#96 – Top ten best things about living in Sao Paulo

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One of the most popular posts from my previous blog is a list of good things about living in Brazil. I set myself the challenge of ten which didn’t take as long as I thought it might and here it is, in the order it emerged from my subconscience. Looking back, I think if I were to redo the list now it would be almost the same.

1. fruit

two avocados

I’m not a big fruit eater but whenever I’m asked what I like about Brazil, fruit is always my immediate response. Brazil is heaven for fruit lovers with nearly all the fruit we get in the UK plus a vast array of what we consider exotic fruits at a fraction of the price. Mangoes are particularly good in both value and taste and bananas come in several varieties: ouro, prata, nanica etc. Oranges are so cheap they’re priced by the dozen and a large sack can be bought for less than £3.

2. feiras

street market

These are street markets of the kind we used to have in the UK but have now been firmly replaced by supermarkets. Every area of Sao Paulo has a street market at least once a week and one wouldn’t have to travel very far to visit a street market every day. Each of the markets sells all the fruit and veg one can dream of plus meat, fish, chicken, eggs, spices, shoes, hardware and most importantly a fried snack called pastel and caldo de cana, sugar cane juice. These last two are reason alone to visit a feira.

3. weather

weather in sao paulo

Perhaps what runs through the mind of the person at the other end of the phone in UK as their voice lifts when I tell them I’m living in Brazil is the thought of sunshine and granted Sao Paulo certainly gets its fair share of that. There’s about a week in July (still to arrive) when it gets a bit chilly which can be uncomfortable given that the houses have no form of heating except hot water bottles if you’ve brought one. And the summer arguably gets a bit too hot but if you like thunder storms you’re likely to get a great one everyday at about 4pm. For me the best weather in Brazil is during the winter. It’s dry and the temperatures resemble that of a British summer. Nice.

4. botecos

Bar de Fregues

Imagine a cafe, albeit without fried breakfast and cups of tea, serving alcohol and you’ve got the basic principle of the boteco. They’re the closest Brazil gets to a wetherspoons and though the beer is much worse and the snacks considerably
more Brazilian they’re still great if you need a quick snack or a cheapish Brazilian lager. I’ll skip the toilets.

5. caipirinha

caipirinha

Every nation has it’s fancy drink. Cuba the mohito, Mexico the Margarita, Britain the gin and tonic (and Pimms), Germany schnapps, Japan saki, Korea soju and Laos lao-lao. In Brazil the homemade spirit is cachaça, otherwise known as pinga a litre of the cheap stuff can be picked up in a supermarket for about two quid. Like most spirits, with the notable exception of a good single malt, it tastes a bit ropey by itself to the unaccustomed palate but add shed loads of sugar and some lime and you have a caipirinha – nice.

6. padarias

padaria

Everyone loves a decent bakery, no more than the Brazilians who love to buy fresh bread daily along with a variety of baked and confectionary goods. Because of this padarias seem to be outnumbered only by chemists and perhaps botecos consequently fresh bread is easy to get hold of and most padarias also double as cafes so a slice of pizza and a bottle of cheapish fizzy lager is always an option.

7. beaches

beach

It almost goes without saying that even the worst beach in Brazil is almost as good as the best beach in England (arguably Bournemouth). If you can ignore the fact of how filthy they get at popular times such as new year and carnaval Brazilian beaches are without doubt excellent. Apart from the sun, sea and sand, there is a kiosk at approximately every 100 metres selling resfreshments, snacks, caipirinhas and cheapish fizzy lager.

8. Mata atlantica

forest

As it turns out the amazon rainforest isn`t in Sao Paulo, I`ve selected the mata atlantica which, although looks pretty big from the bus is only a fraction of the forest which used to exist before the Europeans arrived. Efforts are being made to reforest part of the deforested area and there is still a small reserve on the edge of the city which makes a great change from the concrete.

