Let me begin by saying that at the tender age of (ahem) I don’t really see myself as having an old mind but for the purposes of this article and for the reasons I am about to discuss I will.
Little kids are like sponges, aren’t they? They are observing, exploring and learning all the time. When you start to reach a certain age that process slows. Where does all that mental capacity go? Well it doesn’t go anywhere. I refuse to believe you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.
Back in 2017 I decided to pick up the cello. I have no musical ability and no previous experience. I just happen to love music and really wanted to learn how to play. Some would say it was too late to start learning how to play an instrument and I admit it was a little more difficult than it would have been if I had started at an early age. The point wasn’t to become an expert. I wasn’t planning on selling out concert halls or anything. What was important was the happiness it brought me to be learning something new, acquiring new skills. It wasn’t brilliant playing but it was my playing and something I had learned to do.
I guess my point it is never too late to try and learn something new. A few other things I would like to put on my bucket list of learning include: Greek, vocals, photography and how to cook. What’s yours? What are those new skills you would love to learn?
Coming May 2020. Bring me your sick. Bring me your troubled. Bring me those that society can no longer cope with. They will always have a home here at Harbour House.
Quiet. The noise of the workers on Chamberlain Docks faintly resonated in the distance. The ferry from the Island of Hathfield Bay would be arriving in soon. The 11:15. It always left port on time and the crossing was always a precise 56 minutes. What would it be bringing? Who would be returning? It didn’t matter because all of that was behind the tall hedges obscured from view. You see, it wouldn’t do good for the residents of Harbour House to look at what went beyond the safe little world that had been created for them. No that wouldn’t do at all, according to DR WINSLOW. Harbour House was a place of rehabilitation. Maybe seeing what was beyond the hedges, fences and walls would do them some good? Maybe it would give them some hope of returning to normality, but they weren’t there to hope. They were there to get better. They were there to shed all kinds of ailments.
One such resident was music teacher, VINCENT BAINES. 1105 was the number he was given and obsession was his reason for being confined to Harbour House. The air of the place was fresher than he had ever sampled deeper in the city and for that he was grateful. The noise of the birds chirping formed a pleasant little melody to accompany the blossoming rhododendrons. He had circulated the gardens three times when he came to a stop again. The door leading back into the facility slammed as a woman joined him. She looked a little surprised at first to see that she wasn’t alone but she smiled at Vincent and wandered to a bench and sat herself. She was slim of face and body. Her soft eyes were like clear blue pools of water. The way she had hunched nervously gave Vincent reason to deduce that she was new to the ways of HARBOUR HOUSE. She had been crying. She was still in clothes one would have worn outside. An intervention staged perhaps? Her family refusing to return for her until she was ‘normal.’ What was normal? No one was normal. Especially not in the city of Coldford.
“It will take a while to settle in but you’ll get there,” Vincent decided to say to her.
The girl looked up and smiled. “Thanks. I’ll be fine.”
Vincent nodded. She wasn’t a drug addict. She wasn’t a victim of trauma. Something else had brought her to them. He checked himself though. Ever since he was a little boy he had been drawn to the vulnerable, to those who needed help. His obsession meant that he was in no position to help. His obsessions just made things worse. The girl just needed to be left alone. At least Harbour House was helping him with something.
“How long do you have to stay here?” The girl asked just as Vincent was preparing to make another stroll of the gardens.
Her face was soft. She was pleading to him. She wanted his help. He could help. He had to help. She needed him. What was her name? Should he ask? If they shared their names that connected them. That made them a pairing and when you know someone who needs help you should help, shouldn’t you? Her watery blue eyes were begging him. ‘Help me, please!”
Vincent took a deep breath. “As long as it takes I suppose.”
The girl nodded. “I thought so.”
Vincent pushed his spectacles further up his nose. “You’ll get the help you need here.”
That much was true and that was all he would have to say on the matter. He had to leave it at that. If he thought about it more and started to question her as to what brought her there he would set himself back and Harbour House had been doing him good.
The door was thrown open again. TAWNY, an a old show girl and fellow resident leaned out. She had a cigarette dangling from her lips.
“C’mon honey!” She called to Vincent. “We’re going out to the roof.”
She giggled as the artist, DAVID FINN, also a resident, pushed beside her in the doorway.
“I painted my walls with pudding and they think its shit!” He laughed.
Vincent shook his head. “Very mature, David,” he replied but he was laughing too.
He made his way to join his friends. He stopped at the girl on the bench. “You’ll be fine,” he said.
