The world’s biggest ever con.. On St Patrick’s Day even…

The world’s biggest ever con.. On St Patrick’s Day even…

True confidence tricksters need a mark with value.  How about a bank in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day in 1971?  Well what I’m about to tell you is a scoop, a first, an exclusive, for the world’s biggest con was pulled in Dublin 46 years ago tomorrow.  I’ve kept this secret so long I’m ready to burst but I guess the main parties are all dead now and the statute of limitations must surely have run out.  So here goes, let me first set the scene because it’s important.

Every year on St Patrick’s Day, my mam and dad would bring us into Dublin city centre to watch the grand parade.  It was a spectacular event for us, full of glamour and noise with marching bands coming all the way from places like Chicago and New York, just to participate in our capital’s parade on our special day.  We all loved it.  The day always began with mass.  The girls wore green dresses with green ribbons in their hair and all the adults wore shamrock pinned to their collars.

It was still the middle of lent, so while everyone back then gave up something for lent, I would estimate that 99% of the kids had forsaken sweets for the fasting period and the great thing about March 17, was that we were always allowed a special dispensation so we could crap out.

For the most part the streets were heaving with crowds, so it was always difficult to get a good spot near the front to see the parade.  1971 was different.  To this day and I still don’t know how, my old man wangled his way into one of the buildings along the route.  It was on Westmoreland Street which for those who don’t know Dublin well, is essentially the street that extends from the main street in Dublin called O’Connell Street, so it was right beside the action.  Many business owners along the route, allowed their employees to bring their children in to watch from the upper floor windows.  From there they had the best vantage point for the parade.  What was different about this particular building was that it was a bank and my father had no connection to it.  An insider, who shall remain nameless, agreed to let my dad bring his family in to watch from the first floor window.

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Now my dad was a bit of a chancer.  If you told him your car brakes were dodgy, he could convince you that he was a mechanic and fix them for you, even if he didn’t have a clue.  I’ve seen the man talk his way in and out of more peculiar circumstances than I care to remember.  With that in mind, I shouldn’t have been surprised that he talked his way into the bank.  In fairness it wouldn’t happen today I’m sure but they were different times. Still – he was good.  What happened later is the shocker.

My younger sister had just been born a month earlier, so my mother was staying at home with her that year. As a result it was just my dad, my sister, my brother and little old me tagging along to the parade that day.  It was a glorious day, absolutely perfect parade-day weather so I should have been delighted.  I wasn’t.  I never got to see the parade.  Mam came to my room when I didn’t get out of bed and discovered the pool of puke lying on the floor beside my bed.  She felt my head, cleaned my little face and kissed me, telling me I’d be alright.  Mams work at a special speed when their little ones are not feeling well.  She cleaned up the mess, freshened my bed clothes and changed my Pyjamas, before tucking me back into bed and making me drink some water.  She told my father that I couldn’t go to the parade as I was ill, so off he headed with my siblings, leaving me with my baby sister and my mam.

Having a baby in the house made things difficult for Mam, so she brought me downstairs and tucked me up on the sofa with blankets and pillows and offered me some toys to play with.  It was easier to have both precious babies in the one room.  I told her I was too sick to play and closed my little brown eyes.  As I lay there with Mam fluffing about me like only the mother of a poor sick child does, my father was walking through the doors of the bank on Westmoreland Street holding the hands of my sister and my brother with a broad grin on his face.  No doubt the bank employee was nervous about his indiscretion, maybe my father had something over him, who knows, but I always imagine he would have been sweaty and nervous when I picture him in my mind’s eye.

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Back home I refused to eat until near midday.  My throat was sore.  Mam had made green jelly for the day that was in it and although it was supposed to be for after dinner, what better for a poor, sick little boy who couldn’t eat, than a bowl of green festive jelly and cool, soothing ice-cream.   It was magical.  While my father stood a step back from the small gathering, waving at the noisy parade below from the first floor bank window, I am confident that none of them paid the slightest bit of attention to the smiling family man with his two happy kids in tow. Now here is how the greatest con ever was pulled with I might add, the most valuable return ever!

My sister was fresh to the world, usurping my seven years of baby status in our house.  I needed at least a week off school to pull some of that special ‘Mam’s favorite’ feeling back.  Mam, had sick-ray vision so she would see straight through a fake illness, unless I could do something so outrageous that she’d have to believe me.  I brought a spoon to bed and on St Patrick’s Day morning used it to gag and make myself puke.  I hate puking more than anything else so this was an extreme length for me to go to.  My mother knew I would rather explode than puke so it was the ideal ploy.  The day was so perfect, a balcony view of the parade on a sunny day, there was no way I’d want to miss it, but I did.  Combine this monumental self-denial with my reluctant vomiting and my Mam’s sick-ray vision was rendered useless.  I simply had to be very sick indeed to puke and miss the parade.  Being sick on St Patrick’s Day and not just a normal one, but one where I would have got the best view ever, meant only one thing. Poor little mite had to be very ill.  I would be kept home from school for at least a few days.

