X marks the spot, X in general

In the wake of watching too much television, and in particular Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a very quaint but completely ambiguous statement was dismissed as something that would never happen in archeology, x marks the spot.

Of course, as we all know only too well, x really does mark the spot on treasure maps, and I’m sure there’s been quite a few of those over the last few centuries, what with the numbers of pirates on the high seas, well one known such as Blackbeard, and some not so well known.

And those treasure maps always seem to find their way into children’s stories for some reason, maybe because as children we’re likely to believe it possible, whereas an adult, the only place we’re likely to find an x is where someone who can’t write signs their name.

That might also include a lot of press-ganged sailors, who were virtually kidnapped into British naval service to chase down those pirates, all of whom seemed to have that same ubiquitous signature.

And, by the way, that x marks the spot was in that Indiana Jones movie, a rather large x making up a part of the marble flooring.

X doesn’t often find it’s way into mainstream English, even as a prefix, except in the case of x-rays which is electromagnetic radiation.

And in science fiction, the most interesting use of x-ray is for using x-ray vision, starting with superman, and ending with more sinister connotations.

Other than that the only word that I can remember that starts with an x is xenophobia, which seems to be raising its head around the world, the fear of people or objects from another country or culture

In a word: Rain

Well, isn’t it just like you to rain on my parade?

Yes, and don’t we need a lot of rain because of the bushfires that are burning out of control?

Rain is that stuff that falls from the sky, sometimes at the awkwardest of times, like when you leave your umbrella in the car.

And rain can be a problem in sub-zero temperatures and high winds when it almost takes on the form of multiple miniature knives.  Rain and snow together, sleep, but that’s something else.

Of course, it could always rain cats and dogs, a rather interesting occurrence if it ever happened.

This should not be confused with the word rein.

As any horseperson would know this is what helps control a horse

But, it doesn’t have to be a horse, it might be that you are told to rein in your attack dog

Or rein in your excesses

Or alternatively, give a person free rein to go about their business.

Then there is reign, that period of time when a monarch rules, and it seems in England women hold the record for the longest reign, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth II

That’s distinct from the office oligarchs who seem to think they reign over the plebs

In a word: Line (and there’s more)

There’s more to that word ‘line’, a lot more, making it more confusing, especially for those learning English as a second language.

I keep thinking how I could explain some of the sayings, but the fact is, it’s only my interpretation, which could possibly have nothing to do with its real meaning if it has one.

Such as,

Hook, line, and sinker

We would like to think that this is only used in a fishing depot, but while it is generally, there are other meanings, one of which is, a con artist has taken in a victim completely, or as the saying goes, hook, line, and sinker.

At the end of the line

Exactly what it t says though the connotations of this expression vary.

For me, the most common use is when you’re waiting, like for a table in a restaurant with a time-specific reservation, and you see people who arrive after you, getting a table before you, it’s like being continually sent to the end of the line.

Line ball decision

This is a little more obscure, but for me, it means the result could go either way, and it’s a matter of making a call. The problem is both decisions are right, and unfortunately, you’re the poor sod who has to decide.

It of course partners very well with you can’t please everyone all of the time.

These are the most difficult because one side is going to be aggrieved at the decision especially when it is supposed to be impartial and sometimes isn’t.

Get it over the line

This, of course, has many connotations in sport, particularly rugby when the aim is to get the ball over the try line.

But another more vicarious meaning might be from a senior salesman to a junior, get [the sale] over the line, i.e. get it signed sealed and delivered by any means possible by close of business.

Line of credit

A more straight forward use of the word, meaning the bank will extend credit up to a certain limit, but it’s generally quite large and can feel like its neverending.

Until you have to pay it back.

There’s more, but it can wait till another day.


It’s the half way mark.

Checking the word count, I’m up to over 25,000 words so that’s around the half way mark also.


I’m simultaniously working on chapters 6 through 13 of part 3, and being partly written, and in outline, there’s a few parts missing and I think I’m going to have to go back and, at the very least, read it again, and put in notes for the first edit.

Several tangents have caused issues going back, but it’s nothing major and if I have time before the month ends, I will fix it. Otherwise, it can wait until the first edit.

Otherwise, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Going forward, I have the outlines for chapters 14 through 20 and they follow along from those previous. And I still have to find a place for an interlude that will have a bearing later on.

