Umbridge – episode seven

March 22, 2018

Here is the final episode as promised.  Many thanks to all of you who have submitted comments.  Some have enjoyed the story others haven’t.  It has proved to be a useful exercise and I have learnt a lot about the limitations of my writing.

Keith Jahans (aka Jack Lindsey)

An everyday story of extraordinary country folk

The story so far:-

Young John Farmer arrives home from University to find that all is not well at Rookfield Farm.  Both the prize Boar, Quinton, and his Father, Loon E Farmer have contracted Triple X Lemonade Disease.  This is caused by a rare virus which renders the victim unable to partake of Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter.  In fact the sufferer will not eat or drink anything except lemonade.  The only known cure is to drink pints of shandy and then to slowly decrease the lemonade content.  Quinton is shot by the Ministry of Agriculture under the Triple X Lemonade Eradication Scheme.  Then a few days later at tea time, a fire breaks out in the pig-sty and John tells Grace, the fifteen vicar’s daughter, to enter the sty and try to save the new boar, Quinton the Second, while he and his father try to put out the fire.

Now read on:-

It was three days later and Tom Mellors, gamekeeper to Lord and Lady Chasterly, was leaning against the bar of the ‘Chick Inn’ talking to the land lord, Jack Door.  Tom’s faithful ferret, Gip, was sitting beside him on a bar-stool, eating a beef burger.  The door opened and in walked John Farmer, carrying his rucksack.  He approached them, opened his rucksack, took out some empty beer and lemonade bottles and set them down on the bar.  “I wish to return these, Jack,” he said.

     “Aye, Lad,” Jack replied taking up the bottles.  “I’ll get you yer change.”

     “‘Ow do, John, said Tom, “I was sorry to ‘ear ’bout the tragedy at Rookfield Farm.”

     “Yes,” replied John, “Grace was all right but Quinton the Second died.”

     “Aye, poor Quinton the Second,” remarked Jack gravely as he handed John his change, “roasted before ‘is time.”

     “Yes,” said John nodding his head sadly, “and without apple sauce too.”

     “Aye,” agreed Tom, “but I ‘eard tell that Lord Chasterly ‘as let yer ‘ave another boar ooh also ‘appens to be an offspring of the original Quinton.”

     “That’s right, “John replied, “it was very kind of him.  We’re going to call him Quinton the Third.”

     “Are you sure that Quinton be a proper name for a hog,” remarked Jack, “it don’t appear to ‘ave brought yer much luck.”

     “We like it,” replied John.  He pocketed his change,  “Well, I must be off now,” he said.  “Grace is taking part in a mud wrestling contest over in Doomsbury this afternoon and I promised to watch her.”

     “Aye, cheerio Lad, said Tom.

     They watched John take up his empty rucksack and leave, closing the door behind him.  Once he had gone Jack remarked, “I ‘eard that ‘e an’ young Grace Ourchurch were going steady.”

     “Aye,” Tom replied, “‘E be a bright boy, that Grace be worth three tractors an’ fifteen cart ‘orses put together.”

     “I ‘eard on the radio this morning that the Ministry of Agriculture ‘ave completely eradicated Triple X Lemonade Disease,” said Jack.

     “Aye,” Tom remarked, “they be clever people that work for the Ministry of Agriculture.”

     At that moment the door opened and in walked Loon E Farmer.  He approached the bar where the two men were looking at him in astonishment.  “A pint of Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter please, Jack!” he announced loudly.

     “Certainly, Loon!” Jack exclaimed and quickly filled a glass from one of the pumps behind the bar and then handed it to Loon.

     Loon gripped the glass in his hand, blew the froth off the top of the beer and drained the glass in one gulp.  Then he put the glass down on the bar, smiled and said loudly, “Same again please, Jack!”

     “Loon!” exclaimed Tom, “you be well again!”

     “Aye,” said Loon as he watched the golden brown liquid issue from the pump into his glass, “all be well that ends well!”

     Suddenly, the door flew open and in rushed Mrs Farmer.  “Loon come quickly!” she cried.  “It’s Maggie, our best Jersey Milker.  She thinks she’s a teapot!”

THE END

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Umbridge – episode six

March 15, 2018

An everyday story of extraordinary country folk

The story so far:-

Young John Farmer arrives home from University to find that all is not well at Rookfield Farm.  Both the prize Boar, Quinton, and his Father, Loon E Farmer have contracted Triple X Lemonade Disease.  This is caused by a rare virus which renders the victim unable to partake of Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter.  In fact the sufferer will not eat or drink anything except lemonade.  The only known cure is to drink pints of shandy and then to slowly decrease the lemonade content. Quinton is shot by the Ministry of Agriculture under the Triple X Lemonade Eradication Scheme and John mistakenly buys a sow to replace Quinton at the local market.