9. spoletos

plate of pasta

Here’s a novel idea that I’m surprised hasn’t caught on in the UK. Imagine a pasta restaurant where you choose the pasta, the selection of ingredients, the sauce and watch it being cooked in front of you. OK so it’s a bit like the mongolian barbeque with pasta but it’s a relatively simple idea and a very easy way for a vegetarian to get fed in a country that thinks ham is a vegetable.

10. atmosphere at football games

pacaembu

Pacaembu, where you’re always guaranteed a great atmosphere even if the football’s a bit rubbish

Finally, it would seem odd to have a top ten list in Brazil with no mention of football but football only just sneaks in because the truth is that the standard of football is not as good as the standard of football in Europe in so small part because all the best Brazilian footballers play in Europe. However, one of the good things about Brazilian football is that, no matter how bad the football gets, the atmosphere is almost always guaranteed to be good even at the most uninspiring of fixtures partly due to the inevitable presence of a samba band keeping the atmosphere ticking along nicely.

11. Street Art

graffiti

I thought of an eleventh. Sao Paulo has some of the most incredible street art in the world which really helps to break up the concrete monotony. Sadly there is an enormous amount of tagging which makes many areas look really rubbish but  there are also some great works of art and also many murals copying contemporary Brazilian artists such as Romero Britto who is a particular favourite at the moment.

 

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#95 Taco – Son of cricket

Modern taco bats and stumps

Modern taco bats and stumps

This article was originally written for The Corridor of Uncertainty by myself and published on my original blog Our Man in Sao Paulo. It is still the most popular post on that site so I thought I might share it with you here.

As an important ally of Portugal, the British have always had an interest in Brazil but never more so than in the 19th century when a significant proportion of the population of Rio was either British or of British descent.

As in any other part of the world, the British found themselves, they made efforts to introduce the sport to the locals and by the middle of the century, Rio boasted half a dozen cricket clubs with games played on makeshift grounds.

In the 1860s, as part of an effort to beautify the city, parks were created including the city’s first proper cricket ground which was later to host Rio’s first football games.

However, the Brazilians were reluctant to participate in sport and, unlike football which following its introduction in 1894 eventually captured the imagination of the nation, cricket faded almost completely from view as the British population in the country declined.

The modern form of cricket is still played across Brazil by small groups of expatriates and in 2003 Brazil became an associate member of the ICC but the popularity of the modern game is completely eclipsed by the popularity of a game which owes its genesis to Cricket but which has evolved and devolved into the game which is popularly known as Taco.

Anyone attempting to describe cricket to Brazilians is able to save hours of effort by simply saying: “It’s a bit like Taco”. Unfortunately the momentary satisfaction of witnessing a wave of realisation sweep across the Brazilian’s face is soon replaced by further hours spent explaining that cricket is not simply a game played by children on streets and beaches but that pads, gloves and sometimes helmets are required, and that the cricket ball is hard and bowled occasionally very hard indeed.

It’s easy to see how cricket has evolved over the last 150 years when the rules and equipment of the two games are compared. The Taco bat resembles much more closely the cricket bat of the early to the mid 19th century when bowling underarm was still a feature of the game and three sticks are used as stumps though these are much more commonly substituted these days by empty plastic bottles.

old cricket bats

old cricket bats

Taco is played by two pairs, a batting pair and a fielding pair. The stumps (or cans or bottles) are placed either end of the wicket (though the term wicket is alien to the average Brazilian). Around each set of stumps is the crease (again this is not called a crease and is a circle drawn a full 360 degrees around the stumps).

At each end a fielding/bowling player stands behind the stumps and the batting players stand with their bat grounded inside the crease. The bowlers attempt to hit the stumps and the batters try to hit the ball as far as possible. Like cricket, on hitting the ball the batters are able to run to the opposite end and accumulate runs.

