Sunday, 14 February 2021

The Meat Elite

 Hi all,

As you'll know if you're read my novels, I do like to explore alternative, dystopian futures on occasion. I have all sorts of ideas, often inspired by current affairs, that don't make it into print as they aren't substantial enough to make into a full novel. So they sit on the backburner.

What I'd like to do is explore some of these through short stories, so here is the first of what may become a series. Here, I imagine what might happen if future people in power looked back at what happened over 2020-2021 and used it as a template to pursue other objectives.

I wanted it to be concise, so I've kept it to 1,500 words. I'd be interested to hear your feedback. If you like it, I may write some more. Enjoy!



The Meat Elite - by Jason Ayres

 

As Annie pushed the swing doors that led back into the kitchen, the unmistakable smell of sizzling steak assailed her nostrils.

How long had it been since she had tasted meat? It must be getting on for two years now. As the chefs scurried around in their white shirts and check trousers, she felt an all too familiar craving, one she would have to suppress. For she was not one of the privileged few.

They were all here tonight. The elite. The exclusive members club where she waitressed was hosting a big Christmas bash for a group of senior cabinet members and selected friends. Such gatherings were illegal under the 2025 Infectious Diseases Act, but the attendees tonight considered themselves exempt from that.

It was all strictly top secret. To work tonight, Annie had been required to sign a non-disclosure form with a threat of up to ten years in prison should she break it.

The dinner was being hosted by the new health secretary who had taken over after the 2024 general election. Annie had also recognised other senior medical staff she had seen standing at the podiums during Downing Street press conferences. There were also several prominent television presenters and well-known climate change campaigners. As she had served them their starters they had all been laughing and joking like they didn’t have a care in the world.

They had ignored her, of course, but then she barely even registered as a human to them, hidden behind her mask. Ordinary citizens were required to wear them in all public places. It had been that way on and off ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, some seven years ago.

It would soon be time for her to take out the main courses. She watched as one particularly flamboyant chef tossed a steak in the air like a pancake before it landed back in the pan with a flash of flame.

When she was growing up, she could never have imagined a world where eating meat would now be the preserve of the super-wealthy. Her father had been a traditionalist who insisted that the family came together for Sunday lunch every week. She recalled the joints of meat now, gorgeous, rare topside of beef, with Yorkshire puddings cooked in the dripping, and succulent legs of pork, with perfect, crispy crackling. No-one had been able to make crackling like her dad.

Gosh, she still missed him so much. It had been six years now, and she still couldn’t believe he’d left her the way he had. Seeing these Government ministers here tonight brought it all back. They weren’t the same politicians who had been in charge during the Covid-19 crisis, but no matter – they were all the same in her eyes.

Her father had retired in 2019 and poured his life savings into opening a lovely little family restaurant in their hometown. It had thrived, quickly gaining a loyal following of local devotees.

But all that changed in 2020. The business survived the first lockdown and struggled through the second. They had been all ready to bounce back at Christmas, but then they were forced to close again. As 2021 wore on, with one reason after another for extending the lockdown, the business was forced to close. Her father lost everything, and not long afterwards took his own life.

Slowly, the world had returned to normal. But then, in the autumn of 2024, news of a new pandemic swept the globe.

This time, the virus was spread by animals, starting, as it always seemed to, in China. It began slowly, with rumours of a new strain of flu in chickens before spreading to cattle. Before long cases were being reported on every continent.

The media frenzy soon began, with experts warning that eating contaminated meat could spread the virus to humans. A computer model from a prominent London college suggested that five million could die in Britain if all meat consumption did not cease immediately.

Overnight, all meat products were pulled from supermarket shelves. Those who had seen it coming and stocked up their chest freezers were not sitting pretty for long. Draconian fines were introduced for even being in possessing any meat, with police given powers to enter any home to carry out a search. Keeping food animals, such as chickens, carried a jail sentence.

For their own safety, the people were put under lockdown again, with other restrictions such as face masks reintroduced. Many deaths in hospitals were connected to the supposedly infected meat, though those who questioned these diagnoses were ridiculed and cancelled.

All livestock was slaughtered. The meat industry was up in arms, but the farmers were sated by massive handouts from the Government to permanently convert their premises. There had been huge advances in the technology for producing vegan food and the choice between financial security or utter ruin was not a difficult one to make.