Oh yes, while my dad basked in the glory of his achievement in getting a key viewing spot for his kids and while my siblings reveled in the view, I got to get back that special feeling that came with being the baby of the house.  Sure my sister was still going to be there, that I couldn’t do anything about, but for those few hours and days that followed, I pretty much had Mam all to myself again, and that was priceless.  At seven years of age, I had just fooled the greatest expert in the world and secured the most valuable haul of love and cuddles ever.  Oh yes… I was a truly talented tiny baby-faced grifter.  I had conned the best in flamboyant style for the best prize ever. Mam.

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

 

Twonked in the niddles.. thank God for women on International Women’s Day…

Twonked in the niddles.. thank God for women on International Women’s Day…

When you are seven, catching your winkie in your zipper is not the worst thing in the world.  It hurts like hell, but better to learn that lesson early while you still call it a winkie rather than later on in life, if you catch my drift.   It is definitely one of my most vivid, tear to the eye memories and certainly one of the most embarrassing.  The embarrassment was because while I couldn’t extricate my doodlums from its metal penis fly trap, neither could my mother so she enlisted the assistance and observations of not one, but two other neighbouring mammies.  I’m still mortified just thinking about it.

Tear inducing moments in many forms have caused me grief over the years.  I went arse over face on my racing bike when I was fourteen and I ended up with the brake handle embedded in my stomach. I had to pull about five inches of metal out of my belly which luckily didn’t do any serious damage.  Then there was the time I was walking along the railings that divided our house from the next door neighbour and I did the splits…  A sharp sucking of air between the teeth if you don’t mind…  I say the time, but I repeated that failed stunt so many times, I don’t know how I didn’t castrate myself.

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It is no secret that us boys are most precious about our undercarriage.  Thwacks and wallops’ to the neither regions are always top of the Oooh factor that is for sure.  Playing lots of sports I was twonked in the niddles with a variety of balls of differing shapes and sizes.  I was kneed, kicked and punched in my grimbles, mostly by accident playing sports and even trollied myself in the knackers playing swing ball all by my lonesome.

It has to be a design fault.   You’d think that something that needs taking care of, protecting if you will would be tucked away a little more safely now wouldn’t you.   A dog once leapt up and caught me by the crotch of my trousers.  Luckily it was during a loose-trousered fashion phase and he only got a mouthfull of material.  There was a period in my young life where jeans had to be painted on if you weren’t to look like a twonk, so it could have been much worse.

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Aah 70’s jeans – now there was a challenge for your grollops.   It was hard enough to breathe once you got them zipped up.  They were like a product of the Spanish inquisition I’m telling you.  In fairness they gave the vague impression that I actually had a bit of an arse, which I hadn’t so I thought they were cool and that trumped comfort every time.

As a small chiseller in primary school, I had Nurse Ratchet give my warbles a good fondling as indeed we all did, to see what had or hadn’t dropped.  We were promised a sugar lump (laced with polio vaccine) but in a time when I was grateful for a free bit of sugar, it wasn’t nearly enough that I prostituted myself to a cold, cupped nurse’s hand on a chilly winter’s day without a proper explanation.  I hadn’t a clue what the hell they were doing.

“Drop your trousers” they said and I did. “Bend over” they said and I did.  Then the icy cold hands of the countrified nurse, grabbed me by the goolies and they said “Cough.”  Cough?  I could barely catch my breath!

I’ve cross-barred my gonads and worse.  I have even deep-heated the poor fellas with wintergreen after I had a groin strain playing basketball.  I didn’t understand the effect the topical application of such medication might have and while I wasn’t applying the said ointment to my jewel filled pouch, there was cross contamination due to the proximity of my injury.  Sweet Lord above!  I remember trying to get my whole kit and caboodle into the sink to drown the burn with ice cold water.  Not a pleasant sight I would imagine, but luckily enough it was not a moment for sharing.

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Of course as you get older, you learn to be more careful with your knap sack and perhaps you are not just cautious but more sensible.  Certainly the ‘lesson learned’ thing kicks in, for when you have swing-balled yourself in the cojones once, you tend to remember that it is not something to be repeated.

Boys will be boys of course so as long as there are nads to be knackered, it seems we have to learn lots of specific, impact related lessons, before we stop putting our plums in the firing line.  You’d think once would be enough, given the eye-watering nature of the pain we go through.  But no – we don’t seem to learn all that quickly.  As an overly confident  sex within a supposedly intelligent species, one would think that protecting the very tools required to procreate would mean we would be a little more careful with them.

Of course that’s why we need girls.  Without their wisdom, tolerance and direction, us lads would basically walk off cliffs.  We would be found wandering around in fields full of rakes, stepping on one after the other and wondering what to do next.   We need women to limit our degree of stupid and to guide us so we don’t throw our huevos on the fire the first chance we get.  We can’t depend on our fellow men to help.  How could we?  After all there is nothing funnier as a lad, than  to see another lad scraggle his fraggle and you can’t help your best friend when you are rolling around laughing on the floor.

So while it took me a while to get to it and while discussing the delicacies of the male anatomy may be an odd vehicle to choose to express it, I would just like to say thank you on behalf of my entire sex, to all the women out there on International women’s day.  Long may you continue to keep us honest and protect us from our stupid.   Where in the world would we be without you?

