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Another Brilliant Review for the Christmas Compendium!

I'm really pleased that people seem to like the new collection of seasonal stories 'A Christmas Cracker ' .  This latest 5 sta...

Friday, 13 December 2013

Counting Down To...?

This weekend I'm trying out one of these new Kindle Countdown promotions to see if this generates some excitement amongst the reading public!  This means that the latest compilation of stories, A Kick at the Pantry Door, is available at a hugely discounted price from now until Sunday, 15th December, 2013.  Why not take a look at this compilation which has consistently received 5* reviews since its publication earlier this year?  Give yourself a little pre-Christmas treat!


Welcome to the 'A Kick at the Pantry Door' restaurant. We have your favourite table ready and waiting and a selection of tasty and unusual dishes for your delectation and delight (but do bear in mind that the kitchen closes shortly as the Chef needs to go to his second job, rodding out blocked sewers). We have a few choice 'nostalgedy' stories for Starters, some meatier ones for your Mains, a selection of 'curmudgeonly rants' or keen observations (you take your choice) for Dessert, and something unspeakable to go with your Coffee and Mints.

What are the ingredients? Well there's: Our dog's unfortunate addiction to railwaymen - avoiding the great outdoors - how not to take a picture - unfinished business in woodworking - entries as an indicator of intoxication - mowing under pressure - Easter as a moveable feast - a regrettable incident at the Crucifixion. You won't find any E numbers, dodgy additives or nuts in our meals, unless of course you count the Chef.

Philip Whiteland tickles your fancy (it's not a crime yet) once again with this compilation of stories, often with a food-based theme, from today and yesterday. Pull up a chair and tuck in!

This is Philip's third collection of 'nostalgedy' stories, a sequel to the very popular 'Steady Past Your Granny's' and 'Crutches for Ducks'.

"Taking the interesting theme of the reader being a visitor to a restaurant, Philip sets out his book in a number of chapters under the headings of starters, main courses, desserts and coffee and mints. All the stories relate to his experiences growing up in Burton in the 1950s and 1960s…A flavour for the amusing content of the book is given in the first chapter, in which Philip recalls his childhood interest in eating dog biscuits." Derby Telegraph

Monday, 9 December 2013

The AlterNativity

I'm trying to build my own alternative Nativity (hence, AlterNativity!  another portmanteau word to go with 'nostalgedy' ;-))

In typical Whiteland fashion, I started this at, what I suppose is, the end with 'A Stable Upbringing' in Steady Past Your Granny's.  I'm now trying to work back from that point with a story about the shepherds, The Night Watch which you'll find in Wattpad.  A story about the wise men will be posted here, and on Wattpad, soon and I'm working on something involving Herod at the moment.

Anyone would think it was Christmas, wouldn't they ;-)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

GOOD BUY, FREEBIE TUESDAY!

As The 'Stones, didn't sing.  You can get the silliest book on the planet for FREE today (Tuesday, 3rd December) for one day only.  Give yourself a well deserved chuckle this Christmas :-)

JAMBALAYA




Monday, 18 November 2013

By the authority vested in me - Part 2

Continuing the story from Part 1


Now, where was I?  I do seem to have wandered quite a way off my original point.  Oh yes, what to buy the man in your life?  Well, it could be Viagra, then you could get some life in your man (boom, boom, as Basil Brush would say) or, if I could make a humble suggestion, how about a high-visibility vest, a two-way radio and, if you really want to go the whole hog, a pair of reflective sunglasses.  Let's take the rationale for each of these suggestions in turn.

Firstly, the high-vis (to quote the vernacular) vest.  These items of clothing instantly convey power to the wearer, possibly even super-powers!  A man with a high-vis vest can stop traffic, literally.  Put him at the entrance to anything and he has the power to interrogate.  "What are you here for today then, sir?"  No-one ever questions his authority to do this, the high-vis vest is sufficient unto itself.  Every man, secretly, wants a high-vis vest, and the best of it is, they are incredibly flattering.  No matter how portly or scruffy the wearer, the donning of the magic vest renders all beneath it authoritative, commanding and superior.

Then there's the two-way radio.  Am I alone in thinking that the vast majority of the conversations conducted via these are entirely superfluous?  Such stuff as:

A: "Jim, come in, over"
B: Appallingly loud static noise, brief snatches of music, then faint but unintelligible sound that just might be speech of some form or another
A: (looking knowledgeable) "Roger that, Jim.  Just checking that the radio is working, over"
B: Even worse static noise followed by a noise like a whale in distress, then something like a vacuum cleaner on reverse suction.
A:  (chuckles knowlingly) "Yeah, 10-4 Jim.  I can eyeball that for sure, for sure, over and out"

Even though it generates such inane rubbish as this, most blokes would give their eye-teeth (what are these, and why are they so valuable?) to have one.  Well, two actually, one being of no use at all.  I can speak with some authority on this as I'm currently on a cruise (bear with me, I'll explain).  Quite a number of parents on board have taken the sensible precaution of purchasing two-way radios in order to keep in touch with their children, who could, of course, be anywhere on this vast ship (although the lifts are usually a good bet).  All over the craft, you can see parents (and it's usually fathers) with these toy walkie-talkies (and that's showing my age) clamped to their ear, entirely oblivious to the fact that the apparatus is decorated in day-glo orange or Barbie pink.  And they're having longer conversations with their offspring than they ever would have face-to-face.  Although they're actually trying to find where little Cheyenne and Peyton are at this moment, in their mind's eye they are talking to Red Leader about bandits at six-o-clock, as they barrel over the White Cliffs of Dover.

