Writer For Hire

Almost by chance I find that I’ve started a little sideline. Having written and self-published eight books I more or less know my way around the process. I also know that writing books is likely to lose you money, rather than the other way round. I’ve been happy with that situation and have never really sought to monetise my hobby by seeking agents, spending time on marketing, etc.

A year or so ago I was put in contact, by a mutual friend, with a local woman who had a story she wanted to tell. Over a number of months I sat down with her and chatted with a voice recorder discretely placed. I’d transcribe the recordings and slowly we built a book together. Eventually we self-published the book, the client’s name on the cover. Moderate sales to date but unbroken five* reviews on Amazon. The client was happy to have achieved an ambition, I was happy having made a few quid.

Afterwards I wondered if there might be a local market for a Writer For Hire. I ran (and am running) a little classified advertisement in the local paper. I’m happy to say that there has been a steady response. The work is stacking up nicely; one local woman is writing her hilarious and poignant memoirs longhand, I’m typing it up, correcting, critiquing, structuring and advising. Then there’s a shorter project comprising a local lady’s Occupation memoirs. I’ve been entrusted with polishing up the hair-raising story of a guy who survived, amongst other adventures, six months in Bali’s notorious Kerobokan prison; I’m getting involved in a book tracing 100 years of a local football club.

What have I learnt about the freelance life? Firstly, you need to establish mutual trust or you won’t produce your best work. People won’t volunteer personal stuff to someone they don’t trust. Second, this work isn’t a hobby and I owe each client my full care and attention. Third, this is stuff I am good at, enjoy, and can do it from my armchair at any hour if I wish. At other times I’ll take myself off to the library. As to price, this isn’t my primary, or even secondary, source of income (yet). I can therefore work as cheap as I wish. I refuse to ask for upfront payment, and I cap my price so the client isn’t concerned about rising costs.

Having spent a life working with figures I know what I enjoy most.

Going down the pub

As far as inconveniences caused by Covid-19 go, when many have died, not being able to go to the pub is pretty low on the scale. No one disagreed when they were closed towards the end of March. They are the prefect breeding ground for the transmission of disease. And, unlike schools which can also be considered high risk, they are not an essential part of life. Of course, if you want alcohol, there are other ways of obtaining same.

And so it was that the last time I ventured into town for a quiet beer with the boys was on 15th March, 16 weeks ago. We generally meet at the Peirson in the Royal Square before moving along to the Mitre, also known as the Blue Note Bar. In Ireland these two places would be known as ‘old man’ pubs – quiet, pleasant, good beer, low music, nothing much to entice the younger set.

The Peirson

Not many people about last night, a contrast to those images from selected spots in England where there was crowding and trouble. Of course, there is never news where everything is in order.

So there we were, reconvened in the Mitre at our reserved table, four of us. Our fifth and final member, our 80-year-old ‘President’ was missing. We bumped elbows, ordered our drinks and carried on from where we’d left off. Football is the common denominator. We all support English clubs – Burnley, Leeds, Birmingham and Barnsley respectively. We are also all runners, or ex-runners. The conversation and beer flowed steadily. The drill in all Jersey bars is seated only, one-metre physical distancing. The police stepped in, saw that all was well, and went on their way.

The Mitre

And a couple of hours later we went home. Nothing special you say, but to us it was, in a quiet sort of way. The pub is a part of our social lives, occasionally abused by some, but a welcome port of call for others, especially after the troublesome months we’ve been through.

The Beast of Jersey (3 of 3)

See here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

On 10th July 1971 around 11.45pm a car jumped the lights at Georgetown, just east of St Helier, and drove off erratically. Police Constables Riseborough and McGinn, on mobile patrol, gave chase. It was hair-raising as the Morris 1100 attempted to evade the chasers for several miles. Had the driver simply stopped at the outset and apologised he might have got away with it I imagine.

