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Historical novel help: different sort of project


Missy Charm
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On 12/24/2021 at 3:43 PM, Missy Charm said:

Short extract with motorbike stuff, just to give an indication of levels of detail.  Clifford Hook 'the man' is a factory production supervisor, Sarah is the protagonist and the others are fellow workers.    

 

‘Don’t worry’, the man said ‘all this fuss over a toy car. Who wants a car anyway, when you can ride a motorbike? You might think they break down a lot. Maybe once but now we’ve got the Japanese ones. Pearls of things, that’s what Hondas are, from big to small.’

‘How’s Eric finding the 125?’, asked Sarah, pouncing on the chance to change the subject ‘Does he still like it?’

‘He’s my son, of course he still likes it! You know we’re thinking about a run out to the seaside this weekend.’

‘Go down to Crimpton-on-Sea and see Sarah’s folks’, suggested Julie

‘They’re in Clacton, not Dovercourt’, Sarah said.

‘Is there a difference?’, asked Angela

‘Clacton’s got razzmatazz, and a pier with real live sealions in a tank, I took my mother to see them.’

‘What did she think?’, asked Hook

‘Doesn’t really think about anything, my mum’, said Sarah.

‘You go to Clacton on the train, don’t you’, said the supervisor ‘Never my favourite, that line; electric multiple units. I prefer a locomotive hauled service.’

‘That’s super, Mr Hook’, said Mrs Gomersall. ‘Oughtn’t you be telling them to get on, though? It’s starting to seem like nobody ever does any work in this factory.’

 

The bike test back then was piss easy. Only commuters stayed with learner bikes back then. The new 125cc learner limit was incoming back then so all learners mounted on 250 bikes just went and took their tests rather than have to sell their 250LC/X7 at a loss as the value of them halved overnight.

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On 12/19/2021 at 9:04 PM, Missy Charm said:

 

To set the scene: it's April 3rd 1981.  Easter is coming up and Hill Street Blues was on Thames last night; The Little World of Don Camillo was on the other side, for those whose parents only watched the BBC.  Manufacturing output is down by about 9%; unemployment is high, especially among the youth; Thatcher isn't greatly popular as monetarist policy doesn't seem to be doing what was claimed; the economy isn't quite in recession; Healey and Benn are vying for deputy leadership of The Labour Party.  Sarah Delaney, our protagonist, lives in a rented room in Romford and works in a small factory in a still industrial Barking.  

The roads are, of course, full of old favourites... 

 

 

Amstrad is/was only a few miles away and was booming at the time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

O.K., something slightly different.  I'm also working on a short story set in modern times (2018), with a supernatural theme.  One sequence involves a modern Range Rover not obeying its owner, just wondered if I've got the details right.  Extract below.  

[she] realised she still had her coat on and was too hot. Georgia turned into the town square, pulled the Range Rover into an empty space and got out. She put her coat onto the rear seat, climbed back into the front and dropped her hand to the gear selector wheel to change from park to reverse. Her fingers fell straight to the console instead.

‘What’, Georgia said. She looked down. The gear selector had disappeared into the console. It could do such a thing, being retractable, indeed it was supposed to do such a thing, but only when the ignition was turned off. Starting the car caused it to rise up proud of the surrounding trim, allowing the edge to be gripped and the wheel rotated between its various gear selection positions. The wheel was meant to stay up at all times the engine was running. Georgia glanced at the tachometer, which sat at a steady idle. The engine was running, she could hear it. Just to be sure she prodded the accelerator and the big diesel gave a muted roar in response. She looked back at the dashboard; the gear indicator showed a ‘P’, as did the selector’s illuminated surround. Georgia pressed her palm against the flat top of the selector wheel and tried to turn it in its retracted position. No good, it felt as if it was locked. A rising panic gripped her, accompanied by bitter bile at the back of her throat. Georgia scrabbled about in the cabin, opening the four wheel drive’s myriad storage bins and concealed cubbyholes in a desperate effort to find a tool of some sort. She turned up a Bic biro, took the lid off and tried to insert the pocket clip into the gap between the trim piece and the selector wheel’s edge, intending to lever it out of park. Georgia gritted her teeth, wiggling the plastic lid for all it was worth and getting nowhere.

