Thursday, September 6, 2018

Driving through 'YESTER-YEAR.'

I took the long road to Auckland today ... the eastern approach; the one that kisses the Firth of Thames and sneaks through hills and valleys, dances alongside sparkling streams, before entering the gates of the sprawling city at Howick.
One can just make out the distant Sky Tower, casting false promises to desperate punters, while acting as a pointer to travellers to the heart of the city.     I was embraced by the Eastern suburbs, realizing that two years had passed since I had ventured that way, trying to get a glimpse of my sister's first home, before the 'village' reminded me of the way Howick 'used to be.'                                           The Eastern route continued until I came to the bridge controlled by traffic lights, changing according to traffic flow, relying on good observation as to the traffic flow. Get it wrong at your peril!                                 A few tears threatened as I approached Ellerslie ... The home of Pat ... now gone, but not forgotten.  I veered west, passing my one and only experience of apartment living. There was no pull ... no regrets ... but the Onehunga township was a nostalgic slap. I felt it ... a glow ... a sense of a good friend greeting me. Then ... down at my beloved Bay ... the fulcrum of many memories, usually including PERDY, my Jack Russell and the friends I met because if her ... they were not at the Bay. I could hardly blame them on this bleak day. I miss them. But I needed to be elsewhere.
Time constraints: They get in the way of connecting with people I miss. Next time, I promise myself. I note the beautiful 'improvements' at the Bay, before continuing to my 'appointment,' for lunch with 'R' on that most gastronomic of roads ... Dominion Rd. I am where I feel so content ... with a person so part of me. Sure, we are no longer in Auckland. I saw not one familiar face ... but despite the changes ... I know that this crazy city will always be part of me.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Hey Brits! How about reading my blogs and books!

I don't do this very often, but hey ... every so often I see that my blogs are read by punters in 'The Olde Country ... Mother England, old Blimey .. you choose the handle!

Go back five generations and that's where I can claim 'heritage,' along with a bit of Scottish blood. I am told that the Colemans (Coulman) may have originated from Ireland. Maybe the Ancestry kit that looks at my DNA will throw further light on the matter. Apparently a few of the latter left Ireland and settled in Kent and from there ...not sure, but my forebears came from the Midlands, and my dear mum had some contact with them.

If any of my English 'family have anything to tell me about 'that family that left England, then give us a yell out!

In the meantime, keep reading blogs, but better still ... go to my web page and follow the links from 'Neil's Books' and download them to your devices. My books are on many platforms, so it's not hard to access them. Please share this post with your mates and my 'extended ... very extended,' family. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A message from 'Outer space!'

It seems my blogs are read in many countries. I think that about 40 plus countries have people reading my stories, theories and other 'utterances.'  Imagine my delight, when I see a new country ... oops ... backtrack! I thought I had a pretty good handle on geographic locations. Hell, I'm not like those educationally deficient Americans who can not recognise countries other than thier own, on a map, when interviewed by various Youtube or other media outlets.
Today, I had a rather unusual new reader. I have never heard of a country called 'Unknown region!' I welcome this new reader ... I think! Could be a bit dicey, don't ya reckon?! Wherefore art thou, dear reader?

A 'BLOG too Far.'

