Every now and then we all get a chance to stop and reflect on life

Funerals are by definition sad occasions.  It is a time to reflect on the life of the deceased, a time when everyone who knew them to come together to celebrate their life.

It is also usually a time when the whole family comes together, like births and weddings, and can take an interesting turn given the right set of circumstances.

And, depending on how old you are at the time, you could start reflecting on your own mortality, and how much or how little time you have left, and, quite possibly, what it is you have or haven’t done with your life.

Perhaps the question should be, are you going to put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

The sad fact is, we all do.  We all believe we will have plenty of time to get things done, with a motto of, old enough to know better and young enough not to care.

What happens when you die at 44?

It’s one of those questions that we face when attending the funeral of the daughter of one of my in-laws.

It’s a well-known fact that a great many of us look forward to retirement, and having reached that age, generally in the mid to late 60s, that we will be settled in our life, all major commitments completed, we will be in reasonably good health, our children will be old enough to look after themselves, and we have an adequate retirement plan to see us through to old age.

Until then, we sacrifice a great deal, spending our time either working or helping our children on their way to an equally successful life.

There never seems to be time for those holidays overseas or doing those things near and dear to us, putting it off till ‘tomorrow’.

No one realizes ‘tomorrow’ never comes.



‘Sunday in New York’ – A beta reader’s view

I’m not a fan of romance novels but …

There was something about this one that resonated with me.

This is a novel about a world generally ruled by perception, and how people perceive what they see, what they are told, and what they want to believe.

I’ve been guilty of it myself as I’m sure we all gave one time or another.

For the the main characters Harry and Alison there is others issues driving their relationship.

For Alison, it is a loss of self worth through losing her job and from losing her mother and, in a sense, her sister.

For Harry it is the fact he has a beautiful and desirable wife, and his belief she is the object of other men’s desires, and one in particular, his immediate superior.

Between observation, the less than honest motives of his friends, a lot of jumping to conclusions based on very little fact, and you have the basis of one very interesting story.

When it all come to a head, Alison finds herself in a desperate situation, she realises only the truth will save their marriage.

But is it all the truth?

What would we do in similar circumstances?

Rarely does a book have me so enthralled that I could not put it down until I knew the result. They might be considered two people who should have known better, but as is often the case, they had to get past what they both thought was the truth.

And the moral of this story, if it could be said there is one, nothing is ever what it seems.

Available on Amazon here: amzn.to/2H7ALs8

Searching for locations: New York to Vancouver

The flight from Newark via Air Canada to Vancouver is about 5:30pm so we are slated to be picked up by the limousine about 2:30.

We have to be out of our room by 11am so we decided the day before that on our last day in New York we’d go to the Times Square red lobster.
It gives us about three hours to get there, eat, and get back.

It’s always fun packing bags the day you leave, so most of the hard work was done earlier. This time it’s particularly a trial because we have so much stuff to fit into a small space, and weight considerations are always paramount because of the 23kg limit.

Outside is has gone from minus four to minus two in the two hours before we leave the hotel at 11:30, but that’s not so much of a problem because we have a long walk from 56th street to 41st street to warm us up.

At least today it’s not so cold, as it has been previously.

At Red Lobster it’s not difficult to make a decision on what to have, the mix and match special, with Lobster alfredo, filet mignon, and parrot island coconut shrimp, with walts special, though what that will remain a surprise until it is served.

To drink, it was the Blue moon beer, wheat type.

For appetizers, we had scones that are supposedly bread but to me are dipped in garlic butter and baked like a scone. Australian style. They are absolutely delicious.

There is an expression a one drink screamer and we’ve got one, but the truth is the drinks are very lethal. Pure alcohol and ice with a touch of soda.

The meals at this Red Lobster are definitely better than those we had in Vancouver, except for the pasta with lobster I had which was little more than a tasteless congealed mess after it reached the table. This did not detract from the deliciously cooked and served seafood that accompanied it.

All in all, after such a great lunch and the thought of having to walk ten blocks the decision was unanimous to get a cab which took us back to the hotel by a rather interesting, if not exactly the most direct, route. I think the driver guessed we were tourists.

