Back waiting at the railway station…

One of my retirement jobs is running a taxi service known as uberpoppy.

It’s a job that I don’t mind doing because I get to see my grandchildren several times a week, and get to hear their stories, from the very worst of teenage angst, to sometimes good news.

I have absolutely no idea how children cope with the modern day pressures of school, dealing with their contemporaries, parents, and siblings.

And the older you are, the harder it gets.

And if you are girls, it is even more fraught.

So first cab off the rank in terms of how her day was going, old friends have become new enemies, losing one friend for reasons unknown to anyone other than the friend in question, potentially isolates you from that group.

It’s peer pressure at its worst.

Then there’s the necessity to conform, not to anything sensible, but what ever the queen bee of the group considers initiation worthy .

Sometimes it’s not worth the effort to confirm.

The thing here is, not a lot has changed from my day, over 50 years ago. Initiations were also terrible, it was thought up by the leader, who usually was a cretin, and his acolytes, equally as moronic.

What advice do I give her?

The temptation is to conform to the group, but that sometimes backfires, because these situations all have the possibly of damned if you do or damned if you don’t.

My best advice to her was that she had to dance to the tune of her own song. Sometimes all it takes is for others to realise your worth is to take a stand, not one that you rubbish the group but in your silence and in your actions.

Its very hard at that age to say you should lead by example, but sometimes it gives you that small break from the nonsensicality of school life you need to refocus on what is important to you.

The rest as so many others say will take care of itself.

Of course though all of the she has been texting on the phone and I suspect she didn’t hear a word I said.

It’s home, uberpoppy, home.

Past conversations with my cat – 29


This is Chester  He thinks he has managed to slip away without anyone noticing.

He doesn’t realise that we put a special collar on him so that we can hear him coming.

It was supposed to save the birds, stopping him from sneaking up on them, but we don’t let him outside.

Like all cats who have a dash of bravado in them, they don’t realize cars are not meant to be chased, and they are faster than cats think they are.

Or so the last three cats we had thought.  Chester is benefitting from their mistakes.

Not that he can be told.


He knows it’s reading days, where I need an opinion, and I’m guessing he’s not in the mood.

That’s OK.  I need a change of scenery.  And the chance to improve my surveillance skills.

Maybe I can use that experience in the story.



In a word: Pear

Now, how did such a simple word that described a piece of fruit become so tangled?

The English language of course.

It throws up many a variation of the same sounding word, just to confuse us.

Just think, there is also pair, and pare.

But a pear, that’s a piece of fruit.

And if you’re not careful things can go pear shaped very quickly.

Then there’s pair, which means there’s two of something the same, such as a pair of socks

Except in my house it’s more than likely that pair of socks are an odd pair.

Then there’s pare, which is to take the outer layer off such as an orange.

It can also mean to cut down, as in staff after restructuring an organisation.

NaNoWriMo Day Twenty Seven

It’s interesting that no matter how much you outline and plan a chapter, when it comes to actually putting words on paper it doesn’t quite run the way it should.

Last night I toiled over the chapter that has the first of the plot twists.

It’s been writing itself in my head, and I’ve been making notes to supplement the plan and take those notes into consideration.


When I wrote it, the first time around, it didn’t seem right. You know what that’s like. It’s not the second guessing thing, it’s not the being over critical thing, you write it, walk away, get a coffee, or in my case a large Scotch and soda water, and go back.

You either tell yourself it’s utterly brilliant, or at the other end of the scale, complete rubbish.

I was somewhere in between, and the cat, who was skulking nearby suddenly found himself a captive critic.

I read it out loud, he made weird faces, and, yes, I could see what was bothering me.

Three hours later, past two in the morning, it was in better shape than I was.

Searching for locations: Innsbruck, Austria

On one holiday, we drove from Florence to Innsbruck, a journey of about 500 kilometres and via the E45, a trip that would take us about five and a half hours.

We drove conservatively, stopped once for lunch and took about seven hours, arriving in Innsbruck late in the afternoon

The main reason for this stay was to go to Swarovski in Wattens for the second time, to see if anything had changed, and to buy some pieces.  We were still members of the club, and looking forward to a visit to the exclusive lounge and some Austrian champagne.

Sadly, there were no new surprises waiting, and we came away a little disappointed.

We were staying at the Innsbruck Hilton, where we stayed the last time, and it only a short walk to the old town.

From the highest level of the hotel, it is possible to get a look at the mountains that surround the city.  This view is in the direction we had driven earlier, from Florence.

The change in the weather was noticeable the moment we entered the mountain ranges.

This view looks towards the old town and overlooks a public square.

This view shows some signs of the cold, but in summer, I doubted we were going to see any snow.

We have been here in winter, and it is quite cold, and there is a lot of snow.  The ski resorts are not very far away, and the airport is on the way to Salzburg.

There is a host of restaurants in the old town, and we tried a few during our stay.  The food, beer, and service were excellent.

On a previous visit, we did get Swiss Army Knives, literally, from a small store called Victorinox.

And, yes, we did see the golden roof.

“What Sets Us Apart”, a mystery with a twist

David is a man troubled by a past he is trying to forget.

Susan is rebelling against a life of privilege and an exasperated mother who holds a secret that will determine her daughter’s destiny.

They are two people brought together by chance. Or was it?

When Susan discovers her mother’s secret, she goes in search of the truth that has been hidden from her since the day she was born.

When David realizes her absence is more than the usual cooling off after another heated argument, he finds himself being slowly drawn back into his former world of deceit and lies.

Then, back with his former employers, David quickly discovers nothing is what it seems as he embarks on a dangerous mission to find Susan before he loses her forever.


The first case of PI Walthenson – “A Case of Working With the Jones Brothers”

This case has everything, red herrings, jealous brothers, femme fatales, and at the heart of it all, greed.