‘Fuck!’, she cried to the empty cabin and threw the pen lid at the passenger’s window. ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck!’ She slapped the steering wheel, lightly of course for she didn’t want to damage the Range Rover. Rational thought was needed: the gear selector’s retraction mechanism, indeed the whole car, was controlled by computers. If a computer malfunctioned, one’s first course of action was to turn it off and restart it. The Range Rover needed to be powered down, rested and fired up again. Georgia, pleased with herself for working that out, pressed the ‘Start/Stop’ button and the engine died. She counted up to ten, put her foot on the brake and pressed the button again with a silent prayer. Immediately, the instrument panel lit up and the heater fan came on; the rev counter and speedometer dials swept from zero to maximum and back again. The engine did not start. She tried again. Nothing. Not even a twitch from the dials that time. Again. The panel lights went out and the heater switched itself off. Again. Nought but a barely audible click from the switch itself. Georgia bit the insides of her cheeks to stop herself screaming and, as calmly as she was able, got out of the car and closed the door. A full reset, she thought; lock the Range Rover, unlock it again and start the engine. Simple. She pressed the lock button on the key, the car’s indicators flashed and its wing mirrors folded in. With a deep breath and a growing sense of dread, Georgia pressed the unlock button. The car failed to respond.

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1 hour ago, Mr Pastry said:

Judging by many other threads on here, isn't that just what all modern cars do, all the time?  

That's a point I wanted to make!  Given so much is now automated, we don't actually have as much control over our environment as we used to.  It is entirely possible for machines to start misbehaving.  There's also supposed to be a whiff of Maximum Overdrive about that extract.  

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11 hours ago, Missy Charm said:

O.K., something slightly different.  I'm also working on a short story set in modern times (2018), with a supernatural theme.  One sequence involves a modern Range Rover not obeying its owner, just wondered if I've got the details right.  Extract below.  

[she] realised she still had her coat on and was too hot. Georgia turned into the town square, pulled the Range Rover into an empty space and got out. She put her coat onto the rear seat, climbed back into the front and dropped her hand to the gear selector wheel to change from park to reverse. Her fingers fell straight to the console instead.

‘What’, Georgia said. She looked down. The gear selector had disappeared into the console. It could do such a thing, being retractable, indeed it was supposed to do such a thing, but only when the ignition was turned off. Starting the car caused it to rise up proud of the surrounding trim, allowing the edge to be gripped and the wheel rotated between its various gear selection positions. The wheel was meant to stay up at all times the engine was running. Georgia glanced at the tachometer, which sat at a steady idle. The engine was running, she could hear it. Just to be sure she prodded the accelerator and the big diesel gave a muted roar in response. She looked back at the dashboard; the gear indicator showed a ‘P’, as did the selector’s illuminated surround. Georgia pressed her palm against the flat top of the selector wheel and tried to turn it in its retracted position. No good, it felt as if it was locked. A rising panic gripped her, accompanied by bitter bile at the back of her throat. Georgia scrabbled about in the cabin, opening the four wheel drive’s myriad storage bins and concealed cubbyholes in a desperate effort to find a tool of some sort. She turned up a Bic biro, took the lid off and tried to insert the pocket clip into the gap between the trim piece and the selector wheel’s edge, intending to lever it out of park. Georgia gritted her teeth, wiggling the plastic lid for all it was worth and getting nowhere.

‘Fuck!’, she cried to the empty cabin and threw the pen lid at the passenger’s window. ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck!’ She slapped the steering wheel, lightly of course for she didn’t want to damage the Range Rover. Rational thought was needed: the gear selector’s retraction mechanism, indeed the whole car, was controlled by computers. If a computer malfunctioned, one’s first course of action was to turn it off and restart it. The Range Rover needed to be powered down, rested and fired up again. Georgia, pleased with herself for working that out, pressed the ‘Start/Stop’ button and the engine died. She counted up to ten, put her foot on the brake and pressed the button again with a silent prayer. Immediately, the instrument panel lit up and the heater fan came on; the rev counter and speedometer dials swept from zero to maximum and back again. The engine did not start. She tried again. Nothing. Not even a twitch from the dials that time. Again. The panel lights went out and the heater switched itself off. Again. Nought but a barely audible click from the switch itself. Georgia bit the insides of her cheeks to stop herself screaming and, as calmly as she was able, got out of the car and closed the door. A full reset, she thought; lock the Range Rover, unlock it again and start the engine. Simple. She pressed the lock button on the key, the car’s indicators flashed and its wing mirrors folded in. With a deep breath and a growing sense of dread, Georgia pressed the unlock button. The car failed to respond.

