Post 76 – Happy days in my Land of the Green Harp

It started in Limerick, where my grandfather Timothy was the Mayor and made toffees on the side. His lovely wife Fanny was a wino who persuaded their gardener to pop out occasionally to buy whiskey, which she hid under the bed. We moved later to County Clare, where my grandma Mary Rose had once carried secret messages for the local Fenian rebels. This was fine until one night the Scottish Black and Tans – most of whom had been released from jail as British and Irish soldiers fought on the front line in France – surrounded  my grandma’s house at Stamor Park and were about to set it alight when a sympathetic Irish cop with rank arrived and stopped the murderous auxiliaries.

I enjoyed school holidays in the beautiful Burren country that gave us weeks of rural bliss each summer – although there were also seaside visits to Lahinch and Kilkee, where girls might smile invitingly as lads blushed on the seafront. One day, I visited an old cemetery outside the town of Ennis, where my uncle was buried. He had worked as a bank clerk in Ennis, where he fancied an attractive young woman. But she had fallen instead for a more robust footballer, so my uncle migrated in despair and joined the wartime British Air Force. He kept in touch with the family in County Clare, but as he returned one morning from a bombing mission over occupied France, the Germans targeted his plane and downed it in the English Channel. His body was brought back by some RAF friends in civilian clothes and buried discreetly in the old Ennis cemetery.

There were difficult school years later with the Holy Ghost Fathers, where rugby dominated, and if you couldn’t play with aplomb, you’d be allocated to substitute or touch line duties. But I got on well with a nun who ran the infirmary, and I was occasionally sent to collect prescriptions for the holy sister. This gave me a chance to sit in central Dublin cafes and watch as interesting ladies passed by – with occasional smiles. I progressed to study medicine, but I soon tired of examining the skins of tomatoes and cutting up fish as we progressed through a pre-med year of physics, chemistry, botany and zoology.

The Archbishop was not happy about my then switching over, with my good mother’s permission, to the still mainly Protestant Trinity College, which was where my life really started. We had students from Northern Ireland, England, the US, Africa and Asia. But it was young women crossing the cobblestones on our Front Square who really caught my attention. As a Catholic lad, it was perhaps a little unusual for me to chat with Doreen, a delightful Protestant girl from County Antrim, whose father commanded a British Navy frigate in the Mediterranean. And then there was Harriet, a London socialite, who insisted that one should always tend more towards being a little adventurous with romantic interludes. I fell in love many times as I wrote short stories for small college magazines and occasionally drank too much when surrounded by excited student actors from our Players Theatre. This usually led to more adventurous excursions to the pubs off Grafton Street – and in particular to the one where actors, writers and poets congregated.

I fell quickly for a young Abbey actress who lived in a room above a newsagent’s not far from a pricey hotel on St Stevens Green. When she wasn’t acting on stage, she did bit parts for movies at the Ardmore Studios, and she quickly had me enrolled as an extra on a Somerset Maugham film where Kim Novak had a lead role. All that was required was for me to fasten up a newly positioned top button on a tweed jacket, which gave an Edwardian appearance of sorts, and got me a grin with a nod from the Hollywood director Henry Hathaway.

I eventually began to take trips out of Dublin and headed first for West Cork where a friend’s family lived in the once almost exclusively Protestant Castletownshend. The rural life from Kinsale to Skibbereen and in between had great appeal, along with warm winds from the nearby Gulf Stream. But it was in the Castletownsend pub that I met a whole new group of expat writers, most of whom had been attracted by Ireland’s generous tax allowances for people who tapped into their imagination to write stories – some of which rewarded the scribblers with decent pay cheques. ‘And you’ll have another Guinness maybe?’ one of them generously suggested when I had tried my first half pint of the enticing stout.

Could I perhaps write stories and live tax free on the proceeds in Ireland? It was indeed a tempting thought, but after a brief gap year job on the Athens Daily Post, I was recruited as a junior leader-writer on a London tabloid, which required that I should occasionally mock the Germans in sixty words while praising the virtues of British farmers in one hundred and twenty. I missed my lovely Land of the Green Harp, although I was still able to return occasionally for holidays that usually started in the pubs off Grafton Street and then progressed to the enchanting Burren country in County Clare, followed by maybe a brief trip down to see a tax-exempted expat writer or two in West Cork.

The Amazon Author Page for all of my books is on   There are also #FREE chapter #extract links to my other stories + pieces of sometimes disgraceful (and occasionally sleezy/erotic!) journalism on ‘contents’ above or on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

Post 75 – Holocaust memories are grim … but what awaits us in the future?

I walked from my hotel in Prague along by the Vltava river until I reached the old Jewish cemetery at Josefov. It was quite small and did not in any way give an indication of how many Czech Jews were sent first to the local detention camp at Terezin and then on to the German extermination camps of Auschwitz and Treblinka in occupied Poland.