The same choices were being made all over the world, with the source of cash being used to bankroll these huge changes never being identified.

The crisis dragged on for the best part of a year, during which many climate campaigners stepped up declaring this had been a blessing in disguise for the planet. They had long stated that intensive farming had been disastrous for the climate’s carbon footprint, and welcomed this opportunity to enact permanent change.

Social media joined in of course, with those in favour cheering on the cause. Opinions polls showed 75% in favour of a permanent ban on meat. Annie found these figures hard to believe.

She had never had a problem with vegetarians or vegans. She felt that everybody had the right to make their own choices on these issues. But it didn’t work both ways. Anyone who protested against what was happening was denounced and discredited.

Now, over two years after the outbreak had started, a tiny amount of organic farming was permitted again, under strict guidelines. The total production was less than 1% of what it had been before the pandemic. Not only did you have to have a licence to sell it, but you also had to have a licence to buy it.

Even if you did possess a licence, the cost was beyond the means of most people. Something as simple as a chicken breast would now set you back a three-figure sum, leaving meat as the preserve only of the elite.

Like these people here tonight, thought Annie. For them, a hundred pounds was the equivalent of about 50p to her. These same people, who had screamed for the slaughter and more restrictions. These same people, who had told her it was all for her own good. Well, it wasn’t good enough. She simply wasn’t going to take it anymore.

It was time for the meals to go out. She was handed a plate and gazed lovingly at the juicy, perfectly cooked meat in front of her. This one was for the health secretary, who liked his steak rare. Dripping with blood was how he had requested it.

A second plate was handed to her. This was for a daytime TV presenter who had never shut up about the need to convert to a vegan diet after she had realised that was the bandwagon to jump aboard. What a hypocrite.

She pushed through the swing door that led out into the corridor, but instead of going straight across into the dining room, she turned right. She walked to the end and around a corner, where she would be out of sight at the foot of a staircase.

She sat on the stairs, picked up the rare steak by hand and gorged on it, stuffing the meat into her mouth like there was no tomorrow. As she did so, rivulets of bloody juice ran down her chin, dripping on to her white waitress uniform and staining it with blood that would probably never come out. But that didn’t matter. She wouldn’t need it again after tonight.

The first steak was demolished in a couple of minutes, and then she started on the second. She had heard people talking about having experiences that were better than sex. As she savoured every precious mouthful, she now knew exactly what they meant.

Finished, she left the plates on the stairs. Then she looked up and saw the CCTV camera trained directly upon her.

No matter. What else could they do to her now that they hadn’t done already? There was no point to life if you couldn’t live it. And tonight, for possibly the first time in seven years, she felt incredibly and wonderfully alive.

She got up, ripped off her mask, and pushed the bar marked emergency exit on the doors opposite the stairs and walked out into the cold night air. For this moment at least, she was free.

THE END


Wednesday, 27 January 2021

The importance of branding

 Every store you shop in, every product you buy is a brand. The biggest brands are recognisable the world over, from the red and white of Coca Cola to the golden arches of McDonald's.

Any professional business needs clear and consistent branding, and books are no different. When I started writing my Time Bubble books in 2014, I had no inkling that seven years later I would have eleven of them on the market. When I started, I had no great marketing plan - I was learning on the job. I realised early on that I needed my covers to match, so I had the hourglass on the first few, but over time, I deviated away from that.

There was nothing wrong with my old covers - they served their purpose, but I realised over the past year that I needed to upgrade them. Some of them were looking a little tired, and dare I say, even a little gloomy, so I got together with my cover artist and we came up with a plan to relaunch the range with a bright, shiny new selection of colours.

My idea was straightforward - a set of eye-catching covers that would all match. The same fonts in the same places on every book - the only variation being in the colours and images. I also believe that simplicity is key. Many book covers are far too complicated. I think some authors feel they need to tell the whole story on the cover. I wanted to go for just one simple image on each that would tie into the book's theme.

The results are the eleven brand new covers I am going to unveil today. Here they are in turn, with a little explanation below each about why I chose each image.



The first book in the series is the one with the most generic image. This was deliberate because this one needs to tell people not only what this book is about, but also what the whole series is about. So it's a simple clock face being sucked into a time vortex. Note the other elements on the cover. I've gone with a teaser line at the top, a bold title and author name, and a brief snippet from a five star review with the stars on the cover to emphasise this.