Now read on:-

Two days had passed and John was endeavouring to repair one of the many broken fences which surrounded Rookfield Farm.  He was working with his back to the lane in the act of planting a new post in the muddy ground.

     “John!”  The cry came from behind him.  It was Grace Ourchurch, the fifteen stone vicar’s daughter.  She was wearing a bright yellow summer dress and carrying a basket under her arm.  “Hello, John,” she said.  “I’m off to pick flowers in the woods.  Would you like to come?”

     John looked uncomfortable and fidgeted with the post.  Eventually he said, “I’m sorry, Grace.  I can’t.  Father is still not well and there’s a lot of work to do.  Also I upset him by buying a sow instead of a new boar.

     “Oh dear,” said Grace sympathetically.

     “However, we managed to swop the sow for a young boar we sold to Lord Chasterly a couple of months ago.  The boar is one of Quinton’s progeny.  We’re going to call him Quinton the Second.”

     “Oh that is good news,” said Grace.

     “Yes,” he said.  Once more he looked uncertain and hesitated, looking at the ground.  Then he looked up and said, “I’ve learnt a lot of interesting new things these last few days.”

     “Oh, what sort of things, John?” she asked.

     “Again he looked uncomfortable and blushed.  “Oh, it doesn’t matter now,” he said and then added bashfully, “Grace, would you like to come to tea this afternoon?”

     “Oh, John, I’d love to.”

     “Oh,” he said still uncertain, “I’ll see you about five o’clock then.”

     A little later that day, John sat with Grace and his parents around the kitchen table at Rookfield Farm.  A large plate of bread and dripping stood at the centre of the table.  At its side was a large brown enamel teapot.  John and Grace sat opposite each other across the oblong table, with its checked cloth, with Loon and his wife at either end.  However, the table was only set for three and Loon’s place was empty except for a pint of shandy.  He looked at it with disgust, picked it up and put it to his lips.

     “Loon,” hissed his wife, “what about Grace!”

     Loon looked puzzled.  “She can ‘elp ‘erself,” he said.

     “I don’t mean her,” she whispered, “you know.”  She put her hands together.

     Loon realised what she meant and followed suit, closing his eyes.  Then he hesitated and opened them again.  “Grace,” he said, “seeing as you be ther Reverent Phil’s daughter, would you like to say Grace, Grace?”

     This embarrassing scene was suddenly interrupted by a loud banging at the door.  Loon’s wife opened it and in rushed Ma Stitis, the daily help.  “Mr Farmer!” she cried.  “The pig-sty be on fire!”

     Loon leapt to his feat and cried, “John, you know what we must do!”

     “Yes, father!” he shouted as he got to his feet.  “You and I will try and put out the fire.  Grace, you must go into the sty and save Quinton the Second!”

Will Grace save Quinton the Second?  Will the Farmers survive this latest ordeal?  Will Loon ever again be able to drink Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter?  Find out next week in the final episode of Umbridge.


Umbridge – episode five

March 8, 2018

An everyday story of extraordinary country folk

The story so far:-

Young John Farmer arrives home from University to find that all is not well at Rookfield Farm.  Both the prize Boar, Quinton, and his Father, Loon E Farmer, are unwell and will not touch Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter.  In fact neither will eat nor drink anything except lemonade.  The cause has been identified by MAFF Scientists as being due to a rare virus known as Triple X Lemonade Disease.  The only known cure is to drink pints of shandy and then to slowly decrease the lemonade content.  John obtains a supply of Old Bart’s and Lemonade from the ‘Chick Inn’.  Unfortunately however, Quinton is shot by the Ministry of Agriculture under the Triple X Lemonade Eradication Scheme.

Now read on:-

It was a week later and John was leaning against a pen at a large market near the village of Umbridge.  He was surveying an enormous pig.  His rucksack stood on the ground by his feet.

     “Yoo Hoo, John!”  The cry came from behind him and he turned.  It was Grace Ourchurch, the fifteen stone vicar’s daughter.  She strode up to him.  “Hello, John,” she said.  “I heard about Quinton.  I’m very sorry.”

     “Yes,” replied John, “it was very sad.  Mother was very upset.  What are you doing here?”

     “Oh just looking.  I like animals.  What are you doing here?”

     “I’m thinking of buying a new pig to place Quinton,” he replied.  “In fact that one there looks a likely specimen.”

     “It’s certainly a fine pig,” agreed Grace.

     “However, I must make sure first,” said John.  He stooped, opened his rucksack and took out a bottle of lemonade.  He opened the bottle, leaned over the pen and offered the contents to the pig.  The animal gave a shriek and rushed to the far end of the pen where it cowered in the corner.  John replaced the cap, opened the rucksack and replaced the bottle.  Next he took out a bottle of Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter, opened the bottle and again offered it to the pig.  This time the animal gave a grunt of pleasure, rushed over and began drinking it avidly.