I thought briefly of my family members who had fought with the British Air Force and the US Army to defeat the barbaric Germans. We were lucky I guess to survive. For if Hitler’s troops had reached the United Kingdom and Ireland our lives, and those of our children, would have been very different.

I was pleased to make a small contribution in Euros towards the upkeep of Prague’s old Jewish Cemetery. But I could hear an ancient clock tower bell announcing that it was now mid-morning – so I hurried through narrow little streets until I reached the Old Town Square. The cafe I needed was nearby, and I could see an attractive young woman sitting at a table on the terrace. She smiled as I approached, and I was reassured by her recognition.

‘Phil,’ she said, extending a delicately manicured hand. ‘You do resemble the last photograph I saw of you in New York.’

It is not always a good idea for journalists to be photographed with pieces they’ve written. But Bella Samirov was a joy to meet, and my hands shook slightly as I sat opposite her and a waiter appeared.

‘For me, I think orange juice,’ she said – ‘and you Phil?’

A large Irish whiskey would have been very welcome, but I thought it best to hold off and went for coffee.

‘It is a pleasure to meet with you,’ I told Bella, ‘and I really do appreciate your agreeing to see me here in Prague.’

‘There are many memories, Phil, which for me are frightening. I was born in London and grew up in the States … but my grandmother escaped from here on a Kindertransport train in 1940 while she was still a girl. All of my relatives who remained were deported to the camp at Terezin, which the Germans referred to as Theresienstadt. They were then taken to Auschwitz or Treblinka in occupied Poland, where they were exterminated.’

I had read about this, but it was a little surreal to be sitting here in Prague with this beautiful young woman – most of whose Czech Jewish family had been murdered by the Nazis.

‘Did your grandmother speak to you about what it had been like here in Czechoslovakia before the Germans arrived?’ I asked, and she nodded slowly.

‘It depended on where you were,’ she said after a moment. ‘The Czechs were anti-semitic – especially amongst the Catholics. But we were also hated in the Sudetenland and in Slovakia. The Slovaks actively assisted the Germans in deporting us to the concentration camps – and it was much the same in Bohemia and Monrovia. In all we lost almost a quarter of a million of our people, although many more Polish and Russian Jews were eliminated by the Nazis … but today there are less than four thousand Jews in what was Czechoslovakia.’

My hands were shaking again beneath the table when our waiter returned with a smile and a tray with coffee and orange juice.

‘Later, I will take you for lunch, Phil, with some Jewish people I know whose family survived the Holocaust here in Prague. It is maybe good for you to meet them … I mean, I am essentially just an actress in the States with a few scary memories … but I would like you to tell me about how you see the future now for all of us in the West.’

In other circumstances, I could have chatted amicably for hours with the beautiful Bella Samirov. Right now though, I needed to try and focus on the world we lived in so that I might be able to answer her question.

‘It is difficult,’ I said after a while. But her gorgeous pale blue eyes were still waiting for a response. So I whizzed my thoughts discreetly around ISIS lunatics with nukes; the awful possibility of Donald Trump being elected as our next US President; Putin going completely mad in the Crimea and the very real possibility of the rightist Front National taking over in France – with the even more scary Pegida neo-Nazis toppling the saintly Mrs Merkel in Germany. Eventually, however, I came back to the heroic US and UK pilots, sailors and soldiers who had seventy years previously saved us from the awful Adolf and an army of Japanese maniacs.

‘Bella,’ I said as steadily as I could. ‘It goes up and down all the time wherever we are … but I think that what is good and what we value usually survives and triumphs in the end. I’m afraid I haven’t been to church for a while … but I do believe that we have a lot to celebrate in the West … and if we continue to make progress together, I’m sure the world will be a better place for all of us.’

For a moment I thought I might have lost her, but gradually her lovely blue eyes brightened again into a smile.

‘Phil,’ she said, moving her delicate hand across the table. I wasn’t quite sure about how I should respond, but I moved mine from my knee to the table, where Bella touched it lightly.

‘You are right,’ she said quietly. ‘I strive to feel like that when I am occasionally overwhelmed by what happened here in the late nineteen thirties and early forties … but now I want to take you for a walk around this fine old square … with perhaps a visit to the church we all love.’

The Amazon Author Page for all of my books is on   There are also #FREE chapter #extract links for my stories on ‘contents’ above or on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

Post 74 – Looking back at 2016 … OMG – no!!

So what happened in the year just passed? A nice enough – but not very effective – lawyer President Obama prepared for retirement as the weird-haired Trump emerged with a popular snarl – ‘we’re gonna screw you Muslim bastards – an’ for starters, you’re not welcome here in the US of A … so go fuck yourselves in the deserts … or maybe just drown as your rubber boats sink off the Greek coast!!’

