Here is a link to download the full story in MP3 for your car or on the go:
This novel does NOT deal with gemstones or 3rd world business but recounts the adventures of a medieval woman, Demuth, and her Viking dog, Hal.
Germany, 1499 AD:
The Renaissance is dawning over Europe. Ideas of freedom and science shake the foundations of medieval society. New Worlds, discovered in the West, open unprecedented opportunities for Europe and its oppressed people.
Demuth, the successful but eccentric apothecary, knows little about these developments… until she is forced to flee from a witch-hunt and must leave her protected life for good.
With Hal by her side and a pouch of opium around her neck, Demuth learns that the world is much bigger than she had ever imagined.
Listen to Part I: Lives End!
The full audio-book can be bought from WildFish directly.
See the green grass on the other side?
Paperback is available here.
Thanks for all your feed-back. I hope to start a new Ed Bristol story sometimes this year.
Once in a while I swap my tray of gems for a day of dirt. This is usually triggered by a bad gemstone in a new parcel, a software problem or a customer who treats me like a crook. Before I loose my temper and call a customer a psychopath or a miner a cheat, I get out my Kärcher.
For those not familiar with German engineering, a Kärcher is the high pressure cleaner. Nothing beats a true Kärcher. In German, “kärcher” is a verb and its means to clean-out hell. They are expensive but genius.
Kärcher come as electric household items and go up to industrial gasoline monsters. While the latter are used to drill tunnels through the Alps they are all based on pumping fluid out of a pistol with such force that water turns to steel. Even my midsize household variety will rip toes off your feet, demolish letter-boxes or shred hedges in seconds.
Cleanliness fanatics, compulsive obsessive hygienists, and men over 40, worship them as the ultimate therapy against the filth of life.
Evil tongues say men love them so much because of the persistent on-command pressure (you know, prostate problems, and erectile dysfunction and so on). Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Ex-Prime-Minister is said to have a world class selection of Kärchers.
Personally, I can’t claim freedom from primate instincts but I do know I hate dirty houses.
Our business allows buying gemstones but it does not finance real estate. However, a gypsy by heart, I move a lot. We always rent; and rented houses are dirty, especially in some of the places we have lived.
To understand a Kärcher, you need to see what it does to an old house. Is your backyard laid with red bricks? They will shine in bright orange. Your walls are white? The Kärcher will peel off blackish soup and leave stripes of shining white behind. Gray marble? Mossy brown granite? Discover that there are not only color-changing gemstones but also color-changing houses!
A day of kärchering is dirty beyond imagination. Places that are usually left alone, behind the garbage bins or under the stairs, will explode in fountains of mud. Ancient layers of decaying matter will fly sky high. The dogs hide; and so does my wife. Only the flies, they love me. To succeed here one must surrender to absolute dirt. Then, it is a spiritual experience. Zen and the Kärcher.
Praise global distribution networks. I bought my Kärcher in an Asian department store. It is a very German product but I got very local reactions:
In Colombo the neighbors confirmed I was crazy. In Bangkok they wanted to borrow my Kärcher for the annual water festival (accessory to murder that is). The Balinese worried to stir the “Buta”, the house demon. In Sydney I was yelled at for wasting water and in Lisbon the neighbors rolled their eyes as in “those Germans”. One thing you can be sure of, however, is envious looks from elderly men. It never fails.
Be warned though, kärchering is addictive. Once started, nothing but sleep will stop the alcoholic from drinking. Once dirty, nothing but exhaustion will stop me from kärchering the whole filthy city. There always is another corner to be flushed out.
Death-by-Kärcher is common amongst German retirees. Once they are finished inside, they turn to the street. That is their end.
Young Hillary Adams recorded her sadistic father; and posted it online.
His shame is forever public. Well done!
Let all parents know: In the 21st century, you will be watched.
The clip ruined my week but never mind as long as William Adams’ week is worse. The memory of being whipped for nothing more than leaving the light on (so small, I was scared in the dark) or for an only average test result at school.
The fact that this is done by your own parents (shame the moms, too) and in your own bedroom makes it so inescapably terrible. The immediate pain on the skin is little compared to the effect of William’s final words: “See what you’ve done to your family! Are you now happy?” Obviously she wasn’t, cramping on the floor, but she might have believed that it was her fault, that she was blame and not him. That is how kids are.
I will not whine about how tough my childhood was. For most kids in Asia and Africa beatings are the easy part. But let me say that, after seeing Hillary’s video, I wanted to get on the next flight and give my dad a little whipping, just for fun or because he didn’t come to my daughter’s birthday. Don’t get me started. May he thank God that I am not all like him – an-eye-for-an-eye and so on.
Beware of neglect and the damage done to children. It comes back in terrible shapes; as terrorism, and racism, and crystal-meth and, of course, more child abuse. Personally, I intend to break this cycle in my own little family. My daughter will not have to endure what was done to me.
Sure, a teenage daughter can be a pest and all. My daughter will, perhaps, be a pest some-day, but I herewith –forever public– ask God to rot off my hands if I ever do anything remotely comparable.
I just love CCTVs, wireless webcams, IP-Cameras and constant home surveillance. Forget about privacy if we can protect our children from harm.
“Where is the best place to live?”
People love to think there is a better life somewhere out there. They expect me to say: This Tropical Island or that City is THE best place to be. But honestly, I have to say: Nowhere. You always end up with yourself.
