Babbitt, Bristol, Cromwell, Essex, Fairfax, Gray, Het, history,, humour, Lucey, new books, poetry, politics, sad bits, South West campaign, Toogood, Venning

The New One….. Babbitt #3 Out in May!


June 1645

Shattered after their defeat at the bloody battle of Naseby, the King’s troops are in disarray, their last hope a loyal Royalist hardcore in the West Country.

Parliamentarian Colonel Hollie Babbitt’s troop of cavalry are always in disarray, so he has a degree of sympathy.

But certain members of the troop are hiding a secret, after Naseby – a secret that left the brutal sadist Captain Chedglow dead, Hapless Russell invalided out in Essex under the watchful eye of Het Babbitt, and posh poet Pettitt and fierce, enigmatic Trooper Gray locked in a most unlikely alliance. And they’re not telling.

Hollie’s too busy wrestling with his own conscience to pay too much mind to the internal politics of his troop, though. The Army of Parliament might be winning the war, but their soldiers aren’t seeing much of the benefits, and there are voices within the Army starting to make petition for the common soldier. And Hollie – partisan, cynical Hollie, who’s fought alongside both Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax, who’s always claimed his loyalties lay with himself first and foremost – is beginning to wonder if perhaps he should lend his distinctive Lancashire voice to those petitions. Which is going to make him about as popular as the bloody flux, with Parliament.

Love, in both likely and unlikely places. Death. War. Bubonic plague. Blood. Politics. Intrigue. Transvestite Huguenots, and bad poetry.

Who said the Roundheads were the dreary side?

Babbitt, Cromwell, Gray, humour, Lucey, new books, ponderations, present, Russell, Venning

Rosie Babbitt Reads His Reviews….

Hollie Babbitt lifts his head and stares out of the tiny, greenish-grey bubbled glass panes, out onto the rain-swept gardens of the house where the troop are presently quartered. He looks like an old warhorse, smelling the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains and the shouting.
“Russell,” he says, running a hand through his long and already-disordered cinnamon-brown hair. The scarred lieutenant looks up from scanning the satchel of dispatches that was dumped on him not two hours ago, and raises an eyebrow.
“Are you listening, Hapless, or are you reading your love-letters again?”
“Well.” Russell sets the satchel down and looks smug. “It is funny you say that, sir. D’you remember that lady who spent some time with us last year – writing the books?”
“Could hardly forget the wench. By, she couldn’t half curse. She did make a decent cake, mind. Why – she written to you?”
Russell looks out of the window as well, although the gardens have no more exciting a vista. A careful observer might have noted that Hapless Russell has gone a very faint rose-pink. “Not – recently,” he says cautiously. “But – um – sir, it would seem that we – ah, you – even such as I – we seem to be acquiring a certain, how shall I say, a degree of admiration. From an Amazon, apparently.”
“You don’t want a lass with a habit of violence, Russell. Especially not if she’s lacking a tit. Look where it got Luce, and so far as I know, that lass was in possession of both her bubbies. Not that I looked,” he adds hastily.
“No, no, this one is giving us stars. Five of them. Several times -“
“You what? What the hell do we want stars for? Is it foreign coin, or something, or what?”
“No, sir.” Russell glares at his commanding officer. “For an educated man, you know, you can be remarkably thick at times. It says here that you are oddly likeable -“
“Give that here.” Hollie scans the paper and then looks up, looking smug. “Well, well. Fancy that. So next time somebody calls me a bad-tempered gobshite wi’ no manners – hang on. Raffish? You?”
The prim Puritan lieutenant looks down his elegant nose and smirks. “I don’t believe anyone said you were unconventionally handsome, did they?”
“Good God.”
“Mind your tongue,” Russell chides him, slightly absently, in the manner of a man who knows his breath is wasted. “What would the Amazon think, if she knew you habitually blasphemed as you do?”
“She’d probably think I fit right in with the rest of the bloody Army.” Hollie shuffles the papers on his desk and gives a snort of disbelief. “You do know these buggers think I need a haircut? We’ve all got to have short hair, apparently.”
Russell touches his thick fair ponytail with an expression of horror. “What? Like one of those dreadful apprentices from the Trained Bands in London?”
“Oh aye. And you know that collar of yours with the -” he waves an inky and not too clean hand irritably, “the fancy stuff, that you turn out in when you’ve got your eye to a lass? – that’s got to go, apparently. Poetry – they reckon the King’s men are supposed to have the monopoly on verse. Be a bit of a blessing telling Luce, but I don’t fancy breaking it to Fairfax, do you? And his is worse!”

“Sir, what are you talking about?”

Hollie rubs the bridge of his nose and sighs, unaware of the smear of ink he has just transferred to that prominent feature. “D’you know what, Hapless, I don’t know why we bother. According to this – to that lady-friend of yours with the books – we’re supposed to be a load of abstinent, godly types, apparently with nits going by the haircuts, who never do nowt but sing psalms and probably take their wine watered. They never seen Cromwell on the spree, evidently. Apparently people think the Cavaliers had all the fun, and we spent most of the war praying and prosing.” He stands up and crosses to the window, and the colonel and his subaltern look out into the rain, watching Drew Venning strut across the grass in a hat that must have left several ostriches bald-rumped. “Mind,” Hollie says thoughtfully, “the Cavaliers could have kept that feathered excrescence, and welcome.”

“Ah, well, fashion knows no politics,” says Russell, who wears black a lot, not because of his puritanical leanings, but because he’s a vain so-and-so on the quiet and well aware that at just over six feet tall, with pale blonde hair and dark eyes, black suits him very well indeed. “Now where are you going, sir?” 

“I’m going to have a word with that lady-friend of yours with the books, lad. On the matter of that slander on the private life of the Army of Parliament. You coming?”

Babbitt, competitions, Essex, free stories, Gray,, Lucey, new books, ponderations, Russell, Venning

Name that Horse! eBook competition

It’s competition time – win a Kindle collection of short stories, including what did happen to Thankful Russell at Edgehill, how a seventeen-year-old Lancashire boy took up arms in the Low Countries in the Thirty Years’ War, and more.

All you have to do is name the new equine addition to Babbitt’s troop.

A hint:
Rosie himself has Tyburn (large, black, and menacing) and The Rabbit, who’s the only remount big enough for him, and whom he cordially dislikes. When Tyburn is invalided out after Marston Moor, he’s replaced by Blossom, named by Mrs Rosie in a whimsical moment.
Trooper Gray has Pig, and I think the name says it all about Gray’s horse.
Hapless has Thomas, who has doubts about anything and everything, from the threat posed by a strip of rag in a hedge to strange dogs.
Drew Venning’s horse is Samson – large, sturdy, well-mannered and hairy. (Not unlike Venning, come to think of it.)
Kenelm Toogood’s horse is Charles, and was baptised as same in Lostwithiel church during the Earl of Essex’s Cornish campaign in  1643.

Now, at the beginning of the series, Luce acquired a witless and overbred thoroughbred mare which he tagged as Fair Rosamund, in a fit of poetic stupidity. Rosamund is now, predictably, deceased in an excess of equine zeal.

The question is, o gentle reader, who will replace the Fair Rosamund in Babbitt’s horse-lines?

The choice is yours, and you have a week to do it in….Winners to be announced on Wednesday 4th Feb!