The last element of the ensemble has to be the reflective sunglasses, by which I mean sunglasses coated with a mirrored surface on the outer surface.  I suppose that's a statement of the blindingly obvious - having the mirrored surface on the inside would just give you an up close and personal view of the inside of each eyeball, which would be somewhat disconcerting.  Armed with our sunglasses we are suddenly every American motorcycle cop we've ever seen on T.V.  Miscreants pale at the image of themselves captured in our lenses and then, for added effect, we can whip the glasses off to pin them down with our steely glare.

There you have it, the ideal present.  Cheap, easy to get hold of and guaranteed to deliver unlimited joy on the part of the recipient.  You'll thank me for it one of these days but the happiness of my fellow man is thanks enough.  Ok chaps, are you receiving, over?

This is an extract from the latest compilation of stories -

Friday, 15 November 2013

By the authority vested in me...Part 1

Around this time of year you will find that you're inundated with well-meaning advice from journalists and 'experts' about what to buy for Christmas...I thought that I might as well get in on the act!


If you are currently wondering what to get for the man in your life, for Christmas, birthday or any other significant occasion, then I'll let you in to a little secret.  For a start off, you can forget all of your power tools.  You can certainly forget them as far as I'm concerned.  I have spent a good deal of my existence getting rid of tools, power-driven or otherwise, in the certain knowledge that I'm a lot safer without access to these.  You see, if I have tools in my possession, then it's only a matter of time before I persuade myself, or someone persuades me (more likely) that "it's only a simple job, I'm sure you could manage it".  If you don't have the necessary tools in the first place, then you can't do it and, hopefully, the evil moment will pass.  Otherwise, you can finish up in the same position as someone I know who, during various spells of unemployment, has systematically demolished his own house from the inside.

Anyway, back to my original point.  Forget power tools, forget also 'smellies'.  We don't mind these but the problem is that we never wind up with a set of complementary products.  We may start with such a set, of course, perhaps bought by some generous aunt or sister, but, in due course, various elements will run out whilst other, less useful, elements linger like a constant rebuke.  Face Scrub, for instance, may prove to be surprisingly long-lasting, whereas anti-perspirant or shower gel will vanish like butter in the sun.  The end result is that these are then replaced by various ad-hoc presents during the year which will, inevitably, be of an entirely different fragrance.  This means that the average man, if he wears anything at all, is likely to be the olfactory equivalent of a contemporary jazz ensemble, with each player adding an entirely different tune.

So, we've established what not to get?  Well, almost.  Clothes are also a no-no, because we will be inclined to wear them.  Even after the first trial session, when you realise with a sinking heart that you have bought something for the shape that you would like him to have, not the shape he actually has.  No amount of "I could change it if you don't like it" will make any difference.  In fact, the likelihood of the man in your life holding on to it grimly and insisting that he absolutely loves it will be in direct inverse proportion to how unsuitable you now think it is.  Thus, that skin-tight pullover that you now realise makes him look ten months pregnant, will be the best thing you've ever bought him because, when he looks in the mirror, he sees the shape that he thinks he has and that you remembered when you bought it.  The impact of fish and chips, pints of beer and zero exercise is entirely and wondrously discounted by the magical stretching abilities of modern fabrics.

Just whilst we're on this topic, why do some women of a certain weight insist on wearing clothes that are bound to emphasise the avoirdupois?  Amazingly, skin-tight leggings do not have a slimming effect and neither do horizontal stripes, crop-tops or min-skirts.  I'm not saying 'wear a sack and have done with it'.  It's perfectly possible to be a little short for your weight and still look elegant and attractive.  I accept that, according to my weight, I should be 7' 2", mind you, I'm neither elegant nor attractive.

This is an extract from the latest compilation of stories -
 A Kick at the Pantry Door

Now read Part Two

Sunday, 10 November 2013

In The Avenues and Alleyways

The right colour, but not our car I'm afraid!


Continuing the story that began with An 'L' of a Time


The last time we were together, I was telling you about setting off on my first Driving Test and how delighted I was that we appeared to be heading for the area around my home in South Broadway Street, Burton. 

I viewed this as a good omen.  How could I go wrong?  I knew, as the saying goes, every crook and nanny in the area (which wasn't too far from the truth).  Accordingly, I sailed around the back streets of my neighbourhood with confidence.  As far as I was concerned, everything was going swimmingly.  The turning around in the road, the reversing around corners, the hill starts, even the emergency stop, all went as well as I could have hoped.  On a little cloud of misplaced confidence, I drove back down Burton High Street heading for the Test Centre in Rosemount Road.  With hindsight, it would have been a really good idea to have kept an eye out for people waiting to cross the zebra crossing leading over to, what was, Bargates.  I didn't.  Apparently somebody was waiting to cross and I didn't see them.  As you might imagine, this was somewhat fatal to my hopes of passing first time.  From the list provided, that was not my only discretion, but was certainly the icing on the cake as far as my Examiner was concerned.

Pat was decidedly unhappy that I hadn't delivered a First Time Pass and he drove us back to Burton chuntering about the mistakes I had apparently made, more in sorrow really than anger.  Talking it over during my next lesson, Pat suggested that part of the problem might be that I had no driving practice between our lessons.  He was, of course, absolutely correct and, as luck would have it, something came along to solve that problem.

Dad and I came into a little money.  No great fortune but, inevitably, it burned a hole in both our pockets.  Rather than see it vanish across the bar counter, which was always a strong possibility, we decided to invest in a second-hand car.  Not unsurprisingly, my dad knew someone who had a car for sale, and before very long we were the joint owners of an ancient but respectable Morris 1100. 

