What we say and what we do are two very different things

I was watching a TV program and the words ‘double standards’ kept being thrown about with little attention being paid to what it really means.

Like statistics, words can be used in any manner to support or debunk what someone else will call a fact.

Fact, of course, is another word that’s thrown around like a football.

But double standards, what does it really mean?

“a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups”

Put simply, if you own a cat, and I hate cats, I’m likely to say to you I like cats because of who you are and what I might want from you.

It has far more reaching consequences in reality because some of us might profess they regard everyone as being equal ‘in the eyes of the Lord’ but have a very different private view.

Personally, I believe everyone should be treated equally.  The problem is, a great many people around me do not, and it seems that I am slowly becoming a minority in my own country.

How do we rectify this?

I don’t think we can.  Politicians are now running scared in their own constituencies because of the increasing multicultural population, and cannot be seen to favor one group or another.

Until lobby groups come into play, campaign funding to the politician is discussed, and very subtly, votes are bought.

Does your political representative work on the basis of double standards?

Maybe it’s time to find out before it’s too late, and you too will be living in shanty huts on a reservation.

“The Devil You Don’t”, a thriller

John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check-in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favor for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favor’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life-changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline-charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.

Purchase:

http://tinyurl.com/Amazon-TheDevilYouDont

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You’d think, some day, I’d understand

The difference between what you want to do and what really happens can be as wide as the Rio Grande River

Not that I’ve tried to cross it, but you get my drift.

Shopping, any sort of shopping, can be a nightmare.  Certainly, when you decide to go shopping always leave enough time for the vagaries of serving staff and fellow customers.

And then there’s Murphy’s law

Like, for instance, you’re in a hurry to get to a lunch appointment and need money.  The ATM is broken or refilling, and inside the bank the queue is long and there’s only one teller serving

Of course, it’s lunchtime!

Or you’ve decided to get a pre-theater dinner and drink and get to the restaurant early, order, and then have to wait and wait and, well you know how it is.

Of course, there’s always late staff, missing cooks.

Or you draw a number and sit down to wait only to discover that somehow your number got lost in the system.  Or worse, you go to the doctor for an appointment, sit down, and get forgotten.

When you ask, oh, he had to go home for an emergency.

No doubt late for golf.

It’s happened to me, more than once.

But the worst thing that can happen to you.  Going clothes shopping with your partner, sit down near the counter knowing she will eventually come back for you.

Only…

You get a phone call three hours later from her asking where you are.

One day…

Getting words on paper, easy to say, not so easy to do!

Everything I’ve read, and understand, about this writing ‘thing’ is that it’s better to get words on paper, even if none of it fits the story.

Go to keep up the word count.

But, to me, it has to make sense.  I’ve written 2,000 words or four pieces of paper, or 20 sheets longhand in a notebook, but it doesn’t feel right.

It doesn’t make any sense, it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t progress the story, they are just words on a piece of paper.

For example:

 

My life was going nowhere.  If I took a step back and took a good, long, hard look at it, what could I say was the one defining moment?

There was no defining moment.

I’d bounced around schools till the day I decided I was not cut out to learn anything more, or perhaps the teachers had given up trying to impart knowledge.  Whatever the reason, I dropped out of college, and drifted.  Seasonal laborer, farm hand, factory worker, night watchman.

At least now I had a uniform and looked like I’d made something of myself.

Until I went home.

My parents were distinctly disappointed I was not married with children.

My overachieving brother always said I was a loser, and would never make anything of myself.

My ultra successful sister, married into a very wealthy family, had the regulation 2.4 children, and lived in the lap of luxury, mostly pretended I didn’t exist, didn’t invite me to the wedding, and I had yet to meet the husband and children.  I guess she was ashamed of me.

This year I was avoiding going home.

This year I volunteered to work the holidays.

 

It’s about as gloomy and depressing as it gets.  We’re supposed to entertain, take people out of their humdrum, mundane lives, put them in the passenger seat of a car, bus, or truck careening out of control.

Yep, time to walk away and do something entirely different, like wrapping Christmas presents, my second favorite job to mowing the lawn.  Maybe if I contrive an accident with the lawn mower …

Back in front of the words, some hours later, an idea pops into my head.  The story continues:

 

It was 3 a.m. and it was like standing on the exact epicenter of the South Pole.  I’d just stepped from the warehouse into the car park.