Angela of the once Nazi Germany said: ‘Our borders are open, so come you saintly Muslim refugees and enjoy life here in our thriving West.’ A nice thought – only the rightist Pegida voters in Germany said ‘no – and if you continue with this Mrs Merkel – we will send you to the equivalent of a political Auschwitz – ya!!

There was a lot of talk around transgender issues with Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn. ‘I am a woman now’ she declared. ‘So look at my legs, boobs and hair … and think of what we might get up to together … only I’m not quite finished down below my waist yet!!’

Here in her gracious Majesty’s still occasionally United Kingdom a chunky Sunday Times columnist posed provocatively in a bathrobe while clutching assertively at a bottle of fizz. She was not entirely enticing, but she gave us an ostensibly lurid taste of what we might expect – with red toe-nails and a bespectackled smile (of sorts).

We have a rather large underclass in Britain that costs us around £30b a year – they don’t work and they are mainly into drugs, alcohol and mental health issues. There is a black guy in our Stoke Newington council car park who sidles up to hapless women as they leave their cars and implies that he has mental health deficiencies as he requests monetary contributions. The scared women usually respond with pound coins – or fivers at Christmas – after which, the ostensibly loony black beggar goes to the nearest betting shop, where he frequently wins!

We are a bit soft and overly liberal in Stokey, where the delightful US WholeFoods is a winning target for thieves. They wander into the store with a smile, snatch whatever they can get away with, and then sell it on in nearby pubs. Our cops are aware of this, but right now they are more preoccupied with terrorism and what might happen if black robbers are seen to be targets for police with guns who feel that they must fire if it is necessary.

Along with ISIS and encounters with beggars, robbers and addicts seeking methadone at local chemists, there have also been reports of assertive gay cruising, late night parties and copulation on the gravestones in our once sacred and lovely old Abney Park cemetery. But right now we are more concerned about the lure of ISIS for our migrant Pakistani and Asian youngsters. Previously, frustrated Islamic fundamentalist teenagers spent their time slashing the tyres of Hassidic Jewish residents in London’s Stamford Hill. Now, however, their focus has changed and they are heading for ISIS enclaves in the Middle East and North Africa.

A semi-literate British Islamic boy recently posted an image of the severed heads of opponents impaled on railings in Syria. He referred to them as street decorations for the Muslim festival of Eid. He then went on to describe Jews as ‘parasites’ and called for them to be ‘put back into the gas chambers’.

Let us hope that 2017 is a bit better all round!!

The Amazon Author Page for all of my books is on   There are also #FREE chapter #extract links for my stories on ‘contents’ above or on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

Post 73 – Mary Rose and the Rebels

In February 1916 there was snow over the Burren country in Ireland’s west Clare. People in the towns and villages were wrapped in warm coats with wool blankets for the old folk and children. In Ennis, Mary Rose Casey made sure that groceries had been delivered to her Stamor Park home and that the youngest of her children was happy with her nanny. She then walked from her house past the old Friary and up the street to Slattery’s.

People in the bar nodded and smiled towards her, for she was a popular woman. A barman gestured discreetly towards a curtained corridor as she passed and then paused outside a large oak door. Inside, six men sat with tea around a table. They all looked up as Mary Rose entered, and she was warmly greeted by Michael McMahon.

‘You may not have met Mary,’ he said to the others, ‘but she has been doing great work for the Fenians, and we hope she will join us in Dublin for our Easter Rising.’

Mary Rose smiled at this and took a free seat at one end of the table.

‘Do you have any news for us, Mary?’ McMahon asked.

She kept her head down as she composed herself and then looked up to quietly take in each of the Fenian Volunteers.

‘The Black and Tans are coming here tomorrow,’ she said slowly. ‘We think they are going for Brian Fogerty – so we need to warn him to get his family out of the house by midday … and he should go too, because if he doesn’t, he may be shot … and whatever happens they will burn his house to the ground.’

The Volunteers shook their heads and then clenched their fists in anger, for they knew that Fogerty was not an active Republican, although he clearly sympathised with their cause.

‘This is only going to get worse,’ McMahon told the Volunteers. ‘These Scottish bastards have been sent over here to intimidate us … but we’ll be ready for them when they attack us … and we’ll need all of you.’

An ambush might account for six or eight of the hated Scottish Black and Tans. But their murderous activities against peaceful Irish folk were escalating, and a gesture of defiance was surely needed.

‘We’ll stop these Scottish bastards tomorrow,’ McMahon said, ‘and we’ll find a safe house for Fogerty and his family. But the rising has been confirmed in Dublin for Easter, and we’ll need all of you there, along with as many more as we can get from around the country to raise our flag.’

For now, there wasn’t anything else to say, other than for each of the Volunteers to shake hands with their leader and nod respectfully towards Mary Rose Casey.