Unlike cricket, if the ball is hit behind, or catches an edge the batter is prohibited from running. Not only may they not run but, on the third occasion of the ball touching the bat and going behind, regardless of whether runs have been made in intervening balls, both batters are out and the two pairs exchange places.

taco, as it is played on beaches today

taco, as it is played on beaches today

A batter may be stumped either by being bowled out or by being run out either when their bat is not within the crease or, get this if either or both of their feet are within the crease. Each time a batter is caught (even if the ball is hit behind), bowled or run out, the batting pair field and the fielding pair go into bat. The batters when running need to touch their bats as they pass for the run to count. A batter can also be got out by being hit by the ball while making a run.

The ball can be bowled from either end, the ends do not need to alternate. The ball is usually bowled from the end nearest to where the ball has been retrieved but the bowler must bowl to the stumps furthest from the end from which they are bowling. If the ball is hit back to the bowler, the bowler may immediately bowl again whether the batter is ready or not.

Although the batters and fielders may exchange roles many times over the course of the game, each team’s runs accumulate until the first team to reach a pre-agreed total, for example, ten, is declared the winner.

Wikipedia lists 17 forms of cricket including many variations peculiar to particular regions or countries around the globe, What is the most peculiar derivation of cricket Corridor readers have encountered. I for one would be interested to know whether any are as close yet equally removed from cricket as Taco.

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#94 Moving house (again)

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As I write this, I am in the first phase of a house move, or rather flat move to be more accurate. For readers in the US a flat is an apartment and it is anything but flat.

Phase one of the move is when you try to get your current flat into roughly the same shape as it was before you moved in so that your landlord doesn’t remove huge chunks of your deposit.

For us, this has meant filling the plethora of holes I drilled while attempting to put up shelves so that the cats could fall asleep on them and then fall on our heads.

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Once the holes were filled the bumps have to be sanded down and the walls washed so that they can be painted while I am still on my easter holiday.

We’ll miss the nice view of the sunset but the new property is more modern and includes a swimming pool and a gym in the condominium so I will have no excuses to avoid doing some exercise and losing some weight.

The new flat also has a spacious balcony which has room for my vinyl records, turntable, armchair and a mini library of books. As well as being a corner for distraction, I am hoping that this corner might be a quiet place for me to write, only time will tell.

The removal vans don’t arrive until the end of the month but I’ll let you know in a future post how things turned out.

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#93 Not sweating the small stuff

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At this stage of my writing career, I find that I am working full time in a job that doesn’t require me to do much writing but that nevertheless is very demanding. At the end of the day I come home and try to reach my daily writing target which, at the moment, is a very modest 500 words per day. If I have any time after this, I might devote some attention to marketing. As a teacher, I do have the benefit of more holidays than most which I usually use to prepare for book launches.

If I’m not careful then the result of a busy life can be added stress and frustration and this frustration can soon develop into irritation unless I employ techniques of maintain patience with students, staff and everyone else I meet in an average day.

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about how myself, my wife and my daughter were all finding ourselves getting very stressed and anxious about what life was throwing our way and he told me about a book which had helped him when he was a teenager: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.

In small bite size chapters Carlson shares a whole range of tips to help you relax, develop more patience, put life into perspective and generally be a nicer person to yourself and those around you. It’s the kind of book that you probably need to dip into time and time again and, as I have downloaded the audiobook, I expect I will need to listen to it again from time to time.

Another demon who lingers around writers trying to put them off their work is the condition called Impostor Syndrome and it is something which afflicts the successful and famous just as much as the artist who is just starting out. It is typified by the feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing, that my manuscript is rubbish and that sooner or later I will be discovered for the fraud I really am.

Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn recounted a story of listening to a panel of speakers at ThrillerFest including Lee Child who writes the Jack Reacher novels and all of the successful authors on the platform admitted that they too suffered from this complex of inadequacy just as much as the first time writer. In fact, any good writer will have doubts about their manuscript. Only a poor writer would have absolute confidence in their work and have no doubts about its content.

My work in progress has a character who is so anxious that he his occasionally so overcome by his anxiety that he faints. I am enjoying exploring the character and hope that he is able to discover some of the techniques he needs to not sweat the small stuff.