The car was covered in snow.  The weather was clear now, but more snow was coming.

A white Christmas?  That’s all I needed.  I hoped I remembered to put the anti freeze in my radiator this time.

As I approached my car, the light went on in a SUV parked next to my car.  The door opened and what looked to be a woman was getting out of the car.

“Graham?”

It was a voice I was familiar with, though I hadn’t heard it for a long time.

My ultra successful sister, Penelope.  She was leaning against her car door, and from what I could see, didn’t look too well.

“What do you want?”

“Help.”

My help, I was the last person to help her, or anyone for that matter.  But curiosity got the better of me.  “Why?”

“Because my husband is trying to kill me.”

With that said, she slid down the side of the car, and I could see, in the arc lamps lighting the car park, a trail of blood.

 

OK, so not such a good idea to cut close to the bone here, but rivalries do make for great thrillers.  Even if they are not your own!

Maybe it’s not such a bad day after all.

Thoughts impinging on reality

You know how it is, you’re sitting at the lights waiting for the green, and everything is calm around you.

It’s a warm day, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and because they’re taking so long to change, you’re almost drifting off, somewhere else than in traffic.

Bang!

That awful sound of two metal cars crashing, short, sharp, incisive, intruding.

Lights changed, driver next to me, in a lane that ends on the other side of the intersection, pushes his foot to the floor, trying to get in front.  Another driver running a red light hits him.

I sit in stunned silence before moments after the scene bursts into life, people getting out of cars to help.

My eyes are on the car than ran the red light.  The door slowly opens, and a person is getting out.  I look closer, it’s a woman, bright red hair, and blood running down her face.

She is standing, stunned, looking around, then sees a man coming towards her.

Is that panic.  She looks in my direction, our eyes meeting for a brief second, then she’s running.

Towards my car.

Seconds later the door opens, she gets in, and the door slams shut.

Two men are now running towards my car.

“Drive,” she yells.

“You’re injured, you should wait for …”

“Drive, now, or I’ll shoot you.”

I see the gun, now pointing at me.

“You’re joking.”

One of the men is pounding on her door, which I noticed she’d locked.

“Drive.”

I did, pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor.

The two men were now running towards another car, reaching it before I’d got more than 50 yards.  My car was tired, old, and not very quick in a standing 100.

I didn’t tell her she’d picked the wrong car and driver if she hoped to make a getaway.

Before I made a 100 yards, there was a large black 4×4 hurtling towards us.

“Turn left here,” she commanded, pushing the barrel of the gun into my side for emphasis.

I did, nearly losing the rear end of the car in a slide towards the curb, just touching it before moving forward.

My heart was now in my mouth and pounding.

Death by a bullet or an accident, both were high probabilities.

Who was this woman, now indistinguishable because her face was covered in blood.  She should be bleeding out.  Perhaps she might, and that would save me from an ignominious death.

I could see the 4×4 closing the distance between us quickly.

Perhaps there was another way to die.

“Right,”

Another swerving turn.

“Left,” she yelled almost instantly after the last order.

A few seconds later, “Right”.  Then another “left, then floor it.”

The wrong car, I muttered under my breath.

No sign of the 4×4.  Had we lost it?

At intersection coming up, one I recognized.  The railway station.

“Don’t slow down, straight across.”

“Are you mad?”

Prod.

Apparently so, and with a death wish.

The front of the car crunched on the driveway, as I hit it at speed, the slammed my foot on the brake.  A train was waiting at the platform.

She was out and gone before the car had stopped, and the doors of the carriage had closed, all just before the 4×4 pulled into the station carpark.

 

Tap, tap, tap.

I looked over at the passenger side and saw my granddaughter looking in.

“Have you been daydreaming again, Poppy?”

 

© Charles Heath 2018

 

An old story, or perhaps a new story

It’s late at night and there are twenty other story ideas that are currently running around in my head, instead of the story I should be working on.

These ideas are impinging on the current story, and somehow are finding their way onto the page.

Writing, cursing, deleting, re-writing, deleting, cursing.

