Thursday, 2 April 2015

Remember the 2011 London riots?

I am currently writing the fifth Penwinnard story, probably to be called 'Season of Storms.'

Today, I did some research  into the 2011 London riots - they have a (probably small)  part to play in the novel I am writing. Remember the event?   Londoners must have been horrified. I am far away from London. I was utterly shocked.  Civilised England, and this happens! 

While most articles about it emphasised that the rioters were of all races, a few had the audacity to point out that the rioters were overwhelmingly of ethnic descent, some blatantly said 'black.'

One article that  I read with interest was this one -

Daily Archives: August 12, 2011
Not as white as they are painted

Robert  Henderson
His article highlighted the way that reports twisted themselves inside out trying to pretend that the riots had nothing to do with race. Political correctness does not like it when the facts are unpalatable.
The vast majority of those involved were recent immigrants, some, the children of immigrants. It is said that the police were so frightened of being called racist that they were reluctant to interfere when (mostly) blacks started looting shops and burning the cars of strangers.

But as Robert Henderson points out - no problem can be solved by refusing to properly and truthfully describe it.  In particular, race relations are not improved by fostering a sense of grievance in those who consider themselves the underdogs. There is no need for whites to crawl to those we are trying to help, and there is no point in emphasising and exaggerating past crimes, often 'crimes' that were committed with the best of intentions.

The following words are his.

'What should be done? I suggest this. All attempts by government to appease ethnic minority groups should stop. No more money for community leaders, ethnic based charities or public projects which promote the interests only of minority ethnic groups.  All the laws such as the Race Relations Act and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000  which give de facto privileges to ethnic minorities and prevent honest objections to immigration and its consequences should be repealed.  The police should be banned from playing the role of political commissars and get back to honest coppering; catching villains  and maintaining order. Institutionalised political correctness should be stripped from public service  and any organisation which receives public money.  Most importantly, politicians and the mainstream media should  stop incontinently  promoting the liberal fantasy of multicultural heaven and recognise that it is not heaven but at best purgatory.'
I would add that reporting should be accurate. It is not up to journalists to filter the facts to the current mania for being politically correct.

Note that I do not agree with everything that Henderson said. Some were, if not flatly wrong, at the very least with little evidence to back the claims.  And yet he has some very good points.
 Obviously, the suggestions of Henderson (above) were ignored. Four years later, and we are still trying to solve problems without ever defining the problems - and being 'racist' if we do.
So now we have the massive problem of widespread Islamic terrorism - Muslims who take their religion to extremes. It is almost obligatory to hastily add that this is 'only a tiny majority.' But for a 'tiny majority,' they seem to be remarkably effective, and worse, more flock to them every day. If only those Muslins were a little more selective about which tenets of their faith to follow.  (Oh, yes, I said Muslim. It is not a mere coincidence that 100% of Islamic terrorists are Muslim.) 
The Koran says:

'He that fights for God's cause fights for himself. God needs no man's help.'
but also, 3:156 - 'If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, His forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches they amass.'
and: 4:93   'he that leaves his dwelling to fight for God and His apostle and is then overtaken by death shall be recompensed by God. Surely God is forgiving and merciful.' 
and even:  2:216, p32
'FIGHTING is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not.' 
 The Koran frequently contradicts itself, but there do seem to be more clauses in favour of violent jihad than there are against it.
But what if you would like to convert, and then you would no longer be an infidel.  Unfortunately, it appears that for some of us, it is not possible.

