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

Post 66 – Political tensions escalate as love evolves – from my novel Weimar Vibes

‘Rudi? ‘ Julia Stein asks and I’m holding my breath.

‘Yes – ‘

‘Could we possibly meet?’

My god – of course. This is a very special person; it must be important.

‘Sure – is everything OK?’

‘It’s Saulie. I’m concerned about him, Rudi.’

‘Look, I’m on my way back. I could drop by.’

‘Would you?’

‘Julia – if the traffic’s OK, I should be with you in half an hour.’

There are stripped shutters in the windows at the Stein house. It’s a discreet Islington Georgian place with subtle shrubs in the front that give an impression of controlled wildness.

‘Rudi – ‘ a beautiful, dark-haired woman says when the front door opens. ‘It’s so good to see you.’

She’s got a smile that breaks my heart. Every time I see her I lighten up. It’s my guilty secret: I’ve been smitten from the first day I met her. I’ve even taken to reading the Guardian occasionally, hoping to offer interesting snippets on the sort of stuff that might appeal to her.

‘Come in,’ she says taking my hand. We’ve brushed our cheeks together. My palms are moist and my blood pressure’s shooting up. There’s a short walk to a sun-filled rear living room that looks out over a little gem of a town garden.

Robinia trees sway gently in the wind. The Stein twins smile from a photograph on top of a piano. With their fragrant mother and scrubbed up father in the background, it’s a picture editor’s dream family. The image hurts and makes me wonder where I’ve slipped up.

‘And how is Angela?’ Julia asks.

I’m not sure, but I’m looking on the bright side when I say she’s going along on her journey. Julia nods with encouragement. She understands; she and my wife were friends. They used to spend a lot of time shaking their heads about the state of the world. They would also occasionally go on demonstrations or attend meetings together to discuss the plight of disadvantaged people. Right now though, Julia’s main concern is her husband, Saulie.

‘Could you take him off somewhere, Rudi? Maybe try to cheer him up.’

Of course. We’ll go out on the town … but what’s the problem?

‘He’s not himself at present,’ Julia explains. ‘It’s as though everything’s churning around in his head. I feel helpless, but I can’t explain it. We’re just not connecting and it’s getting worse.’

This is seriously major stuff. My therapist might be able to help with counselling sessions. Julia opens the patio doors. I’m groping for solutions amongst flowers and shrubs in the garden. I will do what I can for Saulie, but there’s still sadness to her lovely eyes.

‘I feel we’re polarising as a society,’ she says. ‘It’s distressing. Did you hear about the fire at the Jewish primary school in Holloway last night?’

I caught a headline on a newspaper poster. It must stir painful memories for Julia. She and Saulie are Jewish. They don’t go to synagogue, but there were family members who perished in a Waffen SS camp outside Prague.

‘It’s all down to low life louts,’ I tell her. Shameless hooligans taking a lead from unprincipled characters who lurk in the background.

‘Oh Rudi –’

‘With a bit of luck, it’s just a phase we’re going through,’ I say with as much conviction as I can manage. ‘I’m sure good sense will prevail eventually.’

I want to believe this, but Julia’s crying. Delicate tears are dropping from her eyes. I open my arms to try and comfort her. The strain is unbearable, because for months I’ve stayed awake at night fantasising about a loving embrace with this woman. The reality is even more awesome than my most tormented dreams.

‘Steady on,’ I’m thinking like it’s a meditation mantra. I’m a solid guy who wants the best for my near-neighbour. The temptation of her enticing breasts is really no more than a tender consolation between good friends.

‘Heavens – I’ve got to get a grip,’ she says, her arms falling away from my shoulders. ‘You must think I’m an emotional wreck, Rudi.’

‘Oh no – not at all,’ I say, pulling back discreetly. I want to tell her that she’s an enchanting angel. Someone I could sit on a cloud with and float up to heaven. It’s a great thought, but she’s coughing and wiping away tears with delicate fingers.

There’s a news item on her sitting room radio about Chileans who’ve been devastated with an unexpected eruption in the Pacific. It’s another of the good lord’s natural disasters: a terrible diversion that demands sympathy. I’m fighting off a tsunami of passion for Julia Stein. It’s getting turbulent inside my head, and my neck’s sweating when there’s a commotion at the front door.

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

Some weeks later, there’s an unmarked police car waiting outside the Cabinet Office. ‘Where to, sir?’  the driver asks.

‘Islington please,’ I tell him. ‘Just up from the Angel.’

I’m thinking of Julia Stein, but my police driver’s radio has something about an incident at the Conway Hall in Holborn. ‘Suspected arson with casualties’. The traffic’s slowing from Covent Garden. ‘It’s the fucking socialists,’ my driver mutters irritably.

‘You mean they set fire to this place?’

‘No – they own it. It’s where they have their meetings. It was probably the Nationalists who torched it,’ he says proudly.

He’s looking at me in his rear view mirror; waiting for a response.

He’s a Nationalist. He’s got one of their stickers on the down side of his sun visor. He shows it to me and I’m back in Germany during the early 1930s. The battle lines are drawn. Munich and Danzig are the initial flashpoint areas. Then, each day, all over the collapsing Reich, there were increasingly violent clashes between Weimar socialists and Nazi Brownshirts. Is it happening here now, in London, and around the UK? In this green and pleasant land that is forever England, or whatever it was the poet guy said?

There’s a stream of ambulances going in and out of Red Lion Square and the Conway Hall is a smouldering ruin. Our political situation is serious, but I need an emotional strategy. If I call Julia, she will see who it is and could ignore me. If I go to her house, she may not open the door. Or if she does, she might close it in my face. Then there’s Saulie. After my piece in The Post, he might attack me. I could call my therapist, only I’m not sure if he can help on this one.

I’ve got a bunch of flowers and there’s a car outside the Stein residence, which I think is Julia’s, so I walk up the steps. I press the bell and move in close to the door. I don’t want her to see me if she looks out from a window, but nothing happens. She could be on the Upper Street and I’m thinking of just leaving the flowers when I hear footsteps. Kitten heels perhaps? Or sensible court shoes? I don’t think it’s Saulie.

‘Hi …’ I say with a big grin when she opens the door. God – she looks good.

‘Rudi – ‘ Surprise at first until her jaw sets. She’s not sympathetic. ‘Why are you here?’

Because I love you, babe. I can’t live without you … we need to talk.

‘Julia … I must speak with you.’

I’m holding out the flowers, which she ignores. I’m expecting the door to close. She was, however, brought up to show consideration for other people. Her good manners are struggling with her emotions. She glares at me before turning to walk back into the house. The front door’s still open and she doesn’t object when I come into the hall.

‘How could you?’ she asks when we reach the sitting room.

‘What?’

‘First you write this ridiculous piece in The Post and then you throw water all over Beatrice in the café …’

‘But …’

‘And I’ve just been listening to the news. Apparently, you assaulted this woman in Athens, where you’re also reported to have made a reactionary right-wing speech. I don’t think we have anything in common any more, Rudi … it would be best if you left.’

I’m in a fragile sailing boat with a force 8 gale coming up. My Neuro-Linguistic Programming anchor isn’t working, so I try the meditation mantra. I’m thinking my sound at the foot of a Tibetan mountain – and yes, I think it’s happening.

‘Julia – I owe you an explanation … please let me tell you what’s happened.’

She’s reluctant, and gorgeous. I want to hold her hand. I also want to kiss her and give her a hug. None of this is appropriate just now however, so I put the flowers on the floor.

‘That thing with Beatrice and the water jug. It was an accident. I stood up in shock when you left the café. I really didn’t mean to upset the table. I owe Beatrice an apology.’

‘And the woman you assaulted in Athens … Fiona McCutcheon.’

Oh Jesus. What I’m thrown by is the speed with which she managed to get her side of the story out. It’s untrue and defamatory, but it was on the BBC news within hours.

‘Julia – this woman followed me into a male toilet. She ripped her shirt apart and said that if I didn’t reveal some information, she would accuse me of trying to rape her.’

‘And how did she get wedged into the lavatory pan?’ Julia wants to know.

I’m doing my best. I give her a version of what happened. Fiona slipped into the bowl, but the flushing was accidental. My elbow hit the lever as I tried to defend myself. It’s not quite true, but I can’t say I deliberately tried to soak this violent woman as she attacked me.

‘And the rest?’

‘You mean my Post piece …?

‘And your reactionary speech … I gather you now favour Plato over Aristotle?’

One day, I’ll get something on this McCutcheon woman. I’ll find a little pointer on how she’s fallen, albeit briefly, from her superior position, and so help me, I’ll crucify her.

‘Julia – I want to tell you something.’

‘Oh yes –’

I’m about to contravene the Official Secrets Act. It’s a criminal offence. I could end up in the Tower of London or Belmarsh Jail, serving time for treason. I’m a very foolish fellow.

‘It’s all a front,’ I tell her. ‘I’m working for the Government. You can, I’m sure, imagine a situation where, in order to deal with the enemy, you first have to speak their language.’

‘I don’t understand, Rudi …’

I’m not sure I do either. It’s out now though. I’m not a fascist. I’m on duty for the Queen. I’m spouting a load of right-wing nonsense in the hope that I may be able to lure a few punters away from my acquaintance Oscar Fuhrer Kerner. If it works, HMG will follow along with the same line. Our Prime Minister will get up and confirm that we’re all swinging to the right.

She’s speechless initially, and vulnerable. I’m edging around the coffee table to where she’s sitting on the sofa. She’s irresistible.

‘I love you, Julia!’ It gushes out, right from the heart. Her mouth opens and closes as I stare into her wounded, doe-like eyes.

‘Rudi … please. This is absurd,’ she says eventually.

‘I’m sorry,’ I blurt, flushing with embarrassment. ‘It’s unreasonable. I shouldn’t be unburdening myself to you like this.’

The phone’s ringing. She’s not sure about answering it, but when I look down, she reaches for the receiver. It’s a friend who wants to speak with her about political prisoners in Chile and Columbia.

