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Monday, 23 May 2016

BILLY BUNTER AND THE BREXIT - by Patrick Brigham


Watching the Brexit circus from a safe distance in Greece, I can’t help feeling that I have seen it all before. I think it took place on British television in the 1950s, and involved a somewhat dodgy third rate boarding school – called Greyfriars School – and its rather unruly incumbents.
Intended for the education of the sons of impoverished gentry, officers serving abroad and idiot farmer’s sons, it is no wonder that – as with many other similar schools – it was the breeding ground for infamous pranks, total anarchy, and general malingering of one sort or another. The worst practitioner of these black arts was one William George Bunter, otherwise known as Billy Bunter, who – when he wasn’t stealing other peoples cakes and sweets – had great difficulty in telling the truth.


I don’t know if this applied to Eaton or Harrow, but judging by those I have met who attended these two schools – including such luminaries as the young Winston Churchill, David Cameron and Borris Johnson – the strict mores of an upper class education, did not always bring out the best in people. Due to their rather loose grasp of the truth and rapidly declining moral standards, many learned to lie through their teeth, in order to allay a damn good public school scragging. Of course, Billy Bunter was the past master of such ‘porky pies,’ saying things like –‘I didn’t steal your cakes, Smith minor, and when I did, nobody saw me!’
So now back to the Brexit. From my distant focal point, it is a wonder to me why the British voting public is prepared to put up with the present selection of so called enlightened arguments. Put forward by at least two of the ex public schoolboys I have mentioned above - who seem to think that intelligent political argument, is based on the wittering’s of a thick taxi driver or a gossiping hairdresser from the nether regions of Potters Bar- when are they going to stop making things up and generally misleading and confusing people in the run up to this important referendum.
They say that the first casualty of war, is the truth, but this is not a war, and to maintain any future political integrity these stalwarts need to stop bending the truth and getting to grips with the real issues and to carefully lay out the pros and cons of staying in or going out of the EU.


There will not be hoards of Syrians roaming the streets of Henley-on-Thames, followed by an even more violent gang of Turkish belligerents, any more than the British sausage being renamed by Brussels as a ‘half bread offal tube.’ And if I hear another childish mantra about straight bananas and cucumbers, I will believe - like others I know - that I have somehow been transported back in time to the dusty corridors of Greyfriars School.
It’s hard to imagine Billy Bunter as a Conservative cabinet minister, or the conniving and mischievous schoolboy William Brown – from Richmal Cromptons series series of books called Just William – as the Chancellor of The Exchequer, but the more you listen to their political debate, the more you can imagine them stealing each others cakes. Roll on the referendum – Garoo!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

STOP APOLOGIZING – by Patrick Brigham


It seems that the stiff upper lip of yore has recently been replaced by a trembling, somewhat flabby chin. All too frequently these days, we are beset by the embarrassing sight of some government minister or employee, grovelling in front of the media, humiliating themselves beyond belief, and blurting out great swathes of emotive apologies. Not only that, but this trend has somehow managed to filter down into all echelons of society, where we find the most elevated, to the most humble in the land, expressing their sincere regrets for, well, almost anything.

I would like to say at this point, that I have no intention of apologizing, for anything I am about to write in this article, well, not yet anyway! Mind you, there are those who should unquestionably apologize to all and sundry, who don’t, often describing their own behavior as inappropriate; a watered down version of saying they are sorry. So, who are these people, and why do some express their regrets in this way, whereas others, definitely do not?


The first place goes jointly to Donald Trump and Boris Johnston, who in their current destructive state, have managed to upset the establishment they claim to represent, as well as their political bedfellows. In olden days, they would have been described as traitors to a cause, but today they are apparently able to say anything they want, in order to appeal to the rednecks and the Philistines, in their respective societies.

Certain oafish, belligerent and often quite insulting statements, might serve to confuse some observers, but Trump; with his virtual support of The Klu Klux Clan, has irritated certain ethnic minorities in the US – a country traditionally made up of immigrants of all faiths – whilst garnering the votes, and succeeding it seems, of the most bigoted and racialist members of North American society. Will he ever be forgiven by Middle America and will an apology be enough?


Boris, on the other hand – incidentally, a man of Turkish origin – has been more subtle in his approach. He has managed to convert himself into a kind of Bulldog Drummond character; an old fashioned English stereotype. This he has done, whilst trashing many in his own political party, his original front bench cabinet supporters - who now plainly see him as a loose cannon - and may later perceive him as a little treacherous, into the bargain. Observing his Cornish Pasty waving and popularist antics - as a means to an end, in his quest for the Tory party leadership – who is he going to apologize to, when he falls flat on his face? With a bit of luck, his face might still be full of Cornish Pasty, which - according to an EU directive - has recently received a new recipe from Brussels.


