The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 13

“Well, here we are again,” said Lord Hollingbury cheerily. “Midnight on the promenade with the Omega device.”

He shot a glance at Sir John, who didn’t say anything, then smiled a little.

“Is that them there?” said Marie as they saw a group of men approach. They walked without talking in a small group. They seemed to be carrying a heavy bag.

“I think so,” said Sir John. “They look to be heading toward that new paddling pool.”

Double Sovereign“For Fun?”

The men stopped in front of the pool and dropped the bag gently. Tools were removed and passed around. Mr Wombly started first, leaning down and prying the tiles from the edge of the pool. The tiles were passed back to the group and broken apart, Other members of the group joined Wombly in removing the tiles.

“Good guess on the pool,” said Lord Hollingbury.

“It looked like the most attractive thing after the merry-go-round,” said Sir John. “Now let’s try the Cryptozoetropometer.”

He got the device out and pointed it at the wrecking crew in the pool. He grunted an affirmative sound.

“It’s as we thought, lines of power as we saw before,” he said. “Now I’ll trace them back to their source.”

“Forgive me if I don’t act surprised,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Is it the church, perchance?”

“Exactly,” said Sir John. “Let’s go and see what’s happening there.”

“Tell you what, let’s not.” said Lord Hollingbury.

“But this is what we’ve been looking for?” said Sir John. “We can conclude our investigations.”

“Just out of interest, have you gone up against a group of mysterious cultists before,” said Lord Hollingbury.

“Yes, we did in London,” said Sir John.

“And how did that work out?” asked Lord Hollingbury.

“It went well, by and large,” said Sir John, “although we did have a martial arts expert, a vampire, and a powerful alchemist to hand at the time. Not to mention a large dog.”

“You know Sir John, I never really thought you had the capacity to surprise me but there you go,” said Lord Hollingbury. “The point is, we don’t have those things, just ourselves and our wits. Luckily, at least for me, that’s quite an arsenal, but we need to deploy it correctly.”

“How do you mean,” said Sir John.

“Well, this is my particular area of expertise,” said Lord Hollingbury.

“I thought that was wanton debauchery and drunken decadence?” said Sir John.

“Oh, touché, bravo,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Yes true, but in a professional capacity, this sort of thing is my area of expertise. Assuming these are your common garden cultists, then they’re probably all ensconced in a nice safe circle in the church whilst all sorts of ghoulish what-nots spin around. In order to get to the cultists and avoid the aforementioned what-nots we need a circle of our own and preferably one that moves.”

“What do you have in mind?” said Marie.

“Wait but a moment,” said Lord Hollingbury before opening the door in a nearby shop selling seaside toys. Sir John looked alarmed and Lord Hollingbury returned with 3 large hoops of the type rolled down a street by children.

“That’s robbery!” said Sir John.

“I know,” said Lord Hollingbury, “I only had a double sovereign to leave the shop owners. It’s a disgrace.”

“What do we do?” said Marie.

“Step in these hoops, I’ll mutter some incantations to protect us and we can pick them up and walk to the church, go into the church, and catch the cultists.”

“That’s … a rather good idea,” said Sir John.

“I know,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Look if you wiggle your hips like this you can keep the hoop up without holding it.”

Sir John and Marie tried to wiggle their hips like Lord Hollingbury, but their hoops fell to the ground. Lord Hollingbury sighed.

“I have no idea what you two do for fun,” he said.

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 14

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 12

Marie looked around at the church and its bizarre decoration again. Without the shock of the first viewing and the distraction of Lord Hollingbury she was able to see the artwork more clearly. In particular she noticed the background. For behind the fish, crustaceans and fantastical sea creatures there was a constant pattern of pale yellow disks set in a blue base.

SS Ch 12“Mysterious Ways”

She looked at some of the paintings as well. They were mostly biblical scenes, almost all with a watery theme. But some of the scenes she didn’t recognise. She knew the story of Jesus walking on water, but when did the disciples, or anyone, go bathing? Why was there a painting of an old man walking out of the sea? Why was there a …

Suddenly the entrance opened up and Marie swung round. Reverend Phillips had entered the church. He came in and shut the doors behind him then walked up the aisle.

“Hello,” said Marie. The vicar stopped with a start and looked at her.

“Who’s that?” he said nervously, “Who’s there?”

“It is Marie Jennings,” said Marie. “I was here the other day.”

