My Review of Shape of Revenge: (A Shade Darker Book 2) by Georgia Rose #DomesticThriller

Book Description:

His secret’s revealed… Her revenge is silent…

A woman wronged. Her husband a cheat. Can she get her revenge without him realising he’s being punished?


Sharon Beesley, owner of Sharon’s Stores, discovers by chance the secret life her husband Eric is living, and once she begins to take her revenge she finds she’s unable to stop.

Meanwhile, their schoolgirl daughter Daisy follows the tempting trail of breadcrumbs left by a much older man. But when they meet, all is not what it seems. And no one knows where she is.

With Daisy in trouble and her parents distracted by their own problems, everyone is surprised when help comes from an unlikely place. As does retribution…


Shape of Revenge is a gripping domestic thriller. If you like character-driven action, suspenseful storytelling and unexpected twists then you’ll love this exciting novel.

My Review:

I’ve read quite a few of Georgia Rose’s books, and enjoyed every one. My latest review, of Georgia’s first book of the series (A Shade Darker Book 1)  A Killer Strikes, here: https://tinyurl.com/597raer2

Like all this author’s stories, Shape of Revenge has a brilliant plot, but it’s also character led. We met Sharon Beesley in A Killer Strikes, as a minor character who is an unpleasant gossip, and here she takes centre stage as a fully rounded character, equally unpleasant, and campaigning a personal vendetta against another inhabitant of Melton. Yet, in a way – and only sometimes – I felt an unwelcome glimmer of sympathy for her; she’s a victim of her own misguided aspirations and denial of her background, with a deep-seated resentment against the life she is living. But, equally, I had empathy for her downtrodden husband, Eric, a man whose facade is that of a loyal husband and is a loving, yet ineffectual father to Daisy, the daughter. A young teenage girl, not as streetwise as she perceives herself to be, Daisy is still recovering from an incident that completely changed her life, and who now reads so many wrong signals in so many situations, that she lurches into danger.

I always try not to give spoilers in my reviews, and feel that I’m in danger of doing just that, so I’ll stop there. But what I do need to say is that all these characters are multi layered and immediately identifiable through their dialogue, both spoken and internal. And, together with a cast of wonderful minor characters,( some of whom reappear from A Killer Strikes), they are embedded in a community that is indicative of so many villages and small towns. I almost felt like on onlooker to life in Melton.

As with all of Georgia Roses’ books the descriptions of the settings give a good sense of place: the shop that is Sharon’s domain, Melton Manor, the home of Lord and Lady Cavendish, the village pub, The Red Calf, and the village itself.

Shape of Revenge is a convincingly realistic read, with themes of revenge, deception and suspicions, yet also holds threads of subtle humour. The plot weaves along at a satisfying pace, and there’s a brilliant twist at the end.

I agree with the above description of Shape of Revenge: it is a gripping domestic thriller, and, as such, is a book I would thoroughly recommend.

Shape of Revenge: https://tinyurl.com/2s4aryer is available to preorder

Meet the author:

Interview Resources & Information for Georgia Rose

First NameGeorgia 
Last NameRose 
Emailinfo@georgiarosebooks.com   
HeadshotAttached 
Websitehttps://www.georgiarosebooks.com/   
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/GeorgiaRoseBook   
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/georgia.rose.books   
Facebook PageGeorgia Rose – Author | Facebook 
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/georgiarose4481/   
Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.co.uk/georgia2471/   
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7776633.Georgia_Rose   
BioGeorgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. Following completion of the trilogy she was asked for more and so wrote a short story, The Joker, which is based on a favourite character from the series and the eBook is available to download for free at the retailer of your choice.   Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre and its sequel, Loving Vengeance, has now completed The Ross Duology.   She is now embarking on her third series – A Shade Darker.   Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination.   She has also recently started running workshops and providing one-to-one support for those wishing to learn how to independently publish and you can find her, under her real name, at www.threeshirespublishing.com.   Following a long stint working in the law Georgia set up her own business providing administration services for other companies which she does to this day managing to entwine that work along with her writing.   Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband.   

Expose yourself to… #dogs #cats #humor

Only Barb…

Barb Taub

My Life…

My sister said she would be late for our scheduled video chat this morning, so I thought there would be plenty of time to wash my hair and still grab that first cup of coffee before our call. When will I learn?