For the second book we went with a cold, blue background to reflect the title and the theme. For the image we came up with this rather clever Earth frozen inside an ice cube sketch, which sums up nicely in one image what the book is about.




Man Out of Time is set predominantly in the future, including some scenes set in the early twenty-second century. When visiting that time, Josh marvels at the futuristic buildings of his home town and I believe this image sums that scene up nicely.




The main focus of this book is Josh's nightmarish journey through a succession of alternate universes. This image of multiple Earths, tailing off into the distance captures that theme brilliantly.




This book is the first in the range set predominantly in the past, most of it in 1992 as the title suggests. I wanted to go with a nostalgic theme to reflect the times. I was inspired by a scene in the book where Peter is bemoaning his problems with the local video shop - such as being charged 50p for not rewinding the tape!




I love the effect on this cover. It refers directly to a scene in the book where one of the main characters disappears. She literally fades out of existence, leaving the man depicted holding only fresh air in his hand.




This book is another nostalgia fest. In an early chapter the main character, Richard Kent, finds himself in 1984 on the day he bought his first record from Woolworth's. 




It's established right from the start of this book that luckless Kay, is negotiating the pitfalls of her life with the help of copious amounts of vodka. For a book which is largely set in the pub, this seemed an appropriate image.




This is possibly my favourite of the lot. We used a backwards calendar on the old version of this book, but it wasn't particularly clear. This image, where Tuesday follows Wednesday capture the theme of the book beautifully.




There's only one obvious image to use for a book set around New Year in the UK, and that's Big Ben and fireworks.



And now, the one you're all waiting for, which will be out next week! This is the sequel to My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday and focuses on Thomas Scott's one, unwavering mission - to make it to Ibiza at a certain time on a certain date to meet his wife for the first time and fulfil his destiny. Needless to say, this isn't as simple as it sounds!

Monday, 21 December 2020

Return to Tomorrow

Hello everyone,

What a year it’s been. Where to start? Well, I won’t dwell on the virus, lockdowns or any of that, because millions of column inches and tweets have been devoted to that elsewhere. You didn’t come here for that – you want to hear when the next Time Bubble book is coming out!

I’m pleased to say that the answer is soon. I have faced a number of challenges this year which have delayed progress. Firstly, I had to home school the children for three months earlier in the year. Secondly, and I won’t go into great detail on this as I am not one to whinge about health issues, I am waiting for eye surgery which I hope to have in the first few months of next year. As things stand, I can still write and work, but I have to go slower than before. This is also the reason you have not seen much in the way of posts from me because I have dedicated all my time to getting the book completed to the standard you both expect and deserve.

I am very happy with the end result, provisionally titled Return to Tomorrow. It is a sequel to My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, featuring Thomas Scott’s third journey through life, in which he has dreams and visions of his previous lives. He has one mission – to make it to the day he is destined to meet his future wife, Sarah, without disturbing the timeline. So far so good. Then another time traveller, Ben, shows up with very different ideas and the two men soon clash.

The story follows the pair from the gleaming spires of late 1980s Oxford, to the heat of Ibiza at the peak of the clubbing scene in 1998.

You’ll be pleased to hear that Josh makes a couple of cameos. He is the only character to appear in every book so far so I couldn’t leave him out.

I am very happy with the way the story has turned out. The lives of the characters intertwine well and as always, there are references to happenings in previous books – and possibly ones yet to come!

When will it be out? I am aiming for some time in February. I have completed the final draft and passed it on to an editor for proofing. It will then undergo a final edit. I do not have a cover yet, but have been in touch with my artist, Dani, and we will be working on some ideas.

One final thing before I go – I will be making the Kindle edition of Book 1 in the series, The Time Bubble, completely free to download from Amazon on Christmas Day to encourage new readers into the series. If you have any friends who you think might enjoy a freebie, please let them know. Hopefully they will enjoy it enough to shell out for the others!

Best wishes to you all and I do hope you have a nice Christmas, even under these trying circumstances. I am sure that we can look forward to better times ahead. And also a book 12 at some point. I have no idea what that will be yet, but something will come to me, it always does. As I have said before, as long as you keep enjoying them, I will keep writing them.

Jason

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Teasers and Prologues

I watch a lot of TV - probably more than I should since I got Netflix, but hey, it's winter and the sun sets ridiculously early, and I've got 91 episodes of Orange is the new Black to get through, amongst other things.

