Monday, May 30, 2016

Avenging Steel: The Fall of Edinburgh... "Scotland's own 'Man in the High Castle'."

Avenging Steel 1: The Fall of Edinburgh... the finest in Alternative History.
It is October 1940... 
In the last seven weeks, the German invasion of Britain, begun by a few thousand paratroopers, has swept the British Army to another 'Dunkirk'. Snatched from Oban, Ullapool, and a hundred islands, a quarter of a million of Britain's finest now rest in Canada.
For the moment, Britain is lost.
Churchill makes one valiant speech from the combined houses of the Irish Parliament, then he too is spirited away.

… let us not consider this a retreat, not a farewell to our homeland, but as a gathering for a new offensive. And let me make this promise to Herr Hitler; we will prepare, we will return, and we will never surrender…
Winston Churchill, October 7th, 1940, Dublin, Ireland

When German troops march triumphantly along the streets of Edinburgh, James Baird, a young philosophy student, feels drawn to watch. He is a student at Edinburgh university, and is ashamed he has done nothing in the defense of his country; watching the parade is his self-inflicted punishment.
1940, Princes Street, Edinburgh. People await the Nazi parade.
As he stands on Princes Street, looking down the deserted tram lines, he waits for the conquering heroes to arrive. Behind him the high ramparts of Edinburgh Castle are festooned with garish red swastika banners. Sickened by the music and swaggering Nazis, James can soon stand no more. he flees the scene and takes refuge in the Edinburgh University Union bar, determined to drown his sorrows before returning home.

Like Paris, three months before, troops march in Edinburgh. 

The new oppressors bring changes to his life that he cannot foresee. As his new role in German-controlled Edinburgh is revealed, he is determined to fight the new oppressors. In long novella parts, we follow James's story as a proud nation begins to rebel against the pressure of Nazi jackboots.

Thus begins, Avenging Steel, a new Alternative History series.

The title is taken from a verse in The Tree of Liberty, by Robert Burns, Scotland's famous national bard.

By her inspired the new born race
Soon grew the Avenging Steel, man;
The hirelings ran — her foes gied chase
And banged the despot weel, man.

Robert Burns

Described as "Scotland's own 'Man in the High Castle'."
Now available as an eBook series; parts two and three completed.

To be honest, it felt kinda good... I've never been compared to Philip K. Dick before...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cockney Rhyming Slang... Sneaking into Modern Colloquial English

 Dictionary of British Slang

Cockney Rhyming Slang is a form of English slang which began in the East End of London; a true 'Cockney', is a person born within earshot of the Bow bells.
To create a 'secret' language, Cockney Rhyming Slang replaces normal words with rhyming phrases.

eg; "I'm going out with the trouble and Strife tonight." (I'm going out with the wife tonight.)
"I'm looking smart tonight, got my Kylie Minogues on." (I'm looking smart tonight, I've got my brogues on)

The idea soon spread over the English-speaking world, and since those ancient days many non-Cockney phrases have been added.

Cockney Rhyming Slang has three distinct variations, each rarer than the other…

1st degree Cockney Rhyming Slang… By far the most commonly heard and used (when the rhyme is essential).
Example; “He went up the Apples and Pears.”
Meaning… He went up the stairs.
(Cockney Rhyming Slang for ‘stairs’, is ‘Apples and Pears’)

2nd degree Cockney Rhyming Slang… Less common, but thought to be more true to the 'secret' original form (when the rhyming part has been dropped)…
Example; “He kicked me in the Alberts!”
Meaning… He kicked me in the testicles (balls).
(Cockney Rhyming Slang for testicles (balls) is ‘Albert Halls’, but in this case the rhyming part (‘Halls’) is dropped, leaving the user with a brand new slang term)

3rd degree Cockney Rhyming Slang… Very rare. When the original rhyme has been dropped, and the other part of the original phrase has also been dropped, to be replaced by another word associated with it.
Example; “Calm down, mate, keep your Elvis.”
Meaning… "keep your hair on".
(Cockney Rhyming Slang for ‘hair-on’ is Aaron. But the original Aaron has been dropped being replaced by Elvis, an obvious associated word, although ‘Elvis’ was never in the original rhyming slang.) 

1st degree Cockney Rhyming Slang is pretty easy stuff; let's face it.... it rhymes!
However, when the rhyme is dropped, and you don't know the original phrase, you might be lost on the actual meaning. Even I was surprised how many of these phrases I used, never knowing or thinking they were originally Cockney Rhyming Slang!
See how many you recognize, some more complex than others… (I’ll use the abbreviation CRS for Cockney Rhyming Slang, and {r/w} for “rhymes with”).
Most are 2nd degree CRS.

He’s a bit Haigs…  (CRS- Haigs Dimple, {r/w} simple, ie; not that clever, dim.) (Haigs Whisky bottled a brand of their brew in a dimpled bottle, and the name stuck)

He just blew a raspberry at you...  . (CRS- Raspberry Tart; {r/w} fart.) 

Let’s have a butchers then…   (CRS- Butcher's Hook {r/w} look.)

Look at him, he hasn't got a Scooby... (CRS- Scooby Doo; {r/w} Clue.)

I don't like them, I'm a bit Listerine... 3rd degree... (maybe even 4th...) (Septic Tank; {r/w} Yank. Anti-Septic means anti-Yank (anti-American). Listerine is an anti-septic.