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#92 Creating large print editions

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This week I have been mainly working on creating large print versions of my first four novels. For many independently published authors, the idea of producing large print versions never occurs to them. Even many traditional publishers do not bother to publish large print versions of their titles.

Readers with visual impairments can simply turn up the font size on e-readers such as Kindle but many readers still prefer print and libraries cater for users with visual impairments who like to read print editions.

Joanna Penn, from The Creative Penn has been an advocate of the large print format for a long time and has an interesting video on how to produce large print books.

I changed the font to Times New Roman and increased the size to 16pt which increased the number of pages for by already quite large trim size of 6″ x 9″. This meant that I had to ask my cover designer to increase the size of the cover to accommodate the larger spine and to add the revised bar code with the new ISBN. She also added a label to indicate the edition was large print.

The only book I was unable to do this for was Fred & Leah because the increased pagination exceeded the maximum allowed by KDP. In this case, I had to increase the trim size to ensure the pagination remain within KDP’s limits.

The other effect of the increased pagination is that the book costs more to print. The standard print editions of my books range from $8.99 to $11.25 whereas the large print editions are being sold between $14.99 and $19.99.

If you would like large print editions of my books;-

Living with Saci is available in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Japan

The Astonishing Anniversaries of James and David: Part One is available in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Japan

When the Well Runs Dry is available in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Japan

 

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#91 Digging up old short stories

it can't be done

I decided to look back at the archives and dug up one of my old short stories. I hope you like it, let me know what you think:

It Can’t be Done by M J Dees

In a flat in South Wimbledon the lights flicker, go off for a second and then come back on. She looks up at the bulb, shakes her head and returns to applying makeup.  

A quarter of a mile away, in a Victorian terraced house, bacon crackles in a pan.

“I haven’t time for breakfast,” David shouts down the stairs. He squints into the mirror, seeing a face succumbing to years of worry and restless nights. His features Have now given up the fight and have resigned themselves to a permanent frown. Bags cling beneath his eyes and jowls threaten to drop to Earth at the slightest breeze. The sun has not been kind either and has scarred his skin with freckles and moles which sit upon a saggy, ruddy canvas like the pattern on the damp wallpaper which curls from the bathroom wall above his head. He is his own absent landlord who has neglected his face for years. It’s too late to take care of himself now, he thinks, resigned to a future of continued neglect. Lighting a cigarette, he perches it on dry lips which he parts to expose nicotine stained teeth, cracked and missing, like the tiles on the wall by the mirror in front of him.

Downstairs an old woman shovels the bacon into her mouth. Each chew luxuriates in a bed of wrinkled skin, undulating like a creased but well-loved blanket covering pillows of flesh around her eyes, nose and mouth. This face has worked hard for many years and is enjoying retirement among wrinkles that have smiled through two world wars, the Spanish flu and austerity. The ears, which now seem too big for her head, have heard big bands, crooners, the blitz, rock and roll, disco, punk, new wave and hip hop but she still maintains that the young must enjoy themselves while they can, as long as they don’t bother her. Her eyes have seen sorrow, relief, joy, pain, death, life, love, hate, greed, selfishness and beauty but have not dwelled too long on any.

The smell of bacon drifts up the stairs past the stained floorboards, past threadbare rugs, nicotine stained wallpaper, stuffed animals, and scientific equipment.

A quarter of a mile away steam caresses the double glazing of a bathroom window. A disposable razor ploughs straight edges in fields of shaving foam, revealing delicate legs below.

David is not aware of the activities of the razor as he pops his head round the sitting room door. Mother is watching Richard and Judy.

“Are you sure you’re OK?” he waits for an answer, none arrives. “See you later Mother.”

David dons his hat he leaves the house, hearing the familiar sound of the brass knocker as the door shuts firmly behind him.

On the tube, he sniffs the newspaper. At least that’s what it looks like to onlookers. His visual impairment has left him only able to read if he holds the paper at an angle so close to his face that it appears as if he is reading with his nose.