The girl smiled in return. “You think so?”
Vincent didn’t dare allow himself to ponder the question.
A matron of the facility, Beverly, was making her way to the gardens.
“I know that was pudding!” She barked at David, slapping his arm.
David and Tawny fell to laughter. “Had you going though!” David teased.
The three made their way to a quiet spot on the roof. Beverly called to the girl.
“Emily?” She said. “I need you on the floor.”
The girl nodded, took a deep breath and stood. Her family had left her there. They wouldn’t return until she was better but she wasn’t a resident. She was a nurse. Just like the residents she would be there as long as it took.
Vincent thought he had his life together. A loving partner, a thriving career and all the blessings life can offer. When he accepts a wealthy new pupil his obsessions threaten to derail everything.
Celebrating 4 years! Read the hit novella that brought Mr Baines to Harbour House.
Those little mind worms can wriggle deep. But you have an public persona that you need to keep. They wriggle, the squirm and they embed. You can’t get those thoughts out of your head. There’s one place obsession can meet its cure. In Harbour House, that I can assure.
One might assume that the work of a funeral director in Coldford would never be done. The streets of the Shady City are perilous after all with violence, corruption and oneupmanship waiting around every corner. Eugene Morris doesn’t let that distract him though. His job isn’t a pleasant one but it must fall to the hands of someone. He finds himself in homes from the Shanties strips to the mansion houses of Filton. Death is equal in its pursuit.
He treats his clients with the utmost respect, courtesy and dignity. In return he expects nothing less for himself. No matter the name, BECKINGRIDGE, OWEN, DOYLE or FULLERTON, they all lie the same way on the Tailor’s table. Eugene pays no mind to disputes and squabbles rising around him. It is simply his job to clean up the mess and kiss the foreheads of those who would otherwise be forgotten about. No one would want him choosing sides anyway. When death favours, things get really messy.
He earned the title of The Tailor because of the attention to detail he places on his client’s final suit. Exceptionally talented at capturing the life of the deceased in how they are laid to rest, his skills as an actual tailor come in quite handy. He is whimsical in appearance, timeless and elegant. Eugene is a personable enough man, pleasant and kind but like the death which he serves no one really wants him to be knocking on their door.
Coming May 02 2020
Harbour House rehabilitation clinic brings together regrets, losses and life long bonds. If the program doesn’t work then there is always space on the Tailor’s table.
Tonight’s blog should have been about fears, what shapes them and how they impact our daily lives. It was a carefully constructed article (If I do say so myself) that tackled the issues of childhood trauma and facing those fears. Then unfortunately WordPress happened. Thanks to a issue saving the article the whole thing was deleted. I’m not a huge tech whiz so there may be a small chance that it was my fault somehow but I’m trying to not cry so let’s just leave it at that.
Instead you may consider yourself having read a terrific article and are now thinking, “Wow! That’s probably the best thing I’ve ever read on the internet.” I’m trying to cheer myself up here if you will indulge a girl. Anyway, if you find my article zooming about cyber space feel free to nab it and prove me wrong.
This isn’t the greatest thing you’ll read on the internet but at least it’s a tribute 😉
In the meantime I’d like to continue on the theme of fear with a few words:
They sow doubt and plague our minds.
Fears hold us back; routed deep in our design.
A time comes when we don’t have a choice.
They come at us full on with a screaming voice.
Then we decide to run or to fight.
Do we give in to that all consuming fright?
Face them for the sake of those who rely.
Face them or at least give it a try.
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Bring my your sick. Bring me your troubled. Bring me those that society can no longer cope with, for they will always have a home here at Harbour House.
I can’t believe it is March already! It seems like only yesterday I was sending my letter to Santa and getting ready to cry, “Happy New Year!”
2020 has sure provided it’s challenges so far. It’s been a full year. Coming this May I am excited to bring you a new novel that I hope you will love reading as much as I enjoyed writing. So without further adu here are ten things you can expect from HARBOUR HOUSE.
1 – Three times the charm.
MAESTRO (2016), MUSE (2018) and KNOCK KNOCK SEASON 1 (2019) all had one thing in common – they each had a character finding themselves in Harbour House rehabilitation clinic. Music teacher, VINCENT BAINES, was put there after sessions with his pupil GEORGE BECKINGRIDGE … well let’s not say too much we don’t want to spoil. After a struggle with a drug habit, artist, DAVID FINN, checked in too and found a new friend in the maestro. Finally in the Knock Knock series, beloved aunt of the BOSS LADY herself, TAWNY, was taken to Harbour House for treatment of trauma after an attack on the club. So three unlikely friends came together and at that Harbour House opens.