The second joint contenders are Nigel Farage and Hillery Mantel. Hilary Mantel said, two years ago, that Prince William’s wife - the Duchess of Cambridge - was a bubble headed Barbie Doll, who she branded as a 'shop-window mannequin with a plastic smile, whose only role in life was to breed.' Now let me see if she is right! What I will do is to clear all the things off my mantelpiece to make a bit of space. Right, I have done that, and now I am going to put two photographs - that I just happen to have - one of Hilary Mantel and the other of the Duchess next to one another on the mantelpiece and have a long look at them both.


The first one is of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge at her wedding, and the second is of Hilary Mantel receiving a Booker prize. Now let me think! Which one would I prefer, there is only room for one photo? The first one is of a young woman looking happy at her wedding to Prince William and the other is of a rather smug looking person, with a funny face, receiving a literature prize. I shouldn’t wonder if she will have to apologize for some of her unkind remarks, at some point.

No! I am sorry Hilary, but you will have to go. Call me old fashioned if you like, but if I had wanted to be surrounded by gargoyles, I would have bought a gothic castle in Scotland, from the proceeds of sale, of my various books, which I am still desperately trying to sell.

Now what shall I do with the photo of this woman with a rather physically challenged ‘boat race?’ I know, I will put it together with another rather unattractive photograph, I just happen to have, of Nigel Farage. They seem to have quite a lot in common one way or another, so they will probably get on quite well together, if I stick them both in a box in the loft.



He said some very personal things about poor old Herman van Rompuy’s looks – one day at the European Parliament – implying that, not only was he funny looking, but he was a bit of a useless git as well. But we all know who the useless git is, don't we? That’s right, it’s good old Nigel himself. I can’t think why they pay him to be an MEP, if he wants to abolish the European Parliament? I wonder if he feels like apologizing, I know that I don’t?


PS. If you feel like apologizing about anything at all, please do so in someone elses blog!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Author Patrick Brigham Transforms Real World Experiences Into Fictional Works - A Murder Mystery Novelist Like No Other



Patrick Brigham is the author of a number of mystery books and crime thrillers that address political and Cold War issues. He brings terrorism, illegal immigration and murder together in gripping tales, built upon real world events


Often, when we listen in on discussions about great works of fiction, we hear phrases such as 'It seemed so real' or 'It was like being there'. For murder mystery novelist Patrick Brigham, it IS real, as he has lived, and continues to live, right in the middle of many of the storylines and situations he writes about in The Balkans.

As the editor in chief of the Sofia Western News, the first English news magazine in Bulgaria and as a journalist, he witnessed the political changes in this once hard-core communist country. There, he personally knew most of the political players, including the old Communist Dictator, Todor Zhivkov, and his successors, Presidents Jhelev and Stoyanov.

The natural home of political intrigue, and the remnants of Bolshevism, Bulgaria proved to be quite a challenge, and for many of its citizens the transition was also very painful. Despite this, Patrick managed to survive these political changes, and now lives in Northern European Greece, writing mystery novels and crime thrillers.

Many of his short stories lampoon the politicians and diplomats, he met during his time in Eastern Europe and proffer a humorous account of their often absurd antics. His more serious archived material, not only address’s issues concerning Cuba, India, Israel, Palestine and Afghanistan, but people as varied as ex - US President Bill Clinton and ex - President Todor Zhivkov the last of the Communist dictators.


Patrick Brigham's body of work includes:



‘The Dance of Dimitrios’ - a mystery novel that mixes some of the horrors of illegal immigration with everyday events. Detective Chief Inspector Lambert works for Europol - the European equivalent of the FBI – and is sent to Greece in order to solve a cold case. DCI Lambert has experience of people trafficking, the problems caused for governments throughout the world, Greece being the gateway into Europe, for countless Middle-Eastern migrants, political refugees and terrorists. The story involves the discovery of a woman's body found floating in the River Ardas, in Northern Greece. Believed to be of Middle-Eastern origin, she is buried in a communal grave along with other Islamic victims of drowning and promptly forgotten. When it is later revealed that she is actually an Englishwoman called Marjory Braithwaite - who has been living for some years in Greece - the British government turns to Europol for help. Realising that this probably means murder, DCI Lambert is dispatched to Greece.


In ‘Judas Goat: The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery,’ - Detective Chief Inspector Michael Lambert - working at the time for the Thames Valley Police Authority - unravels a murder case which stretches from England to Bulgaria, South Africa to Belorussia, and finally Taiwan to Peru. What at first appears to be a straightforward murder, is revealed to be part of an international manhunt, the result of a major arms deal which has gone horribly wrong. Patrick Brigham begins his story with the discovery of a small mobile phone on the narrow boat which ends with the murder of a Chinese shipping magnate in broad daylight, in the streets of London.


