Jeff Ellis

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About Jeff Ellis

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    AwesomeDude Author
  • Birthday 08/05/1944

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    Cambridge UK
  1. Inspiring as you say, bu the caption struck a different chord for me. I recently described a photograph from a book I was reading. The guy I was talking to capped my description with "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." The photograph showed a boy of about ten carrying his small brother in a piggy-back. So what? He was at Nagasaki and was carrying his brother to be cremated because they had no parents to perform this last duty. Ouch!
  2. Yes indeed Cole a great site. Without somewhere of this quality to post I'd probably have given up years ago, Chris is quite right... I too had no idea how the Restoration actually happened. I probably assumed Charles Stuart took Ryanair from Schipol. The navy was of course key, and the navy as a whole didn't want to do it! The only reason I could write this one was because there were two men keeping diaries... one was of course Samuel Pepys of "and so to bed!" fame. He was on the quarterdeck. But the other was a common sailor, in fact still an apprentice to the Master's mate. Just one copy of his journal survived... the original. From him history has learnt what went on below decks at that time. Chris is also right that this is an all but forgotten period. We are only 72 years after the Spanish Armada, but 145 years before Trafalgar, Hornblower and Nelson. I came to love my young heroes, they are in the best tradition of "the boy stood on the burning deck". That boy was real, he was French and he died at the Battle of the Nile, refusing to save himself he died alongside his wounded father... he was just 12. So when Jeremy says "Why, I should die!" he is simply reflecting the reality of the day. By World Wars in our time, a boy needed to be 16 to die in battle at sea... we have made so much progress in four centuries!
  3. In the mid seventeenth century England's Parliament quarrelled with its King, Charles the First, fought a very bloody Civil War... and then cut the King's head off. The bloodshed should have settled matters but actually made matters worse. Kings are raised to rule but politicians have to learn. Then as now it's easy to choose the wrong man. England now had Oliver Cromwell, as Lord Protector... King or Emperor in all but name. Wilful and opinionated he proceeded to wreck the economy, and his eventual death didn't solve matters... he left control of the nation to his idiot son. So there we have all the history you need to know. The army under General Monck took control of Parliament, and in 1660 the navy under Admiral Lord Montagu combined forces with him to bring the executed king's son, another Charles, back from exile in Holland. That voyage wasn't going to be easy. Most naval officers expected to lose their posts if he returned, most therefore opposed the Restoration, as it came to be known. That is where our story begins. The task of persuading the navy to cooperate in their own unemployment falls to Samuel Pepys, he who famously kept a diary and re-modelled the Royal Navy. He is Secretary to the Navy and has a young orphan nephew Jeremy. Samuel will play a central role as the fleet sails for Holland. His cousin Admiral Lord Montagu leads the fleet and has his son David with him. David is a year older than Jeremy and a year into his training as a boy-officer. At this period, common seamen could join a ship as young as 10, carrying powder to the guns... the ships were cramped and small boys fitted the space better, could run standing upright, and if they died were easy to replace. Aristocratic officers joined ships at 11yo, as boy-servants to officers and served a sort of informal apprenticeship. At this period they were known as Young-Gentlemen, not midshipmen. The Navy itself could hardly be the Royal Navy, the king was dead... for the present it was The State Ships. But all that was about to change. Through the eyes of young boys, A Royal Achievement tells the tale of the Restoration, of Charles Stuart's return as King, and of the fleet's subsequent deployment to fight Barbary pirates off the coast of Africa. As with my other war stories, the history is as accurate as I can make it, all the major historical characters and events are correct. Two boys have been inserted into history along with other boys and minor characters to keep a ripping yarn romping along.
  4. Dude tells me that it will start posting here on Wednesday 22nd February. Thank you Dude. Less than a week to wait. I'm quite excited, it took a year to research and write. It's by far the largest of my writings. It also turned out to be autobiographic... in a curious way. More might be a spoiler.
  5. As Peter says, excellent parenting. It ought to be required reading for all fathers of quiet sons. I love Cole's writing and I think that this is his best. Seriously, lots of you have a son... and whatever age he is, read this one and then treat him differently. Some stories are worth waiting for, and this is one.
