Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're shining the book spotlight on a title currently on tour with Rachel's Random Resources. From the sound of things, it's gonna deliver a character driven story that will inspire, and seriously, who couldn't use a dose of positivity, and perseverance triumphing over hardships in this year 2020? Am I right? Anywho, let's get down to business because not only will we be introducing the book, but we're sharing an excerpt! Ready or not, here comes today's title in the spotlight...
About the book...
Alfie Norrington was born into poverty in London’s East End in the first minute of the twentieth century. His life was a battle. From the Brick Lane markets where young Alfie pilfered and pickpocketed, to the trenches of Flanders, Alfie fought every step of the way.
Almost killed by a trench bomb he battled to recover and while in a military hospital Alfie made a promise that dramatically change’s his life. A true East End hero, Alfie begins his journey away from poverty armed with a robust moral compass and an open heart.
Becoming Alfie is the first in the Alfie Norrington series. It follows the life of a man who positively influenced thousands of people. The world needs more individuals like Alfie Norrington, that give much more than they take.
~~~ EXCERPT ~~~
Hello Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers. I hope you enjoy the following snippet from Becoming Alfie.
The following appears in chapter three and the year is early in 1916. It describes Alfies two lovable sisters and their life at the time along with brother Fred who is fighting from the trenches in Flanders.
The girls were now almost eighteen years of age and had become exceptionally beautiful young women. Alfie was very proud of both twins and loved to hear the stories they told about their work. Both worked out of the West Ham tram depot as “conductresses”, a term they both came to like. They had been with the West Ham tram corporation for two years and enjoyed the interaction with passengers, particularly young men – who were quite rare as, sadly, many were fighting for King and Empire across the channel in France and Flanders.
What the girls didn’t like about their jobs on the maroon-and-cream-liveried trams were two things: cleaning the trams at the end of the day, and the dirty old men who pinched them on their bums. This happened on the odd occasion and the retribution brought down on the offender was a sight to see. Lily simply slapped the reprobate hard across the face and growled: “If you ever touch me again…”, leaving the threat hanging perfectly in the air, while her scary eyes pierced the soul of the perpetrator. Other passengers would look away awkwardly; the culprit always attempted to sink into his embarrassment, and on some occasions, leave the tram at the next stop.
In Rose’s case, she would go at least one step further, announcing to all the passengers, “I have just been touched in a private place by this ’orrible man. He’s probably someone’s dad, or someone’s ’usband, maybe someone’s son. What would they think of this dirty bastard right now?”
This encouraged the other passengers, who would offer advice: “Kick him off the tram!” “Report him to the Old Bill!” “Do you want me to punch his face in?”
Going back to the now highly embarrassed offender, Rose would lean forward and almost whisper into his ear: “Now fuck off, get off the tram, and I never want to catch sight of you again. If you don’t go at the next stop, I’ll make a scene and this lot will give you a right old kicking. Go on, piss off now!”
This dramatic technique always worked, as both girls regularly talked about this very situation and when they shared their responses with Alfie, he found it hilarious. They had refined their differing but effective skills over the ensuing two years so that, by now, they weren’t intimidated by the bum-pinchers.
With the money they earned, both girls liked to look even more beautiful at the weekends. They attracted many would-be suitors. Every weekend the pair would get dolled up, select boys to go out with, and go dancing or to the movies. The blokes in tow were often injured soldiers or retained workers. Lily and Rose were never short of male company. They loved to dance; Rose had a favourite, the turkey trot, with Lily favouring the bunny hop. On a few occasions they were invited up to a club in the West End that was very posh and very colourful. It was as if people were dancing for their lives – most knew the British troops were in trouble, possibly losing the war that could be over by Christmas.
Both girls were doing their best to enjoy life in very trying circumstances and succeeding. Neither was properly courting and neither intended to. It was about living for today, as tomorrow may never come.
Fred, meanwhile, was running around the trenches of Flanders and writing regularly to Alfie. Fred asked him to keep the contents of his letters under his hat, to which Alfie complied. For two years he had escaped the ravages of war in a physical sense, but his nerves were shredded with each new call to go “over the top”, and with each and every German shell that rained down on the front-line troops. Fred had become dependent upon his and others’ rum rations: a daily allowance of a thick, rich rum, one sixteenth of a pint per man, per day. He was suffering from war neuroses. Fortunately, there were quite a few teetotallers in his battalion, so Fred kept himself topped up most days and his rattling nerves would be soothed.
Some days, though, he struggled to quiet his demons when the supply of rum rations didn’t make it through the lines. Those days would become Fred’s private hell. He felt everything in a horrific, magnified way. He saw rivulets, rivers of his mates’ blood running red through the sodden trenches, amplifying his fears. Add the noise of the German mortars and shelling and the dreadful screams of the injured out in no man’s land, and Fred was left quivering, frightened, terrified even of his own shadow.
He was forever on edge, and while what he felt was unbearable, his shame meant he couldn’t share what he was going through with his mates. He often considered going over the top, as death became more and more attractive compared to the immense pain he felt. Was he weak? Was he really as useless as his sergeant kept telling them all as they dug trenches, or during the morning hate when, at 4 a.m. every day, each soldier fired off twenty rounds towards the German positions, just to let them know they were still there?
The task Fred found the most difficult came at nightfall, after a push or a particularly active day: the retrieval of the dead and dying. Over they would go, fearful the German sentries would spot them while they helped the injured retreat to the safety of their trenches. Then, once more, they would go over, this time to drag bloody and disfigured corpses back to British lines. Often the dead Tommies were friends or close acquaintances, and on most occasions Fred was pleased it was them, not him. But on those days the supply corps failed to deliver the rum, Fred most certainly wished to trade places with his dead companions. They were now pain-free, while he was anything but.
About author Neil Patterson...
Born in South Essex close to the River Thames and directly East of London, my childhood was peppered with memories of the mighty river itself.
We would swim, fish and discover hidden treasure in the tidal mudflats with the fragments of clay pipes we found taking us back to another era. It was here that my inspiration for writing was born. I began to keep a diary of my observations from life and documented my feelings and thoughts.
My wife was twenty two and I was twenty four when we migrated to Australia with a glorious expectation. The sun was shining, the people were friendly and Sydney Harbour simply magnificent. Together we were committed to making the most of this opportunity beginning the next step in our lives. Everything was new which gave me endless writing opportunities that I recorded in my diary which had spilled over into a number of books. We travelled around this incredible country meeting people from all walks of life and from many nationalities. We lived and worked in a variety of capital cities enjoying each and every experience. All this was tremendous fodder for my writing.
I began to write short stories and poetry, none of which I sought to publish. By my fifty second birthday I was able to finish working and focus full time on my writing, the results so far are The Alfie Norrington Series with Becoming Alfie the first in the series of four. I hope that you enjoy reading Becoming Alfie as much as I did writing it.
Special thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for the chance to bring this tour to you. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, this promotion, or those on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more bookish fun!
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!