We are picked up at the hotel by a driver in a large Toyota which had enough space for 3 passengers and all our bags. The driver was chatty and being foreign, preferred soccer to the other traditional American sport. Don’t ask me how the conversation turned to sports, but we may have mentioned we went to the ice hockey.

At Newark airport, all I have room for is a glass of burned beer, whatever that means, though it has an odd taste, and a Samuel Adams 76 special which was rather tasty.

Today we are flying in a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a maximum of 298 passengers in three classes.

It looks very new even though it is about 6 months old. It has seating of 3 x 3 x 3, and we are in row 19, just behind the premium economy cabin, and the closest to the front of the plane of all the Air Canada flights.

Engine startup is loud at the lower revolutions with the vibration going through the airframe. Like all planes, the flaps being extended, it is very noisy. All of the vibrations go away when the engines are up to speed. On take off the engines at max are not as noisy and other planes and relatively quiet. It will be interesting to see what the landing is like.

In flight when not experiencing turbulence the ride is very smooth and reasonably quiet which is better than the other planes with seeming continuous engine whining and the flow of air past the fuselage.

The seats are comfortable but still just a little small and the middle passenger can be tightly squeezed in if the two on either side are larger than normal. The seats fully recline but the seatback is not completely in your face, and bearable when you recline your own seat.

There are several seats by the toilets that would be terrible on a long-distance flight because the passenger inevitably comes very close to the seat when entering and leaving. As for the toilets, they are larger than any of the other airplanes, and so too, coincidentally, are the windows.

The plane also makes the same amount of noise when it lands so I’m failing to see what’s so good about it. I’ve also been in an Airbus A350 and those planes are nothing to write home about either.

I suspect the only advantage of having planes is for airlines. Fewer costs and more sardined passengers.

It’s something else I can write off my bucket list.

When we arrive back in Vancouver it’s the same reasonably simple process to get through immigration.

Outside our driver is waiting and this time we have an Escalade picking us up. A very large SUV that fits us all and our luggage.


We were lucky because we were supposed to be picked up in a sedan and the baggage would not have fitted which would have involved one of us taking a cab with the extra luggage.

He was in the neighborhood and picked up the call. His advice, called the service and request a bigger car and pay the difference. We did. It was going to cost another 20 dollars.

As for the hotel, what is it with hotels and late-night arrivals? We get in, the check-in was smooth, we get to the room. Very large with a separate bedroom. But only a sofa bed.

It was not a desirable option, not before 24 hours in relatively squashed plane seats, so it necessitated a change of rooms to one a bit smaller, but a corner room with a reasonable view, and two proper beds.

Late night, need rest, but we have free breakfast so there will be no tarrying next morning. We have to be down by 9am being Sunday.

Besides, we have a mission. There is a toys-are-us nearby and it does have the toy we want. All we need to find is a cab.

An excerpt from “The Things We Do For Love”; In love, Henry was all at sea!

In the distance he could hear the dinner bell ringing and roused himself.  Feeling the dampness of the pillow, and fearing the ravages of pent up emotion, he considered not going down but thought it best not to upset Mrs. Mac, especially after he said he would be dining.

In the event, he wished he had reneged, especially when he discovered he was not the only guest staying at the hotel.

Whilst he’d been reminiscing, another guest, a young lady, had arrived.  He’d heard her and Mrs. Mac coming up the stairs, and then shown to a room on the same floor, perhaps at the other end of the passage.

Henry caught his first glimpse of her when she appeared at the door to the dining room, waiting for Mrs. Mac to show her to a table.

She was about mid-twenties, slim, long brown hair, and the grace and elegance of a woman associated with countless fashion magazines.  She was, he thought, stunningly beautiful with not a hair out of place, and make-up flawlessly applied.  Her clothes were black, simple, elegant, and expensive, the sort an heiress or wife of a millionaire might condescend to wear to a lesser occasion than dinner.

Then there was her expression; cold, forbidding, almost frightening in its intensity.  And her eyes, piercingly blue and yet laced with pain.  Dracula’s daughter was his immediate description of her.

