Release News

CoverMac and June: Never A Dull Moment will be released this week!


Thank you for your patience. The last thing I wanted to do was put out something I wasn’t totally happy with, just to meet a deadline. I must admit, the whole “second album syndrome” loomed very large in my mind when I sat down to begin writing the sequel to Love In The Time Of Oil, with nothing but a blank screen and a blinking cursor for company.

Of course, I did know that Mac, June, Doug, Ronnie, Bessie, Peggy, and Grandpa would feature in the narrative, and that the first book had ended with Mac maybe going to work on the Stella Maris. Beyond that, I had no clue. I let the characters’ words lead me along. They are all such strong, diverse personalities that all I have to do is picture them in a situation, and away we go.

A couple of new, supporting characters feature this time around, as well as the return of others who made cameo appearances in the first book.

So, it’s my fervent wish that you enjoy Mac and June: Never A Dull Moment. Out of necessity, I’ve read it myself at least thirty times, and still laugh at some of the scenes. I only hope I’ve managed to effectively translate what was in my head onto the paper, so that you too can live in Mac and June’s world for a little while.





January 8th, 2015 – Whew! I wrote the final chapter of Mac and June: Never A Dull Moment yesterday, I’m happy to say.

January 14th, 2015 – No, I didn’t. The last line/ending is annoying me. Back to the keyboard.

January 15th, 2015 – Now I think it needs an extra chapter in the middle.

January 21st, 2015 – Chapter in the middle is half done. Read it at writers’ group tonight. Good response and feedback, so all I have to do is finish that chapter, and re-do the ending. Easy.

January 23rd, 2015 – Still stuck on both.  Have resorted to fixing errors/omissions in manuscript found by eagle-eyed Sue’s proofreading. At least it still makes me smile as I read it for the nth time.

January 25th, 2015 – Robert Burns’ birthday. Hoped the Scottish Bard would inspire me. Nope – still fixing typo’s.

January 26th, 2015 – Today we write! I will type until something good happens.

As my old, long-departed, audio colleague Larry used to say, “Some days, the bear eats you. Some days, you eat the bear, and some days, the bear just toys with you until you’re dead.”


Almost There

As another year comes to a close, I am looking forward to 2015, not least for the release of the second volume in the Mac & June trilogy, now titled “Never A Dull Moment”. (I previously wrote that it would be called Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls. Luckily, my illustrious and talented cover designer, Stuart McKay, informed me the title was already taken. Since he did such an admirable job with the first book, and has his finger on the pulse of all things media, I felt obliged to heed his advice. I really need to do my research before shooting off my mouth.)

In Never A Dull Moment, Mac and June will find themselves going on an unexpected trip to the USA. Mac meets a couple of new members of the Meldrum clan, gets to see the Queen, and continues to be led into mostly alcohol-related situations by Grandpa.

So I wish you all the happiest of Hogmanays, a safe and prosperous 2015, and remember, beer before wine, feelin’ fine – wine before beer, feelin’ queer. Slainte!





Doric – Not Just A Column Holding Up An Ancient Building

One of the reviews I saw on the UK Amazon site for Mac and June: Love In The Time Of Oil commented that the dialogue wasn’t how folk in the Aberdeen area spoke. I believe the word ‘disappointed’ was in there.

Doric is the dialect spoken in the North East of Scotland. In ancient Greece, the residents of Sparta were Dorian Greeks, a rural area, and they spoke differently than the sophisticated Athenians did. In other words, they were considered hayseeds, uncultured bumpkins. Hence the term.

I always wanted the novel to be accessible to as many English speakers worldwide (duh), and so I did somewhat ‘water it down’.

In the upcoming sequel, Mac and June: Sex And Drugs And Sausage Rolls, I’ve added a bit more, but it is by no means indecipherable.

As an example, and a little preview of the second book, here’s Grandpa explaining Doric to Mac.



Mac sat with Grandpa in the Meldrums’ back garden, waiting for June’s co-worker, who lived close by, to drop her off from work. The American’s head was spinning, and he was wondering what had possessed him to bring up the subject. It had started simply enough.

