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28. May, 2017

Hola!

Back again, but in a slightly different format.

But first, many thanks for looking in. I hope you enjoy!

News ..... the sequel to "The Geisha With the Green Eyes" is on track to be released by Red Empress Publishing in September. The second in the series contains many of the characters you told me you loved in the first book, but also introduces a whole lot of new names and faces. Want to know what happened to Midori No Me when she fled from Japan?  Look inside "The Geisha Who Could Feel No Pain". 

AND .... fancy a reduced read? In that case, check out my Amazon page for details of a one week special offer on "Sherlock Holmes, His Wife and the Hunt for Jack the Ripper".  Goulish goings on and torrid romance in Victorian London, all from only 99p/99c for a couple of days initially. A must for all Ripperologists, not to mention anybody who likes a bit of romantic suspense. Go on, what have you got to lose but your boredom?

Speak to you soon, and have a lovely Sunday!

India

25. May, 2017

Well I never - back again! It appears that my website providers were willing to be reasonable, after all, so .......... watch this space! Exciting new stuff coming soon!

9. Apr, 2017

 

We have the builders in at the moment. They´re building a porch over our front door. You know the sort of thing; somewhere you can ditch the wellingtons and leave the umbrella to drip.

Given that we live on the gloriously sunny Costa Blanca, I realise the need for such shelter may come as a shock. Trust me, our weather does not mess about! It doesn´t rain often, but when it does it puts the rain forest to shame. For years, our reservoirs have been at dangerously low levels. After a single month of torrential rain during the winter, some water authorities have actually had to open the sluices and drain the water out to prevent the danger of overflowing!  I do not joke when I say that on one spectacularly wet weekend in March, we had 16 months of normal rainfall in 3 days.

But to get back to the builder. The man making a racket outside the door is Javier, a respected local builder. He does a superb job, but you have to be prepared to haggle to get the price right. You know the sort of thing; he measures up (by eye; the tape measure only comes out when he gets round to ordering materials) and scribbles a price on an odd piece of paper. You gasp in outrage, cross it out and write your own estimate in its place. Javier puffs out his cheeks, shakes his head and writes another price down. Generally, agreement is reached by the bottom of the first sheet.

It was Javier who built our extension for us a couple of years ago.  With my usual eternal optimism, I had completely forgotten that after that I vowed I was never, ever going to have any work done on the house again. Javier assured us our extension would take no more than eight weeks, maximum. As he was due to start around mid-September, that sounded fine to us.

Come Christmas Eve, Javier said he would be back with us the day after Three Kings – 7th January. He did, however, drop us off a whole crate of oranges as a Christmas present. We needed the vitamin C, as the wind was howling through the temporary window and door frames and chilling the whole house. We had Christmas lunch at home that year, well wrapped up in layers of clothes to protect against the cold. We daren’t go out, in case we got burgled in our absence as the new back door was only propped up with a piece of wood.  We weren´t lonely, however. At least once a day, we found a friend, neighbor, acquaintance – and at least twice, a complete stranger – wandering around our building site, inspecting progress. They seemed surprised that we were surprised to see them; it was, we were assured, the done thing. Javier making a good job of it, was he?

 

But the work was eventually complete. At the beginning of February, just as the weather took a turn for the better. Seventeen and a half weeks from the day the first JCB trundled into our drive (missing the outside casing of an air conditioning unit by millimeters).

 

It was finished within budget. And Javier did a wonderful job, which we are still happy with to this day.

 

The time scale for our porch is a week, mas o menos. Fingers crossed ….

 

2. Apr, 2017

I cannot believe it´s Sunday already. What happened to the last week? But, according to my calendar it is, so I suppose I have to believe it.

Have you had a good week?  I do hope so. In any event a little light reading for you on this bright and sunny Sunday...

A long time ago, and in a land that was far away and full of mystery lived a girl who dared to challenge tradition. A girl who was true to herself, no matter what life had to throw at her. Midori No Me;  the Geisha With the Green Eyes continues her story.

The story of the Dragon Geisha.....

"The smaller vessels scudded before our larger ship like flustered children, disturbed in their games by the arrival of an unexpected but much loved elderly relative. I sucked in a breath, sure for a moment that a particularly tiny ship had been taken down by our bows; but no, there it was popping out on the far side, unharmed. I knew from a past journey that it would be hours before we actually docked in San Francisco harbour, so I took the chance to go back to my cabin, and changed from my kimono and obi into Western dress; a long skirt and a blouse, topped by a jacket. I pulled the combs out of my hair and rearranged my curls so that they could be topped by a hat and a veil. Scrubbed my traditional make-up off and replaced it with no more than a dab of face powder. Checked myself in the mirror and frowned at my reflection, wondering – not for the first time, and no doubt not for the last - which woman was the real me?

Back on deck, I smiled at my dinner companion from the journey. He was leaning on the rail, watching San Francisco speed towards us. He raised his hat to me uncertainly, and it was clear he had no idea who I was. I watched the expression in his eyes change from puzzlement to greed in a second, and my smile froze on my lips. He had been an avuncular companion on the long sea journey across the Pacific, regaling me with stories of his travels the length and breadth of America, telling me constantly how glad he was to be back, and how I would soon come to love his country as much as he did. Politeness forbade me to explain that I had lived in America for the last two years, and no longer regarded it with any terror at all. Instead, I nodded and smiled and allowed him to pick out the choicest dishes at dinner for me, although even politeness couldn´t make me accept his choice of rare beefsteak. Henry-san had been hurt by my horror at first, and then clearly amused when I explained that my religion forbade me eating anything that came from a creature with four legs. I forced myself to watch him eating the bloody flesh, even managing to speak without showing so much as a shudder.