All in all, he considered, the only thing they had in common was, like him, she seemed totally out of place.

Mrs. Mac came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.  She was, she informed him earlier, chef, waitress, hotelier, barmaid, and cleaner all rolled into one.  Coming up to the new arrival she said, “Ah, Miss Andrews, I’m glad you decided to have dinner.  Would you like to sit with Mr. Henshaw, or would you like to have a table of your own?”

Henry could feel her icy stare as she sized up his appeal as a dining companion, making the hair on the back on his neck stand up.  He purposely didn’t look back.  In his estimation, his appeal rating was minus six.  Out of a thousand!

“If Mr. Henshaw doesn’t mind….”  She looked at him, leaving the query in mid-air.

He didn’t mind and said so.  Perhaps he’d underestimated his rating.

“Good.”  Mrs. Mac promptly ushered her over.  Henry stood, made sure she was seated properly and sat.

“Thank you.  You are most kind.”  The way she said it suggested snobbish overtones.

“I try to be when I can.”  It was supposed to nullify her sarcastic tone but made him sound a little silly, and when she gave him another of her icy glares, he regretted it.

Mrs. Mac quickly intervened, asking, “Would you care for the soup?”

They did, and, after writing the order on her pad, she gave them each a look, imperceptibly shook her head, and returned to the kitchen.

Before Michelle spoke to him again, she had another quick look at him, trying to fathom who and what he might be.  There was something about him.

His eyes, they mirrored the same sadness she felt, and, yes, there was something else, that it looked like he had been crying?  There was a tinge of redness.

Perhaps, she thought, he was here for the same reason she was.

No.  That wasn’t possible.

Then she said, without thinking, “Do you have any particular reason for coming here?”  Seconds later she realized she’s spoken it out loud, had hadn’t meant to actually ask, it just came out.

It took him by surprise, obviously not the first question he was expecting her to ask of him.

“No, other than it is as far from civilization, and home, as I could get.”

At least we agree on that, she thought.

It was obvious he was running away from something as well.

Given the isolation of the village and lack of geographic hospitality, it was, from her point of view, ideal.  All she had to do was avoid him, and that wouldn’t be difficult.

After getting through this evening first.

“Yes,” she agreed.  “It is that.”

A few seconds passed, and she thought she could feel his eyes on her and wasn’t going to look up.

Until he asked, “What’s your reason?”

Slight abrupt in manner, perhaps as a result of her question, and the manner in which she asked it.

She looked up.  “Rest.  And have some time to myself.”

She hoped he would notice the emphasis she had placed on the word ‘herself’ and take due note.  No doubt, she thought,  she had completely different ideas of what constituted a holiday than he, not that she had actually said she was here for a holiday.

Mrs. Mac arrived at a fortuitous moment to save them from further conversation.


Over the entree, she wondered if she had made a mistake coming to the hotel.  Of course, there had been no possible way she could know than anyone else might have booked the same hotel, but realized it was foolish to think she might end up in it by herself.

Was that what she was expecting?

Not a mistake then, but an unfortunate set of circumstances, which could be overcome by being sensible.

Yet, there he was, and it made her curious, not that he was a man, by himself, in the middle of nowhere, hiding like she was, but for very different reasons.

On discreet observance whilst they ate, she gained the impression his air of light-heartedness was forced and he had no sense of humor.

This feeling was engendered by his looks, unruly dark hair, and permanent frown.  And then there was his abysmal taste in clothes on a tall, lanky frame.  They were quality but totally unsuited to the wearer.

Rebellion was written all over him.

The only other thought crossing her mind, and rather incongruously, was he could do with a decent feed.  In that respect, she knew now from the mountain of food in front of her, he had come to the right place.

“Mr. Henshaw?”

He looked up.  “Henshaw is too formal.  Henry sounds much better,” he said, with a slight hint of gruffness.

“Then my name is Michelle.”

Mrs. Mac came in to take their order for the only main course, gather up the entree dishes, then return to the kitchen.

“Staying long?” she asked.

“About three weeks.  Yourself?”

“About the same.”

The conversation dried up.

