Exciting news tomorrow!!!

I’m just getting ready now, preparing for a very exciting announcement tomorrow! I don’t want to spoil the surprise but I will tell you it is something about my novels, something about my Radwinter series. Like all my published novels, the series is available as e-books on Amazon.

When I wrote the original ‘Radwinter’ it was as a stand alone novel; I had never wanted or been tempted to write sequels to any of my books, although readers had asked me to – particularly with ‘Farholm’. ‘Radwinter‘ had several story-lines but the main one was about Thomas Radwinter exploring his family history, following the Radwinters back to 1841 in Essex, and beyond to the first Warsaw uprising which started in 1830. However, once I had finished the book, it struck me that Thomas only knew about his paternal line, so a second novel emerged tracing back the maternal line, following the name of Magick, which was also the title of the novel. Thomas’s story didn’t end… ‘Raddy and Syl’, ‘Beyond Hope‘ and ‘Earthquake‘ have followed his life.

So that is the hint… my exciting announcement tomorrow will be something about ‘Radwinter’!

Back to the Far Distant Oxus

I’d forgotten about this book, and this poem:

As a child I was a great reader, and as a child I was a great story-teller, even before I could write any of my tales down. I haunted the library, reading my way through all the books in the children’s section before borrowing my mum’s ticket and starting on the adult books. I was often influenced by what I read and would try to write similar stories.

I came across a book called ‘The Far Distant Oxus’ and was immediately struck by the title – I have a feeling it was recommended to me, either by my friend Frankie,or my cousin Gill, but I borrowed it from the library. The title comes from the poem ‘Sohrab and Rustum’ by Matthew Arnold; it was a poem I had read many times, marvelling at the terrible story of a father’s unwitting slaying of his son:

And he saw that Youth,
Of age and looks to be his own dear so
Piteous and lovely, lying on the sand,
Like some rich hyacinth, which by the scythe
Of an unskillful gardener has been cut,
Mowing the garden grass-plots near its bed,
And lies, a fragrant tower of purple bloom,
On the mown, dying grass; — so Sohrab lay,
Lovely in death, upon the common sand.
And Rustum gazed on him with grief

The idea of hidden identity fascinates me, and emerges in some of my novels now, it is central to ‘Farholm’ and is an important theme in ‘Night Vision’. (Reading Arnold’s poem I always giggled at the thought of this boy looking like a hyacinth, even though I was moved by the tragedy!)

Back to ‘The Far Distant Oxus’; when I read it I certainly enjoyed it but when I discovered that the authors, Katharine Hull and Pamela Whitlock were only fourteen and fifteen I was struck with a mixture of amazement, admiration and envy. The two girls who were only slightly older than I was when I read it, had met in an almost fictitious way – sheltering during a storm, becoming friends through their love of books and ponies. Their favourite author was Arthur Ransome, who wrote ‘Swallows and Amazons’, their favourite book. They decided to write a story together which they did, writing alternate chapters about girls and ponies and Exmoor. They sent the finished story to Ransome who was so impressed that he had it published, illustrated by Pamela. It was published in 1937, by which time, Katharine was sixteen and Pamela seventeen. How excited and thrilled they must have been! What a wonderful thing for two young girls! I might have been envious of them at the time, but now I can look at their success and be delighted for them.

They went on to write other books, ‘Escape to Persia’ published the following year, ‘The Oxus in Summer’ published the year after that, and finally ‘Crowns’ published after the war in 1947. Katherine wrote some short stories but I don’t think Pamela pursued her early love of writing, or if she did maybe nothing was published. Sadly they both died relatively young, Katharine when she was fifty-six, and Pamela six years later when she was sixty-two.

Here’s a link to ‘Farholm’ and ‘Night Vision’:



Farholm Island again

Most of my books are set in an imaginary location; they centre round the small seaside of town of Easthope, which is quite old-fashioned and doesn’t have that many visitors, a little backwater really where the residents just carry on their own lives. nearby is the small city of Strand which has a new marina, an old harbour, and an old old harbour at the small neglected suburb of Hamwich. There are other villages around and about, a forest, some hills, and another post-industrial town, which is falling into neglected decline. Off the coast is an island called Farholm.