*

She tries to direct her nose as far away as possible from the armpit of the man next to her. She appreciates that he needs to hold on. Heaven forbid that he should fall on her. She knows that the armpit is just something that has to be endured until either she or he leaves the cramped compartment.

‘The Northern Line is always like this in the summer’, she complains grumpily to herself. London Transport hadn’t even bothered to reply to her suggestion of installing heat exchangers to take the heat out of the tunnels and use it to heat offices, buildings and leisure centres along the route. Instead, they had installed those ridiculous fans which only succeeded in moving the hot air around.

The door opens, and the armpit gets off. She breathes a sigh of relief and adjusts her posture to one which is slightly less uncomfortable. All she needs now is the man who kept trying to push his groyne into her leg. If she sees him again she’ll cut it off, she tells herself and now even carries a pair of scissors in her bag for the purpose. They are crimping scissors, but she doesn’t care. He’ll just get crimped.

*

He knows she is sitting there in the corner of the meeting room. It is all he can do to concentrate on his presentation now that she is lodged in the back of his mind. The glimpses of her skin so smooth like a freshly laid picnic blanket, the sparkling water twinkle of her eyes, delicious red lips glimmering and beckoning like the sweetest of puddings. Even the curve of her nose looks as unblemished as the day it emerged from her mother’s womb which he thinks must have been very recent. The lush foliage of hair borders the face in which he imagines taking refuge. The smile with which she had greeted him evoked thoughts of secret gardens and the delights offered within but he knows that this is all fantasy and fantasy is how people usually describe his work. He recounts all the figures. He knows them inside out and back to front, but he is finding it hard to focus while she sits in his peripheral vision.

No-one seems to be getting excited about his research. Do they not grasp the significance of what he is showing them? A clean, cheap source of energy, generated at the point of use.

He sniffs his notes as they study his plans laid out before them. Occasionally the suits exchange glances and wry smiles with each other.  

Well, that is that then. He’s said all he has to say.

He sits back and watches her while he waits for a reaction from his audience.

‘Would you excuse me for a moment,’ one of the suits breaks the silence. ‘I’d just like to show your plans to another colleague. I’ll be right back.’  

The suit gathers up the papers and leaves the room followed by a line of sniggering fellow suits, leaving David alone in the room with her. He shifts in his seat, and they exchange polite smiles.

Laughter drifts through the partition walls and, after what seems like a very long time but is perhaps only a few moments, the suits return.

“Thank you, Mr Smith,” says the chief suit, handing back the plans. “Your work has been very interesting, but I’m afraid we already have researchers working on cold fusion. Thank you for your time. We won’t be taking it any further at this stage.’

“What?” David sits upright. “Do you not realise what I’ve just presented? Were you not listening?”

“Mr Smith,” the suit looks serious. “Your work is a work of fantasy, of science fiction. It cannot work. It ignores the fundamental laws of physics. It can’t be done. You’d need enormous amounts of energy to create a fusion reaction. You can’t do that in your bedroom.”

“But I’ve done it,” David protests.

“The technology doesn’t exist, Mr Smith,” the suit was beginning to lose his patience. “It won’t exist for the next 20 to 40 years. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got real research to do. Miss Persimmon? Please show Mr Smith the way out.”

David follows her back to the reception and smiles as she thanks him for his time and leaves him to be eyed by the security guards.

*

“Mother,” he calls out, closing the front door behind him.

“In here dear,” a voice echoes from the sitting room. “How did it go dear?”

He enters the sitting room. Mother is still staring at flicking images on the television.

“They said it wouldn’t work.”

“Never mind dear. They said I would be dead at 50, but I’m still here.”

“Yes, mother.”

‘You’ve got to pick yourself up and dust yourself down and…”

“Start all over again.”

“Exactly dear. When your father died, God rest his soul, the bastard, I had nothing, less than nothing. I had all your father’s debts, but I got off my backside, got a job and paid everything off.”

“Yes, mother.”

“I know you had to go without a few luxuries, but we got by didn’t we, dear?”