‘We’ll meet here again in the morning,’ McMahon said, ‘and your guns will be in the cellar as usual … so god speed and good luck to you all.’

When the men left, Mary Rose got up and walked over towards McMahon with a warm smile.

‘You’re doing a fine job, Michael,’ she said, which caused him to blush slightly, for he felt the same about her.

‘We don’t know how it will go tomorrow, or indeed with the Rising, Mary,’ he said quietly. ‘But the time has come now for us to make a stand against the British … and we must do all we can to stop these evil Scottish criminals they’ve sent over to bully us into submission.’

For now though, their families needed them. But before they parted, McMahon took Mary Rose’s delicate hand. ‘You’re a grand woman,’ he said. ‘And if the King’s criminals go back to England, I’ll want our first Irish President to give you a gold medal with a harp on it.’

There was more to say, but they each had pressing commitments. so they just gave each other a smile and allowed their eyes to linger briefly on each other before they parted.

The Amazon Author Page for all of my books is on   There are also #FREE chapter #extract links for my stories on ‘contents’ above or on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

Post 72 – Political chaos in the UK … but my editor is getting hysterical about missiles & bombs!!

The gracious Queen Elizabeth is now Britain’s longest serving monarch – and she’s in great form. At Westminster, however, Members of Parliament are confused and concerned. For the ludicrous Labour lefty candidate Jeremy Corbyn has just emerged as the party’s next leader.

I am invited for lunch at the House of Commons by a Ministerial Advisor, and his hands are shaking with excitement as we take a drink on the terrace.

‘You realise, Phil, that this could give our Conservatives another ten years in power,’ he says.

Oh yes – I can see where he’s coming from. No sane Brits are going to vote for Labour if it is led by a lefty loony who wants to squeeze the reasonably well off while shaking hands with Islamic State sympathisers in the Middle East and North Africa.

OK – so if Labour is finished for now, what exactly are the Tories going to do over the next decade or so?

‘It’s pretty clear, Phil,’ my man suggests. ‘We’ll revive the economy, so that everyone benefits … and Britain will once again be great – literally!’

So we’ll have happy days ahead – but what about those nasty Islamists who are getting into mustard gas and may soon move on to missiles with nukes? There are drunken Labour MPs crowding us out on the House of Commons terrace, so we must go inside for lunch.

‘The thing is, Phil,’ my Ministerial Advisor contact says when we’re settled at a quiet table with a bottle of Prosecco. ‘We have to finally take on these bastards and deal with them. There are no other options – and I think the Americans would agree with us on that.’

I’m thinking of drones fired by RAF or US Air Force pilots on the ISIS strongholds in Syria, Iraq and North Africa. But I seem to be slightly out of the loop on this.

‘The drones are fine for individual targets,’ my man says. ‘But we’re now seriously looking once again at boots on the ground – and it will be a fight to the end.’

Well – it’s an interesting prospect. But when will this new strategy be implemented, and in the meanwhile what about the hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants who are pouring into Europe and streaming towards Germany.

‘Merkel’s people need some migrants,’ my contact says in a low voice. ‘The Germans are ageing and their birth rate is rather low.’

OK – but what happens when some of these nice Muslim migrants wake up to the fact that maybe our values in Europe are different to theirs? We’re quite into materialism; we like to make money and improve our lifestyles, and we’re not altogether in love with Mohammad and his followers.

‘Whatever, Phil,’ my Ministerial Advisor contact says resignedly. ‘We can’t keep these people out at the moment … so we just have to hope that they will join us and settle in.’

Right … only I’m thinking of 9/11 in the States and 7/7 here in the UK. Hundreds died and there were more to follow. A US Army Muslim Major woke up one morning and felt Allah was suggesting that he should murder some of his troops, which he did. Then there was the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris and there have been countless other incidents where Muslim migrants in the west have suddenly decided that they want to kill us.

‘How do you respond,’ I ask my Ministerial Advisor contact, ‘if voters feel you’re so far off what they’re after that they start voting for the extreme right?’

We’re pretty tolerant in the UK – but if pushed, we could well end up voting for UKIP or the English Defence League neo-fascists who want to deport all Muslim migrants from Britain.

‘This won’t happen, Phil,’ my now slightly rattled Ministerial Advisor contact says after a second glass of Parliamentary Prosecco. ‘We can embrace these people and ensure that they integrate peacefully with us … we have a lot to offer that is greatly appreciated.’

Another bottle of pricey Prosecco has arrived, but our phones are ringing.

‘Phil!’ my editor shouts. ‘Downing Street has been hit by a missile … and we have reports of explosions at Buckingham Palace and in the City. We don’t know what the fuck is happening … but can you check out whatever you can get … and if you see any Muslims with beards take pictures of them on your phone. I mean, this is serious man … it could be the end of what we’ve come to accept as our way of life here in the UK … and Christ – maybe everywhere!!’