In many ways this was a good car in which to learn.  It was basic, had no major problems that we could see and was reasonably forgiving.  It did, however, mean that I had to spend some time learning with my dad.  We all know that learning with a relative is fraught with problems and we were no exception.  The only time that I could nag him to go out with me was on a Sunday afternoon, when he really wanted to sleep off Sunday lunch and the few pints before it.  He was, therefore, not in the best of humours and this didn't improve as I crashed the gears and nervously tackled the considerably more primitive controls, in comparison to the Honda Civic I had so far spent my time driving.  After a couple of sessions that largely consisted of us screaming at each other and ready to do violence at any moment, there was an unspoken agreement that we wouldn't do this again.

The outcome was that I decided that the only way to get in the additional driving practice I needed was to get Kevin to sit with me.  Unfortunately, the only problem that the car had was that it was incapable of holding its charge.  After a week of being used intermittently (we could only afford the petrol to run it from time to time), by Sunday the car would not start.  The answer was to draft in all of my mates on a Sunday morning to push the car up and down South Broadway Street until we managed to bump-start the thing.  This could be quite an arduous exercise and I will always remember one very sedentary friend being commandeered one week and having to sit down and recover for quite some time after the first abortive attempt.


I might not be able to drive yet, but I certainly wouldn't need a gym subscription.

TO BE CONTINUED

The latest collection of Philip's stories is A Kick at the Pantry Door

You can find Philip on Facebook

Sunday, 27 October 2013

I Wish I Was A Spaceman...

Fireball xl5.jpg

Having a two year old around the place seems to lead you to do strange things sometimes.

To be precise, I should really say two and three-quarter year old, because those three-quarters matter when you're two with aspirations to be three.  In fact, he's pretty much got his sights firmly fixed on his third birthday in December, with just the minor difficulty of Christmas to be dealt with before then.  Funny how that need to be precise about your age fades as you get older, isn't it?  I can't imagine ever describing myself as Fifty Nine and a quarter.

Anyway, I seem to have drifted off the subject somewhat.  I was saying that having a two year old around the house leads you to do strange things sometimes, like (in my case) bursting into song.  This is probably not a good idea, given my singing voice, but I guess he needs to come to terms with a little suffering and disappointment, even at his tender age.  The song (or songs) in question tend to be child-oriented but, more often than not, come from my childhood, which makes them a little irrelevant from his point of view. Nevertheless, he has been kind enough to show an interest in some of them, which brings me to my theme for today.

You see, I've found myself belting out the theme to 'Fireball XL5' for no good reason that I can come up with.  He (my grandson that is) seemed to like it, so we sought it out on You Tube (isn't the internet wonderful?)  You can find it here, if you're so minded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ifS2nP53Zs  The opening sequences instantly took me back to when I was utterly hooked on the series back in 1962, when I would have been eight years old or thereabouts.  For reasons that utterly escape me, but which probably had to do with the budget lavished on these puppet shows, I'm pretty sure that this was screened at 7pm, rather than in the Children's Hour slot.  I guess they thought it would appeal to adults too, and was damn well going to given the money they had spent on it.  I know that I had to aim to complete my piano practice (which I hated) by then if I wanted to catch every second of the programme, and I was often still murdering some unsuspecting piece of music as the opening credits rolled.  As I had to be in bed by 7.30pm, the whole 30 minutes was somewhat fraught with the potential to miss crucial seconds of this week's riveting episode.

Looking at it again, I can see, with the benefit of hindsight, that most of the things I thought then were impossibly cool, were actually to avoid having the puppets move more than necessary.  For example, the Hover Motorbikes on which Steve (Zodiac, pure coincidence I'm sure or possibly nominative determinism) and Venus (ditto) ride to the cockpit of Fireball XL5, are clearly to avoid either of them having to walk anywhere, because, once they do start walking, it all looks rather ridiculous.  Think Andy Pandy in a Star Trek outfit and you're pretty well there.  Likewise, Professor Matt Matic's revolving desk ensured he never needed to do anything as ungainly as stand up.  Moreover, the fact that he wears glasses with lenses as thick as jam jar bottoms (presumably to denote high intelligence) rather indicates that the 21st Century might have cracked interplanetary travel but there has been little progression in opthalmics.

Having dabbled in the theme tune, I was inevitably drawn to have a look at an old episode.  I must admit that most of the fine detail of the context of Fireball XL5 has left me as the years have progressed, so my knowledge of the series is limited to what I observed in this episode and what little I can remember.

Steve, Venus and the rest of the gang apparently belong to an outfit called the World Space Patrol.  This seems to be staffed more or less exclusively by Americans, except for Dr. Venus who is allegedly French, although you could have fooled me.  On the evidence of the episode I watched, the World Space Patrol has lost no time in declaring war on everything that moves in the immediate vicinity, which sounds about right. Nuclear warheads are being lobbed about like toy grenades in order to make the Universe a safer place for right-thinking people.

What really amused me about the episode was the very obvious gender stereotyping, which comes as a bit of a shock in these much more enlightened times.  In a telling scene, Steve, whose primary purpose appears to be keeping the robot company in the cockpit, uses the intercom to say "Hey, Venus, how's our beautiful Doctor of Space Medicine" (you can tell she's a scientist by the test tube in her hand).  Instead of instantly suing him for sexual discrimination, or at least telling him to get lost, she says "I gather, by your compliments Steve, you want something to eat. I'm preparing a meal right now"

Different world, wasn't it?

You can find more of Philip's ramblings in his latest collection of stories A Kick at the Pantry Door


Monday, 30 September 2013

Any More Fairs Please?

As the 'statchits' will be coming to Burton at the end of this week, I thought this would be topical-ish.