“So I read in the paper that this,” he held up his fingers in quotes, “language you speak here is called Doric.” Mac laughed. “I just thought you all had bad pronunciation.”

Grandpa took another cigarette from Mac’s pack, even though his own sat on the small table between them. Mac noticed.

“Hey, what’s wrong with your own?”

“Ach, I’ve only a few left, and I canna be buggered to go down to McGillivray’s shop to buy another twenty. Leave me yours when June comes, and I’ll gie ye a lesson in Doric for free.”

“How’s it free if I’m giving you half a pack?”
“Ach, dinna fash yersel’.”

“Is this it? We’re starting the lesson? What did that mean?”

“Means keep a calm sooch.”

“Wait, you can’t explain one piece of gibberish by quoting another.”

Grandpa lit the stolen cigarette, and took a drink of his tea. “All right. A calm sooch is a gentle wind.”

“Oh, so don’t get fired up. I get it.”

“We should start with the three F’s.”

“The three F’s?”

“Aye. Fit, Fan, Fa, and Far.”

“That’s four F’s.”

Grandpa silently mouthed the words while counting them on his hands. “Right. Four. So, fit.”

Mac smiled. “As in ‘I’m fit and well.’”

Grandpa gave an exasperated grunt. “No, as in, ‘Fit time is it?’”

“That what people say when somebody’s going to the gym?”

“No, Jesus, that’s when folk want to know what the time is.”

“Ahhh. Number two is…?”

“Fan. ‘Fan are ye comin’ hame?’”

Mac shook his head. “Nope.”

Grandpa rubbed his nose as if there were ants inside his nostrils. “Okay, Try this.” He rubbed his nose again. “F is instead of wh—fit is what, fan is when, fa is who, and far is where. Got it?” He sat back, dazzled by his own brilliance.

Silent, Mac sat for a moment, running this magic formula around in his brain. He heard a door slam inside the house. “Ohh, so when you guys say, ‘Fit like?’, you mean, ‘What like?’, as in ‘How’s it goin’?’… is that right?”

“The boy’s a genius.” the old man leaned over and put out the cigarette in the ashtray. “Think it’s too early for a beer?”

“I have to drive June home.”

“It’s one beer. What—have ye joined the Temperance Movement or somethin’? Go and get us a couple.”

Mac knew from experience there was no point in arguing with the wily old bastard. “Okay, okay, I’ll go.” His face broke into a sly grin. “Far are they?”

Grandpa cracked a smile. “Go to the top of the class, young man.’ He rubbed his hands together. “They’re in the fridge. Hurry back, this teachin’s makin’ me thirsty.”

Mac wandered in through the open back door, past the washing machine, and into the cool kitchen. June was sitting at the table. She was reading the paper. He decided to try out his new-found knowledge on her. “Aye, aye, darlin’. Fit like?”

June put down the paper, and looked up at Mac as if she’d never seen him before.

Mac walked over to the fridge and opened the door. “Grandpa’s teachin’ me Doric,” he said to the leftover leg of lamb sitting on a plate on the middle shelf. He grabbed two beers, and closed the fridge. Turning back to the still-staring June, he held out a bottle. “Want one?”

His wife picked up the paper again, and spoke to it. “Nae iv noo, ma feet are affa sair. I’m needin’ awa hame fan ye’re deen wi’ yer beer, an Grandpa. Ken?”

Mac stood with his mouth open. “Whoa, whoa, slow down there, sister. I’ve only had the one lesson. Gimme a break, would ya?”

June straightened the newspaper and switched to a Brooklyn accent, in the style of Sean Connery. “Snap it up, then. My dogs are barkin’. I wanna split, pronto. Got me, Jack?”

Mac pointed at her. “No fair. You watched all those Jimmy Cagney movies growing up.”

When Mac met June

It’s 1974, and Mac is a young American just arrived in Aberdeen to work in the oil business – definitely a stranger in a strange land….