Neither looked at the other, rather at the walls, out the window, towards the kitchen, anywhere.  It was, she thought, almost unbearably awkward.


Mrs. Mac returned with a large tray with dishes on it, setting it down on the table next to theirs.

“Not as good as the usual cook,” she said, serving up the dinner expertly, “but it comes a good second, even if I do say so myself.  Care for some wine?”

Henry looked at Michelle.  “What do you think?”

“I’m used to my dining companions making the decision.”

You would, he thought.  He couldn’t help but notice the cutting edge of her tone.  Then, to Mrs. Mac, he named a particular White Burgundy he liked and she bustled off.

“I hope you like it,” he said, acknowledging her previous comment with a smile that had nothing to do with humor.

“Yes, so do I.”

Both made a start on the main course, a concoction of chicken and vegetables that were delicious, Henry thought, when compared to the bland food he received at home and sometimes aboard my ship.

It was five minutes before Mrs. Mac returned with the bottle and two glasses.  After opening it and pouring the drinks, she left them alone again.

Henry resumed the conversation.  “How did you arrive?  I came by train.”

“By car.”

“Did you drive yourself?”

And he thought, a few seconds later, that was a silly question, otherwise she would not be alone, and certainly not sitting at this table. With him.

“After a fashion.”

He could see that she was formulating a retort in her mind, then changed it, instead, smiling for the first time, and it served to lighten the atmosphere.

And in doing so, it showed him she had another more pleasant side despite the fact she was trying not to look happy.

“My father reckons I’m just another of ‘those’ women drivers,” she added.

“Whatever for?”

“The first and only time he came with me I had an accident.  I ran up the back of another car.  Of course, it didn’t matter to him the other driver was driving like a startled rabbit.”

“It doesn’t help,” he agreed.

“Do you drive?”

“Mostly people up the wall.”  His attempt at humor failed.  “Actually,” he added quickly, “I’ve got a very old Morris that manages to get me where I’m going.”

The apple pie and cream for dessert came and went and the rapport between them improved as the wine disappeared and the coffee came.  Both had found, after getting to know each other better, their first impressions were not necessarily correct.

“Enjoy the food?” Mrs. Mac asked, suddenly reappearing.

“Beautifully cooked and delicious to eat,” Michelle said, and Henry endorsed her remarks.

“Ah, it does my heart good to hear such genuine compliments,” she said, smiling.  She collected the last of the dishes and disappeared yet again.

“What do you do for a living,” Michelle asked in an off-hand manner.

He had a feeling she was not particularly interested and it was just making conversation.

“I’m a purser.”

“A what?”

“A purser.  I work on a ship doing the paperwork, that sort of thing.”

“I see.”

“And you?”

“I was a model.”


“Until I had an accident, a rather bad one.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

So that explained the odd feeling he had about her.

As the evening had worn on, he began to think there might be something wrong, seriously wrong with her because she didn’t look too well.  Even the carefully applied makeup, from close up, didn’t hide the very pale, and tired look, or the sunken, dark ringed eyes.

“I try not to think about it, but it doesn’t necessarily work.  I’ve come here for peace and quiet, away from doctors and parents.”

“Then you will not have to worry about me annoying you.  I’m one of those fall-asleep-reading-a-book types.”

Perhaps it would be like ships passing in the night and then smiled to himself about the analogy.

Dinner now over, they separated.

Henry went back to the lounge to read a few pages of his book before going to bed, and Michelle went up to her room to retire for the night.

But try as he might, he was unable to read, his mind dwelling on the unusual, yet the compellingly mysterious person he would be sharing the hotel with.

Overlaying that original blurred image of her standing in the doorway was another of her haunting expressions that had, he finally conceded, taken his breath away, and a look that had sent more than one tingle down his spine.

She may not have thought much of him, but she had certainly made an impression on him.


© Charles Heath 2015-2020


So, I’m sitting down and having a quiet drink when…

There’s nothing more I like to do at the end of a day than sit down and have a drink, usually Scotch and Soda or Bacardi and Coke.

But that’s the problem.

What is your definition of the end of the day?