How the Beast appeared to his victims

He was eventually caught and arrested and taken to police HQ. Over the ensuing hours it became clear, by the man’s dress and the contents of his pockets and car, that this was no ordinary arrest. It was Edward John Louis Paisnel, 46, The Beast of Jersey. A building contractor, well-known and respected, married with a daughter and two step-children.

Searches of his house at Grouville revealed the extent of his activities and of his interests and mindset. His wife Joan professed to know nothing of her husband’s nocturnal activities.

Paisnel arriving for trial

He was charged on 13 counts and was quickly found guilty and sentenced to 30 years. He served 20 years in Winchester Gaol and was released after being a model prisoner. Astonishingly, he sought to return to Jersey but no one here was having it. He moved to the Isle of Wight where, three years later in 1994, he died of a heart attack.

Paisnel unmasked

For a more detailed account you should visit the excellent True Crime Enthusiast website.

From inside the ‘Cocoon’ – Fluttering away

A rare reblog which shames those of us who glance at the Covid-19 statistics without considering those affected.

A SILVER VOICE FROM IRELAND

As the COVID-19 statstics in Ireland continue to decline, rules for ‘cocooners’ are being eased on a phased basis and the horrid term ‘cocooning’ is falling out of use.

After 100 days we take tiny little steps back to a new normal. A ‘normal’ that is as yet unknown and possibly fraught with danger. As the ‘lockdown’ is phased out I will end this series of posts with some reflections on the rough road travelled.

A dead butterfly – Image Wikimedia Commons

The biggest tragedy is the loss of the 1,715 men women and young adults in the Republic of Ireland who did not make it through this awful time. They range in age from 17 to 103. The loss of each one is a tragedy and a huge void in the lives of those who knew and loved them. I knew and loved a number of them. Across the…

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The Beast of Jersey (2 of 3)

Following on from Part 1, the people of Jersey were now scared, as you can imagine, especially in the country parishes. Left to their own devices, the Jersey police were getting nowhere. They called in Scotland Yard in the shape of DS Jack Mannings, a well-known adversary of the Kray Brothers in London’s gangland.

He set to work, compiling an identikit of the Beast and challenging the Jersey public to help find him. No man was above suspicion and many interviews took place. These included the loner Alphonse Le Gastelois who, relentlessly hounded by police and public, took himself off to the Écréhous reef in a 14-year exile.

No one was apprehended, but things went quiet. There were no further incidents until

  • April 1963. A nine-year-old boy in St Saviour was attacked with a similar MO as before.
  • November 1963. An 11-year-old boy was attacked, again in St Saviour.
  • July 1964. A ten-year-old girl in Trinity was attacked.
  • August 1964. A 16-year-old boy in Grouville was attacked.

Things went quiet again. Was he gone? In 1966 the police received a letter.

My Dear Sir,
               I think that it is just the time to tell you that you are just wasting your time, as every time I have done wat I always intended to do and remember it will not stop at this, but I will be fair to you and give you a chance. I have never had much out of this life but I intend to get everything I can now…..I have always wanted to do the perfect crime. I have done this, but this time let the moon shine very britte in September because this time it must be perfect, not one but two. I am not a maniac by a long shot but I like to play with you people. You will hear from me before September and I will give you all the clues. Just to see if you can catch me.

  • August 1966. A 15-year-old girl was savagely raped in Trinity.
  • December 1966. 20-year-old Tuula Hoeoek, a Finnish au pair, was murdered, her skull smashed to pieces. This doesn’t form part of the Beast’s official litany of attacks. I wonder why, as the MO was remarkably similar to his other attacks – victim picked up at bus stop, dragged into to a field etc. The extreme violence, maybe provoked by Tuula’s spirited resistance, was taking things to a new level though.
The field entrance where Tuula’s battered body was found. Poor kid. When running by here I always stop and say hello.

Maybe even the Beast was shocked as there was peace and quiet until

  • August 1970. A 13-year-old boy in Vallee des Vaux was dragged from his bed and indecently assaulted. Scratches on the boy’s body were identical to those found after the August 1966 attack.

