Tag Archive | United Kingdom

“Silent Crossroads” Interview with Jem Duducu

jem crossroads portraitGood morning everyone!  Can you believe it is already September?  Days are cooling down (FINALLY) and Mithril and Arwen have at last given up on nesting for the year.

Over the summer I became acquainted with Jem Duducu, one of two hosts of the Condensed History Gems podcast. At the end of August, Jem and Greg (Chapman) were kind enough to bring me onto the podcast to talk about historical fiction verses narrative history, Shakespeare, and even share some period music from China, Korea, and Scotland. Take a listen to our podcast episode which I hope will be the first of many.

Post recording the podcast I decided to check out some of his writing work.  You can find my review for “The American Presidents in 100 Facts” at  https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RDBPCR4GC47AP.

silent crossroads jemI also decided to download Jem’s new novel “Silent Crossroads” and ask him some questions about it.  Here is that Q & A for your reading pleasure.


LR: Silent Crossroads takes place during both World War I and World War II.  What interests you most about these time periods?  What do you personally find most compelling about those years?

JD: World War 1 really is the end of the “old world”. At the start of the war you have a Kaiser in Germany, the Habsburgs rule Austro-Hungary, there’s a Tsar in Russia and a Sultan in the Ottoman Empire and yet within a few years after the war, none of those century old institutions existed anymore. There were men fighting for institutions that literally were history by the end of the war.

As for World War II, it’s the war to go for so many people because it’s easy to work out the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. It’s rare to have such moral absolutes in a war. It’s also the most destructive war in human history, nothing to be proud of but scared Western Europe so much that this has been the longest peace in Western Europe since history began…

LR: You are best known for your non-fiction history books.  What made you decide to take on a historical fiction novel?

JD: On my Facebook page (@HistoryGems) as a “thank you” to regular followers, I used to make up history stories around their names. Everyone loved them, and the more grizzly the death, the better. I came up with the basic conceit for Silent Crossroads with one of them- a man changing sides in both world wars.  It’s the only one that had a few people reply that it would make a great novel. I kept piecing it together in my head, allowing the idea to evolve for a couple of years and then started writing it out when enough of the framework was there. The original was just a few paragraphs long, the final work is a little over 400 pages! I guess I got a bit carried away.

LR: Most writers draw at least some inspiration for characters and/or plot lines from their own lives.  What parts of Silent Crossroads come from your life?

JD: Harry Woods the soldier is nothing like me. Harry the husband, father and shop keeper, that’s much more me. My parents owned a shop in Portobello Market in London so the creaky stairs the serving customers, that was all in the back of my mind when describing the more mundane elements of his life.

LR: Are there any characters in Silent Crossroads who resemble people you know or parts of yourself at a specific time? Elaborate, please.

JD: A number of characters are named after friends and they get a sort of cameo although their characters may be quite different, they know who they are. Richard Barley has a small but vital part to play in the book and he’s a real guy, and just as smart as the fictional version of him but works in a very different line of business and s far less Machiavellian than the Richard in the book. Feisty clashes of will displayed by the female characters aren’t a specific woman, but as my wife, sister and mother are all very independent women, you could say they are all influences and vital in making the women believable. Also, the German Nurse Katarina is inspired by my sister in law and she loved what I did with the character.

LR: What details from real life did you integrate into this book that perhaps most people are not aware of as being historical?

JD: I put a brief synopsis of what’s real and what’s not right at the end. The battles in the wars and the rise of the Third Reich are well known. I think it may be the largely historically accurate character Wilhelm von Thoma that may surprise readers to know he did virtually everything that’s in the book. He is not widely known of and an example of a senior German officer who was genuinely uneasy about the direction Hitler was taking both his country and his army.

On the lighter side of things, I had an argument with the editor that there were ice cream parlours in Germany in the 1920s, but I proved to her I had done my research and there were.

Perhaps the most poignant bit of research is the message some American troops sent towards the end of World War I about being under friendly fire. The incident and message are both real.

LR: What lessons from WWI and WWII do you feel most people need to learn and remember about this time period?

JD: I think World War I is arguably the most misunderstood major moment of history there is. It wasn’t all sitting in trenches for 4 years, troops were rotated out of the front lines every 7-10 days. The generals did care about their troops and there are many examples of innovation to try and break the deadlock be it the tank or the first example of (major) aerial bombardment. Also, it wasn’t a stalemate, the allies (particularly Britain) very much won the war and were amply compensated.