p191,  16:37 - Strive as you may to guide them, God will not guide those whom He confounds. There shall be none to help them.
32:13  Had it been Our will, We could have given every soul its guidance. But My word will be fulfilled: 'I will surely fill Hell with jinn and with humans all.'
2:1  As for the unbelievers, it is the same whether or not you forewarn them; they will not have faith. God has set a seal upon their hearts and ears;  their sight is dimmed  and grievous punishment awaits them.
and: 2:10  There is a sickness in their hearts which God has aggravated:  they shall be sternly punished for the lies they ever told.
So this 'god' has aggravated sickness and confounds hearts, so for some of us, there can be no turning to Allah. We are doomed to remain unbelievers who will ultimately face tremendous punishment.
Just a tad unfair, you might say?
4:56  Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. Surely God is mighty and wise.
'God is mighty and wise.' It's a tremendous irony in that context, don't you think? 
In short, I am with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam. 
(Ayaan Hirsi Ali is author of the book 'Infidel' among others.)
And yet, there are similar things in the Christian bible, probably similar in the holy books of the Jewish faith (some, of course, they hold in common.)  The difference is that a miniscule number of Christian and Jews decide to wage war on civilisation. I would say none, but I suppose there could be a madman here or there. 
Quotes taken from 'The Koran' translated with notes by N. J. Dawood, Penguin Books, 2006 edition.
My message is this: 
* Shun political correctness when it gets in the way of facing facts.
* Facts should never be deemed unsayable.
and, in fact:
* Political correctness run mad has set the scene for religious extremists to run mad.

One of the main characters in my fifth Penwinnard Story is Mutty.  His full name is Mutana Wirta, and he is described as 'black as coal with an impish grin.'
Expected publication date, November, 2015.

The cover shown is not final, though maybe something like it will be.

And thank you to Elijah for allowing me to use his image.   
Meantime, there are four other Penwinnard Stories to enjoy. They are set in a Boys' Home close to the imaginary village of Ryalston in Cornwall. 
To find my books, check your favourite online bookseller, or try either of these links.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

'The War Within,' by Don Tate.

Note: this review contains spoilers - though not, I think, anything that will make the read any the less worthwhile.

I have sometimes thought that young men think of nothing but fightin’, drinkin’ and rootin’. One things I gathered from Don Tate’s autobiography is that I was more right than I could ever have believed. It is unusual to find an autobiography that shows all the worst aspects of a person, rather than the best aspects, but this one does.

He was raised rough, the eldest of a large family and his father a criminal, though rather a stupid one as he regularly spent time in prison. And his father encouraged fighting, hitting his sons so that they become accustomed to being knocked down and then getting up again.  Learning how to use your fists seemed natural in that environment. A chipped tooth or a bloodied lip or nose was part of the ritual, a quick way to learn how to defend yourself. ‘Keep your guard up,’ our father would say, giving me a clout on the chin, then when I did defend myself, he’d put one into my breadbasket and knock the wind out of me. That brought the second part of the lesson: ‘Keep your elbows together when you’re defending.’

It is the story of Don Tate’s life – he gets knocked down and he gets up again.

But as he writes it, Don Tate is not an admirable character. Women are for sex, and men are for fighting, usually with little reason.

Indeed, by the time he is in the army, he appears to be  a perfectly despicable man, violent and unpredictable, with little regard for any civilised values - this view is from his own story in his own words.  There was an incident in which he and a mate threw a ‘Chink’ off a train, didn’t know whether he was dead, injured, or unharmed, but their only thought was that they should ‘create an alibi’ so they would run less risk of being charged with a possible murder.  And  about that mate – Doug Peterson.  Tate saw him as  a good mate.  He admired him.  I’d seen him beat the living daylights out of a woman once in a back alley outside a club in George Street, and when I’d gone to intervene, he’d threatened to bash me as well.’  And later: Peterson was talking:  ‘Ah, me and a mate of mine from Rottnest picked up this abo whore,’ he said, ‘and we took her about twenty bloody miles out of Perth for a good rootin’. We bought her a bottle of gin, and she reckoned we could have whatever we wanted in return. But the bloody bitch drank the whole bottle by the time we got there, and was pissed as a fart and raving like a lunatic, and started jackin’ up about it all. Big bird she was too, a real fuckin’ heifer. Anyway, we gave her a bit of hurry-up and she came across for both of us eventually, and we roughed her up a bit for the fun of it afterwards because she was a slut.’