It was, mercifully, to be the last reported attack.

But who and where was he?

The Beast of Jersey (1 of 3)

The true story of The Beast is old news really, so much so that I hesitate even to blog about it. I’ve nothing new to add. However it’s strange that he (for The Beast indeed eventually proved male) has faded from the general consciousness over the years. For most of the island population it’s only a hazy story, half-remembered. And when, towards the end of my guided tours of Mont Orgueil, I ask our visitors to the Island ‘Do you know of the Beast of Jersey?’ there is invariably a collective bemused look and a shaking of heads, whereupon I relate an abbreviated version.

So here follows the story as I know it. As I say, there’s nothing new. What follows is from sources freely accessible which I’ll credit at the end of the story. I only wish I had access to the police records of the time.


  • November 1957. The first strike of the Beast, as he was later to become known. A 29-year-old nurse, waiting for a bus at Mont a L’Abbé, was dragged into a field and sexually assaulted. Many stitches required. The attacker’s face was covered and he was said to have an ‘Irish accent.’
  • March 1958. A 20-year-old woman walking from a bus stop in Trinity was dragged into a field and raped.
  • July 1958. A 31-year-old woman, also walking home from a bus stop was dragged into a field and sexually assaulted.

    You see a pattern emerging.
  • August 1959. A young girl walking home in Grouville, dragged into a field and sexually assaulted.
  • October 1959. A 28-year-old woman indecently assaulted in St Martin, but fought off her assailant.
More innocent times… or were they?

Two years of attacks, almost certainly by the same person, who was about 5’6”, maybe mid-40s, affecting an Irish-type accent and he smelled ‘musty’. The Jersey police were no nearer to him. There were also recurring themes in the attacker’s modus operandi though now they changed, and not for the better.

  • February 1960. A 12-year-old boy, asleep in his bed in the Grands Vaux area, was awoken and a rope placed around his neck. He was led outside and indecently assaulted.
  • March 1960. In St Brelade, a woman accepted a lift from a man who said he was a doctor. He drove into a field, dragged the woman out of a car, tied her hands up and raped her. Thrown back into the car, the woman then managed to escape.
  • March 1960 again. In St Martin, a 43-year-old mother was awakened by a noise downstairs at about 1.30am. Going down to investigate she heard someone in the living room but, on attempting to telephone the police, she found the wires had been pulled out. She was confronted by a man who grabbed her, demanded money and threatened to kill her. Hearing the woman’s 14-year-old daughter coming downstairs to investigate, the man left and the woman dashed out to a nearby house to raise the alarm. On her return, her daughter had been brutally raped.

Had the Beast finished? Read on.

The Days of the Spartan Dinner Dances

Times past, I was quite heavily involved with my local track & field club, Jersey Spartan AC. Shortly after I became Secretary in about 1999, one of the things I pushed for at committee was an upgrade to the club’s annual ‘bash’. So we decided on an Annual Dinner Dance, the sort of affair that even then was going out of fashion.

But they were great, and continued for a dozen or so years. The club members, their partners and families enjoyed the opportunity to dress up. Some were unrecognisable from the sweaty articles in scanty clothing that we were accustomed to seeing.

Bruce Tulloh book

One of the keys to the successes of those evenings were the invited Guest Speakers. I have to say that I had a hand in securing most of these guests. And each and every one had represented Great Britain (or Ireland in one instance) in at least one Olympic Games, including two gold medalists. Here, for the record, is the list in approximate order in which they came to Jersey, with their Olympic credentials.