No doubt for most it is probably that time when they get home from work, and take some time between then and dinner.  From my memories of American sitcoms of the 1950s, it was over Sherry and included a summary from every one of their day.

It was a time when women, apparently, preferred to stay home than go to work.  Odd, for some reason, that Hollywood would ignore the hard-won rights of women to have jobs, though some might argue out of necessity because of the war.

There was no computer games, contrary children, and that period, for the children was between coming home from school (doing homework) and going outside to play.

Yes, none of this disappearing into dark rooms for secret conversations on mobile phones or playing games on computers, or, dare I say it, being stuck in front of a television, pigging out on snack foods.

Any man these days who thought the 1950s sitcom scenario might be a social norm would be vilified by all and sundry.  His children would be in a permanent battle to be left alone, his wife would divorce him if he even remotely suggested she stay home or have dinner on the table when he got home, and that peaceful hour or so before the expected dinner, well, that disappeared a long time ago.

If it ever existed in any era.

So much for American sitcom stereotypes.

Now, in similar sitcoms these days, the children are obnoxious to their parent, yes, every family it seems in the USA is broken, and the mother is the long-suffering one stuck with the children and having to work, whilst the ex is out having a great time with his new girlfriend/trophy wife.

Hollywood is still stereotyping, but it’s much more dark and gloomy.

This is added to the continual threat of online predators, online pornography further reducing women’s hard-won right to be seen as more than just a sex object, bullying, not only at school and online but in the workplace, and above all that it seems men still treat women as second class citizens, not the least of which are corporate entities, and government.

Oh, and the mention of having a drink before dinner in this day and age would be associated with alcoholism, or a drinking problem, caused by excessive stress, and almost always added to an apparent addiction to painkillers or antidepressants.

What might also be worse is the alarming statistics of the number of women now drinking wine by the gallon rather than a few drinks in that period between picking up the children from school and dinner, driven by, take your choice of, obnoxious children or absent-minded or chauvinistic husband.

Damn, have I stirred up a hornet’s nest?

Sorry, I think I’d better cancel the notion of having after work drinks, and since I do the cooking, so there’s no expectation for someone else getting dinner on the table.

At least we are still married, and the children never had to deal with a broken marriage and two warring parents, but if any of the reports on why children are the way they are, I guess mine missed out on playing one parent off against the other, or get to live in different houses, or tolerate parents other boy or girlfriends, and live on junk food, well not all of the time.

Are they normal?

Perhaps when someone defines normal I will probably tell you.

I ceased being so-called chauvinistic a long time ago, and I had to have an attitude readjustment along with it, because, I’m told, we live in a different world now.

Perhaps I will have that drink or three; it’s certainly a necessity in order to watch the increasingly bad news, the antics of our politicians, and to watch the world gradually go to hell in a handbasket.

Whilst being politely told that I drink too much!


An excerpt from “Betrayal” – a work in progress

It could have been anywhere in the world, she thought, but it wasn’t.  It was in a city where if anything were to go wrong…

She sighed and came away from the window and looked around the room.  It was quite large and expensively furnished.  It was one of several she had been visiting in the last three months.

Quite elegant too, as the hotel had its origins dating back to before the revolution in 1917.  At least, currently, there would not be a team of KGB agents somewhere in the basement monitoring everything that happened in the room.

There was no such thing as the KGB anymore, though there was an FSB, but such organisations were of no interest to her.

She was here to meet with Vladimir.

She smiled to herself when she thought of him, such an interesting man whose command of English was as good as her command of Russian, though she had not told him of that ability.

All her knew of her was that she was American, worked in the Embassy as a clerk, nothing important, who life both at work and at home was boring.  Not that she had blurted that out the first tie she met, or even the second.

That first time, at a function in the Embassy, was a chance meeting, a catching of his eye as he looked around the room, looking, as he had told her later, for someone who might not be as boring as the function itself.

It was a celebration, honouring one of the Embassy officials on his service in Moscow, and the fact he was returning home after 10 years.  She had been there one, and still hadn’t met all the staff.

