Dear Reader

Dear Reader #150

Dear Reader,

My latest article for the Seaside News.

The teleplay for Exit Prentiss Carr, Series 1, Episode 4 of The Rockford Files, was written by long-standing Rockford Files associate Juanita Bartlett (pictured). 

This episode was set in the fictitious town of Bay City. Raymond Chandler set his 1940 novel Farewell My Lovely in Bay City, so presumably Exit Prentiss Carr was a homage to Chandler. Bay City also appeared in season two of The Rockford Files.

James Garner appeared in every scene in this episode. When that happens in detective fiction I think it makes for a stronger story, but obviously it’s quite demanding for the lead actor.

In the late sixteenth century, London had four regular companies and six permanent playhouses with plays performed every day except Sunday. The plays were popular with rich and poor alike with prices set to attract lower paid workers.

The authorities loathed the playhouses because people could gather together in large numbers while the plays themselves often challenged authority, a combination that offered the potential for civil unrest.

🖼 Bankside c1630, the earliest known oil painting of London. The theatres depicted on the south bank are the Swan, the Hope, the Rose, and the Globe. The flying flags indicated that there was a performance that day.

In the 1620s there were 400 taverns and 1,000 alehouses in London. Writing in 1621, Robert Burton said, “Londoners flocked to the tavern as if they were born to no other end but to eat and drink.”

Cookshops provided roast dinners and pies, and takeaways. Hawkers sold shellfish, nuts and fruit while if you fancied a cheesecake Hackney was the place to go, and Lambeth was noted for its apple pies.

🖼 The Tabard Inn, renamed The Talbot, one of 48 inns or taverns situated between King’s Bench Prison and London Bridge, a distance of half a mile.

In 1642 Londoners rebelled against Charles I and he left town. The Civil War of 1642-49 was destructive, of course, but it did have some benefits. John Evelyn noted that when the supplies of hearth coal from Newcastle were interrupted London’s orchards and gardens bore ‘plentiful and infinite quantities of fruits.”

During the Civil War, London did not witness any major fighting, primarily because the Parliamentarians controlled the capital from an early stage. Without London, Charles I was doomed to defeat.

On the whole, city leaders were pro-Royalist while the workers sided with the Parliamentarians. However, by 1661 the workers were happy to welcome the new king, Charles II. The moment was lost, and Britain never recovered.

🖼 George Vertue’s plan of the London Lines of Communication, 1642.

Plague visited London in 1665. By the end of the year over 100,000 people were dead, a fifth of the population. The plague began just before Christmas 1664 when two men in Drury Lane died of ‘spotted fever’. 

By May 1665 the plague had spread to most of London’s 130 parishes and those who could afford to fled. Trade declined. The highways were clogged with refugees. Thomas Vincent remained in London throughout the plague. He noted that death rode ‘triumphantly on his pale horse through our streets and breaks into every house almost where any inhabitants are to be found’.

The authorities established ‘pest houses’ in fields and open spaces in an attempt to segregate the infected from the able-bodied. At the peak of the epidemic, mid-August to mid-September 1665, 7,165 people died in one week. Under such strain, traditional burial practices were abandoned in favour of common graves.

A Bill of Mortality published at the plague’s peak included the following as cause of death: Aged, 43. Burnt in his bed by a candle, 1. Constipation, 134. Flox and Smallpox, 5. Frighted, 3. Falling from a belfry, 1. Kingsevil, 2. Lethargy, 1. Rickets, 17. Rising of the Lights, 11. Scurvy, 2. Spotted Fever, 101. Stillborn, 17. Teeth, 121. Winde, 3. Wormes, 15. Plague, 7,165.

Males christened that week, 95; females, 81. Males buried, 4,095; females, 4,202. Parishes clear of the plague, 4. Parishes infected, 126. Many people returned to London in December 1665. However, members of parliament did not return until the following spring.

Welsh Football Legends

Walley Barnes was born on 16 January 1920 in Brecon, Wales. His parents were English. They were living in Brecon because Walley’s father, Edward, an army physical education instructor and footballer, was stationed with the South Wales Borderers.

Walley’s footballing career began during the Second World War. Initially, he played inside-forward for Southampton making 32 appearances between 1941 and 1943, scoring 14 goals. Walley’s impressive strike rate attracted the attention of Arsenal and he signed for the London club in September 1943.

At a time of ‘make do and mend’ footballers were versatile too. He played in virtually every position, including goalkeeper. In 1944 a serious knee injury threatened his career and an early retirement seemed a distinct possibility. However, Walley recovered, played in the reserves and forced his way back into first-team reckoning.