‘Let me call you back, Carol,’ she says, considering me from the end of the sofa.

I’m ready to leave when she hangs up. I’ve made a mistake, but she comes back and takes my hand.

‘You don’t need to apologise for your feelings,’ she says, and I think I might pass out. ‘It’s just that we can’t always follow our impulses. Especially when they’re – well, passionate.’

It’s true. I can’t hold back any longer. I’m reaching out for Julia Stein, and she isn’t resisting. We embrace. I feel her breasts against my chest when we kiss. It’s incredible. I’m fantasising, but I imagine it’s what Catholics must experience when they die and an angel tells them they’ve arrived at the Lord’s place in the sky.

‘We shouldn’t do this,’ Julia says dreamily. ‘It’s not right …’

I know what she means. Just for a moment I hold her hand. I tell her how I think about her all the time. She’s the love of my life. I need to kiss her, and she reciprocates. There are tears flowing down over her perfect oval cheeks. We move, somehow effortlessly, onto an Arabian rug. Something else has taken over. The barriers are down. They’ve disappeared. I think we’re about to devour each other.

‘You are a bastard!’ she cries. ‘But yes … yes … now!’

It’s like a call to the colours. I never thought I’d hear it, but we’re there. The stripped pine boards are hard on my knees. The suffering is sweet. We’re together. It’s like an ecstatic symphony. We’re in the throes of our excitement, and the sheer pleasure of it all, when I hear a noise.

‘What the hell is this?’ an ogre screams.

‘Saulie!’

‘You cunt … you fucking fascist arsehole!’

He’s got an Irish blackthorn stick. Julia’s imploring him to be reasonable. He picks up two mugs, souvenirs from an animal sanctuary in Northumberland. One engraved with an otter misses me. It was close, but I get another with a seal on the back of my head.

‘OK, Saulie … look, I’m sorry.’ I shout, holding my bruised skull.  ‘It’s all a misunderstanding. We got carried away.’

I’m the guilty one, mate. I’ll hold my hand up … it’s nothing to do with Julia. It’s too late though. My former friend’s Gucci loafer is coming straight towards my uninsured crowns. I’m not super fit, but I duck. I then manage to grab the turn-up on Saulie’s chinos, which gets him crashing down onto the stripped pine floor.

‘Stop it, both of you … immediately!’ Julia commands.

She’s furious. There’s a steeliness there that’s a total turn-on. She’s holding a flowerpot with a geranium. It’s in bloom, and it shakes as Saulie and I adjust our clothing.

‘I know that anything I say will be inappropriate,’ I tell him … but I think …’

‘Get out of here before I kill you!’ he screams.

It’s scary and I’m worried because he’s just picked up a large pair of scissors.

‘Hey … cool it, man,’ I say reasonably.

‘Piss off, you bastard Nazi!’ he yells. ‘I don’t ever want to see you again!’

To read more or to buy WEIMAR VIBES please go to my home page above,  or directly to my Amazon Author Page on   which contains links to all of my stories. There are also #FREE chapter #extract links to these stories on ‘contents’ above or on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

 

Post 65 – An interview about my writing with fabulous Sasha Sleuth Jill Edmondson

below and on Jill’s blog  http://tinyurl.com/7j7s9m8

For Weimar Vibes on Amazon click here.

 Jill:  When I began research for this interview, I immediately came across the cover image for Weimar Vibes. Love it!  How and why was this image chosen for the book cover and what does the image say about the story?

Phil: This is a fabulous shot of Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg’s 1930 movie, The Blue Angel. I licensed it for the cover of Weimar Vibes because I think it gives a feeling for how it was in the final years of the Weimar Republic – decadent and crumbling, yes, but with a lot of enticing temptation in the night life! My Weimar Vibes story is a dark humour thriller that mirrors elements of 1930s German chaos in the UK and the rest of Europe tomorrow, and I think that Marlene in The Blue Angel gave a great snapshot of this period – as indeed did Lisa Minnelli in Cabaret.

Jill: If Rudi Flynn had a profile on one of those internet dating sites (i.e. Lavalife, Match.com, eHarmony, etc.) what would it say?

Phil:  Age: 39. Height 5’11”; flat(ish) stomach; good but occasionally nervous eyes. Empathetic with women, who frequently feel he needs their guidance. He enjoys occasional windsurfing, followed by lively discussions on the beach about politics – with intermittent gossip. Salsa in the evening with wine and emotional good humour (with maybe whisky later). Flynn is separated from his previous partner who’s now writing a novel about their relationship, which worries him a little. No kids yet – but he’s often had dreams about families. Well … it’s a lovely thought, of course … and he’s definitely trying to become more decisive about things generally …

Jill: Your novels are set in far-flung locals (Greek Islands, Cuba, Middle East, Ireland…) What are the challenges to you as a writer of using various settings?

Phil:  I guess it helps if you’ve been to wherever it is you’re writing about, but a brief trip to almost anywhere can offer exciting writing prospects for both fiction and journalism. I think the challenges are almost entirely emotional, in that you probably need to go with your feelings, so intuition and interpretation are important. It’s only in my third upcoming story ‘Under Cover’ that I’m writing about India, where I spent almost eighteen months. But Cuba, the Middle East, Greece, the US/UK and Ireland (where I was born) all offer marvellous possibilities, which I constantly want to return to.

Jill:  If Hollywood were to make a Rudi Flynn movie, who would be cast in the lead role?

Phil: For Flynn I’m thinking of a slightly wayward/uncertain Daniel Craig – with maybe an alcoholic weakness extension of his performance in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But if Craig wasn’t available, then a more flustered Dominic West from The Wire would be fine; with maybe Penelope Cruz or Rachel Weisz as Flynn’s illicit love interest, the gorgeous and almost saintly Julia Stein … and I’d want a star turn for the cool Glenn Close as Flynn’s ice cold and very focused US Homeland Security controller.

Jill: What was the best thing about your stint as a tabloid journalist?  What was the worst

Phil:  On the up side, I loved meeting a whole range of interesting people – from dodgy politicians, villains and often venal celebs to nice ordinary folk who had somehow become involved with difficult and occasionally quite worrying situations. On the downside, there was a constant pressure/expectation for one to deliver, and if one couldn’t do it legitimately (and I hate to admit it) then it was frequently seduction/inducements, temptation, provocation and outlandish fabrication.

Jill: Part two of the above question (and you had to have seen this coming!) What comments do you have on the Murdoch & News of the World scandal?

Phil:  Disgraceful, of course. But it’s been building over quite a while and the NoW practices are now rife with most tabloids + some quite prim broadsheets – all of whom would deny the charge. However, if you can bring in reasonably experienced phone hackers – and it’s not that difficult to find them – then you either do it or your competitors get the stories.

Jill:  You’ve written fiction and nonfiction.  Which one is easier to write?  Which is more fun to write? (These aren’t necessarily the same things.)

Phil:  I’ve always found it easier and more fun to write fiction – starting with little magazines when I was a student at Trinity College in Dublin. More recently (as Jack Jameson),  I was commissioned to write a serious story for the UK New Statesman about British National Party (far right) goings on near their leader’s farm in Wales. I called it Weimar in Wales, and I wrote it as an allegorical piece with factual elements. It caused a media furor, with the local Chief Constable and publicans demanding to know where exactly were the pubs and meeting places I was alluding to where British Nationalists were sieg heiling with Nazi salutes to Deutschland uber Alles? I couldn’t really say as the locations and characters were all composites and the piece was essentially allegorical – so on this occasion the journalist became a scandalous story, and my editor refused to pay me!

Jill:  What do you wish you had known about the publishing world before you became a novelist? 

Phil:  To know a little more about how difficult it was going to be might have helped (or diverted) me. Not long ago, I had a good agent who sent my Dark Clouds story to, I think, six publishers.They all liked the story and the writing, but didn’t feel they could publish it because I seemed to be dealing with a potentially very serious matter (al-Qaeda trying to nuke London) within a dark humour framework … and who knows what the jihadists might have lined up for such a cheeky publisher!

Jill:  Who are some of your mystery author influences?

Phil:  My big influences early on were Hemingway, Fitzgerald, James Joyce, JP Donleavy and Henry Miller (the latter three were all banned in Catholic Ireland for quite a few years!). The mystery/thriller writers I’ve enjoyed are Raymond Chandler, Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver and Stieg Larsson.

Jill:  What are your thoughts on the rapid changes in the book world (that is, digital books a la Kindle and such)?

Phil: It’s exciting, but there are problems for authors trying to self-publish on Kindle + Nook etc. If a publisher takes your book, they will usually do a lot of editing and promotion for you. But if you go for self-publishing an e-book, there’s an incredible amount of work to do, first in formatting, picture design and uploading, and then in promotion via Twitter etc – for which one needs a huge amount of time. I rather envy John Locke who says he sold a million self-published e-books in five months, which certainly is a great achievement.

Jill:  What can you tell me about your upcoming releases?

Phil: ‘Dark Clouds’, out now on www.amazon.com/dp/B006RXHVTW  has al-Qaeda trying to nuke London, with Flynn doing what he can to thwart them. ‘Under Cover’, which is my next, has Flynn once again working for a US/UK intelligence alliance. Only now he also has links with Israeli intelligence and the rightist French Front National. His mission is to help foil a plot by Iranian agents who are intent on serious anti-Western provocation, which includes dirty bombs with nuclear ingredients. This will be followed by ‘Harps and Tears’, which features Bronkovsky, a loopy/disappointed in love Polish American nuclear scientist whose wife leaves him for a Jewish environmentalist. He is embittered and intent on revenge against the state of Israel. When Flynn meets him, he is making a nuclear bomb in Ireland’s rural West Cork for Islamic activists in the Middle East.

Jill:  Last question – and it’s a bit of a freebie: What question do you wish I had asked you?  Go ahead and ask & answer it.

