Abduction: An Angel Over Rimini – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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Detective Chief Inspector Michael Lambert has left the Thames Valley Police Authority and is now working for Europol as a front-line Europol Liaison Officer at The Hague. 
Abduction: An Angel over Rimini, involves the kidnapping of a little English girl from a campsite in Riccione in Italy. It is a cold case, which has been reopened due to public pressure, the intervention of the British government, and publicity from leading English newspapers.

The story of abduction by Patrick Brigham has two layers, because, during his stay in Italy DCI Lambert  finds time to unearth his father’s mysterious past. During his wartime service in Bari, as an RAF officer in a wartime Pathfinder Squadron, it also reveals the truth about his father’s secret wartime exploits, and his romantic peccadillos too!

It is also a new awakening for Michael Lambert, and romance – in the shape of Countess Beatrix d’Aragona – finally brings the Europol detective emotionally back to life, blotting out the past, and the sterile marriage to his pretentious ex wife, Arabella Lambert.

In his travels he comes across corrupt lawyers and dodgy orphanages in Bulgaria, although in so doing, he also manages to pinpoint a distinct child trafficking trail. This ultimately leads him back to Central Europe, the discovery of an illegal child adoption agency in Hanover, and the criminals who operate it. Finally, the information gleaned during his trip through Bulgaria helps DCI Lambert to learn if little Penny Scratchford is alive or dead, but then you will have to read the book to find out!

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Author Patrick Brigham

Child abduction is one of the cruelest criminal acts, parents never knowing if their loved ones are alive or dead. It is a torture which never goes away, a feeling of emptiness and loss which grinds away each day, destroying  parents  emoticons, and very often their relationships too.

I wrote Abduction: An Angel over Rimini, shortly after the abduction of Madeleine McCann, which is a crime I have studied very carefully. However, I set my story in Italy – not wishing to add to the distress of the McCann family in Portugal – and created a new scenario altogether. But this is where I might have fooled the unwary reader , because I enlisted my entire Italian cast, from John Webster’s 17th Century play, The Duchess of Malfi.

In fact the story is virtually the same, when it comes to the burgeoning story of Lambert’s father Billy, his romantic liaison during wartime RAF service in Bari and Acona – often described as The Dirty War. This was where my father served, during  WWII, later moving on to Palestine at the end of hostilities. My father was in his early 40s then, and too old to fly, he had somehow wangled a commission in the RAF, and was Squadron Adjutant to 35 Squadron, a Pathfinder squadron.

As a little boy I often overheard relatives remark how much my father had enjoyed the war, although this is hard to believe in retrospect, but it set my mind spinning at the thought that I might have an Italian brother or sister, living somewhere from the past. I never really knew my father, he died when I was nine years old, but there he is in the fictional guise of Billy Lambert, wrapped up in his wartime secrets,  and revealing his hidden truths.

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Herodotus: The Gnome of Sofia – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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Against the backdrop of political change in South Eastern Europe, the story of Herodotus: The Gnome of Sofia, embraces disgruntled communists, cold war warriors, intrigue, deception and finally murder.

Sir Arthur Cumberpot has an unspectacular career which is swiftly drawn to a close when he is appointed British Ambassador to Bulgaria. Due to some unforeseen mishap, his wife Annabel is accused of being a spy and sent home to their house in Oxfordshire, while her background is checked by MI5.

Annabel is guilty of nothing, other than being the biological daughter of Jim Kilbey, Britain’s most infamous spy. It seems that a jealous god has sought to visit the sins of the father upon her, but so has everyone else. She is the victim of serendipity, of cover ups, the duplication of thin evidence and exaggeration. But she is also heartless, treacherous, self indulgent and without shame.

This was my first attempt to bring to life, some of the characters I had met during my time in Sofia, Bulgaria. I say characters, but very often the opposite was true, and many of the anodyne expats – who worked either for big companies or within the various foreign embassies – seemed to have no character at all. In fact, one got the impression that they had been sent to Sofia, either for this reason, or as some sort of punishment. A last chance perhaps? Or, tidied away perhaps, out of sight of the main chance, and some dynamic office in the capital.

