Lessons from history

We should feel sorry for the Iranians. Their one-time cradle of civilisation has been usurped by mad fundamentalists who are reducing a great nation to impoverishment.

The country has often sought dubious allies. The First Aghan War, which saw the destruction of the British army, came about because Persia allied itself with the Russians in threatening to invade India.

Eldred Pottinger held them off at Herat – chronicled in my novel – but the British invasion of Afghanistan took place anyway as a means of protecting India’s North-West frontier from Russian and Persian (Iranian) invasion.

Thus are military disasters made. Tragically, the Persian ayatollahs don’t seem to have learned from the past any more than George W Bush and Tony Blair did.


Christmas in Kabul, 1841

Well the good news is that I have bought into some new promotional thing which is supposed to make sure my book, ‘The Trials of Eldred Pottinger’, christmas in kabul 2is widely promoted on tinernet.

The bad news is I’m not sure it’s any good. Have a look and see for yourself. You’re supposed to be able to read some of the pages, listen to a bit of audio (me, reading about Christmas in Kabul) and watch the promotional video.

Oh and feel free to pass it on to friends, relatives and anyone else who might be interested: https://www.book2look.com/book/hJnQ8wYZwK


Who is to blame for military disasters?

According to the ‘Sunday Times’, the Ministry of Defence is investigating allegations that one or two British soldiers are guilty of ‘war crimes’ in Afghanistan. Two of the alleged offences took place 17 years ago.

Of course, the lapse in time between the offence and any trial is no excuse for what may have happened. But you surely have to question whether it is fair and reasonable to threaten ex-soldiers with prosecution when – we must assume – they were in life-threatening situations and acting in the heat of the moment.

Afghanistan has been a terrible graveyard for British soldiers since our first invasion at the time of Eldred Pottinger in the first years of Queen Victoria’s reign. There was no justification for our involvement then any more than there was in the recent past.

But if terrible things happened, surely the blame rests with the people who made the decision to invade. The politicians and armchair generals who blithely send soldiers into combat must surely accept responsibility when things get bloody.

Alas, they singularly failed to take the blame 180 years ago, when Eldred Pottinger  was made to stand trial accused of bringing about a military disaster, and nothing has changed since then.



New short story out imminently


‘The only difference between now and 1649 is that, thank God, we are not wielding swords.’

The year 1649 was when Parliament executed King Charles I. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that, the English civil wars divided the country into two bitter factions.

I’ve written a new short story which will be available for free on Amazon imminently. It’s called ‘The Impeachment of Horace Thompson’ and it’s about, you guessed it, Brexit.

Appalled by the way our politicians have handled Brexit, Walsall plumber Dave Britten is literally dumbstruck. He is so angry he can no longer speak.

The last straw was the arrest and impeachment of the Prime Minister, Horace Thompson, on a charge of treason.

As the liberal remainer establishment goes to any length to thwart the will of the people, establishing a Government of National Unity under new Prime Minister Joe Berk, Dace Britten is completely lost for words.

This book may well be overtaken by events, but as a commentary on the current political chaos, I think it still has some validity. It’s not too long and is meant to be an entertaining read. Coming soon…

Oh and it’s worth pointing out that this will be one of those extremely rare works of fiction written from the point of view of someone who actually wants the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

‘Prepare for your blood to boil…’

Delighted to read a review by Sally Oldaker in ‘The Village’ magazine:

‘The book skips back and forth as Eldred recounts his earlier exploits and awaits court-martial.

‘The present-tense, first-person narrative device really thrusts readers into the heart of the story, with vivid descriptions of the confusing array of cruel and capricious chieftains and the exotic lands that quickly turn from paradise to nightmare.

‘Prepare for your blood to boil as Eldred is used as a pawn in the hands of his arrogant superiors….. You’ll be angry, you’ll be sad that the lessons of history have still not been learnt, but you’ll also be entertained by this well-written and researched book. Don’t Google Eldred’s fate – read this and find out for yourself.

There’s also a write-up in the Stratford Observer. Many thanks to both these publications.


Afghanistan’s daily tragedy

The BBC’s foreign correspondent Lyse Doucet says the unending war in Afghanistan is ‘the deadliest conflict in the world’ after 2,307 people were killed in just one month.

The death toll for August 2019 is, it seems, typical for a country which is rarely at peace. This isn’t a new phenomenon – in the days of Eldred Pottinger it was divided into warring factions even though most people supposedly shared the same religion.


End of an era

The death of Lord Tim Bell can’t pass unremarked, not just because he was ‘Mrs Thatcher’s favourite ad man’ but because he was co-founder of the PR firm Bell Pottinger.

Bell Pottinger, for many years one of the industry’s most successful businesses, was set up by Lord Bell and Piers Pottinger, a distant relative of Eldred Pottinger.

Alas, Lord Bell lived to see the demise and humiliation of Bell Pottinger, though he had been ousted before the final catastrophe and his co-founder Piers Pottinger had also extricated himself before it was too late. 





‘Political mischief, military blunders, steamy love’

Many thanks to former newspaper editor Steve Dyson for a write-up on the Hold the Front Page website. He says:

This 535-page tome is a complex twist of political mischief, military blunders and secretive, steamy love, an intricate but fascinating read for anyone keen on historical fiction.

Set against Britain’s disastrous invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1830s, Pottinger starts out as a spy and becomes a hero after fighting Russian invaders.

But he’s held hostage with his lover as the British Army suffers humiliating defeats, and he ends up accused of cowardice and court-martialled.


The Taliban tragedy

The Taliban seem to think they have seen off the Americans in Afghanistan, just as they saw off the Russians. The country is a graveyard for invaders; the Afghans like nothing better than fighting foreigners because it saves them from fighting each other.

According to The Times, one Afghan ‘senior adviser’ says: ‘It is the Americans asking us to make peace so that they can leave Afghanistan not the other way around. They talk to us directly to make the deal, not to the Afghan government. We will be the winners in peace, or the winners in war. Either way, the Americans will leave and the Taliban will be back.’

The country’s tragedy is not that it has been invaded many times by unsuccessful imperialist armies but that it cannot last long as a single entity. They may witness the withdrawal of the Americans but that won’t bring peace and stability to the country; it will just make it more dangerous for everybody.

Beecham House – the perils of empire-building


Been watching ITV’s new series ‘Beecham House’ about skulduggery and imperialism as the British East India Company expands its trading activities across India.

It’s a lavish and exotic production though not much seems to have happened yet. Still, if you’re interested in the activities of the Company then, instead of fiction, try the faction of ‘The Trials of Eldred Pottinger’.

It’s set about 40 years later but not much has really changed; certainly ‘Johnny Company’ is still looking to expand its empire and protect its activities from foes real and imagined.