The less militaristic point is I wanted to show how dreadful Germany was after the war. Most people outside of the country don’t know there was a brief civil war in Germany, everyone knows about the hyperinflation but don’t realise that after recovering from that they were crippled again with the stock market crash of 1929. So it wasn’t just about the Versailles treaty. I think about how in desperate situations, people sometimes make desperate choices. If everything in Germany had been “fine” in the 20s and 30s then Hitler would never have risen to power.

 LR: What do you feel is the greatest legacy of each of the two wars?

JD: With the First World War, it was the redistribution of power. This was the point where Britain’s Empire reached its maximum size. It was also the end of a number of other empires (as previously stated). New countries were carved out like Palestine, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria…and nothing bad has happened in any of those countries since!

World War Two, however, ended the last “traditional” Empire, Britain and cemented the power of two new empires. The Soviet Union had its own empire and influence spread across Eastern Europe and supported the Communists in China, something that is still impacting the news today. Of course, America was the big winner from both conflicts and again is still reaping the rewards 75 years later.

I could go on but I don’t want to turn this into a degree in 20th-century politics!

LR: If you decide to write another historical novel, what time period do you think would be the most interesting to explore and why?

JD: To try and catch the eye of the agents I actually have already written a second book. I deliberately made it very different to try and counter the reservations some had about Silent Crossroads. Set in the Middle East, in the 13th century, the protagonist is an Italian woman. Silent Crossroads looks at the horrors of mechanised warfare and the politics of the 20th century. This other work is about religion and how it may not have been used in the way you’d assume 700 years ago. This era and area are what I specialised in at university so it felt a bit like coming home.

Also being a woman in a man’s world she has all the best ideas, that none of the arrogant men give time too until it’s too late, I think you may like it. Saying that it didn’t catch the eye of the agents either, depending on how Silent Crossroads go, I may release that one too.

LR: What did you most learn about yourself in the writing of this book?

JD: Ha! Great question. That I can write battles and stoicism easily, that stuff just flows out of my keyboard. I guess I’ve watched too many war movies and documentaries. But I had to break a sweat to make the domestic elements and the female characters compelling too. And that’s important. If this was a just about a soldier fighting it wouldn’t be half as interesting as the end product. A wise person once told me “women are 50% of history” and therefore to show a mother’s worries as she see’s her daughter being seduced by fascist ideology and having to keep physically safe from all kinds of external threats, in some ways that are more what the book is about than Harry.

LR:  Thank you for taking time out of your very busy day!  You can purchase Silent Crossroads in both kindle and paperback editions on Amazon. Read my review here.




British Holiday: Counting Down to Take-Off

After two months of planning the time is very near.  I’m leaving North America for the first time and yes, I’m so excited my skin is breaking out!

Over these two months I’ve read countless blogs, countless travel sites, visited United.com more times than I want to know, and created a decent sized pinterest board relating to travel.  I’ve shopped.  I’ve packed.  I’ve re-packed.  I’ve rechecked the location of my passport weekly — just

My initials in nail polish makes my checked bag stand out.

My initials in nail polish makes my checked bag stand out.

in case I’ve misplaced it.  And through it all I’ve learned a few things worth considering.

  1. Follow your own travel habits.  Every other blog or pinterest pin talks about traveling internationally with just a carry on.  Guess what?  That’s not me.  I’ve flown for twenty years checking a regular bag and using my carry on for just what I need at the airport and on the plane.  In all this time I’ve never lost a bag.  And since I put my initials in nail polish all over this bag, I’m pretty sure that no one else has a bag looking like mine.
  2. Packing cubes equal more space.  I’ve found I couldn’t put everything into packing cubes, but they’ve done wonders for my organization, especially the narrow 4x8x2″ ones which now I wish I had more of.  Everything is categorical thanks to the cubes.  I even have one just for toiletries, allowing me to keep those together.
  3. If you are checking your bag, don’t stuff the carry on with clothing.  Influenced by those websites I became convinced I needed a big packing cube in my carry on.  There’s
    Gifted to me when I was 18, this soft-sided carry on  bag has been with me on every flight I've ever taken.  It readily fits under the seat in front of me on even the smallest plane.