2 – Maestro missing days.
In the conclusion of Maestro there is a ten year time hop. A lot of what happened within that time scale will be explained.
3 – An artist’s struggle.
David is hapless, he can be frustrating to his friends but despite his terrible upbringing he has a good heart. Readers of MUSE will be familiar with his struggle but as enters Harbour House he may find it is the best place for him.
4 – What happened at Kappa So?
In the Knock Knock series, TABITHA arrives at the club as a girl to find it burned out (sorry, spoilers). All that is explained is that it was attacked and caused a mental break down of our now Harbour House resident. As Tawny’s struggle to get well continues the details of what really happened that night will be revealed.
5 – Sex, drugs and some questionable decisions.
Early readers described it as the boldest book yet. It contains scenes that became the subject of discussions at interventions (no exaggeration). Whilst the shocks and the grimaces are there, there is also a lot of heart. Rehabilitation isn’t an easy journey after all and all the love and support in the world is required.
6 – Villains times three.
Speaking of questionable decisions: I had a poll with early readers to pick who of the three villains would be deemed the most despicable by the end. Yes, you read that right. Since there are three heroes there would naturally be three villains pursuing them as they aim to get well. According to the readers it was a close match because each were just as nasty as the last.
Look me in the eye.
7 – Irrational fears.
A fear of breast milk, a fear of stripping in front of your lover, a fear of being rescued by a handsome lunatic or a fear of your corpse being violated. Yes … Erm … So there’s that.
8 – Knock Knock! Who’s there?
Whilst it can be read independently of the Knock Knock series, Harbour House will act as a bridge between Seasons 1 and 2, beginning where S1 ends and leaving where S2 begins.
9 – The promise of a cure.
DR WINSLOW is nothing if not a good doctor. When he promises cure to his residents, brought to him for addiction, trauma and obsessive disorder, it is a promise he intends to keep. How the residents will combat their issues and how it will leave them in the end remains to be seen but the promise of a cure is very real.
In order to bring that cure the characters and reader are taken away from the usual experience of the Shady City. Isolation is key to cure and when the doors close on the residents, the reader is held behind those walls too. Don’t worry, there are pretty gardens to enjoy and all the coffee you can drink.
10 – An escape.
Readers, viewers, audiences. We all look to fiction for an escape. Wether it’s an escape from stress, an escape from the mundane routine or even just an escape to worlds where anything is possible. We lose ourselves in fiction because it pushes the boundaries of reality. Opening it’s doors in May 2020 so that you can join our rehab residents and escape, ladies and gentlemen welcome to Harbour House.
All Shady City thrillers can be read and enjoyed without the others and there is no particular order that is needed but if you are looking for the bigger picture be sure to check out as many as you can. As always I am so thankful to all of you. Readers are what makes an author’s work all worth it. I hope you enjoy Harbour House when it is released. In the meantime let me know your thoughts on Maestro, Muse and Knock Knock. Don’t forget to tip your author with a nice little Amazon review 😉
Coming 05 02
Bring me your sick. Bring me your troubled. Bring me those society can no longer cope with for they will always have a home here Harbour House.
A skilled negotiator for the most part, Evan is charming but also very full on. He started his career in sales for COOPER Garage when he was a budding accounts student at FILTON University. With his proven stats behind him he was head hunted for the advice team for Beckingridge Firm. This suited Ethan. BECKINGRIDGE TOWER was the one place in Coldford he wanted to work. There he thrived and there he also met his wife, Sonya.
So what exactly does the accounts advice entail? Evan, being a proven salesman with a head for numbers formed a formidable team with his wife. They were placed in charge of bringing in wealthy new clients for the financial giants to invest their money. They were also charged with pushing old clients to invest in new projects. All with that ultimate goal – Cold Hard Cash.
Successful at their job and paid well the Heaths bought a lavish residence in Filton. Fancy cars and expensive restaurants like the DELPHINE are all part and parcel. They just can’t get enough which is why their teenaged son is still sent drug errands to the Shanties.
Times change and the flow of wealth in the Shady City can be treacherous. As music teacher, VINCENT BAINES, watched the Heaths leave for work one fateful morning he couldn’t help but notice that Filton had no soul. Who needs a soul when you can sell it for a mansion house?
