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Feeling let down by people who should know better

In 2024 I shall have been supporting Saracens 50 years, through thick and thin, from them playing in the local park (in those days I helped at the club) to them being European champions. What the board has done has let down all us loyal supporters and all the players. what really galls me is that I’m sure Sarries would have been just as successful with fewer big name players in the squad.

There are rules. Follow them. And don’t then lie about whether you did or not.

Charlie’s latest newsletter

I can’t believe we’re half way through January. Doesn’t tempus blooming half fugit?
It’ll be Easter before we know it – and the shops are certainly starting to stock small chocolate eggs, which is really depressing.


The programme for Portsmouth Book Fest is live, as are ticket sales. I’m doing the romance panel on March 5th – trying to prove the genre isn’t all fluff and kittens – then I pop up again with my crime hat on for the Mysteryfest on the 7th March. The wonderful Len Tyler is headlining that so it’s well worth coming along if you’re in the area, although do book in advance.

I’ve been running a bit of a daft series of posts about where I’ve been and what I got up to during the year and they come with a competition. A book from my back catalogue for the best suggestion as to where I am, winner to be chosen from among the comments anywhere these posts pop up, either blog or social media. You can find all the posts tagged here.

This year is the Romantic Novelists Association’s 60th birthday. In the most recent bulletin, they say:

The RNA is an inclusive and diverse organisation and recently opened an online Rainbow Chapter for members of the LGBQTIA+ community.  On the 9th February during Romance Reading month we would like to provide an opportunity for readers to share their favourite LGBQTIA+ novels to @RNAtweets using the following hashtags. #DiamondRainbowReads  #RNA60 

It would be really cool if we could encourage as many folk as possible to join in.

Today’s excerpt has its romance head well and truly on. Broke Deep is part of the Porthkennack universe of stories, the other contribution of mine being Count the Shells. Both of them are on the more serious end of my writing, dealing with tricky themes – in this case, metal frailty and dementia.

Morgan Capell’s life is falling apart by small degrees—his father’s dead, his boyfriend dumped him, and his mother’s in the grip of dementia. His state of mind isn’t helped by his all-too-real recurring nightmare of the wreck of the Troilus, a two-hundred-year-old ship he’s been dreaming about since his teenage years.
The story of the Troilus is interwoven with the Capell family history. When amateur historian Dominic Watson inveigles himself into seeing the ship’s timbers which make up part of Morgan’s home, they form a tentative but prickly friendship that keeps threatening to spark into something more romantic.
Unexpectedly, Dominic discovers that one of the Troilus’s midshipman was rescued but subsequently might have been murdered, and persuades Morgan to help him establish the truth. But the more they dig, the more vivid Morgan’s nightmares become, until he’s convinced he’s showing the first signs of dementia. It takes as much patience as Dominic possesses—and a fortuitous discovery in a loft—to bring light out of the darkness.

The sudden, insistent bleating of the telephone started Morgan out of his remembrances of times past, pleasant and obnoxious. It would be a client, probably, wanting a quote over the phone for a particularly intricate design contract. That would be a good distraction. Not that he was short of work—there was plenty to tide him over—but some kind of project to really stretch his brains would keep his mind off painful things.
“Cadoc Design. Hello?” Morgan’s practiced tones managed to sound both welcoming and businesslike, or so he’d been informed when it had been a friend rather than a client at the other end of the line.
“Oh, sorry. Think I’ve got the wrong number.”
“Not to worry, it’s—” Morgan didn’t have the chance to finish, the abrupt tones of the dialling code signalling that the phone at the other end had been put down. Wrong number? He couldn’t remember the last one of those he’d had, not since the time he’d been plagued with calls to his mobile by someone who’d been convinced he was a pizza delivery service. Not worth ringing 1471 if it was a genuine mistake. He’d got as far as the kitchen, looking to wrest another mug of tea out of the pot, when the phone went again, and he turned on his heels to answer it again.
“Cadoc Design. Hello?” He felt less friendly this time.
“Sorry, it’s me again.” That was obvious from the same dithering voice. “I definitely haven’t misdialled, so either I’ve been given the wrong number in the first place or you’re Morgan Capell.”
“You haven’t and I am.” He’d ditched the polite edge completely. Who could be ringing him out of the blue and what did he want if he wasn’t a customer? If the idiot was trying to sell Morgan his wares, all he’d get was an earful of abuse; cold calls were the bane of everyone’s life, and on a day like today, he had no patience left.
“Right. Sorry to be so useless. I’m dreadful on the phone.”
He could say that again. At least whoever this was came across too awkwardly to be a salesman—no suggestion of smooth talking, and too long a pause in the conversation. Morgan took a deep breath. “I have no idea who you are, but I assume there’s something you want to talk about that isn’t to do with web design?”
“Yes. The wreck of the Troilus.”
“Oh.” Morgan felt his tongue tie itself in knots, as it always did when that particular ship got mentioned. What did this guy want to know about her? And how could he both have got Morgan’s number and known Morgan would have a tale to tell?
“I suppose you want to know how I got hold of you?” The voice on the phone sounded more apologetic than ever. Telepathic, with it.
“That might be a good place to start.”
“Your friend James gave me it.”
“Oh.” Double oh with fucking knobs on. So, not only had James the bastard left him high and dry, he was giving people Morgan’s number at random so they could ring about matters intensely personal? How many years would Morgan get for wringing his ex-boyfriend’s neck, and would they be worth it? “What did he tell you?”
“Only that the ship went down near where you live. I’m trying to research the history of her midshipmen, the ones who got transferred elsewhere before she sank and the unlucky ones who went on the rocks with her.” The voice was gaining in confidence, clearly on a pet subject. “Sorry, I should have introduced myself. Dominic. Dominic Watson.”
Morgan wasn’t sure what to say next, as the introduction the other way had already been done and without his consent. “What is it you want to know? I can’t tell you anything about the ship’s officers.” The prickles of unease that had appeared on Morgan’s neck wouldn’t go away. The Troilus. He hadn’t thought of her in weeks.

And finally – from last year’s Portsmouth Book Fest. We look nearly intelligent, don’t we?