On a cold, gray Friday night in February, at the end of his first week living in Aberdeen, two work colleagues, Tony and Ian, took him out for a night on the town to celebrate his first week on the job. They consumed several pints and a couple of whiskies in a starkly austere pub populated with craggy, old men. Mac was despairing of Scottish nightlife until Tony told him they were only drinking there because it was a lot cheaper than at the dancehall they were heading to.

An hour and a half later, and suitably lubricated, they weaved their way down a cobbled, dead-end street in the old part of town. The freezing night air attacking his lungs was a sharp contrast to Mac’s Southern California home. He hoped their destination was close. Halfway down on the left, stood a four story granite Victorian edifice. The word ‘Palace’ glowed in red neon on the side of the building. Like moths to a flame, several dozen other revelers converged on the sign.

Mac turned to Tony. “Where did all these people come from?”

Tony ran his hands through his hair, and straightened his tie. “The pubs are all closed now, but the Palace has a late license.”

“Aye,” chimed in Ian, rubbing his hands together, “so let’s get in there, have a little dance, a little drink, and maybe get lucky.”

They paid the cover and went in past the broken-nosed bouncers. One or two looked like they’d beat him senseless for free. Once they’d handed in their overcoats at the cloakroom, Mac opened the doors to the main room and was smacked by a wall of sound. The live band on the wide, raised stage was belting out a competent rendition of All the Young Dudes.

Hundreds of women and girls danced with each other in the middle of the dance floor. An equally large number of young men circulated slowly around the perimeter, like a pack of wolves sizing up a herd of sheep. On the back wall under the balcony, a long bar ran between the two entry doors. The crowd was four deep, but after standing in line for five minutes, eventually they got their drinks; two each, so they wouldn’t have to fight the throng again too soon.

Since conversation was well-nigh impossible, Mac had been looking around the hall, taking it all in. The band was playing Bye Bye, Baby when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to be confronted by a young woman with shoulder length dark hair and straight bangs. She wore a plain, scoop-necked black top with an impossibly short, lime green mini skirt, black tights, and matching green platform shoes that raised her height almost to his six feet.

Her eyes, blue and kohl-rimmed, surveyed Mac’s face. “Gonna give us a light, please?” she shouted in his ear, holding up her cigarette.

Mac nodded and handed her one of his drinks as he fumbled for his lighter, switching the glass in his hand as he moved his search to his other pockets. She was smiling at him. He held her gaze and smiled back.

“Cool band,” Mac screamed at her, hoping he could prolong the conversation. He thought she was gorgeous. He found the lighter and sparked it up.

She shouted back. “Aye, no’ bad.” She leaned in, and lit her cigarette, exhaling a blue plume away from him. She moved her face close into his ear. “Be even better if they’d stop playing that Bay City Rollers shite.” Her perfume was ginger, musky. He could smell hair spray, and her voice, close and in his ear, gave him a tingle. She stepped back, but her scent lingered. He was enchanted.

She handed him back his drink and shouted, “Thanks.”

Before he could come up with something else to say, she was off, walking away to rejoin her girlfriends. Mac cursed his luck. He willed her to turn around. Just when he was thinking he’d made no impression, she looked over her shoulder, and their eyes locked, just for a second, before she disappeared back into the shoal of dancers.

Mac and his buddies continued drinking until the place closed. He swept the room, hoping for another glimpse of the lime green mini. No such luck.


Back outside, Tony and Mac sidestepped the scuffles and vomiting, and walked along the frosty streets. Steam flowed off the top of their heads as they navigated the cold, February night.

Mac felt they were going the wrong way. “Where you going, Tony?”

“Chips. I’m needin’ some chips,” Tony slurred, weaving from sidewalk to street and back again.


“Yeah, everybody goes to Freddy’s chip shop after the Palace.”

“What the fuck is a chip shop?”

Tony stopped and pointed to a brightly lit, glass storefront with a door to the right. Above the window, a hand-painted sign read Freddy’s. A cartoon fish, with its tongue hanging out and a jolly look in its eye, gaped down at them. The windows were completely steamed up. “That, my American friend, is a chip shop.”

