Monday, November 30, 2009

Thursday Story (On a Monday) - Three Days Until Christmas - (2002)

I turned over the Calender this evening to find December is already upon us. A small amount of maths later and a check of where I was up to and I realized that I would not get all my Christmas Stories in before December 25th. So here's a Thursday story on a Monday.

Today's is from 2003, one of my favorites. I was also asked if I could add the narrated version, so if you want to hear that just click the microphone at the end of the story.


I peered through the car window at the dark outline of the road ahead, trying to find my way through the shadows, with just the "swish, swish" of the wipers to keep me company. Once more I cursed the fact I was out on a night like this, when even the car radio had given up and decided enough was enough.

It had all started from the phone call that had come out of the blue, just as I was settling down with a film I had wanted to see for ages, a cozy log fire, and a glass of good whiskey. All of which now lay many miles behind me, film over, fire out, and whiskey left still in its glass.

When I answered the phone it was a voice I knew so well, yet was the voice of the last person I would have expected to call me.

"Hi Dad, it's me Marie."
I did not know what to say. Hearing the voice of my daughter brought so much flooding back to me. Like a cinema reel flicking through frame after frame, visions of the past few years filled my mind.

It had started with the death of my wife, trying to get over it and look after my family at the same time. The constant arguments with my daughter had driven her away, leaving me devastated, both of us vowing to never speak to the other again. So many harsh words had been said in the heat of the moment. So much hurt given and received from both sides.

After she had gone, my son David, had simply looked at me.
"You've done it now, Dad." He had said.
Like a knife piercing my heart, the realization that I had lost another member of my family cut right through me.

Like the stubborn people we are, neither my daughter nor I had talked from that moment forward. David passed on the odd pieces of news from his random contact with Marie, how she had found a place to live with a group of friends, and how she was doing ok. But now David was away defending our country, and I was alone.

"Dad, are you there?" Marie's voice brought me back from my memories.

"Hi Marie, I'm here. Sorry. I was miles away. What do you want"
Half of me was glad that my daughter had called; the other half wondered what she was after.

"Dad..." I thought I heard a sob.

"Dad, please Dad, I need your help."
At once all the anger and doubt left me. My daughter needed me, she was in trouble.

"Marie love, what's wrong?"
This time I know I heard sobs, and my heart lurched and all the pain came back to me.

"Dad," she whispered through the tears I knew were falling. "Dad, I need you. Please Dad, I need you"

That had been several hours ago, and here I was traveling through the worst weather that this December night could throw at me to a place I only had a vague idea of its location, to a daughter whom I thought I had lost and who was in trouble.

The miles came and went, and signposts seemed to be as common as the other cars on the road, "namely none". I came to a crossroads totally unsure of which direction to go, when suddenly a flash of something caught the corner of my eye. I looked up into the dark skies. I had forgotten the morning news', reports of space debris entering the atmosphere this evening and burning up. As I looked, several more small sparks lit the night heavens. OK, I thought, follow the star. I turned towards the first light I had seen and started driving once more through the night.

After a few miles, out of nowhere a sign appeared at the side of the road, a sign naming the very town I was looking for, and it took little time after that find the café my daughter had called me from.

I walked into the smoky, warm room, and immediately saw my daughter sitting head bowed at a table. "Marie" I called softly. She looked up, tears still filling her eyes, dark rings from lack of sleep surrounding the red rimmed gaze that looked up at me.
"Dad, oh Dad, I am so glad to see you"

Without thinking I rushed to hug her, and as she stood up, I realized that my daughter was not as I had last seen her; she was in fact very, very pregnant.

She filled my arms, and I gently hugged her, so much going through my mind.
"Dad" she whispered in my ear "Dad, please take me home"

We drove back through the dark, neither of us saying much, until the soft sound of her sleeping left me alone in my thoughts as to what was going on, and what had happened to my little girl that now slept in the car seat next to me.

Many hours later we arrived home, and I helped her out the car and into the house. I made Marie comfortable, and made us both some tea, before sitting down with her, waiting for her to talk.

After a while she seemed ready, and started to tell me what had happened. She was, as I had thought, nine months pregnant, her boyfriend of some time, whom I had known nothing about, was away. I was going to ask where, but bit my tongue and let her carry on. She had been trying to make it to a friend's house, when her car had broken down. She had been lost and alone, worried about the baby. Not knowing what else to do, she had called me. She tried to tell me how sorry she was and what an idiot she had been, but I did not hear the words as my own were tumbling from my lips until we both started crying and once more hugged each other.

I tucked my little girl into bed that night not knowing what I was to do, trying to get all that had gone on that night into some form of order.
About four in the morning, a tap on my shoulder woke me, my sleep filled eyes seeing the face of my daughter. "Dad," she said, "The baby is coming. We need to get to the hospital"

I jumped out of bed, thinking about hot water and overnight bags and such.

"It's ok Dad, breath deeply. You'll be alright." She smiled, and I knew how much I had missed my daughter.

That was the start of a hectic seven hours that saw me go into the hospital as a Dad, and come out a doting Grandfather of a beautiful baby boy.

I looked up, holding the baby in my arms, as the door bell rang a week later. My daughter went and answered the door, and I heard whoops of joy and laughter before bursting into the room came my son, David, with his arm around Marie.

"Hi Dad," he said "Did you think we would miss this moment?"

I smiled, then realized he had said we, and for the first time I noticed another man next to David, his hand clasped around that of my daughter.

Marie smiled, she looked from the man and then at me.

"Dad, this is Andy, Andy Carpenter, my fiancé and the baby's father."

I must have looked shocked, because a worried look crossed Marie's face.
"Dad, I told you Andy was away, but as he was on a secret assignment, I could not tell you where"

I sat down trying to work it all out; somehow what had gone on seemed to have a vague ring to it.