As I said, despicable.
Tate at Kapooka training camp.

And yet, there are hints that there was always another side to his character, which he barely mentions. Early on, there was something about writing competitions and doing well at English.  It was so buried in other things that it was easy to miss. And while in Vietnam,  ‘He’d put me out as an early-warning sentry in a bamboo thicket while the rest of the blokes were digging their shell-scrapes for the night, and I’d taken the opportunity to whip out a notebook. I was working on a poem to my mother when he crept up behind me.’  A poem for his mother? It doesn’t fit with the tough, uncaring, semi-criminal he depicts himself as.  He also took photographs, including film, another example of a creative streak.  

Does Tate have a deep self-hatred that he prefers to show the worst aspects of himself?  I think he may be judging himself as worse than he is.  But what do I know?  It is so very far from my life experience.

The Vietnam War, and Tate was heavily involved in action from the very first patrol. He sees battles, he sees injustice, he sees incompetence, and he sees the wrong men getting the medals. It is ugly. And the 'R & R'  breaks could also be ugly. He and a mate went into a rough neighbourhood,  'ficky fick'  is offered, and they are happy to take advantage. But the woman his mate was using started to bleed - a miscarriage.  ‘I didn’t know the ins and outs of what he’d done. But what I saw in that bowl, that night, swimming in the pool of blood, wasn’t just a dead baby, but a measure of their lives when it was all added up. The sum total of all of them, the people of that war-torn country, with us and the Americans going berserk in it. Their lives were just a bloody mess.’

Tate was very badly wounded, and his war ended - at least that particular war. He spent around two years in hospital including twelve months in a full body plaster. For a formerly active man, it's a wonder he was able to remain sane. He has a real resilience. In spite of everything, he battles on.

It was when he was in hospital that he met Carole, the woman who was to be his wife. Carole sounds a wonderful woman, understanding and forgiving. And there was a lot to forgive at times, as he still liked fighting and he still liked women. 

Even when handicapped by a permanently ruined hip,  Tate still thinks it’s a good thing to have a fight – ‘manly’ or something.  A large part of this attitude was his stupid father, no doubt. Tate's father was not much of a man;  it didn't stop his oldest son loving and admiring him. A comment from his father that very much pleased him - ‘Jesus, you can blue these days. I didn’t think you could go that well. Good onya!’

The years passed, jobs, children, fights, infidelities, but also in this time, Donald Tate went back to school, and eventually qualified as an English teacher. And again he makes little of this at the same time as he details those things he is not proud of.  Or is he proud of them?  Most people hide away their more stupid actions, but Tate displays them defiantly - like 'Judge me if you dare.' 

Tate was always a battler. He battled other men, he battled circumstances, and he battled the histories -  his unit had been wiped from history. It was largely because of Don Tate that it was corrected. 

And still he battles. There are people who deny what has been officially acknowledged, and people who call him a fraud - he calls them 'gutless bastards.' But he has had official acknowledgement that all he has claimed is fact. That is quite enough for me; I would not dream of calling this man a fraud.

He battles himself as well. He has lived a life with a sort of aggression that is foreign to most of us. After he made an attempt at suicide, he found himself with a therapist. After many, many sessions, the therapist points out a few things for him - ‘You survived a harsh upbringing, and helped raise your brothers and sisters in a difficult time. You risked your life and fought for your country. Only a small percentage of men ever get to do that. I know you saved some schoolgirls from something terrible one time too, and never got any recognition or reward for it. I know you were bashed on other  occasions, while you were a teacher, which you haven’t even told me about. I’ve done some research of my own on you, Don Tate. I know more about you than you think. Yet, despite all that, you kept at it. You gained a university degree. You’ve received community honours, even a medal, I understand. I heard you played representative sport at one time, despite your leg problems. And you’ve stayed married to your wife Carole all this time when many, many veterans haven’t. And you’ve raised a family you can be rightly proud of. What more can you ask of yourself?’