    Gifted to me when I was 18, this soft-sided carry on bag has been with me on every flight I’ve ever taken. It readily fits under the seat in front of me on even the smallest plane.

    two problems to this.  One:  space.  In a soft side carry on, just one packing cube will take up half of the space, space I need for my netbook, my snacks, my medicine, and other things I really will use in flight. Two:  weight.  Soft sided carry ons are shoulder bags — no wheels.  Burdening yourself down as you board and leave planes and navigate the airport is not only no fun, but makes that walking more difficult.  I use a white cane to walk.  Believe me, that cane is useless if I’m encumbered; I just don’t have the range of motion with my arms that I need.  When I stopped following the fancy travel blog advice and repacked all but a pair of flat shoes and whatever socks/underwear I could stuff into my shoes back to the checked bag I found, to my delight, that my carry on now weighs HALF of what it did before.

  4. Drawstring purses for electronics chargers.  Years ago I picked up a couple cute silk drawstring purses — the kind that is nice for when you are out on the town and only need your id, some cash, credit cards, and your payment cards for public transit.  As it happens, those are PERFECT for my cell phone chargers (one phone for US, one for UK) and my netbook power cable, keeping everything neat and compressed and recognizable in my carry on.
  5. Limit computer accessories.  Unless you are giving a business presentation at your destination, you really DON’T need more than your power cable for your computer.  Leave home your nice case and slip the computer directly into your carry on.  After all, TSA makes you remove the computer from its case to scan it.  Why add to your weight and space with more than you need?
  6. Keep a folder for all your paperwork.  Creating a folder for the document part of my bag makes it easy to find my itinerary, photocopy of my passport id page, and other important papers.  Keep everything together.
  7. Photocopy all cards and identification and email to friends/family. Anything can happen when you travel.  Making scan copies of your passport id page, official government identification, and front/back of every payment card you are bringing with you makes replacing those documents easier in case of an emergency.  Once scanned, print out a copy of your passport identification page and a page with your home address and your destination address and put that in a visible place inside your bag. Email yourself and trusted friends/family copies of your documents and financial documents.
  8. Don’t over think the trip.  People will give you great advice.  They will give you poor advice.  They will unnerve you with horror stories meant to help you.  At the end of the day though you need to follow your own instincts.  The more relaxed you are, the better you can solve problems should any come up.  Think but don’t over think your trip.  Plan but don’t over plan.  Stay grounded and have a good time.

Travel is an adventure.  Embrace it and enjoy what comes your way!

UK Holiday: UK rules for personal foodstuffs less strict than USA rules

The count down is on for my flight and the excitement is building.  I am making my food shopping list, checking it twice, and going to find out who is naughty and nice! (Couldn’t help the pun).


You can’t bring the beef jerky into the UK nor bring UK origin beef jerky into the USA. The trail mix is fine going into the UK, but must be declared at customs returning to the USA.

Time to really look at government websites and see what is and is not allowed.  Fortunately my post from yesterday seems to be spot-on with regards to what you can bring into the United Kingdom from outside of Europe.  As specified on gov.uk, the main restrictions relate to meat and dairy.  If you go through the page, HM government is very detailed and very explicit on the matter — which is good because no one wants problems at customs.  You can consume meat and dairy to your heart’s content on your flight from USA to UK — at long as you throw away the leftovers before you land.

The USA is apparently much more strict about food coming home from another country.  Looking at the US Customs and Border Protection site and their FAQ for travelers you cannot bring ANY fresh food of any type into the United States.  Anything you do bring with you (aka you didn’t throw away before you disembark from your plane into the USA) must be declared OR YOU FACE a $10,000 FINE.

$10,000 for not saying “I have some crackers in my bag.”


These apricots are allowed into the UK without any issues. But if I don’t eat them while on holiday and try to bring them back into the USA, I must declare them at customs — or face a $10,000 fine!

Absolutely NO fresh food is allowed into the USA at all.  According to the FAQ, most dried fruits and nuts ARE allowed — as long as you declare them.  Likewise, as long as you tell them, it’s not an issue if you save your pretzels from your flight to eat while you are waiting to change planes.

But it is a bit telling.  I really never expected the flight back to the USA to be more risky than the flight to the United Kingdom.

Well, maybe this is just the universe’s way of telling me something I already know about myself — and where I am happiest!

Getting saucy for long haul flights

I’m flying to London!  I am so excited about the coming trip, a chance to get out of Pennsylvania and see at last somewhere I’ve dreamed about since childhood:  ENGLAND!


