Posts Tagged ‘Cambridge’

An Unusual Job For A Woman

Three Sheets to The Wind is the latest collection of stories and poems from the renowned u3a writing group Whittlesey Wordsmiths of which I am immensely proud to be a member

Three Sheets to the Wind by Whittlesey Wordsmiths

I promised to put a longer version of my story that featured on Marsha Ingrao’s blog after the book, Three Sheets to the Wind was published An Unusual Job for a Woman is one of the stories in this collection.

Here is the full version of the story that appeared earlier as “Not a Proper Job.”

An Unusual Job for a Woman.

Philip Cumberland

The guided bus was an unusual getaway vehicle, but it had served her well in the past.

“It’s their vanity that makes them vulnerable,” she thought.

She had been glad to get out of her waitress uniform and into something less conspicuous. What politician full of their own importance could refuse an honorary doctorate from one of the world’s leading universities?

“More wine Mr Ambulant? Yes, the glass is a bit dirty. I will fetch you a clean one. It was the Chardonnay, wasn’t it?”

Fortunately, she was in the kitchen when he collapsed, nowhere near him. When they all rushed to see what was happening, she was in the ladies, changing into jeans and a tee shirt. Then nipping out through the Masters’ Garden… a bit naughty really, but not as naughty as poisoning someone.

Thank goodness for the tourists. It was easy to get swallowed up by the crowds. The bus was waiting in its bay when she arrived at Drummer Street. Some of those academics can be a bit handy when a girl is carrying a tray of drinks while wearing a fairly short skirt; the women were the worst. She wondered if she had been missed yet. The Park and Ride is very useful; you can park for free at St Ives, get into the middle of Cambridge then back to pick your car up. The luggage lockers are useful too. The Jiffy bag was waiting for her; Sheila would count its contents later. No doubt the next job was in there too.

The policemen standing waiting by her car were a surprise. She noticed them as she closed the locker door – always sensible to park near the bus shelter. Fortunately, the bus was still waiting to move off. She climbed back on, flashed her day rider ticket at the driver, and then found a seat next to the emergency exit.

As she left the bus at Huntingdon, she thought it was always good to have a plan B. The elderly Renault Clio was inconspicuous and could be left anywhere without arousing suspicion if there weren’t yellow lines or parking restrictions.

She drove to her cottage in Wistow. It wasn’t her main address, but somewhere out of the way when life got complicated. After opening the Chardonnay with a wry smile on her face and pouring herself a glass she reached for the Jiffy bag. Inside were a few hundred in twenties and tens for expenses. The lottery ticket was there too.

The photograph of her next target was a bit of a surprise. He was nasty enough but well connected; he must have really upset someone, Sheila thought. Then she remembered a story – well, a rumour of a story circulating – that would explain it.No matter how big a bully you are, there is always someone bigger and nastier.

Right, London on Monday to claim her lottery prize and perhaps a call to Grandmother.

The Sunday papers headlined Ambulant’s sudden death; a heart attack was the suspected cause. Hopefully, the college had secured his endowment before his demise.

Sunday passed quietly, and it was the eleven-thirty train from Huntingdon that delivered Sheila to Kings Cross. The newsagent’s shop was small, scruffy and inconspicuous, located on an anonymous side street.

The newsagent, certainly the man behind the counter, was elderly, bald and stooped. His nicotine-stained fingers suggested that a few years ago, a cigarette would have been permanently between his lips. He took Sheila’s blank lottery ticket and took it into a back room. Returning after a few minutes he inserted it into the lottery machine. The tune from the machine announced it was a winner.

“Congratulations, young lady; five numbers and the bonus ball, £180,000 and 3p. You will have to contact Camelot; keep your ticket safe.”

Sheila called Camelot’s special number using her mobile phone, identified herself, scanned the QR code and arranged the transfer of the winnings to her bank in Switzerland. She had left the newsagents with a copy of the Times and then found a call box.

The call was answered on the third ring by a quavery elderly male voice.

“Hello, who is it?”

“Mr Wolf?”

“Yes.”The voice immediately changed to something younger, no longer quavery.

“It’s Little Red Riding Hood. Can I speak to Grandmother please?”

“Grandmother’s familiar voice was calm as usual.”

“Hello, my dear. What can I do for you?”

“I am a little concerned about my next job.”

“He has got a history of heart problems. You are an attractive young lady and very clever.”