The vicar looked at her and nodded.

“I remember you now. Came with that man. The strange one. And the idiot.”

“That’s my husband,” said Marie.

“Which one?” said the vicar. “No don’t tell me, it’s not good either way.”

“I wanted to talk to you about the men that have returned,” said Marie.

“The Lord moves in mysterious ways,” said the vicar.

“But,” said Marie, “they must have been dead. That’s very mysterious indeed, is it not? When we spoke the other day, you mentioned the resurrection. And now a man is alive who should be dead.”

“The sea is a fickle mistress,” said the vicar. “She sometimes gives and she sometimes takes.”

“She?” said Marie. “You make her sound like a person.”

“All the time I’ve lived here I’ve never once thought of her as anything different,” said the vicar. “For the sake of your health and sanity, you’d better do the same.”

“What makes her a person?” said Marie. “What does she take exactly?”

The vicar grunted scornfully.

“If you’d tended to those I’ve tended to, you’d know well enough. She gives life and she takes it. She sustains us here with her bounty, but it comes at a price. Every year I have services for them that don’t return. Them I can’t bury as there’s no body to bury. So yes, I see her as a fickle mistress and one that takes in a heartbeat.”

“And when she returns them?” said Marie.

“I have to prepare a sermon,” said the vicar. “I have a service this evening. You’ll have to excuse me.”

With that, the vicar headed to the vestry. Just before he arrived there he stopped and turned to look back at Marie.

“Them with eyes can see,” he said and shut the door behind him.

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 13

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 11

“Why are we here again?” said Lord Hollingbury as he and Sir John looked at the remains of the merry-go-round. It had indeed been destroyed and meticulously at that. The pieces had seemingly been removed, systematically broken and left in a pile.

SS Ch 11“Well Spotted”

“Well it’s another mystery,” said Sir John. “It may be of importance.”

“Well I think the mystery of how an apparently dead man walked into a bar is slightly more pressing than, oh let me hazard a guess, a piece of sabotage by a rival. But do carry on.”

“Well this sort of thing doesn’t happen here, apparently,” said Sir John.

“You mean none of the other merry-go-rounds have been dismantled,” said Lord Hollingbury.

“I think this is the only one,” said Sir John.

“So mathematically speaking we can say this sort of thing happens 100% of the time,” said Lord Hollingbury. “That’s rather more than never. Let’s focus on the dead man, shall we. Where is Mrs Jennings this morning? I daresay she could conjure something to help us.”

“She’s otherwise engaged,” said Sir John.

“That’s rather vague,” said Lord Hollingbury, “so I’m going to infer you don’t want to tell me. And given that she mentioned the reverend last night, I’m going to assume that she went to find him. Further, she probably suggested it would be best if I wasn’t to come along in case either he or I spontaneously combusted.”

Sir John went a shade of red.

“Subterfuge is my metier,” said Lord Hollingbury. “You can’t outplay a grandmaster.”

“Look, there’s Wombly,” said Sir John, pointing further down the promenade to some men on a bench. Sir John and Lord Hollingbury started walking briskly toward the fisherman.

“Who’s that with him,” said Sir John as they approached.

“From the pictures I’ve seen I think they’re other missing fisherman. Maybe Mrs Jennings was right after all.” said Lord Hollingbury.

“She usually is,” said Sir John. The two men arrived at the bench.

“Hello Mr Wombly,” said Lord Hollingbury cheerily, “we wondered if we could ask you a couple of questions about where you’ve been this past week or so.”

“Oh, I couldn’t rightly say,” said Mr Wombly, sheepishly. “I’m just glad to be here.”

“What, glad to be back on dry land or sitting on this bench?” asked Lord Hollingbury.

“Well, you know me,” said Mr Wombly.

“Not terribly well,” said Lord Hollingbury, “only enough to know that everyone thought you died.”

“I feel as fit as I ever did,” said Mr Wombly.

“Look,” whispered Sir John, “all these men have paint on their hands. Paint the colour of the merry-go-round.”

“Well spotted, Sir John,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Wombly, what’s that paint doing on your hands.”

“Oh, I couldn’t rightly say,” said Mr Wombly, sheepishly. “I’m just glad to be here.”

“And the other chaps?” said Sir John. “Would they know?”

“Well, you know me,” said Mr Wombly.

Sir John and Lord Hollingbury looked in confusion and mild horror at the man. After a pause he spoke again.