Any man or woman who sees war action is scarred by it.  Tate says that the images would last a lifetime - ‘the impact of that bullet smashing through the bones of my hip joint; of straining to run through that mud into the storm of machine-gun fire; of the bodies at Thua Tich, sprawled in the dust, broken and bloodied, and again, on the way into Xuyen Moc, shredded; of the shattered leg of ‘Doc’ Dann; of the hatred and despair in the eyes of the mother of that dead fetus, and the stink of it, and the blood, drip, drip, dripping; and of those first dead bodies on my very first patrol an eternity ago, torn asunder, the eyes open, yet unseeing; and the weight of a dead mate, carried out on my shoulder on bamboo poles.’

Tate has had a great deal of ill luck in his life, he has lived with pain ever since that bullet ripped apart his hip joint, but in one thing, he was very lucky - his wife.

'My greatest treasure had been the wife and children I’d been blessed with, and to a large extent I’d failed to fully appreciate them. While each of my children had grown into a fine adult with a professional career, with not a single black mark against them, mostly they’d forged their own way. I’d been too concerned with figuring out my own path, making excuses, looking for answers. Sure, I took pride in them, and in their successes, but it was all their own doing, nothing to do with me. In that alone, I realised, the cycle had been broken. The sins of the father had been appeased.'

It has been a privilege to read this book. It has opened  my eyes to a life and a character so far removed from my own experience. There are not many books that make a change to a reader's world view. This one does.

The sad reality of a war.

Some of Tate's film -

ADDED 2nd  APRIL, 2015:

Another review- as a comparison:

Has there ever been a memoir in Australian literature like Don Tate’s “The War Within” (Murdoch Books)? It is a complex, virtuoso analysis of his world- an utterly compelling and profoundly unsettling mosaic.
On the one hand, it is an acidic dissection of the role environment and family have in developing a person’s character, and on the other, it is a sauntering chronicle of social analysis and injustice. Either way, it is told brilliantly. At times, one is almost left breathless.
Let me say, Tate spares neither himself, nor the reader in this tome. He is unabashed, and unrepentant. His is the voice of a generation past, delivered with scant regard for political or sexual correctness. There are astonishing sequences- from sexual and physical abuse; sexual awakening and deviation; teenage delinquency; violence; the clamour of jungle warfare and gut-wrenching descriptions of the aftermath; war atrocities; the corruptions of history (and the human cost); love- pure and simple, and lust; and the simple joys and tragedies of life. And underpinning it all, the pervasive fear that there is a spiritual force manipulating it all.
At its simplest, “The War Within” is about the evolution of a man’s mind and character, and of those events and characters that influence those processes. Thus, we grow with him as he struggles to make sense of the most intriguing series of apparently, unrelated events ─ a life, criss-crossed with drama, trauma, and controversy.
We first meet Don Tate at age ten ─ a shy, yet capricious ingénue living in the dystopian Brisbane suburb of Ellen Grove, and then grow up and old with him in turn, as he comes to terms with being a disaffected youth; a patriotic, but naïve infantryman fighting in the Vietnam War; an alienated, disabled, returned serviceman battling to readjust to a new world; and a man struggling with male status anxiety - a condition apparently inexhaustible in its capacity to cause suffering. Along the way, Tate examines the dark crevices of the male psyche as the morally bankrupt adult is forced to confront and battle both his inner demons and the dazzling decency of his long-suffering Christian wife, Carole. Ironically, although she enters late in the narrative, it is his wife- physically and spiritually beautiful, whose goodness under fire provides the most striking counterpoint to the author’s roguishness. It is her unconditional love that provides the social and psychological safety net that keeps the author sane in the face of incredible adversity.
Part of this memoir’s richness lies in the fact that although there is a simmering anger beneath the text, Tate can find hope and colour in the worst of the greyness in his life. Yet, above all, this memoir is a celebration of the human condition, of a man with a can-do, cavalier attitude to life and his desire to rise above mediocrity.
“The War Within” deserves to stand apart as an outstanding contribution to this country’s rich heritage of memoir. As at least one other viewer has commented ─ a must read for every Australian.




Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Berlin Wall in 1976

From an old Travel Diary.

 September, 1976.

West Berlin was a bright, sparkling modern city, neon signs flashing. We had a very short time in Berlin, two hours' sightseeing, and one hour's shopping. During the sightseeing, we saw the usual statues and large buildings, also the Soviet War Memorial (well guarded) and the Olympic Stadium. An incredible feeling - that that was where Hitler actually was.

And then of course, THE WALL.  Quite a low wall, unimpressive, with no extra markers or anything on the West Berlin side to show that if you climbed over, you would be shot dead. There were signs to warn you that you would be leaving West Berlin, and many slogans painted on the wall (about ten feet high, I suppose)  and when you could see over, there was a wide bare strip, with soldiers in pill-boxes here and there, and barbed wire, and alert-looking Alsatian dogs. And another fence further into East Germany. It did look utterly impossible to get across undetected. So many people killed there, trying to cross that narrow strip of land!

And just over the wall, too, was a little rise under which was Hitler's Bunker. The scene of so much history, Berlin,  and now how strange it would be in that bustling city - a city in the middle of a foreign and hostile country.

At 11.00 am, we left Berlin, though the Checkpoint, which took quite some time, and then the long drive through East Germany. Almost immediately after crossing the Border, we were in country-side. We didn't really see East Berlin at all - except a little over the Wall. A few small towns, but mostly emptiness, so depopulated does East Germany seem in spite of her wall.


 'Freiheit für alle' means 'Freedom for all.' 
25 years ago, the wall came down.












Monday, 3 November 2014

Islamism and its dire consequences for civilisation

PLEASE EXCUSE:  The odd spacing and changes of font size are the result of BlogSpot being uncooperative today. I have been unable to fix it. 

ISIS and all the other Islamist groups - They are enjoying unprecedented success, converts are flocking to them, and even in long-standing Islamic states, the more fundamental (and women-repressing) factions are gaining ever more influence.
And they are brutal, not merely the terrorist groups such as ISIS,  but the Islamic nations that are usually accorded the respect that any nation is granted.  But they are not civilized in the way that a Western country is civilized. 
Iran:  Typical is the story of Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British woman with Iranian citizenship who was sentenced to a year in prison for attending a men's volleyball game.  Iran was progressive in the 60s and 70s, but then reverted to brutality under the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.  Any progress back towards civilisation since then has been minimal.

Nigeria:  The Islamist group, Boko Haram, led by Abubakar Shekau, denied the Nigerian government’s claimed peace deal, and says that the schoolgirls abducted in April this year have been married off. They ‘converted to Islam,’ he said.  Well, so would I 'convert' if the alternative was multiple rape and then death.   Shekau said he was not interested in peace, but promised ‘war, striking and killing with gun.’

Pakistan  Another terrorist bomb this morning. (3rd November, 2014)   'Credit' has been claimed by two separate Islamist groups.

And do you remember Malala Yousafzai,  shot by the Taliban for encouraging girls to seek education?  After she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year, she received vile threats. 
"Characters like Malala should know that we are not deterred by propaganda of [non-believers]. We have prepared sharp and shiny knives for the enemy of Islam," tweeted spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan. 

Religious police beating a woman.
   Afghanistan:   When the Taliban took charge in the 1990s, they forced women into burqas, a covering so severe they cannot even see properly. Trying to cross a road, for instance, would have to be a nightmare.
Even worse, women were not permitted to work or even to go out without a male escort. Remember the marches that widows staged at the time? They only wanted to eat, and to eat, they needed to work. 'We are not political;  we are hungry.'