On 9 November 1946, Walley made his league debut for Arsenal against Preston North End. By 1946 he’d settled into his regular position of left-back. He won praise for his assured performances, his skilful distribution and his uncanny ability to cut out crosses. 

A regular in the Arsenal team that won the First Division Championship in 1947-48, Walley enjoyed more success in 1949-50 when Arsenal defeated Liverpool in the FA Cup final. On that occasion, deputising for injured captain Laurie Scott, Walley played right-back.

In the 1951-52 FA Cup final Walley injured a knee. He left the pitch after 35 minutes and missed the entire 1952-53 season, which saw another league triumph for Arsenal. Thereafter, his first-team appearances became more spasmodic.

After only eight appearances in 1955-56, Walley retired. In all he played 294 matches for Arsenal and scored 12 goals, most from the penalty spot.

For Wales, Walley won 22 caps and captained his country. He made his debut against England on 18 October 1947, marking Stanley Matthews. Matthews and England got the better of Wales that day and won 3 – 0. England also won the British Home Championship that year while Wales finished a creditable second.

As Walley’s playing career faded, he turned to management. Between May 1954 and October 1956 he managed Wales. Notably, on 17 July 1958 he signed a letter to The Times opposing the ‘policy of apartheid’ in international sport and defending ‘the principle of racial equality, which is embodied in the Declaration of the Olympic Games’.

Walley joined the BBC and presented coverage of FA Cup finals. With Kenneth Wolstenholme, he was a commentator on the first edition of Match of the Day, broadcast on 22 August 1964. He also provided expert analysis in the live commentary of the 1966 World Cup final when England beat West Germany 4 – 2.

Walley wrote his autobiography, Captain of Wales, which was published in 1953. He continued to work for the BBC until his death on 4 September 1975.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #146

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the Italian version of Operation Broadsword, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, book three.

This week, I started rewatching The Rockford Files. Most of the regular cast appeared in the pilot, including Stuart Margolin as Angel. Jamie Farr of M*A*S*H was considered for the part, and would have done a fine job, but Stuart Margolin made it his own. He portrayed the character so well with just the movements of his eyes. Around this time Margolin also featured in an episode of M*A*S*H.

The answering machine messages at the start are iconic. In the pilot, Luis Delgado (who appears as ‘himself’ in a marriage scene later in the episode) said, “Billings, L.A.P.D. You know, Thursday is Chapman’s 20th year, and we’re giving a little surprise party at the Captain’s. I think you should come. By the way, we need five bucks for the present…” Cue the equally iconic theme music…

In this month’s issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads…

Writer and historian Mary W Craig interviewed by Wendy H Jones. Plus, Author Features, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Recipes, Short Stories, Young Writers, Nature Photography Day, and so much more!

Do you have one of these, a Princess Mary Christmas Gift Box? As you can see, I have two, from both sides of my family, one in better condition than the other.

Each box was decorated with an image of Mary and other military and imperial symbols and typically filled with an ounce of tobacco, a packet of cigarettes in a yellow monogrammed wrapper, a cigarette lighter, and a Christmas card and photograph from Princess Mary. Some contained sweets, chocolates and lemon drops.

The boxes were distributed to all members of the British armed forces on Christmas Day 1914, although some servicemen had to wait until 1920.

Most baptism records tend to be scrawled, but for some reason many in the West Country were recorded with a neat hand. Here’s the baptism record for my 5 x great grandfather, John Bick.

Many of my Bick ancestors were baptised in St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester. It is believed that St Mary’s was built on the site of the first Christian church in Britain. Certainly, it was built on top of two Roman structures, possibly temples.

Photo: Wikipedia

In honour of the Wales football team and their World Cup qualifying achievement, I intend to feature pen-portraits of past players on Twitter and my website. I will feature some ‘big names’, but the majority will be ‘unsung heroes’ from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

I’m starting with Alf Sherwood because he used to visit my great grandmother. For more details, read on…

The son of Herbert Sherwood, a labourer and coal miner from Wiltshire, and Alice Maud Williams, a labourer’s daughter from Aberdare, Alfred Thomas Sherwood was born on 13 November 1923 in North View Terrace, Aberaman, a stone’s throw away from his hometown football club. 

In 1939 Alf was an apprentice wagon painter. Then, during the Second World War, he was drafted into the coal mines to work as a ‘Bevin Boy’.