What do I do with nearly 3000 blogs? Yes, over the last 6 years, I have published nearly 3000 blogs. At first, people hardly read them and I was lucky if a dozen or so people actually stumbled upon them. I considered a hit rate of 30 a well-supported blog.
Then about six months ago, I noticed a change. It became unusual for a blog to have less than 100 hits and not unusual for 500 people to read one. I observed a trend, with some subject matters, achieving a better rate. Everyone writes about TRUMP and yes, so did I. Politics, in general, is a genre that I entered and whilst I achieved a fair number of hits, I never made a major breakthrough (within my particular 'blog-world')
Then, there was my Bariatric Surgery journey. I wrote about my experience. I suspect it was a way of me making sense of that dramatic time. I even started a Bariatric Surgery Support group on Facebook, reaching nearly 14,000 members, worldwide. LIke my other blogs, I linked them all to my webpage and FB.
There are other 'themes' running through my blogs, including my move from the big city (Auckland, NZ) and semi-retiring to a more gentle life in a small town (Thames), and all changes that entailed.
I used my blogs to 'push' my books. Firs,t there was 'Coastal Yarns,' followed by 'Roskill,' and 'Talk To Me.' I encouraged people to download or buy hard-copy. Being a self-published author is hard work. Even though one of my books (Talk To me) reached the finals of The Ngaio Crime Writers Awards, getting sales was difficult, so I persisted with my blogs in the hope that things would change.
Once again I entered another competition and reached the final ten for a Publishing deal for the first book in a three-part series. (Sorry---I can't say the title until the results are finalized I'm not sure where that will go.
I have decided to publish my blogs in themes. The first one will be 'PERDY ... Somebody to love! Yes, I shall gather the best blogs together about my crazy, loveable Jack Russell ... with pictures. I shall rework them and have them proofread and edited. I shall add a commentary to bring the stories together. My aim is to have it our within a month .. on Amazon. Watch this space for the release date. It won't be expensive ... probably only a dollar per download. The length ... about 120 pages with pictures.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

I've been thinking!

I had this idea while sipping my second coffee for the day. I have posted several thousand blogs over the last 5 years. Perhaps I should take the more 'read' ones and put them into a single publication. Of course, they would need editing, due to my 'style' that is random, hit-and-miss and often lacking in 'correctness'
There are 'themes,' ideas, serious, 'off-the-wall,' and some, deeply personal.  I shall think about this idea and sample opinion!
The bottom line is that I love to write. It is for me, that I do this, but if others wish to partake of my ramblings, thoughts and 'stories,' then so be it!


Monday, July 23, 2018

Seize the moment ... a lesson most of us fail to learn!

Last year, just before Christmas, we said goodbye to my brother, Jim. He died way too early. At his funeral, I heard many touching stories about how he lived life to the full, always seeking new adventures with his wife Alison. He left behind his beautiful lady and his three children. As one of the six Coleman siblings, it was so hard to send him on his way.

Today we met again, in the same church, the one in which I attended his wedding, 44 years ago. This time we farewelled Alison, surrounding her with the love of family and friends. Alison finally lost her battle, one she fought to the end. I heard of so many incredibly touching moments, about how this couple lived their lives. There was one in particular that made me think about how many chances we let slide by, so many opportunities to live to the full, escape our clutches.

I am sure that I was not alone in feeling that the example Jim and Alison represented, should be held as the gold standard. Grab life with both hands and anything else you can employ to live, breath and enjoy this brief time we have.

Jim and Alison loved to dance. They were experts, attending numerous functions, 'dressing to the nines' and having fun. They ran a nursery in New Plymouth, spending countless hours in the 'potting shed,' pricking out tiny seedlings, preparing them for the markets. There was a radio in that shed, which was probably tuned to a station that played 'their sort of music' ... dancing music! When a song took their fancy, they would down tools and DANCE. Yes ... they seized the moment, never letting an opportunity to move to the tunes ... no audience, other than the critters that scattered and ran as Jim and Alson strutted their stuff. I never knew!

Farewell Alsion. You are with Jim, dancing in the 'Great Beyond.'

Monday, July 16, 2018

Time warp!

    I didn't know the bar was there; down that side-alleyway, way too narrow for cars. Foot traffic ruled, or the occasional bicycle, ridden by an anxious cyclist looking for a short-cut. Even the cyclist would have missed the entrance, a door that had seen numerous coats of paint, covered in scratches, from God-knows-who.

    It was raining when I headed down the alleyway. I had left my umbrella in the car, along with my jacket ... and now I was regretting it. My shirt clung to my body, hardly a flattering look. To make me feel even more desperate, I was cold. it was a heavy bass sound that attracted my attention. Someone was either playing music very loudly, or I was close to a studio of some sort.