Inside, it was mayhem. The place was heaving with hungry, impaired people all talking at the top of their voices. Someone was singing The Wonder of You, sounding remarkably like Elvis, but with a Scottish accent. The air swam with the smells of hot oil, battered fish, pastry, and malt vinegar. Behind the counter, a stout middle-aged woman, wearing a grease-spattered, flowery pinafore and sporting thick eyeglasses, served customers with a serene smile.

In complete contrast, behind the massive, stainless steel and glass fryer that dominated most of the chip shop, stood the most pent-up looking man Mac had ever seen. Freddy, the eponymous proprietor Mac assumed, was a tall man with arms like whipcords, and a jaw like a car crusher. He worked the fryer with the single-mindedness and determination of a machine-gunner mowing down advancing attackers. Patrons cried out greetings to him as they staggered in. His smile was thin-lipped in its fleeting acknowledgement, while still one hundred per cent devoted to the task at hand.

Tony nudged Mac, nodding at the dervish battering fish and pouring five gallon buckets of cut up potatoes into the roiling oil. “That’s Freddy. God help anyone who starts anything in here.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. See his wife? Louise. She’s the only one that can keep him under control. When he loses his shit, he’s like the fuckin’ Incredible Hulk. I’ve seen him in action a couple of times.”

Mac looked up at the bill of fare on the shiny, Formica wall. “What are you going to have?” He looked behind Tony. “We’ve lost Ian, by the way.”

Tony grinned. “Oh, no we haven’t. He managed to pull. We won’t be seeing him until Monday.”


“Got off with a woman at the dance hall. You know, hooked up.”

“Oh, sure.” Mac blinked. The vinegar in the air was nipping his eyes. “So, what are you having?”

Tony pointed to the glass-fronted case on top of the fryer. “Freddy’s wife makes the best chicken pie in town, so it’s a chicken pie supper for me.”

“Supper? It’s after midnight.”

“That’s what it’s called when you get it with the chips. You’ve got to have Freddy’s chips, especially now, when everything’s fresh out of the fryer. Magic.”

“I’m never gonna understand your accents and words, even if I stay here a hundred years.”

A thin, red-faced man, in front of them in the line, turned on Mac with eyes flashing. “Then why don’t ye do us all a favor and fuck off back to America, ye Yank bastard?”

Mac watched the spittle fly, as the man poked him in the chest with a concrete finger. The  man continued. “It’s just like the war again. You come over here, lording it over all of us like your shite doesn’t stink, shagging our women, and then leaving them in the lurch.”

Mac, shocked by the sudden ferocity, resorted to humor.

“Have we met?”

“Fuck you. Outside. Now. You an’ me.”

Freddy momentarily stopped scooping fresh chips out of the fryer to issue a dire warning. “If anybody starts a fight in here,” he barked, “I’ll be over this counter like a rat up a pipe, and you’ll both be eating hospital food for a week.”

A quiet murmur ran through the patrons; even Elvis stopped singing.

“There you are.” Mac turned. It was the girl in the lime green mini. She pushed her way through the crowd and put her arm through Mac’s. She smiled at him. “I’ve been lookin’ everywhere.”

“Hello Jake,” she said to Mac’s aggressor. “Been oot for a few, hiv ye?”

Jake was taken aback. “June? What are ye daein’ with this fuckin’ Yank?”

“He’s ma cousin. Visitin’ from America.”

Mac’s eyes widened. June continued. “My dad said you had a good week on the boat.”

Jake shuffled his feet. “Aye, yer dad’s a good skipper, right enough.”

June gave him a dazzling smile. “I’ll tell him I saw you. You’re next. See ya.”

Jake looked confused, swiveling his red eyes from June to Mac and back, before quietly ordering a bag of chips. He got his food and walked out without another word.

The babble of voices resumed. Elvis tore into “All Shook Up.”

Mac shook his head in amazement. “Hello again. What just happened?”

“That was Jake. He works on my dad’s fishing boat.” She moved them up to the counter. “Nice enough bloke until he gets the whisky in him. I think you should see me home. It’s not safe with all these drunks about.”