     “Good,” said John, “this pig certainly hasn’t got Triple X Lemonade Disease.”

     “Oh, John,” said Grace in admiration.  “You are clever.”

     “Yes, I know,” he agreed and added, “Oh, Grace, I do love to hear you say that.”

     “Well, you are clever, John.”

     “I know,” he said smugly.

     Later that day, John was returning to the pig-sty at Rookfield Farm and making his way towards the house when he saw his Father coming towards him across the yard.  He had a glass of shandy in his hand.

     “Father!” exclaimed John in surprise.  “You’re up!”

     “Aye, Lad,” replied Loon.  “Doctor says that wi’ any luck, I could be drinking lemon tops by next week.”

     “That’s good news,” said John and then added excitedly.  “Father, I’ve bought a new replacement for Quinton.”

     “‘Ave yer now.  “I’d best take a look at ‘im.”

     John followed his father to the pig-sty.  “Careful, don’t get too near we don’t want him catching anything.”

     Loon leaned over the wall of the sty and surveyed the pig with a professional eye.  Suddenly his face went bright red.  “You dim **** !!!!”  He exploded angrily.  “I thought you was to buy a boar.  That there’s a sow!”

     “What’s the difference, Father?” asked John.

Can it really be true that, despite a University education, John does not know the facts of life?  Will this affect his relationship with Grace?  Have we heard the last of Triple X Lemonade Disease?  Find out next month in the next exciting instalment of Umbridge.

 


Umbridge – episode two

February 15, 2018

An everyday story of extraordinary country folk

Episode Two

The story so far:-

Young John Farmer arrives home from University to find that all is not well at Rookfield Farm.  The prize boar Quinton, is unwell and will not touch its daily ration of Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter.  In fact, the pig will not eat or drink anything except lemonade.  Later that day, in the public bar of the ‘Chick Inn’, John is horrified to find that his father, Loon E Farmer, is unable to drink his pint of Old Bart’s beer and instead asks for a glass of lemonade.

Now read on:-

It was three days later and Jack Door, the landlord of ‘The Chick Inn’, was back behind the pumps when John Farmer entered the public bar carrying a large empty rucksack on his shoulder that he set down on the bar.

            “Good morning, Jack,” he said.  “Could I have four pints of Old Bart’s and four bottles of lemonade to take away please?”

            “Certainly, lad.  And ‘ow be things at Rookfield Farm?”

            “Oh, things are a lot better.  We’ve heard from the Lab and they’ve found out what’s wrong with Quinton.  Apparently what he’s got is caused by a very rare virus called Triple X Lemonade Disease.  Mr Marriot says that the only way to cure it is to drink pints of shandy and then to slowly decrease the lemonade content.”

            Jack scratched his head.  “Aye, they be clever people those scientists at that Lab.  And ‘ow’s yer Dad?”

            “Oh, he’s at home in bed.  Mother says that once we’ve cured Quinton we can then start treating Father.”

            Jack nodded in agreement.  “That be very wise.  It would be a shame to loose a fine hog like Quinton.  Is that beer and lemonade for ‘im?”

            “That’s right could you put it in the rucksack for me?”

            John left the pub with the laden rucksack on his back and started along the road towards Rookfield Farm.

            “John!”  The cry came from behind him and he turned.  It was Grace, the fifteen stone daughter of the Reverent Philip Ourchurch, on her new bicycle.  She rode up to him and stopped.  “Hello, John,” she said.  “I heard you were home.  I thought you didn’t recognise me.”  John stood and stared.  She smiled and said, “I was a little girl when you left home.  Now I’ve grown up.”

            John swallowed hard.  “You certainly look amazing, Grace,” he remarked.

            “Do you like my new bicycle?” she asked.

            “It looks very nice.”  He paused and seemed uncertain.  “Actually, Grace, I wonder if I dare ask you something?”

            “Certainly, John.  What is it?”

            “It’s rather embarrassing really.”

            “Go on, John,” said Grace.  “You can tell me.”

What does John want to ask Grace?  Is there romance in the air or does he simply want a go on her new bike?  Will Quinton and Loon survive the dreaded Triple X Lemonade Disease.  Find out in the next exciting installment of UMBRIDGE.


Umbridge – the birth of a literary career

February 8, 2018

In the early 1980s, I and a colleague started a workplace newsletter at the then MAFF Central Veterinary Laboratory where we both worked.  The CVL changed its name in the 1990s, MAFF has become part Defra and the CVL is now a UK Government Agency.  To fill the scant newsletter content and to assure readers that the newsletter would be published each month, I started a quiz and a regular comic serial.  The serial had a veterinary agriculture theme and was inspired by the long running BBC radio soap, The Archers.