My daughter Marie being pregnant, alone with nowhere to go, a guiding star, the birth of a baby and now a Carpenter.

I smiled; it couldn't be, could it?

No matter what, I had my daughter back. But more than that, I had a family, which now included my new son and grandson, and there were still three more days until Christmas.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday UK Blog - A date with John Barleycorn

I was due to have an author on my show this last week whose co-written a book about partying, drinking games, and hangover cures after attending 15 Colleges in the US and not getting one academic success, except for being known for running some of the best ever college parties. Unfortunately the author was a "no show" for the radio program, so I never got a chance to exchange UK rugby drinking games with US college games.

One item I did find out though was that my guests favorite tipple was Bud Light.

How can a person who has classed themselves as a series beer drinker, have Bud Light as a favorite beer. I have known rugby clubs in England, when being asked for a Bud or Miller Light point the patron in the direction of the bathroom saying "the water tap is in there". It is THAT WEAK.

This started me thinking about beers and the strength of beers in the US compared to England. A thought process that was enhanced when an article this week that BrewDog of Fraserburgh, a Scottish brewery, launched "Tactical Nuclear Penguin" what it described as the world's strongest beer - with a 32% alcohol content.

A warning on the label states: "This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whiskey, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost."

Before you start working out the strength of the beer, one has to remember the way alcohol "percentage proof" measurements in the US differ to the UK.

In the US the percentage shown is basically half the strength, so something that reads 70% proof in the USA is 35% alcohol. In the UK 70% proof is basically (and these are not exact figures) double that. This being the case a 32% beer in England would almost equal a shot of Jack Daniels in the USA.

One of the items Americans always bring up when discussing beer, is that England has "warm beer", this is really not the case. Any "good" pub that sells beer out the barrel which is hand pumped, rather and gassy carbon dioxide forced bubble baths, will keep there beer in a "cellar", thus it is at "cellar temperature".

After all the "almost frozen" beers that Americans seem to like, are so cold, one can never taste the true flavor, as at the first sip, your taste buds are frozen. Of course this loving of very cold drinks can be seen when Americans serve you a spirit or "shot", as there is normally as much ice in the glass as caused the Titanic to sink.

This is not to say that there are not such beers in England, these cold fizzy drafts are normally termed under the term "Lagar", with the likes of Bud, Fosters, Carling Black Label and Stella being available in most pubs in England.

While doing a little research into beers and the strengths I cam across a wonderful site called
Drunktionary, a wonderful place to find out all sorts of terms to do with drinking.

So while I go looking for a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin, it just leaves me to say one thing.


Barry Eva (Storyheart)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Not Turkey Pacific

At this time of year when people will be eating way more than is good for them, and those surviving Turkeys give a sigh of relief that they might have survived another year.

In England except for those Americans living in the UK, we do not celebrate Thanks Giving, Turkey tends to be the main food eaten at Christmas.

When you remeber that in just over three weeks time it will be Christmas, perhaps my statement about the relief of Turkeys is not quite so true. The English Christmas dinner of perhaps Prawn Cocktail or melon to start, followed by roast Turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips, Brussel sprouts, stuffing and maybe a piece of Yorkshire pudding. And of course Christmas pudding as a desert, along of course with the must have Christmas crackers (you pull them and the go bang) complete with silly jokes and the "must ware" paper hats.

So on this day I thought I'd share with you something less savory and perhaps a warning to those who are flying somewhere this holiday.

Toilet mystery on Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific says its fleet of Airbus planes has been hit by a spate of mysterious toilet blockages.

The problem has been so serious that one flight from Riyadh had to land in Mumbai when the crew discovered none of the plane's 10 toilets were working.

In other cases, the number of passengers boarding flights had to be restricted because of toilet problems. Any blockage usually affects all the toilets on one side of an aircraft.

Airbus engineers are now fitting new toilet pipes to the airline's fleet and carrying out deep cleaning.

Cathay spokeswoman said "Although the exact cause of the blockages was unclear, passengers themselves may be partly to blame."

"You would be amazed what we find in the pipes when we clean the system - not just face towels but medicine bottles, socks, items of clothing and even children's stuffed toys," she said.

The toilets use high-speed vacuum pipes to take waste at up to 68mph into a holding tank, which is then emptied between flights.

Barry Eva (Storyheart)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday Story - The Doll (2002)

For those of you who have not been reading my Thursday Story's up to now, each year I write a special holiday story, and have done since 1999. I will share one each Thursday until finally just before Christmas I will publish this seasons story.

Today's is from 2002, you might have heard me narrating it on a resent ""Book and a Chat" radio show, when a guest did not turn up.

THE DOLL (2002)

She stood in the street, soft snowflakes falling round her, as she gazed at the doll in the shop window. The bright lights of Christmas filled the night, casting shadows of all shapes and sizes across the white winter blanket that covered the streets. Sounds of music and laughter came from behind curtains, and the spirit of the Yuletide seemed to fill the air.

Children their faces lit with the joy of the season rushed through the streets, their garb of many colors making her drab dress look even duller.

She looked once more at the doll in the window a look of longing covering her face, as she wiped away a small teardrop that escaped the corner of one eye.

The shop door opened as a family, arms filled with gifts came laughing into the street, and without thinking she slipped past them into the shop. Her eyes opened wide as she gazed on the beauties in this Aladdin’s cave of a toyshop. Not knowing where to look first she slowly wondered through the store, each step revealing something even more fantastic, even more wonderful. Her eyes grew as big as saucers, and sparkled like the lights that lit the Christmas bedecked store.

At last she came to the dolls, and she knew at once the one she wanted, the one she had craved so very long. She was their her dark hair curled round her face, blue eyes, smiled at the girl, and hands were outstretched as if asking to be taken and held by the girl.

