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By Clive West
Every crime has its victim.
- The Giddings family - enjoying their rural idyll until events start to spiral out of their control turning paradise into hell.
- Henry - trapped in a loveless marriage who sees a chance to climb on board the gravy train for a one-way ticket out of misery but doesn't want to know about the consequences of his actions.
- Sandra - frustrated by a system where the rich get richer and the poor pay to get a ringside seat.
- John - a shrewd developer who knows all the tricks and is the guy flicking the switch when the smelly stuff hits the fan.
The parasites and hangers on, too numerous to mention, who abuse their positions of trust to feather their own nests but who are outraged when those lower down the pecking order try to do the same.
About the Author:
Clive West was born in the West Country of England in the early 60's. He was educated at a traditional English public school before going on to university to study civil engineering. Over the years, he has worked as a civil engineer, tutor of maths and science, schools quiz-master, employment agency boss, and writer.
His work includes a collection of short stories with twists called Hobson's Choice (also available in print), a full-length novel called 'The Road' about the consequences of corruption on ordinary people and an accessible job hunting interview guide (based on his years of experience as the boss of an employment agency).
He has also written a book about lymphedema. This is a disfiguring, life-threatening and incurable disease he now suffers from and which his experience shows that most fellow patients have (like him) been abandoned by their respective health services.
Clive now lives in a rebuilt farmhouse in the Umbrian region of Italy along with Damaris, his writer wife of 22 years and their three rescue dogs. Apart from his fictional work, Clive also writes commercial non-fiction on a variety of topics but especially relating to business and employment. He and Damaris run an indie publishers called Any Subject Books Ltd – www.anysubject.com
You can also follow Any Subject Books on Facebook – www.facebook.com/anysubject
Clive is now disabled but, aside from his writing, he also enjoys playing the keyboard, listening to music and reading.
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook site: www.facebook.com/anysubjectbooks
The noise from the diggers, mixers and other machinery was driving Caroline to distraction. It would start when she was waking the children for school and persist the whole day until just after she returned home with Athelstan. It provided a constant background track of banging, roaring, scraping and shouting that only marginally quietened for a brief period at lunchtime.
It wasn’t as if she could find some way of escaping from it. Work at the hairdressers had been slack with many of the regulars choosing to save money and perm their own hair because of the downturn in the economy. As a result, Sandy had told Caroline that she would only be needed on an ad hoc basis and that she would fully understand if Caroline found another job.
In reality, there were few other positions that Caroline was either suited to or inclined to take up. She just couldn’t see herself working in a supermarket – as an ex farm girl, she would feel like it was a form of imprisonment. Not that sitting at home was especially enjoyable any more because of the hubbub.
She had tried shutting all the windows but the noise had somehow penetrated along with the omnipresent dust which got in no matter how hard she endeavoured to keep it at bay. She tried watching the television but its largely mindless daytime babble was somehow eclipsed by the activities taking place on the adjacent land. She felt irresistibly drawn to watching the desecration of her beloved countryside and the television was a poor distraction.
Even when there was little or no noise, which wasn’t often, she still felt confined to her house. On one occasion she had tried tending the little vegetable garden that she was so proud of but had then been confronted by a burly workman clad in dirty jeans and a torn shirt taking a pee against the fence that bounded her garden with the site. It wasn’t the act in itself, goodness knows she had been taken short enough times, nor was it the sight of a man’s penis (and he wasn’t deliberately exposing himself to her), it was the fact that he had smiled and carried on as if he hadn’t a care in the world. This simple act seemed to limit her space still further. Up till then, the back garden had been hers. Historically, anyone within her range of view would be subject to her code of behaviour. Now the garden had been lost and even her presence there seemed only to be tolerated. As long as she accepted what went on immediately outside of her frontier, she would be permitted to access the territory her side of the border, but it could only be on those terms.
While in the back garden, she also felt the leers of the workmen on her and would catch odd snippets of conversation when they came within earshot. One of them she was sure was commenting on her behind when she had bent over to pick up some toy that one of the children had abandoned in the garden. She could have sworn she heard another one commenting on the underwear she had pinned up on the washing line and she knew for certain that one of them had laughingly warned her that one of his mates wasn’t called the ‘knicker pincher’ for nothing.
She resolved henceforth to dry her smalls inside the house – she certainly couldn’t leave the house with washing out in case the labourer who had spoken was right. For weeks afterwards, when she couldn’t find something in her bedroom chest of drawers, she would immediately become convinced that the missing bra or pair of panties had been stolen. Invariably the offending garment would be discovered folded inside another or mistakenly placed inside the dirty linen basket, but it rattled her nevertheless.
It wasn’t that the workmen were particularly close by. Most of the time they were just dots in the distant background and not near enough to have either faces or identities. Logical thinking didn’t stop her from feeling that there would be at least one of them peering over the garden fence to see what she was up to. She always made a point of pulling the curtains in both the bedroom and the bathroom if she went in there.
There was a loop in the housing estate road that came to within about forty metres of their fence line where it ended in two intersecting circles which she assumed would be turning heads. It didn’t seem too bad – forty metres was quite a long way off, she told herself. At that distance, she needn’t be too disturbed by cars starting up in the morning. It could be a lot worse, she supposed.
Stuart had by this time moved on with his thoughts and didn’t seem particularly bothered or affected by the changes to their environment. Caroline considered that he was lucky, although he admitted that it vexed him that he could no longer take the children for a walk in the woods armed with his I-SPY books. The truth was that by the time he got home from work, the gangs were packing up and, besides, the children were now getting older and making friends that took them away from the house. Apart from what the estate agent had told Stuart about the loss in value of their property, he seemed both unaffected and unbothered by the work going on.
In any case, there was less and less of a reason to go for a walk where the fields used to be. Lucian was getting on and he didn’t need as much exercise nowadays and it was also true that the children were no longer particularly interested in playing there. Perhaps they had all been lucky enough to be permitted the enjoyment of the countryside at a time when they were able to appreciate it the most. For the rest of her family its absence no longer seemed relevant. Caroline deeply lamented losing the principal thing, other than her family, of course, that made her life worthwhile.
Terribly depressing, but very well written book. I felt so bad for all the people. I wouldn’t pick a book like this to read normally because the world is depressing enough without reading depressing material, but I found a great deal of interest in reading about this type of issues because I actually have heard of things like this. Still very sad.
I give this book 3 out of 5 clouds.
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