I had just poured shampoo and lathered up when all hell broke loose. The dog was screaming, the cats were yelling, and it sounded like there was a riot going on downstairs.

I turned off the water, grabbed a towel, and raced downstairs to see that the cats were having a fabulous time. One was chasing the rodent they’d brought inside, crashing into furniture and knocking over everything in his path. The other was simply sitting in the middle of the room and LOOKING at the dog.

Meanwhile the poor dog was desperate to run upstairs to tattle on the cats, but clearly terrified of the…

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Funerals are Strange Occasions… Well, I Think So.

Ten years ago, at eleven o’clock, on the eleventh of the eleven, it was my mum’s funeral. I still miss her. This is my memory of that day

Judith Barrow

mum

My Mum

It’s four years since Mum died. My sister arranged the funeral for eleven o’clock today. This is a post I wrote shortly afterwards. The relationship between Mum and me, and the one between her and my sister, proved so very different. There’s nothing wrong in that, but at no time was it more obvious than on that day…

I wrote…

I haven’t been online much over the last few months; my mother had been on end of life care for over a year and she passed away peacefully three weeks ago. It’s been adifficult time, both for her and for all the family. There have been many occasions when I’ve wished her at peace. Now she is.

I didn’t intend to write anything publicly about this.But something happened after she died that made me think and to remember a piece I wrote some years ago on motherhood…

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An easy walk… I thought!. Warren Wood (beginning with a Short Visit to the Water-Break-its-Neck waterfall) @Powys #Wales #photographs #walks #holidaymemories

A memory for #ThrowbackThursday

Judith Barrow

The sunny day disappeared as we walked through the short steep-sided gorge – following in the footsteps of Victorian touristto the Water-Break-its-Neck waterfall, around a mile from the village of New Radnor ( Maesyfed – the Welsh name), in the county of Powys,Wales.

It was a spectacular sight.Yet, beyond the sound of the water it was strangely silent.

The water tumbled through the black slated rocks, a silvery mesmerising flow, to the small stream and creating a fine rainbow mist in the air. Yet there was an eerie and ephemeral feeling to the fallen, bare oak branches laced with lichen and boulders covered in dark green moss and surrounded by curtains of gently swaying ferns.

We made our way back along the narrow path. I thought we would be taking a slow ramble along the walking trails in Warren Wood – so named for…

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The Queendom

Both humorous and thought-provoking.

Thorne Moore

King Charles III. Nope. Sorry, it just doesn’t work. We don’t have a king, we have THE Queen. If he’s going to replace her, he’s got to be Queen Charles.

I’m not having a dig at his possible gender confusion or his preference for wearing skirts. It’s just the meaning of the title. King is a medieval concept. Kings were warlords. In our feudal past, no matter how they dressed it up with religious anointing and talk of justice and law-making, a king was just the strongest thug with the biggest army, who could butcher anyone who opposed his right to grab the land.

Queens were wives (breeding machines) for kings, and couldn’t possibly rule in their own right, because they were never going to be the biggest thugs. But then we emerged into a slightly more rational state where intelligence and diplomacy began to overtake thuggery as requirements in…

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My Review of The Bubble Reputation by Alex Craigie #socialmedia #TuesdayBookBlog #Review

Book Description:

If you want to destroy someone’s reputation, social media provides the perfect tool.

Emmie Hobson, children’s author and TV presenter, is riding high on a wave of popularity when an unscrupulous newspaper editor, desperate for a scoop, brings Emmie’s world crashing down.

Social media picks up the baton and a terrifying backlash of hate and abuse is unleashed. Threats are made and there are those, inflamed by the rhetoric, prepared to take the law into their own hands.

My Review:

I’ve read previous books by Alex Craigie and thoroughly enjoyed them all, my latest review, that of Means to Deceive, is here: https://tinyurl.com/5y98ak9e

The Bubble Reputation is a story with a chilling message, but it’s not overtly didactic; as usual with this author’s work, this is a steady unveiling of the plot; the revelation of how evil social media can become when driven with the intent of ruining someone’s life.

The character of the protagonist, Emmie Hobson, is well rounded and it’s easy to emphasise with her. And when her optimism and confidence, the enjoyment in her life, is gradually reduced to despair and uncertainty, it’s heartbreaking. This is a book where the reader can see what is happening and wonder how far her jealous antagonist will go, and what Emma can do to stop the malice.