Tears sprang to the young girl’s eyes, slowly trickling down her cheek, as she knew she would never have the doll, never know the feel of her cuddled up in her arms.

Slowly she turned and walked back through the store. Nobody seemed to notice the girl, in her dull dress, tear smeared features and a heart so heavy one could almost feel the pain.

She reached the door as another family came rushing into the store, and for a moment the girl wanted to stay and join them, then as before she quietly moved through the door, until she stood once more on the street gazing at the doll in the shop window.

It was the same place she had been standing all those years ago, when the runaway coach and horses had plowed into her, sending her to the world where she now roamed.

With a sigh that if heard would have broken your heart, she reached towards the doll, her ghostly hands passing through the window, and also through the doll. With tears still falling from her deep rimmed eyes she turned and walked away disappearing into the growing darkness. She would be back next year, once more to see the doll and each year after that until she would finally rest in peace.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What is the truth about thanks giving?

As football players chase a pigskin down the field in Miami or Detroit, we settle into our living rooms, loosen our belts, wave off a second helping of pie, and remind the little ones this is the day we echo the thanks of the Pilgrims, who gathered in the autumn of 1621 to celebrate the first bountiful harvest in a land of plenty.

So what is the truth about Thanks Giving?

That first winter in the New World had been a harsh one, of course. Half the colonists had died. But the survivors were hard-working and tenacious, and - with the aid of a little agricultural expertise graciously on loan from the Wampanoag, the Narragansett, and the Mohegan - were able to thank the Creator for an abundant harvest, that second autumn in a new land.

The only problem with the tale, unfortunately, is that it's not true.

Oh, the part about the Indians graciously showing the new settlers how to raise beans and corn is right enough. But in a November, 1985 article in "The Free Market," monthly publication of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, author and historian Richard J. Marbury pointed out: "This official story is ... a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving's real meaning."

The problem with the official story, Mr. Marbury points out, is that "The harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves."

In his "History of Plymouth Plantation," the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years because they refused to work in the fields, preferring instead to steal. Bradford recalled for posterity that the colony was riddled with "corruption and discontent." The crops were small because "much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable."

Although in the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622 "all had their hungry bellies filled," that relief was short-lived, and deaths from illness due to malnutrition continued.

Then, Mr. Marbury points out, "something changed." By harvest time, 1623, Gov. Bradford was reporting that "Instead of famine now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God." Thereafter, the first governor wrote, "Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day." Why, by 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists actually began (start ital)exporting(end ital) corn.

What on earth had happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, "they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop." And what solution was decided upon? It turned out to be simple enough. In 1623 Gov. Bradford simply "gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit."

What? Wasn't that the American way from the start?

Not at all. The Mayflower Compact had required that "all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock."

A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed - a concept so attractive on its surface that it would be adopted as the equally disastrous ruling philosophy for all of Eastern Europe, some 300 years later.

"This 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need' was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving," Marbury explains.

Gov. Bradford writes that during those terrible first three years "Young men that are most able and fit for labor and service" complained about being forced to "spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children." Since "the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak," the strong men simply refused to work, and the amount of food produced was never adequate.

In historian Marbury's words, Gov. Bradford "abolished socialism" in the colony, "replacing it with a free market, and that was the end of famines."

In fact, this lesson had to be learned over and over again in early America. "Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results," Marbury notes. "At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first 12 months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called 'The Starving Time,' the population fell from 500 to 60.

"Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was 'plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.' He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, 'we reaped not so much corn from the labors of 30 men as three men have done for themselves now.' "

They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Sadly this was a lesson the people of Russia had to learn all over again - at the pain of equally devastating starvation and penury - in our own century. By the 1980s, when the discredited and bloodstained rulers of Russia finally threw up their hands and allowed farmers to raise private crops and sell them for profit on a mere 10 percent of their lands, once again more crops were produced on that 10 percent of the land than on the 90 percent devoted to "collective agriculture," the system under which - as the bitter Russian joke would have it - "We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us."

Yes, America is a bounteous land. But the source of that bounty - and the good fortune for which we annually gather to give thanks - lies not merely in the fertility of the soil or the frequency of the rains - for there is hardly a more fertile breadbasket on the face of the earth than the Soviet Ukraine.

No, the source of our bounty was the discovery made by the Pilgrims in 1623, that when men are allowed to hold their own land as private property, to eat what they raise and keep the profits from any surplus they sell, the entire community becomes one of prosperity and plenty.

Whereas, an economic system which grants the lazy and the shiftless some "right" to prosper off the looted fruits of another man's labor, under the guise of enforced "compassion," will inevitably descend into envy, theft, squalor, and starvation.

Though many would still incrementally impose on us some new variant of the "noble socialist experiment," this is still at heart a free country with a bedrock respect for the sanctity of private property - and a land bounteous precisely because it's free. It's for that we give thanks - the corn and beans and turkey serving as mere symbols of that true and underlying blessing - on the fourth Thursday of each November.


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Dirt on the Good and the Bad.

Every so often some group or other reports that certain things are good for you, then a few days later another group replies that the same item is bad for you.

While it’s been noted for some time that a pint or two of beer per day is medically good for you, last week it was reported…

Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests.

The Spanish research involving more than 15,500 men and 26,000 women found large quantities of alcohol could be even more beneficial for men.

Female drinkers did not benefit to the same extent, the study in Heart found.

Experts are critical, warning heavy drinking can increase the risk of other diseases, with alcohol responsible for 1.8 million deaths globally per year.

The study was conducted in Spain, a country with relatively high rates of alcohol consumption and low rates of coronary heart disease.

The research involved men and women aged between 29 and 69, who were asked to document their lifetime drinking habits and followed for 10 years.