What do you think about teasers in TV programmes - in particular those that give a hint about what's to come? I'm talking about something shocking and unexpected in the pre-credits sequence that's going to happen much later in the show. After the opening credits you get a caption along the lines of "Three Days Earlier" so you know you'll be working up to what you saw before.

Personally, I've always liked this, and the literary equivalent is the Prologue. I used to feel that my books started rather slowly so I gave it a try in Class of '92, my last book, which opened with a dinosaur rampaging through Oxford. I think that got people's attention.

For my new book, I've decided to go down the same route and opened the book with a truly shocking opening in which two of the most beloved characters of the series find themselves in mortal peril.Those of you local to where the books are set may recognise the location - it's the roof of the Sainsbury car park in Bicester and the stairs leading down to the shop.

The good news is you don't have to wait until the end of the month to read the prologue as I'm releasing it as a teaser right here right now. Hopefully this will whet your appetite for the book's release on 29th December.

What's in the new book, without giving too much away? It's a book of two halves, really. In the first half, Josh and the team get involved in some new experiments travelling back within their own time streams. This gives us a chance to see the Time Bubble team again when they were young, as Josh faces off against his old enemy Dan in a legendary pub crawl. Later, things take a more serious turn when a new and far deadlier foe emerges, tying in with this prologue.

Enjoy!

Prologue

June 2025

Kaylee was crippled with fear in a way she never had been before. It was the kind of fear that people only felt at the very real prospect of imminent death, and it was consuming her whole body like a slug of poison coursing through her veins.

She was a lithe, fit woman in her mid-twenties but right now she felt as weak and helpless as a frail, old woman. Frantically she tried to suppress her body’s overwhelming reflex to be physically sick and to summon up the energy she needed to keep running from her assailant.

As she descended the stairs on the fire escape that led down to the ground below, the desire to throw up was too strong and she paused briefly, leaning over the metal bannister to projectile vomit over the side.

The staircase, behind the superstore, ran all the way from the top floor of the car park above to the entrance to the shop below. As the splatter of her semi-digested breakfast hit the floor some thirty feet below, she heard a woman’s voice further down the stairwell exclaiming, “Disgusting!”

That was all very well for her to say, thought Kaylee, but she hadn’t just seen her husband murdered in cold blood right in front of her.

Barely a minute ago, up on the roof, she had seen her beloved Charlie hit by a futuristic laser weapon that had made him briefly glow an incredibly bright blue before completely vanishing.

The unidentified, black-clad and masked assassin had then turned the weapon on Kaylee but the young woman had been nimble enough to just about scramble out of the way, leaving her abandoned Sainsbury’s trolley to be zapped into oblivion instead.

Despite being utterly traumatised at seeing the love of her life vaporised right in front of her, her survival instincts had kicked in and she had ducked behind a large, white Transit van that was pulling out of a parking space close to the sliding glass doors that led to the entrance.

From there she had managed to dive through the doors, despite a third thunderous laser blast shot taking out the van and presumably the unfortunate occupant within it.
Desperate to escape, she headed towards the lift doors, but she soon realised there was no escape that way.

A crude, handwritten note attached to the lift doors informed her it was out of order again, leaving her with a choice of the travelator or the stairs, a decision which needed to be made in a split second. She opted for the latter, figuring they were less open, making her a more difficult target for the assassin who she assumed would be coming after her. She could also see that there were people blocking the travelator with their trolleys – she would be a sitting duck.

As she burst through the doors and began to descend the stairwell, there was only one word in her mind and that was “why?”

Was this some random terror attack with some new type of weapon she had never seen or heard of before? Or was it a premeditated hit and, if so, why was whoever it was targeting her and Charlie? They were just a normal young couple doing their Saturday morning shopping. They didn’t have any enemies.

It had been the most ordinary of days until they had emerged onto the top floor of the car park. Charlie had been pushing the trolley and they had been chatting amiably about their plans for the weekend. Their friends Josh, Lauren and Hannah were coming around for dinner and they had just bought everything they needed, not just the food but also copious amounts of alcohol.

That dinner was never going to happen now, she thought, as she willed herself on, leaping down the stairs, three steps at a time. She was desperate for what she hoped would be the relative safety of the store: at least there were security guards there. Admittedly they were probably more used to dealing with shoplifters slipping bottles of vodka into their coat pockets than assassins with laser guns, but it was better than nothing.