  6. It's a delightful story Cole, one with insight not just plot and style. I agree about the misery of proof-reading, especially when you write stuff intended to create emotion. What I do on the other hand that is probably seriously odd is... I read along with the readers, reading each installment as its posted. Why? Partly to get the rhythm of it, but partly... because I'm still astonished to see something I wrote. To write is a gift, a gift that I was given very late in life. I love reading your stories Cole, they lift my spirit and make me think. They bring me back here when I've been mad. So well done. [ Oh dear, the typo I'm correcting is too good to lose... It said "they lift my spirit and make me thin" , maybe there's a story there, consequences of a good typo]
  7. Synystraal... Very many thanks for your comment. For me, the research is a large part of the story. Some writers can create believable situations from scratch. I may be lazy in that I look for a point in history in which interesting people did interesting things and then I tuck my boy hero in amongst them. When I was younger I read voraciously and often wished that I could tell the authors what I felt about their writing. The great thing about sites like this is that authors and readers can indeed do exactly that. I wish we did it more... so thank you indeed for your message it was a pleasure to receive your comment.
  8. I always expect to enjoy a short story by Cole. There is always something to ponder on. This one though is exceptional. It hit all the right spots in my memory of childhood. I grew up in a mining village as a boy destined to become a physicist. I can remember what it was to be good at things that the rest of the school simply didn't get. So very many thanks Cole, you have already quite made my weekend, and its barely started.
  9. Thank you Pedro, I'm delighted to see that you enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to seeing it appear here. In fact extraordinarily little is known about life in the British Navy as it existed at the end of Oliver Cromwell's reign. In 1660 it set out, very reluctantly, to bring Charles Stuart back from exile in Holland, to make Britain a monarchy again. I was lucky to find the Journal of Edward Barlow, a lowly boy-seaman who kept a diary... just like Samuel Pepys, who as Secretary to the Navy is on the same ship's quarterdeck when they set out to find a King. Between the two diaries I was able to read virtually all that is known about life at sea at that period.
  10. I second all of the above. Cole really has caught the spirit of an eleven year old boy... his interest in things that he should... and in things that his mother would scarcely credit. Wonderfully entertaining...and gritty where it needs to be. Thank you Cole.
  11. Truly sad news. I greatly enjoyed his broadcasts. He and Rabbi Simchah Roth gave great hope that the Abrahamic faiths could find it in them to accommodate gay youth. The best thing a Jewish correspondent said to me was that his gay-congregation was dis-banding because the regular synagogue was now so accepting that a gay congregation was no longer needed. Those two men between them achieved an enormous amount for us, and Lionel Blue was by far the most visible gay cleric in the UK.
  12. Thank you Merkin and Cole, always a pleasure to see that someone is reading what we write :-) Merkin is absolutely right this isn't the Royal Navy ... it's The State Ships! It is due to appear here with Mike's up-market white on black graphics in a few weeks. There's a lot more of me in this one than I intended. Beware of allegory, like autobiography it can tell you more about yourself than you wanted to remember.
  13. BBC4 (still available on iPlayer in UK) broadcast Karl Jenkins "Cantata Memoria" his requiem for the lives lost at Aberfan. There is a truly horrific moment in it, and that's rare in choral music. The chorus is huge, with a number of adult choirs and a very large childrens choir in the centre. At the moment in the music that corresponds to the waste heap sliding... the childrens choir turns its back on the audience. Suddenly, the reality of what 116 children look like strikes home. It's a very striking hour of music. With Bryn Terfil singing pieces such as "Buried Alive by the National Coal Board" it could hardly be less than striking!
  14. Well, today Friday 21 October 2016 has been a sad day for my part of South Wales. It's hard to appreciate the scale of the impact in that village, especially on the other children, the survivors. In one class, only 4 of the 24 children survived, imagine... when you start classes again there are only four of you. Your friends are gone. In the junior school, there was a "year" with only two boys left. One of them was trapped for two hours with his face pressed against the cheek of a dead classmate. Half the children disappeared from that village that day, in a few minutes. When the Queen visited two days later... a four year old girl (too young to have needed rescuing) presented her with a bunch of flowers, with a card that said "From the remaining children of Aberfan"
  15. One of my absolutely favourite stories. You really mustn't miss this one.