  • Myrtle Augee – Seoul 1988 shot putt 17th, Barcelona 1992 shot putt 14th.
  • Sonia O’Sullivan – Barcelona 1992 3000m 4th, Atlanta 1996 5000m DNF & 1500m heats, Sydney 2000 5000m 2nd & 10000m 6th.
  • Mary Peters – Tokyo 1964 pentathlon 4th, Mexico 1968 pentathlon 9th, Munich 1972 1st.
  • David Hemery – Mexico 1968 400m hurdles 1st, Munich 1972 400m hurdles 3rd & 4 x 400m relay 2nd.
  • Bruce Tulloh (RIP) – Rome 1960 1500m heats.
  • David Moorcroft – Montreal 1976 1500m 7th, Moscow 1980 5000m semi-finals, Los Angels 1984 5000m 14th.
  • Christina Boxer – Moscow 1980 800m semi-final, Los Angeles 1984 1500m 6th, Seoul 1988 1500m 4th.
  • Dalton Grant – 1988 Seoul high jump 7th, 1992 Barcelona high jump 29th, Atlanta 1996 high jump 19th.
  • Chris Tomlinson – Athens 2004 long jump 5th, Beijing 2008 long jump 27th, London 2012 long jump 6th.
  • Katharine Merry – Atlanta 1996 200m 19th, Sydney 2000 400m 3rd.
  • Colin Campbell (Jersey’s own) – Mexico 1968 400m heats, 1972 Munich 800m heats.

ChristinaBoxer

Christina Boxer

In most cases these great athletes travelled to Jersey for expenses only. On a number of occasions I was honoured to meet and talk with them over dinner the night before the function. Each brought their own individual charm to the proceedings and we, as a club, were unfailingly impressed with their willingness to reach out and give up their time for the furtherance of athletics.

Happy days indeed, but I think the days of the Dinner Dance are now over.

Solar Power Holds Rock Steady At $000,000,000.00 Per Barrel

Reblogged from one of best satirists around.

The Out And Abouter

sunsteal An unknown man packs nearly $0,000.00 worth of sunlight into his trunk, as solar markets hold steady.

Carrying on a trend that started 4.6 billion years ago, and is expected to endure for at least another 20 billion fiscal quarters, the energy blasting towards Earth in an unbroken stream from the sun continued to demand exactly $000,000,000.00 per barrel on the open markets today. 

“Look, the bad news is no one made a killing on this energy source we like to call ‘daylight,’ this week,” said solar market expert Max Helios. “There have been no new nearby suns discovered for a very long time, and the energy is difficult to monopolize, falling as it does in an even pattern of life-giving brilliance on the upturned face of our planet.”

“But the good news is no one is having to pay anyone else to take their solar energy. And never…

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Time Team Re-runs

Any Time Team fans about? For the uninitiated, Time Team was a British television series which started in 1994 and ran for 20 years. Basically it broke the mould of stuffy academic archaeology by potting digs done over just three days (rather than months, which was typical) into 45 minutes for television purposes.

The team of colourful experts was fronted by ‘Everyman’ Tony Robinson who attempted to summarise what was happening in layman’s terms. Each week they’d descend on a place or site of interest. Clearly there was a fair bit of research done beforehand so that the team could crack on straightaway with the dig. Usually, before the first day was out the first trench had been opened and the trowels were at work and tentative interpretations suggested.

Time Team 1

Tony Robinson, Phil Harding, Mick Aston, Carenza Lewis

The early episodes are presently available to view, so I’ve been sitting down and watching them in the evenings. What struck me straight away was the technology, or lack of it, in the 1990s. OK, the word ‘geophysics’ was a new word to most then, with the ‘geophys’ people marching up and down fields with their equipment, measuring differences in resistance below ground. Mighty impressive, but the output was delivered by clunky printers and first generation CAD. Cutting edge for the time but I’m looking forward to see how geophysics advanced over the 20 years.

In one of the first episodes, one of the experts explained to Robinson on-screen a new technology called Global Positioning System – GPS. ‘So,’ said Robinson, ‘you mean you send a signal to a satellite up there (he points to the sky), the satellite sends a signal back and tells you where you are?’ These days we all use GPS as standard in one form or another.

