The lost art of vehicle maintenance

January 15, 2018

A week before Christmas 2017 I found that I was unable to open the boot door of my Nissan Note.  I googled this problem and found out that a number of others had experienced the same difficulty and that this was a well known problem with Nissan’s.  The suggested solution was to lower the back seats, climb into the boot space, prise off the door panel and release the door mechanically.  It then seemed that there was probably something wrong with the wiring to the electronic lock which needed addressing.

Years ago I would have tried to fix it myself, but I feel those days are long gone as I am not as agile or as confident as I once was of working on cars in confined spaces.  So I phoned a local dealer and discovered that they were all booked up and was also told that I needed to pay them £50 to diagnose the problem.  It seemed to me I had already diagnosed the problem.  The door was jammed and it should not take a specialised dealer mechanic long to fix it.

However, modern cars are different animals to the vehicles I drove twenty or even fifteen years ago.  They are electronically controlled moving machines regulated by micro computerised systems.  Car doors used to be opened by simple lock and keys, but now they are mostly unlocked, as is the case of my Nissan, by pressing a button on a key fob which can be done several meters away.  These convenient innovations are useful as usually a noise sounds and the indicator lights flash, which make it easier to locate a vehicle in a busy car park that.  Useful, that is until something goes wrong.

In my motorcycling days in the 1970s and 1980s, I was able to fix most minor mechanical problems myself.  Spares were readily available and there were printed manuals that could guide your way (For those, interested check out my ebook Bike Travelling Man: a life with two motorcycles at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W1S92K8).  But modern vehicles are governed by computerised engine management systems and on-board communications gadgets link your mobile telephone and satellite navigation devices to controls on the dashboard.  It is small wonder that when something seemingly simple goes wrong the average motorist has not got a clue how to fix it.  Thus, it seems that the vehicle owner who is readily able to repair his own means of transport is now a creature of the past.

Keith Jahans

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Book Piracy – Threat or Opportunity?

December 12, 2017

My first thought when I discovered that my books were being pirated was that someone was stealing from me.  One site even claimed that they had over 2000 downloads of one of my ebooks.  That is several times more than I have given away with Amazon Kindle free promotions.  But they could have, and probably were, lying as after all they had been behaving dishonestly.  I emailed them a complaint and they seemed to have desisted as I can no longer find it on their site when searching via Google.

Such sites are dangerous to download from as it is possible that any downloads might contain viruses that could at best disrupt your computer or at worse steal your encrypted data/passwords.  I even found the black and white cover of my novel “Cogrill’s Mill” on a colouring page website.  Now that was something I did not expect and made me think that I was possibly missing out on a promotion possibility.

Everyone expects that their hard format books will be lent or given away to charities at some point.  I have given my own titles away or sold them at vastly reduced prices as part of promotions so I suppose I can look on pirated copies as another means of book promotion.  My only request is that someone who reads a book they have acquired this way, and have enjoyed it, will seek to reward the author for entertaining them by buying a legitimate copy from an approved retailer.  After all that is the way some of us seek to earn a living.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press


Book Review – Forget Me Not: An anthology of short stories by Kitty Campanile

October 13, 2017

Writing short stories is a different art to the novel and difficult to do, but Kitty Campanile is an expert.  There are some real gems here.  Because they are so short these are ideal if you are looking for a distraction between tasks or are a car, train or plane passenger.  Each one is a delight and well worth the read.

Keith Jahans

Forget Me Not is sold by Amazon and is available
as a paperback and as a Kindle ebook

 


Book Review – The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald: Reader’s Guide on Video. Narrated by Robert Crayola.

October 10, 2017

Having read The Great Gatsby and not being sure that it is really so great, I went online to see if I could find out more about it and found this Reader’s Guide on Amazon.  It is really designed for someone who is studying American literature but I thought it might be useful in pointing out important aspects of the novel I might have missed.

Indeed there were parts of the book that I had overlooked or not considered vital to the plot but overall I think I got the essence of the story.  It did not encourage me to go back and read it again but I think it can be valuable viewing such a guide to see if there really are ingredients there that persuade people it is a major literary work.  There are many other guides available if you care to search for them and this example is worth looking at.

Keith Jahans

The Great Gatsby Reader’s Guide
on Video is available from Amazon


Book Review – The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald.

October 4, 2017

I have heard this referred to as “The great American novel” and yet until now I had never read it.  But I had seen two of the movies based on the book, the 1949 version staring Alan Ladd and the more recent 2013 version with Leonardo DiCaprio.  I found both unmemorable except for the ending.  I was put off reading the novel because of its reputation of being a classic as I thought I would find it too complex and long winded for me to follow.  Then I heard that it was only just over 100 pages long so I thought I would give it a go.

The book is famous for its descriptions and I must admit that they are superb.  There is not a great deal of action but there is a great deal of the characters talking about each other and principally about Gatsby.  The story is seen through the eyes of one Nick Carraway, a young man who works in New York’s Bond market, and who lives in a small house next to Gatsby’s huge mansion where Gatsby is renowned for holding lavish parties.  Thus all the descriptions and the motives attributed to the characters are made in Carraway’s own words.  This means that the reader is entirely dependant on his judgement about the validity of the events in the novel as they unfold.

The book is very readable and the plot held my attention right to the end even though I knew the outcome having seen the films.  However, I am yet to be convinced about the greatness of the work and if it indeed it is worthy to be considered a great American classic.  But please read it and decide for yourself.

Keith Jahans
Peatmore Press


The Great Gatsby is available in hardback, paperback and as an ebook through most book stores


Book Review – All Through The Night by M.P. Wright

September 13, 2017

This is a crime thriller in the tradition of John Buchan’s 39 Steps.  The protagonist JT Ellington takes off into the 1960’s West Country countryside, with a little girl in his charge, pursued by violent men who want to do them harm.  He is a black Private Detective, a migrant from the Caribbean, working the streets of Bristol with little knowledge of the terrain to which they escape but well aware of the endemic racism in the environment where he works.

The author has a sound knowledge of the geography of the city and countryside of the time which his characters inhabit.  Being a Bristolian myself and brought up in the area of that time I am aware of the places in the picture he paints.  The characters and plot are compelling to follow.  This is a story which can be described as West Country Noir and is certainly well worth a read.

 

Keith Jahans
Peatmore Press

All Through the Night is published by Black & White Publishing
and is available as an ebook, hardcover, paperback and audibook

 


Lest we forget

September 7, 2017

It is difficult for us of a different generation to imagine what it must have been like to live through the days of the early 1940s in Britain when the country was so nearly overrun by Nazi tyranny.  But I was so pleased when talking to my Mother over the past few months that she decided to write down her experiences of that time.  It is a powerful story tinged with sadness, humour and romance.  I have been fortunate to have been able to publish my own writings in recent years, so when I read what she had written there was no doubt in my mind that I should help her publish it.

I always knew she was a fine writer because of the letters she wrote to me when I was away from home as a child and again when I left to seek out a career as a young man.  Even though she left school at 14 she is a highly educated woman able to adapt to learning new skills, and this shows in her writing.  Thus, Peatmore Press is proud to publish her wartime story which is now available as an ebook on the Amazon Kindle store by following the link below.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

 

Read it here