Featured Blogger: Lorenz Omondi

I have been asked by Lorenz to make you aware of his blog.

As you can see from the logo, it is all about Kenya. He seeks to promote cultural tourism in that country, with many photos and features.

There is also a lot of very interesting tribal, political, and cultural information that may well be new to you.

If you would like to see and learn more about that picturesque African country, or just give Lorenz some encouragement, here’s a link to his blog.


Runs In The Family: Part Nineteen

This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 815 words.

By the time Fionn’s company got to the fight at Yorktown, it was all over. The British had surrendered, and Washington had won the war. He had managed to get through the whole war without once firing a shot in the direction of the British, and had emerged on the winning side. Robbing a few dead bodies along the way had provided him with some coin, and a couple of fine pocket-watches, but life in the new America, victorious or not, held little appeal for him.

He managed to slip away quietly, selling his booty to pay for passage on a French ship bound for Haiti. There was a good living to be made there, as a slave overseer on sugar plantations. He kept his musket, and a sword and pistol that he had looted from a dead officer.

They would come in useful down there, he was sure.

During the years following defeat in America, life carried on as normal for the Dakin family. Agatha did her best to try to make Esmerelda take some responsibilty around the house, but following the birth of her son Richard Henry, in 1780, she had taken to her bed claiming an attack of the vapours, and was rarely seen again downstairs. The infant was left in the care of a nurse, a kind lady who treated him as her own. With Oliver at school, the now sullen Oscar remained fixed on business, and refused to disuss the prospect of remarrying. Running the household fell completely to Agatha, who remained doughty, despite her advancing years.

New gossips in the fast-growing town still made much of the misfortunes that had befallen the richest family around, and one toothless widow spoke openly of The Dakin Curse, brought on by the unfaithful Clara, and her murder at the hands of her husband Isiah. But with the vast majority of the local people reliant on the Dakin businesses and custom for employment or trade, they never received any open criticism to their faces.

In the summer of 1789, James visited from London with shocking news. There had been an uprising in France, and the common folk had taken control of that country. Wealthy landowners and noblemen had been imprisoned, some even killed. Europe was in uproar, and there were rumours of war. Oscar liked the sound of that. War was good for business, even if it meant many of his own family might have to leave to fight in it. He began to make plans to increase leather production, and to buy more farmland for the food that would be needed. At the suggestion of one of his banker friends in London, he bought the controlling interest in a gunpowder works too.

Oscar Dakin would welcome war with relish.

News from the continent became increasingly worrying. The French Revolutionary Army was invading neighbouting countries, their King was said to be in custody, and many aristocrats were trying to flee across to England. This turmoil across The Channel was all music to Oscar’s ears, as he wisely invested in anything needed for the impending war effort. The mlitary men in the family were each recalled to duty. In Scotland, Abraham had secured a move to the Scots Greys as a junior offcer. He wrote asking for the funds to purchase his new unitfom, and a fine grey horse to fit in with the regimental tradition.

Life in Haiti had proved to be idyllic for Fionn. He had easily secured a job as an overseer, and showed a ready ruthlessness when dealing with the slaves under his control. Quick to use the whip, and also to avail himsself of the forced pleasures of young female slaves, he became hated by all, even by some of his colleagues. After an argument about a card game, he had killed the chief overseer in what was judged to be a fair fight. The plantation manager was happy to promote him immediately, and he moved into the comfortable bungalow with its own house slaves. He selected some of the youngest women to move in with him too, providing himself with a veritable harem.

Both the slaves and the manager began to call him Fionn le Roi, at least when he was out of earshot.

The expected war with the French began with a campaign in the Low Countries. James receivd orders to go with his regiment, but Henry and Abraham stayed in England. It was late in 1793 when news of a defeat by the French at Hondshcoote reached Dakin Hall. But as for what had happened to James, nobody seemed to know. As the family anxiously waited for news, the continuing war spread to the colonies, as each nation tried to protect and secure their wealthy assets abroad.

It was a cold February the following year when James returned. Shaken and exhausted, he had survived the battle, but his mind was elsewhere.

Summer is here!

Today marks the first day of official British Summer Time. (BST) The clocks have gone forward one hour, so I woke up thinking it was an hour earlier than it actually was.

This welcome event was accompanied by northerly winds of high strength, and a hailstorm that lasted from 1 am, until a few moments ago. The temperature dropped almost 10 C on what we had two days ago, and the gloomy skies appear to be heralding a return to Winter, rather than the coming Summer.

An old saying here is that “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb”.

Seems like March has had enough of that reputation, and is changing its mind.

Virus Deaths: One Story

I read something on a local newspaper website earlier this week. I went back to get a link to add here, but it has been taken down. Presumably to save the family from more distress.

We are all reading about deaths from the virus, all around the world. As the numbers get bigger, they stop becoming people, and are just numbers. I read that 1,000 people have died fom the virus in the USA. Can you imagine seeing 1,000 dead bodies laid out in a line? I once saw more than 20 bodies at the scene of a train crash. It looked like a lot of bodies. And I was an EMT, so used to seeing such things.