“I feel as fit as I ever did,” he said.

“You know,” said Lord Hollingbury to Sir John, keeping his eyes fixed on the fishermen on the bench, “I rather fancy a drink.”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 12

Why I Stopped Watching Movies

Le_voyage_dans_la_lune_drawing“Bigmouth Strikes Again!”

Good afternoon Dear Reader

Here within and withal is our final epistle in our triptych of transgressions, at least within our lights. Today we turn those lights, cameras, actions on the world of cinema and list the factors and features of the silver screen that leave us disgruntled. As before, all lack of gruntles are purely our own and no crabs were harmed in the making of this blog post. And yes, we will be using Smiths song titles again.

Paint A Vulgar Picture

The lights go down and the music goes up. Instantly we are dropped into a world of extreme excitement as a thrill inducing, vertiginous sequence with state of the art graphics shows the protagonists in action, probably, at this stage, foiled by the antagonist. There is then maybe a brief moment of quiet where we at least learn everyone’s names, and then, rather like the first day at work, we are spiralling back into action again. Perhaps there is a training exercise, or a chase, or some such. Pause for recap and repeat, each time louder, brighter and with more effects.

The lights go up as the credits role and my, haven’t we seen a wonderful spectacle. As for character development, theme, plot and so on, well, they weren’t that important, were they? Of course, it all makes for first rate entertainment, that makes an hour or so pass quickly, but without the depth of story, it is all so much sound and fury, signifying nothing.

There Is A Light and It Never Goes Out

There is a famous joke whereby a gentleman (a Mr Lenny Henry) enters a shop specialising in recorded music. He enquires after a particular piece of music and is offered the “single mix, 12 inch mix, dance mix or instrumental remix”. The gentlemen in question replies, “Could I have the one where they get it right?” We have the same feeling these days about movies. The scourge of sequels is sufficiently well known to merit no further discussion, but it seems these days we have extended editions, directors cuts, reboots, deleted scenes, alternate endings, digitally enhance versions, et cetera et cetera. One no longer knows which version of the film one is watching. We would most heartily exhort the entertainment industry to focus on making the film once and, in the words of the joke, “get it right”.

What She Said

We fear this may be a sign of ageing and impending deafness, but as we don’t encounter this problem in real life, we suspect not. The object of our ire in this section is that most pernicious and diabolical curse of the modern age: mumbling. Yes, you heard us right, which is one advantage of enunciating with clarity. So many movies today seem to feature the scourge of mumbling characters that no visit to the cinema is complete without a hissed “what did he just say” comment. Maybe it’s a stab at realism, maybe it’s what the “cool kids” do these days, but whatever it is we find it (indistinguishable words).

So there it is, Gentle Reader. We have usefully concluded then that in writing our novel we should shy away from characters that are disinteresting mumblers, from scenes of excessive violence and banal humour, from cliched genre tropes and from unsatisfactory endings. Suitably forewarned we shall approach our task with a beady eye for such misdemeanours and shall vigorously excise any examples.

We hope you have enjoyed our cerberus of criticism and continue to have a pleasant weekend. Next week we shall endeavour to “accentuate the positive” and post something much less disparaging but no less enlightening.


The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 10

“Two teas,” said Mrs Pimplenick, dropping the teacups in front of the Jennings at the breakfast table. Some tea sloshed around in the saucer.

“Oh, we thought we might have orange juice this morning,” said Sir John.

Mrs Pimplenick went red.

“But I’ve made tea!” she said and left the table. Sir John went to the sugar pot and saw it was empty. He turned round to say something and saw Mrs Pimplenick staring at him.

“Thursday,” she said by way of explanation.

Sir John took a sip of his tea and pulled a face. Mrs Pimplenick was still staring at him.

“Very nice,” he said and the landlady left, a sour look on her face. Marie took the opportunity to pour her tea into a nearby plant pot. She stroked the plant’s leaves and apologised to it.

SS Ch 10.jpg“Very nice!”

“I was thinking overnight about this strange re-appearance,” said Sir John. “I think we need to speak to Wombly, try and find out what he remembers.”

“I was thinking to speak with the priest,” said Marie.

“That’s a good idea too, we can find him as well,” said Sir John.

“Maybe it would be better if I went alone,” said Marie, “Lord ‘Ollingbury may … set the priest off a little. I think he likes to irritate ‘im. Amongst everyone else.”