@WriterRowan   #IAN Author Page:  http://bit.ly/1CapXQX 

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Post 71 – Comedy icons Lena & Amy fool around with guys & girls … but there are scary Islamic omens for sexy infidels!!

‘I’m not fat – just a little tubby,’ tattooed Lena tells the boys as she wanders around wearing a g-string and bra. There is some talk of work and places to live followed by eye-catching silences as faces come closer and mouths connect. The sex is frantic as passion surges, but next day the partners move around and chatterbox virgin Shoshanna squeaks ecstatically as she’s deflowered.

Lena Dunham is bright and popular and she’s moving up rapidly in the comedy world. Recently, in rural France with no internet or TV we watched some episodes of Girls on a computer – interspersed as weeks passed with Mad Men and Peaky Blinders. I couldn’t take more than two episodes of Girls at a time, and I kept wondering just who the cafe owner Alex might end up with as he engaged traumatically with Hannah, Marnie and Jessa. Adam, the carpenter/actor kept bundling Lena/Hanna across furniture and onto carpets before rag-dolling her with consummation in bed; but he seemed  to have difficulty in speaking + some psychologically challenging problems. While Marnie, a singer in the making, sought meaningful love while coping with disastrous liaisons.

Back in the UK, I discovered Amy Schumer, and I’m still reeling from what I’ve seen of her ‘Talking Dirty’ and ‘Trainwreck’. UK Sunday Times film critic Camilla Long says she’s ‘vulgar, dirty, drunk, trashy and frightening,’ and goes beyond all known boundaries. At the Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco she’s tall and blonde with great legs and a raunchy but knowing smile. In ‘Talking Dirty’ Amy starts by telling us that she doesn’t like guys coming on her face, thighs or stomach. She then moves on to ‘ass play’ which starts with a finger and is followed with allusions to uncircumcised members with ominously grey ‘hoods’.

She tells us of a condom getting stuck in her cervix  and there’s no question but that she can say the filthiest things in the sweetest manner. We hear of sex being too athletic with her former professional wrestler boy-friend Dolph Ziggler. “The first time I was like, ‘oh this is cool. Nobody ever rag-dolled me’ … But soon he was spinning me like a Globetrotter.”

Many of her fans applaud everything she says and want more – but there are exceptions, like in Lyfyette, Louisiana, where an agitated gunman opened fire during Amy’s ‘Trainwreck’ movie. He killed two women in the cinema audience and wounded nine others.

There has been talk of girls on girls with Lena and Amy – but Amy seems to be more into guys, with nostalgia for an incident where there was just one erect member, but no balls (or grandparents!). I guess it’s good to have a couple of sharp, sexually oriented female comedians, but one wonders – just a little – where it’s all going.

Perhaps if Allah’s Islamists go nuclear over our perceived decadence, we may be comforted in our radiation shelters with re-plays of Lena and Amy indulging our frail but now wilting fantasies. When we hit Muslims with the Crusades almost a thousand years ago, they faltered and collapsed. Now, however, these guys are back with a vengeance. They want to nuke us in the West, but why? Well … it’s complicated … but Allah’s extremists claim that we’ve passed beyond redemption with our overly indulgent lifestyles and sexually obscene pleasures … so Lena and Amy – we love you … but maybe you need to pull back – just a little!!

@WriterRowan   #IAN Author Page:  http://bit.ly/1CapXQX 

Post 70 – Transgender Challenges!

‘A British Army General has proposed that transgender soldiers should be permitted to fight on the front line. Up to now, women who were once men and men who had gone for being women were not permitted to go into military combat. OK – so Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox might – well just possibly – have made it as combat troops in the US or UK armies. But what happens if transgender recruitment seriously escalates and the new troops are posted to Islamist territories in North Africa or the Middle East? Wow – it’s too awful to imagine.

Let us consider a scenario where six male and female transgender troops are on a bombing raid in Iraq, Syria or Libya. They are being trained by straight sergeants, but something happens to the engine of their plane and they have to make an abrupt parachute exit. They land safely in the desert, but as they try to call their base, they are suddenly surrounded by ominously black Islamist flags. A few shots are fired, but the new arrivals are soon overpowered.

They are then led blindfolded and manacled to an ISIS enclave where they are separated. But within minutes ISIS guys are yelling and dragging naked and ostensibly male and female Western soldiers out into what was once an impoverished town square. The male captives appear to be women below the belt area and the women are definitely guys in the same parts. Unfortunately, none of the transgender military captives have had sex re-assignment or alteration surgery, which can be pricey, and certainly more than the cost of growing or cutting one’s hair.