Coming soon!


An excerpt from the book:


When Harry took the time to consider his position, a rather uncomfortable position at that, he concluded that he was somehow involved in another case that meant very little to him.

Not that it wasn’t important in some way he was yet to determine, it was just that his curiosity had got the better of him, and it had led to this: sitting in a chair, securely bound, waiting for someone one of his captors had called Doug.

It was not the name that worried him so much, it was the evil laugh that had come after the name was spoken.

Doug what?  Doug the ‘destroyer’, Doug the ‘dangerous’, Doug the ‘deadly’; there was any number of sinister connotations, and perhaps that was the point of the laugh, to make it more frightening than it was.

But there was no doubt about one thing in his mind right then: he’d made a mistake.  A very big. and costly, mistake.  Just how big the cost, no doubt he would soon find out.

His mother, and his grandmother, the wisest person he had ever known, had once told him never to eavesdrop.

At the time he couldn’t help himself and instead of minding his own business, listening to a one-sided conversation which ended with a time and a place.  The very nature of the person receiving the call was, at the very least, sinister, and, because of the cryptic conversation, there appeared to be, or at least to Harry, criminal activity involved.

For several days he had wrestled with the thought of whether he should go.  Stay on the fringe, keep out of sight, observe and report to the police if it was a crime.  Instead, he had willingly gone down the rabbit hole.

Now, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, several heat lamps hanging over his head, he was perspiring, and if perspiration could be used as a measure of fear, then Harry’s fear was at the highest level.

Another runnel of sweat rolled into his left eye, and, having his hands tied, literally, it made it impossible to clear it.  The burning sensation momentarily took his mind off his predicament.  He cursed and then shook his head trying to prevent a re-occurrence.  It was to no avail.

Let the stinging sensation be a reminder of what was right and what was wrong.

It was obvious that it was the right place and the right time, but in considering his current perilous situation, it definitely was the wrong place to be, at the worst possible time.


It was meant to be his escape, an escape from the generations of lawyers, what were to Harry, dry, dusty men who had been in business since George Washington said to the first Walthenson to step foot on American soil, ‘Why don’t you become a lawyer?” when asked what he could do for the great man.

Or so it was handed down as lore, though Harry didn’t think Washington meant it literally, the Walthenson’s, then as now, were not shy of taking advice.

Except, of course, when it came to Harry.

He was, Harry’s father was prone to saying, the exception to every rule.  Harry guessed his father was referring to the fact his son wanted to be a Private Detective rather than a dry, dusty lawyer.  Just the clothes were enough to turn Harry off the profession.

So, with a little of the money Harry inherited from one of his aunts, he leased an office in Gramercy Park and had it renovated to look like the Sam Spade detective agency, you know the one, Spade and Archer, and The Maltese Falcon.

There’s a movie and a book by Dashiell Hammett if you’re interested.

So, there it was, painted on the opaque glass inset of the front door, ‘Harold Walthenson, Private Detective’.

There was enough money to hire an assistant, and it took a week before the right person came along, or, more to the point, didn’t just see his business plan as something sinister.  Ellen, a tall cool woman in a long black dress, or so the words of a song in his head told him, fitted in perfectly.

She’d seen the movie, but she said with a grin, Harry was no Humphrey Bogart.

Of course not, he said, he didn’t smoke.

Three months on the job, and it had been a few calls, no ‘real’ cases, nothing but missing animals, and other miscellaneous items.  What he really wanted was a missing person.  Or perhaps a beguiling, sophisticated woman who was as deadly as she was charming, looking for an errant husband, perhaps one that she had already ‘dispatched’.

Or for a tall, dark and handsome foreigner who spoke in riddles and in heavily accented English, a spy, or perhaps an assassin, in town to take out the mayor.  The man was such an imbecile Harry had considered doing it himself.

Now, in a back room of a disused warehouse, that wishful thinking might be just about to come to a very abrupt end, with none of the romanticized trappings of the business befalling him.  No beguiling women, no sinister criminals, no stupid policemen.

Just a nasty little man whose only concern was how quickly or how slowly Harry’s end was going to be.

© Charles Heath 2019


In a word: Piece

Aside from the fact that it really means part of something else, we’ve got to remember that it is one of those ‘i before e except after c’ things.

I have a piece of the puzzle.  Well, maybe not.  You know what it’s like when you’re assembling a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  Yes, you get to the end and one piece is missing.

\You’re so angry you want to give someone a piece of your mind.

Just remember not to give too many people pieces or you will become mindless.

We might be listening to a musical piece, which can be a movement, I think, in a symphony

Or we might piece together the parts of a child’s toy, especially on that night before Christmas when everything can and will go wrong.  I’ve been there and done that far too many times.

I’ve been known to move a chess piece incorrectly, no, come think of it, I’m always doing that

Some people call a gun a piece.

This is not to be confused with the word peace, which means something else, and hopefully, everyone will put away their pieces (guns) and declare peace.

And, every Sunday, at the church, there’s always an opportunity to say to the people around you ‘peace be with you’.

I wonder if that works very well if the person standing next to you is your enemy?

NaNoWriMo Day Twenty Six

Today went well, the book is now almost writing itself, such is the benefit of outlining.

I’m almost sold on the planning idea, but that will sort itself out next time.

It gave me time to go back into the NaNoWriMo website and see how it works now after so-called improvements.

Apparently there are post 50,000 word goodies, and l finally figure out where they are.


I’ve already got Scrivener, actually when I completed the task last year I took up the offer. There’s others, like Novlr, and Babble, and another for those into fantasy writing.

Seeing it makes me think it might help with a TA story I’m three quarters of the way through.

Enough revelling in printing out my certificate to go with the other two.

It’s time to get back to the current project and finish it.