September 2006


We are very glad we stayed here – August and September are the worst months for hurricanes, and we would not have like to have met Ernesto further south.  Ernesto has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but he came all the way up from Florida to get us. 

Like the rainy night in Georgia it looked like it was raining all over the world.  The Albemarle to Chesapeake Canal has risen beneath us and swamped out boardwalks and flooded the boatyard and our car is in a foot of water.

Monica has to carry Jim through the flood along the boardwalk and across the boatyard to dry land three times a day.  Why don’t you carry him yourself, you cry, you lazy fellow?  Well, one of the first things I did after arriving here was rupture myself, which threw us into two months engagement with the American Health Service, and I had an operation a fortnight ago and am OK now but I can’t carry dogs around in a foot of water so they can have a pee.  At least not for a while.

You give the American health service money and they give you treatment – an arrangement I can understand.  A lot of money of course, but it’s worth it – they are very professional and very nice - no Mr Pinstripe-Git the consultant in the American Health Service.  The experience gave us lots of stories for the book.

Narrow Dog to Indian River is a third done.  There is much to tell - being here for a while and digging in has shown us how strange this country is and how little we knew about it.


There has been only one hurricane in Virginia and North Carolina in the last hundred and fifty years in October so we feel we will be safe to head south then.  This month we may tour around a bit in the car and maybe see some of the Outer Banks, the line of dunes and barrier islands hat shelters the coast down into North Carolina.

We have made friends with two sea Captains (it’s a title over here if you pass your exams) man and wife, who live on their boat between the two great Sounds, Albemarle and Pamlico.  Both sounds are wider than the Channel.  Our friends are going to come and live on board a couple of days in October and take us across both sounds, greatly increasing the chances we will live to see a rainy night in Georgia.

Chaste manly regards, love, yip fart

El Tel and Monnie of the River, by the light of the faithful Jim.

PS – Bantam has now sold 100,000 copies of Narrow Dog to Carcasssonne, and make sure all your friends are fully aware that Waterstones are featuring it in 3 for 2 promotions from October to Christmas.

 Extract from Narrow Dog to Indian River –

            I think we should get out of Iraq, said Norwood Thomas.  I’m a Democrat.  In the great Depression my mother put new cardboard in my shoes every morning.  And I was there during Roosevelt’s New Deal.

            The Phyllis May has only six feet four inches headroom and Norwood Thomas was too big a man for it.  His baseball hat carried the badge of the 101st Airborne Division, The Screaming Eagles.  Norwood Thomas was too big a man for most places.

            You were the first in at D-Day, I said.  You dropped behind the beaches to cut off Jerrys’ supplies.  Eisenhower said goodbye to you – all the forces he commanded on that day and he said goodbye to the 101st Airborne Division.  He was expecting you would take eighty-five percent casualties.  He said he could hardly stand the grief of saying goodbye to you.

            Yes, he looked serious, said Norwood Thomas.  He was in full dress uniform, stiff braided cap.  It was late afternoon.  We took off at 11.30 that night.  He was congenial in a reserved sort of way.  He didn’t speak to me like a General would.  I am not even sure he called me Soldier.  I felt he was talking to me as an equal.  Do you have your own parachute? he asked me.  Do you have it issued like a weapon and look after it?  No, Sir, I explained, we used to pack our own chutes in training but now the riggers do it.

            Most of you got back, I said.

            Yes, said Norwood Thomas, we lost more people at Arnhem.  On D-Day we dropped behind Utah Beach.  We got separated in cloud and our howitzers were lost, but we did our job.  We knew what our objectives were and the Germans didn’t, so we could take them out or pass them by.  The main American losses were at Omahah beach.  It was supposed to be cleared by our air force but the bombs went too far inland and the German machine-guns were left intact.  Omahah was butchery.

            Monica brought Norwood Thomas a cup of tea.  Did you spend much time in the UK? she asked.

            Yes, I love the UK.  I loved the people, how they suffered without hate, without profanity – Jerry was over again last night – and I nearly married one of you.

            And you fought on through Europe? I asked.

            Holland, then the Battle of the Bulge.  We were surrounded in the Ardennes and they say Patton rescued us – but we were getting supplies and would have fought our way out.  Patton didn’t rescue The Screaming Eagles, and never let them tell you different.        

Norwood Thomas accepted a book from us.  I wrote in it To Norwood Thomas, with thanks and admiration.  I thought afterwards that’s not good enough, I should have put with gratitude and admiration, and then I thought whatever I put would not be enough for that frightened twenty-year-old in May 1945, going into action for the first time.  He had come out to the plane the day before and then the weather was bad and he had to wait another day and now he was in the Dakota with seventeen of his comrades, coming over Guernsey and turning over the Cotendin Peninsula, to land in Normandy just after midnight on D-day, the first in.

            In the forties the enemies were evident and atrocious but there were giants in those days – Dwight Eisenhower and Norwood Thomas.  In the sixties the enemies were shadows and among the brave were pigmies and murderers– Robert MacNamara, and William Calley.  I know who the real Americans are, and so do you, and never let them tell you different.

Don’t forget – If you press the Meet the Author button Terry will address you in English, concerning the semi-colons and other matters.