“Look, all they do is go round and round and I promise you we won’t go up high!”

Even to my young and innocent ears, this doesn’t sound particularly convincing.  More like No. 3 in the ‘Great Lies of Our Time’, just after “The cheque’s in the post” and “It’s just what I’ve always wanted”. 

We are at Burton Statute Fair, popularly known as ‘The Statchits’, always held on the first Monday and Tuesday in October.  It is the mid-1960s and my Mum, Dad and myself are standing by ‘The Rockets’.  We are going through our annual ritual of Dad trying to persuade me to go on with him. ‘The Rockets’ were one of the main rides that appeared every year.  Shaped like a child’s drawing of a rocket, each car was attached to a central column by a spoke and the riders could make the car rise or fall, with an ear-splitting escape of compressed air. Every year he tried to talk me into this and every year, I refused point blank.  This was always a huge disappointment to my Dad and he did what any father would do under the circumstances, he sulked.  My wife tells me that I could sulk for England, well this is where I learned my trade.

This would actually be my second of four trips to ‘The Statchits’.  The first would be on Sunday night as we walked up Branstone Road, under the Leicester Line Bridge, to see the lorries, vans and caravans all lined up at the Burton boundary, waiting for permission to enter the town.  In those days, the Fair was not allowed to begin setting up until the evening service at St. Modwen’s Parish Church, in the Market Place, had finished.  There would then be a hectic rush into town and the Fair would come to life in a matter of hours.  The fast-food and gift stalls would be the first to be open, along with some of the rides for small children, the larger rides would take longer and wouldn’t be open until Monday. 

My Dad had a child-like fascination with Fairs, Circuses and such things, and loved to see the Fair setting up.  My Nanna Whiteland was quite keen too and used to take me for my second visit on the Monday afternoon.  As we walked up Branstone Road, the strains of music and the shouts of the stallholders grew louder and soon we were on the fringes of the Fair in Lichfield Street, where, in the shadow of the Big Wheel, by The Leopard pub, there were donkeys and ponies, and men offering to take your picture with some exotic animal or other.  The only year I managed to persuade my Nanna to allow me to have my photograph taken, there was a queue for the cute monkey, so I got the parrot.  I’m not sure who was the most disappointed about this turn of events, me or the parrot.  I used to enjoy the stall where a ‘real’ Red Indian (usually from Bolton) promised to guess your age to within one year, or give you a prize.  I always used to come away as the proud owner of some ill-defined ‘silver’ trinket.  We used to have a go on a few stalls, tour the offerings in the Market Place and High Street, up to the junction with Station Street, and then finally walk back down New Street, until the Fair finally petered out around the General Post Office.

Philip and friend at The Statchits, October 1961

Monday night was, and is, the main night of ‘The Statchits’ and that was when we went as a family.  The Fair always had a more exciting, even dangerous, atmosphere in the chill Autumn night and the lights, crowds and music brought a touch of exotica to downtown Burton.


Tuesday evening, I often went to the Fair by myself.  It always rains on Tuesday Statchits night.  This is a given.  I don’t know why, it just is.  I once spent ages on a ‘Roll the Ball’ stall because; I was the only customer, the rain was coming down sideways, and the stallholder was waiting to be told that she could pack up, so she kept giving me free tries.  I still didn’t win anything, and I didn’t go on ‘The Rockets’ either!

This story is taken from Crutches for Ducks, part of the 'nostalgedy collection' which includes Steady Past Your Granny's and the latest collection, A Kick at the Pantry Door

Sunday, 22 September 2013

5 Stars for Jambalaya!


Really delighted to get this very encouraging review from the wonderful Brenda Perlin:

"This is an amusing story that was a nice escape. I was humored and entertained all along the way.
One chuckle after another.
The writing is clever and light hearted. Perfect read for a mindless relaxing day! I mean that in the most flattering way. Sometimes it is a bit of slapstick that recharges your battery for the grueling days ahead... Or maybe even more silly mindless days abead.

"Mr. Vobiscus, you are not welcome here, as you are well aware. Why, if father caught you here he would surely flay you alive!"
"Well if I have to be flayed at all, I think I would prefer to be alive for the event."
The hint of a smile played around his lips, jogged up his cheeks and did press-ups on his forehead. It had often been said that he had an athletic face ..."

See the original here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/RSDDPRRELGZ8D?_encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0093JOMPI&cdMSG=addedToThread&cdPage=&linkCode=&newContentID=Mx2N5HRC62BZC80&newContentNum=1&nodeID=&ref_=cm_cr_pr_perm&tag=#CustomerDiscussionsNRPB

and you can find Jambalaya at Amazon.com and at Amazon.co.uk plus all other Amazon sites.


Monday, 16 September 2013

It's the waiting that's the worst




Continuing the story that began with An 'L' of a Time


I would dearly love to take a group of youngsters back to the 1970s and see how they would cope.  I realise I would probably get arrested, but that isn't really my point.  It's just so difficult, from today's perspective, to understand how totally disconnected we were then.  No internet, no mobile phones, no computers and only the wealthy and aspiring had a telephone at home - and even that might be a party line (which was not as much fun as it sounds). 

Just think about how difficult it used to be to find anything out.  If you were really keen you could take yourself off to the Reference Library, or consult your copy of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, if you had been badgered into buying a set.  Now you can find out pretty much anything at any time.  Admittedly the answer might have been made up by some precocious child in a back room in Alabama, but at least you can get an answer of sorts.