So what happened to them?  I presume some starved, others were maybe taken in by relatives, and probably some arrested, never to be seen again.
The Taliban were forced back, but now that the US has left Afghanistan, it is only a matter of time before they return and take control. Again, women will be beaten for imagined transgressions against 'morality.'  Muslim men have always had a strange idea of morality, especially that it only applies to women.   
2002 Bali Bombing
Indonesia, 2002:  A Bali nightclub was bombed. It killed  202 people, most of them Westerners.  The culprits were apprehended, not very quickly, imprisoned, though not for as long as warranted, a few even executed, but others allowed to continue their recruitment activities while still in prison. It is almost as if the Indonesian government really doesn’t mind if a few hundred Westerners get killed now and then.  

Amrozi smiles, Indonesian Policeman smiles.
Even while in prison, the bombers were treated more as heroes than as despicable criminals.     More information on this site:
 referring to Amrozi -
'We would like to remind you of his smiles, seen here after his capture, and the smiles he gave in the court room. We would like to remind you of the thumbs up he gave in the court room when they handed down his death sentence. He has absolutely no remorse for any of the people he murdered or maimed. We would like to remind you of the attitude of the police who arrested and questioned him. How they shook his hand in front of the cameras, the same way an important person is greeted. We would like to remind you of the smiles of the police officers, who were very happy at the media attention but clearly uncaring about Amrozi's crimes against humanity.'

Meantime, Australia gave Indonesia money to improve their hospitals, and with them, pretended that the unfortunate incident was a mere aberration.

Saudi Arabia:  On March 11, 2002, a fire at a girls' school in Mecca killed fifteen people, all young girls. They were hindered from leaving because the little girls were not sufficiently covered. I guess the poor vulnerable Muslim men might have been unreasonably tempted by the sight of school girls running from a fire.
In Saudi Arabia, the death penalty is not reserved for offences that civilised people regard as serious, but can be imposed for adultery, ‘false prophecy,’ blasphemy, and apostasy. Apostasy is when a person who was Muslim decides to be Muslim no more. 

Saudi Arabia is not the only country that would punish this 'crime' with death. It is a major reason why Islam is such a powerful religion. 

A second reason is that religious schools 'teach' by having the children repeatedly chant passages from the Koran in at attempt to learn as much as possible by rote. This is a way of making sure they don't think too much about the content. It is brainwashing.

The third reason is that the Koran features such frequent and such dreadful threats of  eternal punishment in Hell that people are reluctant to decide it is nonsense - just in case it is not.  

22:19 - 'Garments of fire have been prepared for the unbelievers. Scalding water shall be poured upon their heads, melting their skins and that which is in their belly. They shall be lashed with rods of iron.'
35:16 - 'As for the unbelievers, the fire of Hell awaits them. Death shall not deliver them, nor shall its torment ever be eased for them.'
76:1 - 'For the unbelievers We have prepared chains and fetters, and a blazing Fire.'
4:56  Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. Surely God is mighty and wise.

Quotes from the Quran taken from 'The Koran' translated with notes by N. J. Dawood, Penguin Books, 2006 edition.

Every now and then, I hear that 'Islam is a religion of peace.' But I've recently read through the Koran -  research for a recent book.  I do not recall much about 'peace.'  The most notable aspect are the repeated threats of terrible punishment for 'unbelievers.'

In Western countries, most of us were scarcely aware of the clash between Sunnis and Shiites. I only discovered that it was happening in our own Sydney suburbs when I went looking – one would never have known from the news on TV or even from newspapers,  (maybe if one read very, very thoroughly?)   

The scene after the shooting
Today, (3rd November, 2014)  a Shiite preacher was shot by a Sunni Islamist. In Sydney, outside his mosque. That it was even stated is something new.  It appears that the Sunni/Shiite conflict is no longer to be covered up in the media - maybe they thought it might be construed as racism.  I suspect that we are quite often denied certain news for this reason.
Many of the current religious wars started as clashes between Sunni and Shiites, but now ISIS, among others, is killing everybody - Christians, pagans,  other Sunnis.   See this site for an article about their killing of Sunni tribesmen -  -  'Public executions and mass graves: ISIS targets Sunni tribe in Iraq.'
Is this the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it? For the civilized world, is it that our policies of tolerance and 'multiculturalism' are going to mean the end of tolerance and multiculturalism?
Maybe it's time for intolerance. We should not tolerate erosion of our freedoms and we should not tolerate those men and (a few) women who are trying to destroy our way of life. We should not tolerate curbs on our freedom of speech, curbs that are scorned by those who preach hatred of us and our freedoms.
  We cannot allow fanatics to throw away civilization and take us back to the 12th Century - a new Dark Age.   