These and countless other thoughts whirled through her head in the relatively short time it took to descend the stairs. This couldn’t just be some random terror attack. There had been other people around at the top of the car park, but the assassin had ignored them, focusing solely on her and Charlie.

There was no doubt it was the two of them the assassin had been after, and Kaylee knew that escaping through the doors had only given her a temporary respite. She felt a growing feeling of despair welling up inside her at the realisation that her chances of getting out of this alive were slim.

Part of her almost didn’t want to escape. Charlie was her whole life. Without him was it even worth surviving? Should she just give in and accept her fate, like a condemned prisoner at the gallows? But then she would never know the reason behind all of this, and she doubted that the assassin was going to give her the courtesy of an explanation before blowing her away into oblivion.

There was a tiny flicker of hope inside her that perhaps Charlie wasn’t dead. Perhaps the laser beam hadn’t been a weapon but instead had just transported him somewhere else. It was the stuff of science fiction, but after all the adventures with the Time Bubble a few years previously, her mind was open to all kinds of possibilities.

The only other comforting thought she had, and it was an extremely tenuous one, was that if the assassin did kill her, maybe she and Charlie would be together again somewhere. It was an odd thing to think of because she had never believed in any sort of deity, but the likelihood of impending doom had suddenly made the existence of some sort of afterlife an extremely appealing proposition.

By now she was halfway down the stairwell at the entrance to the middle level of the car park. As she swung around the corner towards the next flight of stairs, she almost knocked a mother with two young girls out of the way in her haste.

The woman gave her an extremely filthy look which suggested she was the one who had seen the contents of Kaylee’s stomach descending at high speed towards the ground floor moments before.

There was no time to apologise or issue a warning: what use would that be? If the assassin was only after Kaylee, these people would be safe, and if not, no one would be against the sort of weaponry the killer was toting.

Kaylee risked a quick glance back up the stairs but there no sign that she was being followed. Briefly she allowed herself a little hope that maybe she was going to get out of this alive after all.

Her hopes were swiftly quashed as she arrived at the bottom of the stairs and the assassin reappeared, right out of thin air directly in front of her. With a sinking feeling, she knew now that the game was up.

It was the first time Kaylee had got a proper look at her executioner, not that it gave her any clue as to the identity. The assassin was so heavily clad in black body armour and a mask that covered the whole face, bar the eyes, that she couldn’t even tell if it was male or female. Come to that, she couldn’t even be sure it was human – the armour was made of some strange-looking metallic material that made her wonder if it might not be some sort of robot or android. Could it be an alien, or something from the future?

“Why are you doing this?” cried Kaylee as the killer raised the weapon that had already killed her husband. They would be her final words as no reply was forthcoming.

There was a high-pitched whistling sound and then a single brilliant, bright blue laser bolt consumed her body, instantly annihilating her. Barely anything was left behind, just the single yellow flower that she had been wearing in her hair which was blown off her head by the blast. Other than that, there was nothing, not even a hint of smoke.

Beneath the mask, the assassin smiled, pulled a wand-like device out of a side pocket and pressed a button, before stepping forward and vanishing

Other than the small yellow flower fluttering slowly downwards towards the regurgitated bits of muesli and skimmed milk congealing on the floor, it was as if neither of them had ever been there.
To be continued... 

Many of you will recognise this location.
It's The Bridge of Sighs in Oxford which is featured in a key scene.

Vanishing Point will be released on 29th December 2019 and you can reserve your copy here: Vanishing Point

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

What an awesome night out I had in Bicester last Sunday - significantly better than many of the ones I had when I was actually living there. I think this is one benefit of moving around - you make new friends wherever you go but the ones you made where you were before welcome you back with open arms when you return.

The pessimist in me might suggest that people were only so pleased to see me because having been absent for almost two years they might have forgotten what a pain in the arse I am! The optimist in me hopes that's not the case and I am not actually one of those people who gets gets described as "alright in small doses" behind their back. I'm sure there is an element of absence making the heart grow fonder but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I had chosen this particular Sunday to revisit my old stamping ground after receiving an invitation to a Christening. My friends, Anne and Mark, had recently had a new baby, something that in itself had been news to me due to my sparse use of social media these days. I had completely missed the fact that Anne had been pregnant with baby Bevyn and that she had given birth until a chance meeting in Sainsbury in Bicester a couple of months ago. When I saw her pushing a buggy with a baby inside I asked whose baby it was. When she replied "mine" I realised how out of touch I am. But it was a nice surprise. Sometimes it's nice not to know everything that's going on so going off radar is not necessarily a bad thing.