‘Herodotus: The Gnome of Sofia,’ - embraces disgruntled communists, cold war warriors, intrigue, deception and finally murder. Brigham introduces us to Sir Arthur Cumberpot, a man with an unspectacular diplomatic career, which is swiftly drawn to a close when he is appointed, by the FCO, as British Ambassador to Bulgaria. Due to some unforeseen mishaps his wife Annabel, is accused of being a spy and sent home to their house in Oxfordshire, while her background is checked by MI5. Lady Annabel Cumberpot is guilty of nothing, other than being the biological daughter of Jim Kilbey, Britain’s most notorious spy. It seems that a jealous god has sought to visit the sins of the father upon her, but then so has everyone else. She is the victim of serendipity, but also of cover ups, duplication of thin evidence and exaggeration. But she is also heartless, treacherous, self indulgent and without shame. In his book, Brigham lampoons the British Diplomats of the day, and introduces you to the humorous side of diplomacy.


‘Abduction: An Angel Over Rimini, - set in 2002, and little Penelope Scratchford has been abducted in Italy. The Italian State Police, having given up its investigation, believes her parents to be responsible for her disappearance and her probable murder, but cannot prove it. The British authorities believe she is still alive, as does the UK media. In order to reopen this cold case, Europol offers its assistance, and Detective Chief Inspector Michael Lambert – now retired from Thames Valley Police – is sent to Rimini as a Europol Liaison Officer, in order to assist the Italian police in re-opening their investigation. His quest takes him from Rimini to Greece and the River Evros, where illegal migrants frequently cross over from Turkey on their way into Central Europe. Following this recognised people smuggling route, his investigations also take him to Bulgaria, where he discovers a crooked adoption racket. Finding some promising leads to the whereabouts of the little English girl, he is finally able to establish if she is alive or dead.

"I live in the Evros Region in Northern Greece," Brigham stated, "and I have personally observed the forlorn illegal immigrants who then daily crossed the River Evros into Greece, from Turkey. Since many were English speaking – from Afganistan, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent – it was easy to converse with them, and of course the Greek police authorities themselves; who were well educated, and spoke perfect English. Knowing what was going on around me, was not the problem, but being able to tell the story – to a largely indifferent western public - was another matter. Ten years on and dominating the headlines, it is clearly different, but in the early 2000s, few in Europe could care less about these displaced refugees, until it began to affect their pocket.”

“During Communism, and as one of the first English journalists to be based in Bulgaria, I interacted with most of the politicians and diplomats of the day, in my capacity as chief editor of The Sofia Western News, a monthly glossy magazine. This included Todor Zhivkov, the then deposed long term Communist ex President of Bulgaria – who I interviewed on a number of occasions –his first elected democratic successor Zhelyu Zhelev, followed by President Peter Stoyanov. Although many changes have occurred since, I must also mention King Simion II, who for three years and eighteen days, served as the Bulgarian Prime Minister. In the hope that he could salvage years of Communist waste, tyranny and turmoil - since he was deposed as Bulgarian boy king, in 1946 - and by putting his reputation on the line - amongst the torment and brazen political arrogance of the time - he was one of my greatest hero’s.”

Readers have praised his novels. One stated, "I am an ex cop - he must have done a lot of research to get so many things right. I felt when reading 'Abduction' that Patrick was relating an investigation, he actually carried out." Another said, "'Abduction - An Angel Over Rimini' is entertaining, gripping, and also an astonishing Europol procedural read, making you want to read more. I was drawn into the story right away. I felt close to Michael Lambert and his way of analysing and detecting. All relevant characters became pretty real. 'Abduction - An Angel Over Rimini' is a good read for mystery fans, readers who like surprises, and occasional coincidences."

Patrick Brigham is available for media interviews and can be reached using the information below or by email at patrick.brigham@gmail.com. Books are available at Amazon, Amazon.UK, Smashwords and from his website. More information is available at Patrick Brigham's website at http://authorpatrickbrigham.com/.

About Patrick Brigham:

Patrick has been a writer and journalist for many years. He has published many short stories, newspaper and magazine articles. Born in the English Home Counties, he attended Public School and College before moving to London and embarking on his career. He has spent the last twenty five years in South Eastern Europe, where many of his stories are set, as well as in Oxford, Hampshire and Berkshire. As the Editor in Chief of the first English Language news magazine in Sofia, Bulgaria - between 1995 and 2000 - and as a journalist, he witnessed the changes in this once hard core Communist Country and personally knew most of the political players, including the old Dictator Todor Zhivkov and his successors Zhelev and Stoyanov.

Contact:

Patrick Brigham
http://authorpatrickbrigham.com/
patrick.brigham@gmail.com

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