The serial developed a cult following among some of its readers and some years later I published it on various writing websites under the penname of Jack Lindsey.  Later it inspired the publication of my first novel, Cogrill’s Mill.  Followers of my blog and those of you who have bought and enjoyed Cogrill’s Mill might like to read the work that inspired my first forays into publishing so I have posted Umbridge’s first episode below.  If it proves popular, I propose to post the remaining six future episodes each week over the next six weeks.

Keith Jahans


Umbridge – episode one

February 8, 2018


An everyday story of extraordinary country folk

It was a bright sunny day and the birds were singing.  Young John Farmer got off the bus at the gate to Rookfield Farm and made his way across the muck-filled yard, a suitecase in either hand.  Little did he know what lay in store for him.

            The farm-house door was opened by Mrs Stitis the daily-help.  “Why, Master John!” she exclaimed joyously.

            “Hello, Ma,” said John.  “I’m home from university.  Is Mother home?”

            “She be out back strangling the chickens.  Come in !”

            Meanwhile, down at the pig-sty, John’s father, Loon E Farmer, was examining his prize boar Quinton, with the local veterinary surgeon.  “It be like this, Mr Marriot,” he was saying, “‘E’s off ‘is food an’ won’t perform wi’ the gilts.  Not only that – ‘E won’t touch ‘is daily ration of Old Bart’s Special Bitter.  ‘E won’t drink nothing but lemonade.”

            “I don’t understand it,” said the vet scratching his head, “but I’ve taken a couple of samples and will send them off to MAFF.  If anyone knows what’s wrong they will!”

            “I s’pose it could be worse.  ‘E could be drinkin’ larger.”

Marriot left in his car, whistling the tune to ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, and Loon Farmer made his way to the farmhouse.  When he entered he was greeted by his wife and son.   “Look, Loon,” beamed his wife, “our John is home!”

            “Hello, Father.  I’ve got a first-class degree in Agriculture with distinction.  I can be a great help to you on the farm!”

            “Aye lad, tomorrow you can scrap the muck off the yard and then you can feed the pigs.  Come!  Let’s be down to the pub while your mother gets the dinner.”

            A little while later, Jack Door the landlord of the ‘Chick Inn’, was pouring both father and son two pints of Old Bart’s Tripple X Special Bitter.  Loon gripped one of the glasses in his hand, blew the froth off the top of the beer and took a sip.

            Suddenly, his face went white and his hand shook as he put the glass back down on the bar,

            “Are you all right, Father?” asked John with concern.

Loon could scarcely speak and when he did his voice was very faint.  “Jack,” he said, “could I have a glass of lemonade?”

            “My God!”  exclaimed Jack in horror.  “Loon!  What be wrong?”

Yes, what is wrong?  Will MAFF find the answer?  Does anyone realise the full significance of Ma Stitis on Rookfield Farm.  Find out next month in the next exciting episode of Umbridge!

 


Book Promotion – getting the price right

October 19, 2015

For a publisher setting the price of a paperback book is not complicated. The cost of printing and distributing is easily calculated and all that remains is to add a sufficient sum to gain enough profit from which to pay the bookseller, the author’s royalty and running costs. But, the situation with ebooks is more complicated.

The first Peatmore Press book, Cogrill’s Mill, was first published as a pdf in the days when ebooks were unheard of. There was little in the way of production costs as the novel was available as a download from the Company website (www. Peatmore .com) or distributed by CD. Now so many multinational companies such as Amazon and Apple have entered the ebook market and, since the biggest seller of its ebooks is Amazon, the Cogrill’s Mill ebook is now exclusively offered for sale through the Kindle bookstore. Thus practically zero production costs are incurred by this publisher. Amazon take 65% of the book sales, the remaining 35% goes to the publisher / author.

In the days when it was available as a download the price was set at £4.00 which was half the cost of printing and distributing the paperback version and was considered to be a good rule of thumb. A search of the Amazon bookstore has shown that the ebooks on sale there vary greatly in price. Amazon seem to benefit greatly from the number of free ebooks on its Kindle store but a small publisher is only able to offer its books for free in a promotional deal for a limited time.

It is said that offering a book at too low a price can devalue it in the eyes of both the seller and buyer. Thus setting the value may affect sales. With this in mind, Peamore Press has decided to bring the charge for the Cogrill’s Mill ebook into line with best selling books of a similar length in a similar genre. It now remains to be seen if this will help its sales or whether the price will have to be altered again.

Keith Jahans
Peatmore Press

cover

Cogrill’s Mill by Jack Lindsey is available as a paperback from
http://peatmore.com/cogrills.htm
or as a Kindle ebook from
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cogrills-Mill-Jack-Lindsey-ebook/dp/B005NACKBY