The Islamists, however, are going berserk with shouts about infidels and abominably decadent Westerners. One refrains from thinking about or describing how the captivity of these unfortunate transgender soldier prisoners may end – but it doesn’t seem too promising. And at the very least one assumes that our military top brass may have to reconsider future assignments for our male or female transgender soldiers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What might or might not happen to decent transgender male or female troops if they were captured by Islamists in North Africa or the Middle East is perhaps just speculation. So maybe it is best to withdraw from current military combat zones and take a break in our liberal and much loved California.

I wanted to check out a rumour about a Mormon cattle bandit in Nevada, so I motored up from Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I left late so I had to stop off in Las Vegas, which is a very unusual and interesting place. The hotel I found was on the Strip, and it was a popular gambling haunt with smoking permitted at the tables. When I entered the building I saw a couple of guys who seemed to be walking in a way I associated with women. But what the hell, maybe they were just a little on the camp side, which is normal enough on occasions.

Over dinner, however, I saw some people who looked like women. I mean, they had breasts, dresses and high-heeled shoes. But without exception, they walked in an assertively male way with their shoulders swinging backwards and forwards. Maybe I was just confused, so I had another wine and a brandy with my coffee. I then wandered around the hotel and quickly became aware of the fact that many of the people I saw who looked like women were in fact guys wearing female clothes, and many of the guys dressed as men had a distinctly female aura about them. So what exactly was happening in this quaint hotel on the Las Vegas Strip? ‘It’s a transgender convention,’ a baggage handler told me discreetly at the bar. ‘They come here because we’re pretty tolerant, and they feel OK about walking around on the Strip.’

I was so confused by what I had experienced on my first night in Las Vegas that I couldn’t sleep. Lesbians and gays were pretty normal within my limited experience – I had good friends in both gender categories … so no problems. But what about these guy/girls and girl/guys who seemed to have booked most of the rooms in my hotel. How would I cope if I had rear view mirror eye contact with a rather macho guy/girl in an Uber cab? Should I grin and say what a lovely day it was, or get involved in a transgender debate? And likewise with the girl/guys – a bit of neutral banter perhaps?

My most pressing concern, however, was to do with what might happen if good transgender Brit or US troops got captured by ISIS. It wasn’t something I wanted to delve too deeply into. So I took off the next morning for Nevada. Well – whatever way you looked at it – Mormon cattle rustling bandits were a bit more straightforward than lovely transgender persons who might instigate Islamist caliphate lunatics towards a second crusade … albeit almost five centuries after the first one, which the West fortunately won!

@WriterRowan   #IAN Author Page:  http://bit.ly/1CapXQX 

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Post 69 – Is this weird woman lusting after Adolf?

My flight to Athens is diverted to Munich and we’re told that we’ll need to enjoy a twenty-four hour stop-over. Well that’s maybe good news if you’ve got some time to spare, which I haven’t. But the cab driver is an affable fellow and before we reach my stop-over hotel he tells me that we’re in the city’s main square at Marienplatz, ‘and that Mein Herr is our famous Glockenspiel. So I glance up at the crazy bunch of miniature figures that dance occasionally. The centre of Munich is indeed impressive, but I need some fresh air, so when I’ve checked into my hotel I go to look at the English Gardens. Already, there are groups of Germans in lederhosen quaffing massive glasses of beer in the rather agreeable green space, so I get myself a sample ale and sit at a small wooden table beside a flower bed. I’m reading a European edition of the New York Times when an attractive woman stops by with her coffee.

‘You are English?’ she asks.

More Irish American, ma’am, I guess. But I just nod with a smile.

‘So – if I may join you … yes?’

Of course – we might be able to talk about the state of the world, or Munich.

‘Hitler liked this city,’ she tells me. ‘And especially here in what we call the English beer Garden.’

Really – well, I’m not sure if I want to talk too much about Adolf or the Holocaust or the experiences of brave survivors like Primo Levi.

‘I am Brigitta,’ she tells me, and I guess she’s somewhere in her thirties. So I say I’m Phil, which gets me a welcoming smile.

‘And you know Phil that these are not good times for us just now?’

OK – Greece is imploding and Putin’s getting ready to topple the Ukranians, while Islamists work on how they might nuke the rest of us in the West. But I guess it has been worse.

‘Of course it has,’ Brigitta retorts sharply. ‘And we dealt with it, Phil.’

Oh my God … is she saluting Adolf here in the Munich Beer Gardens?

‘You think that because we are Germans we are somehow an evil nation that must be destroyed … yes?’

No – absolutely not. Angela Merkel is a decent woman, surely … and whatever about the past … well – it was seventy years ago.

‘I tell you something, Phil,’ Brigitta says, and I’m freezing because she’s leaning towards me and one of her neatly manicured hands is resting and then squeezing on the back of mine. ‘Our world is not good now,’ she says again. ‘There are people out there who need to be brought into line … and I think maybe quite ruthlessly … because otherwise we are doomed.’