“Two policemen were waiting by my car at St Ives after Mr Ambulant died.”

“You should have a list of your next target’s engagements in your pack. You need to be very careful about how you manage things.”

“I am a little concerned about how quickly the police were onto my car.”

“The payment for the next job will be a lot higher, a million from the Euromillions draw. There is less interest in those winners.”

“Who else knows about me and the next target?”

“Just Mr Wolf, the Woodcutter and myself.”

“What about the Witch?”

“She’s dead.”

“Okay then, I will do it, but won’t notify you first. Once I have done the job I will phone you.”

“That’s absolutely fine, my dear. We know you well enough by now.”

Sheila ended her call and went shopping, mainly in charity shops, although she didn’t need new clothes, but the right clothes for the job.

A slightly plump middle-aged woman booked a room at a small hotel near Holborn underground station. She had booked for a week in the name of Mrs June Gordon and produced her driving licence with an address in Stamford as proof of identification. Her clothes were of good quality but not fashionable: sensible suits and skirts.

Sheila’s target was a man of habit. He jogged in Green Park most mornings, usually at seven. His list of engagements included lunch with the prime minister, theatre visits, and talks with dignitaries.

Sir John Grantly-Crouch prided himself on his physical fitness, and his run in Green Park, close to his house, was part of his daily routine. It was the second day in a row that the middle-aged lady wobbled by on a Santander hire bicycle, wishing him good morning. A bit unusual for a woman to cycle in a tweed skirt, he thought, but that was all. He jogged on, turned a corner, and saw that she appeared to have fallen off her bike. He extended his hand and helped her up, holding her gloved hand to do so.

She thanked him profusely, remounted her cycle and rode off.

Sir John Grantly-Crouch never finished his run. A few minutes later, he suffered a heart attack, collapsed and died.

The middle-aged lady parked the hired cycle at the docking station near the toilets and Green Park underground station. She peeled off her gloves and put them on the ground beside her. After taking her capacious leather handbag from the bicycle’s front basket, she opened it and put on a pair of surgical rubber gloves before opening a plastic bin liner. The leather gloves were placed in the bag; a pack of antibacterial wipes was used to clean the handlebars, saddle and frame. She didn’t want innocent victims.

The used wipes and surgical gloves went into the bin bag too. The partially filled bin bag was sealed, placed inside another, and both went back into the capacious handbag.

Sheila found a call box and spoke to Grandmother.

“Sir John Grantly-Crouch collapsed and died in Green Park this morning whilst out for his run. The cause of death will be a heart attack.”

“Thank you, Little Red Riding Hood. Your lottery ticket will be sent to you.”

“I have already bought it. Here is the number; have you got a pen to hand?”Sheila read the number from her ticket.

“That’s not the way it works, Little Red Riding Hood.”

“It is this time. I have plenty of the substance left, Grandmother. Or should I say, Joan? I know where you all live, so no monkey business.”

“There will be none, I assure you.”

The tube was busy with the morning commute. Kings Cross was crowded and they weren’t looking for a middle-aged lady or the older woman who left the train at St Neots.

Three Sheets to the Wind is available to buy on Amazon

A bit of Public Speaking

Me with my book, Killing Time in Cambridge with the Grasshopper Chronophage at Corpus Christi College Cambridge
Me with my book, Killing Time in Cambridge with the Grasshopper Chronophage at Corpus Christi College Cambridge

I was given the opportunity to talk about writing and my novel twice during this last week. On Tuesday I was invited to speak at a local Women’s Institute meeting and on Thursday at The August Book Bank event at Huntingdon’s Commemoration Hall.

I haven’t spoken in public for a very long time and then it was only once. I can’t even remember what the talk was about.

It was very kind of both the Whittlesey Women’s Institute (W I) and Niche Comics and Books in Huntingdon to invite me.

I was able to tell the attentive W I audience about the tremendous help and collaborative effort of the u3a Whittlesey Wordsmiths, to which I belong. The group encourages its members to write, help hone their skills and see their work in print and published. It is the mutual support and collaboration that has helped all of us within the group to succeed, including me.

The W I audience was engaging and their questions were interesting.

Best-selling author Emma Rous with her first novel The Au Pair

At, Huntingdon I was invited to give a short talk to an audience which included the best-selling author Emma Rous, about my book Killing Time in Cambridge. I was invited to read a well-received short extract. After other members of the audience shared experiences of their recent reading the local best-selling author, Emma Rous spoke to us about her writing. She spoke about the decision to give up her profession as a vet to pursue her writing career. By coincidence we both worked at Ramsey, Emma leaving her job as a vet and me retiring in the same year.