And with a cast of realistic and credible minor characters, some of whom are spreading the spite and others who seem incapable of stopping it, it becomes frustratingly impossible to see who will finally win in this struggle.

The dialogue carries every character’s personality, leaving no doubt who is speaking. But, sometimes, that spoken dialogue becomes unreliable, and leaves the reader to question the words when they don’t match the inner dialogue and actions of of a particular character. The narrative is often the only disclosure of the reasons behind the actions. It’s a clever ploy by the author.

And, as I’ve said in the past, Alex Craigie has a talent for writing descriptions which give a great sense of place. So it is with The Bubble Reputation. But, equally fascinating for me, is the way she has brought the world of social media to life with all the possibility of the inherently manipulative and dangerous behaviour within it. Social media becomes a character in its own right and intrinsically carries the warning that is the main theme threaded throughout the story.

Above all else, this is a tale that is well written, with strong narrative, convincing characters and a plot that progressively moves onwards, taking the reader with it towards an accomplished ending.

I enjoyed The Bubble Reputation and have no hesitation in recommending Alex Craigie’s latest offering to anyone who enjoys a slow-burning psychological drama.

About Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.

Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.

Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. The first two books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the health service at its heart. Her third book. Means to Deceive, is a psychological thriller.

Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.

Book lovers are welcome to contact her on alexcraigie@aol.com

Remembering Past Places in our Memories: Roundup of October 2021 #Memories #MondayBlogs #houses #families #childhoods

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

This is a round-up of the Places in our Memories posted over the last few weeks. There have been some wonderful memories shared:

Georgia Rose lived in several different houses as a child but here she told us about the one she loved and thinks about most frequently; the one she and her family moved from when she was around four years old: https://tinyurl.com/y2u3anvt

Darlene Foster told us about the time her baby brother was born during the blizzards at her near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada: https://tinyurl.com/mr2us8tb

Jan Baynham was transported back to her happy childhood growing up in a tiny village, Newbridge-on -Wye, in mid-Wales, where her family lived with her lovely grandad: https://tinyurl.com/44phx2z3

Jane Risdon told us how, shortly after she was born, her father left for the Korean War and so she and her mother moved in with her paternal grandfather — a former British Indian Army Major: https://tinyurl.com/mtdcrdkp

Today we begin another round of Places in our Memories. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do.

Smorgasbord Blogger Weekly – November 7th 2022 – Pete Springer, Judith Barrow with Jane Risdon, Patty Fletcher, Robbie Cheadle, John Howell.

Loving these weekly catch – ups. Smorgasbord Blogger Weekly – November 7th 2022 . Thank you , Sally for including Jane’s Places in our Memories.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

A small selection of posts I have enjoyed over the last week or so and I hope you will head over to enjoy in full.

Pete Springer shares the amazing Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival which he is a volunteer for. Every two years the festival brings 25 authors to give talks in the schools in the area, meet the children and share their writing. Logistically challenging but as you will see it was an incredible success again this year.

Head over to enjoy the author festival: A Noble Cause by Pete Springer

Jane Risdon joins Judith Barrow to share her memories of her childhood and her grandfather’s house of treasures…Jane comes from an army background with connections to India and Singapore and it is fascinating to learn more about the history and travels of her family.

Join Jane and Judith on this trip down Memory Lane:Places in…

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That’s my love language. What’s yours? PLUS #BookReview MAKING WAVES by @ThorneMoore #RBRT #SciFi

Better late than never – how did I miss this!!?

Barb Taub

What’s your Work Love/Appreciation Test?

I heard through the human resources grapevine about the Love Test, in which Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” theory has been adapted to workplace “appreciation” training. This is, naturally, HR’s fault. After many decades in the human resources trenches, I know that everyone hates HR because…well, because they’re HR. Sadly, many human resources executives cling to the cherished illusion that employees can be trained to appreciate each other (by which they mean, of course, appreciate HR). In fact, however, employees reserve all their appreciation for only two things—money, and being left alone. (Or three things if your company has Donut Day.)