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

Better than MacGyver – Paraffin bees, Knick-Knack and skint knees…

Better than MacGyver – Paraffin bees, Knick-Knack and skint knees…

Catching bees was a strangely enjoyable pastime for a boy who was terrified of the little beggars. We were smart enough not to catch wasps, a lesson no doubt learned by countless generations before us, but bees were fair game.  You never see kids doing stuff like that these days.

Jam jars were the cage of choice and flowering clover was always placed at the bottom of the jar, as if we were somehow being kinder by supplying something a distraction for the poor creatures.  I must have caught dozens of bees in the summer and we always set them free.  We possessed the beauty and unpredictable danger that came with being the free-spirited wildlings that we were.   Free to roam to a large extent, tree-climbing, nettle-stung, self-repairing, not going in until it gets dark playing little creatures of the streets, we were easy to please and full of imagination.

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We had very little. Toys were for Christmas and by summertime, play involved whatever you could find in the house or back garden and you had to improvise.  I was like a mini-MacGyver. We made bows and arrows, go-carts, crossbows and entire horse jumping courses from any auld bit of discarded junk and sometimes from your mother’s best kitchen utensils – until she found out and you pleaded innocence or blamed it on your sister – but that never worked.

We did our fair share of damage in the process, broken windows, skint knees, soaked clothing, all sorts really.  You name it, we broke it.  I once fired a nail through my friend’s leg, absolute accident, but we patched him up so his old dear wouldn’t notice and ban him from playing with us for a week.  Those were the risks and we all understood them.  Once we engaged on a dangerous mission, we knew we had to take the chance that we’d be caught in the act and kept in for a few days as punishment.  Nothing could be worse than being deprived of that freedom.

But that was just the point.  Our lives were full of danger and risk.  Nothing usually too life threatening, but we learned not to be risk averse.  We had a shed at the back of our house and you could climb onto its flat, ten foot high roof via the adjoining wall.   We would lie up there in the sunshine of our childhood summer, out of sight of the prying eyes of our parents and conjure up things to keep us busy, the riskier the better.   We had adventures to create, castles to storm and they were no good if they didn’t feel real.

One game involved standing on the top, but at the back of the shed and running it’s length to leap into thin air at full tilt.  We would see how far we could jump and the ten foot drop was nothing.  We competed to see who could not just jump from that height, that was easy!  It was how far away we could land from the shed that decided the winner.   I doubt if I would jump off that height from a sitting position today. We could waste a couple of hours in such competitions, marking out the landing spot with great precision and making sure everything was fair.  We created rules and re-wrote them as we went along.

I once set fire to a huge hedge at the end of our garden trying to smoke out a bee hive to see if we could find honey.  That was me grounded for- I can’t even remember how long.  I was in trouble for that one on all sorts of levels.  There was the burning of the hedge, the “you could have set the house on fire.”  There was the “you used what? – paraffin!” Not to mention the fact that I shouldn’t have been playing with matches in the first place, let alone the crime of smoking out a bee hive and ruining my clothes…I was lucky not to be locked indoors for the whole summer.

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Boys fought boys.  We just did.  We formed swarms and had make-shift battles and they sometimes resulted in a bloody nose or two.  They were harmless enough but I steered clear of such things pretty much.  Even so, sometimes innocent versions resulted in accidental black eyes.  Some kid or other always seemed to have a black eye in those days.   We swung from ropes on poles, walked rickety fences that eventually we did the splits on and ran the gauntlet of leashless, vicious dogs.  There were orchards to be robbed, not me I was a good boy, doors to be knick-knacked and dares to be accepted. Every waking moment was an adventure in the summer, or at least one in planning.

Night always came too fast and dinner was a hindrance.  Eventually, the summer would end and we’d all go back to school to face the real dangers of older, tougher boys, slaps from the masters and if you didn’t have your wits about you, the unspoken but understood, ever present threat from at least one of the Christian Brothers.

Somehow we survived and looking back, the one thing I guess I miss most about those days is the spirit of my youth.   I’ll never be that carefree again no matter how much I might romanticise myself to be now.   But the memory of it is special and the lessons learned have stayed with me, good and bad and I think they have stood me well throughout the years.

I didn’t just jump off that shed though.  Often I was alone there and it was in my solitude that I discovered the joy of books.  I would lie in the sun, soaking up the warmth from above and the joy of my books.  I owe much to the length of rope I was given.  My freedom to explore the inner reaches of my imagination is perhaps the thing that led me to write books.  That wild, carefree pony boy I often recall, is someone I call upon when it’s time to put my stories to the page.  He helps me remember not to be afraid to let go and to allow my imagination to take flight.  Long may I find him in my heart.

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

Marmalade is toast…Finding my fabulous

Marmalade is toast…Finding my fabulous

Ahh being beautiful, I remember it well.  Not really as I don’t think I was ever really beautiful, but I do remember the wings of my younger self and starting to smell myself in the carefree days of my youth.  I was never considered a shy boy by others but I was very shy if the truth be known.  Perhaps my show-off antics and my outward expressions of confidence fooled people while inside I was often crumbling.

