri Krotow

Finally, I found a book for all you yearning for a little lite, frothy summer reading, a Harlequin Romance titled Navy Orders by Geri Krotow, a Naval Academy grad:

Navy Orders (Harlequin Romance) Geri Krotow
Navy Orders (Harlequin Romance) Geri Krotow

After a romantic betrayal, naval lieutenant commander Roanna Brandywine doesn’t trust anyone the way she used to. When a chance encounter brings chief warrant officer Miles Mikowski into her life, she’s intrigued. But Ro has spent so long focusing on her career, she resists the attraction.

Miles has had his own share of trauma, but it’s taught him that life is short and he has to go after what’s important to him. Then, unexpectedly, they’re ordered to investigate a sailor’s suicide. They must rely on each other as they discover that his death is not as straightforward as it seems. During their investigation, they acknowledge the chemistry between them, but the real question is whether there’s trust…and maybe even love.

Love the Whidbey Island thingy on the cover. . .

Cold steel hand from the sea

I have endured some serious sleepless nights these past few weeks or so, which I have put down to the heat of summer. Even with the assistance of my good friend ‘Captain Morgan’ I have only managed a couple of pitiful hours in the dead zone. The dogs love it as they now expect to be out and about as the first grey chink of morning light breaks over the Eastern horizon. Methinks some thing is amiss, it’s not as if I do not exercise my brain as well as my body. Last night I reverted to the old school way of reading, and chose a true story in paper back The Wonga Coup: Simon Mann’s Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa by Adam Roberts, (from which the cowardly Mark Thatcher does not walk away smelling of roses).images 

Now I understand why Simon Mann has every right to Cry Havoc, which is my next read. I just hope Ridley Scott includes the whole ball of corruption and dirty politics in his film portrayal of the book. Having settled into a nice leather easy chair, I read of the coup until the words disappeared slowly from the page. I awoke with two snoring dogs sleeping in front of a fan, and a ticking clock with the big hand on 12 and the little hand on 7… Unbelievably I had slept for several hours.             Click pic to enlargeRM Commando Replacing the book back onto the shelf I noticed a hard back that I received as a gift at Christmas, ‘Commando’ THE DIRTY DOZEN, a collection of the best 12 Commando comic books ever. “Thought to self, research the comics on line as they were classics from my childhood“.
DownloadedFileI did so after breakfast, Britain’s sole surviving war comic Commando and was shocked to see that the iconic short story Commando comic magazines are no longer printed in the UK. They are now printed by a German media group ‘GGP Media’ who are based in Possneck, Thuringia – near where the revolutionary Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter jets were being built in an underground weapons factory in the Second World War! My paper childhood heroes crumbled in front of me, such is life I suppose. But hey! I am not cross because of the irony of it all, we have moved on to become allies against a more common foe.

Yours Aye.

Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, pulled a fast one on the book-buying public. She secretly published a book under the name Robert Galbraith called The Cuckoo’s Calling:

JK Rowling has secretly written a crime novel under the guise of male debut writer Robert Galbraith.

The Harry Potter author was acclaimed for The Cuckoo’s Calling, about a war veteran turned private investigator called Cormoran Strike.

The book had sold 1,500 copies before the secret emerged in the Sunday Times. Within hours, it rose more than 5,000 places to top Amazon’s sales list.

Rowling said she had “hoped to keep this secret a little longer”.

The author described “being Robert Galbraith” as a “such a liberating experience”.

Some military folks online have been claiming Stolen Valor, in that Robert Galbraith was not a veteran as claimed. And JK banked on the military’s good name to generate sales. Of course, when it came out who really wrote the book, sales skyrocketed. I especially like how certain publishers (Kate Mills, editor at Orion Books) turned the manuscript down.

Mad dogs, Englishmen, & cricket

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out into the midday sun“… So goes the saying, as well as the song by Noel Coward!  Given the choice of watching a game of cricket, or watching paint dry; I would ask to view a nice combat green matt emulsion drying on a Saturday afternoon.article-2351483-1A7739DC000005DC-339_964x653 Unlike these mad English dogs from Threlkeld Cricket Club in Cumbria, who tend to go out and play in any weather; their balls must get incredibly cold at times, as well as their hands and feet… Howzat that for daring? Amazing photos of cricketers playing at some unlikely locations including a rope bridge and jetty  But if you are up for a jolly good read to take your mind off the drying paint, how about this book from a  true Mad Dog and Englishman; Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes. OBE.DownloadedFile-1 Reputedly the worlds greatest living explorer, ex Royal Scots Greys Cavalry Regiment, ex SAS, holder of several endurance records, prolific book writer; one of which being The Feather Men (1991)The Feather Men by Ranulph Fiennes – Reviews, Discussion … The non-fiction book upon which the film ‘Killer elite’ is based.
Ranulph Fiennes
Hard man or eccentric? Sir Ranulph Fiennes decision to cut off his own dead fingers has passed into exploring folklore. In 2000, he lost the tips of his fingers on his left hand during an unaided attempt to reach the North Pole. On returning home, his surgeon insisted the necrotic fingertips be retained for several months before amputation, to allow re-growth of the remaining healthy tissue. Impatient at the pain the dying fingertips caused, Fiennes cut them off himself with a fretsaw, just above where the soreness was. The tip of his little finger was removed after two hours sawing; it took five days to complete the job (mad, bad, and dangerous to know). His ‘wiki’ page is well worth a peruse!

Yours Aye.