1,000 bodies arranged in a line would stretch almost 3,000 yards. That’s 1.7 miles. That distance would take almost 30 minutes to walk, at a normal pace. Hard to comprehend, I know.

So let’s just think about one person who died because of this virus, and the impact on his family.

A local man in his fifties had a mild heart attack last year. He had a stent procedure to open a coronary artery, was put on blood-thinning drugs, and sent home. He went back to work as normal, and returned home to his wife and two twenty-something children who still lived at the house. Just over a week ago, he woke up with a very high temperature, so stayed off work. The next day he had a very bad cough too. Covid-19 was suspected, and the call was made to the family doctor. That doctor decided to send an ambulance to take the man into the emergency department of the local main hospital.

He had to travel without his wife and family of course. They were not allowed to get close to him as he was taken to the ambulance, so no goodbye kisses. Then because they were in a house where those symptoms were found, they all had to self-isolate. Calling the hospital that night, they were told that he was ‘seriously ill’. The next day, someone called them to tell them he had died.

Imagine that. No goodbyes, no last moments together, no chance to comfort the man she had been married to for thirty years.

The funeral was just 24 hours later, a cremation arranged by a local undertaker. The family was informed that only ten mourners could attend. But as they were self-isolating, they were not allowed to go. Any relatives or friends that might usually have attended did not want to travel during this crisis. So the man was cremated in an empty facility. The undertaker sent a bill, adding that they understood it would be some time before payment could be made. The ashes would be sent to her in due course.

That’s it. Thirty years together comes down to three phone calls, and it’s all over.

Then the everyday problems begin. To get an official death certificate, you have to attend the appropriate department at the Town Hall, with the initial certificate given to you at the hospital. But you are self-isolating, and are not allowed out. Even if they could go out, the office is closed because of the lockdown of workplaces. And you would not be allowed into the hospital to collect their form, as you were too close to someone who died from Covid-19.

Without that death certificate, you cannot access the man’s bank account or savings. Cannot cancel his credit card, or any other payments still going out of his account. You cannot make a claim on his life insurance, sell his car, or do a dozen other things that have crossed your mind will need doing.

On top of your grief, you have to deal with all that stuff too.

Then there is the worry. What about me? What about the chldren? Will we get it now? You can’t seek comfort from relatives and friends either, because you are not allowed out. Anyway, it wouldn’t be a good idea, even if you were.

In the last 24 hours in Spain, 832 people died. Imagine that story above, mutiplied by that figure.

That’s the reality. Are you scared yet? You should be.

Yes still, social media is showing people, mostly young people and teenagers, who think it is funny to spit on food in supermarkets, or rub their saliva over the handles on public transport. Parcel delivery people spitting on parcels that they then hand to a recipient, idiots licking toilet seats, some deliberately touching things in shops then replacing them, and even claiming that Covid-19 is a hoax, and doesn’t exist. Some of those videos have been shared over half a million times, watched by giggling youngsters who think it is all a great joke.

Try telling that to the wife of the man who died near here this week.

Mythaxis Magazine: Spring Edition


The print edition of Mythaxis Review Magazine will be available to buy from Amazon in the next few days.

As you can see from the cover, it contains reviews from me, so think of this as blatant self-promotion!

I confess that seeing my name on the cover of any publication does make me feel very good, and makes all my hard work trying to write worthwhile.

By choice, I don’t make any money from doing this, but would of course be immensely pleased if anyone decided to buy a copy.

Keyboard annoyance

I have recently started to use the new keyboard I got for Christmas. It is identical to the old one that stopped being ‘recognised’ by my PC, for some reason.

However, it has developed an aversion to the letter ‘W’. Every word I type that includes that letter appears with the ‘W’ missing. Then I have to go back over everything I have typed, and insert the ‘W’ with great care.

This is very annoying, and it has also made me realise just how many words and names include a ‘W’.

It is also one of the reasons why my serial episode did not appear yesterday, as I got too frustrated to continue typing. Naturally, it is past the time when I could return it. I could raise a fault complaint with Amazon, but then I would have to send it back, and wait for a replacement or repair. I could just order another new one, but I don’t want to spend £30 on that at the moment.

In the current crisis, it is not a big deal. So please bear with me while I summon up the enthusiasm to struggle with that annoying ‘W’!

Featured Blogger: Shaily Agrawal

I am once again very happy to feature some poetry from Indian blogger, Shaily Agrawal.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves adorn you.
Sleep deep, my love.

Sleep without regrets to fill every
Waking moment lying on the bed.

Sleep without nightmares to haunt
On cold, long, lonely nights.

Sleep without waking on a pillow
Wet with tears shed for lost love.

Sleep so memories can’t reach you
Deep under the ground.

I will see you there someday too.

I love you. I still do.

This is her short personal bio.

About me: Shaily Agrawal is an Instructional Designer, a mother, and a small town woman. She is notorious for her skewed perspective.

If you would like to read more from Shaily, or give her some encouragement in these troubled times, here’s a link.