“The Devil You Don’t”, be careful what you wish for

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:

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#AtoZChallenge — O is for Order

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I gave the order to my assistant to order the supplies we needed in order to maintain stock levels.

Oh, yes, the word order is one of my favourites, because it can confuse the hell out of many people in its simplicity and yet complexity.

I gave the order, it’s what happens in the armed forces, and a lot of other places, but mostly we would associate it with organisations that have hierarchical authority.

The military, for one, cut orders, the means of sending one of its minions to another place, or to do a specific job.

Order supplies, well, just about anyone can order something from somewhere, usually on the internet, and sometimes require or are given an order number so it can be tracked.

In order to maintain, in order to get what I want, in order to get elected, this is just another way of using the word, with the aim of achieving something, though I’m sure there’s probably a better way of expressing these sentiments.

Law and order, well, doesn’t everyone want this, and doesn’t it always turn up in an election campaign, and seems to be the first thing sacrificed after the election.  The thing is, no one can guarantee law and order.

There is the law and there is administering it.  There is no order that comes with it, we just hope that order is maintained, and deplore the situation when it isn’t.

Perhaps in order to maintain law and order, we might need more police.

Then, of course, there is alphabetical order, and numerical order, where things can be designated from A to Z, like this challenge, or from 1 to 10, or more.  We can sort words alphabetically, numbers numerically and data items by keys or an index.

This is naturally called a sort order.

Then there is my car, or bike, or washing machine, or mixmaster.  They are currently in good working order, though that might not last.

And lastly, in deference to all those out there who are thinking of becoming dictators, it’s always possible, one day, there will be a new world order.  They might actually be in their own particular order, whose intellect might be (?) of the highest order.

Surely that is one order too many.

Travel is part of the story – Rome, hotter than hell, but a writer’s paradise

We visited Rome in August

It was hot.

It was verrrry hot.

We flew into Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino airport after a rather bumpy flight from London.  Unlike most other airports the plane parked at a satellite terminal and after we disembarked we had to catch a train to the main terminal.

The most notable memory of this airport was my daughter’s discovery of a salami shop.

We had booked a transfer to take us to the hotel the Roma Corso Trieste Mercure in Via Gradisca from the airport.  It was a white air-conditioned van and so far we had avoided the heat.

One of the rooms had a faulty air conditioning an absolute must as the rooms were very hot without it and necessitated a room change which was done quickly and efficiently.

The hotel was in the suburbs and without a car we were dependent on public transport.  According to the reception staff, there was a bus stop nearby, and a longer walk to the tram or light railway.  The bus seemed to be the best option as it would take us to the central terminal near the railway station, where all tour buses also operated from, and particularly the open top buses that went to all the major tourist attractions.

That first day basically was given over to traveling, arriving by plane and settling into the hotel, thus we didn’t get to feel the force of the heat.  That came the next day.

After a walk around the hotel precinct to get our bearings and see what shops and restaurants were available, on returning to the hotel we were faced with the limited choices of room service or to go out for dinner.

My daughter and l go for a long walk up Via Nomentana to find several shops and a restaurant.  We went into the restaurant and sat down.   We waited for 10 minutes and got no service nor did anyone come and ask us if we wanted to order food so instead we left somewhat disappointed and go next door to what seems to be the Italian version of a delicatessen and order sandwiches and beer.   I bought a half dozen cans of Moretti beer two of which I drank on the way home.

It was still very hot even at eight at night and the sandwiches are delicious.  It just might be by that time we were starving and anything would have tasted great.

The next morning we are up and ready to chance the weather and some history.  Breakfast at the hotel is limited but very good.

We were going to use public transport and I’d studied up on the Internet.

Traveling on the bus required pre-purchase of tickets which could be bought in certain shops and locally when exploring the area near the hotel, l found a tobacconist.

Next, we needed to understand how to use the tickets. There was no one on the bus who could help so when l tried to scan the tickets and it failed, l gave up.  We had the same issue each day and in the end, the tickets never got used.

The trip to central Rome by bus took about 15 minutes.  In the morning it was reasonably cool and showed us a little of suburban Rome.  We also saw the trams but we would not be able to use them because our hotel not on a direct route.

That first full day we decided to go and see the Vatican.

Not understanding buses and which one we needed to get to the Vatican, we took a taxi.

Wow.  It was the metaphorical equivalent of driving over the edge of a cliff with a daredevil.  It was quite literally terrifying.

Or maybe we just didn’t know that this was probably the way people drove in Rome.

Shaken but delivered in one piece we found ourselves in the square opposite St Peters Basilica.

The square is impressive, with the statues atop a circular colonnaded walkway.  The church is incredible, and took a few hours to take in and to top off the day we did a tour of the Vatican museum which took the rest of the afternoon.

Then it was back to the delicatessen for more sandwiches and beer, and an interesting discussion with several elderly Italian ladies, of which I did not understand one word.

The second full day we decided to use one of the open top bus tours and eventually decided on the hop on hop off tour simply because the bus was at the central transport terminal for trains and buses and it was getting hotter.

Our first stop was the Colosseum.  There were other monuments nearby, such as the Arch of Constantine, but as the heat factor increased we joined the queue to go into the Colosseum and gladly welcomed the shade once we got inside.

The queue was long and the wait equally so, but it was worth the wait.  It would be more interesting if they could restore part of it to its former glory so we could get a sense of the place as it once was.  But alas that may never happen, but even so, it is still magnificent as a ruin.

Outside in the heat, it was off to the ruins which were a longish walk from the Colosseum, taking Via Sacra, not far from the Arch of Constantine.  This day in the walkway there were a number of illegal vendors, selling knockoff goods such as handbags and watches, and who, at the first sight of the police, packed up their wares in a blanket and ran.