The first novel I published as an e-book on Amazon through KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing, was set on Farholm Island and called just that ‘Farholm’!


I have been editing a book I wrote many years ago; it isn’t finished, and I’m in two minds whether to finish it now, or once edited, put it aside for a while – there needs more work on it than I intended. I will finish it and publish it one day, but maybe not just yet.

The plot follows the main character Frederico Milan, whose wife, Susannah, left him three years ago and has never been heard of since. He thought she left him for another man, her parents think he killed her. His  mother-in-law is about to have a very serious operation, and his father-in-law is sent off the rails a bit by this. He threatens to hurt Frederico’s friends if he doesn’t either say where Susannah is, or find her! There are various reasons why Frederico can’t go to the police, so off he sets on Susannah’s trail, helped by his friend Erin, who he calls ‘E’. They’ve heard that Susannah maybe on Farholm Island… So they go to see if they can find her…

Here is a little extract:

Erin was secretly amused at the childish side of Frederico. They’d bought their tickets and parked up in the ferry terminal carpark and were now they waiting by the slipway. He kept wandering off, down the pier to look across the channel to Farholm, to peer over the end as if hoping to see fish, back to Erin then away again to look at what the notice said above the ancient sea-mine painted red and with a slot to take money in aid of bereft mariners.
“The ferry’s coming!” he exclaimed, excited.  He looked better than he had for weeks, the bruises fading, shaved and having slept well. And he was off on an adventure.
“But it’s so small,” Erin looked in alarm at the small vessel slowing to dock.
“What did you expect? A cross-channel ferry?”
“Well, I thought we could have a coffee to pass the time,” she said.
“And do some duty-free shopping while we were there?”
To Erin the ferry wasn’t just small but tiny! The back end came down with a crash and two vans reversed slowly even as the couple of dozen foot passengers swarmed busily off the ferry.
Frederico saw her expression and hugged her.
The small group waiting to board the ferry moved forward in a gaggle; Erin had bullied Frederico into planning and insisted he brought an overnight bag, just in case. He seemed to think they would go to the hippy village, ask if Susannah was there, receive a ‘no’ and come straight back. His overnight bag was a plastic bag with a toothbrush and clean underwear.
“Oh God, I don’t like this,” said Erin, feeling the boat move beneath her.
Frederico laughed; they found seats, stacking chairs reminiscent of the classroom but he guided her to the side of the boat and began to point out features along the coast.
“It’s ok, Ferdy,  he’s just being a pain in the arse  – Hey! Look!  Is that a seal? Look Ferdy, over there?” she was distracted and excited as she pointed out the small grey head with inquisitive eyes watching the boat.
The engine revved and there was a grinding and groaning as the back end closed and a shuddering clang and then the small ferry lurched off the slipway with a grinding squeal of metal against concrete.
“Oh shit, I don’t like this,” Erin grabbed Frederico’s arm as the boat rocked and the colour fled her face leaving her grey.
“Oh dear, E, you don’t like this, do you?” Frederico was trying to be sympathetic but he was laughing. “We haven’t even left the harbour,” he chuckled. “Look you can see the island!  Can you see the cliffs at the west end? That’s where the bird sanctuary is, there are fantastic views and the birds are just wonderful. I wonder if it’s the right time of year for puffins? They are so cute –  and can you see the humpy bit that looks like a whale’s back? Can you see it E? Look, look at the island, can you see the cliffs and the humpy bit?”
Erin dragged her gaze from the churning grey sea and stared at where Frederico was pointing.
“Well, it’s about there that the Community is.”
“Do you really think Susannah is there?” Erin asked distracted from the sea.
“I don’t know E, I was thinking about that last night. Trying to remember what she said… But it’s no good. You’re right on one thing though, something I’d sort of forgotten, she was really into all this new age stuff. She’d taken to casting her runes each night. I tried not to be sceptical but it just seemed so silly.”
“Well, lots of people cast runes or read their horoscopes…”
“Yeah…  I thought it was just an interest, but looking back now…  whenever either of us was ill, it was flower remedies, shiatsu massage, crystals… I mean crystals… I lay there starkers with semi-precious stones all over me!”
Erin burst out laughing but the boat turned as it came to a current, yawed and rolled and Erin’s face lost any remaining colour as she hung over the side. The boat settled into a more regular roll and ride, and after a while she stood upright.
“Keep talking,” she muttered.
“I didn’t think it was weird at the time, it didn’t happen overnight, but at the end, she was different.”
The boat bucked and quivered as the engine vibrated and Erin leaned over the rail and was sick. All Frederico could do was to stand with her and commiserate, a slight smile on his cherubic features.
To Frederico the crossing was quick; to Erin it was endless, and all the time she was aware that there would be a return journey. The crossing took fifty minutes until, to Erin’s  enormous relief, the boat grounded on the slipway of Farholm harbour.

