October - James TissotOctober is a busy month for hatches, matches and despatches in A Set of Lies.
In October 1816 Sir Bernard Lacey (spymaster to the Duke of Wellington) married Constance Shaw, a marriage witnessed by his neighbour, the man now known as Claude Olivierre.
On 2 October 1882, Sir Bernard’s younger grandson, Sir Augustus Lacey, was murdered by cut throats in the back streets of London leaving his wife of little more than six weeks and his unborn son. Almost exactly 35 years later, 31 October 1917, that son (Sir Bertie) died after being hit by a car during an air raid in London.
On 21 October 1890 Sir Bernard’s youngest great grandson, Henry Lacey, was born. He lived a long life and played a critical role in preserving an important locket.
The last baronet of the Lacey line, Sir Arthur Lacey, Sir Bernard’s only great great grandson, was born 14 October 1935.
Confused? You won’t be when you read A Set of Lies.
As the history of the Lacey family unfolds the secret of the man they knew as Claude Olivierre is exposed.


A Different Coast

IoW4I’ve finally settled on the title for the follow up to Her Parents’ Daughter.
As well as writing this I am currently re-vamping the three books of The Iniquities Trilogy into a single volume to be published in 2016. In the second section, Walking Alone, Charles Donaldson, an ornithologist, is writing a series of articles whilst temporarily living in Polperro, Cornwall. He named the series of articles he wrote whilst away from his home in Hoylake, on the Wirral peninsula, A Different Coast.
Much of the action in Her Parents’ Daughter takes place in Yarmouth, on the north coast of the Isle of Wight. Much of the action in the sequel (to be published late 2016) will take place, not only in Yarmouth, but also elsewhere …… but still by the sea.
A quick check on a regularly used internet search engine revealed no book with that title.
So thank you Charles, whatever anyone says about you I think you’re quite a nice chap.


A tale of two (or three) chimney pots

36 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London (Essex Mansions) was built between 1886 and 1888, in the days when every room in the ‘residential apartments’ of the four storey building had a coal fire and so there were a lot of chimneys to be potted.
A little under one hundred years later, in January 1981, I worked in the offices that then occupied the first floor when workmen were doing stuff to the roof which meant removing one of the banks of chimney pots. The ten pots on the outside of the banks of twelve were well worn and in danger of falling but the inside two were hardly worn at all.IMG_0682
It was cold work for these chaps up on the roof so we made them cups of coffee and chatted to them as they went up and down the stairs past our office door. At the end of the week the chimneys were brought down and the two from the inside were carefully placed in the back of my Ford Capri. (This was 1981, I could drive into London and park on the street outside all day every day, religiously feeding the meter.)
In the years that followed the two chimney pots came with me as I moved house, divorced, moved house, re-married, moved house, divorced, moved house, re-re-married, moved house….. Those two chimney pots moved with me eleven times until 2011 when one was destroyed by a careless builder’s van. The survivor moved house yet again and now sits on the corner of the terrace in the Isle of Wight awaiting its winter trailing geraniums.

Last week I had to go up to London, not something I do lightly. On Thursday evening I walked along Maiden Lane to see what had happened to my old offices. ‘Look up there,’ my tall current husband said. I stepped off the pavement into stage doorway of the Vaudeville Theatre and looked up.
IMG_0624Just visible between aerials was our pot’s twin.
While my chimney pots had travelled from London to Kent to Surrey, to Berkshire, back to four different houses in Kent, then down to Cornwall, then back to Kent, then up to Worcestershire, then to South Shropshire and to North Shropshire (where the reversing builder demolished one) and finally down to the Isle of Wight, this one had stayed atop 36 Maiden Lane watching over the changes that had occurred in London.
One hundred years occupying the same roof and thirty four apart – reunited in photos on this blog.


Crossing the Equator

Crossing The EquatorIt seems a long time since HMS Northumberland and its accompanying squadron left Plymouth heading for Jamestown, St Helena yet it is only six weeks and the man previously known as Ennor Jolliffe is playing his role to perfection.
Treated as l’Empereur by the French contingent and as a respected General by the largely English crew everything he said and did was exactly as would be expected by the man who had recently been Emperor of the French.
His routine on board was fixed. He kept to his cabin throughout each morning, appearing on deck in uniform at two in the afternoon, retiring at four to the after cabin for a game of chess or piquet before repairing to his cabin to prepare for dinner – always served at six. There was little to break the monotony of the long voyage.
On 15th August, Napoleon’s birthday, a special dinner was held.
On 23rd August they took on fresh provisions in Funchal, Madeira but they did not stop at Tenerife (which they passed on 27th August) or the Cape Verde Islands (1st September).
A young woman travelling with his large entourage was encouraged to allow ‘the distinguished passenger’ to pass at least some of his time in female company and in June 1916 a baby was born whose paternity she never divulged.
On 23rd September the squadron crossed the Equator – in that year the Equinox – the event was celebrated in traditional form with offerings made to Neptune though ‘Napoleon’ played no part in the festivities.
They would not reach St Helena until 15th October.
The world was somewhat larger in those days….

From little seeds …….

IMG_0620The sequel to Her Parents’ Daughter is still very much in that most enjoyable of stages – the planting of the seeds.
I have the overall plot in mind, the beginning and the end (what happens in the middle will have to wait until the writing). Now, in my head, I am discovering the characters and giving them names. For each one I am deciding who they will start out being though they seldom end up as I plan since they always acquire minds of their own.
This process (waiting for the seeds to take and shoots to develop) can be done anywhere and anytime and doesn’t require a pen and paper or even a computer. Whenever I can’t hear conversations or the television isn’t compelling or the husband is involved in the book he is reading or I’m simply sitting at a window staring out at the garden I can disappear into the world I am creating. I don’t worry about writing these ideas down (or recording them on computer or any hand held device) as if I forget anything then it probably wasn’t worth remembering. (Survival of the fittest?)
It has been said that everyone has a book in their heads and that is usually the best place to leave it.
At some point I will have to decide whether those ideas I am having would be interesting/entertaining to others and, if so, to sit down at the computer and begin the process of turning them into words on a computer screen and tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and lavender on the worktop.