 

It looks fine to me.

Just this passage gives me nightmares as my Range Rover is now 5 years old and given my past experience of Range Rovers I have all this to come!

I hate the rotary gear selector because I have to look at it to select a gear and have always had a fear it won't rise!

IMG_20200130_094036 broad.jpg

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11 minutes ago, Six-cylinder said:

 

It looks fine to me.

Just this passage gives me nightmares as my Range Rover is now 5 years old and given my past experience of Range Rovers I have all this to come!

I hate the rotary gear selector because I have to look at it to select a gear and have always had a fear it won't rise!

IMG_20200130_094036 broad.jpg

Thank you kindly!  Good to know that it seems all right to you.  I've not driven a Range Rover, but my first thought on seeing the rising gear wheel was 'what if it doesn't pop up?'; obviously hoping that isn't a problem for you, of course.  

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17 hours ago, Missy Charm said:

O.K., something slightly different.  I'm also working on a short story set in modern times (2018), with a supernatural theme.  One sequence involves a modern Range Rover not obeying its owner, just wondered if I've got the details right.  Extract below.  

[she] realised she still had her coat on and was too hot. Georgia turned into the town square, pulled the Range Rover into an empty space and got out. She put her coat onto the rear seat, climbed back into the front and dropped her hand to the gear selector wheel to change from park to reverse. Her fingers fell straight to the console instead.

‘What’, Georgia said. She looked down. The gear selector had disappeared into the console. It could do such a thing, being retractable, indeed it was supposed to do such a thing, but only when the ignition was turned off. Starting the car caused it to rise up proud of the surrounding trim, allowing the edge to be gripped and the wheel rotated between its various gear selection positions. The wheel was meant to stay up at all times the engine was running. Georgia glanced at the tachometer, which sat at a steady idle. The engine was running, she could hear it. Just to be sure she prodded the accelerator and the big diesel gave a muted roar in response. She looked back at the dashboard; the gear indicator showed a ‘P’, as did the selector’s illuminated surround. Georgia pressed her palm against the flat top of the selector wheel and tried to turn it in its retracted position. No good, it felt as if it was locked. A rising panic gripped her, accompanied by bitter bile at the back of her throat. Georgia scrabbled about in the cabin, opening the four wheel drive’s myriad storage bins and concealed cubbyholes in a desperate effort to find a tool of some sort. She turned up a Bic biro, took the lid off and tried to insert the pocket clip into the gap between the trim piece and the selector wheel’s edge, intending to lever it out of park. Georgia gritted her teeth, wiggling the plastic lid for all it was worth and getting nowhere.

‘Fuck!’, she cried to the empty cabin and threw the pen lid at the passenger’s window. ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck!’ She slapped the steering wheel, lightly of course for she didn’t want to damage the Range Rover. Rational thought was needed: the gear selector’s retraction mechanism, indeed the whole car, was controlled by computers. If a computer malfunctioned, one’s first course of action was to turn it off and restart it. The Range Rover needed to be powered down, rested and fired up again. Georgia, pleased with herself for working that out, pressed the ‘Start/Stop’ button and the engine died. She counted up to ten, put her foot on the brake and pressed the button again with a silent prayer. Immediately, the instrument panel lit up and the heater fan came on; the rev counter and speedometer dials swept from zero to maximum and back again. The engine did not start. She tried again. Nothing. Not even a twitch from the dials that time. Again. The panel lights went out and the heater switched itself off. Again. Nought but a barely audible click from the switch itself. Georgia bit the insides of her cheeks to stop herself screaming and, as calmly as she was able, got out of the car and closed the door. A full reset, she thought; lock the Range Rover, unlock it again and start the engine. Simple. She pressed the lock button on the key, the car’s indicators flashed and its wing mirrors folded in. With a deep breath and a growing sense of dread, Georgia pressed the unlock button. The car failed to respond.

standard! 😁

 

also replace "range rover" with "renault migraine"🤣

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@Missy CharmCan I respectfully point out that your extract will puzzle anyone who doesn't know what the gearchange on a modern Range Rover is like?   Maybe your readers move in such circles, as clearly do most Autoshiters, but I have only ever driven one RR which was an early one with a proper gear lever.  I struggled to imagine what a "gear selector wheel" was like.  I found myself picturing some sort of steampunk thing,  which made no sense on a Range Rover.  Then when I saw the photo it isn't even a wheel, it's a knob.   Which was actually a bit disappointing.   Just saying.