Here is a link to my other e-books:



It’s foggy today… well, being by the sea we might talk about a sea-fret or haar but I’m not sure technically that is what we have here now… I can’t find the origins of ‘fret’ used in this way, it seems to have arrived in the nineteenth century, so perhaps is a colloquial word from somewhere… a haar is a very specific east coast winter sea fog… although now I think it is used everywhere by the sea; it is of Dutch/Germanic origin, so no doubt Dutch and German traders brought it to the east coast of England and now it has spread across to the east coast, so that any cold nasty fog coming off the sea is a haar!

A few synonyms I came across while looking it up: mist, mistiness, fogginess, haar, smog, murk, murkiness, haze, haziness, gloom, gloominess, sea fret, pea-souper, brume, fume and i am sure there are many more, and many, many more dialect words.

Fog is a useful device for writers, and I think I have used it twice.

In the first novel I published, Deke is staying on Farholm Island and she goes exploring; she reaches a village up on the top of the hills and then the fog comes down:

Deke hobbled swiftly down the stable, flung open the door and rushed out into the fog, she would go back to the cafe and phone someone, anyone to rescue her, to take her back to her cottage and she would pack and run away. The fog was thicker than anything Deke had ever experienced, it was quite frightening, like a disembodied entity pushing up against her face, its cold breath chilling her skin and dewing her hair.
She blundered on and she heard Michael somewhere calling her, his voice oddly directionless in the obscurity. She came up against a wall and followed it, passing an unlit window and came to a door. She banged but there was no response, it wasn’t the cafe. Michael was still calling her name and then she heard other voices. Quite close at hand a woman said
“Who is it?”
“Its me, Deke,” she answered because the voice sounded familiar.
“Where are you?”
Deke stumbled on to where the woman seemed to be. There was grass beneath her feet, she had strayed out of the confines of the village. She was very frightened. Something moved in the fog in front of her and thankfully she hurried towards it only to collide with a startled cow. She turned and tried to go back the way she had come. She had no idea which way she was facing, towards the village or away and into the hidden wilderness.
“Where are you?” said the woman again.
She stumbled on and unexpectedly her crutch sunk into mud. She was on the edge of a pond, the pond she had seen in the photo of the children. She had staggered into the cow trampled ooze and she slithered and stuck, her crutches pushing down into the smelly slime.
“I’m by the pond,” she called, her voice sharp with panic and fear.
“Which side? Can you see across it?”
Deke looked across the dull grey water and could just make out a clump of reeds. She was shoved violently and she slipped and fell with a great splash. She floundered and thrashed desperately as a foot pressed down on her back, between her shoulder blades. Then it was gone and she turned onto her back, hacking and coughing as she tried to sit up. Then the pond seemed full of other people and she was pulled up, hawking and spitting.

If you haven’t read my book, Farholm, here is a link:


and In The Double Act, Genet hurries out to find Dr Herrick who she desperately wants to speak to:

Genet stood on the back doorstep smelling the early morning and the salty milky air. She had a peculiar urge to walk out into the wetness and she gave into it and stepped barefoot onto the terrace and onto the lawn. The fog was so dense she couldn’t see the top floor of the hotel.

Her feet were cold but it was perversely pleasant and she had an urge to lie down on the wet grass. Her skin was cold and droplets had formed on strands of auburn hair hanging down her forehead. She remembered standing by the sea wall with Dr Herrick, shivering and pressing herself against him.