Look at him, he’s Brahms…   (CRS- Brahms & Liszt; {r/w} pissed, drunk) Brahms and Liszt were classical music composers.
 Available in eBooks and paperback
Available in paperback or eBook

He talks funny; he’s a bubble…  (CRS- Bubble and Squeak; {r/w} Greek.) Bubble and Squeak is a fried dish made with potato and vegetable leftovers.

That fellow’s a bit ginger…  (CRS- Ginger Beer; {r/w} Queer, Gay)

I’m all on my Jack today... (CRS- Jack Jones; {r/w} alone’s, on your own.) Jack Jones was a singer in the 60's.

I’m off round the corner for a Jimmy... (CRS- Jimmy Riddle; {r/w} widdle, pee)

He can't hear you, he's mutton... Technically 3rd degree... (CRS- Mutt & Jeff; {r/w} deaf.) Mutt & Jeff were cartoon characters from the 1940’s.

I’m off down the High Street for a Ruby...  (CRS- Ruby Murray; {r/w} curry) Ruby Murray was a Belfast singer from the 1950’s.

Cops are coming, we’d better scarper... (CRS- Scapa Flow; {r/w} go.) Scapa Flow is a harbor in the Shetland Islands where the WW1 German fleet was scuppered.

I’m on my Tod today... (CRS- Todd Sloane; {r/w} alone, lone.)

He’s wearing his Lionels… (CRS- Lionel Blair; {r/w} flare, flared trousers) Lionel Blair was an actor/singer/dancer in the 60’s 70’s in the UK)

Don't be stupid, use your loaf... (CRS- Loaf of Bread; {r/w} head)

I’m a bit Boracic (Borrassic) this week... (CRS- Boracic Lint; {r/w} skint, broke, penniless) Borassic Lint was a gauze substance put on wounds in the old days.

How’s it going, me old China?... (CRS- China Plate; {r/w} mate, friend)

What a fine pair of Bristols... (CRS- Bristol City; {r/w} titties, breasts) Bristol City is one football team in the English seaside town of Bristol.)

Listen to him spin that Porky... (CRS-Pork Pies; {r/w} lies)

Oh, now that’s a nice whistle.... (CRS- Whistle and Flute: {r/w} suit, three piece suit)

My book The Ridiculously Comprehensive Dictionary of British Slang has over 200 pages of slang definitions, available in paperback or eBook.

Monday, May 9, 2016

SOE: Churchill's Spy School that Spawned All Others

SOE camps in Britain and abroad were the model of all spy-craft for years

Many books have been written regarding this one department, that it almost does not need repeating, and yet, although its influence cannot be calculated, the SOE manages to remain relatively obscure in the minds of most of the world’s population.
The SOE alone did not win the war, but its organization, training camps, instructors, training methods and gadgetry were used in every single theater of the war. Many of Churchill’s ‘Secret Armies’ were trained under SOE jurisdiction, and most of the world’s spy networks modeled on their mold.
Without doubt, the SOE was Churchill’s greatest creation.
An examination of all of Churchill's 'Secret Armies'.

Initially formed to combine all of Britain's fractured Military Intelligence Services, it did far more; it provided a training regime that served not only the allied spies and counter-espionage agents, but all Special Forces too. From its early days in July 1940 until the end of the war in 1945, the SOE schools in Britain and the training techniques they had developed were used on a massive scale. The Commandoes, the SAS, the Paratroopers, SBS, Cichociemni (Polish S.F.), US Rangers, Canadian Devil’s Brigade, Jedburgh’s and many others were trained in the SOE’s 50 plus locations in Britain.
Later coined as "the school for mayhem and murder", the deep-background preparation, the variety of subjects, the attention to detail, and the hardy regime were used as the blueprint of every single spy organization in the modern world today.
When Churchill came to power, at least four different intelligence agencies vied for power, and did not share techniques, information or personnel. It was Churchill alone on his first days in charge who set up the ambiguously titled Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.), and detailed their mission; ‘to set Europe ablaze’. You can see Churchill's footprint from the inception of Britain's structured military intelligence; had been in the cabinet when Britain’s first Military Intelligence agency was set up in 1909. In the landings at Gallipoli in 1915, he had personally witnessed the disaster that could strike the largest of military operations if the intelligence was not accurate or up to date.
When he took charge in 1940, he was determined not to make the same mistake twice; to beat the Nazi menace, Britain’s military intelligence service would have to be the best in the world, and would train and operate to standards far exceeding the expectation of both its founding members and the enemy.
"If you have to search a prisoner, kill him first..."

Of all the allied forces, the USA followed SOE guidelines more than any other. The Office of Strategic Studies (O.S.S.) continued Churchill’s penchant for ambiguous titles, and from its inception, the OSS trained their operatives in the SOE camps in Canada. Within months of entering the war in December 1941 they had begun construction of their own camps in Maryland and Virginia. The largest were at Prince William Forest, near Quantico (near the Marine base and FBI Headquarters) and Catoctin Mountain Park, (now the location of Camp David).
At the close of the war, the OSS went on to become the CIA, and is still active today.
Churchill's Special Operations Executive may not have won the war on its own, but it shortened it by many years, and saved millions of lives.

Take a look inside Churchill's Secret Armies...

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