Unintended Consequences

Here’s a little tale I wrote at Holmfirth Writers a week or two ago.  A billionaire give a statement to rebut criticisms regarding his island home ….

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I cannot emphasise enough to you that, while I am very sad about some of the things that have happened here on Paradise Island, everything I have done has been motivated by a deep and sincere love of this island, its unique flora and fauna, and above all its wonderful people.

Please don’t forget that it was my love of this place, and my desire to benefit its people and wildlife, that led me to build a home here in the first place. Remember too that before my arrival there were some serious problems here that I was determined to address. The fact is that, though life for the inhabitants had been colourful and distinctive, in a way that is always appealing to anthropologists, it was a hard life, eking out a meagre subsistence from the limited resources this place had to offer. And in order just to survive, it had been necessary for those people to encroach more and more on the island’s natural ecosystem each year, for the purpose of growing crops, to the point where, after a couple more decades, that unique flora and fauna would have been lost for ever.

So that is why I took it upon myself to build, at my own expense, an airport and a deep water port, to make the island that little bit less remote. It is also the reason why I offered to fund, again at my own expense, the import of all essential food supplies in perpetuity, so the people would no longer need to scratch a living from this thin soil; and, with their agreement, established a nature reserve to protect the island’s natural future.

So I feel it is grossly unfair that I have been blamed for the fact that 40% of the population have left the island and for the prevalence of heroin addiction among those who remain. And as for the AIDS pandemic, I agree that is highly regrettable, but I don’t think I can be blamed for the reckless philandering of certain members of my yacht’s crew, who have since been dismissed – or for the unhygienic practices of intravenous drug users. And, let me add, I responded by establishing a free HIV clinic for residents, again at my own expense.

Similarly, there is the matter of the rats. I have always insisted upon the strictest standards of pest control upon my own vessels, and demanded the same from the contractors hired to provide the island’s free grain supply. By breaching those standards, thus precipitating the arrival of rats on Paradise Island, they have betrayed their obligations to the island, and to me. I have pursued them in the courts with the utmost vigour.

Once the rat infestation had got out of control, there was universal agreement among all parties that urgent action needed to be taken. And the record shows that I did not shirk that responsibility. On the contrary, I acted promptly and decisively, once again entirely at my own expense. I sought out expert opinion and was advised that the controlled introduction of the European Polecat would be the most effective and environmentally friendly way to control the rats. And who can deny that this measure succeeded in its aim. Ladies and gentlemen, I can now declare that Paradise Island is rat-free.

It is, of course, unfortunate that the introduction of polecats also resulted in the extinction of the Paradise Island flightless heron, the Paradise Island giant squirrel and all other indigenous vertebrate species. But drastic problems require drastic measures.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are where we are. I cannot deny that there is still a polecat problem on Paradise Island. But rest assured that a solution is at hand. On the basic of the best scientific advice, I plan to introduce a control measure – a modified form of the influenza virus – and am absolutely sure that this will be the solution to the island’s problems.


[ picture (c) Peter Trimming 2010 ]

Felt Words

A bit of news on an event I’m going to be involved in next weekend.  On Sunday, 24th September, from 3-5pm at Colne Valley Museum, Cliffe Ash, Golcar, Huddersfield HD7 4PY there will be readings of poetry and prose by local writers, including me. I might even be playing a bit of guitar as well!


So, if you live in or near Yorkshire and are free that afternoon, why not go along? Here’s a poem I’m planning to read at the event – this is about as close as I get to textiles!


No Goodbye

We are enmeshed together, you and I,

our roots and branches coil and intertwine.

So do not say that futile word, goodbye


as if these knots were easy to untie.

Your threads cannot be unpicked from mine:

we are enmeshed together, you and I.


Do you forget, or worse, do you defy

the vow we made that binds us for all time?

Do not say that faithless word, goodbye.


This tapestry of love we crafted, why

would you destroy what touched on the sublime?

We are enmeshed together, you and I:


two such as us, if torn apart, must die

or shamble on in pitiful decline.

