Posts Tagged ‘Cambridge’

Standing on the Diving Board

The Front Cover

I am getting close to finishing my book the writing is done and the corrections are well underway. The cover design is nearly finished and I hope to publish very soon.

It is an interesting situation for me to be in, I have had some writing published and been touched that people have enjoyed my work. There is no greater vote of confidence than someone buying your work, no, perhaps there is. A lady picked up a copy of “Where The Wild Winds Blow” at a U3A meeting looked at my name badge and asked if I had written anything in the book she held. When I said I had, she leafed through the book and started reading, “Where does the Pope buy his Frocks?” after a few minutes she was laughing out loud. It was a moment of pure magic for me.

At the moment I have mixed emotions, I want to be finished and published but hesitant, wondering about how much more polishing and tweaking it needs to make it as good as possible.

 I suppose the closest analogy is someone standing on a high diving board for the first time. Edging their way to the end wanting to jump, to dive in but worried that the neatly executed movement they have planned will end in a belly flop.

There is only one way to find out and I will in the next few weeks when I dive in.

In the meantime:

Where Does the Pope Buy His Frocks?

“I often talk to myself, sometimes out loud, mostly though within the confines of my mind. I am not sure whether it is just my way of marshalling thoughts or a rehearsal of how the words may sound when spoken.”

“That’s very interesting Mr Fontain,” said Miss Rogers, my analyst, “But you must realise there are times when sharing your thoughts vocally may not be appropriate.”

“I don’t know, sometimes it can liven up a boring occasion, even make it interesting.”

“It can offend though.”

“No one has the right not to be offended.”

“What about the occasion of the Queen’s visit?”

“All I said was she is not my mum and I wish she would stop sending me begging letters.”

“But why use the megaphone?”

“She was a long way off and I wanted her to hear, I am fed up with her writing to me, I don’t even know the woman. It got a lot of laughs though, a cheer and a round of applause.”

“What about the fight afterwards.”

“The Queen started that, well some of the blokes with her did.”

“The police?”

“They had no right to try and steal my megaphone, it cost me a lot of money. It is a good job the people nearby thought the same, I’ve still got my megaphone thanks to them.”

“Would those people be the Fens Republicans?”

“I think some of them might be, I know a couple come from Ely, some from Chatteris and at least one from Huntingdon.”

“The Queen had to cut short her visit because of the fighting; a lot of people were very disappointed.”

“Well, they shouldn’t have started the fights then should they? As I said, no one has the right not to be offended. When I am offended I don’t start fighting people and trying to steal their stuff do I?”

“No, you use your megaphone. What about the visit by the Pope to Cambridge?”

“All I said was I wonder if he got his frock from Marks and Spencer or John Lewis.”

“Through your megaphone wasn’t it?”

“Most people thought it was hilarious. I think even the Pope had a chuckle.”

“That caused more trouble.”

“The police again, trying to nick my megaphone, it was a good job most of the crowd were on my side and I had my bike handy for a swift getaway.”

“The getaway caused problems too didn’t it?”

“The students on their bikes you mean?”

“Yes, they blocked off most of the roads in the city centre to stop the police didn’t they?”

“I heard about that. Again, it was the police causing trouble; you would think they would be chasing criminals wouldn’t you?”

“How on earth did you manage to smuggle you megaphone into Parliament?”

“It wasn’t easy, I had it wrapped up in a parcel and pretended to be a courier delivering it to an MP. Once I was in I got changed and sneaked into the chamber.”

“But why shout out Black Rod stole my elephant?”

“Because what I really feel, what I genuinely believe, I cannot say. My voice is silent on the really important issues – on the lessons we haven’t learned. Mostly, I talk to myself; that audience always listens.”

“Okay, Mr Fontain same time next week. Back to your cell now.”

I am a proud member of Whittlesey Wordsmiths, a writing and publishing Cooperative, you might like to find out more about these books from our collection

Click on the picture to read more or order from Amazon

Front cover of a Following Wind click on the picture to read more or order from Amazon
The Railway Carriage Child. Click on the picture for more information or to order
Witch Way Click on the picture for more information or to order
A year before Christmas click on the picture for more information or to order
Unleash Your Dreams: Going Beyond Goal Setting (NLP, the Law of Attraction, the Universe and You Book 1) by [Stephen Oliver]
Unleash Your Dreams. Click on the picture for more information or to order.