Western civilization has given us a great deal. We live peacefully, and in the main, prosperous lives. Ours are the countries that refugees strive to enter - peaceful countries, free countries, countries with a good standard of living. 
 Muslim countries, on the other hand, are the ones who are responsible for so many of the refugees. Islam is most certainly not a peaceful religion.

 We have been very generous in taking in refugees. We have promoted tolerance and we have adopted the policy of multiculturalism - tolerating and even encouraging new immigrants to maintain the culture of their old countries, even turning a blind eye to things we find distasteful, such as the forced marriage of young girls. 
Many new immigrants have peacefully assimilated and become valuable citizens. Too many have not. They have taken, but not given.  They have assumed all the rights of their new country, but refused to assume the responsibilities.  And too many have brought their old conflicts with them.

 The Islamist threat is a real threat. It should not to be dismissed as exaggerated or unimportant because it is somewhere else far away, and it certainly should not be dismissed as 'racism.'   There are Christian fanatics as well, maybe fanatics from other religions, but they are not the threat that Islam has become. It is no longer good enough to pretend it is not happening. This is serious.  

Peace.  I hope it continues.

And to those who would kill for Allah and to bring an end to the freedoms of a civilised world,  I would remind you of a clause in the Koran:
'He that fights for God's cause fights for himself. God needs no man's help.'







Thursday, 30 October 2014

The story of Michael Redford, by DJ Bennett.

'Hamelin's Child' by DJ Bennett, was a favourite of mine from the time I first read it.  I now have the series of three books  - real books, not ebooks. They are kept in my permanent collection - those books that are worthy of reading again and again.

It has recently been featured on an excellent review site -  Book Addict Shaun.

This review tells it far better than I could, so (with permission)  I have reproduced it here.

Hamelin's Child by DJ Bennett (5/5)
Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Michael Redford died on his seventeenth birthday – the night Eddie picked him up off the street, shot him full of heroin and assaulted him.

Now he’s Mikey and he works for Joss. With streaked blond hair and a cute smile, he sleeps by day and services clients at night. Sometimes he remembers his old life, but with what he’s become now, he knows there is no return to his comfortable middle-class background.

Then he makes a friend in Lee. A child of the streets, Lee demands more from friendship than Mikey is prepared to give. But the police are closing in on them now and Mikey’s not sure anymore who he really is – streetwise Mikey or plain Michael Redford.

Hamelin’s Child was long-listed in the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. A thriller set in the seedy world of London's drug rings, this book contains strong scenes and adult material.

By Shaun, of Book Addict Shaun:

I was browsing Amazon when I came across this book. The author very kindly sent me a review copy and I couldn't wait to start it. With some glowing reviews on Amazon I started it with a bit of trepidation at what to expect. Debbie Bennett has written one hell of a story here, one that will pull at your heartstrings and have you experiencing every emotion possible as you read. At times the story becomes so difficult you almost want to put the book down, but it is just too gripping to do that. 

Michael is approached in a bar by a stranger when his girlfriend is occupied with another man, the stranger spikes Michael's drink, taking him back to a flat in the East End where he is kept prisoner, raped, shot full of heroin and sold for sex. We see Michael, or Mikey, go from a normal teenager to a drug addict, so dependent on the drug he will do anything for it. Debbie has captured the mind of the male teenager incredibly well. We really get inside Mikey's head, and start to understand his thought processes. At times he is confused and angry, coming across sometimes like an adult yet retaining that childlike vulnerability that teenagers still have. Sharing the house with a boy named Lee, Mikey wants to escape, but it isn't long before his drug addiction prevents him from doing so. His friendship with Lee starts to develop further, leaving him even more confused and angry at the things he is thinking and feeling. You do want Mikey to escape and find freedom but at the same time know that there won't be much of a story if that happens. Lee has an adult voice despite being younger than Mikey, and this isn't due to an author fault but the fact that Lee has had to grow up very fast.