“I’m Mac.”

“Mac, eh? Pleased to meet you, cousin. Want to split a chicken pie supper?”


After saying farewell to Tony, who was lurching around outside the chip shop devouring his food, they walked to an all-night coffee bar that June knew. Warming themselves over several mugs of tea, they talked and laughed for a long time, getting to know one another’s stories.

Finally, in the wee hours of Saturday, with their eyelids growing heavy, they took a taxi through the deserted, frosty streets to her parents’ home in Seatown, where she lived.

Outside June’s house, its motor idling on the street beside them, Johnny Cash’s gravelly voice crept from the cab. Folsom Prison Blues. Something about having shot a man in Reno. The driver had the window cracked, and was blowing out smoke, pretending to ignore them.

June and Mac stood a foot apart on the sidewalk, next to the small, low gate in front of the two story detached house. The front lawn, covered in old, gray patches of snow, had several dormant rosebushes around its borders, and was split in half by a short concrete path. A hallway light shone out through the half-glazed front door.

She stepped closer to him until they were face to face. Mac’s whole body was tingling. He had slept with a total of three women, but this was different. More than lust, or attraction—he really liked her.

“Thanks again for saving me. Back at Freddy’s,” he said, grinning.

“No bother at all.” She was looking at his mouth. “What lovely teeth you have.”

“Thanks.” Mac nodded toward the house. “You should probably go in, eh?”

“Trying to get rid of me, are you?” Now June was grinning.

Mac stammered. “No, no – I don’t want to say goodbye. I just thought you’re probably freezing.”

“I’d ask you in, but they’d hear us talking, and then my Mum would get up and be rushing around making you tea, and bacon and eggs.” She rolled her eyes.

“It was great to meet you.”

“You too.”

“Well, I guess I’d better be going. Can I call you?”

June opened her purse, pulled out an eyeliner pencil, and rummaged around for a piece of paper.

As she wrote, Mac admired her long eyelashes. “What are you doing tomorrow? Want to go to the movies, or something?”

“Something sounds good,” she said, handing him the phone numbers, thick and black on the crumpled scrap of paper.

“Thanks.” Mac felt another stupid smile forming on his face.

“Right, I’m off inside. Aren’t you going to kiss me?”

Mac tilted his head down slightly. June opened his overcoat, then her own, and hugged him to her. Mac closed his eyes, their lips were drawn together magnetically, and they kissed. Tentatively at first, until passion quickly took over. Their mouths stayed open, their lips mashed together, sliding around. Mac could taste her lipstick. Their breath steamed in the night air, like thoroughbreds after an early morning workout. June’s tongue slyly probed his mouth, touching his tongue. She made a sort of whimpering sound. Her chest mashed against his. He felt a stirring, a buzzing; he gave a low, guttural moan.

They pulled apart. Mac felt the cold air on his wet lips.

“Well, that was very nice.” June’s eyes sparkled.

“Mmm, I think I’d better go before I’m not responsible for my actions,” Mac said, hoping his dark jeans and the night were minimizing the obviousness of his erection. He quickly closed and buttoned his coat.

“Tomorrow, then?” June said.

“I’ll call you in the morning, if that’s okay?”

“Not before ten.”

“Of course not.”

They were both goofy. Mac leaned in for another kiss. It started to get intense again. June pulled away, laughing. “I’m going inside. I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Mac.”

She squeezed his hand and kissed him on the cheek before turning away. He watched her open the gate and walk up the path to the front door, fishing the key out of her purse on the way. Mac stood looking as she waved goodbye from the open door. He waved back at her as she closed it and turned out the light. He gazed up at the stars in the clear, freezing night, and smiled at his good fortune.

The grey-haired cab driver rolled the window down, and threw out his cigarette. “Hey John Wayne, are ye off on a suicide mission tomorrow morning, or what?”

“No, I’m not,” Mac said over his shoulder, still smiling to himself.

“Hiv ye got her phone number?”

“Yeah,” Mac said. He turned and showed it to him.