Phil: What would I do if I were starting out again? Instead of mistakenly going for medicine and then switching to Economics & Politics, I would like to have tried for a scholarship to a London drama school. After which, I would have hugely enjoyed a bit of acting on stage and (possibly) screen. I would also have written a few more plays and tried to get screen-writing commissions.

For more on Phil Rowan (@WriterRowan on Twitter) check out my www.writerrowan.com  website. My Amazon link is on  and there are #FREE chapter excerpts from my DARK CLOUDS, WEIMAR VIBES, UNDER COVER and HARPS & TEARS stories on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

Post 64 – ‘You men are all the f**king same!’ – try some tempestuous Irish passion in this chapter extract from HARPS & TEARS

I am daydreaming in Dublin’s Trinity College park when a smiling student walks by with an armful of books.

“It’s a grand day,” she says, and I agree. It’s an idyllic place where carefree youngsters hold hands and laugh about life.

Perhaps I should enrol somewhere on a course in philosophy, or maybe I could find a mantra and practise transcendental meditation. I need more meaning and substance in my life, and I’m looking longingly after the student with the books when my phone rings.

“Hi there!” a serious female voice exclaims.

“Claire”

Shouldn’t I have been calling her? Is she going to charge me a fee if we meet … and is there any future in our seeing each other again?

“How’s your friend?” I ask.

“She’s coping, I think … but the drugs she needs are expensive, and she doesn’t have the right sort of insurance.”

If she’s a pal of Claire’s in the professional sense, she might have AIDS, which would of course bring a lot of censure from mature elements in parts of Ireland. But I’m allowing myself far too many negative thoughts, and why am I deliberately trying to exclude someone I like?

“Do you fancy meeting?” she asks.

“Sure … yes –”

“You seem uncertain?”

“No – I want to see you … now!”

“OK … come up to Grady’s Bar in Cuff Street. I suppose you could say it’s my local … and we’ll take it from there.”

Almost everywhere in central Dublin is within easy walking distance. So I banish my doubts, and when I’ve consulted my pocked-sized street finder, I work out a way up to the Liberties. This part of town was once the red light district, where respectable Victorian and Edwardian guys would venture out for forbidden pleasures with fallen women.

I get lost at the back of Dublin Castle, and for a moment I’m thinking of the cop, MacInerney, emerging with a short truncheon and a pair of metal toed boots. But I then hurry on towards a street where a cook from Bangladesh once cut up a reluctant female companion. It was a gruesome story about an unhappy love affair, which ended as the chef put his victim into a cooking pot and then tried to flush her down a blocked drainage system.

These cuttings library snippets keep intruding as I approach Grady’s Bar. It’s a pretty basic sort of establishment, and unlike Docherty’s off Grafton Street it doesn’t look like it’s had a lick of paint – let alone a makeover – since the day it was built, just about the time that Queen Victoria would have passed on.

It’s got a lot of atmosphere though, which clearly appeals to the intellectuals and intense students who are mingling in with their books and literary periodicals amongst the locals: Pensioners and low paid working people, who still live in a few of the Georgian tenements that haven’t yet been taken up and made over by astute developers.

“Hi ye!” Claire exclaims when she arrives almost half-an-hour later.

She’s wearing a Gucci sweatshirt with jeans, no make up, and a New York Redsox baseball cap.

You look great, I’m thinking when she apologises for being late and I ask the ageing publican for an orange juice and a glass of stout.

“You know about this place … the Liberties?” she asks.

“Yes – I read about it in my guide book.”

“They’ve only recently converted the gas lamps to electricity, and it’s where the film people come if they want to get a feel of what sex and sin used to be like in old Dublin”

She arrived in the Liberties four years previously after an interlude with a Jewish furrier in Capel Street. He felt that Claire reminded him of his daughter, who had disappeared, and in return for her listening to him and ministering occasionally to his limp member he set her up in a flat with a generous lease.

“He’s gone now though, and the developers have made a few secure tenants – including myself – an offer we can’t refuse. I’ve got to be out though by the end of the month … and then I’m off to Australia.”

It seems like a place that’s very far away, and I’m wondering if I might take a sabbatical there when Claire leans across the rough wooden bar table to get hold of my eyes.

“Come … I’ll take you on a tour,” she says.

I’ve still got half a glass of Guinness on the table, but it’s not a time to wobble. So I give a wave towards the publican, who’s reading about horse racing at Leopardstown and the Curragh, and I then follow Claire as she walks confidently towards the door.

At High School there was an art teacher that my new friend reminds me of. Whenever she walked down a corridor in front of me, I used to tremble uncontrollably. It was, I think, the way her hips moved. I have the same feeling now, and I’m once again hooked by the metronomic oscillations across the coarse fabric of Claire’s 501s.

There are still cobblestones on some of the side streets, but the fine lines of the crumbling Georgian houses are diminished by the narrow spaces between the buildings, which means they don’t get a lot of light and all the time I’m feeling I’m on a film set: A place maybe that could suddenly throw up John Millington Synge or a Yeats brother, or one of Sean O’Casey’s gunmen might emerge at any moment from the shadows.

“Even to be seen here would be enough to destroy a girl’s reputation in those days,” Claire tells me while I take in a plaque on a house wall that says a doctor called Devane had once attended to the sick and needy of the surrounding neighbourhood. Perhaps he was an upright and selfless man. Or maybe, occasionally, he would succumb to the temptations of those girls who sauntered by with provocative bustles.

“And this is my place,” she announces when we’ve walked around the old Dublin red light district, which presently draws tourists with clicking cameras from around the world.

Claire’s building is an untouched Georgian tenement with the original fanlight over the door and dark common parts around a creaking staircase. Inside, her apartment isn’t much different, with years of grime on the outside of the windows and sparse furnishings. From the living room though, I glimpse an ugly plaster crucifix with a soulful god figure looking down on a large double bed with a bright Mexican counterpane.

“I can’t get away from my Catholic roots,” Claire explains with a wry smile while taking a bottle of white Bordeaux from a rumbling fridge in a space that passes for a kitchen.

Outside on the film set street with the recently converted gas lamps and the hundred year old paving slabs, I can see her sleek black Mazda sports car. It gives me a sort of reality check about where I am and who I’m with. I’m half expecting Miss Hanlan the working girl business woman to present me with a bill for hundreds of Euros. But she’s coming over with the wine and rolling her tongue invitingly along the edge of her seductively rounded bottom lip.

“Why don’t we just forget about the chat and go to bed,” she suggests. “Otherwise, I suspect you’re going to get confused and addled with thoughts – when all you really want to do is to get your cock out and to start fucking me all the way up to the stars.”

There isn’t time on this occasion to pause and admire her beautiful body, and in particular the breasts and hips that a painter or sculptor would die for. The plastercast Christ has family history associations however. It has me thinking of my own Irish relatives, and great uncle or grandpa whoever, who possibly sowed the conjugal seeds of life for their wives with thoughts of the Lord and his Holy Mother, the Virgin Mary.

Claire then kisses me unexpectedly, and when we reach the bed under the plaster cast feet of the holy Lord Jesus, she says she wants to squat across my torso.

“And when you’re inside of me, I’ll tell you about the part of my life that brought me here … only you mustn’t come until I’ve finished.”

It’s like saying to an expectant and excited kid how they can have this delicious lollipop or fruit in their mouth, only they’re not allowed to suck or swallow it – at least until the person who gave it to them has read out a story.

It doesn’t matter though, and she’s still smiling as she kneels astride my hips and then moves to enclose me with the lips between her thighs. I would like to have licked her clitoris or to have fondled her breasts for a while – but we have a deal: I can have seconds, without payment, if I do the business to her satisfaction on our first session.

“My father worked at the Guinness brewery,” she tells me, “and we all lived in a slum at the back of the Four Courts.”

It was a traditional working family set up, only the mother was out of it mentally, which meant the father was left to fend for himself. He was angry and frustrated about this and one night he came home in a drunken state that was worse than usual. He swore and urinated in the corridor, and he then came into the bedroom where Claire was and demanded that his sixteen-year-old daughter should pull down the sheet and open up her legs for Dada.

He apparently did the same with her only sister, who immediately left the house and went off to Australia. But when one of Claire’s brothers tried to follow in his father’s footsteps a few weeks after she was assaulted and raped, she hit him with a cast iron frying pan. It was a murderous but necessary reaction, and as an ambulance came to take her brother to the Jervis Street hospital, she walked out of her family home and never returned.

“Oh … oh – Jesus!” I yell involuntarily as her vaginal muscles contract around me and we set off on a tumultuous Irish roller coaster. It has Claire coming down eventually to lie on my chest, which gives me a chance to caress the cheeks of her ass until she starts to moan. A physical and emotional tsunami has started and it’s escalating. We’re away, and when a scream finally erupts in Claire’s throat, I feel I’m lifting off and being catapulted into orbit.

“I should maybe make you pay for your pleasure,” she says later. But I’m way past caring. I’ve ascended into another world, and I feel – as the Catholics would have it – in a state of grace as her head rests contentedly in the crook of my arm.

“This hasn’t happened for a while,” she tells me when I respond with a squeeze.

“What?”

“You know … just now … and the other day at the hotel.”

Does it mean I might get a discount? Only I’ve never been here before. Not even in the initial period with Angela, when love was blind and we thought Isla de Mujeres in Mexico was a piece of paradise. There is a thought lurking about what Claire got up to with all of the other guys over her five year stint as a working girl. But I don’t want to spoil any of what I’ve experienced with her by getting too heavy or righteous, or by over analysing my feelings.

“Would that get me another glass of wine do you think … or maybe even a cup of tea?”

It’s crass of course, and it probably came out the wrong way. For it’s got her leaning up unexpectedly on an elbow, and there’s fury in her eyes.

“Jeazus Christ … you men are all the fucking same!” she shouts. “You’re fucking heathens – the lot of you!”

With that she gives me a fierce wallop across the jaw with her open hand.