Mr and Mrs Heath found themselves on the wrong side of the Knock Knock Boss Lady. It was time to take a leap of faith. Complete Season 1 of the Knock Knock graphic novel series is free to read HERE.
I have a terrible memory at the best of times so why, you may ask, have I chosen to write about my earliest one? Just how far back can I go?
Despite having a shocking memory there are those moments that just stick. One such memory is of something that happened to me when I was about 5 years old. It’s probably not as far back as many of you can go and probably not technically my earliest memory but it certainly did stand out for me.
My mother had explained to me that she was going to visit an aunt. Letty her name was. I had never heard my mum mention this aunt before and I had certainly never met her. I was in and out of hospital a lot as a kid so I was familiar with all the hospitals in the area. The one I was taken to to see Letty wasn’t so much a hospital as a care home. It was private, beautiful with elaborate gardens. The lighting wasn’t as harsh as a hospital normally would be. The nurses weren’t wearing NHS uniforms. There was hospital beds though. That was when I was introduced to Letty. As I said I had never met this woman before in my life. Mum seemed to know her real well though. She was incredibly sick. She had an oxygen mask on and kept drifting in and out of sleep. Mum spoke to the carers but I watched Letty, comfortable, clean and surrounded by people.
Obviously mum had just made it her point to say hello to an old relative as she was easing away from life, perhaps not a relative at all but a friend of my grandmother. Either way having never met before I was taken to this strangely caring, friendly place. Now that I’m older I realise it was probably a hospice. The reason this particular memory stands out to me is because it was all so strange as a five year old. As a child you see things in black and white for the most part. I had never before witnessed death and age walk hand in hand with smiles and comfort.
We may have only just met that one time but Letty certainly had a huge impact on me. I could ask my mother exactly who she was and why she was there but sometimes it’s best to allow that little bit of mystery to remain. I sincerely hope that little girl clutching a grey rabbit brought some comfort to you Letty. I do remember it made you smile.
What about you? What was your earliest memory?
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Bring my your sick. Bring me your troubled. Bring me those that society can no longer cope with, for they will always have a home here at Harbour House.
A husband and father first, Reginald is a gentlemen above all else. He is known as the King of City Main. A gentleman he may be but his control of his kingdom can be a violent one when necessary. His strength comes from the loyalists of City Main, the fan group of the COLDFORD CITY football team.
Father of the triplets – MARCUS, SIMON and REGGIE – Reginald’s boys follow in their father’s footsteps in that they will do whatever it takes to keep their name as the resounding power in the busiest part of the Shady City. Reginald’s wife, Rita, has been his partner since their parents introduced them as children. He is wholly dedicated to his wife.
Reginald’s weapon of choice when entering an altercation is a heavy chain which he has named Belta’ . She has been with him since attending the football games as a young boy. Belta’s slinky body was easy to slip into a sleeve and into stadiums into the city. When violence erupted she was heavy enough to deliver head smashing damage.
Reginald pays no mind to the law when it comes to protecting his friends and family. He’s a noble king but not one to be threatened.
They call her The Baroness and her activist spirit is legendary. To some she is the lovable KNOCK KNOCK show girl. To the LAWMAKERS she is the next target and rehab will not excuse her.
Coming May 02: Welcome Tawny McInney to Harbour House.
Complete season 1 of the Knock Knock graphic novel series is free to read HERE.
Like a military parade the nurses of Harbour House were set in a neat line ready to hear their orders for the day. They were waiting for their super star doctor to begin his rounds. The polished wing tips, sharp, well tailored suits and neatly combed hair he was like a film star within the facility. Although, Beverly wished he hadn’t shaved his moustache. He looked so much better with the moustache. Without it his face seemed longer, more angular.
“Good morning ladies,” said he. Beverly handed him a clip board of notes.
“Good morning doctor,” they all rhymed off like obedient school children.
Winslow read through the notes quietly.
“Beverly?” he turned to the burly, middle aged matron. “We need some vitals and a urine sample from Mr Finn.”
“Yes doctor,” she replied.
“He can be a bit of a challenging rascal so if he gives you any trouble call a porter.”
Beverly set off to her task.
She glanced in the window of the room to see artist, David Finn, lying on his bed sketching on a scrap piece of paper with a blunt charcoal pencil. She knocked on the little window and he looked up. She pointed to the back wall. David grinned and raised his middle finger at her. She frowned and darted her finger more severely. David rolled his eyes but he stood and put his back against the back wall. It was rules in Harbour House that addiction residents had to keep away from the door when nurses were bringing in the carts. A nurse had been attacked recently when one of the addicts tried to steal medication from her trolley. Beverly didn’t feel unsafe around David. Having his back against the wall wasn’t going to make much of a difference anyway. If he really wanted to feed his addiction he would and the cameras watching wouldn’t stop him.