Flying out of my local regional airport and connected at Washington DC Dullas, the main flight will be approximately ten hours in the air.  Door to door time: eighteen hours.  How much will United feed me?  A snack on the flight to Dullas and probably just one meal of unknown design maybe two hours into the main flight plus a follow up snack (if I’m awake to get it).  That’s a long time without food.

Gifted to me when I was 18, this soft-sided carry on  bag has been with me on every flight I've ever taken.  It readily fits under the seat in front of me on even the smallest plane.

Gifted to me when I was 18, this soft-sided carry on bag has been with me on every flight I’ve ever taken. It readily fits under the seat in front of me on even the smallest plane.

Following the advice of many travel blogs and my own flying habits since the airlines both decreased overall services and started charging for nearly all of the ones that remain, I plan on packing most of my carry on bag (oddly enough the one gifted to me for high school graduation more than 20 years ago) with FOOD.  After all, when I get really hungry, nausea tends to follow and no I really don’t want to deal with that on a ten hour flight!

Now yes, I’ve seen a dozen guides about using the carry on as the one and only bag — understandable given how much airlines now charge for a checked bag — but I’ve always seen the carry on as what I need on the plane itself and okay, fine, I’ll pay the fee to check my bag.  For me, this has two very important benefits:  1)  I am able to use the above soft sided carry on and keep it under the seat in front of me (important when you are short and cannot reach the overhead bins), and 2) I have much more flexibility about what I can and cannot bring on trip because many items not allowed in carry on luggage are allowed in checked luggage.

For me, using the checked bag is just less hassle.  Plus on most international flights, the first checked bag is FREE.  So use it and keep the carry on to stuff you actually need close at hand during the long flight.

This established, here are some key things I’m bringing:

Pack medicines and first aid kit into the carry on.  Band-aids, prescription medicine (B2 & Feverfew are dr. prescribed for me), motion sickness pils, and anti-allergy pills are critical.  I also packed plastic cutlery, a seafood fork for my veggies, and a soda can opener.

Pack medicines and first aid kit into the carry on.

napkin power strip

  • Band-aids.  One is in the photo, but I packed about 20 in assorted sizes.
  • Any supplements or medicines you take daily.  For me, B2 and Feverfew are prescribed to control my severe chronic daily migraine.
  • Anti-allergy pills.  Often packed to help you sleep on the plane, this is obvious to anyone with a food allergy.  No, I don’t care to die mid-air!
  • Motion sickness pills.
  • plastic cutlery
  • a seafood fork — yes it’s metal, but it’s TINY and likely to pass the TSA.  And if not — it was cheap and I can throw it away.
  • A soda can opener.  Especially when I really need a beverage I have difficulty opening bottles and cans!
  • A linen napkin.  Linen is durable, washable, and less hassle than paper choices.
  • Travel power strip (people love you when you share)
  • Comb, hair pins, and pony tail holders.

That is all the front pocket stuff I’m bringing.  On the outer back pocket goes a folder with photo copies of my passport pages (as recommended by the US State Department), my state issued identification, original copies of key documents, and a print out of all important names, addresses, and phone numbers. Adding a copy of both outbound and inbound flight information is very helpful too, especially traveling out of the US so you can prove when you are returning to USA.  My outer pocket also holds my in flight reading material which I want to keep close at hand.

All this is pretty mundane.  But what about food?  That is, after all, the bulk of what I’m bringing in my carry on.  And what about the TSA 3-1-1 rule which limits liquids, gels, and creams to not more than 3 ounces (100 ml) per item and not more than what fits in a sealed 1 quart zipper bag?  Since most of the usual items are in my checked bag, this is filled almost exclusively with foodstuffs.

1 oz tupperware cups for allowed foodstuffs and 2 oz disposable salad dressing cups for USA only sauces and salad dressings readily fit in your 1 quart zipper bag.

1 oz tupperware cups for allowed foodstuffs and 2 oz disposable salad dressing cups for USA only sauces and salad dressings readily fit in your 1 quart zipper bag.

Here you want to be thinking about what is allowed within the USA and what is allowed at your destination — the UK in this case.  Under UK law, no meat or dairy products may be brought in from a point of origin outside of the EU.  That means that anything I bring for consumption on the plane itself has to be thrown out before I land at Heathrow.  The solution:  disposable salad dressing cups (2 oz.).