“Hey … ease up – chill out!” I shout while trying to protect myself from anymore of this volatile Irish anger.

It’s over now though, and when she’s taken my face in her hands, she brushes my lips with her own.

“I’m sorry,” she says quietly. “I’ve got a lot of anger inside of me … and we will have tea or wine, or whatever it is you’d like. Only I want you to do it for me again now … and if I come, I want you to kiss me on the mouth … and you won’t have to pay.”

To read more or to buy HARPS & TEARS  please go to my home page above,  or directly to Amazon on   – my other books are also available on this link.  There are also #FREE chapter #extract links to my other stories on ‘contents’ above or on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

 

Post 63 – Le Pen’s ultra-rightists ascend in France with a celebratory vengeance – so what’s next for French Muslim migrants & Jews?

Sarkozy poses on a neat blue Vespa scooter with his glam partner Carla Bruni, who is showing us a lot of her enticingly bare thighs. In contrast, poor old Hollande is still being ridiculed for sneaking off in disguise on a clumsy three-wheeler to visit his actress girlfriend, Julie Gayet.

I’m hoping for some light romantic insights when I meet my French Government contact at a literary cafe in Montparnasse. Jean Paul, however, squints nervously towards the cafe terrace as we shake hands and I order coffees con lait.

‘It’s not good here just now, Phil,’ he tells me in a low voice. ‘Our President is regarded as a figure of fun, and as our once vibrant economy declines the Front National are winning votes.’

I’m thinking of Marine Le Pen smiling provocatively as her far right party celebrates its soaring popularity with French voters.

‘This has happened before,’ Jean Paul confides. ‘We had a resistance of sorts in the last war, but the Waffen SS had a popular recruitment centre in Calais and many of our people collaborated with the Nazis.’

I think I need a large whiskey and maybe a cigar on the terrace. But my French Government contact has more depressing news. ‘You have seen what happened to the Jews here,’ he says. Of course, many were betrayed and exterminated during Hitler’s reign, but Jean Paul is referring to the bombs and ransacking of Jewish businesses by anti-Semitic mobs in Paris just a few weeks ago.

‘These people are now fleeing to Israel and London,’ he says, ‘and Hollande is keeping a very low profile on what is happening … for it seems that he does not wish to offend Marine Le Pen’s supporters in the neo-Nazi Front National.’

I enjoyed reading Albert Camus when I was a student, and I was impressed by the fact that he and his lover, Simone de Beauvoir, were both part of a courageous wartime resistance against the Germans. But now, 70 years after the Holocaust, the slogans in the Paris Jewish suburb of Sarcelles and elsewhere are worrying. ‘Death to the Jews,’ ‘slit their throats,’ and ‘Hitler was right’ are commonplace expressions.

‘And then there are our youngsters,’ Jean Paul adds. ‘They have no qualms about supporting Dieudonne and giving his neo-Nazi ‘quenelle’ salutes outside Auschwitz and other places where Jews were exterminated.’

I can’t take too much more of this, but my French Government contact isn’t finished. ‘You know we have banlieues outside Paris and in other French cities,’ he says.

Sure – for a while it was French Government policy to keep their city centres elegant and respectable, which meant less fortunate people on welfare benefits were forced to accept out of town social housing in the desolate banlieues.

‘These people are now mainly Muslims,’ Jean Paul confides, ‘and in many cases they come into our cities to deal in drugs and steal from our more affluent residents … well Madame Le Pen wants to send them all back to Africa and the Middle East … so if she comes to power there will be much acrimonious conflict.’

I’ve had it: ‘Deux grand whiskies, s’il vous plait, mademoiselle,’ I say to the waitress … ‘and if you don’t mind, Jean Paul, I’d like us to go out onto the terrace where I can have a cigar.’

We’re on the Boulevard Montparnasse, and as we relocate to an agreeably shaded table, I’m trying to forget the French fascists by losing myself in the Paris love feast experiences of my favourite writers, including: Beckett, Joyce, Donleavy, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Henry Miller. It’s challenging… but the whiskey helps!!

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

 

Post 62 – Flynn is seduced in rural Ireland by an assertive Viennese Euro-rightist – chapter excerpt from HARPS & TEARS

Chapter 25

Muldoon calls as I come down along the driveway from Doolan Hall.

‘We’ve got a result,’ he says.

‘From the accountant?’

‘Yes … but I can’t tell you any more until tomorrow.’

What does this mean? Is Halleran receiving large sums of money from the Middle East for a nuclear surprise? A lethal concoction that Bronkovski is putting together at Crushkeen House that might then be shipped from South West Ireland by a sympathetic collaborator – a rogue state with access to a submarine that can’t be tracked by satellites.

If it reached the Middle East intact, a portable nuclear device could be used in Israel by a suicide bomber from Gaza or the West Bank to make political statements: Grim scenarios to do with perceived wrongs and the accumulated bitterness of over half a century.

‘I met an interesting woman here,’ I say to Muldoon as a diversion.

‘Oh yes –’

‘I think you might like her.’

This gets a guffaw and words about how Josephine would stalk him with a meat cleaver if she suspected he was thinking of anyone else – even if it was only a fantasy or innocent dreams with exotic what ifs.

But I talk about Claudine Fauvet and her boats, and how she has this great capacity for absorbing grief, while smiling empathetically and generating powerful passions.

‘So you’re going to introduce me?’ Muldoon asks.

‘Of course … although it might mean you’ll have to go for a sail in a boat.’

He’s not sure about this, but says he’ll think about it as he drives down to West Cork.

Puzzling pieces are slotting into place, and on the cobbled pub terrace at Hagen’s Point I spot the blonde Australian girl, Kelly Bowman. She is sending a text message on her mobile, and she looks up and grins as I approach with a cold beer.

‘May I join you?’ I ask.

‘Sure … I’m just reassuring my folks in Brisbane – so they know I’m all right.’

‘I saw you in a Wayfarer at Claudine’s.’

‘Ah, hell – it’s great out on that water!’

There’s no hint of recognition here. So if Kelly helped to carry me in an unconscious state from outside Bronkovski’s courtesy office at the University in Dublin, she either doesn’t recognise me or she’s pretty smart.

‘You seemed to really know what you were doing – especially on the turns.’

She laughs at this and flushes a little.

‘I’m trying to get Ali – the guy I’m with – into it, but he’s not a natural sailor.’

That is a generous understatement from what I saw. But it’s a pleasant evening with the sun dappling against the waves as it sinks down behind hills on the west side of RoaringwaterBay.

‘Are you passing through or do you have family here?’ I ask.

‘Oh we’re touring around,’ Kelly tells me. ‘We don’t have any connections in Ireland, but someone we met in London said this was a good place to check out … and we’ve met lots of interesting people since we arrived last week.’

So why did they tell the cop, MacInerney, that Kelly had family links in West Cork? And if this isn’t the case, are they hanging around because they like the scenery, or is there another agenda?

At that point, Kelly’s older friend Ali appears. He’s carrying two glasses of orange juice and beaming like everyone is his friend. His jaw drops a little though when he sees me.

Kelly then chips in with how I’ve spotted them sailing over at Claudine Fauvet’s, and when we’ve introduced ourselves, Ali retreats into an ‘I love Ireland and the Irish’ position.

He explains how he’s a small businessman taking a break and that Kelly is someone special he met in London – quite by chance in Covent Garden, where she was a waitress.

‘I understand you’re pretty hot on the rebel songs,’ I say while we enjoy the last of the evening sun.

‘Who told you that?’ Ali asks with surprise.

‘Oh, it was Frances up at Doolan Hall … you know – she and John Joe are getting married.’

‘Yes – of course. They’re a fine couple.’

I’m sure there was small colour change in the brown skin around Ali’s neck that rises up to take in his face. He just got a little darker, and he seems to be struggling for words as he takes on the fact that I know Frances Halleran and have met John Joe Horan.

‘So you’re going to the party tomorrow?’

‘Oh yes … we have been invited, and this evening I am going to sing rebel songs for the celebration.’

Why is an Indian Muslim with an Australian girlfriend suddenly embracing the Irish Republican cause via The Croppy Boy, Boolavogue, Kevin Barry and Brennan on the Moor?

‘Now though I think we must go back for our supper with Mrs Fionnucan. She is our landlady, and she gets agitated if we’re not there to eat her fine Irish food.’

Bacon and cabbage perhaps with loads of home-made soda bread and salty butter.

‘I’ll see you later,’ I say as they finish off their orange juice and Ali makes a fuss about shaking hands, while Kelly just smiles like she’s a friendly, carefree Ozzie.

They could be innocent tourists who just pitched up at Hagen’s Point. Their presence in the College Park on the day I got assaulted might be a coincidence. Someone else could have dragged me down from the first floor corridor in the science block, after which, Ali and Kelly might just have found me and called the authorities. It’s possible, but I feel they have some tie-in with Bronkovski, and possibly also with Cornelius Halleran.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’m still thinking about it when I have a meditation session in my room over the bar. I then fell asleep for a couple of hours, and when I open my eyes I can hear the sounds of fiddlers warming up downstairs.

There is no sign of either Ali or Kelly in the bar, but as soon as I sit at the only free table and order a plate of prawns, I see Heidi from Vienna and Paval from Prague.

‘May we impose again and join you?’ she asks as they sit down.

‘Of course –’

‘There are so many people here already … but you know it is a celebration for the Republican Horan and his bride-to-be?’

A sort of combined stag and hen night with solid local lads and their girls: Big fellahs who, in other circumstances, might go with John Joe on a mission to the North that could end with blood and body parts on the road.

‘This man has charisma,’ Heidi explains. ‘People would follow him regardless of the consequences … which is interesting – no?’

‘I don’t believe these traits are so important now,’ I say dismissively.

I mean, we live in democracies – at least in the Western World – where decisions are arrived at by consensus. We don’t need demagogues and Platonists to tell us what to do and how we should be thinking.