They had talked, Vladimir knew a great deal about England, having been stationed there for a year or two, and had politely asked questions about where she lived, her family, and of course what her role was, all questions she fended off with an air of disinterested interest.

It fascinated him, as she knew it would, a sort of mental sparring as one would do with swords, if this was a fencing match.

They had said they might or might not meet again when the party was over, but she suspected there would be another opportunity.  She knew the signs of a man who was interested in her, and Vladimir was interested.

The second time came in the form of an invitation to an art gallery, and a viewing of the works of a prominent Russian artist, an invitation she politely declined.  After all, invitations issued to Embassy staff held all sorts of connotations, or so she was told by the Security officer when she told him.

Then, it went quiet for a month.  There was a party at the American embassy and along with several other staff members, she was invited.  She had not expected to meet Vladimir, but it was a pleasant surprise when she saw him, on the other side of the room, talking to several military men.

A pleasant afternoon ensued.

And it was no surprise that they kept running into each other at the various events on the diplomatic schedule.

By the fifth meeting, they were like old friends.  She had broached the subject of being involved in a plutonic relationship with him with the head of security at the embassy.  Normally for a member of her rank it would not be allowed, but in this instance it was.

She did not work in any sensitive areas, and, as the security officer had said, she might just happen upon something that might be useful.  In that regard, she was to keep her eyes and ears open, and file a report each time she met him.

After that discussion she got the impression her superiors considered Vladimir more than just a casual visitor on the diplomatic circuit.  She also formed the impression the he might consider her an ‘asset’, a word that had been used at the meeting with security and the ambassador.

It was where the word ‘spy’ popped into her head and sent a tingle down her spine.  She was not a spy, but the thought of it, well, it would be fascinating to see what happened.

A Russian friend.  That’s what she would call him.

And over time, that relationship blossomed, until, after a visit to the ballet, late and snowing, he invited her to his apartment not far from the ballet venue.  It was like treading on thin ice, but after champagne and an introduction to caviar, she felt like a giddy schoolgirl.

Even so, she had made him promise that he remain on his best behaviour.  It could have been very easy to fall under the spell of a perfect evening, but he promised, showed her to a separate bedroom, and after a brief kiss, their first, she did not see him until the next morning.

So, it began.

It was an interesting report she filed after that encounter, one where she had expected to be reprimanded.

She wasn’t.

It wasn’t until six weeks had passed when he asked her if she would like to take a trip to the country.  It would involve staying in a hotel, that they would have separate rooms.  When she reported the invitation, no objection was raised, only a caution; keep her wits about her.

Perhaps, she had thought, they were looking forward to a more extensive report.  After all, her reports on the places, and the people, and the conversations she overheard, were no doubt entertaining reading for some.

But this visit was where the nature of the relationship changed, and it was one that she did not immediately report.  She had realised at some point before the weekend away, that she had feelings for him, and it was not that he was pushing her in that direction or manipulating her in any way.

It was just one of those moments where, after a grand dinner, a lot of champagne, and delightful company, things happen.  Standing at the door to her room, a lingering kiss, not intentional on her part, and it just happened.

And for not one moment did she believe she had been compromised, but for some reason she had not reported that subtle change in the relationship to the powers that be, and so far, no one had any inkling.

She took off her coat and placed it carefully of the back of one of the ornate chairs in the room.  She stopped for a moment to look at a framed photograph on the wall, one representing Red Square.

Then, after a minute or two, she went to the mini bar and took out the bottle of champagne that had been left there for them, a treat arranged by Vladimir for each encounter.

There were two champagne flutes set aside on the bar, next to a bowl of fruit.  She picked up the apple and thought how Eve must have felt in the garden of Eden, and the temptation.

Later perhaps, after…

She smiled at the thought and put the apple back.

A glance at her watch told her it was time for his arrival.  It was if anything, the one trait she didn’t like, and that was his punctuality.  A glance at the clock on the room wall was a minute slow.

The doorbell to the room rang, right on the appointed time.

She put the bottle down and walked over to the door.

A smile on her face, she opened the door.

It was not Vladimir.  It was her worst nightmare.