As you can see from my TSA bag, I have three 1 ounce tupperware containers which I’m using for pickle juice (a common muscle spasm remedy). Two disposable salad dressing cups will be filled with ranch dressing and thrown out during my flight.  My one ounce hand sanitizer also goes in there per TSA rules.  Hand sanitizer is an effective eyeglass cleaner, believe it or not.  Finally I’m including a small tube of toothpaste as a just in case.

jerkyapricotsThese of course go into the main section along with zipper bags of fresh mushrooms, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, and perhaps some broccoli if it’s fresh at the store.  Fresh veggies are a great choice for long haul flights because 1) they are healthy, 2) their high moisture content helps stave off jet lag through hydration, and 3) they are not messy to eat.  In addition, I’m also bringing trail mix, dried fruit, and a bag of beef jerky (which yes, must be consumed before I land in London).  Two empty bottles for water also make the essentials list.

And then what?  That depends on remaining bag space.  By focusing on in flight needs, I lighten my bag, make it easy to keep under the seat in front of me, and reduce my travel stress.  That makes a truly bon voyage!

The US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment: Police, Not Guns in Every Home

American gun patrioticThe 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution is interpreted by the National Rifle Association to mean that every American is guaranteed the right to own and carry firearms anywhere, at any time, in any context s/he wishes.  Common sense is not part of their position.  Guns should be at the zoo, at Starbucks, at your kid’s playground, even in your child’s school.  Guns should be everywhere because the Constitution says so!

Except the Constitution doesn’t say that,  Instead the full text of the 2nd Amendment is:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

14th century Italian militias.

14th century Italian militias.

Now as I talked about three years ago on Yahoo Voices and reposted a year ago, the idea of the militia has a specific historical context grounded in Anglo-Saxon tradition.  It is, at its core, a feudal institution pre-dating professional armies where local men and women responded to local emergencies by arming themselves and protecting their towns and villages.  Mercenaries (soldiers for hire)  were for centuries rather unreliable folks with rape/pillage habits — something American colonists experienced with the Hessian mercenaries hired by the Crown.  Before the emergence of completely professional national armies, soldiers for hire had the habit of abusing the local population, of taking what they wanted.  So locals tended to maintain their militias to protect themselves against such abuse.

gun murder

Times have changed in the United States and United Kingdom. Professional soldiers are hometown heroes and heroines — not threats to the safety of civilian populations. Invasions from foreign powers on home soil is essentially unknown to most Americans and British — the main modern exceptions to that happened during the 2nd World War.  Our armies have professionalized and this is a good thing. Because since the beginning of professional soldiering, the professionals have always possessed superior skills, protection, and weapons compared to their civilian counterparts.

And that is what a militia is:  civilians responding to emergencies.  It’s volunteer police, volunteer fire department, and neighourhood watch organizations. I’ve seen arguments for including USA state national guard units under this umbrella — except those are trained and equipped much more similarly to the full time army, navy, and so forth — and they are paid to do so!

Two London constables on duty.

Two London constables on duty.

So what then does the 2nd Amendment actually guarantee Americans?  If you treat the word “militia” properly, what is the 2nd Amendment actually protecting?  In my analysis as a historian, the 2nd Amendment guarantees us POLICE FORCES and FIRE DEPARTMENTS which do the same job that our militias once did.  Police forces/constabularies and fire departments protect local populations from danger — from within our localities and from outside threats.  When a riot breaks out, it’s the police — not a Federal soldier — that is sent in to deal with it.  When Federal soldiers ARE sent in to deal with riots we habitually treat this much as our ancestors did with mercenary soldiers — and perhaps rightly.

In the Autumn of 2001 New York Penn Station was protected with Federal soldiers carrying high power weapons through the station to police it, a response to 9/11.  Believe me, that terrified me as I walked through the station to catch or depart from my New Jersey Transit trains!  A regular NYPD officer in regular uniform with regular equipment felt safe to be around.  But Federal troops?  Utterly terrifying!

gun murder 2We need our police officers and constables.  We need this modern form of our ancient militias.  We need to honour and respect the work our officers and constables do and trust them to do their job — rather than delude ourselves into thinking we can do their jobs better than they can and therefore arming ourselves.