“Then get in the fuckin’ car, ye’ll get pneumonia standin’ oot there.”

Mac got in the back of the taxi, smothered by the instant heat. They pulled away from the curb, and accelerated down the street. Mac turned his head to keep June’s house in view as long as possible.

“That was some hot stuff back there, by the way.” The driver looked over his shoulder at Mac. “I was almost getting a hard-on myself.”

Mac stared at him, shocked. “Fuck off. You’re not supposed to be looking.”

The driver turned back to the road. “No wankin’ in the back seat. Okay?”

The Message Boy

024_2A(Names have been changed to protect the guilty.)

In Scotland, at least where I grew up, groceries were called “messages”. For four years, from 1969 till I left for London in 1972, I was a message boy, delivering provisions to homes in our town. I worked Thursdays and Fridays after school, all day Saturday, and for the last year or so, on Sunday mornings. That was the day we delivered supplies to the fishing boats tied up in the harbor, before they headed out into the North Sea for the week.

For the most part, I was driven around in a Vauxhall Viva estate (station wagon), by either the grocer, his wife, or, if the shop was really busy, the grocer’s father, Jim Sr. The latter was, to this callow youth, an intimidating man. A former sergeant-major, he brooked no suggestions, or advice from a young, long-haired lad. Our trips together around the town often took way longer than necessary, since he ignored my planned-out route, and just drove wherever he wanted.

I stood on many a doorstep in rain, snow, darkness, and sunshine, waiting for the grocery box to be emptied and returned to me. Through those door frames, I saw snatches of events on televisions broadcasting in front rooms: Apollo 13 taking off on a rainy Saturday, putts missed at the British Open, football matches, the announcement that Jimi Hendrix had died, Vietnam war casualty figures, as well as more mundane fare, such as game shows and sitcoms.

One older couple who lived close by the shop down by the harbor often invited me in for a cup of tea, so I always made a point of delivering their groceries after lunch on Saturday afternoons. I remember watching the annual Oxford/Cambridge boat race a couple of times in the cosy front room of their little stone house. Years later, my mother told me they’d lost their son at around my age, and that the company of a young man, reminiscent of their own, was a comfort to them.

All this took place as hormones raced through my skinny, adolescent frame, and I freely admit to harboring fantasies of a physical nature toward a few of the ladies I serviced. Of course, nothing ever happened; I never would have picked up on their transmitted signals anyway, being a Johnny-come-lately to the complex minefield of l’amour.

One Friday night, in the dead of winter, with ice covering the streets of our town, and snow piled high on the rooftops, Jim and I were heading back down the hill, having finished our deliveries for the evening. Coming up the hill on the wrong side of the road, a car headed towards us, fishtailing as it tried to gain traction. We assumed the car would move over, but as it got closer and closer, headlights weaving back and forth, it soon became apparent that it wasn’t changing course and was still headed straight for us. At the last moment, we made a swift left turn on to a side street. The other car hit us on the rear quarter despite our evasive move.

With expletives and clouds of condensed air flowing off his tongue, Jim jumped out of the car, took a quick look at the damage, and slid his way over to our assailant’s vehicle. Incensed, he hauled the door open, only to be greeted by four skippers of fishing boats, all drunk as skunks. All of whom happened to be very good clients of the grocery. His anger instantly subsided, and he wished them all a safe ride home with a laugh and a smile. This inebriated encounter provided me with an early lesson in diplomacy, and taught me to always remember on which side your bread is buttered.

During the day on Saturdays, the shop furnished me with a message bike to make deliveries. I think that old warhorse weighed around a ton. It varied from a regular bicycle in that it sported a small front wheel, thus giving ample room at the front for the giant wicker basket that sat in a metal frame. When the basket overflowed with boxes of groceries, the bike felt front-heavy, to say the least. I had to lean on the saddle as I pushed it along. This prevented the rear wheel from heading skyward. “Why not just get on the bike and ride?” I hear you ask.