Sure, nobody wants to hear this. Thus, before I get frowns as a lousy conversationalist, I offer more entertaining versions: Open French restaurants on Madeira; add Balinese massages and Brazilian beaches and that would be a pretty good place. Bring German law & order to Madagascar, and let the Burmese do the cooking, that’d be good. Teach the Thais to speak some English and be less racist, then clean up the streets and it won’t be bad.
But really, any place is just as good as you yourself. People find happiness in the most unlikely places and circumstances. Life as a Buddhist monk is outwardly worse a punishment than prison but people do it voluntary.
Happiness is never over there, or then, and definitely not on the next island.
However, some Expat-myths need busting:
1. Living abroad is cheaper. Yes, but only if you can eat Ugali-Ugali (don’t ask) three times a day every day, just as the poor Kenyans do. If you want cornflakes and milk you will discover that they are more expensive than at home. Yes, you can build a house for 20k in Sri Lanka but it won’t keep animals out of your bed.
2. Life on tropical islands is easy going. Not a drop. Earning a local salary is nightmarish beyond a union member’s imagination. Doing business is inviting trouble with crooks and greedy officials. A visit to a Sri Lankan prison will deter you from doing business under the tax radar, let alone illegal stuff. It is hard to earn a foreign currency. If in the west 50% of all businesses go bust in the first year, it is 90% that go down in paradise. In each case naïve Westerners put their retirement funds on the line and lose it all, often including their health. The odds are so against you. The locals are helpful in the investment phase. After that, you will learn that money rules Rio more than New York. A common joke in Brazil: “How to leave paradise with a million dollars? Come with 5.”
3. The men/women are so whatever. Yes, but only if you have left your brain at immigration. Abound are the stories of guys/girls marrying local girls/guys and go on to build the biggest house in her/his village. Up-on completion he/she discovers that he/she actually is already married to the “house-keeper” and that the land deed is in his/her name. The whole village knew, and laughed. The local judge is his/her father-in-law, so you get kicked out of their own house, bye-bye, big time.
4. You can always go back. Yes, you can, but it is hard to move from Bali to Liverpool. A rule of thump amongst Expats says: ‘10 years or never”. You just don’t fit in anymore after 10 years and will feel an alien at home. Then, better be a true alien and never come back.
5. The East is more spiritual. Not anymore. The East has long succumbed to excessive materialism while California beams with meditation centers and yoga classes. In the hills of Thailand and Laos there are great meditation retreats but they are run by western monks. The West has infected the East with efficiency and wealth (nothing bad there btw) but has taken the flame of impermanence to shine even brighter in the West. It is an ironic wink of the universe: In the end the truth always survives.
6. The locals are good people. No more or less than anywhere else, but be wary: Poverty is bad for morals. A common illusion is to praise the virtues of a people (“the friendly Thais”) but to take for granted that they can add 5 and 5 without a calculator, but they can’t. Chances are it comes out 11; and that is not funny after a few years, especially if you always end up paying more if you don’t double-check. Lying and cheating is an honorable qualification in many countries. There are few human rights for a foreigner but the right to pay the bill.
Now, obviously, I don’t fancy couch-potatoes, but if you go abroad be realistic and be smart:
– Don’t buy when you can rent
– Don’t commit when you can test
– Don’t marry a stranger
– Don’t start a business you don’t understand
– Don’t assume the law will protect you
– Don’t drive motorcycles
– Take your time. One year is nothing.
– Do observe yourself: Are you only going local, or are you going crazy?
Above all don’t hope to escape bad days, nasty people, arthritis or your private demons.
Have a safe trip.
I used to despise overregulated western bureaucracies, Nile-long incomprehensive official papers, and I cursed when I needed a notarized birth certificate to get married.
Well, I thought it over! Our airport is shut down by mob, people drive unlit bikes in the dark on the wrong side of the road, the dead cow in the canal competes with the stench from the uncollected garbage, my neighbor runs a brothel, and I would appreciate a bit of the rule of law.
Make no mistake: overflowing sewers, poisoned rivers and spoiled food were once standard fair in London too. The city stank and killed. People were worth only the money they had. Peasants, untouchables, children and animals, all were slaves to others and their little food.
We have come a long way from marauding nomads. Many still have a long way to go, be it on a personal level or as a people. Even if the devil’s advocate claims the last century to have been “truly his” – that is not correct. Genocide is a new word but an old habit. We only started to see evil for what it is.
Bad stuff happens all the time but we are working on it. So, when you fill out the next form, remind yourself, that it is the price you have to pay to live in a better world.
Give them anything: cold water, a beating, unpaid holiday in Siberia but no cash. They will pay each other more retainers, boni and retirement funds; and go home at 5.30.
Help the people who really got in trouble, pay workers, scrap or reduce VAT for December, pay health services, cut farm subsidies, allow more qualified immigration, invest in small companies, anything, but do not let the fat cats sleep one minute longer. Wake them up. It is market judgment day.
The Citibank sold my grandma a real estate fund as safe investment for her age. Now they froze the fund and ask her for new money.
Simple truth is they didn’t do their job. Out of greed and/or stupidity they ignored a basic universal law: Risk and profit are partners.
Let them suffer!
Many people suffer three problems:
1. They have to work very hard to earn money.
2. Then they have to endure ignorant (cheap) or arrogant (expensive) sales people to drag stuff home and decipher maddening manuals.
3. Finally they get a headache from all the broken or unfashionable belongings in their garage and backyard.
That makes live hard work only: A garage full of old handbags, shoes, toasters and TVs, cupboards, tools and toys, tea sets, pans and pots, jackets and pants.
Mark that no good gem or jewelry will ever end there!
Don’t buy all that stuff.
It is only trouble.