I am not quite sure what it was but I was a magnificent little actor and I convinced my peers that I was all the things I needed to be to suit the moment.  I was brave when I was frightened, cool when I was freaking out and absolutely fabulous when I felt most insecure about my looks.  There was a strut that I adopted, a swagger if you will and it was more than a physical thing.  Being competitive, I hated to lose anything and I was always quick with a response in a debate or argument and looking back at my littler self, even I would have thought that there was a little man who was brimming with confidence.

To this day I carry it off.  I still have a swagger that I occasionally employ and I certainly know how to appear somewhere between arrogant and haughty with just enough of a softening to allow doubt that I am not a complete asshole.

But yes I do remember the days of feeling fabulous.  We all have them to some degree, a moment or an occasion when we looked our best, even if it was only fleeting.  I remember specific clothes and how they made me feel.  When I was fourteen I was a hard working boy in the school break during the summer. I bought myself a pair of Levi flared jeans,  converse runners, a Levi jacket and a cheesecloth blue and white shirt from the money I had earned.  My God I felt like a peacock the first time I put them on.   To be fair I probably looked like John Denver had thrown up all over me but I didn’t see that.

I wore some hideous garments in my time, often out of shear bloody mindedness.  If I thought something was cool then I’d wear it.  My brother was seven years older than I was and was into Marc Bolan and T-rex, Sweet and all sorts of crazy-dressing seventies iconic bands.  I got his cast off’s in every day wear, so why not his cast offs in his line of fashion wear as well.  I went to school at age twelve, wearing a pair of brown and beige platform boots with massive stars on them.  As if that wasn’t bad enough I wore a tan coloured, suede Afghan coat, with brown and cream flecked fake fur edging.   I was a miniature, pale Huggy bear for all intents and purposes and if you don’t get that TV reference, google Starsky and Hutch.

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The best part about that was that I carried it off.  I strutted into school looking like a 1970’s pimp and jived my way through a schoolyard full of 1970’s pre-pubescent Irish boys, wearing snot-sleeved jumpers with their shirts dicky-dickied out.   If only I had sunglasses and an afro.  Of course some tried to mock me but I slammed them down with my extremely quick tongue and ice cold stare.  I was nervous of some of the more dangerous lads that always gave me the willies, but I had walked the walk long enough for them to be doubtful about using me as a punch bag in case I was able to bite back.

However, that was my outside.  Every taunt and jibe, every hurtful slagging remark, cut me deep and I realised I had made a complete eejit of myself.  In my childish head, I had fantasised about being the coolest kid in the school.  In truth I was a laughing stock.  By then end of that particular day I was devastated but I was damned if I would let anyone know.  I went  to school for a week in those ridiculous shoes and that stupid coat, just to prove that I could wear what the hell I liked and that I wasn’t going to let anyone bully me into submission by their cruelty.  A week in, some of the boys were wishing they had the balls to wear what I was wearing but I was just trying to make a point and get myself out of the embarrassment I had foisted upon myself as quickly and as quietly as possible.  Gradually I weaned myself back into ‘normal’ clothes and my shear hard neck was all that got me through.

In fairness to my mother, she let me off and didn’t try to dissuade me.  Some might think she should have but I admire her for letting me fly, even if I did get too close to the sun.  That has been me throughout my life, a hard neck and a soft centre.  This week I returned for a check-up in the hospital and went in with my Afghan attitude and my optimistic spirit.  I was expecting to be given the keys to the kingdom, the freedom of the city but instead I was given a continuation of my sentence with time off for good behaviour.

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The soft centre felt it and the hard exterior wall crumbled a little on that day.  I didn’t feel so fabulous.  I wondered if I’d ever truly feel fabulous again.   Being fabulous – not in reality but in spirit or at least in my performance to the world – is a part of who I am.   I am the quintessential narcissist in theory, but only if you were to truly believe my vanity is real and that I have a huge ego that allows me to spend my days admiring my own attributes.   I suspect some might believe this of me and I am happy to encourage it.  After all I have spent my life surviving behind the mask of confidence but it is more than that. 

I make light of things when I am at my lowest.  I cry behind the mask and I smile and joke, fluff my feathers and preen myself as if to say look at me, I am magnificent.  I am mighty, I am invincible and everyone looks at the show, like they might be distracted by the magician’s beautiful assistant.  The magician that I am has perfected the illusion.

But the moment is always just that for me, a moment.  I push past it, over and through it and I look for my fabulous again.  It gets harder to find as I get older of course, but even when I struggle to see it, I know I can always fake it.  I’m probably like marmalade.  There was a time when pretty young girls looked me and thought; mmm he’s a bit of alright.  At least they did in my head when I wore my cheesecloth shirt and denims.  Then as time passed, the younger girls got older and I became invisible at some point to anyone under the age of 50.  It’s not that I want the admiration of any young ladies don’t get me wrong, I have my perfect, beautiful young lady already but you do notice when you fade into the background.  It’s not that I mind so much more that I have become aware of it.   I used to be jam, a sweet and fruity treat, now I’m marmalade.