© Charles Heath 2020

That helicopter story that kept me awake – Part 4

How did I get into this mess in the first place?

I had a few moments for reflection…

When I opened my eyes, it was a revelation that I was still alive.

Whether or not I was still on one piece was not exactly the first thought that crossed my mind.

It was, oddly enough, how I got into this situation.

So, two days earlier…

Someone once told me it was not a good idea to ask your commander out to dinner. Not a date, just the fact you’d like to get to know her better.

Yes, my commanding officer was a woman.

I thought the dinner went well, we found some common ground, ice hockey, and baseball, albeit barracking for different teams.

Then, the next day when I went into ‘the office’, the operations officer called me aside.

“Who’d did you piss off?”

Good question, had I, and who? And asked, “You tell me.”

“Apparently the Commanding Officer. She asked me to put you on patrol, where nothing ever happens and it’s as boring as shit.”

Usually, I was in the front line, what they called in the army, cannon fodder. Some said I had a death wish.

I shrugged. “No doubt she has her reasons. I could think of worse assignments.”‘

“Well, till then you’re on standby. Make the most of it.”

Of course, the question I should be asking is why she had put me on patrol, where I was rostered for front line recovery.

When I got back to my quarters, I called her.

Her assistant answered, “The commanding officer is not available at the moment and has advised me that she will remain so for the next forty-eight hours.”

That was the end of the conversation.

How come she had not told me? Probably none of my business, but it was worrying.

© Charles Heath 2019-2021

Don’t do today what you can do tomorrow?

It’s a common mantra, where people honestly believe that they will live long enough to get everything done.

That is, until you go to a funeral for a person who died long before they should.

Funerals are by definition sad occasions. It is a time to reflect on the life of the deceased, a time when everyone who knew them come together to celebrate their life, a lifetime spread over many, many years.

It is also a time when the whole family comes together, like births and weddings, where we discover the changes to those we haven’t seen in a long time, particularly where the family is spread out all over the country. And, sometimes, surprise new members, young and old.

I’ve certainly had a few of those.

It can also be a moment in time where you begin to reflect on your own mortality, especially where the deceased was in their 40’s.

The fact is, death can strike you down at any time. While trying not to be morbid, with the threat of COVID hanging around, and the fact it does not discriminate age wise, it’s not possible to discount the possibility that it might happen to you.

And, sitting in the back row, listening to the eulogy, you can’t help but think about how much or how little time you have left, and, quite possibly, what it is you have or haven’t done with your life.

Perhaps the question should be, are you going to put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

The sad fact is, we all do. We all believe we will have plenty of time to get things done. We live by a number of rather interesting mantras,

  • old enough to know better and young enough not to care
  • don’t do today what you can do tomorrow
  • there’s plenty of time to go on that overseas trip

How many people have died young, and done nothing of what they had planned to do later in life?

I know that I was one of those people, thinking if I worked hard, by the time I reached retirement everything would be paid off, the children would have moved on, we would have enough money to live out our days in relative comfort, and we would have the time to see the world in leisure.

Then, something changed.

For our 30th wedding anniversary, we were going to go on that once in a lifetime holiday, before all those goals had been reached. Perhaps we had an inkling that we might not be able to travel when older, that if we didn’t do it then, it would never happen.

It was perhaps fortuitous we did.

Now past retirement, older but not necessarily wiser, travelling anywhere is difficult, and our financial situation is not what we had planned, and all of those dreams would have been shattered had we not moved everything foward by about 20 years.

And with the global pandemic starting about the same time we originally planned to start our worldly travels, had we stuck to the plan, it would never have eventuated.

Was it good management, foresight, or just good luck?

We’ll never know.

But something I do know, and is the best advice I can give anyone.

Don’t put off today what you can do tomorrow.


No one realises tomorrow never comes.

An excerpt from “Echoes from the Past”

Available on Amazon Kindle here:  https://amzn.to/2CYKxu4

With my attention elsewhere, I walked into a man who was hurrying in the opposite direction.  He was a big man with a scar running down the left side of his face from eye socket to mouth, and who was also wearing a black shirt with a red tie.

That was all I remembered as my heart almost stopped.