Only Heidi feels she’s got me backed up against a wall and she’s reaching down to squeeze my nuts.

‘You’re wrong!’ she exclaims emphatically – and as she speaks, her eyes are targeting and holding me.

‘If you were familiar with history, you would know that we have started to rot and fall apart in our society.’

Just like those crazy Romans with their bacchanalian orgies. They got so sated and carried away with excessive indulgence that they missed the barbarian hoards at the gates.

‘Oh, come on,’ I say reasonably. ‘Don’t you think that’s going a little over the top?’

Paval’s nodding seriously as Heidi pauses. This isn’t the first time she’s come up against wet liberal responses to what’s happening in Europe. It’s symptomatic of the malaise, she feels. But so long as there are sufficient people who can open their eyes and see clearly what’s happening, it will be all right.

‘Do you know why Hitler came to power in 1933?’ she asks.

‘No – not really.’

Well, I do – vaguely. It was all a bit disorganised and there was a vacuum politically, but the circumstances were quite different from what they are now.

‘You believe so?’ Heidi asks incredulously.

‘Sure –’

She gives me a serious one-to one about how people are feeling in mainland Europe on crime and security issues – most of which, in her view, are linked in with immigrants from Eastern Europe, Turkey and North Africa.

‘We are weak,’ she confides, ‘and now we are paying the price.’

There’s fresh sea bass and French fries to divert my attention from the political clouds that Heidi’s whipping up with Paval’s silent assent.

Is she an undercover National Socialist from another era?  A terrifying Valkyrie who would put non Aryans on sealed trains bound for the Baltic States or to conquered but deserted territories in Siberia and Mongolia.

I’m saved from having to defend politically correct liberal and socialist positions, however, by the arrival of Ali and Kelly, followed almost immediately by John Joe Horan and Frances Halleran.

The Republican is eager to press the flesh amongst his supporters, while Frances follows along with kisses for the girls and handshakes for the lads.

When he gets to me he claps his hands and as I get up he slaps my shoulders.

‘We’ll have some good craic here tonight,’ he says. ‘And I hope you’ll help us celebrate with a song.’

I grin inanely while Horan kisses each of Heidi’s cheeks and gives Paval a wink. Frances then comes in discreetly to squeeze my hand.

‘I had a call from Briege,’ she tells me in a low voice, ‘and she’s distraught … would you talk to her, Rudi. Tell her she’s got it all ahead of her … try to reassure her – please!’

I hardly know the woman… but for you, Frances – of course I’ll straighten her out. We’ll have a consoling chat tomorrow. I’ll empathise and tell her about my great uncle, who knew Henry Miller in Paris before he got famous with the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

There’s a part of Horan’s bride-to-be that would like to stop and talk about the mental and emotional state of her childhood friend. She might also like to refer to her father, who’s not best pleased with the idea of her marriage. She might even confide with me, in the absence of Briege, about how her Da could –if the situation got out of hand – harm his prospective son-in-law. But John Joe’s oblivious to all of this, and he needs his woman by his side as his guys queue up to pay court to the happy couple.

Heidi wants to talk some more about the situation in Europe, and how confused liberals and mendacious socialists have combined to destroy traditional family structures.

‘All of these laws and attitudes that they encourage favour criminals and anti-social elements who have no roots in our society … they are taking us down to the lowest level.’

I nod like I understand, but Ali Talibe is about to launch the evening’s entertainment with his version of an Irish rebel song about the patriot, Kevin Barry.

It’s an item that an astute documentary filmmaker might have used for a whole TV series. It summons up an emotive segment of English colonial history as the Indian Muslim clears his throat and pays homage with a fine voice to the martyred Irish hero.

‘I need fresh air,’ Heidi says when Ali finishes his ballad and Paval squeezes out from behind their table to ‘go for the washroom’ as he puts it. A group of fiddlers are tuning up their instruments and getting ready for a proper ceidhli dance.

‘It’s hot,’ I say without thinking.

‘So … do you want to come out with me onto the quay?’

OK – but what about Paval? Only Heidi’s ready for this.

‘We are not lovers – just friends,’ she explains.

‘Right –’

And it would of course be churlish not to take a short stroll with her. It’s a lovely evening with a full moon, and the RoaringwaterBay is unusually calm as it laps up against the quay at Hagen’s Point.

‘You haf a woman now?’ Heidi asks when we slip out of the bar and walk slowly along the cobbled terrace.

‘Not quite,’ I tell her.

‘And what does that mean?’

My marital partner and I have decided on a separation, Fraulein – and although we’re not divorced, it’s unlikely we’ll be getting back together again in meaningful way. Meanwhile, however – I have in Dublin, just the other day…

‘You want to go over there by that pile of turf?’ she asks.

Freshly cut sods built up with sloping sides and a tarpaulin over the top to keep the rain off.

‘Sure – but what for?’ I ask naively.

‘Come … I’ll show you,’ Heidi suggests.

Years back, on Long Island Sound, there was the older sister of a school friend who made a similar suggestion. Only she was ravishing and Jewish, which seemed OK. Whereas Heidi Bannerman reminds me of a Gulf War Sergeant in the Special Forces, who has no time for outsiders of any description – but especially coloured people and Jews.

‘I don’t  …’

‘You want to fuck me now – here?’

We’ve reached a mini-mountain of peaty brown turf, and I find myself in an impossible situation. I should of course protest. Maybe make a polite excuse about non-specific urethritis – or the fact that I’m on a debilitating medication that precludes sex.

It’s pointless though, because Heidi from Vienna has undone my zip and now has a hold on my member. I’m opening my mouth to say something – anything that might make a difference, but she’s drawing me in eagerly with a salivating tongue.

To read more or to buy HARPS & TEARS please go to my home page above,  or directly to Amazon on    which includes all of my books.  There are also #FREE chapter #extract links to my other stories on ‘contents’ above or on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

Post 61 – Smiley robber boys by the Potomac in Washington – chapter excerpt from WEIMAR VIBES

Chapter 27

            Outside the White House, there are children with miniature American flags. They’re being marshalled together by a strict, no nonsense teacher. She’s got horn-rimmed spectacles and her grey hair is tied up in a tight bun.

            ‘Come on now, you all,’ she commands. ‘I want you standing in line, waving, when the President comes out onto the lawn with the Chinese Premier. It’s an historical occasion.’

            I’m walking towards the Potomac River when I call Levinia. We agree to meet by the Washington Monument. The sun’s out and I’m feeling good when I notice the veterans. Some are in wheelchairs, and they’re trying to sell souvenirs to embarrassed tourists.

            ‘You want to buy a painting, bud?’ one of them asks, holding up a postcard-sized impression of the Grand Canyon.

            It’s nicely done, and I’m hooked. ‘How much?’

            ‘Whatever you like … you decide,’ the veteran says.

            I’ve got tens and twenties in my wallet, so I give him a couple of each.

            ‘You’re English – right?’

            Not quite … right now, I’m like an honorary adopted citizen.

            ‘Hey – but you got problems over there,’ the vet says and I agree. I suddenly feel I’m very fortunate. Well – I’ve got all of my limbs, and I’m on the point of giving the Iraqi war vet the rest of my money when Levinia pulls up in a battered Buick.

            ‘You really are a soft touch,’ she says when I show her my $60 oil daub. ‘And I’m in trouble.’

            ‘Why?’

            ‘Because I got my timings wrong on your meeting with the President. Bill McKay from the Home Office wanted you to bring something up. I only spoke with him after you had gone into the White house … and now I’m being blamed for a missed opportunity. ‘

            ‘Ah – ‘

            ‘Fucking politicians! They’re all useless wankers!

            She’s furious, but I don’t expect this sort of language. I see Levinia as a cool toff and I have to wait until she’s calmed down before I get the story. We’re apparently in serious financial difficulties back in the UK. The Government urgently needs an IMF bail-out loan, and McKay thought I might be able to get some US support. I would of course have been delighted to bring it up with the President. It’s too late now though. Levinia’s going on about how hopeless it all is at present across the pond. I’m admiring her knees when several gym-toned black youngsters appear.

            ‘Hi guys … you look like you’re lost,’ one of them says with a big grin.

            It’s the sort of thing you might read about in The Post or any of the other lurid tabloids I’ve worked on. Three big black boys, solicitous for our well being. Would they settle for whatever we had in our wallets, along with our watches, Levinia’s necklace and maybe the cheap Camden Passage ring I’ve got on my little finger?

            My controller freezes for a moment. The grinning black spokesboy relaxes. It’s a mistake, because she’s slamming the car door hard into his knees. One of his pals grabs a windscreen wiper on the Buick. He’s clinging on, so Levinia accelerates to dislodge him.

            ‘I think we’ll keep this to ourselves,’ she says. Two of the black youths are screaming obscenities, while the third clutches at his fractured kneecaps. ‘And now we’re going to party.’

            I’m gearing up for paunchy Congressmen and cosmetically altered women. But we’re approaching the more bohemian part of Georgetown and Levinia’s singing an operatic aria. She’s become unnervingly energised by our altercation with the Washington bad boys.

            ‘It may not be quite your thing,’ she says teasingly when we stop outside an up-market residence. ‘But if you don’t get lucky, I might cook you a meal later.’

            I’m slavering at the thought of Levinia with an apron around her svelte hips. For now though, we’re guests of a British publisher. He’s made a lot of money from tawdry mass market magazine titles, and there are a few familiar faces when we enter the mini mansion.

            ‘Yerra, Jezus, Flynn … I thought I’d find some cunt like youse here!’ a drink-addled Irish poet calls out.

            Levinia disappears in disgust. She doesn’t approve of drunks, especially Irish ones. This guy seems to be vaguely aware of what’s happening back across the pond. The remnants of a once great empire are now collapsing in England he claims with pleasure. Others want to come in and add their views.

            ‘We started out all right after the last war,’ a pornographic video maker suggests. ‘There were plenty of houses in a land fit for heroes. Harold Macmillan was right when he said we’d never had it so good … what’s happening now though … why has it all gone pear-shaped?’