This is one tough fraulein cookie I’m dealing with, and I’m trying to work out how I might slip my feet from under our table and perhaps make a run for it. But suddenly Brigitta is smiling and one of her hands is gently stroking my trembling wrist.

‘I have a penthouse studio near here,’ she tells me. ‘It has good views over Munich and you might like to see my paintings?’ Suddenly, Adolf seems to be fading away but I’m in a difficult situation. For if I reject Brigitta’s invitation  she may become belligerent and shout at me. What might my war-time hero Primo Levi have done, I’m wondering ? But my mobile is ringing, so I improvise a conversation. ‘OK …’ I tell my editor in New York. ‘I’m leaving now … and I should be back at the airport again in an hour … yes, of course, sir … absolutely!’

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Post 68 – California is enchanting!

It can be grey in May along parts of the US East Coast, and there weren’t too many swimming at Laguna Beach in California when we arrived. But the small town’s artwork was a delight and there were welcoming smiles along the seafront and at the kerbside cafes. We were staying close by at Newport Beach and the food was so good that I could feel some pressure around my belt as the possibility of second Marguerites loomed!

Our morning view embraced canoeists and windsurfers on a gentle estuary from the Pacific, but after coffee we set off for Santa Barbara: an enchanting beach resort with a long pier and a welcoming hotel. I was already imagining Henry Miller’s pre-WW2 adventures in Paris when we drove the next day up Highway 1 towards his big Big Sur retreat.

Along the way, there were beaches with hundreds of basking seals flipping their tales and half burying themselves in the sand. This 90 mile East Coast run is one of the best in the US, but my hands were still shaking on the car steering wheel as we crossed the awesome Bixby Bridge en route for the Pfeiffer Falls and Henry’s cherished homeland.

Tea on a sunny terrace at the Miller Memorial Library quickly had me back to Henry’s occasionally naughty escapades with loose ladies in Paris during the 1930s. I wasn’t sure if he was still as iconic as he had been in the 1960s, but one of the young interns at the Library smiled as she marked a page in Tropic of Cancer before passing me a souvenir booklet.

Miller was the one who first got me scribbling in holy Ireland, where his books were banned – but I got copies of the Tropics from a journalist friend who had smuggled them in from Paris. I was overwhelmed by the Big Sur ambience that had brought Henry back from Paris in 1939, and I wasn’t sure quite what the rest of our trip might offer. I was wavering as we continued along Highway 1 towards Monterey, but then we suddenly turned right and within a few hours we were in Yosemite, and I was once again bowled over by a California delight.

This National Park is truly the best I have ever visited: one is surrounded by huge glacier mountains and magical waterfalls cascading down for hundreds of feet. The luxurious Ahwahnee Hotel is a great place where our British Queen and various US Presidents have stopped off to enjoy the restaurant splendour in between their excursions around Yosemite.

It was hard to leave this fabulous US landmark, but Los Angeles beckoned with thoughts of  agents and producers in the Hollywood Hills – ‘So Phil, you do dark humor thrillers … now we were wondering if … perhaps …’ Well – who knows … almost anything is possible! But the highlight for me in LA was the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where I saw more Picasso, Matisse and Genet paintings than I ever imagined existed – it was fantastic!

There was a brief excursion to Mesquite in Nevada via Las Vegas for a family visit. This was quite different from East California. But there was great hospitality and some enticing charm. Vegas was like a fantasy world from our sixteenth floor at the Tropicana on the Strip. Almost everyone was smoking and gambling on the ground floor from the moment we entered the hotel. But the highlights were on the Strip – and my only regret is that we missed the Venetian on the canal with accompanying gondolas.

In Mesquite, we heard tales of a Mormon farmer who had allowed his 400 cattle to graze on State land but had refused to pay for the privilege. The authorities decided to seize his cattle, but there were problems. The farmer had called for help, which brought gunmen in from many southern US states. The authorities then backed off, but there are rumours that they will try again and there is apprehension in these remote desert regions about an impending war!

Our final trip was to Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs and Idyllwild. The Little San Bernardino Mountains were a treat, as were stories of first inhabitants who arrived in covered wagons and established farmlands in what for the most part were barren desert landscapes. Palm Springs wooed us instantly. We stayed in a charming little hotel, which had briefly been a home for Elvis Presley and got a free buzz downtown. Here, we encountered many pleasant gays and lesbians in and around the delightful Lulu’s restaurant.

Idyllwild was a total contrast to sunny Palm Springs. As we climbed up along a windy mountain road – suddenly, there was snow: not much, but what a contrast to Palm Springs. The village was cute, but parochial. During dinner and at breakfast the next morning we felt we were being overly observed … so we smiled agreeably, and then moved on.