Still, never let it be said that I was unwilling to do my part to further scientific research. After careful preparation, I was ready to take the Love Test. The only free version was for couples, but their literature points out that the same…

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Places in our Memories with Phil Rowlands #Mondayblogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today, I’m so pleased to welcome Phil Rowlands. I seem to have known Phil as part of the writing world for as long as can remember. I have interviewed him a couple of times for and he was always a very welcome addition to the Narberth Book Fairs. Here Phil tells us, in a very poignant account, of the many special memories he has of Newgale, Wales.

Phil Rowland: screenwriter, author, and producer

A chorus of waves and pebbles washes over me as I stand in the place where, back in the folds of time, the five of us, Mum, Dad, my sister, me, and Bob the sheepdog dallied one year for the summer weeks of school holiday, in an old caravan owned by a distant relative.

One night our little van fought so violently with the raging winds and torrential rain and my six-year-old self fretted so passionately, that we returned home, a journey of eleven miles away, to spend the night. Returning in the sun and light of day, I searched for the scattered wreckage but there was none. Even the tent toilet, attached by top and bottom ties, still stood proudly. It was the first sight of my ‘what if’ irritation of the years ahead.

It is beautiful here, a mile of golden sand, patterned with the crisscross current cuts of the angry sea. The warriors of foam, riding the crest of the curved waves, invade the beach and then pull back to regroup for their next attack. High stacked stones lining the edge of this ‘sandy battleground’ look impassively on. They have seen it all before. I wonder if they remember me, the day I lost my Mum and ran through the forest of adults, tears in my eyes and my ever-present smile slipped away in the desperation of the search. Each step I took seemed to drag me deeper into the roots of fear and loss. Then, at last, after a panting panic run, in the shimmering distance, I saw her yellow flowered frock and was soon locked in the solace and safety of her suntanned arms and the warmth of the smell that was and always will be her. We always loved a cuddle, my Mum and me, right up to the end. I miss that most.

Which way to walk? What box of memories shall I open? I think I will head towards Cwm Mawr, the little cove that became ours during the six weeks sojourn. Sunburn, grainy cheese and tomato sandwiches, jellyfish, crabs, and ice-cold rock pools mingle with caves, cliffs and the corpses of sheep that couldn’t stop in time but floated down to become a picnic for the parasites.

The Duke of Edinburgh pub, hidden on the other side of the pebbles and across the road, was once the only barrier for the sea, facing the elements with the bravery of one who knows it cannot win. A tidal wave in 1900 swept in the stones, washed the pub away, swirling the frantic souls as they sank to their deep and watery end and flooded the valley for a mile or more. My great grandfather, a postman, sitting on his delivery trap, watched it happen in helpless fascination. Or so the family folklore goes.

A flick of time to my early teenage years and Wendy from Windsor. She was a sultry sixteen-year-old who caressed my libido and was the best French kisser I had ever found. She showed me that oral was not just the spoken word and led me to what suited her best. How could she know so much at such a tender age? But, oh, how grateful I was that she did. We spent many a happy, messy hour in her parent’s tent as they washed the London cobwebs away with the fresh and salty Welsh air and a pint or two of Scrumpy in the lounge of the Duke.

Most of the summers, in my early years, my family stayed in one of a cluster of chalets with wood and glass verandas, overlooking the beach, the cliffs and the steep road leading down to the village. My dad, who worked as a car salesman, would have his two weeks holiday, and then commute until we returned home the Friday before school went back. On his daily drive, mum and I would travel with him to the top of the hill that led towards Haverfordwest and then walk back, calling into the farm for eggs or buying hot bread from the seaside shop. The boy who worked there thought he was Johnny Cash, wore a cowboy shirt and hat and strangled words that were more Nercwys than Nashville. Still, he helped to colour the landscape of those early years of freedom, and fun.

In later times, when we owned a caravan at the top of the other hill that led to Solva and St David’s, we would walk back over the cliffs, climbing up through the carpet of moss and heather, pausing at the top, hand in hand, to survey our borrowed world of sand and sea, the horizon distant and hazy in the early morning misty sunshine.

Sometimes, though, it rained for days and, if not walking on the sands enjoying the wet, we would sit in the dryness of the veranda, watching the flooded campsite with its array of sunken canvas wrecks and try to count the blow-up beds, bags and plastic cups being chased around by the, determined to not let it spoil the holiday, tourists from Cardiff, Glasgow, London or Hull. Often, I felt a perverse pleasure in this unfair act of God. It was a payback for their invasion of my private holiday space.