Apparently marmalade is toast.  Nowadays 60% of people who buy marmalade are over 65 and hardly anyone under the age of 30 even buys the stuff.  So I guess that’s me. I’m left contemplating my naval thinking that I have to find a way to keep fooling myself that I  continue to be bothered looking for my fabulous and not just feel like marmalade.

It is a part of aging and while I’m still a relatively young man, getting a percentage breakdown of my life expectancy by a cardiologist did little for the search for my fabulous. There is a part of me that revels in the struggle.   I am not alone. I am not special.  Every day everywhere, people struggle with all sorts of dilemmas, traumas and challenges.  But this is my personal journey so I have to walk the path that I am on, not some other.   The part of me that revels in the struggle is the part that puts pen to paper.  Writing it seems is cathartic and catharsis cannot exist without tragedy. The evolution from emotional despair through to resolution is a creative lubricant.

Today of course, being the eternal optimist that I am, all is well again.  Perhaps I need a new trauma or drama so maybe it’s time to dig out the old Afghan and platform boots again.  I can strut into the office; maybe I should grow my hair first and dye it blonde so I can flick it back until absolutely everyone thinks ‘asshole.’  The only problem is I might need a bit more build-up of fabulous first.  My fabulous tank doesn’t seem to get the same mileage as it used to.  I could do something completely unexpected and outrageous to top it up of course, it’s not beyond me. .. or maybe just a nice cup of tea and a cosy pair of slippers will help…  what do you reckon…  Either way, the darkness I’ve buried will have to find a way to the surface and there is really only one way to do that for me… back to the pen and ink… time to bleed a little onto a page to free up my fabulous once more. …

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

Keeping it real.. Injuns, pesky sisters and the Luftwaffe…

Keeping it real.. Injuns, pesky sisters and the Luftwaffe…

I’ve lost a quare few things in my life and my daughter recently bought me a little device for finding my keys so it’s hardly surprising that I once even lost my sister.   I say once, I actually lost her a few times, but that’s picking at straws.

I used the experience in writing Little Big Boy as I found injecting some reality into the story at times helped me connect more to my character. Back then times were much different and it was common practice for mothers to leave prams (there were no such things as buggies when I was a nipper) near the exit of the supermarket while they went about their shopping.  Now I’ll have to clarify that.  Strictly speaking we didn’t have a supermarket in our neck of the woods. We had a very much scaled down version which today would I suppose be like a local mini mart, but it was 1970’s Ireland in a working class neighbourhood, so I’ll use poetic licence and call it a supermarket.

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My mother or ‘Me Ma’ as we would have said, was quite comfortable sending me to the supermarket to make relatively small purchases.  I say small by which I mean no more than two things as I would be guaranteed to forget the third.  I was a seven year old boy  after all and had the attention span of gnat.  Mam would make me repeat the order several times.

“You are to get a pint of milk and six lean, back rashers.  What are you to get?”

I’d repeat it and then she would say it again.  She would make sure I buttoned my coat and put the money in my pocket, reminding me that I would have change and then ask me again what I was getting. I would raise my little hazel eyes to heaven and tell her what she wanted to hear.  Of course she would remind again me not to forget one of the items for good measure .

Normally she would then sent me out the door and tell me to look both ways crossing the road.

“Now stop at the corner,” she’d say, “don’t cut across the roundabout, I’ll be watching you.  Stand at the path don’t cross unless there are no cars…do you hear me…NO cars alright?”

It would take an age to just get out the feckin’ door as she repeated instruction and advice.   From our front door, she could watch me cross the road and then the main road as I basically avoided the roundabout and they were the only dangers from her perspective.  We were taught to fly that way and looking back I’m sure it was nerve wracking for my Mam.  I certainly wouldn’t have let my children cross those roads without a hand to hold at seven. I guess we had to learn to be independent earlier.

When my sister came along she was a novelty that soon wore off.  I had been the baby, something I again used in Little Big Boy and she usurped that position of privilege.  Still while the novelty lasted she was interesting.  I was dying to push the pram alone and constantly begged to have ‘a go’ like it was a toy I was talking about.  The pram certainly held an attraction for me.  The second I left the house I was driving a tank across enemy lines or the pram could well have been a stagecoach being pursued by ‘Injuns’ and as such I really did want ‘a go.’

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When she finally capitulated, it was with added apprehension on her part, double the already over the top instruction and treble the warnings about getting my arse skinned if I wasn’t extra careful. All I heard was “Blah Blah Blah.” There was a stagecoach to get across the Rio Grande. I tell a variation of this story in Little Big Boy and I remember whenever I used real memories to augment the story, I grew closer to the book.

My journey to the shop was uneventful if you don’t count the hundred or so Sioux chasing me on dappled ponies.  Once there, I parked the sister containing pram in a line with the other prams near the exit and went about my purchase.