The rationale for this outburst is that it would be very difficult for today's youngsters to believe the amount of futile waiting around that I did, simply in the hope of actually getting a driving lesson.  I must have spent hours peering out of our front room window, in the vain hope of seeing my driving instructor arrive.  To be fair, part of the reason that my lessons were so sporadic was because I couldn't afford to have a lesson every week, but the principal problem was that, even when a lesson had been organised, there was absolutely no guarantee that my driving instructor would turn up, either on time, or at all.

There were phone calls, of course, and chats when I caught up with him at our local hostelry, but there were always mitigating circumstances for his not turning up, and it's always so difficult to take a strong line about something when you knew the person before they started working for you. 

The end result of all of this was that, after twelve months of allegedly 'learning to drive', I had taken part in precisely six lessons, with huge gaps in between, and was not really much further advanced in my skills than I had been at the start.  Meanwhile, in the same period, my mate Kevin had completed a course of lessons with his attractive female instructor and had passed his Driving Test first time.  Not that I was jealous, of course, but it was rather embarrassing to have to admit that I had been 'learning to drive' for over a year and was nowhere near ready to take a test.

In the end, my driving instructor and I just drifted apart (I don't mean that the car split down the middle).  He didn't turn up for a lesson, again, and this time I didn't pursue it.  Nothing was ever said, although our paths crossed on many occasions afterwards.  I just couldn't see the point in investing any more money to wait around in my front room, or spend part of my lesson sitting in a pub car park.

What confidence I might have had at the start of my driving tuition had, by now, long since deserted me and I really wasn't sure if I wanted to carry on at all.  However, after some months of watching Kevin enjoy the freedom of the open road, whilst I endured the poverty of the pavement, I decided to take my courage in my hands and have another go. 

This time, I was going to sort out my own driving instructor.  I approached the driving school that Kevin had used, in the hope of getting the same attractive female.  Unfortunately, not having much in the way of self-confidence, I couldn't actually bring myself to ask for her and just hoped that luck would be on my side. 


The bad news was, I didn't get the attractive driving instructor.  The good news was that I got her husband, who was a larger than life character and great fun to be with, as I'll tell you next time.

TO BE CONTINUED

You can find all Philip's books at either his UK Amazon Author Page or at the Amazon.com Author Page

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Extended Bargain Book Weekend




Here it is, the EXTENDED 99p/99c WEEKEND! From now until midnight BST on 15th September,ALL OF MY KINDLE EDITIONS are just 99p/99c - fill your bookshelves whilst you've got the chance :-)

Philip's Books
and now you can find out more about me and my books at DeEtte Anderton's Blog





Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Keeping Death Off The Roads!

Continuing the story that began with An 'L' of a Time

Learner_driver : L Plate on Vehicle Rear Stock Photo

At the end of my driving lesson, I booked the next for the following weekend and then spent the week undoing all of the good work I had achieved.  You may remember that last time I was expounding my theory of 'beginner's luck', in which the subconscious hunts around for examples of good practice in the absence of any previous experience to go on?  I don't know about you, but I always find that the price to be paid for a session of 'beginner's luck' is an instalment of 'follow-up failure'. 

I spent the week between my first and second driving lessons carefully going over and over again, in my mind, what happened.  Common sense would say that, in doing this, you should focus on the positive aspects of the lesson and try to build on these, but I just don't seem to work like that.  My mind always homes in on any negative remarks and dwells on these to the exclusion of everything else.  You may recall that my driving instructor has praised my road positioning but had described me as 'windy' for hanging back behind parked vehicles when other traffic was coming in the opposite direction.   Therefore, I spent the week going over and over in my mind how I could be more assertive in my driving, which led me to think deeply about biting points and clutch use, steering and indicators and the whole panoply of driving related actions.  Not unsurprisingly, after a week of this, I was like a coiled spring and, by the following Saturday, would have been hard pushed to put one foot in front of the other without serious injury, let alone control something as complex as a car.

Once again, I was waiting by our front room window, getting increasingly anxious as the hour approached.  As it turned out, I really need not have worried.  Not because the lesson went well, but because it didn't happen at all. 

As the appointed hour came and went, I peered this way and that in the hope of seeing the car arrive.  It didn't.  Half an hour passed, and then an hour, and still no sign.  In this modern age of instant connectivity, this sort of situation would be incomprehensible but then, in the absence of mobile telephones, or any phone at all in our case, it was by no means unusual.  Dad, took it upon himself to go and telephone from the call box, although the cynic in me suggested that this was a heaven-sent opportunity for him to escape to the pub.  Much later, he returned with the story of some sort of mistake having been made in the diary, with apologies all round.  The lesson would now be the same time, the following week.

Driving a car is not like riding a bicycle or swimming.  This is not the first in a series of statements of the blindingly obvious, just an observation that in those two cases, once you've 'got it', you've 'got it'.  That's not the case with driving; you need to keep practicing to etch the actions into your subconscious so that it all becomes automatic.   As we didn't have a car at the time, practicing was out of the question, so all I could do was wait anxiously for the next lesson.


I was delighted when Geoff, my driving instructor, actually put in an appearance the following Saturday.  Ok, he was a quarter of an hour late, but at least he had shown up.  If I was delighted, that certainly did not describe Geoff's mood after a couple of minutes.  Clearly he had been led into a false sense of security by my previous efforts and had expected a simple, smooth path to test success.  As we kangarooed our way to the nearest test route, it was clear that he was going to have an uphill struggle with me.  Therefore, it was no surprise to be asked to stop at a pub on the way home as he just had to "see someone about something".

TO BE CONTINUED

You can find all Philip's books at either his UK Amazon Author Page or at the Amazon.com Author Page

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Rock of Ages


I'm not really sure where I'm going with this post, so you'll have to bear with me.