            ‘I think we went overboard with a lot of liberal tosh,’ the editor of a UK broadsheet says. ‘We’d have been better off kicking ass and coming down hard on the low-lifes … I’m thinking about the birch here and three strikes and you’re out on the Isle of Wight for the rest of your life …we certainly need to bring back the death penalty.’

            They’re a mixed bunch, and there’s a lot of polite English understatement. But as the drink flows, politically correct inhibitions fade away.

            ‘Hitler would have been all right if he hadn’t gone AWOL on the Jews,’ a magazine columnist announces baldly. ‘And I’m in favour of rapists and child molesters having their balls lopped off …but what are we to do with Oscar Kerner and the Nationalists in Britain?’

            ‘I’d say they’re on a roll for the election – whenever it’s held,’ a scarred smackhead declares, ‘an you can see why.’

            ‘That’s all very well, darling, if you like chaps dressed up with uniforms and marching to Souza bands,’ a celebrity commentator chips in. ‘But what do you do if they actually come to power … because, frankly, I think we’d all be candidates for the gas chambers!’

            I’m thinking with increasing enthusiasm about Levinia’s offer of a meal. I need some decent conversation, but a vaguely familiar woman is approaching. She’s a punkette Newcastle novelist called Tracey, and it’s not looking good.

            ‘You’re a fuckin’ Nazi!’ she yells.

            ‘I beg your pardon – ‘

            ‘You ‘eard, you fuckin’ arsehole … an’ I bet your dick’s not up to much either!’

            I’m edging away, trying to give the impression I’ve never seen this person before in my life. I’m her target though. There’s froth oozing from her furiously twitching mouth.

            ‘You need a good kickin!’ she screams.

            ‘Excuse me – ‘

            ‘Fuck you – cunt … you’re late!’

            Her eyes are bulging and the wine’s leaving her glass. There’s good quality Sauvignon all over our host’s carpet and Levinia’s intervened. She’s knocked the punkette novelist’s ankles together and she’s steering me towards the front door.

            ‘Are you accident prone or just jinxed?’ she wants to know when we get to the street. ‘First there’s the McCutcheon woman assaulting you in a Greek lavatory. Now this crazed creature … what is it, Rudi, that has you bringing out the angry beast in us girls?’

            I’m trying to breath in deeply to four and out on eight. I think it’s working, but I don’t have any answers for my controller. I’ll have to check with McVeigh. My feeling though is that I’m not particularly unpleasant or disagreeable. I just seem to keep drifting inexorably into lethal target zones for crazy people.

            ‘I’m sorry about that,’ I say weakly while Levinia shakes her head.

            We’re driving into a tree-lined cul-de-sac when she suddenly smiles.

            ‘I’m just camping here,’ she explains pulling up outside a modest, rather ordinary house. ‘It’s rented by one of our Embassy staff, who is presently on leave.’

            Inside, the living room is strewn with newspapers and computer printouts. ‘It’s a mess,’ she says apologetically, ‘and I’m not really into cooking. Would you like spaghetti?’

             ‘Yes – but not with prawns, please. I’m allergic to fish.’

            I’m thinking of Tracey, the punkette novelist who attacked me. I’ve never experienced such furious vitriol. It’s worrying. I couldn’t cope with a repeat assault.

            ‘Would you open these,’ Levinia asks.

            There’s a can of Bolognese sauce and a bottle of Californian red. I’m trying to insert the bottle opener into the can when she takes my arm.

            ‘Sit!’ she commands, pointing to a sofa. She then joins me with the wine.

            ‘You’re not really with us today, are you?’ she asks.

            ‘No –’

           I’m falling off Beachy Head or the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Our knees are touching on the sofa. At any other time, I’d be trembling with anticipation, but my libido’s asleep.

            ‘Cheers,’ she says, raising her glass.

            I swallow half the wine. I’m vaguely aware of her fingers on my thigh muscle.

            ‘You know we’re fucked, Rudi.’

            ‘Sorry – ‘

            What is she on about?

            ‘You saw those people earlier. Our English expats,’ she says with a dismissive flick through her flawless hair. ‘And it’s not just that ridiculous Tracey creature. We’ve all been affected. We’ve descended into decadence and despair. I believe that as a society in the UK, we’re finished. Our only hope is to be re-born and start again with new leadership.

            I’m thinking Mormons maybe, or Jehovah Witnesses. She’s been got at; no question. It could be mind-altering drugs slipped into her elevenses by dubious political moles posing as colleagues. Anything’s possible, and it’s dispiriting. Could a little romance turn her around? I put my hand on the one that’s on my leg. I’ll try an emotionally stimulating dialogue. It get’s me a smile, but Levinia’s on her own track. She’s describing a world where transvestites sing in sleazy clubs and bars. Adults are almost beyond redemption while our youths are corrupted by cynical degenerates. Sodom and Gomorrah is the watchword and we’re all going south.

            ‘Come on,’ I say recklessly. ‘We may have slipped a bit, but there’s got to be a way forward.’

            ‘Oh there is … and I think your friend Oscar Kerner is taking us there.’

            This is worrying. Kerner’s not my friend any more, and Levinia works for Her Majesty’s Department of Defence Intelligence. Unless I’ve misinterpreted what she’s saying, we could be looking at treason and complicity charges from the Crown Prosecution Service.

            ‘I think it’s probably best if I ignore that,’ I say primly.

I don’t want to even fleetingly think that my Controller could be batting for the other side. She’s having a laugh by being outrageous. It makes people sit up and take notice. Only she’s moved in closer. Her toned thigh is nestling up against mine and her eyes are coming on to me.

          ‘Are you shocked by my frankness?’ she asks playfully.

          I most certainly am. It’s disgraceful, but I’m also taking in the fullness of her lips.

          ‘I feel such views are inconsistent with your job,’ I tell her. A pompous observation might do the trick.

          ‘So you think I should resign?’

          ‘If you’re supporting Kerner, yes – I do.’

         She refills our glasses. Her fingers then run through my hair to the back of my neck.

         ‘I think you’re a prig,’ she says cuttingly. ‘You may also be a coward.’

         ‘Why?’

         ‘Because in your heart you know our political system is in terminal decline. We’re fucked, Rudi. Not just in the UK, but throughout Europe. Everyone acknowledges it. Democracy isn’t working; it’s a sham. We have too much unemployment and too many immigrants. People are angry. They want their countries back … the Nationalists know this. That’s why they’ll win.’

         ‘I think you’re exaggerating,’ I splutter when her fingers stop tickling the back of my neck and move inside the buttons of my shirt.

        ‘You said so yourself,’ she insists. In The Post … it’s time for a change … remember?

        ‘Yes – but …’

        ‘So the Nationalists are offering a way forward.’  There’s mischief in her eyes and her left breast is brushing up against my ribs. ‘You’re au fait with the Greeks … you’ve had a basic education, yes?

       ‘Of course – ‘

      ‘Well … all Kerner’s saying is that Aristotle’s got a terminal illness. He’s collapsing. Democracy, as we know it, is dead. It will soon be forgotten … while Plato, after a long sleep, is finally waking up and getting out of bed again.’

To read more or to buy WEIMAR VIBES please go to my home page above,  or directly to my Amazon Author Page on   which includes all of my books. There are also #FREE chapter #extract links to my other stories on ‘contents’ above or on  http://bit.ly/1a4d4bt

Post 60 – My President requests that I come to the White House – excerpts from WEIMAR VIBES

Chapter 25

            Twenty-four hours later, the moon’s up over Kent, or maybe it’s Surrey. We’ve had a blissful idyll. It’s over though. A car with a police driver has arrived to take Julia back to London.

            ‘Next stop New York,’ Battersby tells me when he calls from Whitehall. It’s payback time for a rural break. I try not to think about what’s to follow. Would Julia spend the rest of her life with me? Will Saulie have a second family with Mairead? Will Oscar Kerner’s Nationalist Alliance win enough seats to form a Government at Westminster?

            Fidgety dreams turn to nightmares. I’m in the dreaded Danzig Corridor: A depressing place where reason is sidelined. Unemployed Hitler Youth Brownshirts chant aggressively. They’re up against Communist teenagers who are waving pictures of Lenin.

            In the morning, Mrs Beamish brings me tea and toast. ‘Your driver’s waiting downstairs,’ she tells me. ‘Mr Battersby says you need to check in by nine.’

            No time to lounge in the bath, although I do manage a shave. My driver talks about footballers WAGs all the way to Heathrow. He wants to open a bar in Palma with the girlfriend of a disgraced Middlesborough player.

            ‘I’ve had it with the UK,’ he says. ‘There’s no common sense any more. It’s all going South, believe me, I was brought up in Streatham … it was just white families then.’

            At Heathrow, a female newscaster smiles sweetly from a TV monitor. ‘During the night, in Uzbeckistan,’ she says, ‘the Russian Army rounded up more dissidents and there were missile attacks across the border with Chechnya …there have also been riots in several European cities, and this morning Oscar Kerner addressed supporters of the French National Front …’

            There’s a shot of the Bois de Bologne in Paris. I can see acres of militant rightists, and then a close-up of Oscar.

            ‘The right is on the march all over Europe,’ he declares confidently. He’s definitely speaking from the diaphragm. ‘Our cause is just, and we will win,’ he adds. ‘For we want full employment in Europe – for Europeans …the Turks may return to Anatolia …the Bosnians to Yugoslavia …the Africans to Africa …the Chinese to China …and the Asians to India and Pakistan …we want Europe for the Europeans!’

            The TV film cuts off after the first cheers. It’s worrying, and I’m aware of a little old lady sitting opposite me in the departure lounge.

            ‘Are you concerned about this?’ she asks.

            ‘Yes … I am.’

            ‘My aunt was taken from Bratislava by the Germans,’ she says after a while. ‘She taught mathematics to children at a Czech concentration camp. It was quite civilised for a while. Then, gradually, they started to eliminate the detainees … I saw some of the children’s drawings recently at a Jewish museum in Prague. They were very evocative.’