Time Team 2

Carenza, Tony & Phil

And no Internet! The archivist checking the history of the site would triumphantly wave a dusty book containing vital background. To be fair, much of these old academic records, maps etc. are probably still not digitised, but today our first port of call is Google or a specialist website.

During its time, Time Team did huge amounts to advance archaeological research. It inevitably put noses out of joint in academic quarters but it stimulated the whole profession. And its time-limited format showed what was possible when it came to involvement with major building developments which were halted for investigation of lost historical features.

Time Team 3

Long live Time Team. You can find the re-runs on http://www.channel4.com

 

My First Marathon Finish

NB: Long post, no pictures, a bit of self-indulgence.

Something just led me to look up my August 2008 blog on this matter and, guess what? There wasn’t a blog post at all. It seems like there was a nine-month hiatus in my blogging after I moved to Ireland in early 2008. So, almost 12 years later, here’s what I recall of my very first marathon finish.

You’ll note it wasn’t actually my first marathon, or even my second. Just the first I finished. So I’ll deal with those bad ones first. In 2006 or 2007 I entered my first full marathon, in Cork. I ran badly, didn’t get much beyond half way. I was puzzled and disappointed, but put it down to inexperience. Then, in June 2008, I entered Cork again. This time I’d trained like a demon with training runs up to 20 miles and beyond. Inexplicably I failed again, worse than the previous occasion. There seemed to be no reason for this abject failure – I’d run plenty of half-marathons at this stage so to not get beyond 13 – 14 miles was inexplicable.

What was I to do? I couldn’t just give up on marathons. What I did was enter another one, seven or eight weeks later, at Longford in the Irish Midlands. Instead of training even harder I cut back my mileage and added in a bit of gym work – resistance, lifting, rowing machine. I headed down to Longford on the evening before the race. A good start to race weekend – the hotel couldn’t find my booking so I had to head out miles into the countryside to find a room. However, the next morning, it was cool, breezy and damp. Just the conditions I like. Off we went.

Even at the outset I felt better, more confident that this was to be my day. I took it steady as we headed out of town, into the country. I passed a couple of chaps with ‘100 Marathon Club’ on their vests and started to feel even more confident.

Then, suddenly the half-marathoners who had started at the same time split off to the right and the race took on a different complexion. Into the lovely Longford lanes we went, not many of us. At times it seemed that I was running alone. There were very few marshals and only the occasional sign to assure me I was still on course. And then, a bit of fun with a wheelchair competitor. I’d trot by him on the little climbs as he toiled, pushing his wheels around. Then a little later, on the downs, he’d come flying by me, ‘Wheee!’

17, 18 miles, way further than I’d managed in Cork, and feeling relatively comfortable. 20 miles, and I found what they say is true. The last six miles is where a marathon starts. Out now on the hard shoulder of the N5, the Longford bypass. Remember those two ‘100 Club’ runners? They trotted by me, still chatting away together. When your resources are gone, your body has nothing left to give, you have to find ways and means of continuing. Unlike in Cork though I could sniff the finish – so much of endurance running is mental. I tried a trick – for each of those last six miles, concentrate on a person special to you and they’ll get you home. Whether or not it was that, I somehow found myself on the outskirts of Longford Town, still virtually alone. And then, like a vision, the finishing line on Main Street. Sunday lunchtime and a couple of dear old ladies kindly clapped me over the line. Someone handed me a medal.

Happily the nearby Longford Arms had made room for me on this Sunday evening and I tottered up to my room, collapsed on the bed, legs and everything quivering and cramping. I finally found the strength to get to the shower…it wasn’t working. The hotel agreed to change my room to one with a working shower, but this was further pain. Finally I showered and managed a somewhat tortured rest.

But by 7pm I was right as rain. Medal around my neck I headed off on a pub crawl, gleefully downing a pint at each and moving on to the next on that quiet Sunday evening. After about seven pubs and seven pints, waving my medal at disinterested bar staff at each one, I happily weaved my way back to my hotel.

I won’t forget that day anyway, but now it’s recorded here. Thank you for reading.