Last week, my very generous wife kindly bought, as a surprise gift for my birthday, two tickets to see a Queen tribute band at Buxton Opera House.  This immediately prompted a dress code dilemma - how does one dress for a rock concert when one is considerably nearer 60 than 50, especially after the last birthday?  Leather jacket, t shirt and faded denims perhaps?  Well, possibly, if I actually owned such things. I do have t shirts but they don't really tend to be rock 'n' roll compatible (see below).


Honestly, the author is somewhere underneath all of that!

In the end I opted for a black shirt and a sports jacket.   Ok, not at the cutting edge of fashion, I'll give you, but, as you'll see from the picture above, quite a leap of faith in my case.

As it turned out, I really needn't have worried about my choice of apparel.  On arriving at the Opera House, it was apparent that sensible M&S jumpers were the order of the day.  Grey hair abounded and the number of mobility scooters, arm crutches and zimmer frames had to be seen to be believed.  I suppose I should have realised that, inevitably, the audience would be made up mostly of my contemporaries and older.  After all, I first became aware of the group when their single "Seven Seas of Rhye" hit the charts in 1974, when I was just 20 years old.  I can distinctly remember investing many 10p coins in the juke box in the front room of the Forest Gate pub to play it, to the despair of the landlord and 'early doors' regulars who were hoping for a quiet pint and a natter.  I had never heard such a blend of rock and classical influences combined with brilliant harmonies and, at that time, no synthesisers.  It was electrifying.

Nearly 40 years on and here I was, queuing up for my seat with a crowd of people who must have been similarly electrified by the music in their day, but who now found getting up the stairs a bit of a hassle.  Thinking about it later, it occurred to me that this is probably why tribute bands are so popular at the moment.  If Messrs. Mercury, May, Taylor and Deacon (which makes then sound like a venerable firm of Solicitors) were still extant and performing, they would probably be more of a true reflection of their audience than the band we saw.  Just think of the Rolling Stones (or don't, if you want to avoid nightmares).  It's hard to imagine a 67 year old Freddie cavorting across the stage and I'm not sure I want to.  Cynically, you could say that his early demise was a great career move, although I still think it was a huge loss to British Rock.

My point, I think, is that the tribute bands inevitably encapsulate whichever band they are imitating at the height of their fame and ability.  In this way, we can enjoy them exactly as we remember them.  Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, with apologies to the Ode of Remembrance.  Yet we, the audience, grow ever older and much less 'rock n roll' than we would like to think are.

I'll come back to this point soon, but I would be interested to hear your comments in the meantime.

You can find all Philip's books at either his UK Amazon Author Page or at the Amazon.com Author Page

It's not what you know....

Continuing the story that began with An 'L' of a Time




It seemed to me that everyone I knew was passing their Driving Test and getting out on the road, so I just had to try my luck.  My friends, Kevin and Peter, who now shared a flat above The Compasses in Wellington Road, had jointly invested in a Mark II Cortina of many different shades of green and Kevin was pursuing driving lessons with a charming lady instructor (he would) and was getting on like a house on fire.  Logic should have told me to go with Kevin's choice of instructor, given how well he was doing, but instead I asked my dad for advice.  This was always a mistake.  Whereas anyone else might consult the Yellow Pages or ask around for recommendations, dad always 'knew' someone.    My dad 'knew' people in the same way that hedgehogs have fleas, it was just in his DNA.

The person that dad 'knew' was a fellow imbiber at our local club.  I don't think we knew whether he was any good as a Driving Instructor (although he had been in the game for quite a while), the important thing, from dad's point of view, was that he was someone he 'knew'.  We approached him and he agreed to take me on, and so a first lesson was booked for the following Saturday afternoon.

I remember that I was in a state of high anticipation all week.  When Saturday finally arrived, it was a beautiful sunny early summer's day, with not a cloud in the sky.  Geoff (as we'll call him, to protect the guilty) drove me out to a point just beyond The Acorn at the top of Henhurst Hill (sorry, it's a Burtonian thing to couch all directions in terms of the nearby pubs!)  We changed places and I was behind the wheel for the first time in my life.

Geoff talked me through the controls of the car with particular reference to the action of the clutch and the importance of the 'biting point'.  Then it was time to set off.  Peering cautiously in all directions to make sure there was nothing coming in any direction, I over-revved the engine, brought the clutch up with great timidity, and we were off.  To my surprise, I didn't make a bad job of it.  Starting to drive is a bit like being thrown into a juggling act, there are so many things to keep doing that you don't have time to think.  Despite this, I managed to steer ok and Geoff actually congratulated me on my road positioning.  Perhaps I had finally found something I was good at?

I think I've mentioned before my theory about 'beginner's luck'?  It goes like this; when you try something new, your subconscious mind goes in search of similar experiences to inform your actions.  If this is something you've never done before, then it inevitably comes up empty.  So, all it can draw on are any memories it has of other people doing the same thing, and these are pretty likely to be good examples.  For golf, your mind might refer to what it's seen Tiger Woods do in the past and therefore help you to mimic that(ish).  With driving, it would probably draw on the many professional drivers (bus, taxi etc.) it had seen (whilst hopefully discounting my dad's somewhat troubled approach).  Therefore, unburdened by any previous experience, our efforts are guided by the best practice picked up unconsciously by our minds.  It doesn't last.

We sailed around the country roads and I was beginning to enjoy myself.  Coming back into Burton along Henhurst Hill and Shobnall Road, I weaved cautiously around the parked cars and frequently stopped to let the approaching traffic through.  "Windy" Geoff muttered, which I thought was a bit gung-ho considering this was my first time behind a wheel.  As we neared The Albion pub, Geoff said "Can you just pull in here, I need to see a chap about something", so we did.  I parked up and he disappeared into the pub for ten minutes.  I thought this was a bit odd, but decided that it was just a one-off. 