“Yes, mother.”

“We got by, and we made the most of the things. When I lost my leg, did I roll over and die?”

“No mother.”

“No, I got on with it. When I got cancer did I give up?”

“No mother.”

“No, I got on with it and proved them wrong. Don’t worry son. You’ll have your day.”

“Yes, mother.”

*

“Would you come in a minute please, Persimmon?”

The phone goes dead.

She knocks on the chief suit’s office door then immediately enters.

“Yes, sir?”

“Persimmon, we’re pleased with the work you’ve been doing here. We like your sort. You fit in. There’s an opening – Supervisor’s role. I’d like you to consider it.”

“Yes, sir. I mean, thank you, sir.”

“That’ll be all.”

She turns to leave.

“Oh, Persimmon.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Send these papers to Jenkins in Argyll. Ask him to check them out and get back to me.”

“Yes, sir.”

She takes the papers and leaves. As she walks down the corridor, she glances at the top sheet and recognises it straight away. They’re his designs – the crazy man who came in this afternoon. The bastards are stealing his designs. But why? They wouldn’t work. It can’t be done. She only has a degree in nuclear physics, but even she knows you can’t change the fundamental laws of the universe – the first law of thermodynamics.  

She slides the papers into an envelope, addresses the front then sits down, playing with the envelope in her hands.

*

“How did it go?” David is asked, almost before he’s closed the door of the pub behind him.

“Philistines,” he says, taking the pint that has been poured without him asking.

“Never mind David,” the barman reassures him. “One day someone will appreciate your genius.”

The barman has the terrible affliction of always sounding sarcastic no matter how genuine he attempts to be. David is used to this and focuses on his beer.

“Can’t be done, they said. Can’t be done. But I’ve done it.”

“Of course you have.”

*

“They want to give me a promotion,” she tells her mobile. “Yes but it’s more responsibility isn’t it … yes, but do I need that? With them?”

She sees the Trafalgar on the next street corner.  

“Look, I’ll call you later, I’ve got to go.”

She’d walked past it so many times, every day in fact, but tonight she felt she needed a drink. It was all getting a bit much at work

Through the door she is greeted by a heavy red curtain which she pulls to one side to enter the bar, feeling as if she’s just emerged from a changing room.

She smiles at the barman who grins at her and asks what he can get her.

“What have you got?” She wonders aloud, looking at the row of handpumps on the bar.

“What you see is what we’ve got,” the barman sarcastically points to the pump clips bearing the names of the ales. He isn’t trying to be rude, only clever.

“I’ll have a pint of Hophead.” she asks.

“Ale drinker eh?” the barman inquires. He manages to resist the temptation to ask what a nice girl like her is doing in a dump like this.

“Yes, my father owned a pub, and I was chair of the real ale society at Uni.”

The barman raises his eyebrows, and the rest of the transaction is conducted in silence.

She takes her glass and wanders through to the lounge and there he is, sniffing a copy of the London Drinker.

“Excuse me,” she says as she approaches.

He squints at her and then drops his magazine in his pint.

“Damn.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“No, it’s ok.”

“I met you at the…”

“Yes, I remember.”

“May I?” she points to a stool.

“Yes. Yes, of course,” he half stands, then sits again as she occupies the stool.

“Look,” she says, after an awkward pause. “I’m sorry about the way they treated

you today.”

“That’s ok, I’m used to people thinking I’m crazy,” he says, mopping up beer with

the magazine to avoid having to make eye contact.

“Yes, but even so, that’s no excuse.”

He squints at what remains of the beer in his glass.  

“I just thought that they’d understand.”

“You really think it would work don’t you.”

For the first time, he has the courage to look her in the eye.

“I know it works.”

“I don’t want to sound rude but your plans. Well, they were right about one thing.

It can’t be done. It is science fiction.”

He leans towards her.

“Tell me,” he asked. “If you knew that this technology existed. I

mean, if you had this in your hands, what would you do with it?”

“What do you mean?”