Cwm Mawr could be reached three ways. By the beach when the tide was out or over the cliffs, down past a cottage which sat a few yards from the drop into the sea. I was drawn to it and was desperate to live there.  It had a windmill, small windows, and a constant pile of logs. Always when I passed, I could feel it drawing me to look in through its dusty glass or daring me to knock on the door and ask to go in. I never did. I might have broken the spell and that would never have done. The last way to reach the little bay was to walk up the road to Penycwm and then go through the gate with its ‘Farm Animals. Please Shut the Gate.’ sign, and down the rough-tracked valley passing, on the right, the green wooden colonial-style bungalow that was known, to me and my peers, as the TB house. It was once a Convalescent Home, and its shadow of infection and danger still loomed large as I hurried on my way to the safety of my little cove. I always meant to chance a night-time raid but never did. Perhaps, if it’s still there, I might make the effort though I do not wish to shatter the thin film of time that protects it from the present.

After crossing a cool, clear, pure stream, and scrambling over the shingle of long-gone ages, you reached the rock-strewn beach with its high walls and sculptures. A picture book of past and present. A ‘Boy’s Own’ landscape of adventure and fantasy. There were large water filled hollows, big enough to swim in, if you wanted to risk disturbing their hidden dangers – the anger of awakened crabs or the poisonous puffs of Portuguese Men O’ War, imprisoned when the tide retreated, easily ballooned in my fertile mind.

They were happy, carefree times, uncluttered by the responsibilities and shattered dreams to come. A protected world, in which laughter came easily and old age lay hidden slyly in the shadows of future years.

A great treat was to go to the cinema once a week and then on the way back to fill up the roasting pan with fish and chips from Dew Street. We would wait until we got back to Newgale, almost beside ourselves with desire, as that special salt and vinegar smell wrapped itself around us and we almost drooled in anticipation of the delights to come.

The first time I saw the seals it was early evening. We were sitting on the rocks, halfway up the broken cliff, tired from long hours of sunshine and salt. A family of three swam up and basked on the flat rocky plateau below us. Glorious silky bodies, faces twitching to give warning of the first scent of danger. They didn’t mind us being there and seemed to sense that we intended them no more harm than to share in their lives for this moment of time. I can’t remember how long we stayed but dusk was slipping its curtain over the light as we reached the caravan. Dad had been home for four hours and was beginning to think that Neptune had taken us to lodge in his deep and mysterious home.

Next night he came back early and joined our little group. The seals glanced upwards as he arrived but relaxed when he sat with us. He was overcome by their innocence and peace, and I never felt as close to him again.

About Phil Rowlands

I am a screenwriter, author and producer. After many years as a ‘safe pair of hands’ actor, mainly in film and television, I moved into the production side as a freelance writer and producer. I’ve written feature films, TV and radio dramas, documentaries and animation series and worked on productions as a script doctor and consultant.

In 2009 I was one of the co-founders of Funky Medics, a production company focussing mainly on innovative health education. Its projects have included heart disease, diabetes, smoking and drug abuse.

Currently, I have four screenplays under option, one for production in 2023, the other three at various stages of draft development.

Siena, my first novel, was revised and republished by new indie publisher Diamond Crime along with my second, Single Cell in April 2021. A new book, TimeSlip, was released in late March 2022.

I write in a shed at the bottom of my small garden.

Originally from Pembrokeshire in West Wales, I now live near Cardiff and have British nationality and Canadian citizenship.

Find Phil here:

phil@philrowlandswriter.com
twitter @PhilRowlands2
www.philrowlandswriter.com

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – October Round Up – Kwan Kew Lai, Chris Hall, D.L. Finn, Jan Sikes, Jacqui Murray, Dan Antion

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the round up of my reviews during October and a very enjoyable reading month.

My review for The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly October 1st 2022

The author has already published two memoirs about her extraordinary global career in medicine and humanitarian work – Lest We Forget: A Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak and Into Africa, Out of Academia: A Doctor’s Memoir

Kwan Kew Lai’s family asked her to write about her upbringing, family and life in Malaya just after the Japanese occupation, and the challenges she faced in obtaining an education at a time when a girl was destined to devote her life to her family, marry young and to bear many children.

Prepare to be amazed, inspired and humbled by this story.