            We’re separated when we get on board the British Airways flight to New York. The little old lady goes up to First Class while I stay somewhere between business and economy. We meet again briefly when we land, and she puts a hand on my arm.

            ‘Take care,’ she says, ‘and try not to forget some of what has happened in the past.’

            A discreet and respectful New England type of chauffeur meets her. He puts her bags into a limousine, and we’re waving goodbye to each other when Levinia Howarth arrives.

            ‘Rudi,’ she says, taking my hand. ‘It’s good to see you.’

            Likewise, ma’am. He cheekbones are incredible and she’s uber cool. I’m getting stress in her eyes though. I’m also sensing a little distance between us on the cab ride to Manhattan.

            ‘You’re articulating a legitimate conservative position,’ she tells me when our Lebanese driver goes through a red light. ‘You’re already up and running as an acceptable right wing brand figure in the UK. Appearing on the Rad Budley show will give you serious international credibility … are you ready for this?’

            I don’t think so. I’m not sure where Levinia’s going. When I first met her in Whitehall, I was knocked out. I thought she was awesome. Cool, in control and tantalising. I was an outsider coming from nowhere’sville. I slavered over her ankles, the possibility of her breasts, the silkiness of her hair and all sorts of other stuff. Now, I don’t know. She’s going through the motions. But I’m not sure if her heart’s still thrusting along with whatever it is she’s meant to be doing.

            I can cope with Rad Budley though, I hope. I’ve already jumped into the pool. At times I think I’m drowning. I need a new therapist; a proper analyst. McVeigh’s been OK. Up to now, he’s reassured me in times of crisis. Only I feel he’s just been telling me whatever it is he thinks I want to hear. Which is fine; it keeps me going. But I need more challenging goals.

            ‘There are just two things to remember,’ Levinia says when we get to the downtown TV studios. ‘Don’t accept any alcohol and … no one wants to encourage extremists – ‘

            ‘Right – ‘

            ‘But the view in Whitehall now is that red fascists on the streets are more of a problem than the other sort.’

            I’m confused by this. What she seems to be saying is that libs, lefties and PC persons are – once they start demonstrating – more of a threat to stability than Kerner’s Nationalists. I thought it was the other way around, but I’m in the hands of a production assistant who’s offering me a drink.

            ‘We’ve got spirits or soft drinks,’ she says.

            ‘Whisky would be great, thanks … maybe Scotch if you have any.’

            I can see Levinia in the front row of the auditorium. There are several hundred guests and many of them are black. I’m trying to imagine an intimate moment with my controller. It’s out of the question now, of course, but I’m fantasising around her physical and mental assets, which are considerable and tempting, when I get a hearty thump on the back.

            ‘Hi ye, Rudi … it’s good to meet you, sir,’ Rad Budley says. ‘I’ve seen a tape of your show in London on the BBC. It sure as hell was scary… we’re ready for you here now though … we’re on when you see the red light. You got that, my man?’

            I nod and follow my seriously overweight talk show host out a stage. There’s a bit of hand clapping from the audience when we sit grinning at each around a curved desk.

            ‘Hello …good day …and welcome,’ Rad says to a camera. He then waves at the audience who clap back with enthusiasm. ‘We got a visitor from London, England, folks … and I’d like you to give a genuine, all American, Big Apple hand for our first guest today … ladies and gentlemen …it’s Rudi Flynn!’

            I remember to grin and open my hands in welcoming acknowledgement as the audience shows their appreciation.

            ‘Rudi …you’ve got problems in England right now …’

            ‘We certainly have, Rad … in fact, I’d say this is the most challenging period British people have had to face since the end of the Second World War.’

            ‘Gee – that’s kinda awesome – ‘

            ‘It certainly is … but there’s a similar situation in the rest of Europe. I think it’s true to say that the problems we’re facing are now fanning out around the world.’

            ‘We have indications of that,’ Rad says, gesturing up at the studio TV monitors, ‘and it’s kinda unbelievable!’

            The pictures show noisy left and right-wing activists rioting around Europe. There’s also a report on violent eruptions in Australia. Workers in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide are unhappy about losing their jobs. What’s really getting to them, however, is that their Government can’t afford to reimburse them for being unemployed, so they’re totally broke.

            ‘Rudi – you’re a pretty outspoken guy back in England …can you tell us what’s causing all of this mayhem and disorder?’

            ‘Unemployment, Rad. People are loosing their jobs because of a downturn in the international economy. There just isn’t the cash any more to give us the sort of welfare cushion most of us have come to expect … and it’s starting to hurt.’

            Rad’s grinning and nodding. What he really wants to talk about are the Nationalists in the UK. How come some of these guys recently had poster pictures of Adolf Hitler, which they were waving enthusiastically on demonstrations?

            ‘And my researchers tell me, Rudi, that you once hung out with the Nazi, Oscar Kerner …now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t he happy to call himself a fascist …he’s certainly on record as saying that Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were all on the right track.’

            Budley’s clearly an outrageous egomaniac, whose only concern is for his ratings. So I ignore the stuff about Kerner. I go instead for the main scapegoat issues, like how the socialists and liberals are blaming governments, free markets and their Nationalist opponents for what’s going wrong. While the Nationalists, I suggest, see immigration, crime, asylum seekers, guest workers, poor education and lax moral standards as the main problem areas.

            ‘On the moral standards issue, Rudi, I guess you mean that European Nationalists are not too keen on the idea of abortion?’

            ‘Right – ‘

            ‘And I assume they also have reservations about homosexuals and lesbians getting together for sexual relations …am I right on this?’

            ‘Absolutely – ‘

            ‘And why is that?’

            ‘Well – I suppose they feel that these are corrupting influences.’

            ‘Would you agree with this?’

            ‘No – not at all. I believe we should be tolerant and understanding on these matters … so long as they don’t involve youngsters or impinge unnecessarily on other people.’

            ‘But your buddy, Oscar Kerner, wants to imprison homosexuals and ban abortion … I’ve also heard he wants to deport coloured folk from Europe and the United Kingdom.’

            ‘Kerner’s not my buddy,’ I say firmly. ‘I think he’s seriously misguided on a whole range of issues. OK – we were due to share a platform in Athens last week at the International Policy Studies Forum. I feel, however, that my views are altogether more in tune with reasonable people than Herr Führer Doktor Oscar’s are …’

            ‘But …’

            ‘And the fact that we were acquaintances once, briefly at college, is simply a coincidence. Adolf Hitler went to school in Vienna with the Jewish philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein … I don’t think it was an association that was particularly relevant.’

            I’m on guard here. It’s like fencing with rapiers. My adversaries in London have blown me up. Budley’s waiting for me to take a fall. Up to now I’ve ignored the audience. They’re there in the background, but as clips from my session with Bill Hitchcock and the BBC’s wrecked analysis studio come up on the monitors, I’m sensing empathy. I have a feeling the people out there in the semi-darkness are with me.

            ‘Rudi – why did these guys try to kill you?’ Rad Budley wants to know. ‘Was it because of what you think …I mean, your political views and stuff?’

             This is the sort of opportunity I’m being paid to reach out for and embrace. Her Majesty has high expectations, although my Controller seems to be looking up at the ceiling.

            ‘I believe it’s pretty straightforward, Rad,’ I say while trying to embrace my audience with friendly eye contact and positive body language. ‘Many of us have allowed ourselves to drift away from fundamental values in recent years. In Britain … and I suspect in other places, we’ve come to rely far too much on the provision of welfare benefits by the state … and frequently, these benefits are for people who don’t really need them …

            ‘This causes problems when you get unemployment on the scale we have it today around the world. We have also allowed our educational standards to slip – quite seriously, I believe in numeracy and literacy …

            ‘But at the very heart of so many of our difficulties today, there’s a sort of moral bankruptcy. We seem to have lost our way. In many instances, we have quite simply forgotten what is right and what is wrong … this is where the changes have to start from, Rad … we need serious moral regeneration!’

            The audience is already on their feet. They’re led by a core group of Afro-American Christian fundamentalists, who are clapping, whooping and yelling with approval.

            ‘Thank you …thank you, Rudi Flynn!’ Rad Budley shouts with all of the sincerity and enthusiasm he can manage. He’s got a hit on his show today. He needs to stay with the vibe. His studio audience is all fired up. The guys leading the show from the floor frequently have network viewers across the United States and beyond. Right now, the cameras and Rad Budley’s producers are picking up on a storm of spontaneous applause.

            ‘Hey – shit! This Rudi Flynn’s hot … no one’s heard of him, but our lines are    all blocked. We’ve got thousands calling in. Who is this guy? We need to talk, man!’

Chapter 26

          There are photographers and TV people waiting outside. ‘Did you assault Fiona McCutcheon in a Greek lavatory?’ is the main question. Followed by: ‘Are you a fascist, Rudi?’ and ‘Is Europe now like Germany was in the thirties?’ I don’t think Levinia’s doing a brilliant job as my PR fixer/minder. I mean, I’m meant to be edging Oscar Kerner out of the frame as a silent majority hero. My message is clear: I’m heading up a crusade for decent people. I’m a standard bearer for those who want a return to good old fashioned moral values.

         ‘I’m sorry about all of this,’ she says when we get to a hotel overlooking Central Park. ‘I’ve got a few problems, Rudi. You were wonderful on the Rad Budley show. It’s all going the right way, but there’s stuff I have to sort out.’

         Fine. I’ll watch TV. I might go down to the Village. We could meet later. But please, could she get it together and tell me what else, if anything, I’m meant to be doing in here.

         ‘Of course – ‘

         She’s giving me some of the awesome Levinia now. Focused, in control and looking pretty incredible.

         ‘I’ll call you,’ she assures me.

         I hope so. There’s a promising smile in her eyes. We’ll maybe salsa a little later. I’m in love with Julia Stein, but there’s something about Levinia that intrigues me. I want to see the way her hips move with the music. Her Majesty is well served by such bright and dedicated people. They’re the back bone of England’s green and pleasant land.

        ‘Rudi – ‘ I’ve fallen asleep in my clothes. The TV’s still on and the sun’s coming in.

       ‘Yes –’

       ‘Are you all right?’ my controller asks when I open the hotel room door.

       We’re on the twenty second floor and it’s time for breakfast.

       ‘I called you several times last night,’ she tells me, ‘but your mobile was switched off.’

       I’m losing it. I can’t cope with urban living. Something rural is what I need: Milking cows, ploughing fields and drinking with locals at the harvest festival. I’m still in a daze. Is Levinia wearing a purple basque? Or is that a very together business suit, with maybe suspenders holding up her stockings underneath the skirt?

       A boy has arrived with coffee, doughnuts, cheese, bagels and salt beef. I feel ill in the bathroom. There are three miniature whisky bottles in a bin under the sink. Are they mine?

        ‘I’m sorry,’ I say when I come out. ‘It’s the jet lag.’ I’m totally confused. I’m not sure what I’m meant to be doing any more, and with all due deference to Her Majesty, I’d just as soon take my chances as an unemployed hack with no home and a drink problem.

        ‘Something’s happened,’ Levinia says when I’ve tried a doughnut dunked in coffee.

        ‘Right – ‘

        ‘We’ve got to go to Washington.’

        ‘What for?’

        She’s standing in front of a huge window looking out on Central Park.

        ‘Apparently, the President liked the way you came across on the Rad Budley show. He wants to meet you.’

        Fuck me! Stand tall; straight back and feet together. Salute the Stars and Stripes as the Commander-in-Chief approaches to shake my hand in the Oval Office. I need to talk with Ray McVeigh. Suddenly, I’ve got Neuro-Linguistic Programming anchors fighting for space in my head. Sailing boats in a storm, Princess Diana, Julia Stein and my transcendental meditation mantra are all competing and my hands are shaking.

        ‘What shall I say?’ I ask.

        ‘Just be yourself, Rudi. Tell him how you feel about what’s happening in the UK.’

        ‘We’re falling apart, sir. Our moral fibre’s collapsing. We need strong leadership. Only I don’t think Oscar’s the one. A local person would be better: a Churchill figure, perhaps. But political talent’s in short supply just now at Westminster.’

            ‘No time to dawdle,’ she says when I’ve showered and shaved. ‘We’ve got a helicopter to take us to Washington … and if you’re free later, there’s a do in Georgetown.’

            That would be great, provided I don’t fall asleep again. I’d like to take in the Ground Zero site here in New York, and maybe the Empire State building. If there’s a day free before I go back to London, maybe I could also make a short trip out to the Hamptons.

            ‘Come on,’ Levinia says, steering me towards the door. ‘Duty calls.’

            The cab driver shrugs and shakes his head when I ask if he can make a detour to take in the Ground Zero site. There’s a traffic jam, he says. He can’t be arsed, so it’s not possible. I’m looking forward to the helicopter ride, but I’m feeling ill. I think it’s the doughnut I dunked in the coffee at breakfast.

            ‘Are you up for this?’ Levinia asks when we stop at a Government building in Lower Manhattan.  Our Chinook’s on the roof, and when we’ve shaken hands with the Marine Corps pilot, he offers us each a can of coke.

            I daren’t touch the stuff. Levinia’s looking at me like I’m a wimp. ‘You can’t cut it,’ she’s thinking, but I’m busy fighting an urge to vomit. I miss out on what I’m sure are great views and I’m trying to meditate when we come in over Capitol Hill. Levinia’s on the phone as we land and she sounds agitated.

            ‘I can’t go with you,’ she says. ‘Someone in Whitehall’s trying to contact me. I’ll be waiting when you’re finished at the White House though … so call me – and good luck.’

           I’ve got a British Embassy driver for my short run to the White House. He’s a discreet but friendly Essex man, who tells me he’s hoping buy a house and settle in the States.

          ‘I just can’t see where we’re going in England no more, guv … It’s a foreign country.’

          It would be helpful if I could get him to expand on this. I need something solid to bat and ball with the President. We’re at the gates now though. I’ve got a Marine escort and my Essex driver’s giving me a subtle sort of ‘good luck, guv, and take care’ farewell wave.

          ‘It’s a pleasure to meet with you, sir,’ a guy with a buttoned down shirt collar and a thin veneer of charm says when I’ve been checked by security. ‘I’m Harvey Wallenstein … and this is Gloria Gilhooly.’

          She’s got big feet in flat shoes, and her eyes are wandering all over the place.

          ‘Miss Gilhooly is our President’s Special Advisor on Northern Ireland,’ Harvey says. ‘So I’ll leave you two together, Mr Flynn.’

          This is a mistake, surely. I’ve only ever done human interest in the Province: Sex, drugs and repressed perversions amongst the warring factions who are now in bed together.

          ‘It’s so difficult for the Brits at the moment,’ Miss Gilhooly says as we start walking. ‘I’m wondering though … do you have any Irish connections?’

         Boatloads, ma’am – although I’m presently working for Her Majesty.

         ‘Only – we’re concerned about the effects of nationalism at the moment in England,’ she confides. ‘We feel events in Northern Ireland may have impacted to some extent on what you guys are going through just now.’

         ‘Really?’

        ‘Well – I guess I’m thinking about linkages between Orange Order parades in Northern Ireland and National Socialist rallies in Nuremberg during the nineteen thirties. The connections may be tenuous historically … but I’m sure you know what I mean.’

        I don’t. But another aide has arrived and I’m being led towards the Oval Office. It’s smaller than I expected and I’m feeling nauseous again.

        ‘It’s good to meet you, Rudi,’ the President says. I immediately recognise his strong, media friendly face. There’s also a firm, welcoming handshake. ‘And you got my sympathy!’

        ‘I do appreciate that, sir.’ I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it, but …

        ‘Oh yes … I’ve had my own run-ins with that McCutcheon woman … and boy, she sure as hell doesn’t take any prisoners!’

        There’s immediate bonding between the two of us. The President’s a great guy. We could easily spend time discussing the likes of Fiona McCutcheon and what we have to do just to avoid summary castration. There are other even more pressing issues, however, and what’s happening in Europe is top of the list.

       ‘I’m wondering, Rudi,’ the great man asks, ‘what it might take for one of the major players to go all the way and elect an unashamedly right-wing nationalist government?’

       ‘It’s difficult to say, sir,’ I answer respectfully. ‘The French are possibly closer to that outcome than the British, but that’s because of their electoral system.’

       ‘So we’re talkin’ proportional representation here, Rudi?’

       ‘Yes sir – it gives the smaller, more extreme parties, such as the National Front, a disproportionate influence in French politics. They’ve got a winner takes all situation in the UK. However, a lot of traditional Labour and Conservative voters are swinging decisively towards the Nationalists.

        ‘So these Kerner people could actually win in England?’

        ‘Yes, sir – it’s quite possible.’

        The President’s thinking about this. If America’s main ally in Europe suddenly swings over to the extreme right, it could have implications for the Special Relationship – especially amongst liberals in the US Congress. It’s taxing stuff, but the President’s keen to move on.

        ‘I watched you last night with that asshole, Budley,’ he says, and there’s a big, down home grin spreading across his rugged, sun-burned face. ‘I was impressed, Rudi. He didn’t phase you at all … not one bit, man! Only I guess I got to ask … what is it that drives this guy, Kerner? I mean, you do actually know him, right?

        ‘Yes, sir.’ I’ve got to put my hand up to that. We shared squalid student lodgings for a year in California. I wish now I’d never met the fucker, but in answer to your question, sir. ‘I think he’s quite idealistic. He sort of latched onto the whole Plato versus Aristotle thing a while back. He’s not into democracy. I don’t believe he ever has been.’

       ‘So he’s really into all of this philosophy stuff?’

       ‘Exactly – and he can be very persuasive, Mr President. He’s got a lot of crowd appeal. He’s got a way of tapping into the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people, especially indigenous white workers and middle class families.’

       ‘The guys a racist though,’ the US Commander-in-Chief says bluntly. ‘I mean, hell, Rudi … all that stuff about shippin’ back asylum seekers an’ immigrants – an’ people of colour … good lord God almighty, that could be Adolf Hitler, Bennet Mussolini or Spanish Franco!’

       I understand where the most powerful man in the world is coming from. Kerner is popular, however. His appeal is growing each day, especially in the UK. He may well secretly prefer boys to girls – in fact, I’m sure he does. At the moment though, he’s coming across as a celibate ascetic. Battersby’s attempt to smear him in Athens as a sexual deviant failed. So much so, that Oscar is now branding homosexual promiscuity as criminally offensive. A wayward proclivity that makes decent folk feel threatened and uneasy.

        ‘Mind – I’ll tell you, Rudi,’ the President says when an aide comes in to let him know that the Chinese Prime Minister has arrived. ‘Whatever about this guy Kerner, I like the way you’re addressing all the big issues we’re facing at the moment. You’re a credit to your country, man. I hope you’ll come back to us soon … if you ever decide you want to do some public speaking here I’d like you to know you’ll have my personal endorsement.’

        I’m flattered. It could well be an option if Her Majesty feels I’ve done my bit in England. The President’s got a busy schedule though, and when we’ve swopped a few thoughts on Stratford-upon-Avon and the Scottish Highlands, Harvey Wallenstein reappears. It’s time for us to shake hands and wish each other well. There’s a certain protocol for US Presidential visitors. It’s subtle but straightforward. I’ve had my fifteen or twenty minutes with the great man, and that’s it, buddy. I’m on my way out of the Oval Office through an anonymous side door. It’s a speedy exit, and it has to be, for as I leave, the Chinese President is being welcomed in with smiles, salutes and firm flesh-pressing at the main entrance.

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