Debbie writes with such knowledge about the subject of drugs and the world Mikey finds himself in that it adds a greater feeling of authenticity to the novel. Scarily so at times which left me wondering just how she knows this world so well. A look at her biography says she worked in law enforcement for 25 years. Perhaps that's where it comes from but the book feeling so real draws more emotion from you as a reader, parts of the book were read by me with a lump in my throat, my heart thumping in my chest. In the background we have Mikey's sister Kate looking for him, the only one in her family that doesn't think he ran away, she thinks there's more to it. These parts of the book I didn't enjoy as much, and found myself wanting to get back to Mikey's part of the story. Events halfway through though change drastically, meaning I was hooked on the book and simply unable to put it down.

What was all the more horrifying for me is how real this story felt. Walking around London, or indeed any major city in the UK you very rarely take notice of the people around you. In a club especially, or on the street outside, a man walking with a younger man and taking him down a side alley might not draw much attention. It's scary but it is also true to life. In London now there are people living the life that Michael unwittingly found himself in, and there are men preying on the vulnerable. It's a very human story, with very realistic characters not just in Mikey and Lee but in the people keeping them prisoner. Eddie, who kidnaps Mikey, and Joss, the owner of the flat the boys are prisoner in are as evil as they come. Very rarely have I felt hatred for a fictional character more than I did for these two men. It's a very thought provoking book. Mikey makes a number of choices throughout the book that aren't perhaps the ones you think he should but it makes sense because of the person he has been forced to become. It's impossible to say how you would react in this situation and you really agonise along with Mikey as he struggles to make sense of things.

More often than not you finish a book and move on to the next one. However when a story affects you as much as this one - I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn't reading the book - it is incredibly hard to just finish it and move on. Because of how real it felt, the character of Mikey is so vivid in my mind that you almost want to reach out and help him, I am still thinking about it even now. It's hard to reccommend a book like this, does it have a particular audience? I think not. I think if people look beyond the blurb, rather than being put off I'd urge people to pick it up. It makes you grateful for your own life. It would make a parent hug their child extra tight at night and make all of us more wary of those around us when we are out and about. You only need to read the news to know stories similar to Mikey's kidnapping appear far too often.

Never once is the book predictable. You have an idea of what's going to happen and then Debbie takes you on a completely different path. The ending knocked me for six, I was speechless, sitting staring at the book long after finishing it. It's a heartbreaking ending, but one that demands you read the sequel, which is just what an author sets out to achieve. I have a review TBR which scares me, yet this book was so good I just don't think I can wait very long to continue the story. If this was a film or a TV show, the ending is so dramatic that there would be an audible silence around the room as the credits rolled. It stunned me and left me speechless and if I'm honest a bit upset. This definitely isn't a book to miss, and those that might perhaps be put off by the subject matter should totally look beyond that, and give this book a chance. 

Debbie has written other books as well, among them, one about a character in the above series - Lenny.  There is to be a second one published around Christmas - 'Ratline..'

These books are available on all the usual online sellers,
including Amazon. 
The author DJ Bennett

People who like Debbie's books, are also likely to enjoy my own Shuki Series. It is not that they are the same, or even very similar.  And yet there is something they have in common, something that is quite hard to define.  I think it is something about the way that the central character takes the reader along with him.  

'From boy of the slums to Oxford Graduate, this is the story of Shuki Bolkiah, modern day eunuch.' 


The fourth and final of the series has just been released, available in ebook or paperback from.  Each of the books is complete in itself.

Buy from online sellers such as Smashwords. Amazon and The Book Depository.