Crucially the research team claim to have eliminated the "sick abstainers" risk by differentiating between those who had never drunk and those whom ill-health had forced to quit. This has been used in the past to explain fewer heart-related deaths among drinkers on the basis that those who are unhealthy to start with are less likely to drink.

If that comment upset you, or has left you in a bad mood. Don’t worry because according to an Australian psychology expert, being in a bad mood could also be good for you.

In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.

While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking, Professor Joe Forgas told Australian Science Magazine.

'Eeyore days'

The University of New South Wales researcher says a grumpy person can cope with more demanding situations than a happy one because of the way the brain "promotes information processing strategies".

He asked volunteers to watch different films and dwell on positive or negative events in their life, designed to put them in either a good or bad mood.

Next he asked them to take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.

Those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly - they made fewer mistakes and were better communicators.

Professor Forgas said: "Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world."

The study also found that sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments, which Forgas said showed that a "mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style".

His earlier work shows the weather has a similar impact on us - wet, dreary days sharpened memory, while bright sunny spells make people forgetful.

Finally something I’ve been saying for some time…

Dirt can be good for children, say scientists.Messy play should be encouraged, according to the hygiene hypothesis. Children should be allowed to get dirty, according to scientists who have found being too clean can impair the skin's ability to heal.

Normal bacteria living on the skin trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation when we get hurt, the US team discovered. The bugs dampen down overactive immune responses that can cause cuts and grazes to swell, they say.

Their work is published in the online edition of Nature Medicine Experts said the findings provided an explanation for the "hygiene hypothesis", which holds that exposure to germs during early childhood primes the body against allergies.

Many like myself believe our obsession with cleanliness is to blame for the recent boom in allergies in developed countries.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday UK Blog - The Beautiful Game Not So Beautiful

Around the world Football or Soccer as it's called in America, (don't get me on about how grid iron can be called football when the foot is hardly used) is the most popular team sport. The let's call is Soccer so American's don't get confused, the "Soccer World Cup" is the second most watched sporting event after the "Olympics", with I might add the "Rugby World Cup" third in the list.

The qualifying rounds for the world cup finals which will take place next year in South Africa have been completed, and yes USA qualified, if your interested, managing to beat Honduras on the road, cruising through by virtue of an impressive home record.

However "The Beautiful Game" as it is sometimes called has it's own problems right now.

While I was over in England, Liverpool lost against Sunderland in the Premier League because of a beach ball that had been thrown onto the pitch by a Liverpool fan. The winning goal came when Sunderland striker Darren Bent's shot bounced off the inflatable ball and went in. The Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina was totally confused and tried to catch the beach ball instead of the real ball.

In Africa police quelled a riot in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, where thousands of angry Egyptian fans burned Algerian flags and set cars on fire near the Algerian embassy after Egypt's defeat by Algeria in a World Cup qualifying match which secured Algeria the last African place for next year's finals.

In the week in an the whole of Ireland were up in arms after a deliberate "hand ball" was missed by the officials allowing a goal to be scored by France which knocked Ireland out the the qualify stages. Even though the "culprit" French striker Thierry Henry admitted afterwords what he had done, which was plain for everybody except the referee and linesman to see. The football association refused to replay the game, leaving France to go through and Ireland to wait another four years.

This however was nothing compared to a disclosure this week that about 200 European football games are under investigation in a match-fixing inquiry, or so a German prosecutor reported. At least three of the games were in the Champions League and another 12 were in the Uefa Europa League. It has been called the biggest match-fixing scandal ever to hit Europe.

On Thursday police carried out about 50 raids in Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Austria, making 17 arrests and seizing cash and property. Fifteen of those arrested were in Germany and the other two in Switzerland.

Matches under investigation were played in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Austria.

However all this is put in place with one non "soccer related" item that I read about this week.

'Fat for cosmetics' murder suspects arrested in Peru

Four people have been arrested in Peru on suspicion of killing dozens of people in order to sell their fat and tissue for cosmetic uses in Europe.

The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before killing them and extracting their fat. The liquidized product fetched $15,000 a liter and police suspect it was sold on to companies in Europe.

At least five other suspects, including two Italian nationals, remain at large. Police said the gang could be behind the disappearances of up to 60 people in Peru's Huanuco and Pasco regions. One of those arrested told police the ringleader had been killing people for their fat for more than three decades.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Thursday, November 19, 2009


For those of you who have not been reading my Thursday Story's up to now, each year I write a special holiday story, and have done since 1999. I will share one each Thursday until finally just before Christmas I will publish this seasons story.

Today's is from 2001 and is basically true, as you can read at the end.

THE GIFT (2001)

Driving to work on a Sunday morning, the roads fairly empty at the time of day I started work. Christmas lights still sparkled in the early morning light as I passed by the houses, reminding me it was only 3 days until Christmas day. This was my first day back at work after several days off, and with so little time before Christmas, most people would now be on holiday for the next few days.

When I arrived at work, far from being quiet major problems were waiting for me, and those few members of my shift not on vacation. The morning went by with many conference calls and problem resolving and around lunchtime finally I thought it had all settled down to a quieter day.

Suddenly my phone rang, it was my wife. The baby was sick, she had been crying for the last hour, and in pain. Not only that but when the baby had been sick she had traces of blood in the throw-up. She had phoned the Doctor who had thought it was because of a cold and congestion. Naturally I was worried, our daughter was only seven months old after all, and so very precious to us.

I was getting on with more work, thinking about what was going on, when the phone went again. The Doctor had second thoughts and wanted us to take the baby to the hospital. I would meet them the family there.

I drove not quite knowing where I was going or what I was doing, the area was strange and the worry about what was going on weighing heavy on my mind.

I found the children's emergency area, arriving before my family. Soon we were all there. The baby was no her normal herself at all, she would not let you put her down, and was crying in pain, as well as constantly dribbling. We were quickly looked at and details taken, then started a long wait until we could be seen. Children and families came and went and still we waited. The our other children were starting to get fractious, we had by this time been waiting almost 3 hours.