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Other modern large prestige SUVs are available, with more normal gear change mechanisms. I suspect they can all break down in frustrating ways. 

Are the readers meant to be sympathetic to her? If so I would suggest she isn’t driving a large SUV. Unless this sort of person is your target reader, of course.

From the name and RR I am assuming she is a footballer’s wife/Cheshire housewife type of person. What my grandparents would have called  ‘nouveau riches’

If she is old school posh she would be Georgina, not Georgia, which is a hideous modern confection circa 1990 - see also ‘Paige’, ‘Riley’ and any other name sourced from an American daytime soap. 

EDIT: apologies if the above comes across a bit blunt - it’s your novel, not mine. Writing is something that sounds easy but actually takes much commitment and energy, something I would never have the patience for! Much respect to you 🙂

Also I’m now really hoping your first name isn’t Georgia, Paige or Riley 🤭!!!

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57 minutes ago, AnthonyG said:

Other modern large prestige SUVs are available, with more normal gear change mechanisms. I suspect they can all break down in frustrating ways. 

Are the readers meant to be sympathetic to her? If so I would suggest she isn’t driving a large SUV. Unless this sort of person is your target reader, of course.

From the name and RR I am assuming she is a footballer’s wife/Cheshire housewife type of person. What my grandparents would have called  ‘nouveau riches’

If she is old school posh she would be Georgina, not Georgia, which is a hideous modern confection circa 1990 - see also ‘Paige’, ‘Riley’ and any other name sourced from an American daytime soap. 

EDIT: apologies if the above comes across a bit blunt - it’s your novel, not mine. Writing is something that sounds easy but actually takes much commitment and energy, something I would never have the patience for! Much respect to you 🙂

Also I’m now really hoping your first name isn’t Georgia, Paige or Riley 🤭!!!

As regards the character, you are spot on on all counts as regards age, class background and whether or not she is a 'sympathetic' character.  The only slight deviation is that she's a director of a family firm with an honest belief that she got there through hard work.  What you've said is an enormous compliment.  

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22 hours ago, Missy Charm said:

O.K., something slightly different.  I'm also working on a short story set in modern times (2018), with a supernatural theme.  One sequence involves a modern Range Rover not obeying its owner, just wondered if I've got the details right.  Extract below.  

 

You do know that there was a Hammer house Of Horror (I think) story involving a black Capri II 3.0 S/GT that was possessed?

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10 hours ago, Six-cylinder said:

I hate the rotary gear selector because I have to look at it to select a gear and have always had a fear it won't rise!

Is that why modern Range Rover drivers buy viagra? 

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On 13/01/2022 at 17:10, Mr Pastry said:

@Missy CharmCan I respectfully point out that your extract will puzzle anyone who doesn't know what the gearchange on a modern Range Rover is like?   Maybe your readers move in such circles, as clearly do most Autoshiters, but I have only ever driven one RR which was an early one with a proper gear lever.  I struggled to imagine what a "gear selector wheel" was like.  I found myself picturing some sort of steampunk thing,  which made no sense on a Range Rover.  Then when I saw the photo it isn't even a wheel, it's a knob.   Which was actually a bit disappointing.   Just saying.

That's a perfectly valid point.   Having re-read it I agree, there does need to be greater explanation regarding what the thing looks like.  Thank you.

22 hours ago, warren t claim said:

You do know that there was a Hammer house Of Horror (I think) story involving a black Capri II 3.0 S/GT that was possessed?

'Growing Pains', apparently!  I've never seen it.  Interestingly, Hammer House of Horror came out in 1980 so predates Christine in both novel and film form.  Possessed machinery, however, is bound to be a recurring motif.