The Antikythera Mechanism

Antikythera mechanism as found in the sea (picture from Wilipedia)

The Antikythera mechanism as found in the sea (picture from Wikipedia)

A friend of mine is a member of the Cambridge Astronomical Association, from time to time he invites me to accompany him to their lectures. The latest outing was to watch a very interesting presentation about an ancient (180-70BC) machine discovered on a shipwreck in the Aegean Sea. This mechanism has been described as the worlds oldest analogue computer.

The excellent and interesting presentation was given by John Lancashire. Mr Lancashire has built his own working reconstruction of the machine using the original design to produce 3d printed plastic reproductions of those components to use in his machine. He did, however, change the tooth profiles of the gears to involute from the straight cut original form.

Antikythera 1

John Lancashires reproduction of the Antikythera mechanism

The machine was recovered from the sea in 1901 and identified as containing gears by the Greek archaeologist Valerois Stais in 1902. Only recently with the aid of modern X-ray and scanning techniques was its purpose discerned.  This enabled the true extent of its complexity and sophistication to be established.

John outlined the timeline of key steps in the development of astronomical theories in the Hellenistic period from 500BC through to the time when it was thought the mechanism was lost. At that time the earth was still considered to be at the centre of the universe with the sun and planets orbiting it.

Antikythera 2

This side of the machine shows the pointers representing the position of the sun and the known planets. The ball in the centre in black rotates to show the phases of the moon.

He completed his presentation by demonstrating his model of the mechanism and how he had calibrated it for the present day, the lecture was so interesting that it continued well past its scheduled slot and we departed much later than usual.

Antikythera 5

A view of the gearing and on the right the pointers for each planet and the sun. The complexity of such an ancient machine is astounding.

On the trip home my friend and I discussed the machine and concluded that there could have been earlier less complex versions of this mechanism, that someone must have sat down and designed it possibly recording their design. It is possible that these designs and the underpinning theories were lost in the burning of the library at Alexandria. For me, the interest was not only in the machine itself but how it was constructed with such accuracy and the history of the machines that well may have preceded it. We can only speculate about those people who had the intellect to have designed this and possibly other similar machines unless we can design a time machine to travel back in time we will never know their identity.

The Calling by Alison Bruce a review.

Front cover of the book The Calling

The Calling by Alison Bruce

Having read the first two books in the DC Gary Goodhew series (Cambridge Blue and The Siren) I was keen to try The Calling; the third or more accurately the first.

Alison had written The Calling before any of the others but decided that it was better placed as the third novel in the series.

There is always the problem of a Cambridge based detective being compared to that of Oxford’s Inspector Morse, Edinburgh’s Inspector Rebus or Bath’s Superintendent Diamond. DC Gary Goodhew is further down the ranks, a mere Detective Constable but none the less just as talented.

Goodhew struggles without any advantage of rank to find his way through a maze of clues, using unorthodox methods and skating round procedural niceties to find the answer to a troubling series of cruel murders. The ending is edgy and tense with the outcome by no means a foregone conclusion.

I enjoyed the book, like a great many of Alison’s fans, Cambridge is local and familiar to me, we have ownership of the settings.

This is, as are Alison’s other books well written, detailed and literate but above all else a damn good entertaining read.

The Siren by Alison Bruce

Book cover of The Siren by Alison Bruce

The Siren by Alison Bruce

I never thought that retirement would be so time consuming. The thought that my twilight years would stretch in front of me unfilled allowing me time to read, watch films, write and generally idle away my time seem far from the reality.

Finally I have found the time to read The Siren, the second in the Gary Goodhew series of novels. Although Cambridge Blue was excellent, a brilliant first novel,  I think The Siren is even better. As with Cambridge Blue the book is set in my part of the world many of the places and the landscape of the fens are familiar to me, though I must admit not Mill Road Cemetery. Up to the very end I was left guessing. I shall be buying the next in the series, The Calling or adding it to my Christmas list for Santa’s attention.

 

 

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