It was so different and unimaginable today, but those babies were all perfectly safe.  There were always lots of babies in a society like ours.  It was holy Catholic  Ireland.  There was no contraception, and large families were quite the norm.  Women gave up work when they married and they all had babies.  As such the baby line at the door was a safe place.  There were no predatory men in those shops for example. In truth There were no men.  Men didn’t do the shopping, good Lord no.  This was the world of women.

We lived in a community in the real sense of the word.  Most of the women who saw me push the pram into the shop knew who I was and knew who my sister was and knew my mother well.  While others shopped, there would be nothing unusual about another woman tending to your child if it cried and that was perhaps the true beauty of it although I didn’t see it that way.

I had lots of hair ruffles and cutie comments made about my cherub cheeks and they just distracted me from my real mission of the day, be that shooting villainous cowboys, wild Indians or dodging an aerial attack from the Luftwaffe.   It is hardly surprising therefore, that when I got home pleased as punch that I had remembered the milk and lean back rashers, that when my mother asked me if I had forgotten something I thought ‘Hell no.’ I had remembered both things on the long list.  Of course I wouldn’t have said hell or I would have had my arse clipped.

When she tilted her head quite calmly and mentioned my sister’s name it took a few seconds for my distracted brain to join the dots. Now in today’s world, this would have been a moment where a mother might completely wig out. But like I said, the baby in the pram left behind in the supermarket, was as safe as she would have been in our garden.

I was despatched to retrieve my sister and I can tell you that by the time I got there, I had to think hard to remember just why I was there again .  My imagination was my saving grace and my Achilles heel.  It is what led me to become a writer of course and when it comes to writing, many say you should write about what you know.  I’m not entirely on board with that but it is useful advice.  I use my knowledge and experiences in writing all of my books.  It is probably true to say I am an emotional writer. I do spill my soul into characters, use every drop of feeling and every ounce of pain to bring them to life so from that perspective, I write from what I know.

I do this with every book, but perhaps none more so than Little Big Boy and maybe that is why it is the book that readers have a particular fondness for and the one that stays with them more than others.  I am a child of that time and of that place.  I used so much of my own memories and the stories of my friends and family to help create a book that I can say I am quite proud of.  I even used my childhood face for the cover but that was out of being a cheapskate more than anything else.

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Writers who connect with me as a reader are the ones who connect with me on an emotional level and I have learned from reading many more talented writers than I, that this is what makes a good book.

Telling a story is one thing, making it touch your reader is an entirely different matter.  I’ve always told stories ever since I was a chiseller, but over time I have been conscious of the way stories make connections.  I have learned and used that in my craft and I hope I never stop learning.

Right now I am writing two books again, as has long been my way.  I could say three or even four, but there are only two in any real state of progress. I have a thriller called Apollo Bay to be re-drafted, and an as yet untitled book that I hope will be a little bit special, but there is a long way to go with this one.  Beyond that I have the bones of Darkly Wood III sketched out and I have two more ideas that I am working on in my head at least and somehow I can find a little space in there to get through the normal working day.

You see I haven’t changed that much.  I am still that mop-topped blonde little boy, completely distracted by my imagination, running up the street in my short trousers, picking off sharp-shooters on the rooftops all around me. Maybe if I get a chance to sit down, I’ll tell you all about it someday …

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

All I ever learned from love…

All I ever learned from love…

Roses are red violets are blue, some poems rhyme, but this one doesn’t.   Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day (unless you’re reading this after today… but you’ll figure that one out) and in this modern age I’ve noticed that this breaks people down into two categories.  There are those that embrace the notion of the romance of it all and enjoy the whole flowers and dinner date thing.  Then there are those who dismiss the occasion as just another Hallmark day…or as the cynic in me might describe them, men and women.

Now many men will be up in arms at this slight on our sex but don’t forget, I am one of that very group and this is a colourful slight I don’t necessarily want to paint myself with.  There are exceptions to every rule isn’t that what they say?  It is peculiar but of course for me, love is a very particular creature that it took me a long time to get to grips with.  Romance?  That’s a horse of an entirely different colour.

There is a common complaint that men don’t understand women.  I’m very old fashioned and I think that when men seek the answer to the question ‘what do women want?’ they are asking the wrong question.  In many ways that is the foolishness of people in general.  We often fall down not because we can’t find the solution to our problems, but because we are trying to solve the wrong problem.  Men foolishly play at romance.  Sometimes they are trying to answer the question when in fact they should be acting on a very particular instinct.

When boy meets girl or man meets woman, there is a tangible excitement in the air.  Behaviour is focussed and considered.  If you are lucky enough to fall in love, those early days create a wonderful, electric connection and at that stage you would do nothing to jeopardise the way you feel.  Why then do I see people disrespect and dishonour the one they supposedly love after years in a relationship?  You would think that time together with the one you love, would only deepen and grow that love and respect.  The answer is relatively simple.

New lovers are learning about each other.  There is a point where trust has to be exchanged and I am talking here about a very special trust.  At some point one must open up their vulnerability to the other, to offer it up with the potential that it may be trodden on if the other person so choses.  Sometimes one person says something mean or hurtful and it is at that precise moment, that you have to offer up this type of vulnerability.  If love is to flourish then there and then you tell the offending loved one, that what they have said or done is hurtful and furthermore – explain why.  There has to be a clear understanding that repeating this action will cause you hurt and then you wait.  What an incredible act of bravery this takes, don’t you think?   To put your hand in the lion’s mouth as it were and to risk everything to win everything, to risk everything to lose everything – and therein lies the rub.