Footsteps crunched down the drive; he was going to the sea. She hurried back to the house and ran into the bedroom, then ran out of the hotel and had to follow the hedge and the neighbour’s garden walls, the fog was so dense. She walked along the wire fence of the little park and playground and came to the white walls of the coastguard cottages. She crossed over to the sea wall but could see nothing but the grassy banks leading down to the beach. She followed the wall round until she came to the slope down to the little harbour and the fisherman’s huts.

Through the dense fog came voices.

“Hello,” she called. The bait shop was open and a couple of men sat on the step.

“It’s Genet, isn’t it?” It was Heath’s father, his boat somewhere out in the mist.

“Hello, have you seen someone come down here to swim?” she asked breathlessly.

The two men were wearing waterproofs, two old geezers smoking their pipes and talking fish.

“Yes, he comes every morning. He’s over on the other side, he swims off the end of the point and across the bay to Green Rock. Does it every day. Swims like a fish though I told him not to go out today, too dangerous in this fog,” Heath’s father lit his pipe.

“I don’t think he cared, he looked suicidal. If he doesn’t come back I won’t be surprised,” added the other man gloomily. “One of those moody types if you ask me. What is it, manic-depressive is it?” He puffed on his pipe. “First he used to come down he hardly said a word, nodded and that was it. Then we’ve had a sunny couple of months, him whistling as he walked and chatty as anything. Now the last few weeks his face has been as black as sin.”

If you haven’t read, The Double Act, here is a link:


So near the end!

It seems a long time since I began writing my latest Radwinter story, which I’m pretty sure is going to be called ‘Earthquake’. I started writing it last year while I was working on editing the last book I published which was ‘Lucky Portbraddon’. I had finished LP as I called it, about ten years ago, but had never got around to properly editing it – I was still working, my children were still at school, and life was very busy. Once I stopped working and could concentrate on writing full-time, I began to work through what you might call my back catalogue – completed novels which needed re-editing and tidying up so I could publish them as e-books on Kindle.

All was going very well until one autumn, I decided to accept the write-a-novel-in-a-month challenge – the National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo; the idea is to start a new novel and write 50,000 words of it in the month of November. I started and wrote the first 70,000 words of a completely new book, Radwinter. I completed and published it, and my first ever sequel began to formulate in my mind, and that is what I moved onto next… to my utter surprise, four books have now been written in the series!

Although I had more Radwinter ideas, I decided I really ought to get ‘Lucky Portbraddon’ off my virtual bookshelf, so I began work on it; it was a monster book, nearly 300,000 words – far, far to long even though it was a complex story. Editing is actually quite tedious, so I began the fifth Radwinter book as a little light relief. LP, much much abreviated and much better for it I hope, was published last autumn and now I am so nearly finishing Earthquake… the first draft… then will come a period of editing, checking, rewriting.

Earthquake is a genealogical mystery, but as well as investigating the past, Thomas Radwinter, my main character also accepts present day mysteries to unravel. This time he is trying to find out who killed a little girl in 1931 – he has twelve suspects, the child’s classmates! he is also trying to explain who or what is responsible for the supposed haunting of his ex-wife’s hotel, as well as having to deal with an unexpected addition to his family. I just have one plot line to finish unravelling, and a few unexpected twists, and then it will be to work getting it ready to publish!

Here is a link to the first Radwinter book:


Thomas Radwinter goes in search of his family roots; using the internet he traces his family back to war-torn eastern Europe, and follows their journey from arriving in England in the 1830’s, across southern England. However, the more he finds out about his family’s past, the more he sees his own family, his brothers and his wife differently. His relationship with them changes… and he begins to understand his own character, and to find out as much about his present life as his family’s history.

… and its sequel:


Encouraged by his success in discovering his Radwinter ancestors, Thomas Radwinter sets out to investigate his maternal line, starting with the mysterious and alcoholic Sylvia. His life has been somewhat dysfunctional, but now, gaining confidence through his new loving relationship with a beautiful young woman and her son, he is able to confront his own past.
His genealogical searches take him into the tragic histories of his family and other ordinary people who lived and worked under the appalling conditions of the Victorian age. His skills in finding people from the past encourage a friend to beg him to try and trace her long-lost daughter, a woman, who, it seems does not want to be found. He accepts her request, little realising this will lead him into danger.  Then the father of his partner’s son arrives; he’s come for his boy…

… book 3:


Thomas Radwinter continues his journey into his ancestor’s history; he has followed his paternal line of the Radwinters, “and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally”.
He traced his maternal ancestry, the Magicks, “I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you”. Now he has to find the history of those closest to him, “in my Radwinter story I found some amazing truths about myself. My childhood was difficult to say the least, and when I started to follow the Magick story, I had to begin to face my past, and confront some of my fears and nightmares. To finish my story I have to look at Sylvia Magick and her husband Edward Radwinter, the people who brought me up… sort of… I think of them now as Syl and Raddy, because it’s easier and less painful.” During his search Thomas also seeks a woman who vanished seemingly into thin air from a car stopped at a road junction, and he tries to solve the mystery of Badruddin, the Moroccan an elderly female client brought back from a cruise…  Thomas little thinks that he may be risking his life to find these different truths.

… and book 4:


Beyond Hope is the fourth in the series of books following the life and genealogical investigations of Thomas Radwinter; in previous stories he has followed family’s history back several centuries and also found some uncomfortable and very painful truths in more recent times. In ‘Beyond Hope’, Thomas decides to share with his three brothers what he has learned about their mother and father… but telling the truth can be damaging, the truth can hurt, and as Thomas later reflects, “I know at first hand, a very, very painful first hand, how old secrets have the power to wound and how sometimes those dogs snoozing away should be left doing exactly that, sleeping dogs should sometimes just be let lie.” His revelations cause the close family ties to be tested which doesn’t help Thomas as he struggles with the other commissions he is being paid to undertake; he has been asked by a very elderly lady to find out who leaves lilies on a grave she visits, he has undertaken to investigate a mysterious lama who has a dangerous power over a hard-working teacher and devoted father, and he continues his search for the daughter of a friend who has become involved with a very dangerous man… And all the while his own little family has to face difficult decisions. The fall-out between Thomas and his brothers may only be healed if he can find out what happened to their father who disappeared thirty years ago.

… and Lucky Portbraddon:


“Lucky Portbraddon… a rather rascally ancestor of my late husband, or so family legend has it, was a favourite friend of the Prince Regent, apparently, but Lucky made, not lost, his fortune…”
A few days before Christmas, as the Portbraddon family gathers at their grandmother’s big house up on the moors, the last of the cousins drives through a blizzard to join them:
…There was a severed dog’s head stuck on the gatepost. There’d been a few seconds pause in the driving snow and in those few seconds, lit by their headlights, she glimpsed the wolf-like creature, maw gaping, tongue lolling, teeth bared in one final gory snarl. Then the blizzard obliterated the stone beast and everything else in a seething maelstrom…  A near-death experience does not seem an auspicious start to their family get together, but the cousins determine to celebrate as they always do.  However as the old year ends and the new begins it seems their good fortune is about to run out. An unexpected death, a descent into madness, betrayal… and as the year progresses other things befall them, a stalker, attempted murder, a patently dodgy scheme for selling holiday homes in a dangerous part of the Caucasus… Maybe the Portbraddons are not so lucky… except there is also love, a new home, reconciliation, a spiritual journey, music… One thing remains true, whatever difficulties arise between them, whatever happens, family is family, family first… “They’re like a big bunch of musketeers, all for one and one for all!”

Something happened…

Many years ago I wrote a story called ‘A Strong Hand From Above’; I’ve not published and not sure I will – I may completely rewrite it, take the plot, take some of the characters and rewrite the whole thing. The end of the story is – I hoped when I wrote it, quite exciting, escape from death, a shoot up in the depths of a Welsh forest, but there is a misunderstanding between the two main characters, which is eventually righted on the last few pages.

When I finished it, all those years before, I kept on following the characters story in my head… and rather than it be happy ever after, it occurred to me that after such shocking events, and even with the happy ending, in reality the two main people would be quite traumatised, and it would probably effect their relationship. Their lives couldn’t go back to how they had been in the before, because they would always remember the horror.

I didn’t write a sequel to ‘Farholm’, another of my novels and the first I published, but again, the story of my characters, in this case Deke and Michael carried on – and I actually wrote quite a lot of it down. I was tempted to follow their lives – ad maybe I will one day… or maybe I will just take the idea of what happened to them and write about that with new characters.

In ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ I did write about the afterwards – before the novel begins Rosa is in a hostage situation, and the man who has taken her is shot dead, standing right beside her with a gun to her head – I’m not spoiling anything by revealing this! My story explores the effect of this on Rosa, her husband, her friends, and the person who may be stalking her – or is she imagining it, haunted by what she experienced?

I saw these swans and their cygnets…


… and seeing them swimming along towards the little bridge was like the action in a story – and look there I am, the shadowy observer!


… and after they have gone, there is just the merest trace of their trail through the duckweed, the event happened, and it left its trace!


Over the last two weeks I have shared excerpts from my novels about Thomas Radwinter who traces his  family history, and then later investigates other people’s stories, and not just genealogical ones, but mysteries in their everyday lives.

For the next month I am going to share excerpts from my other novels, starting with the opening chapter of ‘Farholm’, the first novel I published:

Friday 27th September

If this bloody boat hits one more bloody wave then I am going to throw up.
It hit a wave. She held on….
Which is more than the woman next to her did.
With a groan of despair, the green faced woman vomited all over the legs and feet of the man sitting beside her.
Ignoring the potential danger of such a move, Deke hoisted herself on her crutches and lurched to the side, shoving a fat boy out of the way. She hung over the rail, clinging onto the slippery edge, staring down into the slick sliding grey green water.
A half-remembered line from childhood sang in her mind ‘the great grey green greasy Limpopo.’ Oh my God, and her stomach churned and heaved. She retched and her mouth flooded with saliva, and sweat stood up on her top lip.
Deke held on and stared towards the horizon and the island.
She shut her eyes.
She was beneath water looking up and there was someone between her and the sun, holding her down, holding her down.
She opened her eyes and opened her mouth to gulp air.
She was on the ferry to Farholm Island.
I could swim there, it’s so near I could swim there. Keep looking at the bird shit stained cliffs, keep your eye on a fixed point.
The island was maybe a half dozen miles long humped up at one end like the shoulders of a beast and dropping down towards the east where the crested tail twisted round enclosing the harbour.
She could hear the angry voices of the spew soaked man and the green-faced woman’s husband.
“What the hell am I supposed to do?” one of them yelled, interspersing his words with expletives.
“I don’t bloody know and I don’t bloody care!” yelled the other.
Deke risked looking over her shoulder. A half-naked man was striding barefoot towards the back of the boat where the toilets were. The woman’s husband was holding out a pair of jeans at arm’s length, his wife still puking into a pair of trainers she held in her lap. It was so bizarre that Deke laughed, and then the port side rose up towards her on a huge wave then smacked back down and Deke gagged and turned away to hang over the gunwale, her crutches, heavy, awkward wooden props, slipping from her.
Her throat constricted and her stomach churned. She closed her eyes again and the vision flashed, under the water, under the water, holding her breath and under the water as she was held down.
“No, bugger it no,” and she opened her eyes, controlling the desire to throw up and clung on, staring at the rocky cliffs which hardly looked any closer.
“Want a mint?” said someone.
“Thanks,” she replied through gritted teeth, not daring to shift her gaze from the land ahead.
“Nearly there, only twenty minutes,” the man who had handed her the mint restored the crutches to her. He was big and blond and had a red scarf tied round his head. He looked like a pirate. He walked off and up the companionway to the bridge.
The rolling stopped as the boat turned and headed straight at the little harbour. Deke stared at the huddle of buildings beyond the harbour and the single storey cottages spaced around the bay towards the end of the island where the castle was. Above the clustered buildings was the church, its graveyard spilling down the hillside, the gravestones like a congregation standing waiting for a sermon to commence. On the western side of the harbour the land gradually rose into steep cliffs and there were only a couple of buildings, the last appeared to be a Swiss Chalet with brightly coloured flags hanging limply over the balustrade.