You may have read news articles, books and even seen dramatized accounts of life in Malaya during and…

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Smorgasbord Blogger Weekly – November 3rd 2022 – D.G.Kaye with Christy Birmingham-Reyes, Ritu Bhathal, Pete Springer, Audrey Driscoll, Traci Kenworth

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

A small selection of posts I have enjoyed in the last week or so.

Now that I have got my WIP on its way to be scrutinised…. I have a little more time to spend doing what I love which is reading other blogger’s posts.

Debby Gies was the guest of Christy Birmingham- Reyes chatting about her new podcast – Grief-: Real Talk. A commonsense and also comforting approach to grief in all its manisfestations.

Head over to read the postInterview D.G. Kaye and Christy Birmingham-Reyes

It would be hard not to notice the turmoil that is British politics in the last few months, particularly the short lived premiership of Liz Truss. However, we do now have a new Prime Minister and Ritu Bhathalexplores this new development and the hopes and fears about how it will turn out.

Head over to read Ritu’s thoughts and leave your…

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Podcast – #Poetry #Flash Fiction – Halloween and The Witch’s Handbook by Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Over last few weeks I have shared some syllabic poetry and 99 word flash fiction from my collection Life’s Rich Tapestry…woven in words

Today – a poem and piece of flash in celebration of Halloween

Halloween – The Spell

step
into
october.
the month when those,
living in shadows,
stir in unholy crypts.
plans are afoot for mischief.
the victims are those that breathe air,
can survive the bright glare of sunlight,
and are unaware of the doom to come.
but there is a spell to thwart the demons.
potent when spoken by a young child,
more so when they are in costume
with fangs and a devil’s tail.
so remember humans
on that special night
always respond
not with trick
but with
treat.

The witch’s handbook – Spell #…

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Places in our Memories: With Jane Risdon #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m pleased to be welcoming online friend, Jane Risdon, here to tell us about her childhood memories.

Thanks so much for inviting me, Judith, it is lovely to be able to share my memories with you.

Soon after I was born, my father left for the Korean War, and my mother and I, moved in with my paternal grandfather — a former British Indian Army Major —with my dad’s sister, and brother, although not long after, my uncle immigrated to Australia.

During my first two years living with them all, I recall the house being filled with music when my uncle was there, and he, his sister, and my mum, would jitterbug and waltz around the breakfast room to the radio or their 78rpm record collection, to the music of Nat King Cole, Johnny Rae, Guy Mitchel, Alma Cogan, Bill Haley, Ann Sheridan, Doris Day, and so many others whose music I grew up to love.

My parents met when my dad was an Officer Cadet Instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in 1947, when she and her sisters used to go to the dances in the Old College. Eventually, she married my dad, and one of her sister’s married his best friend, who was an instructor too. Sandhurst features greatly in our family history – another story one day, perhaps.

Grandfather’s Victorian era house in Aldershot, was on three floors and was full of Indian memorabilia and furnishings. Tables with elephant tusks (I know, don’t let’s go there), and grand carvings on the wooden legs and surfaces. Rugs and tapestries weaved by Indian artisans with scenes of tigers, and other animals covered the walls and floors. There were various other pieces of art and furniture I can barely recall. But I can still remember the smells of camphor in the parlour, and the ‘carpet’ smell given off by the wall hangings and Persian rugs which were everywhere.

On the ground floor as you stood at the front door, there was a lovely entrance hall, with decorated floor tiles. On the left there was the parlour, where a grand fireplace dominated the room. On the mantlepiece there were various vases and other ornaments and, eventually, I was bequeathed them by my grandfather, who inherited them from his mother. Apparently I was fascinated by them as a toddler, and I must admit I loved them as I was growing up.

On the right looking ahead there was the staircase with ornate bannisters. Opposite the stairs on the left, there was a breakfast room leading into a scullery and kitchen with a backdoor onto the garden. ‘Joey,’ the budgie had a cage in the breakfast room, which had a huge dresser along one wall, displaying most of my parent’s wedding presents, in the form of a full white dinner service, Japanese fine porcelain tea and coffee sets, and in the huge drawers their Indian linen was held, along with their damask table linen, and canteen of silverware, and similar items.

Joey, the budgie, was fun too. He used to talk all the time and said funny things, because I can recall everyone going into hysterics every time he said anything. Years later, I learned that he used to swear, not that I ever heard anyone in the family using bad language, Joey seemed to have picked it up from somewhere.