Of course, in the mean time, all of it will run through the theatre of my dreams.

Inspiration, maybe

A picture paints … well, as many words as you like.  For instance:


And the story:


It was once said that a desperate man has everything to lose.

The man I was chasing was desperate, but I, on the other hand, was more desperate to catch him.

He’d left a trail of dead people from one end of the island to the other.

The team had put in a lot of effort to locate him, and now his capture was imminent.  We were following the car he was in, from a discrete distance, and, at the appropriate time, we would catch up, pull him over, and make the arrest.

There was nowhere for him to go.

The road led to a dead-end, and the only way off the mountain was back down the road were now on.  Which was why I was somewhat surprised when we discovered where he was.

Where was he going?


“Damn,” I heard Alan mutter.  He was driving, being careful not to get too close, but not far enough away to lose sight of him.


“I think he’s made us.”


“Dumb bad luck, I’m guessing.  Or he expected we’d follow him up the mountain.  He’s just sped up.”

“How far away?”

“A half-mile.  We should see him higher up when we turn the next corner.”

It took an eternity to get there, and when we did, Alan was right, only he was further on than we thought.”

“Step on it.  Let’s catch him up before he gets to the top.”

Easy to say, not so easy to do.  The road was treacherous, and in places just gravel, and there were no guard rails to stop a three thousand footfall down the mountainside.

Good thing then I had the foresight to have three agents on the hill for just such a scenario.


Ten minutes later, we were in sight of the car, still moving quickly, but we were going slightly faster.  We’d catch up just short of the summit car park.

Or so we thought.

Coming quickly around another corner we almost slammed into the car we’d been chasing.

“What the hell…” Aland muttered.

I was out of the car, and over to see if he was in it, but I knew that it was only a slender possibility.  The car was empty, and no indication where he went.

Certainly not up the road.  It was relatively straightforward for the next mile, at which we would have reached the summit.  Up the mountainside from here, or down.

I looked up.  Nothing.

Alan yelled out, “He’s not going down, not that I can see, but if he did, there’s hardly a foothold and that’s a long fall.”

Then where did he go?

Then a man looking very much like our quarry came out from behind a rock embedded just a short distance up the hill.

“Sorry,” he said quite calmly.  “Had to go if you know what I mean.”


I’d lost him.

It was as simple as that.

I had been led a merry chase up the hill, and all the time he was getting away in a different direction.

I’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book, letting my desperation blind me to the disguise that anyone else would see through in an instant.

It was a lonely sight, looking down that road, knowing that I had to go all that way down again, only this time, without having to throw caution to the wind.

“Maybe next time,” Alan said.

“We’ll get him.  It’s just a matter of time.”


© Charles Heath 2019

Find this and other stories in “Inspiration, maybe”  available soon.




Conversations with my cat – 64


This is Chester.  He’s decided to look the other way.

We are not on very good terms.  Three times in a row he’s decided to wake me at some ungodly hour of the morning on the pretence that he needs feeding, and three times he’s sniffed it and walked haughtily away.

If that was not bad enough, he’s now barracking for any other team than the Maple Leafs.  And to make matters worse, he’s now calling them losers, which technically is correct, but we are missing Marner, and Tavares needs more time to get back into it, and I can’t tell you where Mathews is, but he needs to come back real soon.

On top of this, I’m starting to feel for Anderson because they got rid of Hutchinson as a backup goalie and I didn’t think he was that bad.

Trust Chester to say that Hutchinson hadn’t been in a winning side for a while.  Obviously, he’s a keen observer of the game, or he’s figured out how to use my phone and the NHL / Maple Leafs apps.

OK, enough of the boring stuff.

I’m in need of some mood music so I put on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  Yes, it’s definitely annoying Chester.



Looking for locations: Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria

Hohensalzburg Castle sits atop the Festungsberg, accessed by a cable car.


Below is a view down into Salzburg from the castle walls.

We had lunch at a café, the Salzburg Fortress Café, that overlooked the countryside.  This was where we were introduced to Mozart Gold Chocolate Cream added to our coffee.

The square below featured in the Sound of Music.


Among the more interesting objects to be seen, the gun below shows what some of the castle’s armaments might have been.  These cannons, in the ‘Firing Gallery’ date back to the thirty years war in the early 1600s.