Her eyes filled and she sucked hard on the mint, thinking of the dozens of times she had crossed the English Channel or had been sailing and never once felt as awful as she did now in this forty minute crossing. She had vomited this morning at the thought of coming here, throwing up with nervous dread; now was trying not to be sick again.
Her view was blocked as someone pushed between her and the fat boy. It was the man who had been spewed on. His legs and feet were bare, the blond hairs snaking over them glistening where he had washed. His face was set and angry, he was not amused.
“Watch where you’re putting your feet, you little get,” he snapped at the fat boy.
“Don’t you speak to my son like that,” the boy’s mother snapped back.
The boat turned again and rolled as it hit a large wave and spray flew over them and the line at the gunwale staggered, mother, boy, man and Deke and her crutches went again and she couldn’t keep upright and she slipped and fell onto the swimming deck.
Oh let this end, let this end or let me die.
The man heaved her to her feet and the boy retrieved her crutches and then they were into the harbour and chugging peacefully across still water.
“Oh thank God we’re here!” Deke exclaimed to the man as she thanked him.
He didn’t reply but marched back to the seats and picked up his backpack and swung it onto his shoulder.
“What the hell do you want me to do with these jeans and trainers?” asked the green woman’s husband angrily.
There was a grinding screech as the boat drove up onto the slipway and a shudder as the ramp crashed down.
Deke waited for the first rush of passengers to pass before she hobbled her way to the chair where she had left her bags. There were no fixed seats, only metal and plastic chairs, reminiscent of school. She looked round for the young woman who had helped her board. She caught sight of a bright pink top and shining silver blond hair as the girl walked up the slipway beside the bare-legged man who’d pushed himself to the front. Women and children first? He didn’t care, what a pig.
Everyone was shoving to get off, most of them holiday makers, eager to get onto firm land. Deke let them go, there was no point in trying to negotiate her way until there was room to manoeuvre. She watched the families gather their children, the seasick to gather themselves. Now she felt reluctant; coming here was stupid, the whole scheme, conceived in anger, planned with revenge in mind seemed a bitter and futile gesture.
She sunk into a trance, staring back across the channel towards the mainland, and when she blinked the boat was empty.
She couldn’t manage her two bags at the same time. The taxi driver had carried them from the flat and then to the station where a guard took over. At the other end he had helped her to another taxi and the driver had organized her at the ferry terminal.
She took her bag and held it awkwardly, trying to grasp the crutch. She couldn’t do it so she tried to manage with one crutch like Long John Silver. The bag was too big and it unbalanced her. Why had she not realised this? It had been so easy when taxi drivers and railway guards and the silver haired girl who had helped her. She would have to leave the bag, get ashore and try to find someone she could send back for it. She stood on one leg to get her backpack over her shoulders.  The straps interfered with the crutches but she would have to put up with the pain.
The tip of one of the crutches skidded in a pool of sick. She swore obscenely. Right, god damn it, she would leave both bags, get off this sodding boat and send someone to get her things. She slid the pack off her shoulder onto one of the seats.
“You still here?” it was the blond sailor who had given her a mint just in time to save her from projectile vomiting into the water. “I’ll give you a hand, m’dear. I’ve just got to wash down the deck then I’ll be with you.”
She sat where he directed and watched him with the hose and brush. He whistled as he sluiced the deck, glancing up at her every so often. He finished, reeled the hose, stowed the brush and then ran up the companionway.
He was back in a few minutes with a couple of men.
“See you in a couple of hours!” he cried to the other two and slung Deke’s backpack over one shoulder and picked up the bag.
With his free hand he grasped Deke’s elbow firmly and helped her towards the open front of the boat. She staggered as the boat rocked and the ferrule of her crutch slipped on the deck.
Her companion stopped as she steadied herself. Deke staggered again and bit off an exclamation as she put weight on her left foot. The man slid the backpack onto the deck and dropped her bag. Without warning he swung Deke into his arms, her crutches, still wedged under her arms, sticking out preposterously. There were shouts of laughter from the other men and ribald comments.
Deke was carried off the boat and set down on the concrete slipway.
“I’ll get your bags,” and he strolled back onto the boat grinning at the catcalls and insinuations.
Deke was embarrassed and angry. How dare he make a fool of her! On the other hand, at least she was off the boat.

Here is a link to Farholm:


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