At last we were called in, and shown to the smallest cubical out of the ones there were, this was for the two of us, the baby, 2 small children and all the bags and car seats that were needed to port the family around. The staff seeing the children with nothing to do brought them gifts from the hospital Christmas tree, and so we waited.

Another hour, and at last the doctor came to see us. The baby was checked out, and nothing could be found. People still came and went and time continued to pass. At last the doctor came back and advised that they were going to take x-rays of the baby. We talked about what to do, we had been at the hospital for over 4 hours, the children were tired and hungry, and we both knew how long x-rays could take. Neither of us wanted to leave, but though it best if my wife took the baby home, and I stayed.

Very quickly we went to the x-ray area, and after just 10 minutes were back with the plates. The doctor could see nothing on the x-rays, but wanted a second opinion. The Senior Doctor came and examined the baby, and suddenly reported to both myself and the other doctor that she could see something trapped at the back of the babies throat. This explained her pain, and the soaking shoulders I now had from her constant dribbling for the last several hours I had held her.

My heart jumped into my throat, what had she swallowed, what if it moved and lodged across her throat. The surgeon was paged, and I was taken with the baby into another area. I tried to keep her as quiet as possible, the Christmas angels pinned round the walls seemed to look down at her so small in my arms and in so much pain.We moved to behind a curtain, as a major case was coming in, all the time the doctors kept checking on us. Nurses peered in at the beautiful baby, who every now and then let out such a heart rending cry that all stopped to see what was wrong.

The surgeon came and explained what he was to do, it was thought better to operate on the baby to get rid of the obstruction, rather than cause her even more distress, and possible problems by fishing for it. The theater was ready, we went up and met the operating team, where I handed over my beloved daughter to them. I waited in and empty waiting area.

Christmas lights sparkled on windows, and seasons decorations were everywhere. I phoned my now tearful wife, and explained what was going on. Thoughts went to another baby all those years ago, and silent prayers were sent to him. The last words that the anesthetist had said to me as she took the baby , swirled round my head again, and again.

"You are very lucky, 80% of babies who swallow things like this do not even make the hospital"

What would we do if anything happened to her? After all that had happened to us this last year, this would be the end of all and everything if we lost her.

After what seemed an age, but was actually only 20 minutes the doctor returned, holding in his hand a container in which was a small frog foil sticker, as used on cards and presents at Christmas. This was the offending object. The baby was ok, and was waiting for me in the recovery area.

I sat by her bed, waiting for her to recover, trying to smile at the comments of the nurse taking care of her. She was alright, she was safe, a small tear trickled down my face, and my heart smiled at the beauty that was our daughter now safe and sound sleeping next to me.

A half hour later she was awake, and her smiling self, drinking a bottle of juice as if nothing had happened. Once we had been checked out, we left for our drive back home. The Christmas lights now matching the pair of sparkling eyes that sat in the car seat next to me.

We arrived home in the early hours of the morning, safe and sound, but still the words echoed round my mind. 80% of babies never make it to the hospital.

As we hugged each other and the baby, we both realized, never mind what was going to happen in two days time. We had already received the greatest Christmas present we would ever have. The safety and well being of our baby.

Normally I write a Christmas Story, and in fact this year I already had it written just waiting for my to type it out and up load it. That was until we had our own story, this time the story was for real. Victoria is fine now, and shows no ill effects from her operation. It just showed us how lucky we really are.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thirty Six Day's Until Christmas

Wondering what to get that "difficult" person in your life this holiday, I picked up a few ideas to help you with that special gift.

This cheery confection is like a delicious-looking go-kart. Coast down the road in style at a top speed of 7 m.p.h. in a Cupcake Car that comes in different-colored "flavors," as well as your choice of decorations like sprinkles and icing. And yes, it comes with a matching hat. Yours for just $25,000

New York City's Algonquin Hotel is an historic landmark with a long tradition of hosting the brightest minds in literature and the arts. For just a cool $200,000 you and a guest can rub elbows with the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Nora Ephron and John Lithgow at an exclusive dinner party. Neiman Marcus will donate the proceeds to First Book, a charity that distributes reading material to children in need.

If you can fork out $7,500 you can take a VIP whiskey-making tour of Maker's Mark's classic distillery in Louisville to see how "perfection in amber" is made. Master Distiller Kevin Smith will guide you and a friend through the process step by step. End result: Two bottles of the stuff will be etched with your likeness and dipped in gold wax. Enjoy the amber goodness over a gourmet dinner hosted by Bill Samuels Jr., the top brass at Maker's Mark.

Or of course for something "really" special you can get a copy “Across the Pond” signed by yours truly "Storyheart" for a much reduced price of $15… Truly Priceless!


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Monday, November 16, 2009

I bid you $20. Do I hear $25? Who'll give me $30?

Last Friday I was invited to an event at a school about seventy miles away. The school had previously contacted me re donating one of my books "of which we've heard great things" as a fund raising for their school.

Being always willing to help with such donations for any charity or event I was only too pleased to send them a signed hard back copy of "Across the Pond". Following this and some further emails passing in the night, I was invited along to the event. Then I could actually sign it then and there for the person who had one the item in the auction.

The school was only about seventy miles away but traveling in the rush hour in what was left of hurricane Ike when it arrive in CT (mainly rain) was not the most pleasant of journeys.

When I arrived at the school there were about seventy items ranging from "power saws" and "golf lessons" to a "free pass for homework" and being "principal for a day" in the "silent auction". I am pleased to say my book managed to get at least three bids as well.

After the silent auction came the real auction, I was amazed that such a small school had so many brilliant items for auction. These ranged from a week in a vacation home for ten (went for $1300)through items like "2 round trip tickets anywhere in US that United flies" (went for $550). In amongst all these there was one item I would have liked to have won, in fact it was the final item of the auction
"Zhu Zhu pets".