I’m working on the latest book and it is not going well, and I think it is more a case of self-doubt.  It’s why I can’t concentrate.

It’s why I’m thinking about the next story and not staying on track.

This leads me to be over critical of what I have written and much pressing of the delete key.  Only to realize that an action taken in haste can be regrettable, and makes me feel even more depressed when I realize the deletions are irrecoverable.

Damn.

I think I’d be happier in a garret somewhere channeling van Gogh’s rage.

Lesson learned – don’t delete, save it to a text file so it can be retrieved when sanity returns.

I was not happy with the previous start.  Funny about that, because until a few weeks ago I thought the start was perfect.

What a difference a week makes or is that politics?

Perhaps I should consider adding some political satire.

But I digress…

It seems it’s been like that for a few weeks now, not being able to stick to the job in hand, doing anything but what I’m supposed to be doing.  I recognize the restlessness, I’m not happy with the story as it is, so rather than getting on with it, I find myself writing words just for the sake of writing words.

Any words are better than none, right?

So I rewrote the start, added about a hundred pages and now I have to do a mass of rewriting of what was basically the whole book.

But here’s the thing.

This morning I woke up and looked at the new start, and it has inspired me.

Perhaps all I needed was several weeks of teeth gnashing, and self-doubt to get myself back on track.

Who would want to be a writer?

Me!  First in line, every time!

Melbourne in winter

I have, when younger, lived through many a cold winter in Melbourne.

Not that you could call it cold in the same sense that people who live in the northern states of the US and in particular, from personal experience, places like Chicago.

It just depends on personal experience.

But, now that I live in a warmer climate, where days in winter often hover above 20 degrees Celcius, coming back to a city where the maximum is going to be 10 degrees Celcius is something of a shock.

I mean, we do have cold weather where I live, but it doesn’t have the wind chill factor.  Melbourne is notorious for having four seasons on one day, but right now, it’s just winter and colder than we’re used to.  Perhaps it has something to do with Victoria’s proximity to Antarctica.

A great day to stay in, light the fire, and read a book.  I’m sure most of us have a large amount of reading we’ve been putting off till the next rainy day.

Well, that’s here, and there’s a lot of reading I’ve been putting off.  And like most modern houses, there’s no fireplace, just reverse cycle airconditioning.  Curling up and reading a book in that scenario isn’t quite the same as the almost mesmerizing flames of a real fire.

And it is, or was about half an hour ago, raining, with a gusty wind that has the element of penetrating even the thickest layers of clothing and chill you to the bone.

The problem is, we’re away, not necessarily on holiday but with a lot of activities in mind so rail, wind chill, miserable weather is just another highlight of traveling.

This morning when we wake up it is pouring with rain, and the wind is howling through the nearby trees and you can feel the cold, as much in your imagination as it is in reality.

I shudder, and it’s hard to say what drives it.  We have to go out so we’ll see what it’s like when we’re ready to leave.  A lot can happen, weather-wise, in a few hours.

But, that pull of the sport, that level of dedication to support your team does not leave you, because it is ingrained in you from the day you are born, and stays with you till the day you die, no matter where you live, anywhere in the world.  Thank God there is the internet.

Remarkably the sun comes out from behind the clouds which are thinning out.  The sunshine does not raise the temperature because the wind, gusty at times, is still very chilling.

This is definitively Melbourne in winter.  And I can tell you, I don’t miss it.

That doesn’t mean I dislike the cold, far from it, it’s just the sustained variations of cold assisted by sheeting rain and blustery wind gusts I can do without.  It’s never just purely cold like it can be in the northern hemisphere.

But the weather is never that bad we don’t go out.  This morning we are heading to the South Melbourne market.  Cold weather doesn’t stop anyone and it’s nigh on impossible to find a parking spot, and in our search, we pass other shoppers being blown about by the wind.

The walk to the market itself is chilling.  In the food aisle street side, it is warmer, with fires burning to keep the customers warm, and the food aromas tempting.  We are here for the spring rolls, the dim sims, and the potato cakes.

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And the wide variety of fresh produce available that would put a supermarket to shame.  I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live nearby and do my shopping at the market.  We probably would be eating a lot healthier.