It was an interesting talk, Emma gave us insights into the world of professional publishing, explaining the methods and processes of a major publishing house. The changes in titles and cover designs to suit different markets and countries were an eye-opener. The examples on display were remarkable both in variety and concept. The thinking behind the different designs was prompted by serious market research and knowledge of different markets. She also mentioned the willingness of other authors to help and support one another, something even with my limited experience I have found to be the case.

When I spoke to Emma afterwards she told me she enjoyed the piece from my book that I had read aloud to the audience.

We share a love of the Fen country, in particular the skies.

I enjoyed both meetings, particularly the supportive interaction from both audiences.

Thank you Whittlesey Women’s Institute and Niche Books and Comics for the opportunity to share my story.

At the Commemoration Hall with Emma Rous

To read more about Emma Rous visit: http://www.emmarous.com/

For Niche Comics and Books, bookshop visit: http://www.nichecomics.co.uk

Book Review – Killing Time in Cambridge by Philip Cumberland

A book review and a Q&A, thank you for your kindness and generosity Eva.

Eva Jordan

“AI is likely to be either the best or worst thing to happen to humanity”­­––Stephen Hawking

This month I interviewed local author (to me) Philip Cumberland (see here), who is also one of the coordinators and founding members of a local U3A Writing Group, Whittlesey Wordsmiths. As well as a contributing author of several anthologies written by the group, Philip has also recently published his debut novel, KillingTime in Cambridge, and this is my review.

The story opens with an axe wielding knight of old, dressed in full body armour, clanking down the corridor of a software company, who then hacks down the office door of the managing director, demanding to know who the ‘master’ is. The poor MD then has a heart attack, the knight disappears, and a short time later the building is besieged by medieval catapults. At this juncture, we are introduced to…

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Eva Jordan in conversation with writer Philip Cumberland.

A fantastic review from the outstanding author Eva Jordan.

Eva Jordan

This month I’m chatting to local author Philip Cumberland. As one of the founding members of a local writing group, Phil reached out to me several years ago to ask if I’d be interested in reviewing a book the group had put together called Where the Wild Winds Blow: an eclectic mix of fact and fiction, featuring short stories, poems, and memoirs, contributed by the various members of the Whittlesey Wordsmiths. Honoured, I said I’d love to. Since then, Philip has released his own debut novel, Killing Time in Cambridge, which was also my choice for this month’s book review.

Welcome Phil, thanks for being my guest. Can you tell everyone a bit about yourself?

Thank you for inviting me, Eva.

I grew up in Huntingdon and have lived in Cambridgeshire all my life, the last thirty-five years in Whittlesey.

I was originally a motor mechanic, then an…

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Light on Leeds Podcast

Killing Time in Cambridge book cover

I was honoured and delighted to be invited by Hazel to be interviewed for her podcast Light on Leeds.

She wanted to ask me about my writing, my book, the Fens and Cambridge.

Here is the link to her podcast:

https://www.lightonleeds.com/episodes/light-on-episode-4-philip-cumberland-author?fbclid=IwAR0Rqhq61E1ObUfbHK4-Hy2xcySyImPWf4qCk0wfW-HS1UIqFrBSLHzx1VA#

To hear more of Hazel’s podcasts please visit her site.

https://www.lightonleeds.com/

Cambridge Black by Alison Bruce, a review.

Cambridge Black written by Alison Bruce

I find it is always a balancing act when writing reviews, trying not to spoil the plot for would-be readers but giving some sense of what lies between the book’s covers.

Cambridge Black is the seventh in Alison Bruce’s DC Gary Goodhew series. I am sure most readers will like myself have read some, possibly all of the preceding books and have a familiarity with the characters.

The story centres around three quest’s, Amy’s for the truth concerning her father’s conviction for murder, Sue Gully’s search for her father and Gary Goodhew’s hunt for those responsible for his grandfather’s murder.

The story is well-plotted and paced.

Cambridge is as all the Goodhew novels the setting for Cambridge Black. Alison Bruce has a great affection for the city which shows in the writing. I enjoy the familiarity of many places in the story, probably something I share with other fans.