For those who do not know these are the "must have... can't get" items for this Christmas. rubbing my hands and counting what money I thought I might manage for this item, also thinking it was last item and people had already spent a fortune (to me anyway) on the other items I thought I had a chance to get this "Giant Hamster fun house and four pets" as a real treat for my children.

Was I wrong!!!!

The bidding went way pas the top end of my spending scale, in the end the item sold for $375. So it looks like an overnight queuing outside some of the stores for Black Friday is my only hope.

At the end of the day, no I did not sell any books, nor did I win any auction items.
But I had fun, I made contacts for possible future signings and I had a good time.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Uk Blog - Poppies to Remember

While the US celebrates Veterans Day, around the world the day to remember those who gave up their lives for us is called "Remembrance Day". Canada like the US holds this day on November 11th. While in the UK the national day of remembrance for those killed in both world wars and later conflicts, on the second Sunday of November

Remembrance Sunday is observed by a two-minute silence at the time of the signature of the armistice with Germany that ended World War I: 11:00 am, 11 November 1918 (although since 1956 the day of commemoration has been the Sunday). There are ceremonies at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, and elsewhere. The day was specifically dedicated by King George V, on 7 November 1919, to the observance of members of the armed forces who were killed during war. Since that time there has also been held a two minutes silence to remember those fallen hero's.

‘Poppies’, symbolic of the blood shed, are sold in aid of war invalids and their defendants.

So why the Poppy?

The ‘Flanders poppies’ have become a cymbal for those who died defending their country originally from the World War I, as per the famous poem by John McCrae.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

John McCrae, 1915.

McCrae was a Canadian who enlisted to help the allies in the war. He was made Medical Officer upon landing in Europe. During a lull in the battle with the nub of a pencil he scratched on a page from his dispatch book. The poem found its way into the pages of Punch magazine. By 1918 the poem was well known throughout the allied world.

I must admit, it came as a bit of a shock to find that the whole idea of using the poppy came from an American woman. Moina Michael and American,adopted the custom of wearing a red poppy in memory of the sacrifices of war and also as a symbol of keeping the faith.

A French women, Madam Guerin, visiting the United States, learned of the custom and took it one step further. When she returned to France she decided to hand make the red poppies and sell them to raise money for the benefit of the orphaned and destitute women and children in war torn areas of France. This tradition spread to Canada, The United States and Australia and is still followed today. The money collected from the sale of poppies goes to fund various veterans programs.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Thursday, November 12, 2009



The dinner plates had been washed by an array of sometimes willing helpers, soft snores and full stomachs meant it was rest time before the evening present giving and more food. Children had been bribed with promises of things to come and were sleeping, or trying to sleep. A young girl sat resting her head on the legs of her sleeping Grandfather. Too excited to sleep, filled with the joys of Christmas, eyes as bright as the lights that twinkled on the tree.

The Grandfather opened his eyes and gave the girl a wink, "You ok love?" he whispered She smiled at the old man, "Yes, Grandfather" she said "I just can't seem to rest" .

The old man patted his lap, "Come here sweetheart and I'll tell you a story" .

Quickly she climbed on her Grandfather lap and nestled into the old man's warm arms. She smiled up at him, "Grandfather, tell me a story of a Christmas when you were a boy" .

A slow smile spread across the old mans face, followed by a flash of pain that filled his eyes with tears for a brief moment. The child did not see the look just snuggled down further, ready to listen to the old mans story.

I must have been just around 8, not much older than you. It was a Christmas like you see on Christmas cards, snow was all around, and for some reason people seemed to be more full of the Christmas spirit than normal. I had been looking forward so much to Christmas. Every day I had rushed home from school and down to the toy shop at the end of the street. There in the front window was a magnificent toy fort full of shiny soldiers.

Each day I pressed my face against the window, checking it was still there, until I knew every soldier, as if they were my own personal friends. I had dragged my parents to the shop on any chance I could, making it no secret just what I wanted for Christmas this year. Each time I got the "Just wait and see." But I couldn't wait, each day I went and checked that the fort was still there, and each day it was. As Christmas grew nearer, I noticed a look of worry on my parent's faces, I did not really understand what was going on. I heard talk of wars and battles, and soldiers seemed to fill the streets. But the only ones I was interested in where in the shop window.

Then one day I ran as normal to the toy shop, but the window was empty, the fort had gone. I ran home with tears streaming down my face, why had this happened? What had I done wrong? I ran sobbing into the house, my Mother came rushing out of the kitchen at hearing me, hands covered with flower from the cake baking. She hugged me, to her as I told her between sobs of the disappearance of the fort. She hugged me again a smile playing round her lips.

I looked past her, and for the first time caught site of my Father. He was dressed in Khaki, a uniform, as a soldier. I did not understand, and he hugged me to him, and tried to explain he had to go away for a while. He laughed and told me he would be back in a week or two. But the look on my Mother's face made me for a moment think something different. Before she too came and hugged me, her face full of smiles.

Two days later my Father went away, before he left he took me to one side.

"Son" he said "I have had a word with Santa Claus, and I think your Christmas will be just fine" .

The next days leading up to Christmas I could hardly sleep. The Christmas Eve came and I did not want to miss a thing, and I could not sleep just as you my Granddaughter. My Mother came and read to me a letter from my Father, and hugged me until my eyes though in the end closed and I slept. I woke in the morning And there it was at the foot of my bed, the Fort, with all the soldiers I knew so well, looking even better than it had done in the shop.

The Grandfather looked down, at the now sleeping girl on his lap. He sighed, glad he did not have to go on with the story. How would a young child like he had been understand about a black bordered telegram he had found his sobbing Mother holding. When he went to tell her about his present. I could not explain to her what it felt like to know his Father would not be coming home.

