The Shade Of A Tree

If you lay me beneath a tree

Then the seasons I’ll watch come and go.

The birds will nestle merrily

And serenade me as I sleep below.

Choose a tree that’s full and tall

So in it is shade I can lie.

Scatter my ashes where they fall

When comes the time to die.

© 2017, Danny Kemp. All rights reserved

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My First Days As A Public House Landlord

The first pub I took as a tenant of Courage Brewery was in the picturesque village of Headcorn in the Weald of Kent. It was a run-down establishment, commercially just surviving.

I was in my early thirties, as fit as I’ve even been with a good physical build obtained from pumping weights three times a week. I had packed-up rugby a few years earlier, but conditioning was my hobby. I looked good and that’s not being vain!

To become a first-time ‘tenant’ one had to apply to a brewery chain showing both the financial capability of running a pub, the physical ability and most important the ambition to turn one of their outlets around, giving an increased profitability on any future investment they chose to make.

List’s of potential locations were sent to those who qualified on a regular basis leaving the prospective tenant to look over the sites and apply for any thought suitable.

If a pub is subsequently applied for, an interview board must be attended where a series of questions are asked by senior management officials of the brewery all aimed at selecting the right tenant for the bottom line figure of profit for the management company i.e. Courage.

The agreement between tenant and brewery is one where the brewery holds the freehold of the building whilst the tenant pays rent on it being tied to purchase all beer from the brewery and all wines and spirits from a wholesaler nominated by them. All other items for sale were purchased at the discretion of the tenant. Profit from all of those sales could be kept by the tenant.

Fixtures and fittings inside the property were bought at market value by the tenant and remained his or hers. If they were ripped out and replaced in order to improve the ambience and appearance, then it was a cost the tenant endured, but the improvements could be sold on when the tenancy expired.

The flat above the pub was entirely the responsibility of the tenant and never viewed before the occupancy. It was considered private with nothing of relevance to the business. On my arrival at the White Horse, the carpet on the upstairs landing was covered by dog faeces left to be cleared away!

The pub tenant is called the Landlord and bears his/her name above the entrance to the premises. He/her is the only person legally allowed to sell alcohol on, or for consumption off, the premises, but the law recognises that staff are employed and waive that restriction.

However, it’s the Landlord’s strict accountability to acquaint the staff with their legal duties in relationship to the age restrictions within the pub, allowable behaviour and the customer’s personal condition in a licensed environment. If there are infringements to the various laws then it’s the Landlord who is prosecuted.

And so to the beginning of my eight-year life in the licensed trade. At this stage, all I knew was how I wanted to run a pub, not how a pub was run! I was, thankfully, a quick learner.

The White Horse in Headcorn was one of four pubs in the village; one other Courage pub and two Whitbread ones. All had reasonable footfall. I immediately set about taking trade from those pubs and any others in a travelling distance. Within a year I had almost doubled the sales figures of that pub, but it was far from an easy journey.

***

Under the previous Landlord, an ex-boxer, certain customers were virtually in charge of the pub. They decided when it was time to close, not the Landlord, who by the time he left was beyond such control. I never met him nor knew this about the place. It was in the first week when I found all that out when ringing the last orders bell and then the bell sounding Time. A dozen or so youngsters (aged 20/25) in the public bar laughed on hearing my new bell ring.

The White Horse was designed in such a way that two drinking areas were designated. A public bar: pool table, dart board, stone floor and little in the way of comfort. A saloon bar: carpet, soft bar stools and seating. Over the eighteen months, I remained there I kept it as a two bar pub, but improved both….More of that perhaps later. For now, back to the night when those young locals didn’t want to go home!

Obviously, I tried to reason with them whilst I cleared the empty tables, stacking the chairs on top and trying to make them feel as uncomfortable as I could. To some extent it worked. Eight left! I carried on like this for ten minutes or so in the other empty bar until the clock showed 11:30. Drinking up time in those days was ten minutes. The glasses on their table should have been emptied twenty minutes ago!

To be honest, their type of trade was not something I wanted in the long term, but I have always tried to avoid animosity if I could.

“Come on chaps, enough is enough. The rules have changed. I’m now in charge, not you. You’re all welcome to drink here in the future, but your hours of going home are now earlier than before. If you don’t like it then feel free to go elsewhere with no hard feelings on my part.” It wasn’t working. They stared defiantly at me.

I picked up the four remaining half full glass of lager, walked to the front door and poured their beer in the street gutter. I then placed the now empty glasses on the bar. I was on my own, there were four of them. Although as I’ve said I was fit, I was no pub brawler, but circumstances demand certain actions.