“You could make a lot of money couldn’t you?”

“Well yes of course, but that’s not really the point is it?”

“Isn’t it?”

“Well. No. Not really. It’s about providing clean energy for everyone. It’s about

reducing greenhouse gases. It’s about equity for the developing world. Isn’t it?”

David sits back. Satisfied.

“Come with me.”

She follows him into the large Victorian house.  

‘What am I doing?’ she thinks to herself. ‘I only met this man today. He’s crazy,

and now I’m following him into his house!’

“Shh. Mother will be sleeping,” David whispers. “Follow me.”

He leads her through the hallway which wouldn’t look out of place in the Natural

History Museum, pictures of animals and actual animals adorn the walls.

Against her better judgement, she follows him up the stairs.

“Where are we going?” she whispers.

It was dark. The landing was only illuminated by the light from the street. He

flicks a switch, and the landing is illuminated.

“That’s not it,” he says.

She looks around the landing. It looked better with the lights off.

“Here it is,” he says sniffing an object then turning to face her.

“What is it?” she asks.

“A cold fusion reactor.”

She laughs. She can’t help herself.

“Take it.” He waves it at her.

She takes the object and turns it in her hands. Rechargeable batteries?

Capacitor? She can’t see any obvious power source.

“No obvious power source right?”

“Come on what’s the deal?”

“Wait.”

He holds out his hand and flicks a switch. Outside the street lights flicker and

dim, and the object in his palm begins to glow, bathing them both and the landing in a

brilliant light. She eyes the glow. He flicks the switch again and the lights outside return,

but the glow continues with the same brilliance.

She’s never seen anything so beautiful and, in an instant, all the doubts she had

about this crazy man were gone. This was what it was all about. The beer in the pub

hadn’t been that strong – but she felt emotional. She looked at this pathetic old man,

and she felt compassion. She offered the glow back to him.

“This technology is for everyone,” he takes the device. “Not just for the profit for

those who are already rich. This gives light to the poor, warmth to those who can’t afford

heating.”

She reaches into her bag, pulling out the envelope.

“They obviously didn’t think you were as crazy as I did,” she says, handing him

the envelope. “They were going to steal your idea.”

He puts the reactor down and takes the envelope.  

“Thank you,” he says. “Will you help me?”

“I’ll get the sack. They’ll do their best to stop you.”

“But as Mother would say: ‘Let them bring it on’.”

She looks at the glow, then the envelope.

“OK. I’ll do it.”

 

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#90 Living with the headless mule

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I have just typed the last words of the first draft of my fifth novel which I am tentatively calling LIVING WITH THE HEADLESS MULE. It is both a sequel and a prequel to my first novel LIVING WITH SACI following the life of Brazilian teacher Teresa da Silva as she struggles to be reunited with her daughter in England.

In LIVING WITH SACI, Teresa met a man whom she suspected might have been a character from Brazilian folklore called Saci Perere. LIVING WITH THE HEADLESS MULE takes another Brazilian folk story as inspiration – the story of Mula Sem Cabeça or the headless mule.

In the folk tale, the ghost of a woman has been condemned by God to take the form of a mule with fire for a head in retribution for fornication with a priest within a church. In LIVING WITH THE HEADLESS MULE, Teresa meets a priest, or rather a pastor, but the relationship soon becomes complicated.

The story is intertwined with chapters which reveal more of the backstory to LIVING WITH SACI and her desire to be reunited with her daughter is present throughout.

Like my first novel, LIVING WITH THE HEADLESS MULE promises to be a similar brand of romantic suspense with perhaps a little more spice than its predecessor.

The manuscript will now go into a virtual drawer for a couple of months before I start rewriting it but, if all goes well, I hope to launch the book around the end of July.

Now it is onto the next project and tomorrow I will write the first words of the first in a series of 36 (yes you read that correct) sci-fi novellas. The plan is to write three novellas and one novel a year. I hope that the first three novellas will be launched in January 2020. Watch this space.

 

 

 

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