The scullery held the sink and  gas cooker. I’m not sure if there was a fridge when I lived there – I was only there from birth until I was two, but years later I used to visit with my parents and siblings and so the timescale for my memories probably get intermingled with other times. I’m always transported back to that scullery, whenever I smell Lifebuoy, Imperial Leather, and Wright’s Coal Tar Soaps. Sticks of celery in a glass container filled the air with their fragrance whenever we had afternoon tea. I’m sure we ate other things, but I cannot recall.

Years later when I had brothers and sisters and we’d visit him on a Sunday, the smells were still there, although, by then these were joined by the smell of baking because grandad had a live-in housekeeper who was an excellent cook.

Grandfather in his Major’s uniform. Grandfather and his brother before deploying to France

My grandfather was strict. Children were seen and not heard. I was another of his soldiers under his command, although he was a kind man. One was not allowed to speak until spoken to, one was not allowed to fold one’s arms or rest them on the table. There was a certain way to behave when dining and his training has never left me. Bad table manners drive me mental.

Grandfather lied about his age and joined the Army aged fourteen, having been a boarder at the Duke of York Military School for the children of widows of soldiers, where he was joined by two of his brothers who also enlisted in the Army.  Apparently they didn’t question Grandfather’s enlistment and he was in France soon after, fighting in WW1. My Grandparents married in England in the 1920s. They went out to India soon after their marriage and lived there until partition in 1947. He served in Africa in WW2, leading his men — including Gurkhas, Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus from India, to fight Rommell in the desert. He rose to the rank of acting Lieutenant Colonel but retired as a Major.

During WW2, my grandmother drove ambulances carrying wounded soldiers from the docks to the hospitals where they were living in India. She was a fashion icon, I gather, wearing trouser suits when ladies were frowned upon if they wore them, and she favoured huge picture hats when driving, which caused a stir. She also took in lodgers when my grandfather was in Africa, and her guests included jockeys for the various Maharajahs, including the Maharajah of Jaipur’s favourite rider.

My grandparents divorced when my father and his siblings — who were born and grew up in India — were very young. Grandmother remarried and went out to South Africa where she and her Argentinian husband, purchased an ostrich farm, and later a grand hotel in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in Natal. She died in her late forties, in South Africa. My father and his brother never saw her again, although their sister spent time with them in South Africa as a small child, and later, which I will go into further on.

My father, and his younger brother and sister in India

Ayah with Dad and Roy

My father and his siblings were educated in the Himalayas. He and his brother went to a college in Simla (Shimla), known as the Queen of Hill stations, and their sister went to a convent elsewhere. The boys could count future presidents, prime ministers, princes, and maharajas amongst their school mates. They spent nine months of the year in the mountains and came down for the summer which they spent with their parents in Quetta, Poona, and other places they lived. Although, mostly they were looked after by their Ayah (nanny), it seems from all accounts, their childhood spent in India, was idyllic and magical most of the time. The boys were taught by Christian Brothers, although the family was Church of England, and my aunt was taught by Catholic nuns. One day her school had a visit from Mahatma Gandhi, and she was introduced to him, and shook his hand. He then went outside the school, sat by the gates, and greeted various people, wearing his loin cloth! She has a clear memory of it but has no idea why he was visiting in his loin cloth.

My father in Sumatra circa 1953

Father as a child with brother and Quetta Hills Tribesmen

My father joined the British Indian Army in India after the war, when he was old enough, and was sent to Africa and various other ‘hot spots,’ before ending up in England, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, where he eventually met and married my mother.

Back to the house. In the hall, next to the stairs, there were steps down into the sitting room. Again, the smell of Indian wooden furniture is a prevailing memory. I can’t recall what else was in the room, but there were double French doors opening on to the back garden. In the garden, the smell of creosote is a vivid memory. It coated the wooden fence panels, and the garden shed, and when the sun shone the creosote seemed to smell stronger.

Father in the Korean War

When I was two, Mum and I flew to Singapore to join my dad, who’d been posted from Korea to Malaya — The Malayan Emergency —  to take part in the counter-insurgency operations by Britain, which lasted from 1948-1960, and resulted in the defeat of Communist rebels, attacking the rubber plantations and murdering Malayans. We lived in Singapore for a few years, and I have quite vivid memories of our time there. I recall meeting my father for the first time at the airport, and shooting up inside my mother’s skirt, apparently wanting, ‘that nasty man’ to go away. It took months to accept him. It seems that as a toddler every man I met I called ‘daddy,’ and even the station master on Aldershot railway station was called ‘daddy,’ until one day he took my mother aside and suggested she tell ‘that poor child,’ who her father is.