He apologized as he stepped to one side, the same way I stepped, as I also muttered an apology.

I kept my eyes down.  He was not the sort of man I wanted to recognize later in a lineup.  I stepped to the other side and so did he.  It was one of those situations.  Finally getting out of sync, he kept going in his direction, and I towards the bus, which was now pulling away from the curb.

Getting my breath back, I just stood riveted to the spot watching it join the traffic.  I looked back over my shoulder, but the man I’d run into had gone.  I shrugged and looked at my watch.  It would be a few minutes before the next bus arrived.

Wait, or walk?  I could also go by subway, but it was a long walk to the station.  What the hell, I needed the exercise.

At the first intersection, the ‘Walk’ sign had just flashed to ‘Don’t Walk’.  I thought I’d save a few minutes by not waiting for the next green light.  As I stepped onto the road, I heard the screeching of tires.

A yellow car stopped inches from me.

It was a high powered sports car, perhaps a Lamborghini.  I knew what they looked like because Marcus Bartleby owned one, as did every other junior executive in the city with a rich father.

Everyone stopped to look at me, then the car.  It was that sort of car.  I could see the driver through the windscreen shaking his fist, and I could see he was yelling too, but I couldn’t hear him.  I stepped back onto the sidewalk, and he drove on.  The moment had passed and everyone went back to their business.

My heart rate hadn’t come down from the last encounter.   Now it was approaching cardiac arrest, so I took a few minutes and several sets of lights to regain composure.

At the next intersection, I waited for the green light, and then a few seconds more, just to be sure.  I was no longer in a hurry.

At the next, I heard what sounded like a gunshot.  A few people looked around, worried expressions on their faces, but when it happened again, I saw it was an old car backfiring.  I also saw another yellow car, much the same as the one before, stopped on the side of the road.  I thought nothing of it, other than it was the second yellow car I’d seen.

At the next intersection, I realized I was subconsciously heading towards Harry’s new bar.   It was somewhere on 6th Avenue, so I continued walking in what I thought was the right direction.

I don’t know why I looked behind me at the next intersection, but I did.  There was another yellow car on the side of the road, not far from me.  It, too, looked the same as the original Lamborghini, and I was starting to think it was not a coincidence.

Moments after crossing the road, I heard the roar of a sports car engine and saw the yellow car accelerate past me.  As it passed by, I saw there were two people in it, and the blurry image of the passenger; a large man with a red tie.

Now my imagination was playing tricks.

It could not be the same man.  He was going in a different direction.

In the few minutes I’d been standing on the pavement, it had started to snow; early for this time of year, and marking the start of what could be a long cold winter.  I shuddered, and it was not necessarily because of the temperature.

I looked up and saw a neon light advertising a bar, coincidentally the one Harry had ‘found’ and, looking once in the direction of the departing yellow car, I decided to go in.  I would have a few drinks and then leave by the back door if it had one.

Just in case.

© Charles Heath 2015-2020


In a word: Dual

Ever heard of a dual carriageway, it’s a fancy name for a road that has at least two lanes each way.

Even more strange might be the expression, dual personalities. No, we’re not talking about a person who has schizophrenia , but someone who is a Gemini, and might be happy one minute and suddenly horrible the next.

I’m a Gemini and have first hand experience.

I learned to drive in a car with dual controls, and it was sometimes disconcerting to find the car stopping, and you were not doing it.

Dual controls also exist in airplanes, which I have to say is a good thing, especially if either of the pilots have a heart attack.

Some people have a dual nationality. I would have liked to be British as well as Australian, but it’s no longer possible, and like most countries you have to pick one and pledge your allegiance to it.

Or is that duel?

Let’s gets some swords and have a duel. I know who would win, and it would not be me.

OK, let’s switch to pistols and 20 paces, and alas, I don’t think I’d win that one either.

Duels are this actions people have with deadly weapons usually over a matter of honour. I’m not sure why those duels are at dawn when most people are still asleep, including the duellers.

I wonder if this duel thing had something to do with throwing down the gauntlet. It’s an interesting subject and one I’ll look into later.