Included in these ruins were The Roman Forum, or just a few columns remaining, the Palatine Hill, Imperial Fori, including the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Caesar, and more specifically the Forum of Trajan.  It was, unfortunately very hot and dusty in the ruins the day we visited.

We walked all the way to the Foro Romano and the Septimus Severo Arch at the other end of the ruins, past the Temple of Caesar.  I found it very difficult to picture what it was like when the buildings were intact, so I bought a guide to the ruins which showed the buildings as ruins and an overlay of how they would have looked.  The buildings, then, would be as amazing as the Colosseum, and it would have been interesting to have lived back then, though perhaps not as a Christian.

I lost count of the number of bottles of water we bought, but the word ‘frizzante’ was ringing in my ears by the end of the day.  Fortunately, water did not cost a lot to buy.

At the end of the day, we caught the hop on hop off bus at the Colosseum and decided not to get off and see any more monuments but observe them from the bus.  The only one I remember seeing was Circo Massimo.  Perhaps if we’d know it was going to be twice as hot on the bus, yes, there was no air-conditioning; we may have chosen another form of transport to get back to the hotel.

The third and last day in Rome we decided to go to the Trevi Fountain, see the pantheon and walk up the Spanish Steps.  We spent most of the morning in the cool of a café watching the tourists at the fountain.  By the time we reached the top of the Spanish Steps, we were finished.

 

#AtoZChallenge — N is for nobody

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This is sometimes how we must feel when overlooked or ignored, like a nobody.

And some people will treat you like a nobody, i.e someone who is just not important.

That’s just one use of the word.

Another might be…

Who did that to your room?

‘Nobody’ is the plaintiff reply.  The infamous Mr Nobody.  We’ve never met him, but he’s always there.  And, what’s more, he seems to be able to be in more than one place at a time.

Then there’s that time when there’s nobody in the room, nobody agreed with me, hell, that happens all the time, and when I rang your phone nobody answered.

Nobody?  Was I expecting Mr Nobody to answer?  Surely the response should have been, ‘and you didn’t answer’.

Of course, let’s not delve too deep here, lest we might find out something we didn’t want to know.

I went to your house last night, but nobody was home.

How is it we refer to the people whom we know live in that house as ‘nobody’.  Shouldn’t we be saying, ‘none of you was at home’?

It seems nobody is one of those words we often use in vain.

Have you ever tried writing on a bus?

It’s amazing how quickly you discover the imperfections of road makers.

As odd as that sounds, a recent trip on a bus, actually earlier today, in fact, got me thinking about just how bad some of our roads really are.

As any writer will tell you, that half an hour or so on the trip to work or home, is just waiting for a few lines to be written, on your phone, or on your tablet.  I venture to suggest a laptop computer just might be a little difficult, and prone to stray eyes from the people sitting or standing near you.

And the tightness of the space available to you.  I know, I’ve tried.

But, if you’re not in the mood to research, I did a little of that too, by the way, the desire to write is tempered by the movement of the bus and your ability to type coherent words on a small keyboard in a very large, rocking, metal thing.

I have to say I have a large streak of jealousy for those people who can hammer out large texts to their friends while riding the bus, and in the most awkward of conditions, using both thumbs, and carrying 26 bags of groceries and dry cleaning, as well as having a full on political discussion with the person sitting/standing next to them.

Even when the bus hits a pothole, does a sudden lurch that sents the unsuspecting sprawling.

With my interactive word completer turned on, it is astonishing what words finish up in my small attempt at writing as my fingers fail to find the right letters, and creates what only could be described as the ramblings of a madman.

Perhaps I might have better luck tomorrow.

 

 

Conversations with my cat – 30

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This is Chester.  Waiting impatiently.

I’ve asked him to stay by the front door and let me know when the delivery man comes.

What is it we’re waiting for?

It’s a surprise.

For who?

If I told you that, then it wouldn’t be a surprise.

That, of course, sets his mind racing, because now he thinks I’ve got a surprise for him.  And the memories of that doesn’t sit well, because the half dozen practice mice I got him didn’t get used.

Why do I need to practice chasing mice that don’t move?

It was an interesting question, a led to another surprise, a half dozen clockwork mice.

He wanted to know why I was winding them up, and then, when I put them down, he simply watched then crash into the wall.

I shake my head as I walk away.  Why did I say anything?  All I had to do was open the door and he would have come, sat and waited for no reason at all.

 

 

#AtoZChallenge — M is for Murder

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I started off thinking that murder was pretty straight forward, you know, someone pulls out a gun and shoots someone else: murder.  Of course, there are any other means of doing the same crime, by knife, poison, strangulation, or suffocation.

Or, by endless inane conversation.  Much less chance of going to jail with that one.

Its the stuff that keeps crime writers going, fictional detectives detecting and crime scene investigators analysing.

Still the fact someone might be getting away with murder, means they’ve successfully found a way to have their cake and eat it.

Come to think of it how many times have we used that word in vain, like when a child drives you to distraction, red-faced and you say with a great deal of conviction ‘you do that again I’ll murder you’.

Just make sure it doesn’t actually happen, or those words will come back to haunt you.

But this is only one aspect of using the word.

You could, if you want, scream blue murder, which is literally impossible.  In fact, what the does that really mean?

It can also refer to an onerous task or experience, hence the possibility that listening to that discussion about hot water bottles was absolute murder.

For one thing, it probably murdered an hour or two of my time.

It could also describe a comprehensive defeat, that we murdered the other side 86 to nothing.  Come to think of it, I never got to participate in such a game, so that might account for why I’d never heard it used before.

And, lastly…

Did you know it can refer to a flock of a particular type of bird, I think crows.