Scouts recognised Alf’s footballing prowess at an early age and he gained caps at youth level for Wales. He was also an accomplished cricketer. 

In 1942, Alf joined Cardiff City from Aberaman Athletic. A wing-half at Aberaman, he switched to full-back at Cardiff. He was so impressive that he made that position his own for the rest of his career.

When the Football League returned for the 1946–47 season, Alf missed just one match for Cardiff City. That season the club gained promotion as champions of Third Division South. In the 1951–52 season, Alf was appointed club captain and under his leadership Cardiff City gained promotion to the First Division.

Alf’s senior international career began on his 23rd birthday in a match against England in the British Home Championship. The score: 3 – 0 to England. However, on 22 October 1955 in the British Home Championship match played at Ninian Park, as captain Alf led Wales to a famous 2-1 victory over England.

In total, Alf won 41 Welsh caps. He earned a reputation as ‘the king of the slide-tacklers’. Indeed, Stanley Matthews described him as “the most difficult opponent he ever played against.” Students of the game reckoned that Alf’s main qualities were outstanding pace, sound tackling and a wonderful positional sense.

Alf also served club and country as a stand-in goalkeeper. On 17 April 1954 in a match against Liverpool, he saved a penalty taken by Scottish international Billy Liddell, which ultimately condemned Liverpool to relegation.

After an illustrious career, Alf worked for the National Coal Board. He also worked as an insurance agent and during the course of this work he called on my great grandmother, Edith, to collect her monthly insurance premiums and chat.

Alf died on 12 March 1990.

You can read more player profiles here

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian.

Don’t forget to use the code goylake20 to claim your discount 🙂

Ann's War Books and Background Mini Mystery Sam Smith Mystery Series

Books and Background #6


Published today, Invasion, book two in the Ann’s War Mystery Series. Invasion is a novella set in July 1944, at the time of the D-Day landings. The story centres on an American army camp located on a stretch of South Wales sand dunes. The soldiers have been at the camp for nine months, preparing for the landings. Ann becomes involved when a colleague at the Women’s Institute is concerned about Adeline, the colleague’s daughter. Adeline has been walking out with Sergeant Glenn Henley, an American soldier. But what has become of them? Meanwhile, Ann is concerned about her husband, Emrys, who is missing in action. When news of Emrys arrives on Ann’s doorstep, will it be bad or good? Invasion is priced at $0.99, £0.99 and €0.99, and is available as an eBook and paperback from all major retail outlets. Betrayal, book one in this series, is currently available FREE. Audio book versions of these stories will follow later this month.

A Parcel of Rogues has been added to my store. Brand new, mint condition paperbacks from only £0.99 😃


Streams. When I started promoting only one stream seemed viable – social media to Amazon. While that stream still plays an important part, it is just one of many options open to my books. My promotional goal for 2018 is to increase my streams, so that they lead to iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, the Welsh Books Council, local outlets, independent bookstores, my website and Amazon. To achieve this, I already have partnerships in place with local and national businesses, cultural groups and more. These streams will augment twenty-five promotional streams already in place, and I’m currently in discussion with businesses and individuals to add more. Many of these streams are based on partnerships, which makes this the most exciting phase of my writing career to date.


A sneak preview of my first article for the Seaside News. Plus, a five-star review for Sam’s Song. “Fantastic read! I would recommend this book to anyone who loves plot twists, with characters you can identify with. Love this book.” 😃



Mini Mystery

Mini Mystery #1

The FA Cup Stolen

On 20th April 1895, Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion 1 – 0 in the first all-Midlands FA Cup final. Bob Chatt scored the winning goal, after only thirty seconds.

Valued at £20 and made of silver, the FA Cup was placed on display at William Shillcock, Boot and Shoe Manufacturers, Birmingham, where it attracted an adoring crowd. However, as night fell, it also attracted a burglar.


The second FA Cup, used between 1896 and 1910

With Inspector Dobbs on the case, the police interviewed members of the criminal underworld, to no avail. Despite an extensive search, the cup was never found, and the FA fined Aston Villa £25 for negligence, using the money to buy a replacement.

The mystery remained unsolved until 1958 when Harry Budge, a career criminal who had spent 46 of his 81 years in gaol, confessed to the theft. He informed the police that he’d melted down the cup to make fake half-crowns. However, the police decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute and the case remains open to this day.

Hannah Howe, author of the Amazon #1 Sam Smith and Ann’s War (1944-5) Mystery Series.