Flying to Singapore, before Jet engines, took over a week, one way. We had frequent stops for lunch, and refuelling, in various countries, and we overnighted in a number of other countries, unable to fly at night. Sights and smells I can still recall, especially India; staying in Calcutta, Karachi, and Bombay — as they were known back then. I clearly remember coming off the plane for a lunchtime stop, and seeing an Indian lady, in a sari, with rings through her nose, with bare feet.

On the first floor in my grandfather’s house, there were several bedrooms and a bathroom. The floor in the bathroom was tiled in black and white, and one afternoon I managed to lock myself in there and had to be rescued by my uncle — via a ladder — put up to the bathroom window. He was able to unlock the door from the inside.

The next floor had more bedrooms and a bathroom, and I suppose I must have gone inside them at some point. I can’t recall. Although, I know one bed was so high off the ground, my great grandparents, when visiting, used to take a running jump to get on to it, which must have been a sight for sore eyes, considering they were both in their nineties!

I’m not sure where my grandfather’s room, my uncle’s, or my mother’s was, but they were on this floor. But I do recall my teenage aunt’s room. It was like an Aladdin’s cave. She had so many pairs of shoes and handbags, which I liked to play with. And, she had an amazing collection of dolls which were on her bed. The dolls could be turned upside down and there would be another doll under their clothes. I spent many hours playing with them, carefully, of course.

Jane around 1952 

Just before we left for Singapore, my grandmother visited from South Africa, mainly to see if her daughter would go back with her to live at their hotel, The Valley of a Thousand Hills Hotel, in KwaZulu-Natal. She arrived at my grandfather’s house with her new husband — they were on their honeymoon in Europe — complete with chauffeur-driven car. She refused to pick me up in case I messed up her furs and haute couture outfit. She gave me a dress and a doll, I believe. After a while they took off with my aunt in tow, to tour the West Country, so my aunt could decide if she wanted to go to South Africa or not. My aunt decided to remain with her father. Grandmother returned to South Africa and died four years later.

Amah 1954 with her niece.

Singapore was amazing. So different to the way it is today.  My husband, and I, have lived there on several occasions throughout recent years, when working with Chinese recording artists. In 1954 it was a town surrounded by jungle, and I can clearly remember how it was.

Singapore Junk with city in the background.

We lived in flats, with the parade ground behind us, and every morning you could hear the men on parade, the music, and the marching. I had an Amah (nanny) to look after me. She used to take me into her room and feed me raw fish and rice, and I would squat on the floor with her to eat it with chopsticks.

I had a little friend, older than me, called Janice, and we used to swim in the sea together, and go to the park for picnics and play on the swings. We also went to the Botanical Gardens. Our parents had an amazing social life and would often cross the Straits from Singapore to Jahor Bahru, to dine and go dancing.

I cannot recall the flat. I do remember sitting on the steps inside the flat with Janice, and somewhere there is a photo.

RMA Heritage Day 2016

Having a parent in the Army, I spent my childhood until my teens, travelling and living around the world. Going to so many different schools, it was almost impossible to make long-term friends. Eventually, working and living overseas with my husband, in the music business, I’ve found it hard to call anywhere home. Picking one place to concentrate on, has been difficult. I hope you’ve enjoyed my memories of the early years with my grandfather, and of living in Singapore.

About Jane:
Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies. She writes for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine, Electric Press, and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.
She is a regular guest on international internet podcasts including UK Crime Book Club (UKCBC), Donnas Interviews Reviews and Giveaways, and on radio shows such as theauthorsshow.com, chatandspinradio.com, and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show.
Undercover: Crime Shorts is being used by Western Kentucky University, Kt. USA, in an Introduction to Literature Class, for second year students from Autumn 2021 for the foreseeable future.
Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers. They also facilitated the placement of music in movies and television series.
Earlier in her career she also worked for the British Ministry of Defence in Germany, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London.
Jane is represented by Linda Langton of Langton’s International Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA.

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