“How are you feeling today?” she asked as a nurse’s general enquiry as she wrapped a blood pressure cuff around his arm.
“Been better,” David replied. “Been worse.”
The cuff began to inflate to the point he felt his arm was going to pop off. It made him self conscious of the track marks the needles had left behind. He found this strange because they never seemed to bother him before. When the blood pressure was taken and pulse checked she handed him a urine cup.
“I need you to fill this,” she instructed.
David made to take it from her and head to the bathrooms.
“Sorry,” she said stopping him. “You have to do it here. They weren’t happy with your last results.”
“That’s abuse,” David protested with some humour.
“When you are sufficiently clean and sober you can take it up with the city Medical Authorities. In the mean time fill the cup please.”
David wrinkled his nose. “I’m a nervous pisser.”
Beverly shook her head. A smile traced her rosy lips. “Hurry up Finn. You haven’t got anything I haven’t handled before.”
David giggled like a school boy. “Okay nurse kinky, you said just fill the cup.”
Beverly checked the watch clipped to her breast pocket. “And if you could hurry along I’d appreciate it.”
With raised eyebrows David filled the sample cup. The nurse wiped it, stored it and finished checking temperature and pulmonary rate.
Down the hall the beautiful cry of the violin sounded. A group of nurses sat along the bed listening.
‘So handsome,’ they cooed. ‘So talented.’
Vincent Baines had first picked up the violin at age six. It called to him in a way no other instrument did. It cried. It laughed. It covered a whole range of emotions and from the first time he struck the bow across the quivering strings there was love between them. His relationships with people were fraught with emotional turmoil but the violin always hit the right note when needed.
He loved to write concertos for the cry of the violin because only its soft strings seemed to understand him. Sure, the piano had a lot to say and they were well acquainted but it didn’t fill Vincent’s heart and mind they way the violin did. Even with everything that lead him to Harbour House the violin still made sense. It never changed. It never judged. Highs, lows, soft and harsh the violin concerto had it all and for as long as he could play it would always love him.
After the last note was drawn the emotion of the piece still lingered.
A nurse wiped a tear that was forming in her eye. Thy all applauded. Vincent, holding the bow in one hand and the instrument in the other bowed graciously.
“That was beautiful,” one of the nurses gushed.
“Thank you,” Vincent responded politely, storing the black violin with red trimming back in its case. “Just a little something I’ve been working on.”
A bell rang.
“Time to get back to work,” announced the self appointed leader of the group. They filtered out chatting merrily. Vincent followed behind them but took a right in the corridor towards the rec room.
In another part building lay a dressing table. It was old, well used. A special addition to make the occupant of the room feel at home. Tawny was a longer term resident so the good doctor gave some special allowances. The mirror was covered in old fliers from the Knock Knock club as well as photos of old friends, Agnes and a young Tabitha.
The lady herself was found on her way to the rec room. She had her arm linked in that of Glenn’s. “You spend way too much time in here,” she was saying. “You’re a big, handsome fella. You should be out there.”
Glenn smiled shyly. “Between two jobs and my wee lass to look after I don’t really have time …”
“You must be going blind old girl. He’s an ugly cunt,” Curtis teased, sauntering along beside them.
Tawny laughed. She patted Glenn’s arm. “Don’t you listen to him.”
“I don’t,” Glenn assured.
They reached the rec room. “Anyway boys, this is where I get off.”
Vincent was seated at the piano preparing to practice some exercises. Tawny wrapped her arms around him and kissed him as she passed.
“Good morning, gorgeous,” she said. Vincent smiled and patted her arm.
David was leaning over the sofa trying to find the remote so he could switch off a Coldford City football game. City were up three nil against Swantin and he couldn’t bear to watch the celebrations of the arch rivals of his beloved Coldford Athletic. Tawny slapped his backside.
“Good morning, handsome,” she winked. She held out a cigarette. “Ciggy?”
When he looked up he could see Beverly waving the remote at him.
The three took seat at their usual table by the fireplace. Winslow watched them from the door way. Like a fine, oiled machine his beloved facility ran. It was his passion project and like all his other pursuits, Harvester Farm for example, things had to run a very particular way.
Time is ticking by for the residents of Harbour House. A unique rehab facility with standards, laws and regulations all of its own.