The town we lived in was built on the side of a steep hill, and the shop was about three-quarters of the way down, near the harbor. Many’s the Saturday afternoon I could be seen grunting my way up the main street. On one occasion, a middle-aged man, who was also walking up the hill as I wrestled with the black behemoth, shouted across the road at me. He wore white, painter’s overalls, and a black beret. “Want to go to the pictures with me tonight?”

Stunned, I mumbled back. “No, thank you.”

That’s me, polite to a fault, even in face of attempted pedophilia.

As tough as the slog up the hill was, riding back to the shop with an empty basket was no picnic, either. The bike had, in effect, no brakes. I would barrel down the hill, dodging cars and pedestrians. How I wasn’t killed many times over is still a mystery to me. I did become quite adept at braking by jamming my right calf on the pedal and applying my right shoe to the road. My father was always puzzled by the extremely uneven wear on my trainers.

Delivering messages to the fishing boats often proved to be eventful. One year, close to New Year’s Eve, a very busy time, the owner enlisted the help of his brother-in-law, Eric, to drive me around. It was low tide, and the boats sat a long way down from the quay. At high tide, I could just jump across on the decks, but that day it meant climbing twenty feet down the steel rungs embedded in the harbor’s concrete wall.

A wooden rail, to stop cars from plunging into the water, ran the length of the wall. The first rung was on the quay itself, on the other side of the barrier. Eric promised he’d hold my left arm to help me get it on to the first vertical rung, since I was carrying a fifty pound bag of potatoes under my right arm.

“You got me?” I asked, looking in his eyes.

“Safe as houses,” he replied, smiling.

I took my left hand off the rung, and he immediately let go of my arm. The potatoes and I plummeted to the deck. The potato bag hit first, split open, and spuds flew everywhere. I fared better than they did, landing on my back on a large coil of rope.

“You okay?” Eric shouted down. I didn’t reply, mostly because I’d had the wind knocked out of me. After I got my breath back, I voiced my disappointment in him using language that would have impressed a sailor.

A couple of times a year, big storms would batter our little harbor, occasionally so fiercely that a boat or two would slip their moorings, and proceed to wreak havoc on the others. After one such storm, on a Sunday morning, we had to drop off supplies to half a dozen boats. The worst of the weather had passed, but the water in the harbor was still quite choppy. We pulled up to one vessel whose moorings had become slack. The boat sat about ten feet off the quay, pitching around in the rolling water.

“You’ll have to jump,” Jim told me. “I’ll throw the stuff across.”

“I can’t swim,” I confessed.

He gave me a short laugh. “I’m nae asking’ ye to swim across. Jump.”

Adolescence is a funny business; fear is something never to be shown, or admitted to, even in the face of being asked to do something stupidly dangerous. So I backed up several steps, watched for when the boat came closest to the quay, ran for all I was worth, and leaped. Yes, of course I made it. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this, having been crushed these many years ago, betwixt ship and wall.

So it was definitely a formative experience, those four years delivering groceries. I knew everyone in our little town, and they all knew me. Returning home for my father’s funeral, fourteen years after I’d left, almost everybody who shook my hand remembered me from my message boy days.

I was still an idiot for the next twenty or so years, but not as much of a one as I might have been, had I not been the Message Boy.


Good News, Bad News

Bad news first  – sad to say Mac and June: Love In The Time Of Oil did not make it into the quarter finals of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Managed to see the two judges’ reviews, and all I will say, because it is a subjective process, is they were diametrically opposed in their opinions. I could elaborate, believe me, but what’s done is done, and I have moved on.

Good News – the follow-up to Mac and June is moving right along. (tentatively titled Bicentennial, partly because it’s set in 1976, and partly because some of the action takes place in the USA. Mac and June have to go there after …. Oh no, I’m not giving that away.) I feel I have a pretty solid 150 pages in the bag, although I’m still waiting for the fog to clear so I can find a path to lead me through the final third of the novel.

All the usual suspects return, including Grandpa. He’s in fine form, and as unruly as ever. Mac gets a Doric lesson, the Meldrums go to see the Royal Family, an elderly relative (even older than Grandpa) pays a visit to Seatown, and something big happens by page forty….

Stay tuned,