The Scenes Behind The Power
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Unexpected Tales from the Ends of the Earth
Extract from Hermit Sailor:
The radio in the cramped deck house spluttered. A clipped, pinch-nosed English voice was announcing a shipping forecast.‘There will be strong to gale force north westerly winds in Cromarty, with poor visibility, and fresh north westerly’s, force four, in Dogger…’ Ed twirled the knob consigning the crackling message to oblivion. Nothing useful. Abruptly he switched off. How the hell had he picked up this dumb Brit bulletin on his shortwave for Christ’s sake? He was steering his way through treacherous ice flows off Labrador, nearly five hundred kilometres north of Newfy. The yawing and pitching of the fishing boat’s hull as she wallowed in heavy seas would defy any but a seasoned helmsman aiming to negotiate the freezing obstacle course. The task was physically draining as well as demanding intense concentration. It took all the skill that Ed’s years in the wheelhouse could muster.Yet nagging at the back of his mind, were thoughts of the sad, child-woman in the cabin back ashore – Annie. He’d met her a few months before. Her arrival in his life had been an unexpected bounty, although in some ways she could also be a trial and a source of anxiety. At home, his efforts trying to placate her unfathomable mood swings were not often successful or readily rewarded. He was essentially a simple, albeit highly skilled man, not gifted with great insight into the emotions of humankind. Ed’s skills lay elsewhere in navigation, predicting the weather and knowing the habits of his quarry – how to locate the cod shoals and how to trap them. The sea was ingrained in him from boyhood when his father, then the boat’s owner, would take him on fishing forays far out in the ocean. He was in his element at sea, netting for cod and battling the natural forces marshalled against him.Continuing to dwell fleetingly on thoughts of Annie, he realised there were deeper, more convoluted layers to her than the fragile, vulnerable image he had first conjured up. She sometimes showed an outspoken, almost brazen side. She could be spikily sharp tongued. Her makeup was not simple. The waif-like image belied contradictory undercurrents.
The Tank Room
Set in Liverpool at the beginning of the nineteen fifties, Matt Dixon is immersed in the world of jazz moonlighting in bands for beer money and to meet girls. Jazz is flourishing but the rising popularity of a new phenomenon – “Merseybeat” – is threatening to knock it off the perch. Soon a boy group, The Beatles, is jam packing frenzied fans into the Cavern, the city’s premier jazz spot. It is a time when musicians are rubbing shoulders with up and coming artists, writers and poets; Adrian Henri, Don McKinlay, Beryl Bainbridge, Brain Patten, Roger McGough; in a bohemian demimonde. Matt becomes involved with two women from very different backgrounds…
Martin Craig-Downer, Emeritus professor UCL, has contributed to over a hundred scientific journal publications and many textbooks. He is a Founding Fellow of the International Academy of Oral Oncology and a Distinguished Scientist Laureate of the International Association for Dental Research. In the early 1960s he worked as a professional jazz musician with Charlie Galbraith’s band. The Tank Room is his first novel.