Perhaps here I could, and maybe should, have acted differently. But I was what I was then, that’s my excuse if that’s what’s needed. I grabbed a fistful of hair of one of them and another by the collar and pulled them both from their chairs and dragged them to the open street door. The two of them complained noisily and were joined by the other two. No blows were exchanged and after the expected verbal I closed for the night.

Sadly, that incident stayed embedded in all of those four minds leading to an altercation of far greater magnitude a few months down the line.

***

If you want me to continue the story of my life as a Pub Landlord in this pub and the others then I’ll gladly write it up. But for now I’m going to continue doing what I love best; the writing of fictional stories. I’m a mere 10,000 words into what I think might be my final novel. I have miles to go yet, so, please, bear with me whilst I indulge myself in pleasure.     

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Walking On Graves

Darkness releases the shadows to hide.

The battle’s been fought, thoughts have died.

Mindful of steps that beckon beyond

The graves with no voices that cannot respond.

Pain surrounds and walks close at hand.

Only agonising madness is left to stand.

Escape is fiction, there’s nowhere to abscond.

Except to silent graves, that cannot respond.

Trapped within a mind that sees no good.

Now only suffering where happiness stood.

A sorcerer is needed with a magic wand

To give voices to the graves that cannot respond.

Once there was beauty where now ugliness stands.

Time was a treasure that ripped through the hands.

Imagination was suffocated by billowing fronds

That grow on the graves where no-one responds.

No-one was someone one sunny day,

But life came along and swept them away.

Dreams vanished as the guns were fired

And the graves swallowed the bodies of those that expired.

Pass not a grave with the head bowed down.

Salute the dead with a smile, not a frown.

Graves hold the living along with the dead.

We all walk on bodies wherever we tread!

© 2016, Danny Kemp. All rights reserved

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The Night Santa Was In Trouble

Santa Claus was in trouble.

He’d lost a sack and he was in disgrace.

He was slithering down a chimney

When a child recognised his face!

Without thinking, the child asked his hero.

“Is the whole sack for me?”

Sadly Santa had no choice,

What could he do but agree?

He was now short of presents

But he tried the best that he could

To fill all the remaining wishes

And make all his promises good!

Children can’t be blamed for being greedy,

It’s adults that are to blame.

Worth is judged by possessions

And those without, well, that’s just a shame.

Now I’m an old romantic,

Always believing good will overcome.

But if we are all ‘Christians’

What have we done for Christendom?

It should not be just at Christmas

That we remember those with less.

Each day is a new beginning,

Another chance for more thoughtfulness.

© 2016, Danny Kemp. All rights reserved.

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If Christmas Was Not Just Once a Year

To not live alone and be apart

To welcome love and share a heart

To take a blow without complaint

To offer peace without constraint

To be pure when morals scream

To only see beauty in all you dream

* * *

To show compassion to those in need

To be content with no thought of greed

To wish for nothing and ask for less

To live a life without duress

To offer silence in a raging storm

To be yourself and not conform

* * *

To accept the pitfalls along your path

To smile and always be willing to laugh

To see good where others see bad

To be happy and never be sad

To be complete with love to spare

To live in colour where nothing is bare

* * *

To encourage and abide

To be humble and not full of pride.

To wish that fear could abate

To offer friendship and speak no more of hate

If Christmas was not just once a year

If no child never cried a tear!

* * *

Sentimental words and points of view

If only some were all we ever knew!

© 2016, Danny Kemp

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Cheryl Holloway

Cheryl Holloway’s interview

 

This kind lady interviewed me and the result is on her blog.

Title: The Secret and The Secret Lies Where No One Belongs: A Supplement to The Secret

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Terrorism

Synopsis: What does an armed robbery in London’s Charing Cross Road in July 1972 have to do with a meeting held in Vienna thirty-five years earlier?

What connects the wartime survival of a Jewish man who worked in the offices of the Chancellor of Austria to the murder of a Catholic priest some twenty years after the end of the Second World War?

What has the slaughter of three hundred Nama tribe folk at their settlement in Namibia, got to do with the Under-Secretary-General to the United Nations?

Why were the remains of Martin Bormann, Hitler’s personal secretary, not discovered until December 1972 buried near Berlin’s Lehrter station?

Jack Price, a former British spy, knows the answer to all those questions and, if necessary, is willing to die to keep the secret. The trouble is; he’s not the only one who knows.

The Supplement is an analysis of Patrick West, the main protagonist of the Secret.

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Danny Kemp, an international author and creative writer who has learned to live with frustration. Welcome to my blog, Danny.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

DK: The story of how an impressionable young man’s quest for excitement leaves him disillusioned with the whole morality of life.