It wasn't, as I'll tell you next time.

Continued in It's The Waiting That's The Worst

You can find all Philip's books at either his UK Amazon Author Page or at the Amazon.com Author Page


Saturday, 7 September 2013

An 'L' of a Time


l_plate



In Spring a young man's fancy turns to …well, quite often, getting his driving licence so that he can get out and start doing all those things that Spring is supposed to encourage.  I was no exception to this rule, but regular readers will not expect me to reveal that I passed my Driving Test on the day after my 17th birthday following one lesson during which the Instructor wept openly at my prowess and said there was nothing he could teach me.  Regular readers will not be disappointed; my route to the open road was, as with everything else, somewhat more tortuous.

I suppose that I could blame my upbringing.  Things have changed remarkably, from an automotive point of view, since my childhood.  My grandparents, on both sides, could not drive, did not own a car and, to the best of my knowledge, never had any interest in doing so.  My dad was a late-comer to driving by today's standards, starting toward the end of the 1950s when he must have been in his mid-thirties.   Although in later years he purported to be one of the 'put me behind the wheel of anything and I'll drive it' brigade, his route to driving proficiency was at least as tortuous as mine.

Dad learned with one of the few driving schools in Burton at that time, which I think was called either Select or Premier.  I know that it had offices on the corner of Station Street and Milton Street, as I remember going there with him.  His Driving Instructor was a chap called Tim, who lived further down Anglesey Road from us and whom dad knew socially (for which read 'down the pub').  Dad's learning experience was restricted by the fact that he did not have a car of his own in which to practice and relied solely on his weekly lessons and the occasional stint sharing the driving on holiday with Uncle Jim.  I went on one or two of his later lessons, as a passenger, and I can't say I found it a relaxing experience.  Usually my dad oozed confidence, but behind the wheel was a different matter.  Oaths would be uttered as gears crashed and engines stalled, both of which were remarkably easy to achieve in cars of that vintage.  Dad developed a habit, which was still with him to the end, of pulling his socks up with great ceremony before the process of checking that the car was in neutral and starting the engine.  It was a bit of a ritual with him and I'll swear that he was using the opportunity to issue a small prayer to whoever protects not hugely confident drivers.


A Black Standard Eight - not ours I'm afraid, we couldn't afford to run a car and have pictures developed in the 1950s!


After quite some time, which I think stretched into years, and two failed attempts at the Driving Test, dad finally won through and celebrated with the purchase of a black Standard Eight (MNR 879.  Now why can I remember that but not more useful things like my mobile phone number?)  Even having passed his test, dad tended to travel hopefully rather than confidently and mum and I kept a tense but determinedly cheerful demeanour through all the dark oaths and fearful mutterings.


Mum never showed any interest at all in learning to drive.  It was just not something that women did then.  As I've said before, my Auntie Liz was definitely ahead of her time in that she could drive and drive very well (certainly better than my dad).  Because of the fact that a woman driver was so unusual, I always felt ill at ease, as a child, with her in the car, despite the fact that she drove as part of her job and was considerably more competent than anyone else I ever travelled with. 


My Auntie Vera apparently had a number of lessons (which she never told anyone about), failed her first Test and then abandoned the project.  I only found out about this in her twilight years when she regretted not having pursued this as, without Uncle Jim, she was dependent upon us, the bus service or taxis.  I think a lot of women of her generation found themselves in similar circumstances in later life.

Continued in It's Not What You Know...

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Vote early, vote often!

As I believe they used to say in Northern Irish elections (allegedly).  I'm not asking you to do anything untoward (Heaven forfend!), however...

Your votes are required for this bit of nonsense.  If you think that  A Kick at the Pantry Door meets the criteria for a Baby Boomer book, then pop a vote in at:

http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/24099.Best_Boomer_Books

It would make a happy man very old, or something like that :-)


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Life in the old girl yet!


Just had a really nice review on Goodreads for Steady Past Your Granny's


"Phillip Whiteland never fails to entertain, as is well proven in this, his first published collection of "nostalgedy" (which I, of course, read last). But the order the books are read in is not nearly important as the fact that they "should" be read by anyone desiring a good pick-me-up. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine, and Whiteland consistently delivers it in ample doses. His works are keepers and will be well worth a re-read in the future."


You can read it in full, here http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/692735487



Friday, 16 August 2013

So, what the heck is 'nostalgedy'? Part 1


It struck me (and I know many people would like to) that you may be wondering what this 'nostalgedy' nonsense is all about?  This is intended to be a bit of an explanation.

I think the best thing I can do is to quote from some of the reviews I've been very lucky to receive.  For example, Gingerlily from Ireland put it like this:

"Its the same formula of gently amusing stories picking fun at everybody, but most of all the author himself... Its all very likeable and appealing stuff and very easy to read. Philip has this knack for finding the amusing in everyday things. As with the first one, it can be enjoyed with you feet up and a nice pot of tea and biscuits."

and Alina from Australia says:

"One of the strengths of this book is that you feel like you're sitting around the pub talking chite with an old friend as Phil reminds you of how absurd much of your babyboomer childhood and adolescence was."

