Beam me up, Spotty

I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi for a number of years now and if you’d asked me last week I’d have said I was here for the foreseeable, but now…I don’t know. Of course I know the drawbacks here and there are chances I don’t take, places I don’t go. I wrote about one of the risks a woman on her own faces in a culture where women are less than men and Christians than Moslems; it’s available here as a free story and, believe me, I never put myself at risk of what happened to her. Local men are always asking to be my FB friend and I always decline. I know that nothing can shake their conviction that a western woman must be a whore and there for them to enjoy. You’ll never see me in a short skirt, drinking too much in Trader Vic’s. I don’t walk home at night from the Marina. But set against that the calm, polite way of life and the sheer niceness of the Emirati people. To say nothing of the warm winters.

It isn’t even as though marriage is an issue. I’ve been married, I put an end to it and I don’t want to try it again, so the fact that I’m unlikely to meet The One here isn’t a problem.

But…as I say, I don’t know. Well, actually, I do. Writing is important to me and I can’t use my real name when I write and I’d like to. I really would. My next erotic novel, The Unquiet House, will be out at the end of the year and I’d really like to be able to hold it in my hand, show it to people and say, “This is mine. I wrote this.” And, here, I can’t do that.

So today I gave my sponsor twelve months notice. (Your sponsor is your employer—the person who speaks for you so that you can get a visa that gives permission to work). He assured me that I can take it back any time I want, but at least now I know the clock has begun to tick. It wasn’t a sudden thing—I’ve been tossing it around for months.

So now I have another choice. I grew up in Toronto and I the only passport I have is Canadian but I have an apartment in Highgate, west London. (That’s London, England not London, Ontario). When my twelve months are done, if I still want to leave—where do I go?

Wrong Target!

A headline in The Guardian today says: All four men found guilty in Delhi gang-rape trial.
We must hope they got the right four men; but the part of the story that caught my attention was this: The victim’s father, Badrinath Singh, told the Guardian he wanted the case to set an example to other women in India, where there has been a wave of sexual violence in recent years.
He wants it to set an example to women? It’s men who need to take note! Men who think it’s all right to have sex with a woman without her consent. Men who think “She wants it really”; or who simply don’t care what she wants or thinks, so long as their needs are satisfied.
There has been a lot of discussion in the Press worldwide about the number of Indian women who are raped. Listen up, fellas: This is not just an Indian problem. Women are being raped all over the world, and it isn’t by setting an example for women that this will come to an end. It’s men who carry out rapes, and men who have to stop.

Another story went live last night

The Dream went live on Kindle last night. I don’t know exactly where the idea for the story came from, but then I almost never do know where the idea for a story comes from. It arrives, and I write it—though often there’s an interval between the seed and the finished article. In this case, I typed out these sentences several weeks ago:

She had the dream again last night. The one set in 1941, which was thirty-five years before she was actually born, but that’s what dreams can do. In the dream she’s the English head of a private girls’ school in France. Another thing that dreams do is skip over all the little linking bits, like how the soldiers surrounded the school and whether the girls are all safely asleep, and lead straight in to the action.

Which, in this case, is the Leutnant and two of his men standing in her office. The two men are smiling, grinning in fact in anticipation of what they no doubt know as well as she does is going to happen, but there is no smile on the face of the Leutnant. A Leutnant isn’t a proper officer, she knows that. He’s the equivalent of an English Second Lieutenant, a glorified NCO really, but he has the power here and he knows it and she knows it.

She wonders, as she does every time she has the dream, how this young officer can possibly be so tall, so well built, so powerful and so blond. The German economy has struggled since the end of the previous war, starving its people to pay reparations to a vindictive France. That’s how Hitler found it so easy to take power, isn’t it? This young man, this boy really, was born during that time, so how does he get to look like a corn-fed child of the Canadian prairies? He should have rickets. It’s a mystery.

That was as far as I got, and then I went back to what I’d been working on before. On the surface it might have seemed that I had forgotten about The Dream but I knew I hadn’t. It was ticking away in my subconscious, which is the way it always happens with me, and three days ago I had the finished thing lined up in my head. All I had to do was write it J.

It’s now done and last night I put it on Amazon—you can find it here (at $0.99) on and here (at £0.79) on If you’d like to see a bit more, to make up your mind whether you might like this story, this is how the beginning (above) continues:

‘What’s your name?’ He’s asked this question every time she’s had the dream, which means every night this week, really; he should know her name by now but still he asks for it.

‘My name is Christine. I am a British citizen. You have no right to keep me here.’

He smiles. It is not a nice smile. ‘You are correct, Christina. So what shall we do? Would you like to leave? Of course, a woman on her own making her way on foot through an occupied country might have difficulties. Not all our soldiers are as polite as I am. And I don’t know what you’d do if you ever reached a port. But, please. Feel free to go.’

She stares at him. She knows what he suggests is not really a possibility.

‘And when you have left,’ he says, ‘I will be disappointed. I shall have to enjoy the Head Girl instead. What is she? Eighteen? Perhaps my disappointment will not be so severe. And I shall turn my men loose on all these girls you have here. You think their parents will like to have them back with German babies?’

This, also, is not a possibility. A headmistress takes on responsibilities along with the prestige. Protecting the young ones in her charge is her most important task. If it means she must sacrifice herself, then…

In the dream she is still a virgin. She isn’t, of course; not after eight years of a marriage now thank God dissolved, but in the dream she has never known a man. That has remained constant all week. Something that has changed is what she wears. On the first night when she removed her tweed skirt at the Leutnant’s behest she had on the Marks and Spencer knickers and tights that are her usual wear, but in her musings on the dream the following day she saw how ridiculous that was. So on the second night she stripped to what her father used to call Harvest Festivals. “All is safely gathered in.” They were no more right than the St Michael’s cotton; her great-grandmother might have worn them; she could see from the Leutnant’s face that she had displeased him; so on the third and each subsequent night she adopted what she thinks a well-off French woman in 1941 might have worn.

‘Have you considered your position?’ asks the Leutnant.

‘I cannot leave my charges to your care.’

He nods. ‘Take off your clothes.’


‘Take off your clothes.’

And so she does. What choice does she have?

That’s how it starts. If you like the idea—good. If it doesn’t appeal, no hard feelings. But, just in case, I’ll repeat the locations: it’s here on and here on



10 September 2013

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