Strides for Life: #atozchallenge

I started volunteering at my local cancer support centre about 6 years ago. The centre has a large garden and I spend 3 or 4 hours each week assisting with its maintenance. A couple of years ago I was asked if I’d like to become involved in the Strides for Life programme. I readily agreed. The programme was devised by Marie Murphy, in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society. Marie is a former Irish Olympic athlete who lived and worked for many years in California. She spent 14 years working with breast cancer researcher and author, Dr Susan Love, researching … Continue reading Strides for Life: #atozchallenge

Reed, Andrew:#atozchallenge

Andrew Reed was a Congregationalist minister with a doctorate from Yale who encouraged philanthropy on a grand scale. Many of the schools and hospitals he founded live on to the present day. Perhaps Rev. Dr. Andrew Reed’s most extraordinary talent was for social networking. For it was surely his ability to extract donations from the rich and famous of Victorian England that enabled him to found so many institutions, including: Churches Orphanages Schools Asylums Hospitals D.D from Yale Born in St Clement Danes in Middlesex, England on November 27th 1787, he studied theology at Hackney Academy and was ordained a … Continue reading Reed, Andrew:#atozchallenge

Quality: #atozchallenge

One of the many engineering projects I worked on in the 1980s was aimed at increasing the quality of the synthetic fibre the company produced. There were two benefits claimed for improved quality: We could reach more discerning – and, therefore, more lucrative – markets for our product, and By reducing the quantity of product that was rejected, we could significantly increase productivity. Later, whilst working for another organisation, I was part of a team introducing a concept called Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM is a philosophy based on the work of an American, Professor W.E.Deeming. An engineer and statistician, … Continue reading Quality: #atozchallenge

Parliament and Politics: #atozchallenge

And a plethora of words beginning with P that have been constantly in the background of my life. In particular the public vs private debate, and the prejudices and preconceptions that surround the provision of services and the profit motive. As we shall see, it also impinges on pensions, and involves the use – and, sometimes, misuse – of the partnership concept. Education and health services are publicly provided in the UK, although those who can afford it have always been able to avail themselves of private health care and education; the latter, oddly enough, provided by so called ‘public … Continue reading Parliament and Politics: #atozchallenge

Outing: #atozchallenge

When I was young, an ‘outing’ meant a day out. A trip to the seaside perhaps, or the zoo. Later it came to mean the practice of revealing the secret sexual orientation of a public figure. At the UK general election in 1987, I acted as agent to a Liberal Party candidate. There was speculation about the sexual preferences of the Conservative incumbent. Although the man would appear in the constituency at election times with a glamourous female in tow, the rumours persisted. Several of our party workers wanted us to refer to these suggestions in our election literature. I … Continue reading Outing: #atozchallenge

Nightmare: #atozchallenge

Warning: this is a rant. Some readers may be offended. I’m talking living nightmares here, not bad dreams. I watch, nightly, scenes of ravaged cities that, a few years ago were bustling, modern metropolises teeming with people going about their business and tourists photographing historic buildings. I watch, too, over-loaded boats ferrying people, men, women and frightened children, across the Mediterranean or Aegean seas. And my television also shows me lines of similar people trekking across country or, more often these days, camping in unbelievably squalid conditions beside hastily erected fences. Many of these dispossessed people are the former citizens … Continue reading Nightmare: #atozchallenge

Motive: #atozchallenge

Motive is a fundamental element of any work of fiction. In crime writing, the criminal’s motive is always one of the factors that single him out. Although in classic detective fiction there is usually more than one person with a possible motive. But in any situation, in order to make things real, it is necessary to understand why did the protagonist say those words, do those things? What motivated him or her? And that means that we writers have to have some understanding of psychology. And, because human psychology is so complex, we have to avoid the obvious. Jealousy, greed, … Continue reading Motive: #atozchallenge

Literature: #atozchallenge

As writers we all aspire to produce great literature. But what, precisely, does that mean? According to Merriam-Webster, one definition is: written works (such as poems, plays, and novels) that are considered to be very good and to have lasting importance. It’s that last bit, about lasting importance, that carries the rub for contemporary writers. How old will we be when we see the physical evidence of that? Perhaps, if a writer is clever enough to produce high quality work in his or her twenties, by the time he or she is my age it might be clear. If he … Continue reading Literature: #atozchallenge

Knight: #atozchallenge

The romantic notion of a ‘knght in shining armour’ is just that – a romantic notion. In reality becoming a knight in medieval times involved a long and difficult apprenticeship, lasting fourteen years from the age of 7 or 8. Once confirmed in the role, the fully fledged knight still had to work hard to retain his title. He was obliged to serve his king in battle and to provide men for the same purpose, or money in lieu of men. He must also supply provisions for the king’s army. When Henry II invaded Ireland in 1172 his fleet of … Continue reading Knight: #atozchallenge

Jet: atozchallenge

By which I mean he jet engine, a great British invention that had a profound effect on all our lives, transforming travel and airborne warfare in ways that WWII flyers like my father could never have imagined. I was still a child when the first jet airliner, the De Haviland Comet, flew for the first time and, shortly afterwards, flew into trouble. Investigation of the causes of several disasters involving the Comet revealed the phenomenon of fatigue cracking of metal. Take one of those paper clips that litter your desk and twist it backwards and forwards several times. See how … Continue reading Jet: atozchallenge