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Pit Prop (Hal Jons writing as Harry Graham)
Luther Lewis bestrides his pits like a colossus. He is feared and hated and grudges go deep. With many pits closed or on short time, Lewis’ Bryn Ebbw collieries are working flat out. All it needs is a spark to cause chaos. Tom Morgan, union man, provides the spark, but it is Dai Crew, overflowing with hatred for Lewis, that strikes the fateful blow. The resultant calamity is quite unlike the popular conception of a mining disaster and many families become embroiled. Above ground the silence has a different quality than usual and some need no telling that they may never again see husbands or children.
It is soon known that Lewis is amongst the missing, which engenders many and varied feelings in those waiting to hear about loved ones. Whilst the task of digging out any survivors begins, the disaster provokes everyone – those safe above ground and those trapped in the mine – to start a process of soul searching. For some it is a wake–up call but others seem more than happy to find that they have no soul to search. Behind every face is a story – and behind some faces are ugly secrets that would do much better to stay hid.
Hal Jons, writing here as Harry Graham, went back to his childhood in Ebbw Vale and based much of this story about real happenings and real people - suitably anonymised so as to protect the guilty and innocent alike. Perhaps that's why this is one of Jons' best-loved books.
Channel Incident (Hal Jons writing as Harry Graham)
Captain Redford and his faithful bosun, Hoskins, ever belligerent where Nazis were concerned, began their war well before the official declaration after the fanatical crew of the stricken German boat, Alfeldt, committed an act of piracy by stealing the boat that rescued them. Things didn’t look good, but this was the catalyst for Redford’s meeting with fearless Polish flyer, Jan Radek. When their stolen Heinkel crashed in the sea, he and his men were rescued by the Nazi sailors in the mistaken assumption that they were saving their own.
There I was minding my own business, stuck on the beach at Dunkirk, when Redford and Hoskins came into my life. Redford decided to involve me in his personal war – and what a war it was – running the gauntlet of E–boats to transport Radek and his team of saboteurs to and from Nazi occupied France. Luck was bound to run out and it did. With our sturdy boat blown away from under us, we were left with no other choice but to go on the run in occupied territory. More than once I wished I was back at Dunkirk – but then I wouldn’t have met Radek’s daring and beautiful sister, Erica.
On its original publication, Channel Incident proved popular enough to be translated into several languages and was available in one version or another for over ten years.
Tabitha Miggins: Ship's Cat (On The Pill Ferry) (Mark Clinton Jones writing as Philippa Perry)
Tabitha Miggins is a special kind of heroine, possibly unique in the annals of literary fiction. Brave, furry, resolute, bushy-tailed, adventurous and bewhiskered, her hobbies include knitting and Milk Stout and she certainly does not let I dare wait upon I would.
Marvel to fur-raising adventures with pirates, smugglers and cannibals on the magical island of Brindle Holm - or relax in the snug of The Duke on the North Somerset bank of the River Avon in sleepiest Pill with friends both big and small. Tabitha's friends include the Ferry Captain, Willard the well-hard mallard, Nutter Slater, Clarence the cross-eyed badger, Whitebeard the pirate, Rat-a-Tat Ginger, Sticky Paws O'Grady and her childhood chum, Lavinia (better-known to many the world over as "here comes old tail-up-for-the-lads").
Amongst Tabitha's shortlist of mortal enemies (not counting an island-full of cannibal cats) are the Meider Bahnhof Group, the most violent trainspotters in the history of trainspotting, and the evil-minded Smuckle. Baddies don't come much badder! Well, they do, but this is supposed to be a children's book. Well, sort of. Apart from the dirty jokes, obviously. Well, it's for anyone with a bit of child in their make-up to be honest. That's right, it's for ogres!
Since this was published under the far more fluffy name of Philippa Perry, it has come to light that there is a more famous Philippa Perry out there with books to her name, so we've had to admit that this rather silly set of half-witted adventures is really the product of award-nominated author, Mark Jones. I mean, all the clues were there - who else would include Bristolian folk music, real ale, trainspotting, real ale, database administration and real ale in their stories?
Further Adventures of Tabitha Miggins, Ship's Cat on the Pill Ferry
Here we go; here's another set of half-witted adventures and reminiscences from that most furry of all heroines, Tabitha Miggins. She's still brave, furry, resolute, bushy-tailed, adventurous and bewhiskered and she certainly does not match "the cat i' the adage" (one for Shakespeare fans there).
In this (eminently bushy) tail, she manages to change the course of history thanks to a slight faux pas. It gets better, though, thanks to Tabitha going to have a chinwag with her future self, so as to find out how she saved the world from the radical, new history that she'd caused.
As it turns out, saving the world involves passing Warp speed and knitting at Weft speed, even though this means Tabitha knitting herself out of history altogether. Some days a cat just has to do what a cat has to do; that's what duty's all about.
If all this wasn't enough, Tabitha meets up again with the dastardly Smuckle and we find out how he managed to survive throwing himself in the sea whilst bound in heavy, iron chains back in the last book. We also get to find out how the decorating in his hideout on Lundy went.
And if that wasn't enough, there lots more knitting, not to mention gallons of Pill Brewery Milk Stout, and we even get to hear about Nutter Slater's not-so-secret life as leader of The Pill Morris, the most feared Morris Team in the civilized world...and let's just mention now that their 'Obby 'Oss is the stuff of nightmare - and it's no good just sticking your head under the covers; it knows where you are...and what you've done. Sleep tight, now, little ones, sleep tight.