“Yes, fair point,” said Sir John, “well I can keep Lord Hollingbury occupied with the search for Wombly.”

The delivery man from a few days before entered the front room, preceded by an aroma of fish.

“Got the latest delivery, Mrs P,” he called out. He turned round and saw the Jennings and smiled sheepishly.

“Morning to you,” he said.

“I have remarked more than once on the correct entrance to use,” announced Mrs Pimplenick grandly, arriving from the kitchen.

“Sorry Mrs P,” said the man, “but it’s a devil to shift them that far. Oh sorry – do mind my French.”

Pas de problem,” said Marie and the man looked surprised.

“Yes, well, next time perchance you’ll remember,” said Mrs Pimplenick.

“Have you heard the latest news,” said the man. “About the promenade?”

“I’m sure Sir Jenkins doesn’t want to hear some local tittle tattle,” said Mrs Pimplenick and started to lead the man into the kitchen. The man unconsciously took off his hat and stared at the Jennings with awe.

“Actually, we wouldn’t mind at all,” said Sir John.

“Well, it’s been destroyed hasn’t it,” said the man, whilst Mrs Pimplenick looked on in annoyance.

“The promenade?” said Sir John.

“No, the latest attraction, the merry-go-round for the little ones. The paint wasn’t even dry on it and it was taken apart over night and broken up. Who’d do such a thing, eh?”

“It must be outsiders,” said Mrs Pimplenick, “like when those scoundrels from London with sticks had a fight with those gentleman who laughed at them.”

“Oh yes,” said the deliveryman, “the rods and the mockers.”

He was dragged into the kitchen and some strong sounding language came from behind the door.

“Well then,” said Sir John, “it seems like we have three things to investigate.”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 11

Why I Stopped Watching Television

TV“No crabs were harmed during the making of this blog post.”

So once we must apologise for the crab catchy title (see Why I Stopped Reading Books for an explanation of that phrase) and make the same general observations as from the previous post. We won’t mention any specific television shows, just the concepts that are likely to cause us to stop watching a series. These observations are of course highly subjective. As before, we hoped these thought processes might help us in our ongoing novel writing avoidance. I mean project, novel writing project.

As a minor aside, we really don’t possess a television as we prefer reading improving books or dining in fine restaurants as an evening’s entertainment. But we do have access to a well known video streaming service named after a South American river.

Half A Person

“He’s a wise-cracking smart-alec manufacturer of craft beer, she’s a by-the-rules cop with a taste for danger. Together they are Trouble Brewing.”

Maybe the character development stopped at the “elevator pitch” or maybe the size of the writing team means that no one person scripts all the characters’ lines, but quite often we notice a certain “two-dimensional” quality to characters. It seems like they all have wonderful, clever lines, well suited to the character’s archetype, but they never speak to each other as normal people do. This makes them seem less real, less plausible and then we don’t care as much about them anymore. And we all remember what happens when that happens…

Suffer Little Children

We like some dark in our fiction. Regular readers of this august organ will no doubt be aware of that fact as we weave in some fiendish and mesmeric scenes into our stories. But for us, dark does not mean constant decapitations or slow motion torture or psychological torment. It means… a certain atmosphere or feeling. A sense of unease or a disconcerting moment. So when we encounter television shows with body parts flying around and human beings in pain, it tends to “turn us off” as the young people say. And so we in our part turn it off.

I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish

We have persevered for weeks, we have followed every twist and turn, on the edge of our seats. Our hearts are melted by the protagonist, enraged by the villain and enraptured by the mystery. The series finale beckons with a final reckoning. Evil will be punished, good will be rewarded and we will finally find out what is in Cory’s bedroom closet. And yet, our faith and energy are not rewarded. There is some ending of a story arc to be sure, but the villain has escaped, the heroine has lost her job, and inside Cory’s closest is chest of drawers.

Of course, all of this sets us up nicely for the next season in how many months time, and of course we are hooked. Or at least we are for now. We are aware of the truth of the famous quote that a mystery endures longer than the explanation, but nevertheless there has to be some satisfaction in the end. I would implore any creators to finish the story arc they started. Trust the audience, if we liked the show we will be back next time even if you haven’t left us dangling over a cliff. Because a story without climax, is, well…

That’s all we shall discuss this week. We hope that you have enjoyed our critique. Next Saturday we shall discuss Why I Stopped Watching Movies. Have a marvellous week.