The Fort had remained untouched and un-played with in his room, until his Mother finally gave it to a friend. He had cried for a week, and that Christmas never happened as far as he was concerned.

He looked again at his sleeping Granddaughter, and gave her a hug. Thank goodness such a thing would never happen again in her lifetime he thought.

She stirred and looked up at him with half closed eyes. "I love you Grandfather" she said.

And an old man cried.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday UK Blog - No Beef from the Queen

This week as the clock ticked by the 1000 days until the Olympics opens in Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Olympic Park in east London to inspect preparations for the 2012 Games. Her Majesty planted the first of four thousand trees on the park site and met workers involved in the project. She walked along a section of what will be the 100-meter track and went to the top of the stands to view the work on the main stadium. Unlike some countries leaders the Queen at a sprightly 83 did not use fashionable transport. Instead her majesty, who will be also be celebrating 60 years on the throne when the Olympics open, traveled to the top of the stadium in a builder's lift, or as one official called it a "shabby cage".

While the Queen made no complaints about the trip, there was plenty to "beef" about at one of her castles. Two Yeoman Warders or "Beef Eaters" from the Tower of London were suspended and a third is under investigation over charges of bullying Moira Cameron, who two years ago became the first female beefeater in the tower's 1,000-year history.

The term Beefeater most comes from the original Wardens' payment in rations that included beef, as well as mutton and veal. Feeding beef to elite troops to make them strong is good nutrition planning for one's army. This may also be connected to the etymology of the word "beefy" meaning strong and large, since the general public would have been unable to afford beef as a regular part of their diet. Retiring as a Yeoman Warder and continuing to eat beef rations would have been seen as a generous reward in a society that may not otherwise have cared for their aging population.

Yeoman Warders began guarding the Tower of London in 1485; today there are 35 Yeomen Warders and one Chief Warder. All warders are retired from the Armed Forces of Commonwealth realms and must be former senior non-commissioned officers with at least 22 years of service.

The Tower of London said in a statement: "We can confirm that three Yeoman Warders are under investigation in response to allegations of harassment. Two have been suspended. We take such allegations very seriously and our formal harassment policy makes it clear that this is totally unacceptable."

It said an investigation was already under way and should conclude within two to three weeks. "Meanwhile, the Tower of London is a close-knit community and, understandably, this is a difficult time for us all."


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Review of Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley

Among the things that young boys love are "trains, firetrucks, diggers and garbage trucks". While Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends fill a young boys need for trains, Bob the Builder and his gang supply diggers and many there are many items to read and share about fire trucks, up until now there has not been a garbage truck hero.

With a seven year old son recovering from having his tonsils and adenoids out earlier this week, it was with joy that I came across Kathleen Crawley's book "Colonel Trash Truck" being part of this months virtual book tour with the Pump Up Your Book Promotion team.

When the book arrived the pleasure in my sons eyes was plain to see, just turning seven the book was just right for him to read with first his mother, then me and finally his older sister. The illustrations by Manuel Conde just enhance the story, and keep the youngster wanting to turn the pages.

The likable, fun loving hero leads the reader through his mission to win the garbage war, cleaning up trash and recycling when he can. It is not only a good read but holds a moral that has your child joining him in his quest as one of the "Clean and green Team"

With the holidays just around the corner, this is a book that all children specially young boys will love


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Throughout my "short romance story" writing days I always wrote a special story for Christmas.

Over the next eight Thursdays, yes eight Thursdays to Christmas... I will share some of these stories with you.


She looked once again out of the window, surely it would snow, and it had to snow! It would not be Christmas without snow. Her Mother had told her earlier that day that there were snow clouds over head. But still there was no snow. She turned from the window, and looked at the room. Christmas decorations were in place, but somehow there was no sparkle, no Christmas spirit, it was as if the whole room was sad. As sad as was her Mother she thought.

At that moment her Mother came in the room, she tried to raise a smile to her daughter, but the sadness behind her eyes showed through instead.

"Still no snow Rachel?" she said, trying hard to smile.

Something she had not been able to do since that day 6 months ago, when she had received a letter saying her husband had been lost while exploring some small backwater of the Amazon or some such place. He was always off somewhere or other on his geographical surveys. But that had been the last she had heard, all these months now here was Christmas, and just her and her daughter.

"No Mummy." replied her daughter, wanting to cry out at the sadness, and hurt she sensed in her Mother’s voice. Though Rachel was only 7, she had tried so hard to make this Christmas better, but she could never make up for the sadness of being just the two of them.

"Rachel dear" said her Mother "Can you go down to the store, and try and get some holly so we can decorate the front door?"

Rachel gave her Mother a hug and put on her coat and headed for the store. She looked again at the skies, "Please let it snow" she whispered,
"Anything to make this a special Christmas."

She entered the store; it was like entering another world, a fairy tale world of Christmas. The whole place was full of sparkling lights and glittering tinsel. Happiness filled the air. She sighed, thinking of the sadness in her own home. A smiling face toped by a red Christmas style hat greeted her. It was Mr Reggus, the owner of the store.

Rachel thought he must be related to Santa himself, so much did his smiling red face and bushy white beard, remind her on dear old Santa.

"Well little Lady," he always called her little Lady "What can I do for you?"

She smiled; Mr Reggus always made her smile.

"Mr Reggus, my mother would like some holly to decorate our front door please." She always tried to be polite.

Mr Reggus smiled "Certainly little Lady."

He went out the back of the shop, and soon came back with several sprigs of holly, which he carefully wrapped in paper, so she would not hurt herself. As he went to hand her the parcel, he stopped. "Hmmm you've got the holly, but what about the mistletoe?" Rachel gave Mr Reggus a quizzical look.