In other words, I spend my time going over some of the embarrassing moments from my past in the hope that people might find this amusing, and they seem to!  The beauty of this is that incidents that may have been the cause of sharp words and tension at the time can, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, be converted into light-hearted stories.  Things such as this:

"Dad insisted on providing the turkey for this feast, which was something of a concern because Dad disliked doing anything in a conventional manner.  If he bought anything, it was always through ‘someone who knows someone’ who could allegedly get it cheaper, bigger or faster, or all three.  This sort of arrangement tended to lead to considerable uncertainty, which was not conducive to the peace of mind of my aunt and uncle, who were great ones for doing things properly.  Thus the scene was set for potential disaster.


As the days before Christmas gradually diminished, my aunt made repeated requests to know what size of bird to expect, but was always fobbed off by Dad, who probably didn’t know the answer himself.  Christmas Eve arrived and, as good as his word, Dad delivered a fresh turkey, albeit rather late in the day.  However, in a fit of generosity, probably brought on by the fact that Christmas Eve was Dad’s birthday, which he did like to celebrate, he had bought something that resembled a young ostrich.  My aunt had a relatively small kitchen and there really wasn’t enough room in there for her and this bird.  The problem was compounded on Christmas Morning, when, having prepared this avian monster for the oven (a not inconsiderable feat) it became apparent that it would not fit into the oven.  Only savage butchery reduced the beast to portions that could realistically be prised in.  Even then, the sheer size of the fowl led to the generation of so much fat that the kitchen looked like the morning after a riot in a chip shop.  The whole thing took much longer to cook than normal and the eventual result, despite my aunt’s acknowledged culinary skills, was not up to her high standards.  She was left quivering on the edge of either murdering my Dad or having a nervous breakdown, whichever was the easier.  Typically, Dad couldn’t see what all the fuss was about and was somewhat miffed not to be the hero of the hour."  (extract taken from Crutches for Ducks)

Or this gardening incident:

"I remember one night of shame, way back in the 1970s, when he and I had called in at the pub on our way home from work and spent a little longer there than was really sensible.  It was a warm summer's night and still quite light when we got home.  Mum had been nagging dad for some time to weed the top patch of ground so that she could plant out some seedlings she had been nurturing.  As we made our way down the entry to our house, dad said we should get on and do that now, as it would be a nice surprise for her.  Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, as these things do when you have had far too much to drink and not enough to eat.  We set to, removing all the bits of greenery in this patch by hand.  It took quite a while, but we felt vindicated when we looked at the fruits of our labours, a nicely cleared patch of ground and a pile of green spindly shoots.  I'm sure you've probably guessed by now that mum had spent the whole day weeding that patch and planting out her seedlings.  You may also have guessed that we were not very popular for some time after that, although dad took most of the heat as he should have been able to spot the difference between seedlings and weeds, whereas my ignorance in that area was widely known." (extract taken from A Kick at the Pantry Door)

I suspect the key to it is that we've all (or most of us) done something just as silly at one time or another, and it's quite fun to be able to laugh at someone else's shortcomings.

If you think this is the sort of thing you might like to read, you might want to start off with the very first compilation of stories, Steady Past Your Granny's, which has the distinct advantages of being both short and cheap (bit like me)!





Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Know more than is possibly good for you!



Amazingly, I've been featured on another blog!  The very generous Brenda Perlin has kindly assembled some information about me and my books for all the world to see (well, that bit of it that can be bovvered).

Find out more than is possibly good for you at http://homewreckerthebook.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/philip-whiteland-has-new-book-out.html?spref=fb

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Poor Sid meteor shower


Delighted that everyone has been enjoying the spectacle of the Poor Sid's meteor shower. Poor Sid, as you know, was the ill-fated Sid Buckle, the first British astronaut whose misguided attempt to eat a baked bean sandwich with a pint of Guinness in zero gravity led to the trail of debris we now pass through once a year. 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

What's your ideal 3 course meal?


I was thinking about my imaginary 'A Kick at the Pantry Door' restaurant and what it might serve, and that got me thinking about my ideal three course meal. In all honesty, this could change by the hour and the following selection is hardly the triumph of haute cuisine, but I thought I would quite like a Savoury Duck sandwich to start, Cod, chips and mushy peas as a main course and something like Death by Chocolate to finish off (this explains why I look like I do on the cover). 

What would your ideal three course meal consist of, if you could choose any cuisine from any era?



A Kick at the Pantry Door - Amazon UK

A Kick at the Pantry Door - Amazon.com

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Jambalaya - what to expect

This is a brief excerpt from my book Jambalaya. It's a book that bears absolutely no resemblance to anything I normally write, and you either love this sort of thing or hate it. This is the hero talking to a chap who is currently his valet, for reasons to long and complex to explain:

“Quite reminds me of when I served back in the homeland, laying out the old dress uniform, sir.”

“Yes, Rivers, I’m sure. Remind me, who did you serve under?”

“Major Hugh Makemey-Pheal, sir. A fine man. All the men loved him, sir. Dressed for dinner every evening no matter where we were. I’d laid his dress uniform out that fateful night.” Rivers snuffled, “He’d taken a small party of chaps on a recce. None of them came back. It was quite a famous event in its time. Couldn’t be something futile but romantic like the Charge of the Light Brigade though, could it?” Rivers mused bitterly, “Oh no, Pheal’s Pholly they called it.”

“Crimea, Rivers?”

“I cried a river over Hugh.” Rivers sobbed, “Excuse me, sir, if you will.” He whimpered and ran out.


Amazon UK = http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jambalaya-ebook/dp/B0093JOMPI/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2_ZEZ7

Amazon US = http://www.amazon.com/Jambalaya-ebook/dp/B0093JOMPI/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

P.S. (9th August, 2013) Ok, so it's not FREE any more, but let's face it, at 99p or equivalent it might as well be!  Dip in and see what you think, a bit of silliness might be just what you need right now :-)