Thursday, 16 November 2017

Horse's teeth

November’s equestrian statistic is that a horse’s teeth all bunched up together are bigger than its brain.

What does Jack think about that?

He doesn’t waste time on thinking when there’s grass to be eaten.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The 93-E Contradiction

Today my first Sci-Fi book is published by Fantastic Books Publishing. I say "book" but it barely deserves the name, it's very short; a Sci-Fi short. The 93-E Contradiction.

I'm seeing it as an optimistic story, by the way. All this climate change stuff... don't worry for the planet. The planet will be fine. It won't have homo sapiens on it for much longer but hey, I guess we had a decent innings. A shame to scupper it all with a series of own goals but that - to push a mixed metaphor to its limit - is what our current circular firing squad of a human race is hell bent on doing.

And meanwhile, there are short sci-fi tales to lessen the pain.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Billy and Billy and Jack: horses of note

This is the tale of three remarkable horses, Billy and Billy and Jack - two old boys and one young whipper-snapper. The question is this: in which camp do we put Jack?

I will start with an old boy called Billy. This Billy was a cob/shire type horse, black with a white blaze, born in 1760. He spent his working life pulling barges on canals for the Mersey and Irwell Navigation Company. The amazing thing about Billy is that he lived to the age of 62. He died in November 1822. There is said to be a lithograph of Billy in a museum in Warrington with Squire Henry Harrison.

From an old Billy with a single lithograph to a younger and much photographed version. This young Billy is bigger than old Billy but also does a job that needs plenty of muscle power and oats in the tank. Under the jockey-ship of Nick Ireland, this much younger Billy won the Young Event Horse Series in his very first season in 2014.

But which of these amazing equines does Jack take after? Perhaps he has more in common with old Billy than young Billy.

Or does he?

Jack once finished a show-jumping course; ‘finish’ being the word, as the owners of the show-ground said, ‘We won’t have to buy in any firewood for a long time, but we’ll have to shell out for a new set of jumps.’

But Jack only made the effort so as to be obliging and as the mystery man pointed out to Megan, you couldn’t really expect Jack to know how to show-jump; he wouldn't have had much call to do it when he was pulling a cart.

Thinking about it, that mirrors things on the Mersey and Irwell canals back in the 1700s because it would have been a bizarre and traumatic circumstance that required old Billy to leap a fence whilst pulling a barge.

So I think we have to conclude that Jack has more in common with old Billy after all. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Horse takes its first wobbly steps

Horse of a Different Colour stepped into the world as an ebook on Friday 22nd January at the launch of Pony Patrol.

Elderly retired Jack, who really thought his cart pulling days were over, let alone anything more energetic, was relieved to learn that for once he wasn't the horse pushed centre stage. That position was reserved for the always popular Harry the Gut whose perenial claim to fame is that he never leaves anyone in any doubt about the real length of an equine intestine.

A royalty from all sales of Horse of a Different Colour goes to support the activities of Pony Patrol.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Made in Space – another tiny step

When a vital component fails, the options are to reach for a spare or go get another one. If you happen to live next-door to a DIY store, those two options are interchangeable. If your nearest store is thousands of miles away, then you’d better be organised at keeping spares on hand. But imagine having no store in easy reach plus not really having the room to carry spares.

That’s how it is if you’re lucky enough to live on the International Space Station. The equivalent of sending for a new part involves a multi-million dollar launch, but you can’t keep two of everything because physical space is at a premium.

Take this a step further and on to the proposed manned mission to Mars. The DIY store is now completely out of reach and the problem of how much you can carry with you is way more of a problem than it ever was on those short hops to the ISS or the moon.

Not that the spare parts problem is the only one or even the main one in the path of space exploration but it’s an issue, and it happens to be one that’s being tackled right now on the ISS where they’re experimenting with zero-gravity 3D printing i.e. making their own spare parts which is the only solution in the long run. If it works, it’s one more step towards further exploration of the universe. And if it doesn’t work, well ... it’s still one more step towards that same goal.

Every giant leap that humankind has made over the centuries has just been the final move in a series of tiny steps.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Who earns money from my book?

I’ll be honest here, statistics are bleak. Chances are that no one, myself included, is going to earn much. However, I’m with Fantastic Books Publishing who work on a profit-sharing model so whether the book does well or badly, we will each earn the same. Added to this, they skim 10% of the book sale profits and give them to charity – a charity of my choice.

This gives me a problem.

I like the idea behind this charity donation. The world is too small a place these days for people to struggle on alone. We don’t live in our own bubble any more. People travel the globe, flying vast distances in very short times. Ocean currents and jet streams move more than people. Weather, pollution and disease are global considerations. The actions of one group can affect everyone. That’s good and bad. Good ideas can be implemented fast. Teamwork can bring quicker results and ever speedier progress. 

And any little thing that I can do to keep that balance firmly on the good side of the scales, I’m happy to do. That includes sharing my book profits with a charity.

But which charity? 

Horse of a Different Colour is a children’s adventure tale, so maybe a horsey charity is the right one. Or I could lean towards the book’s dedication and go for a charity that revolves around space travel. Or I could go in an entirely different direction and pick a charity that has nothing whatsoever to do with the book.

I don’t need to decide:-

  • until the money rolls in <optimism mode>
  • because it won’t sell <pessimism mode>
  • until the money trickles in <realism mode>

But before then, I’m open to suggestions.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A turbulent time for landmarks big and small

Early December is a turbulent time. Looking back at the historical record it’s marked that a lot of wars and invasions have been initiated in December, giving whole swathes of people a miserable existence over the so-called festive season.

What’s that about? Is it just man’s innate inability to learn from past mistakes? But it can’t be that or the human race would not have progressed so far. Is it that we have a tendency to put idiots in positions of power? Could be, but why?

Governance is no easy task. Maybe it’s that governing whole countries is too arduous, energy-sapping and thankless for anyone with their wits about them to take on. Thus the shysters and the ignorant rush in to fill the gap. People with integrity sometimes cry that enough is enough and dive in to do their bit, but it seems the tide of ignorance and corruption runs too high. It simply overwhelms anyone who genuinely tries to stop it. Just look back over the dirty tricks campaigns that have been waged against people, and see how many are shown by history to have been absolutely right.

What I really wanted to find in the historical record was a woman in the creative arts doing something special at this time of year. I found Margaret Hughes. She was an actress who played Desdemona at the Vere Street theatre in December 1660. This makes her possibly the first professional actress to appear on stage in England. Quite a landmark.

[Some sources quote Ms Norris as being the woman who played this role. I don’t know if Margaret Hughes and Ms Norris are one and the same, it seems unlikely, but the Ms Norris quotes all seemed to emanate from a single source that was itself unevidenced, so on the grounds that repeating something a lot of times does not make it true, I’m sticking with Margaret Hughes]

One of my short stories has been recorded for audio release. That’s a huge December landmark for me, even though it won’t make a ripple on the world in general. The bit at the end is going say - and please forgive the uncertainty here; I haven’t heard it yet - something like this: 

The 93-E Contradiction written by Melodie Trudeaux, read by Penelope McDonald. Post production by Simon Woolcott. Executive producer Dan Grubb. A Red Room production for Fantastic Books Audio.

Last word to Alan Wakeman who sums up life so concisely in his wonderful Hamun & Giben

“Truly life is a wonderful mystery,” said Hamun as he contemplated the early morning sun. “Aren’t you sometimes overcome with admiration for it?”

“I can’t think about that today,” said Giben. “I’ve got stomach-ache.”