Gun are not the solution.  As a matter of fact, they aggravate our problems.  A woman is 500x more likely to be shot/killed during a domestic dispute when firearms are kept in the home than she is when family firearms are kept in a neutral location such as a gun club.  There is a reason why the murder rate in the United Kingdom is so much lower than in the United States.  This twisting of the 2nd Amendment is why.

Some of you are likely to attack me for writing this.  That is fine with me.  Be my guest.  Because as a woman who was hurt in a gun “accident” as a child, I fiercely uphold that the gun laws in the United Kingdom are the best way to go.  I’ve seen what guns everywhere all the time can do and it disgusts me and terrify me.

Leave the guns to the police and the constables.  Leave them to the real modern militias. And please, in the name of sanity, stop thinking that having a gun around makes you safer!  IT DOESN’T!

Reblog: OpenBytes Commentary on Royal Babies

The following is excerpted from the 10th September blog post “Royal babies, Mojang to be bought & when the best is not the always “the best”.


Normally I reblog the entire blog post.  But today I’m breaking from habit in order to bring just the first part of Tim’s insightful (and very British) look at the Windsors which follows the social justice theme many regular readers to this blog see repeated in my own social commentaries.  In a time where “entitlements” is a political hot button in the United States, Tim’s own reality check about the royal family speaks volumes as to who is really entitled to what and what is truly fair in a “civilized” society.


Breaking news – Kate Middleton has morning sickness…..

The UK as a rule is very quick to jump on a “welfare state” bandwagon when the public feels someone is getting an easy ride.  Thankfully I’ve never needed welfare/benefits at any point in my life, but I fully support the facility to be there for those in need.  The press make a very good job of demonizing those on benefits and whilst there are a minority of cases where there has been abuse/fraud of the system, the vast majority of people don’t get the “easy life” that is promoted in the press and certainly are not in that position by choice.  Talking of the easy life though, there’s one family who every tax payer in the UK already pay a lot of money for.  There’s one family who not only get the best in life – an almost private health care service from the NHS, get driven around, have their own security and will never want for anything in their lives.  Who? The Royal Family of course.

Now lets just stop any difference of opinion right now.  You think the Royal Family earn their keep with tourism et al? Check out the costs to look after the Royal Family (and its extended family) for one month.  If the Royal Family pays for itself (allegedly) why not privatise them? Let them fund themselves, after-all if they make so much money for the UK it should be easy.  Thats the best of both worlds, the UK keeps its Monarchy without the burden to the tax-payer.

I digress, the news I’m commenting on today is the impending new arrival of Kate and William.  One could almost be forgiven that morning sickness in pregnant ladies didn’t exist before Kate had it.  And maybe it doesn’t? Maybe out of all the pregnant ladies around the world feeling sick in the morning are mere pretenders to the one true case of morning sickness in Kate – afterall she is getting Doctors to her home.  I remember back to when my wife had morning sickness, she was told to get on with it.  She certainly didn’t have a doctor “treating” her at our home.  But then as I say, maybe Kate has the only “real” case on the planet.

I wonder, do you think you would get the same service from the NHS should you find yourself in a similar situation? No. I wouldn’t think so.  Maybe your sickness is not really morning sickness as Kate has the only real case, or maybe its just you are not as “important”?

The new addition to the Royal Family is not just another mouth for the tax-payer to feed, it will be the beginning of a further extension to the families demands for money.  Consider that if the child gets married, we now have an obligation to another family for protection, further swelling the size of the financial burden.  How far out does the tax-payers “duty of care” stretch with the Royal Family? I’d say very far and its tentacles will reach far and wide into the pocket of those in the UK especially when you consider the “special arrangements” for members of its extended family.

So please, don’t expect me to be “over the moon” with the announcement of more cost to tax-payers and please if you are a Royal supporter, don’t dare comment negatively about those on benefits – you are happy to fund the mammoth cost of the Royal Family.

Personally, I think people needing help from state benefits are far more deserving of my money than a Royal Family.

Poll: Henry V or Tudor Romance


Catherine de Valois was one of the most fascinating people of 15th century Europe.  Daughter to the paranoid schizophrenic Charles VI of France, she was the “Kate” of Shakespeare’s Henry V.


But few people know the story beyond Shakespeare’s rendering.  That is why this summer, the Legendary Women of World History is pleased to bring you the true story of Catherine de Valois which will go into audio edition shortly after publication for release in time for Christmas.


Being an ever responsive author and historian, I come to you to ask you what fascinates you most about Catherine.  Please answer the following poll and share.