Thankfully she wasn't offended so when the invite came along I was only too delighted to accept. When it later transpired that my dear friend Laura was celebrating her birthday out on the same evening, I knew I had picked the right date to return home.

The Christening itself was lovely, as these things always are, giving me a chance to reconnect with a lot of people I hadn't seen in a very long time. I can't even try to mention everyone here, there are so many, and if I try I am  bound to offend the one person I'll forget so quite simply, thank-you everyone I spent time with that afternoon. And, yes, Funky Mike, I have subscribed to your YouTube channel!

It was effortless to slip so easily back into conversations with people even after years of absence and if that's not a true test of long standing friendship, I don't know what is.

In the evening, after what I believe is colloquially known as a "cheeky Nando's"  I went to the karaoke at The White Hart, a night I founded over a decade ago when the pub was about half the size it is now. Today it is in the capable hands of Charlee and the night was everything I had hoped it would be. The drink flowed as I enjoyed moments with more friends of so many years standing. It was one of those nights that you hope will never end and without doubt the best night I have had out this year. Again I reflected that time doesn't dampen friendship, as the time apart I've spent from these people has made the bond stronger if anything. We may not have spoken and my fleeting Facebook time again means I may not have liked their statuses or commented on their posts as I simply haven't seen them but as I've said time and time again, that isn't how I think friendship ought to be measured. It's what you do in the real world that counts. And last Sunday I got to spend quality time with some really special people who know who they are. I promise I won't leave it so long next time.

Now I am back home in Evesham, the new town I've come to call home and I went out last night to enjoy a few drinks with some of the friends I have made here these past couple of years. It's still early days and I don't have a shared history with the people here, but I firmly believe if you're friendly, approachable and make an effort to integrate, local people wherever you go will accept you, and you can build friendships with them. But you do have to make that effort, even if it's daunting walking into a new pub for the first time or entering a playground to pick up the kids at a new school where you know absolutely no-one. I was bold on my first day at Jamie's new school and walked straight up to two people and started talking to them. We're still chatting two years on. It's like anything in life - you have to put the effort in and step out of your comfort zone sometimes. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have the amazing back catalogue of friends I have built up through my life, moving from place to place, job to job and pub to pub! If you're reading this, chances are I met you somewhere along this amazing journey we call life and if you've been a part of mine - thank-you!

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Devon delights

We're enjoying a well deserved break down in Devon this week and I do feel justified in saying well deserved. It's a phrase I see bandied about rather a lot but everyone in the family has worked really hard this year at work and school to move things forward and we really have earned this trip.

I know I haven't posted endless details of what we've been doing all over Facebook but seriously who wants to see all that constantly anyway? I could post endlessly about how well the kids did at parent's evening, how well my latest book's doing and all that gubbins, but honestly, do people really want to see all that stuff? Too much of that gets you unfollowed faster than you can #hashtag your latest check in of where you're having your dinner - yes we get it - you're eating out tonight whilst the rest of us are at home. Good for you.

This is why I rarely post to Facebook at all now, let's be honest it's all getting a bit old hat. I'd far rather chew the fat with my neighbours in the street or with a few pals down the pub than document the minutiae of my daily life online. I probably post once or twice a week now - there is also this blog of course, but my contributions are increasingly rare - that's what a busy life does for you. I'm only writing this now because I've found the time late at night on holiday (fuelled by a local brew I picked up from Skinner's brewery in Truro).

I've been on a bit of a fitness drive lately, determined not to allow my waist size to keep up with my age any longer so have been doing ten laps, twice a a day of Charity Brook park on my bike. I was worried I might lose the slight fitness gain I have made due to not being able to cycle whilst away but need not have worried. Ilfracombe is very hilly and so are many other places we have visited. There are steep climbs everywhere which is just the job to keep things in check. This is just as well considering the inevitable seaside diet of fish and chips and ice cream.