"What is mistletoe?" she asked.

Mr. Reggus laughed, and told her all about the special power of Mistletoe and how there was magic in it that opened to anybody who kissed underneath it. He winked and produced a sprig, which he added to the parcel of holly.

She ran back to her waiting mother, she looked up as she went into the home, still no snow.

Her mother took the package of Holly and started to make her decorations for the door. Suddenly she started, coming across the mistletoe.
"What is this?" she asked her daughter.

"Mr. Reggus gave it to me." her daughter replied "He said it was Christmas magic."

Her mother turned away not wanting her daughter to see the tears in her eyes, if only she thought and let go a little sob. Her daughter went on, "Please Mummy, Mr. Reggus said we had to hang it above the door."

Her mother tried to smile and wiped away the tears. "Of course dear, we will put it above the door right now". She lifted her daughter and helped her pin the mistletoe above the door, the kissed her daughter under it. "There sweetheart, a magical Christmas to you."

The rest of the day seemed to fly by and soon it was time for her to go to bed.

Christmas morn dawned and she woke to find a Christmas stocking on her bed, full of toys and goodies. She rushed into her mother's room to show her what Santa had left her, but her Mother was not there, the bed was crumpled, but no sight of her Mother could she find.

Rachel went back to her room, got dressed and went downstairs, the lights were on and under the Christmas tree were a whole heap of presents. She wanted to open them, but was too worried about her Mother. It was Christmas, and she should be here to share it with her. She opened the door, and there under the mistletoe was her Mother, but not just her Mother, there was a stranger, a man, and he was kissing her mother. She stopped and her Mother turned, hearing her daughter behind her. A smile lit her face, something Rachel had not seen for a long time.

"Rachel darling," she held out her hand "come here, there is somebody I want you to meet." She took her daughter to a smiling man who only moments before had been kissing her Mother.

"Rachel darling" smiled her Mother "This is your father, he has come home." She sobbed this time in happiness.

Rachel's eyes lit up as she recognized the man, it really was her father, he had come home, gently he picked her up hugging her to him, and as he did so, soft showers of snow fell from his hair onto her face. These melted with the tears of happiness that fell from Rachel's eyes.

And so as in all good stories, it has come to a happy ending, and the magic that was Christmas really did happen.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

While in the USA fireworks are a big part of July 4th celebrations, across the pond in England, tomorrow November 5th the skies will be filled with aerial explosions.

Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated in Britain annually on November 5th. The event is accompanied by firework displays, the lighting of bonfires and the ceremonial effigy-burning of one Guy Fawkes. T
Well I remember when i was young, kids used to make a effigy of Guy Fawkes and stand outside subway and train stations asking "Penny for the Guy". Collecting the odd bit of change to help raise money for their fireworks.

Of course some of these effigy's for burning are a little bit more series than those we used to make. Such as this one from the Lewis parade.

In 1605, thirteen young men planned to blow up
the Houses of Parliament. Among them was
Guy Fawkes, Britain's most notorious traitor.

After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer.

A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. Catesby felt that violent action was warranted. Indeed, the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists.

To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder - and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords.

But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack, including some people who even fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th. Was the letter real?

The warning letter reached the King, and the King's forces made plans to stop the conspirators.

Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed.

It's unclear if the conspirators would ever have been able to pull off their plan to blow up the Parliament even if they had not been betrayed. Some have suggested that the gunpowder itself was so old as to be useless. Since Guy Fawkes and the other conspirators got caught before trying to ignite the powder, we'll never know for certain.

Even for the period which was notoriously unstable, the Gunpowder Plot struck a very profound chord for the people of England. In fact, even today, the reigning monarch only enters the Parliament once a year, on what is called "the State Opening of Parliament". Prior to the Opening, and according to custom, the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster. Nowadays, the Queen and Parliament still observe this tradition.

On the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.

Some of the English have been known to wonder, in a tongue in cheek kind of way, whether they are celebrating Fawkes' execution or honoring his attempt to do away with the government.

Today, one of the ceremonies which accompanies the opening of a new session of Parliament is a traditional searching of the basement by the Yeoman of the Guard. It has been said that for superstitious reasons, no State Opening of Parliament has or ever will be held again on November 5th. This, however, is a fallacy since on at least one occasion (in 1957), Parliament did indeed open on November 5th. The actual cellar employed for the storage of the gunpowder in 1605 by the conspirators was damaged by fire in 1834 and totally destroyed during the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster in the Nineteenth Century.

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes Night is not solely a British celebration. The tradition was also established in the British colonies by the early American settlers and actively pursued in the New England States under the name of "Pope Day" as late as the Eighteenth Century. Today, the celebration of Guy Fawkes and his failed plot remains a tradition in such places as Newfoundland (Canada) and some areas of New Zealand, in addition to the British Isles.

Where I was living before moving over to America, (Sussex) Bonfire festivities on the 5th are a major inter town event. With each local town production it's bonfire night the main center being in the town of Lewes. where huge parades pass through the town before ehading for the sites of the various groups "bonfires".

Lewes Bonfire Night

The town's most important annual event is Lewes Bonfire Night, this event not only marks the date of the uncovering of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, but also commemorates the memory of the seventeen Protestant martyrs.

The current celebrations take the form of a series of torchlit processions through the town. The event is organized by the local bonfire societies, under the auspices of the Lewes Bonfire Council. Lewes itself currently has seven bonfire societies (Nevill Juveniles is a children's society and holds its celebrations a week or two before 5th November; Southover, which disbanded in 1985, reformed in 2005) and a number of nearby towns have their own bonfire societies. The other five local bonfire societies from the town (Cliffe, Borough, Commercial Square, South Street and Waterloo) each proceed on their own route accompanied by a number of other societies from the neighboring towns.


BARRY EVA (Storyheart)

Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"