Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Welcome To Margate!


Before, when Clare Green had been so overconfident and when she had been riding on a wave of good luck and fortune, she would have looked down at girls like Tina Smith, because Clare Green existed in another world, where poor and unfortunate creatures like Tina Smith were unknown and avoided. The Tina Smiths of Clare Green's world were the lowest form of life she could imagine: girls who came from ugly housing estates, girls who had no education and girls who worked in supermarkets. Except now, after her boyfriend had abandoned her, her dream in France was over and her return to England had left her deflated and depressed, Clare Green needed friends like Tina Smith, if she was to move on and get away from the past.

Extract taken from Those Margate Days, Those Lonely Nights - a story of love and new beginnings, out now on Kindle

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Go North, Young Man

This advert boasts about the time one could travel from London to Sheffield and back for only £23.00, courtesy of Intercity.

Yes! Leave your home in London, step aboard an Intercity train and find yourself transported up north, to Sheffield - and all of this for only £23.00.

Personally, if someone offered me £23.00 to leave the bright lights and wonderful charms of our capital city, to spend a day in Sheffield, I would have to refuse the offer. Not even £230.00 would tempt me to go north, even if it's always good to see new places and meet new people.

Of course, I'm being quite heartless in my criticism of Sheffield, where, after all, there are many things to entice someone who's feeling bored in London, and who's in need of a quick fix of life up north, where real men will show those southern nancies a thing or two.

And then this got me thinking about how many towns in England, whose name starts with the letter "S", are just as charming as Sheffield.

Well, there's Swindon in Wiltshire: a fine town, which has no hidden treasures beneath a veneer of ugly housing estates and factories. Then there's Southampton in Hampshire: worth a visit if you're mentally unbalanced and in need of therapy. Or what about Stoke on Trent, with its charming toilet factories and delightful town centre? Next, there's Sittingbourne, in Kent, which is twinned with Shitehousen - a town recently voted the worst place to live in Germany. Solihull is another one to avoid, together with Stockport, Slough and the aptly-named Staines, which is a terrible blot on the map of Britain.

Salop, in Staffordshire, may not be that bad, unless you happen to be French, as salope (pronounced in the same way) is the French word for bitch. Sunderland is hardly a land filled with sun and St. Albans has got nothing to write home about.

And on the list goes...

Today, a train ride from London to Sheffield costs more than £23.00, although a low-cost flight to Shitehousen, in Germany, costs only £30.00. This can't be right, I hear you cry. Well, right or wrong, I don't really care, because I have no intention of stepping foot in any of these towns.

Luke Ryman is an author of ebooks. "The Londoners" is about people living and dying in London and "But Bloody France!" is a series of ebooks about friends not having fun in France. He has never been to Sheffield or Salop although he once spent twenty-four hours in Sittingbourne.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Should Have Stayed At Home

This little girl - enjoying an afternoon in the woods with her brother and parents - is about to realise that she should have stayed at home, and not bothered to have joined her family for a bike ride.

Distracted for just a few seconds, to think of a word which might begin with the letter "t", her new bicycle is smashed to pieces by a high-speed train and her family are left mentally scarred for life. If only she had stayed at home, the bicycle would be in the shed and the girl still alive.

And this makes me think of the time I was on holiday on a Greek island, enjoying a siesta in the comfort of my hotel room. Someone knocked on my door, and when at first I didn't answer, the knocking increased. Unhappy that someone had ruined my afternoon nap, I answered the door, to be greeted by a tattooed man with an accent which told me that he came from Leeds.

"Sorry to bother you, mate, but I was just wondering if you had a tin of baked beans you could lend me," said the man.

Needless to say, I slammed the door on him and returned to my bed, thinking that if a man has come to Crete to eat baked beans, then why, I asked myself, didn't he stay at home, in Leeds. And anyway, why did he knock on my door? I mean, do I look like I travel the world with a suitcase loaded with baked beans, and why do strangers like him insist on calling me mate?

Then there was the woman at the local casino, the other night, who complained to me that the slot machine I was playing on was too noisy. She asked me if I could turn down the volume, to which I replied "No!" She, quite obviously, should have stayed at home in front of the television. Then there's the people who go on holiday, for some much-needed sun, yet only complain that it's too hot to go outside. Why, I ask myself, don't these people stay at home? And on the list goes...

By now the terminal had become unbearably hot. The sunlight pouring through the vast windows had turned the building into an oven, and as more and more French students descended upon the fast-food restaurant, Deano started to sweat profusely.

"Bloody French bastards. Why don’t they piss off home to where they belong," he seethed, wiping a trail of sweat from his brow.

"Well, if you can’t stand the little buggers, why the hell are you going to spend the next fourteen days in their country?" replied Clare.

This extract is taken from "But Bloody France!" - the first ebook in a series about four friends hoping to have fun in Normandy. It seems that Deano, Clare's boyfriend, should also stay at home.

"But Bloody France! - Part 1"  and "But Bloody France - Part 2 - Kate or Wayne" is now available for Kindle, via Amazon.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Dead or Wounded.

If there's a gaping hole in your High Street - between the opticians and the betting shop, and so gaping that only a blind man could fail to see it - the chances are that this vacant lot was once occupied by Woolworth, or another commercial failure of the retail world.

Flashback to 2009, when the game was finally up for this High Street giant, and another icon from British retail history passed away.

It was a sad time for generations of Saturday-afternoon shoppers, who just couldn't resist a visit to their local store to see how much a new frying pan would cost, to get hold of the latest Dire Straits cassette (yes, cassette - not CD) or to fill a little plastic bag with half a pound (yes, half a pound - not half a kilo) of pic 'n' mix sweets. Then there were the toys and games, the latest videos (not DVD's) and...

...on the list goes. This WAS my Woolworth in the early 1980s: a shop run by people who had no clear idea on what to and what not to sell, but somehow managed to attract millions of shoppers. It is therefore obvious, that with such a shambolic strategy, that this once almighty beast died a slow and lingering death. Woolworth was GOOD, but now it's GONE!

And gone too is Clinton Cards - gone to the great greetings card retailer in the sky, leaving another hole in the High Street, to be filled by some awful coffee shop or French-style bakery. And also departed, and sorely missed, is Comet - gone to the great electrical appliance retailer in the sky, only to be replaced by an out-of-town Mexican restaurant, where the first course is free and children under five pay half price.

And what of Marks and Spencer? Well, this monster is still alive and kicking - but not as it used to in the 1980s. No, this monster is just hobbling along - wounded by the fact that it rested too long on its laurels, and because it took its eye off the ball. I can't see M&S dying, but who would have thought that Woolworth would go and Poundland would get stronger?

Anyway, if you miss Woolworth, and like to take a trip down Memory Lane every now and then, why not check out the unseasonal video at the beginning of this post, and take yourself back to a time when the High Street was FUN!

Luke Ryman is the author of "The Londoners" trilogy and the "But Bloody France!" series of ebooks.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Smiths, From Leeds

He's called Tony and he only drinks lager

"I could bloody murder a lager," bellowed Tony, as he waltzed into the room to join his wife and son, who were by now sat at the table, waiting for their evening meal. "I hope they haven’t run out of lager, because I don’t want any of that aperitif crap that she was banging on about earlier," he grumbled. "I haven’t come all this bloody way for Martini or white wine. That’s okay for those French nancies, but I like a nice drop of lager with my dinner."

"Oh do be quiet, Tony," replied Janet. "It’s the first time we’ve been abroad, so I reckon we should do just what the natives do."

"Bloody Normandy!" exclaimed Tony, as the apparent good humour which had filled him earlier in the day seemed to have disappeared. "There’s bugger all in the village and what’s the boy going to do here?" he complained, as he ran his fingers over the tablecloth.

The Smiths, from Leeds, appear in the second part of the "But Bloody France!" series.
But what are they doing in Normandy?
Find out now, in "But Bloody France 2: Kate or Wayne" - An amusing short story, for Kindle, by Luke Ryman.