We've been eating out most evenings finding some really nice eateries in the area but I have been again annoyed by the increasingly ubiquitous "skin on fries" that seem to be cropping everywhere, even when not described as such. I think it started off being seen as upmarket and trendy in posh restaurants that didn't want to refer to them as just chips, but everyone's jumped on the bandwagon now. Personally I just think these places just can't be arsed to peel their potatoes properly. It seems I am in a minority with this opinion so I suppose I must just be being fussy. Thankfully we found a lovely place to eat tonight in Georgeham tonight called The Rock Inn which offered perfect hand cooked chips with not a piece of skin or an eye in sight! Bravo Rock Inn, the 5 star Tripadvisor review will be along at some point (if I ever get around to it).

It's the third time in the last decade we've holidayed in this area and there is so much to enjoy. We've had a day on Croyde Beach (my third favourite in Britain) where Jamie famously ran into the sea fully clothed as a one-year-old, followed by a walk up to nearby Baggy Point. We've done the tunnel beaches in Ilfracombe and explored the stunning Lynton/ Lynmouth area. The views along the coastal paths around there are truly breathtaking.

We walked all the way down from Lynton to Lynmouth and had planned to take the cliff railway back up but the queue for it was packed. This railway incidentally is incredibly environmentally friendly - and invented by the Victorians long before saving the planet became a pressing issue. The whole thing ingeniously runs on water. So we decided to walk up the path which whilst not quite a sheer cliff face was more challenging than anything I've encountered back home in Worcestershire, with the possible exception of the Malverns. It was worth it, though. I had caved in to temptation and had a cream tea shortly beforehand so this trek helped to undo that sin.

I do so love this part of the world and have a long standing ambition to walk the entire length of the South West Coast path which runs from Poole to Minehead. Believe it or not this is a stunning 630 miles long! Obviously I can't do this anytime soon with two young lads to look after but in about a decade or so, I fancy the idea of doing this one summer over a couple of months. I could walk about  ten miles a day and stay in a different seaside town every night. What an adventure that would be!

In the meantime, I shall leave you with a piccie of the boys enjoying the beach, and I hope to see you all soon.

A postcard from Devon.
Since I can't be arsed to send real ones any more.

Cheers,
Jason

Monday, 25 March 2019

Time Bubble Movie - Casting

Since my last post, Ross and I have been working away getting the Time Bubble script to the point where we are now confident we can bring the book to life. One of the most common questions I've been asked by fans of the book since I announced our plans is "You're not going to ruin it by changing everything are you?"

The short answer to that is - no. Obviously we have to make a few tweaks to take into account that a book and a film are two very different mediums. These are for the most part very minor details that you'll barely even notice. Other than that this will be a pretty faithful adaption of the book you know and love.

You're read the book...
...now be part of the movie!

Most of the changes are largely cosmetic and don't impact on the plot at all. For example, I've made the teens eighteen rather than seventeen - primarily because it gives us the scope to cast some older actors. It should also avoid any criticism of the fact that these teenagers do have and talk about sexual relationships. This was something that was picked up on in some reviews of the original book, presumably by people who had forgotten what it was like to be a teenager! I don't want that can of worms opened up again, so eighteen they are! Other than that I can assure you that their characters will be true to their original portrayals.

This brings us on to where we currently are, which is pre-casting. Now I know what you are thinking - we haven't even done the crowdfunding yet so aren't we getting ahead of ourselves? Well not really,  and here's why. In order for this crowdfunding project to succeed, we have to demonstrate that we are serious about making this movie and have done some solid groundwork. Putting faces to some of the leading characters will be key to that. Not only will it allow us to design some pre-promotional material featuring the cast, it will also enable us to do a little pre-filming to produce a trailer than we can then include on the crowdfunding page. All of this will help build confidence in the project.

Having more people invested in the project can only help the crowdfunding too - we need to get the message out to as many people as possible and I am sure any actors we pre-cast will be only too eager to help spread the word. After all they are going to have a paid role at the end of it.

The profiles of the main characters are are looking to cast are up now on StarNow and can be found here: StarNow - Time Bubble Casting (add link). Those of you familiar with the books will already know all about these characters but for those who aren't there are handy bios of each.

We will be holding auditions on Tuesday April 16th in Bicester so if you have any actor friends who might be interested in auditioning please encourage them to do so. Ideally they should apply through the StarNow site rather than to me directly, however I am more than happy to answer any questions anyone may have.

I should also point out that the film is going to filmed primarily in Oxfordshire so it would be help to be local to the area.

To say these are exciting times would be an understatement! More updates soon...