On our final shopping trip at Fashion Island, which is close to Newport Beach, we discovered a large but welcoming Whole Foods Market with cafe tables outside where we could take a relaxing break. This was quite a contrast to our local branch of the same store in London, which is occasionally targeted by dubious characters who see nice Whole Foods customers as a soft touch for nervous donations.

So I guess I’m faced with a dilemma … for if those nice people in the Hollywood Hills make an offer on one of my dark humor thrillers … then … well … sunny California might beckon me back again from London!!

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Post 67 – Pre-election mischief in the UK!

Elections are usually boring for journalists. But this time in the UK we had seven contenders. They were all shouting and denigrating each other, but my news editor wanted a sensational story that would captivate and excite our readers. Prime Minister Cameron had just addressed the press from a podium outside 10 Downing Street, and we all needed a drink.

‘A bit of quirky sex would liven up the show,’ my tabloid colleague Trevor suggested when our drinks arrived and we ordered sandwiches in a pub close to Downing Street. Men or women straying from their marital beds were frequently our standard fare, and I was presently distracted by a curvy Polish barmaid with an inviting smile. The challenge now, however, was to set up some serious seduction with an irresistible male or female luring a decidedly hapless politician towards political disaster.

‘We have a few Ac/Dc possibilities,’ Mark – a serious guy from one of our more conservative newspapers – suggested. He was thinking of susceptible Westminster targets who might be distracted by another guy or girl. It wouldn’t be too difficult for an appealing young man to catch the interest of at least a dozen of our male Members of Parliament. But I was more in favour of a newsworthy female politician being covertly taken with a hunky fellah. It would make for a better story, which readers would love.

‘So how about …’ I say – only to be interrupted by Sonya, an ascending tabloid star, who was scarily assertive.

‘Get real, guys,’ she told us, crossing her legs provocatively. ‘We need something original – with race and hot sex.’

Great … but how does one do it? Who’s the target, and what’s the bait?

We needed another round of drinks, but Sonya was drawing us in, and I had heard that she was recently seen with a muscular Jamaican footballer – so we were all ears and waiting discreetly.

‘The ideal target,’ she declared, ‘would be a male right-winger who is totally opposed to African, Asian or East European migrants. Someone who is particularly opposed to people of colour coming to the UK, and who is constantly going on about how we need to deport those who are already here.’

There were a few right-wing male politicians to choose from. But who might the seductress be, and how were we to snap the pair of them in bed, naked and compromised for our front pages?

‘That, gentlemen, is your challenge,’ Sonya declared. ‘But I’m pretty sure my editor would pay generously for the pictures.’

Up to now, we had  been fantasising as journalists in a central London pub. We did it all the time, but we were presently in the run-up to an election – and I was definitely interested. I knew an alluring Indian woman with seductive inclinations. We had talked occasionally about venal male tendencies, and I thought she might be up for luring in a nasty right-wing politician. She also had a decent Knightsbridge apartment where, ideally, one might be able to secrete a press photographer in her bedroom wardrobe.

None of us in the pub were sharing our thoughts just now, but I guess we were all homing in on potential male targets for exclusive stories: Parliamentary candidates who were openly averse to coloured residents in the UK; but who might also not be averse to a wink or a smile when an attractive woman of any colour appeared. If  I was to secure a  rewarding front page scoop, however, I needed first to target a suitably right-wing politician with roving eyes and a loose libido. I would then contact and hopefully do a deal with my ravishing Indian seductress … and see how it went from there!

*************

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to honey-trap the anti-immigrant right-wing politician I targeted: a guy who wanted to send all foreigners home; although I did secure the services of my truly seductive Indian lady who winked at the right-winger I chose. He responded with enthusiasm and was delighted to accompany my svelte temptress back to her fashionable Knightsbridge apartment. I had positioned an experienced news photographer in the Indian beauty’s bedroom wardrobe, but as she and the right-wing politician stripped and kissed, our photographer coughed.

He later explained that he was recovering from a winter chill. But as soon as our anti-immigrant politician heard the stifled throat noise, he withdrew from the Indian beauty, rushed to the wardrobe and battered our photographer into a pleading mess. He then took the  guy’s expensive camera and smashed the lens with a kitchen knife before extracting the photographic content. My editor wasn’t too pleased with the result, and I had the impression that I now needed to deliver a decent story within a week, or find alternative employment. A lovely friend helpfully suggested a not too demanding tutoring job at her rural college … and if I could stay off the booze for a while … well – I might just possibly write a piece of fiction!!

 Do check out my dark humor nuclear terror & neo-Nazi #thrillers on my home page above or on my Amazon link    Also, see my ‘contents’ link above or click on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt  for #FREE chapter excerpts from DARK CLOUDS, WEIMAR VIBES, UNDER COVER and HARPS & TEARS