20 hours ago, High Jetter said:

So there's something to make 'dear reader' doubt that?

There is, just not in this particular extract.  

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One thing about 1981 was PCP hadn't been invented (I think) and most cars were fairly mundane, eg a friend who was a junior rep had a thoroughly miserable basic Escort Mark 2, you had to be a manager to get a Cortina and only the top brass had a Zodiac. Fords were popular because they were so carefully stratified that a company could have a suitable Ford for everyone entitled to a company car. I had just bought my first Saab (a 96) and then it was looked on as something exotic, so most people would have been driving dull middle-aged British cars. HTH

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3 hours ago, Missy Charm said:

That's a perfectly valid point.   Having re-read it I agree, there does need to be greater explanation regarding what the thing looks like.  Thank you.

'Growing Pains', apparently!  I've never seen it.  Interestingly, Hammer House of Horror came out in 1980 so predates Christine in both novel and film form.  Possessed machinery, however, is bound to be a recurring motif.

There is, just not in this particular extract.  

 

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    • By Fumbler
      To mark the genesis of my fleet project thread I here present my new car: a 1997 Nissan Micra Shape-


      It really looks that good. There is a reason for this: its previous owner was an old lady who loved the thing so much so she made every effort to keep it in good shape. It originally came from Fleet in the GU postcode which suggests to me it was bought by the present dealer at auction, hence arriving down here in Kent. Before seeing the car I checked its MOT history and its only fails were thanks to broken stoplights, which shows me that it was very well cared for. I suppose an example of this was that on the last MOT, an advisory was a corroded rear silencer. The silencer on the car when I saw it was new. Methinks the lady wanted to keep it as good as possible. It was kept in a garage and so all the bumpers and black trim are very black and the tyres are in very good condition. Spare never used! Also included a free Dettol first aid kit from 1997.
      This car has 15000 genuine miles on the clock. We clocked over 15000 during the test drive! The lady owner really only trundled around her village in it and the MOT shows that it only did some meagre miles between tests. This, of course, came at a price. We saw a cherry red Micra from 2002 at the same dealer. Paint was shoddy and when they washed it the boot had massive sections of bare metal and it wasn't very happy. This car, however, is in fabulous condition and there was no contest between the two cars- it really is that good, inside and out. Immaculate interior, driver's airbag, cassette player... all there and all functioning (apart from cassette thanks to new battery and failed display). This meant that I bought it for £1600, £100 over what was my uppermost limit, but I knew I wouldn't see another like this that was in as good shape for a fair while. It was priced very ambitiously, at £1990, so I'm content in the fact I managed to slash a few hundred off the price. There wasn't that much paperwork though. All the dealership received was the logbook with 3 service stamps from 1998, 1999 and 2000, the radio key pass, a National Trust sticker, and the original paperwork holder. I suspect the old lady died and had her car auctioned, and the massive file of paperwork is now someone's egg carton, along will everything else she owned.

      As always, this car isn't exactly in showroom condition. While the inside is great and the floor is solid, and the underseal is in great shape, the not undersealed parts need a small looking at. Mainly the rear of the driver's side sill. It's really the only bubbling on the car. I suspect a well aimed stonechip managed to fester over the wintery salted roads, making it rust even more. It's around the size of a 5p piece, and will give me the opportunity to spray the insides of the sill with some chain oil to prevent any further corrosion. Behind the fuel tank there are a few rusty joints- places where the spraygun cannot get paint onto- which some Vactan and Dynax should put to rights. Alternator belt looks original because of the cracking and Nissan badges and will need doing soon as well as the front plate. As much as I like the 90's font and original dealer surround, the dishevelled R and general water ingress is a persistant MOT advisory. It could be the MOT station being strict (and most likely is considering there's a Saxo down the road with far worse blackening), however for the sake of peace of mind and all that, I'll get a new one made. The rear has already been replaced indicating this has happened before.
      All in all, I think this is a nice plucky motor. I'll have it by the end of the week; just got to sort out tax, insurance, and it's going to have an MOT. As part of the deal it's getting the MOT and an oil and filter change which will be something ticked off the list. It has some love scratches and chips here and there, but it drives well, is stiff and controllable, and should make out to be a nice summer project!
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