I thoroughly enjoyed the twisting turning story as DC Goodhew and the team pursue the perpetrators of a current and simultaneously two other historic unsolved cases. The writing as always is exceptionally fine, the descriptions and scene-setting excellent. I was racing through the pages towards the end as the story reached its nail-biting climax.

This was retiring DI Marx’s last case; I hope it won’t be the last case for DC Gary Goodhew too.

The Promise by Alison Bruce, a review.

The Promise by Alison Bruce

I am gradually reading all of Mrs Bruce’s Gary Goodhew books, The Promise is number six of seven.

Each succeeding book is better than the one preceding it; a difficult accomplishment when the first one, Cambridge Blue is so good.

The brutal murder of a homeless man, known to DC Gary Goodhew, prompts his early return to work while still recovering from injuries received during his last case. Cambridge is the setting for this and the books before it, is captured perfectly; the plot is intricate and convoluted, the characters are well drawn, the ending unexpected.

It is a really difficult book to put down until you have finished reading it I have ordered Cambridge Black and I am looking forward to reading it. It has The Promise of being an excellent read.

Killing Time in Cambridge a review by Stephen Oliver

Stephen was kind enough to buy my book and has given me this wonderful five star review on Amazon, he has also posted it on his own blog too. I write not just for my own pleasure but hopefully to entertain others, it is gratifying for me when I have succeeded.

Killing Time in Cambridge

This is not part of my publishing career, but I would like to promote a novel written by a friend of mine, Philip Cumberland.

It is a cross between a time-travel adventure and a police procedural, with intense descriptions of local colour. The premise is fascinating, and the execution extremely well done. 

The tale gripped me from the beginning because of the interesting, quirky characters, like Arnold, Sylvia… and, of course, Marvin. Their interactions were believable, and the character-building using dialogue was credible. The world-building, basing itself on the real Cambridge and the countryside of the Fens as it did, brought a touch of reality to an otherwise bizarre and twisted tale. Well, time travel will do that to a story.

If you like stories that are a bit out of the ordinary (and time travel and police procedural under one roof are extraordinary), you should enjoy this journey into the past… er, future? Um, whenever…!

Oh, and I loved that little plot twist at the end, hinting as it does to a possible sequel.

The author assures me that he has made every trip mentioned, been to every scene described, and walked (and timed) every outing within the city. I have not spent much time in Cambridge, but I can visualise how it was on the days of the murders…

If you’re looking for something different and interesting, I can thoroughly recommend it.

Stephen Oliver

If you would like to read it for yourself there is a link to Amazon on the photo title or click here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Time-Cambridge-Philip-Cumberland/dp/1916481779/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1610177186&sr=8-1

The Moment Before Impact by Alison Bruce, a review

The Moment Before Impact by Alison Bruce

Most of us I am sure are familiar with books that you can’t put down because you want to know what happens next but don’t want to the story to end because they are so good, this is one of those books.

The story is set in and around Cambridge, the streets and places are familiar to those who live in or visit the city. For others who do not share that familiarity with the city, a Google search makes it accessible and I am sure encourages readers to visit and see it for themselves.

The plot is engaging and draws the reader in, Celia Henry a tenacious former reporter tries to make sense of the circumstances leading up to a serious road accident. Those involved have become  the adults she watched growing up as children while their neighbour.

An open and shut case becomes increasing more open and less shut as the story moves on with Celia prompting the police to look again. The story grips and holds the reader as it twists and turns revealing more of the back story.

One word describes it for me “Brilliant” but don’t take my word for it, read it yourself.

More please Mrs. Bruce

The Moment Before Impact is available on Amazon and in book shops.

Leaping off

Corpus Christi College Cambridge Grasshopper Chronophage on the cover of Killing Time in Cambridge.
Killing Time in Cambridge

Well, I have leapt off the diving board and published my novel Killing Time in Cambridge. The first printed paperback book arrived on Wednesday and I have had my first review for the Kindle version.

Rather mixed feelings, relief that I have finally done it, a sense of tiredness and anticlimax. I hope that it will not only sell but more importantly those who read it enjoy the story, The feedback so far has been favourable.

My next novel is underway whether it will get finished is always an open question but I am pleased with the opening chapter. It is slightly different from the first, with different characters. However if Killing Time in Cambridge proves popular Arnold Lane may have a second outing.

If you would like to buy it on Amazon click here:

Killing Time in Cmbridgehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Time-Cambridge-Philip-Cumberland/dp/1916481779/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1606719444&sr=8-1

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