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The fear is that you will sound foolish or that they will reject you for this in which case maybe this is the point – nice and early on that you decide this is not true love but something less.  The danger is that they take your vulnerable admission and store it away for use later on – in which case – I refer you back to the previous statement.  Of course some do this instinctively and get bitten and they do say once bitten…But it doesn’t mean there is a better way.  Truth requires virtue and virtue brings truth.  Being afraid is perfectly fine, being brave comes at a price sometimes.

In reality most people let the little remark that stings pass.  They let the jibe or the taunt that creeps in with familiarity to go unaddressed.  But they store it up, hold it inside to fester and then they begin to collect ammunition of their own, realising that someday they will need it.  That cannot be the measure of love.  To quote Leonard Coen (I don’t do that too often) ‘all I’ve ever learned from love, was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya.’  I think that perfectly sums up some relationships even when both parties genuinely love each other.  The only problem with this of course is that those bullets soon take their toll and that is not the way to live with love.

Mine is a very male perspective of course, but it is not to say that at least some of this doesn’t apply to women.  What do women want?  Like I say that is the wrong question.   I finally figured out many years ago what it was that I wanted, perhaps late in life but later is better than never.   What I wanted it turns out was the same kindness, love and affection that we all want – it’s not rocket science.  To get it I had to give it because love is a two way street.  Love is it seems about romance after all.  Not the Hallmark, box of chokies type of romance but real romance.  Telling that special someone just how important they are to you.  Touching their hand and their hearts by actions and words not just on Feb 14 but every day.

I never understand why people in general intentionally say hurtful things to others.  By extension I absolutely don’t get that you would intentionally be hurtful to the person you supposedly love the most.  The flotsam and jetsam that results from simple harsh words, cruel intentions and thoughtless behaviour, cost people more than the price of kindness , support, encouragement and tenderness.  The price of carelessness with the hearts of the ones we prize the most is our happiness.

 I wear my heart very much on my sleeve and anyone who knows me well enough to call me their friend will know this of me.  It would be difficult to write as I do if I didn’t understand the hurt and pain of love, as well as the joys and benefits it brings.  Romance is what you do because you want to do it.  Wanting to do something romantic is not about Hallmark.  It is about touching someone’s heart not just in the early days but every day. 

I dare say you would be stretching things to describe what I write as romantic. The Darkly Wood series for example, sits nearer horror in the reader’s eyes, yet the books are in fact at their core, stories about courage and bravery, with love as the connecting ultimate thing of importance.   I couldn’t write of such a thing if I didn’t feel it and I am lucky enough to feel it every day.  I have love in my heart, romantic love, delicate, delicious and delightful. 

From the moment I found that special gift, my darling Joanna has been responsible for keeping it safe, nurturing that love and tending to my heart as I have her heart.  It is a responsibility I never take lightly.   I know what it means to say that she is my heart because I know how that feels.  I am a lucky man.  Somewhere in all the messes I have made throughout my life, I have been blessed with my wonderful children and a woman who even though she knows me better than anyone else, still manages to put my failings aside and gift me her love every day.

Romance is what you do tomorrow?  Maybe but for sure it is what you do today, what you do every day.  What do women want?  You know the answer if you think carefully and begin to understand what it is that you want.  It takes a shared, considered effort but the rewards are enormous.  What do men want?  Well I guess conversely I would have to put that to my female readers, for I suspect that if you look closely at yourself, you too will find the answer. Happy Valentine’s Day.  Now go find the love…

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

IASD - globe 2

Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE…

LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE…

You are a dirty filthy liar. Go on admit it. How many lies have you told today?  How many lies in your life? You’ll never count them.  We start young and we learn from the masters – our parents.  I know as a parent I have lied to my children at a very young age.  “Oh that’s an amazing painting!” Who hasn’t said that to a blotch on a page?  Which sporting parent hasn’t told their child that they are really good or even the best when in fact they were rubbish on the day?  Come on you liar, I know you did.

But they are nice lies, kind lies, little white lies, aren’t they? Are they lies at all? Mmmm?  Where do we cross the line? We tell our parents things like, “It wasn’t me?” or (pointing to your sister) “She did it!”  Innocence of youth or the beginnings of a psychotic leaning that can turn nasty later in life?

You go to school and you exaggerate or are they lies?  “My dad is bigger than your Dad.”  How about “I have one of them at home too” or better still “Yeah I had one of them but they’re crap so I gave mine away to my little brother.” Now we are bordering on maliciousness aren’t we?

“Sorry sir, my sister got sick on my homework.”  Never tried that one?  Come on you used some version of it I know.  How low did you sink in the get out of trouble card in school?  It gets heightened when you go to work.  I’ve witnessed fake funerals of relatives as close as someone pretending their mother died, but in fairness he was a psycho.  Ever had a fake in-law/old family friend/ second cousin once removed funeral you had to attend?