Experience should have told me that I ought not to have been either surprized or hurt by the change in my new friend, but I was.

“Henry-san?” I murmured hopefully, watching as his mouth opened and closed but no words came out. He wore dentures; I had often hidden a smile as I had watched him fight with the tougher cuts of meat, and now his upper set slipped and collided with the bottom teeth with a distinct click.

“My God. Midori No Me? I barely recognised you in those clothes, and without your make up.”

I smiled sweetly and thought; liar. You didn´t recognise me at all. You thought I was some woman who had popped up out of nowhere. Some woman who was … available.

I didn´t say anything. I simply lowered my head and watched him from beneath my eyelashes. Obviously flustered by his mistake, Henry san took my hand and guided it through his arm, giving it a little pat of reassurance as our ship bumped and nuzzled into the harbour. It was unforgivably rude of him to touch me uninvited and I stiffened, fighting the urge to pull away and reclaim a respectable distance from him. He stank, as well. He reeked of meat and butter and milk, as if the smell was seeping out through his pores from inside him.

And then I realised the mistake was mine, not his. We were no longer in Japan, where such a public gesture of affection between mere acquaintances would have been unthinkable. No longer in Japan, where it was a constant joke that one could smell the gaijin before they could be seen. We were back in America. Back in my new home.

I had only spent a couple of months in Japan, and already I was a geisha again.

Henry-san was chattering away, but I barely heard him. I nodded and smiled automatically, my thoughts dancing like fireflies as my mind was caught and pulled here and there by my two worlds.

I searched the quay side for Danjuro, my husband. Useless, there were too many people ranked there to make out a single figure. I thought I saw him, and half raised my hand to wave, then decided I was wrong. It wasn´t him. Never mind, in a few minutes I would see my husband, and then I would truly be home.

My breath hitched as panic consumed me with a physical pain, gripping my stomach and squeezing so that bile rose in my throat. Home? Was this really home, this place that was suddenly foreign to me again? I wanted to turn, to run back to my cabin, to stay there until the ship turned round and went back across the great ocean.

Back to Japan.

Back to where I belonged.

I stared at San Francisco, growing larger by the moment. It shone in the sun and the sunbeams winked off the windows of the high buildings all along the waterfront. In spite of my confusion, at least it was familiar.

 It had all been so very different, last time."

 

25. Mar, 2017

 

Funny how things change over the years, isn´t it? I´m not talking fashion here, nor life style. Not even – heaven forbid! – politics. I´m thinking more of what are now known as urban myths, and which in my (much) younger days were simply accepted as “something that happened to somebody somebody else knows.” Bit of a mouthful, but you get my drift.

Take the penguin.  This story started circulating a few years ago, but pops up now and then still. The gist of it; child goes to zoo, takes a fancy to a penguin and pops it under his/her coat. Manages to get it home on the school bus, and is only detected when parents notice an even worse odour than usual emanating from child´s bedroom. A likely story! Yet still it comes back!

And the cockroach? Ah, this one involves a chap having a cigarette on the toilet. When he´s finished his various tasks, he puts the cigarette butt down the loo, and is a mite surprised when an explosion severe enough to cause painful burns somewhere you particularly don´t want painful burns ensues. His wife had, naturally, thrown a cockroach down the loo to dispose of it. When the resilient insect refused to drown, she had dosed the toilet with insecticide; hence the explosion. Doh!

The interesting thing about all such myths is the fact that they always take place in a different country to where the person who is telling the tale lives. Now, when I was a child (back in the dark ages) such tales invariably happened in the next street, or at the very least in the same town. And often, they carried a cautionary element rather than an attempt at humour.

Take Mrs. Smith, who used to live down the road. Did you know she used to have two children? Alas, one day the eldest boy, who was a rough, tough little thug, suddenly climbed on her knee and demanded a cuddle.  Five minutes later, he died. Just like that! Not surprisingly, the poor woman moved …

And then again, there was the butcher who used to own the shop on the corner. He put a dish of liver out, ready to be sliced, and then got distracted by a sudden stream of customers. When he came back to prepare the liver, it had crawled off the dish and wrapped itself around a handy milk bottle. When the liver was beaten into submission and sent off for analysis, it was found to be full of live cancer cells …. No surprising the poor man went out of business.

And did you hear about the newlyweds? She always did think she was better than the rest of us. Told everybody she and her bridegroom were going to Paris (Paris! That´s in France, isn´t? Ooh, wouldn´t catch me going there. They don´t speak English, and all that garlic!)f or their honeymoon. Only they didn´t. They didn´t have a penny left after the wedding, so went home and closed the curtains and didn´t switch a light on for a week. Unfortunately, they forgot to cancel the milk, so eventually the milkman tried the back door to see if he could put the day´s offering inside, and was shocked to find the bride sitting in the kitchen in her negligee (don´t worry, that was unbelievably sexy underwear back then) no doubt as surprised as he was ….

Hey, ho. Wonder what the trend in make-believe will be in the next few years ….,