    The door opened and a blast of warm air enveloped me, along with the acrid smell of cigarette smoking. A dishevelled man, frantically trying to put up an even less fortunate umbrella, burst into the alleyway.
    "Bloody good jam goin' on there, mate,' he muttered, before disappearing towards the main street.
    "What the hell," I said to myself. Anything had to be better than continuing in the rain. My car was at least ten minutes away and I wanted warmth.

    The door slapped shut as I entered as if it was on a strong spring. The music ... Blues from a distant past, but still remembered from my many hours of listening to RNZ. There was a band playing: a drummer, bass player, piano ... a real one ... not an electronic keyboard in sight, and two vocalists; a guy and a woman ... both in their late twenties ... possibly.

    The lighting was subdued, made even less penetrable by the smoke from a crowd that clearly didn't give a hoot about the smoking laws. Every table in the bar was taken and patrons were hanging out at the bar, leaving little room for me as I approached. A drink wouldn't go amiss. I managed to squeeze through, totally ignored by the couple I had separated. I caught the eye of the barman.

    "A glass of Pinot Gris, please," I said.
    He looked at me ... or was it through me? "And what the ... we don't serve cocktails here, mate"
    "It's wine, you ..." I stopped. "OK ... how about a Reisling?"
    " There's bear, gin and yeah ... top-shelf....' His voice cut out as the band ramped up. The guy who had been singing, began a haunting melody on a harmonica while the woman took over the vocals. The crowd seemed to be drawn in by them. It was then I noticed their dress-code.

    Had I walked into a 'themed party? Art-Deco ruled. I recalled countless black and white movies: the hairstyles, cigarettes held by the female patrons with long elegant Bakelite cigarette holders. Jean Harlow would have fitted right in. Some party I thought.

    "Right ... I'll have a bear then ... tap will do," I said to the barman.
    " Comin; right up,' he replied. "Not sure where you got your duds ... hell ... this isn't costume night."
    "Could have fooled me," I retorted. "You lot are dressed up like Art Deco Week in Napier. That chick singing looks hot!"
    He looked at me, before glancing at the heavily muscled guy, standing by the low stage. The latter approached.
    "You got trouble, Trev?" he said while putting a thick fist on my shoulder.
    The Barman leaned over, his breath pungent with garlic. "This gentleman is leaving," he said. "Drain ya glass and leave quietly. Something tells me, you don't belong."
    "What the f---. What have I done? I only came in to escape the rain."
    The music stopped ... mostly. Eyes turned in our direction; a mixture of curiosity and something more sinister. The guy playing the harmonica played on. He moved off the stage, coming towards me. His face had a distant look, framed by the swirling smoke from the 'illegal' ciggies. He stopped.
    "I don't think you are from ... here," he said, his voice barely audible. He turned to the barman whilst gently removing the heavy guy's fist from my shoulder. "I'll take it from here, Trev."

    "Best you come with me, Alex."
    "What ... you know my name?" I shuddered. Then, I noticed a poster above the door by the toilet signs. Jean Harlow again. "OK ... I'm leaving. Guess I don't fit here, eh."
    "That's kind of what I was thinking. Best you go ... back to where ever you came from. I hope you enjoyed my harmonica," he added as we neared the door.
    I turned my head, looking at him closely. "You look like someone I know ... Yeah ... like Kurt Mueller."
    His face turned ashen. "My name is Mueller ... you're freaking me out."

    He pushed the door open and before I had a chance to reply, it shut hard. I looked along the alleyway, trying to get my bearings. When I looked back at the door ... it was gone. A shop window, displaying old books was where it had been, just a few seconds ago. No sounds of music or the smell of cigarettes ... just the rhythmic pattering rain. I headed back to the main street. I remembered where I had left my car, back in the underground carpark.

    As I descended to the lower levels I saw a poster, advertising 'An evening with Kurt Meuller and his beloved harmonica.' The face in the poster was disturbingly similar to the harmonica player in the bar, yet an older version. I almost stumbled to my car, opening the door and slumping into the seat.

    My cell phone rang.