In the 1990s, most of Eastern Europe had only recently declared its transition from communism to democracy, although logically this was a load of rot, and the phony  realignment of noted communists into different political parties, was rather like a game of musical chairs. People who had been busy toadying up to ex President Todor Zhivkov a few months earlier, now wanted to be seen as enlightened philosophers, and free thinkers. No longer shackled to the communist party line, there was no end of drivel being spouted by these twerps, both to the ignorant masses – now called the electorate – and to most members of the foreign diplomatic community.

Either there for cheap beer – sex and rock’N’ roll – or hidden siege like in their gray embassies, for the most part, reality was not an issue. At times one even wondered if they had ever truly understood the realities of communism, much of which still remained in the streets, the homes, the hearts and minds of practically every Bulgarian citizen. Because, despite the recent election of President Zhelyu Zhelev; as the new democratic head honcho, the same ugley people were to be seen everywhere, standing close behind him.

Nearly all the western countries had the usual contingent of spooks, although they also seemed to fit neatly into some kind of cold war last chance category. So, what did all these spy’s do? They spied on each other, of course! In a country which was virtually bankrupt, this simply represented a matter of resources. The Americans had more cash, so they were the frontrunners, the Russians had been the Bulgarian true masters in the past, and had vast resources in place, and Great Britain, well, that was another matter.

There were NGOs  everywhere, foundations, obscure US universities, bank managers – who didn’t seem to know much about banking – advisors of all sorts, writers of feasibility studies, SME experts, and their local counterparts – usually provided by the Bulgarian Ministry of The Interior – who also didn’t seem to have much of a clue either. It was a circus, the clowns coming from all parts, and together with a number of strutting circus horses, the show began.

I don’t suppose my detractors will like to hear this, but I found most of this very funny, and I even stage managed some events – for and on behalf of the Sofia Western News –  one entitled Meet the Presidential Candidates! This was during the second election in the mid 90s when meeting foreigners was an important issue, and in one case, I even wrote their speech.

One candidate turned up in a limousine and a white suit, somehow confusing The Hollywood Oscars with little city emerging market politics, and then proceeded to insult some of the foreigners who were present. Another misread his speech altogether, and told the audience that he would introduce at least $1 million US dollars into the Bulgarian budget, instead of $1 billion. Last time I heard about this particular presidential candidate, he was accused of embezzling a fortune from some steelworks, and under arrest.

I was once asked to join the ranks of a particular security service, as many have been in the past, but swiftly demurred, claiming that I didn’t have a dirty mackintosh. A little provocative you might think, but I have never seen spying as a glamorous occupation, and those spys I did meet in the past, were usually catatonic lyers. But it was due to this encounter, that I coined the character of the fictional MI6 officer at the Sofia embassy, his name is Mackintosh. In my story Herodotus: The Gnome of Sofia, it doesn’t take long before the British Embassy staff give him a nickname, after all they are British. They call him Dirty, henceforth known, throughout my novel, as Dirty Macintosh!

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Alfred Prufrock’s Revenge – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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This is the tale of an ordinary man, whose life has been spent in spectacular obscurity. Alfred Prufrock is not a man who chases distinction, nor fame or fortune, but is someone who studies life’s painted canvas, grateful that he is in it at all. Pleased to remember the simple pleasures of life, love on a budget, and cups of tea; how else should we ordinary mortals live our lives? T.S.Eliot remembered a time when London was beset by smog, where even navigating the streets of London was a perilous business, but these days the perils we have to face are far more frightening.

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When various pundits have finished spewing out their tedious and oft-repeated mantra’s about succeeding in life, what they really mean is making money. In a world in which smug billionaires are presented as the ultimate role model, are these shallow and often unsophisticated people really how we want to be? Would you like to be like Trump, for example, or the grossly enigmatic Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook – who reminds me of  Data in Star Trek – are these the new wannabes?

In fact, whilst the world is taking selfies, it is being divided into two categories. Firstly, people who own almost everything in the world – including most of us – who claim with false modesty, that what they do is simply to create wealth. Wealth which in turn creates jobs, and that their vast fortunes are not being squandered on toy’s, palaces, or gigantic plastic boats.

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Theresa May in The North East

Secondly, there are people who are either JAM’s – just about managing – or many unfortunates who wonder why they cannot get a proper job, with all these rich people about? Many people live in  less wealthy areas – like the West Midlands in the UK, and of course the blighted North East. This is where our beloved Prime Minister has recently gone, in order to popularise her newest ‘White Paper.’

