Percy Chattey Books

Author of Thrillers: Genre: Murder, Mystery & Crime

Archive for the category “nostalgia”

Trust? What happened to it?

Merry Christmas from Percy Chattey BooksThe Rain in Spain…

It’s December and we are in an usual deluge of rain here on the Costa Blanca. The Spanish Weather office have issued “amber warnings” for severe weather and record levels of rain for the next few days. Yuk! Last night was exciting with the rain hammering on the roof and Meg, our guard dog, scared out of her wits and jumping on the bed for comfort, not because of the rain but because one of the smoke alarms was issuing regular beeps to tell the world – that is our world – that the battery was running low. I do not know why our little lady does not like beeping noises, it must be something in her past as they drive her into a bundle of trembling fear.

Christmas Squeeze and Batteries

We are all aware of the barons that control our lives through holding the reins on the conglomerates that sell us everything from Christmas chocolate tins, which every year stay the same price but shrink in size, to cornflake packets which stay the same size but the produce inside only comes half way up the container. We have a heavy use of ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ batteries and when I saw rechargeable ones at half price all eight beautifully wrap on a card in a store I was happy to buy them. The months have gone by and there was a need to open the packet to insert one of them into a holder, that is when I discovered why they were cheap as they are slightly over size for a double ‘A’ battery.

It seems now there is very little one can trust. Stores determined to squeeze every penny they can out of a transaction and if that upsets a customer then it does not matter as in most cases they have the monopoly so you have a need to go back. Perhaps that statement is a bit strong but it appears to me customer services have declined.

The Trust has Gone

Trust! What happened to it? It was not long ago, alright fifty years, when you could leave your front door open or the keys in the ignition of the car with the confident knowledge nothing would happen to either. People helped each other and there was always a warm welcome for a stranger. I think the decline first started when the Government, I’ll let you guess of what colour, decided its duty to the populace could be modified and not all people were equal under the law. It was the mid sixties and the requirement to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle became a firm rule.

However after an outcry from turban wearing Sikhs the law was changed so it did not apply to them, perhaps that is where other religious requirements outside common law have been allowed as it set a precedent.

In the late nineteen hundreds the worst single item in my mind for teaching children to cheat, lie and steal was when the famous Walkers Crisp Company constantly ran an advert on Television of a famous footballer sitting at a table and stealing crisps off a child. How or why that was allowed I do not understand, but I firmly believe it in itself was detrimental to teaching the young how to behave, as if stealing was a common act and a joke.

It’ll Soon Get Lighter

A few more days and the shortest day of the year will have been and gone and the evenings start to get lighter. We are looking forward to a busy year with two new novels out and Casa FuenteLargo looking great in the sun. Happy Christmas to everyone http://www.percychatteybooks.com If you like the blog please share.

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Your Free Holiday Thriller Book!

bnr-time-bookIt was sixteen years ago last August when Jean and I moved to Hondon de los Frailes, a little hamlet in the Spanish Mountains not too far from the golden sands of the Costa Blanca.

At that time there were only about seven hundred Spanish people living in the village and we were the only English couple, now it has a population of about three times that many. We fell in love with the place and still feel that way and have watched as it has developed into something quite different, in that tourist and holiday makers find it homely, quiet and peaceful away from the celebrations and crowds nearer the coast.

Now the village has differing types of restaurants offering fine cuisine, some with frequent entertainment, and of course there are the small bars where you can mix with people who live in the real Spain.

At this time of year we are preparing, and also improving our rental villa: Casa FuenteLargo, for the next season, it is starting a little earlier this year as we have guests staying over Christmas and another group for the New Year Celebrations.

This coming year I will be giving away my new and latest novel ‘Time Gentlemen’ free of charge to each group as a way of saying thank you for visiting our holiday home.

» HOLIDAY VILLA IN SPAIN : www.fuentelargo.com
» PERCY CHATTEY BOOKS www.percychatteybooks.com

Remembering The Blitz by the Media

Blitz and PiecesAs we fall on the 75th anniversary of the London Blitz there has been a swathe of remembrance articles and photos in the popular media (TV, radio and Newspapers)… here is just a sleection of the ones I found.

BBC:
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BBC Search : http://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=london%20blitz

“The Blitz families who built a city underground”
Seventy five years ago the Luftwaffe started its attempt to bomb Britain into submission. As explosives rained down, residents in many cities sought shelter underground. Thousands headed to the Chislehurst Caves in Kent, which over time became a subterranean city, writes Claire Bates.

“Blitz Spirit”
To mark the 75th anniversary of the start of the London Blitz, Diane Louise Jordan reflects on the fortitude and solidarity that got people across Britain through the terror of the nightly air raids during The Blitz.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06bgp0l
“Blitz Cities: London”
To mark the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Blitz, EastEnders star Shane Richie travels around his home city of London, finding out what it was like to live through the worst attack in Britian’s history.

Guardian
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“London’s night of fires: the beginning of the Blitz”
Seventy-five years ago, the second world war bombing campaign known as the blitz began in earnest. On the afternoon of 7 September 1940, 348 German bombers and more than 600 Messerschmitt fighters flew over southern England before dropping high-explosive and incendiary bombs on London. The raid ended at 6:10pm but as the docks area of the city’s East End burned, a second attack lasting eight hours took place that night.