CH: One reviewer said that this book is full of lies, deceit, corruption and illusions. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

DK: I’ve met a lot of deceitful, corrupt people in my life. Both when I was young around my father (after interrogating Axis troops in Italy when that country surrendered he worked in The War Department in London from 1946 until he died in 1966); and later when I was a police officer attached to criminal intelligence.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

DK: The Secret is partially based on fact. I did know someone who worked for MI5 and then inside MI6, who told me a story about a Jewish man who survived the war by hiding in churches in Vienna, Austria, whilst that country was occupied by the Nazis. I have elaborated on that story, but I hope I’ve served that man’s memory well.

CH: Since this book involves so many issues, did you have to do a lot of special research to write it?

DK: Some, yes, but not as much as I would normally do. The story is told predominately over one week in July 1972, and as I’ve said it was based on some facts. All I had to do was expand on those. For my other two full novels, the research was extensive and extremely time-consuming. After an outline of the story, I always use a storyboard where I can check dates, locations and the chronological order of the events that I depict. For The Secret, this was not as critical.

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your characters?

DK: Some I’ve known and others have been hiding away in my memory. I have had a varied working career and met some interesting people from all walks of life.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

DK: I honestly can’t answer this one, as I loved writing them all.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

DK: Fianna Redden, my main protagonist, She’s a feisty, fictional Irish sister. She was a joy to write.

CH: Was it hard to decipher all of the lies in the “secret?”

DK: Normally, I let the story tell me an ending. My belief is that if I have no idea how it’s going to end, then nor will any reader. In the novel The Secret the ‘lies’ had to conceal a known ending, until I was ready to reveal ‘it’ at the very end, seated at a table in an exclusive gentleman’s club in London.

CH: Since you have so many characters in this book, do you have anything to share about the main or supporting characters?

DK: I hope they all add the delicate strokes to the canvas of this novel and enhance the importance of the main protagonists.

CH: You recently wrote a supplement to The Secret. Why did this book need a supplement?

DK: It did not need a supplement, but I did it for commercial reasons. There is an abundance of free books on the market all with the aim of attracting readers to buy other books written by the author giving his/her work away. I do not believe that works unless it is part of a series or in a very specific genre and of the highest quality. In my opinion, there is a profusion of readers who will not pay for books, waiting simply for the ‘freebies’ that are offered. My idea was to publish this ‘supplement’ in the hope that the explanation I gave of how the repercussions of killing a man impacted on the rest of Patrick West’s life would capture the attention of those who read it; thereby, buying the already published full novel to discover more about him. I must add that I do not know if this worked.

CH: How long did it take you to write this book?

DK: The Secret took, I think, about three or four months. I had retired from ordinary work by then and had more time than I previously had for my other major novels. The supplement took about a week.

CH: One of your other books, Percy Crow, is about secrets, deceit and lies. Is this your specialty in writing?

DK: I certainly do like to be deceptive and apart from the three children’s stories I’ve written. I hope, I have been!

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

DK: I have 3 reviews all of which are 5 stars, but I did hope for more by this stage.

CH: What is your next writing project?

DK: I’m trying to complete another novella. I have written two so far, whilst waiting for those full novels to come back from editing/proofreading and I think three would be an ideal number to finish on.

CH: How to find Danny Kemp:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

DK: Amazon, Amazon.uk, and BookButler.co.uk

CH: Any closing remarks?

 

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There Is Nothing As Stale As An Empty Mind

Everyone’s a winner if the race is never run

Bruises count for nothing if the game has not been won

Everyone’s a dreamer when time is on their side

And a dreamer is someone that everyone decries

© 2016, Danny Kemp

 

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Sheer Terror

 

 

It’s the quiet that I fear.

It’s in the dark I find peace

It’s only the terror that I hear.

The nightmare has no release.

It’s the silence that I hate.

It’s to the shadows I run.

It’s a fear that doesn’t abate.

It’s a chain that can’t be undone.

To a crevice, I cling

With no footholds in sight.

Over an abyss, I must swing

Limbs tremble with fright.

There are no answers anymore

Only questions to face.

There’s only one thing I’m sure;

In death there is grace!

© 2016, Danny Kemp. All rights reserved

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It Takes Two To Love

Did your heart taste the tear

That fell from your face

As you parted with love

Leaving an empty space?

Did you stop to ask

And then wonder why,

The love you felt so easily

Drained away from your eye?

Were you alone

In a helpless place?

Memories of that love

Leaving no trace?

If two fall in love

Then both have lost.

When the love that was freely given

Takes a life as its cost!

© 2016, Danny Kemp. All rights reserved.

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To Write

The purpose behind writing a book is not just that it should be read. It is to exercise a troubled and restless mind.

Danny Kemp

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