Do not pronounce that fatal word, goodbye.


All this has been for nothing: in your eye

I see the web beginning to unwind.

We were enmeshed together, you and I;

go now, spare me that final word, goodbye.


The Ghost Village

Today I welcome fellow Crooked Cat author Cy Forrest, whose novel, The Punished is published on Wednesday!  (Why not drop in on the Facebook Launch event at 9pm on 13 Sept?)

The Punished is set in the Dorset village of Tyneham, which was taken over completely by the Army during World War II and remains deserted to this day.  Tell us more, Cy!


the surviving school room in Tyneham

Tyneham in World War Two – What Was It Like To Actually Be There?

Bringing extraordinary events to life in fiction is not a particularly English thing to do. Great English writers Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy did not make readers sweat in the way Scots, Irish, Welsh, American and mainland European writers did.

For example, Scots writer James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) makes you feel dread when the editor’s narrative ends and the confession begins. Space stops me describing the Protestant Reformation here, but Hogg’s juxtaposition of the two accounts is the most extraordinary effect I’ve experienced in fiction. It actually changed the way I viewed the world. I’ll certainly never watch a game of tennis again without thinking about the Protestant Reformation, and maybe that’s a good thing.

I wanted to bring Tyneham ghost village to life for readers. The video gaming industry has been bringing events to life for gamers for decades, and those people are no longer readers. I don’t think the novel is dead yet, but the James Hogg effect is something I’ve been working on for the last four years in an effort to show that historical fiction can be exciting.

I have a family link to the occupation of Tyneham and rare insight. My aim was to bring these three bare historical facts to life:

Wikipedia: ‘The M.S. Factory, Valley was a Second World War site in Rhydymwyn, Flintshire, Wales, that was used for the storage and production of mustard gas.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._S._Factory,_Valley

December 2nd, 1943. 28 Allied ships in the Port of Bari were destroyed in a German raid and gallons of mustard gas released across the city causing an estimated 2000 deaths. Wiki: ‘The release of mustard gas from one of the wrecked cargo ships added to the loss of life. The British and US governments covered up the presence of mustard gas and its effects on victims of the raid.’


December 17th, 1943. 255 people were removed from their homes in Tyneham, or as Wikipedia dispassionately puts it, ‘225 people were displaced.’


These are the facts, but the real people behind them and the legacy have been relegated.

The Punished

England, 1943. The British Army occupies the tiny village of Tyneham and captures Jack after his one-man-stand fails. Commanding Officer Hulford-Prandy forces the eighteen year old to handle BLISS, a deadly chemical weapon.

Jack falls for radar operator Gin, but so does Hulford-Prandy who inveigles Gin into the Special Overseas Executive, sending her to destroy a munitions factory in France and making sure she’s captured. Jack never gets over his loss.

Forty years later, City high-flyer Alexis is cornered by three veiled women at her mother’s funeral. They want to know what happened to her mother, Gin, during the war. Alexis doesn’t know. She doesn’t know why Gin gave her up for adoption, nor why the name of her biological father is a secret, but when she’s scattering Gin’s ashes in the ghost village of Tyneham, as requested by Gin, she meets a loner, Aidan, who knows everything and claims BLISS is still in the soil.

His dire warning sends her fleeing back to London where her boss tells her not to wear tights, slashes her bonus and praises the willingness of a young intern. Summoning her mother’s wartime spirit, Alexis confronts the bully.

She uncovers the truth about Gin and returns to Tyneham where Aidan’s made a huge discovery about BLISS. She follows him into occupied territory demanding the truth, and the American bullets start flying.

I hope you have the chance to look further into what lies behind my writing and, hopefully, you can enjoy my novel for the roller-coaster ride it is. Many thanks to Tim for letting me borrow you all to tell you about The Punished.

Here are the universal links to it on Amazon:




Many thanks for sharing this fascinating story with us, Cy.  Good luck with your launch: I hope The Punished is a big success!