Not to the unemployed and lost – who would do anything to get a proper job, and not a minimum wage contract with no prospects – but to the Tory Party faithful, who with their conservative middle class credentials intact, will fawn round a highly deluded Theresa May, oblivious of the fact that even some of their middle class neighbours are struggling.

In a world where people are at each other’s throats – whilst bombarding us with media trivia, and consummate drivel – and with two bit snake oil salespeople for leaders; lying to their voters, and each other alike, isn’t it time to change the political landscape? Is it time to instigate the liberal view, and to get away from the extremists who presently dominate the world stage; from bully boys, greedy bankers, nationalists, war mongers, incompetent governments, and an unprincipled media? Is it time to start telling the truth?

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Twenty Years On – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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Where I stand two rivers meet

Close to a sea of tranquillity

And there I am, quietly gazing

A man alone

Expecting nothing

Charlie Loftus  1986.

If one could imagine for a moment how astronauts might view the Planet Earth, as they twirl in space, it might be with awe and perhaps with some respect for the majesty, and the simplicity of this our world.  Most astronauts usually have some kind of religious experience, because of the enormity of time and space, a place where it is easy for them to get their true perspective, and to find a way to relate to creation, whatever their religious beliefs might be.

Further down on earth, it doesn’t seem so easy, and the semantics of regional conflict, inevitably overtake the beauty of our existence. This is very true of Israel, their ongoing tryst with the Palestinian authorities, and the constant politicking which seems to have been going on forever.

Both parties play the American card, then the Jewish American card, and in the past, I even saw Prime Minister Netanyahu on American TV, being interviewed on a Catholic channel, where I honestly came to believe that butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. His then interviewer; open mouthed with admiration, and enveloped in that oddly casual American smiley ignorance, I could hardly believe that I was living on the same planet. He has always played with the media with such ease that, and at the time – it was then 1998 – he  seemed to have demoted President Clinton into a junior press attaché. But then, what about the opposition?

The Palestinians have always had great loyalty to the late Yasser Arafat – despite the many and various  factions, which he had to deal with. But, with the help of the late King of Jordan – help which continues to this day – he was not only a truly visible leader in Palestine, but a virtual spokesman for Arab unity itself.

One river is as old as time itself

Wanders afar through hostile plains

And foreign lands of uncertain virtue

Always alone

Expecting nothing

There was also the Blair initiative. Well thought out – definitely no obfuscation intended – it was skilfully conducted together with the late Robin Cook, who was British Foreign Secretary at the time. On good form in Gaza, and apparently so well fed by the Arab’s, that he forgot to attend a dinner with Netanyahu, it seemed then, that a peaceful solution might have been possible, but once more the violence erupted.

Although, Tony Blair was reported as saying that he supported Palestinian claims, he also said that it was fundamentally an American show, and that he continued to believe it was up to the then President Clinton to sort it all out. This was certainly true during the 2000 Camp David discussions between Ehud Barak and Arafat, and finally the Oslo Accord.

The other follows a rising star

Quick to stir the waters flood

Through thundering chasms of the night

Always alone

Expecting nothing

Twenty years on, and little has changed.The body pile is mounting, the same cliches are being bandied about, promises continue to be kept and then broken, and like two naughty children who return to their destructive games, when your back is turned, the violence continues. Reasons are given new light by skilled PR pundits, and the familier rhetoric rolls on like an old 78 rpm cracked gramophone recording.

And there I saw the waters mingle

Deep so deep, so naturally blend

With God’s last gift as one they fell

No longer alone

Expecting nothing,

But feeling at one with God.

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The trouble is, we now have the whole of the Middle East at each other’s throats, and the scale of violence has escalated beyond the comprehension of even the aforementioned, and past redoubtable political Doyon’s, or any feasible intervention by the west.

Recent media attention has been monopolized by President Trump’s antics in Helsinki – his love affair with President Putin – but, the very catalyst which started all this middle eastern chaos, which he apparently discussed with Putin, has once more been put on the back burner, and replaced by cheap TV and absurd Trump tomfoolery. When will they stop insulting our intelligence?