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/sep/02/blitz-london-bomb-sites-redevelopment
“Blitzed, rebuilt and built again: what became of London’s bomb sites?”

The Express
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“The Blitz Spirit – 75 years on!”
WE CAN take it!’ That was the unofficial motto of the British people in 1940 as bombs began to rain down during the Second World War. To celebrate that iron resolve we reveal 40 fascinating facts about one of the most stirring episodes in our history…

Money Week
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“7 September 1941: the Blitz begins”
After failing to take out Britain’s fighter command in the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe changed tactics. It decided it would terrorise Britain’s population into submission. And so on this day in 1941, it began an eight-month campaign of bombing Britain’s main cities. 350 bombers crossed the channel and headed for London, where they dropped 300 tonnes of explosives. Day and night (mainly night) the bombs fell. On that first night, almost 2,000 people were killed or wounded. Within a month, 6,000 were dead, and by the end of the campaign, 40,000 had lost their lives.

The Daily Beast
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“London, 75 Years After Destruction”
On this day, 75 years ago, the Nazis began their aerial assault on London. Intended to demoralize the Brits, it backfired.
The unofficial motto of the citizens of London during the Blitz was “business as usual.”  The times, however, were anything but.  Britain was locked in a conflict, as Prime Minister Winston Churchill memorably put it, “against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.” …

 

Strangers came and took us away!

The London Blitz. Image by Getty

The London Blitz. Image by Getty

How nice that the Barking and Dagenham Post have done a piece on my wartime memoirs “Blitz and Pieces”. I went to school in this area and I recall the Blitz experience in my book. So my connections are real and I appreciate them taking on this story. Of course I am retired in Spain now”. My book will be out in hardback as of tomorrow 30th April 2015, please see my website: www.percychatteybooks.com for more details.

> B&D POST Link > http://bit.ly/1HTwJxf

Here’s a snippet of the article Thank you B&D Post: 
One night in 1939 Percy Chattey was woken and told to get dressed. The three-year-old walked a mile through the winter rain to Whalebone Lane School. Half asleep, scared and confused Percy wondered, were the Germans coming?

It was pitch black – as street lights gave Dagenham’s co ordinations away to potential bombers. After being ushered into cars, trains and a boat he arrived in a small coastal village where he would be evacuated, just as a hazy morning light began to break through the clouds. “I don’t remember much of this journey,” admitted Percy, now 79.

I was too distressed and tired to take in what was going on. “We were told to line up. Total strangers came along the line picking children and taking them away. Can you imagine that happening today?”

Percy grew up in Dagenham and moved to Spain 15 years ago. He said living through “horror and destruction” makes a person flippant, which is why, in his 70s, he chose to write his début memoir “Blitz and Pieces” for his grandchildren to read. Now it’s his autobiography and mainly about his early years in Chadwell Heath during the Second World War.

After returning from evacuation Percy was five-years-old and living on East Street when the blitzing started. “We spent all our nights in the Anderson shelter wondering whether the house was still standing. It was a horrible cold thing with a corrugated steal roof,” he recalled.

“I remember cold, damp, sleepless nights and the sheer fear that when the air raids sounded you didn’t know what was going to happen. The shelter would rock and water poured down the walls. In the morning you’d get up and there would be bits of plane and shrapnel everywhere.”

PCBBlogBnrHe said bombs would drop continuously but the following day he’d be expected to go to school – St. Chad’s County Infants on Chadwell Heath’s Japan Road. He remembers a boy crying at school one day because his father had been killed by a doodlebug that morning.

“There was so much death that you had to get on with it and carry on and go to school,” he said. “No one spoke of injuries or death because it was all around us and happened too often. Without a doubt living through the blitz still affects me today. I want my grandchildren to know what it was like when I was young and how different life was then to growing up today.”

Blitz and Pieces will be published in hardback, paperback and eBook on Thursday (April 30 2015). It is available to buy on Amazon and in all major bookshops such as Waterstones, Barns & Noble, Kindle, etc. Or see Percy’s website: http://www.percychatteybooks.com for more details.

The Blitz. A stark reminder of a War Machine

I came across a very interesting YouTube video this week, where a group of Defence Specialists set about to demonstrate the amount of damage that a single German bomb from World War II would create. The 4 part programme “Blitz Street”is presented by Tony Robinson (a well known TV Historian, regular documentary maker and actor of “The Black Adder” fame). As shown on Channel 4 in the UK.

As Tony suggests, this programme reminds us of the daily fear, struggle and damage done to ordinary people’s lives and property by the German Luftwaffe’s sustained campaign of terror. It was designed to break the will of the people into surrender. Of course we now know, despite its terrible and dire consequences, the Blitz stirred the “Bulldog Spirit” of the Londoner’s.

At school the next day after a big raid, they would call the register. All the kids would call their names out. Sometimes there would be a pause. … “where’s so-and-so?” (teacher) … “Oh they are dead Miss, their house was hit last night”.

“The hardest part was the babies.  You just had to ignore what you saw. If they weren’t alive you just left them. If they were alive you got them out and laid them on the pathment so the ambulances could take them away to hospital.”- WWII Fire & Rescue, George Whelan

» “Blitz Street”  can be seen at www.youtube.com.

This excellent piece substantiates my own memories and descriptions of the mass damage caused in London by the sustained period of German bombing “Blitzkrieg” that began in September 1940 through to the following May. The relentless cascade of bombs on London shaped by childhood and indeed much of my life.

London Blitz StreetIn my memoirs ‘Blitz & Pieces’ I describe in detail the bombing of East London when one thousand German aircraft in a formation twenty miles wide caused indiscriminate wholesale destruction night after night, fearful that the next one to fall would have your name on it. The largest problem after the war came to a conclusion was the lack of housing stock as a result of the carpet bombing by the German Luftwaffe. This had resulted in three million houses being destroyed mainly in London and the South East, which at that time represented about a quarter of the housing stock – or one in three properties becoming non-existent.

In 1942 this was observed by the Government as becoming a challenge when the war was over – how to re-house all the homeless people? A committee was formed to study the problem and how it could be resolved. Prefabricated buildings were the answer and the ‘Prefab’ was born. Initially the design was to last for ten years to give the country time to build normal houses. However the new structures, which included a bathroom with hot and cold water, a fitted kitchen with a fridge, and besides the central heating there was also a coal fire. They were pre-constructed in factories and delivered by road transport. These quaint little houses became a common sight around the country built on spare land and bomb sites.

By nineteen fifty one, one million new council homes in the form of these buildings had been created. The strange result was these little homes of a minimum six hundred and thirty five square feet (about sixty square metres) with all the modern facilities built into them, most of the populace had not known before, were very comfortable and lasted a lot longer than the ten years of the original design. My work is available through Amazon and other outlets.


My autobiography ‘Blitz & Pieces’, the true story of how a six year old survived the Blitz,’ is Published through Amazon Publishers also available at Amazon, in soft or hard back cover, plus all other outlets including ebooks.

» Further details can also be found at www.percychatteybooks.com

The VE DAY 70 Celebrations

Blitz World War IISaturdays evening’s programme on BBC, 9th May celebrating seventy years since the end of the Second World War was very good. (If you are in the UK, you might still catch it on the BBC iPlayer Channel)

The clips they used to emphasise parts of the war, which had been taken from old newsreels portraying events of that time, brought back strong memories – the sound of the air raid warning giving a short burst of fear reminiscent of the feeling created in the forties by that sound.

In my book ‘Blitz & Pieces’ I describe in detail the horror, the constant fear and the day to day stress because of the continuous attacks by the enemy on a non military population. Living below ground level in a cold steel shelter hoping it was strong enough to give you protection against the bombs falling outside. People were being killed on a basis not experienced before by civil inhabitants. I clearly remember my close friend at school crying all day because his father had been killed that morning by a bomb, however there was no time for mourning and schooling continued. All true because I was there.

Beside the savage attacks on our way of life there was another difficulty, equal in some ways only that it added to the total discomfort. The shortage of goods and the severe rationing of supplies, food to clothing, created other problems. The allowable clothing coupons issued on a monthly basis, for a growing family of three was not adequate, with the consequence if an article got too tight, and there was no voucher available then the continuous use of it was the only answer. Shoes were the worst it was either go bare foot or wear tight shoes and hobble along.

Blitz & Pieces is available through Amazon / CreateSpace on-line.

#VEDay70 Euro Weekly News

PCB Euro Weekly News on the VE DAY 70

May 9th. Euro Weekly News Feature

How kind of the Euro Weekly News to cover my autobiography again on VE DAY 70. It’s a great free Expat Paper here on the Costa Blanca and I am thankful they chose my wartime memoirs “Blitz and Pieces” as a front page feature on this weekend of remembrance.

I understand there is loads going on across the UK for this auspicious event.  Please support your VE Day celebrations as this day was so important in Europe’s History.

» You can read the article in full on the EWN website here.

Camping in London! September 1940

Let me talk about camping – most of us have done it at one time or another. Despite the limited space one curls up listening to the unusual sounds of the night and snug and warm and with no fear go to sleep.

Blitz and PiecesbyPercyChatteyThe Anderson shelter was similar to that, a small cramped space but there the similarity ends. Instead of the soft material of the tent over your head – a cold steel corrugated covering with condensation turning into rivulets of water running down the side onto the bitter cold bedding. The unusual sounds are also very different.

Noise continuous Noise! Sleep is impossible because of the crescendo of bombs dropping destroying all in their path. The constant fear that one of them would drop on your shelter like they had on so many others, and tomorrow there would not be room to be mentioned in the newspapers because there were constant other casualties and you and your family would just be one of so many.

A few neighbours in the street would say something like ‘They got it last night’ and think no more about it and get on with their lives because every night masses were being killed and injured – it started to mean nothing.

I am talking about September 1940 which this year will be seventy five years ago when Germany tried to destroy England. In my novel ‘Blitz & Pieces’ I describe in detail what it was like as a child living through this horror. My book is available through Amazon UK and other outlets.

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