I want to thank all those who helped me get to this point. Mary, my wife, first suggested I pick up the pen – she even found a U3A writing group where I could dip my toes in the ink. Or, to be slightly less verbose, to creatively bounce two fingers on a keyboard. She’s also given wise counsel. Once I’d written a few stories, I saw an advert looking for pieces to be aired on a radio station in Queensland and sent off some of my efforts. The show’s host, Charles Eeles, told me my stories were good but my writing not so good. He told me about passive voice, and style, and persevered with me so much that he eventually read fifty of my stories on his show. I switched from U3A to Caulfield Writers and learned more from some accomplished wordsmiths. Stu Reedy was a writer I admired but he soon left and went to Phoenix Park to start a writing group. Dave Power and I eventually followed him and, although Stu later departed for Adelaide, Dave and I are still members of that same group. There are some accomplished writers there, too. Nicole Hayes is the facilitator and a successful writer. She has been an important part of my learning process. She is a different mentor to a number of diverse writers, a skill that calls for the patience of Job and the tact of Barack Obama. Sylvia Karakaltsas, known to me as ‘Dot’, and if you want to know why you’ll have to buy one of her books, has read my tome, as well as many of my stories and given me a great deal of help and encouragement. Stephanie Doyle created this website, Greg Hill edited my manuscript, and Toph Welch produced my covers. And that’s it. Those people enabled me to launch my first novel. I’ve procrastinated somewhat along the way, but I know my book is better than some I’ve read. There’ll be other novels but, given that everything this time has been a novel experience, (I couldn’t resist that), I suspect my first launch will be the most memorable one.
My tale is basically a collection of lies and exaggerated bravado. Marines, whose motto is ‘per mare, per terram, or ‘by sea, by land’, tell outrageous tales of how they’ve swum the widest oceans, climbed the highest mountains, and dated the most beautiful and passionate women. It’s an interesting fact that after they’ve been on active duty, the tales dry up. Anyway, I’ve combined these fictions and set them amidst the rigours of basic training, at the end of which recruits are awarded the coveted Green Beret, or green berry as the Brits say. Talking of lies and bravado, there was a story about John Wayne and Sean Connery being invited to a reception on board a British naval ship that was touring the Americas to ‘show the flag’. Of course, they arrived at the same time; Connery in a Rolls Royce and Wayne in a Cadillac. Once out of their cars, they rushed to be the first up the narrow gangway. James Bond against Hollywood’s epitome of the US Special Forces, wearers of the famous Green Beret. They apparently tussled and, as the lie is British, Connery threw Wayne into the water and preceded up the gangway.
Hopefully you’ll learn about the young men who volunteered to serve in those depressing times. I think you’ll be amused and sometimes saddened. The two main characters couldn’t be more dissimilar. One is a bored bank clerk from a middle-class family and the other a professional wrestler fed up of paying his dues to the so-called sport. They become inseparable friends and share some wonderful times together.