Think of the sickies you pulled from work, especially when you were younger – or are you all saints out there.  Ever ring up with that fake sickly voice with a whimper and a cough to say “ahe..ahee..rrgh.. Sorry I have laryngitis, I won’t be in today I think I have the flu.” Or did you get your mother or boyfriend/girlfriend to do it because you didn’t think you could pull it off.  Have you recognised some of your filthy deceitful lies yet?

You have done at least one interview in your life right?  Yep nothing more to add on that doozy.

What about socially, “Yeah yeah I’ll call you.” Or “Well I’m away next week but we’ll definitely catch up the next week…I’ll text you.” Surely you’ve pulled that one.  Of course if you are a man and have ever had a relationship with almost any woman you’ve been asked the “does my bum look big in this” or equivalent type of question. You’ve told the truth right?

First date lies, worse still chat up lies?  Blokes are probably the bigger culprits here but I wouldn’t be one hundred percent sure.  Most girls I know say they don’t lie when they meet guys but maybe they are lying to me…what do you think?  I had a friend who used to say he was a pilot.  The nearest he ever got to being a pilot was when he burned his hand lighting the gas cooker.

So what of it? If someone is reading this and can say they have never ever told a lie then I’m a monkey’s uncle.  I suspect most people reading this have told at least a white lie in the last week if not today in many cases.  But does that make you a bad person?  Let’s break it down. Parent to child “you are just amazing!”  Ok if it is an encouraging self-esteem building helping your child to develop confidence then great.  If it is some delusional, narcissistic self-projection then you are pointing your kid down a slippery slope, one that you are probably encouraging them from the bottom of that same slope.  For the most part these fall into the white lie category as do most of the aforementioned.

Where it gets sinister is in the Walter Mitty world of complete fabrication or where the lie is told not for the preservation of society but to deconstruct, to hurt or damage others… The lie can be all powerful and self-destructive.

I lie on the page with abandon.  Being an author gives me licence to make up the wildest of scenarios and allow the character at the end of my pen be as cunning, conniving and downright deceitful as I damn well please.  The lie gets the prize in fiction.  Larry Flynn is all about the big lie.  It is the lie that destroys one man’s life and all those around him and in seeking revenge, poor old Larry only makes matters worse through his own deceit.

Bad Blood has at it very core a singular lie which ultimately brings all of the protagonists together.  It is a lie from far in the past much like in Larry Flynn and it is the lie that starts everything.

In Darkly Wood the lies are more obscure.  The deception is not a simple lie told by one person to another but the lie of folklore, the lies of stories and the lies that come not from a person but a place.  Something that appears to be so much more than the sum of its parts that conspires to fool the innocent and draw them to danger.  The lies in the sequel Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, is far more subtle.  There is still the lie of the place but there is more depth to the lie as layer upon layer is slowly unwrapped to reveal more and more of the truth.  Only in the final book will the true lie be ultimately uncovered.

Little Big Boy contains the grand lie.  It is the failed promise to a child that they will be safe in the world.  It is the ultimate lie that the innocent will remain safe and protected.  It is in many ways the lie of betrayal.  Little Big Boy tells of the untold lie, the lie of expectation.  The small boy in the story is loved, he feels it and it is part of him so much so that he is the essence of purity and innocent love in many ways. But he discovers that the shine that he sees through his eyes, is nothing more than illusion and Little Big Boy is all about an enormously heroic attempt of an innocent, to fight for the goodness against the lie of his world.

Ah lies, lies beautiful lies where would the writer be without them.   I could in theory be a great liar.  I have a fantastic poker face and could convince most people that I am the Pope if I tried but there is a difference with my ability to lie and my character.  There is a bit of Abraham Lincoln in me.  The “I cannot tell a lie” kicks in when it comes to real life.  I am not sure if it is my Catholic upbringing that has me wracked with guilt if I lie about anything of consequence, but I genuinely struggle with it.

My lies fall into the ‘spinning a yarn’ category and it is an age old Irish tradition that we Irish pick up from when we are on our mother’s knee.  I believe I owe much of my storytelling ability to the culture and environment in which I was nourtered.  I have been fortunate to have had access to a good education that helped make me literate from an early age and I fell in love with books as a very young boy, so that too had a huge influence on me personally.

I have a final advantage in that I can exorcize my deceitful fantasies through my written work and thus remain a saintly man of virtue.. as everyone who knows me can attest  to…if you can believe them that is.  But what about you?  I know if asked you’ll say, “Me? I never tell lies!”  But given just the few examples I have listed above I’m sure you might begin to realise that maybe you are lying to yourself!   I will not judge you; in fact I can forgive you.

But there is a simple way to exorcise the demons of your lies.  I think it is somewhere in the Bible or was it the Koran or Talmud.. it could be in them all in fact and I’m sure I heard a Hindu quote something along the same lines – apparently a global truth… The only way to resolve your inner conflict about your propensity to tell lies is to read a book full of them… and here are five perfect links below to get you started… Its true I tells ya!…

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

IASD - globe 2

Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood