Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Desmond and Barbara Le Pard – A Wartime Romance by Geoff Le Pard


My parents met in 1939 and married in 1940 and saw each other infreguently for the next six years.. Courage and a very strong love is needed in times such as these..

I am delighted that Geoff Le Pard has chosen to share his own parent’s romance with us as part of the Blog Sitting series.


About Geoff Le Pard.

Geoff Le Pard (not Geoffrey, except to his mother) was born in 1956 and is a lawyer who saw the light. He started writing (creatively) in 2006 following a summer school course. Being a course junkie he had spells at Birkbeck College, twice at Arvon and most recently at Sheffield Hallam where he achieved an MA in Creative Writing.

And what did he learn?

That they are great fun, you meet wonderful people but the best lessons come from the unexpected places. He has a line of books waiting to be published but it has taken until now to find the courage to go live.

He blogs at on anything and everything. His aim is for each novel to be in a different style and genre. Most people have been nice about his writing (though when his brother’s dog peed on the manuscript he was editing, he did wonder) but he knows the skill is in seeking and accepting criticism. His career in the law has helped prepare him.


Desmond and Barbara Le Pard
A wartime romance

My parents were just teenagers (dad turned 13 in November 1939; mum was 13) when the WW2 started, not that they knew what that meant back then. Dad was at a public school, having won a full scholarship there whereas mum had already left school to nurse her dying father and care for her two much younger brothers while her mother went out to work.

On the face of it, my father’s circumstances were the better but that would deceive. My paternal grandfather, Gordon, was a tailor, whose carefully built up business collapsed into bankruptcy in the early 1930s. To make ends meet, he moved his family to north Surrey while he went to work for a tailoring business in London. They lived in a council house and, in Dad’s words, downplaying the truth no doubt, ‘about managed’. The stress on his father was such that by the end of the war he’d moved to Croydon Technical College to teach tailoring, mostly to men returning from the forces, often carrying horrendous injuries that rendered them unfit for whatever they had previously done.

By contrast my maternal grandfather, Percy, came from a more affluent family; he drove racing cars at Brooklands and had learnt to fly before WW1 started. However, he fell out with his family and set up his own business, in electronics and motorcycle maintenance, in particular getting involved with installing the new-fangled cat’s whisker radios.

Both my grandfathers were seriously injured in WW1 but Percy’s injuries were the worst. He was entitled to an Army pension but refused the constant and, to him, humiliating medicals that, he felt, suggested he was making up the extent of his physical problems. By the start of WW2, while they still owned some property in Brixton and Streatham and enjoyed such rents as they paid, to survive more money was needed. Consequently, my grandmother, Grace, joined the RAF branch of the NAAFI, based in central London while my mother and her dependents stayed in their house in Herne Bay.

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Both my parents wanted to ‘do their bit’ as was the expectation. Dad had aspirations to fly; as well as being part of the ATC (Army Training Corps) he joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve after finishing school in the hope of joining the flyers. Mum volunteered for the ATS (Auxiliary Transport Service) and would eventually drive all kinds of military vehicles wherever she was stationed: including at one point tanks.

Before they could start, however, they had a wait and, by 1944, with mum’s father dead and her two brothers away at a boarding school arranged by a friend of my grandfather’s, they both found themselves at the London County Council, doing administrative work.


The LCC was based in County Hall which, for those who don’t know London sits diagonally opposite the Houses of Parliament on the south bank of the Thames.
They were young and carefree but mum, being a year older than dad and having joined the LCC months earlier was superior to him. She was shy and I can well understand that my boisterous, rather jokey father, with a public-school education intimidated her somewhat. She may even have thought him rather crass save only he wrote poetry and displayed, in the oddly coy way he had, a sensitive side.

These jobs were place-markers; people wanted to move on. They weren’t looking to form meaningful friendships or relationships. And the differences in temperament and background as well as in the hierarchy of the office would have kept them distant but for one intervention by Adolf Hitler.

By the middle of 1944, Hitler was losing the war. It was a case of when not if, in truth, now that a second front had opened following the June Normandy landings. He launched a ferocious assault on London using his latest weapons of terror: unmanned rockets.
The V1 or ‘doodlebug’ had a distinctive engine noise. Londoners heard them coming, watched the skies and learnt that if the note cut out the bomb would land seconds later and it was time to get your heads down.

One hot summer afternoon a wave of V1s churned their way across Surrey heading for London. The weary clerks at the LCC, having opened such windows as they could to encourage a breath of air on an oppressive day, heard the flotilla and made for the windows. I suppose that seems ghoulish, knowing that death, possibly, and certainly destruction awaited those unfortunate to be caught up in the blast.

The young men and women chatted excitedly. One woman climbed on a table and others were pushed to the windows as more women were hoisted up for a better view.

The rattling sound of one V1 grew and grew. Necks were craned to try and see it against a peerless blue sky. Then silence.

There is, for some, an instant reaction; for others, a hesitation as if the mind cannot compute the changed circumstances. County Hall for all its grandeur has one feature that sat uneasily with such a bombing campaign: it is full of windows; huge ceiling height things. Mum stood by one, frozen as she stared skywards.

Then in a flurry of hands and legs, Dad grabbed her waist and pulled her, less than decorously to the floor and rolled with her under the table. Seconds later the rocket impacted close the river. The force of the impact blew out several panes of glass and the shards showered down on the tables and floor. Anyone standing on that table would have been grievously injured.

Was it then he asked her out? Or later? Knowing the man, to do such a thing and risk rejection would have been huge. Possibly his action lent his spirit wings and he took a punt right then. I like to think so, and anyway the offer was accepted.

And perhaps, in a forerunner to the happy, sometimes hysterical marriage that eventually followed, that first date turned into a disaster; they went to the flicks – the cinema – in Leicester Square. The platforms were crowed as they headed on to wherever was next and dad managed to push mum onto the train only to find himself left on the platform. The girl of his dreams and he had lost her already. But not for long and never again, not for 70 years.

97210005PS once they were separated by the Forces they wrote to each other regularly. Neither my brother nor I knew anything of this until after mum died (dad had died 5 years before) but we found a shoebox full of all his letters, from August 1944 until he was demobbed on the summer of 1948 (he spent two years in Palestine as part of the British forces standing between the Jews and the Palestinians, prior to Partition but that is another story).

I have posted them on my blog (a long while ago) but this is a Link to the earliest in that box which gives you an idea of how two youngsters, in the late summer of 1944 and who were dancing around the early stages of a relationship, behaved. Mum was 18, dad 17.

©GeoffLePard 2017

Salisbury Square by Geoff Le Pard


About the book

Jerzy Komaza is adept at turning a blind eye. He has allowed his father’s beatings of his sister, Maria, to continue for years. Yet one hot summer day he finally snaps, and it is Maria who sends him away from their home in Białystok in rural Poland, fearing the consequences if he stays. Desperate and unsure, Jerzy heads for London where his old friend Jan has promised him work.

At first he is completely disorientated. Worse, there’s no sign of Jan. Feeling lost and adrift in the strange city, Jerzy overhears a young woman’s cries. Memories of his sister stir him into action and he intervenes.

The woman is Suzie Thomas, a drug addict dependent on local thug Paul Rogers for her supplies and for whom she turns tricks. Rogers also runs gangs of workmen around the city, and Jan works for him. Gradually Jerzy is dragged into Suzie’s world, a violent dog-eat-dog existence of the underclass living next to but separate from London’s affluent citizens.

Jan has his own problems with Rogers, and when his cousin Ola Nowak is slashed with a knife while trying to sort out Jan’s debt, he is bent on revenge. Jerzy is torn between stopping his friend and, because of his own growing hatred of Rogers’ casual violence towards Suzie, helping him.

Suzie’s family are hunting for her. Her grandparents hear she has moved to London and seek her out. In doing so they too find themselves pulled into Rogers’ orbit. As the heat builds and the rain pours down, various forces begin to drag these desperate individuals together into a violent confrontation. And into this mix comes Lech Komoza, Jerzy’s half-brother intent on his own violent retribution.

This story contains elements of revenge, love, the clash of classes and cultures, the isolation of large cities and the single-minded determination to survive. Set against a backdrop of one of the most affluent cities in the Western world, it is a modern parable about the lure of redemption and how hope can be corrupted by despair.

A review for Salisbury Square.

Powerful on September 29, 2016

This is a harrowing and powerful story of a Polish immigrant’s life in London. Wronged at home he follows the trail of his friend to London, where he gets involved with a drug addict and some dodgy characters.

Le Pard portrays the ‘dog eats dog’ society of that layer of society very well, also the mind set of Jerzy as he makes choices that often don’t pay off.

This is a gripping and very haunting tale, told in a beautifully simple prose with good pace and clever plotting. A very accomplished novel with much food for thought. 

Also by Geoff Le Pard

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My thanks to Geoff for this delightful story and please show your appreciation by sharing it with others. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Christmas Party – Guest – Author Geoff Le Pard with The Fourth Plinth

christmas partyWe have certainly seen many sides of the festive season in this series and today is no exception. Geoff Le Pard has a story that will make you think twice about having that second bottle of wine before heading home to the family…. there are things in the night…. well I will let you read for yourself… but be prepared…….

The Fourth Plinth by Geoff Le Pard

The world tumbled and tossed as Barry opened his eyes. It’s what booze does, he thought: beer and it’s a slow churning; vodka takes you on a merry go round; and gin pummels you with the full spin cycle. He tried to identify where he was. Outside, for sure. Somewhere public. Paved if his arse told the truth. Where was Dan? He’d been with Dan, he was sure.

A faint smear of memory made him narrow his eyes: Dan getting in a cab. Why wasn’t he in the cab too? Dan pushing him away; Dan calling him something? Bully? Yeah that’s it. Even mulish Dan had seen his true colours. Well, sod you Dan Parsons and Merry Christmas.
Barry looked up. Trafalgar bloody Square. Of course, that stupid tree. How’d he get here? They’d been in Camden.

Barry used the wall behind him to stand. Odd how dark it was. Apart from the tree all the street lights were out. Maybe that’s what happens on Christmas night. All the revellers run home on last minute Tube trains and they switch off the lights. God, he felt sick, like the ground was rocking. It was rocking!! The wall behind him slid back and the foulest stench imaginable blew in Barry’s face.

Barry spewed and spat the bitter remnants of his evening’s indulgence onto the ground. Looking up he realised it was one of the plinths that had moved, the empty one. From beneath it a woman all in silver was climbing some stairs, the smell came from her.

‘You need a bath, sister,’ he said stepping back.

‘You need me more, Barry Francis.’

Barry rubbed his eyes. ‘You know me?’

‘Oh yes, we all do. Down there.’

Barry followed where she pointed. A sea of the ugliest most disgusting faces writhed at the bottom of a pit bubbling and boiling with some sort of steaming gunk. ‘They ain’t real. Are they? I mean,’ he shook his head, ‘this is a dream, ain’t it? Either that or there’s a boiling pit of mud under central London.’

‘Liquid putrefaction, the residue of destroyed souls. Once the person has been rendered liquid it goes to the next stage.’

Barry peeped again and had a second smaller but even more bitter chunder. ‘Next stage?

After what?’


He goggled at the woman and then burst out laughing. ‘Oh come on. And what does that make you?’

The woman appeared to consider before clicking her fingers. Her head burst into flames, before a second then a third head appeared and did the same. Meanwhile her stomach ripped open and clawing hands and twisting writhing arms shot at Barry grabbing him and hoisting him onto the empty plinth. Barry screamed as every orifice emptied. The woman’s face reappeared, many times the normal size; her voice coated Barry in an intense thunder breaking windows, all round the Square. As the glass rained down she shattered his eardrums with a ‘Your worst nightmare’.

As quickly as she transformed she reverted to her previous form, standing next to a petrified Barry on the windswept plinth.

Barry stared at her calm brown eyes. ‘What do you want?’

By way of a response she swept an arm around the Square. As her pointing finger passed the statues on the other plinths the riders and soldiers came alive and headed towards Barry.

The four lions stood and stretched and made their way to Barry’s new perch. ‘You know ‘A Christmas Carol’?’

‘That Dickens mush? So?’

‘Well you’re getting CC 5.0’

‘Come again?’

‘The Ghosts of Christmas for the 21st century. You can’t do a book anymore and we’ve too many sinners to get round anyway, so this is the short intense version.’

‘Ok. So no three ghosts?’

‘Just me.’

‘No visiting the past, present and future?’

‘A survey monkey, multiple choice.’

Barry nodded. ‘How’d you decide on me?’

‘Public vote. So you want to try the poll or step on down?’

He straightened his shoulders. ‘First question.’

‘Are you (a) a fair and considerate husband, father and employer (b) sometimes a bit offish after a couple of bevvies or (c) a right bastard to your fellow man?’

‘I want to say b but after Dan’s comments tonight, c.’

‘Very perceptive. Who do you care about most (a) yourself (b) your money or…’

‘Hey that’s unfair. How can I choose…?’

‘(c) your children?’

‘No, I don’t want to answer that. Because it’s c but you won’t believe me.’

She lowered her clipboard. ‘What would they say? Or your wife? If they knew you were here, now?’

‘Sod this. I’m going home.’ He sat on the edge of the plinth and looked down. The fiery pit of hell stared back at him. Tears the like of which he’d not shed in decades sizzled as they hit the scalding pools. ‘I love them. I’m doing my best for them. They know that.’

A silky voice filled the Square. It was his daughter. ‘Daddy, I want you not a dress. I don’t care about any stupid dress.’

‘She loved it.’

Another voice joined in. His son. ‘But daddy said he’d be home for my party.’

Barry covered his face. ‘I tried to get back. I really did…’

Barry’s own voice took over, echoing off the National Gallery and startling the animated horse statue to rear up. ‘Yeah come on it’s only a stupid kids’ party. One more for the road. He’ll not notice I’m not there, not once he sees the present. Ungrateful little sod.’

Any last resistance collapsed. Barry wailed, ‘They hate me, there’s nothing left.’

A hand gripped his shoulder. ‘Don’t be a prannock. You know what to do.’

‘Give up the booze.’


‘Go home?’

‘It’ll be a start.’

He shook his head. ‘You told me they don’t want stuff. And they’ll be in bed anyway.’

The woman pointed at the General on his horse, the four lions, the empty plinth. ‘Remind you of anything?’


‘Sort of Post Santa for the internet age, if you like. They’ll take you home, you kids will see you coming, no one will believe you but they’ll love you for it. But if you slip, if you don’t become the husband, father and boss you could be,’ she waved at the pit. The degraded creatures, flesh dripping from their skeletons waved back. It was almost homely in a John Carpenter kind of way.

Barry nodded. ‘I know. I won’t. Thanks erm, what do I call you? Spirit?’

‘Not a clever name for an alcoholic, don’t you think? How about Sharon? I always fancied Sharon. Now I must get on.’

As Sharon stepped off the plinth and hovered over the pit, Barry felt it mould to his back, while the soldiers from the other plinths harnessed the lions and encouraged them forward. He looked up at the sky as the clouds parted and a full moon shone down over London.

And he’d always thought it was just a story.

©GeoffLePard 2016


About Geoff Le Pard

Geoff Le Pard (not Geoffrey, except to his mother) was born in 1956 and is a lawyer who saw the light. He started writing (creatively) in 2006 following a summer school course. Being a course junkie he had spells at Birkbeck College, twice at Arvon and most recently at Sheffield Hallam where he achieved an MA in Creative Writing.

And what did he learn?

That they are great fun, you meet wonderful people but the best lessons come from the unexpected places. He has a line of books waiting to be published but it has taken until now to find the courage to go live.

He blogs at on anything and everything. His aim is for each novel to be in a different style and genre. Most people have been nice about his writing (though when his brother’s dog peed on the manuscript he was editing, he did wonder) but he knows the skill is in seeking and accepting criticism. His career in the law has helped prepare him.

Books by Geoff Le Pard


Find out more and BUY the books:

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My thanks to Geoff for scaring me off that extra Bailey’s this evening…. your feedback is always treasured as is the sharing of the post far and wide.  thanks Sally

Men’s Health Week Revisited – Guest Post – Bottling It Up by Geoff Le Pard

men's healthMy thanks to Geoff Le Pard for contributing this post with its important message to Men’s Health Week. My own father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 76 but died from the effects of the treatment four years later. That was 20 years ago and both the treatment options and survival rates are now improving dramatically.  Provided the disease is detected early enough.

Please read Geoff’s post and if you are male and over 50 then #GETCHECKED.

Bottling it Up by Geoff Le Pard

My father died on 12th March 2005. He had prostate cancer, as well as secondaries on bones and lungs but it was the prostate that did for him. His last night, in Poole hospital, he could no longer speak. He did however manage a small wave of two fingers when I came into the room after he woke. He was heavily medicated so it could have had nothing to do with my entry, but I like to imagine it was a knowing hello and farewell. I’m romantic like that.

That is hindsight. At the time, with the doctors saying death was imminent I was a mix of naturally sad and bloody furious. With him.


He was 78. Until he was 75 we undertook a weekly walk with a friend along one of Britain’s long distance footpaths, usually 100 miles or so over the 9 days we had; but then it stopped. He seemed fit enough, he just made excuses. He was always fit and active, tramping the four corners of the New Forest where he lived, hunting his beloved bugs. He’d go for miles, lost in his entomological dream world, happily teasing apart the heather or turning over sallow leaves. But even that began to fade.

geoff-and-father-twoHe turned 77 in November 2003. He had a long running cold and when we arrived for his birthday we joked at his new weight loss programme of sneezes. By the New Year the weight loss was no joke anymore and rapid tests had him in hospital. Just after the start of February 2004 he was told he had prostate cancer, bone cancer and an ‘odd’ tumour on his lungs. The doctors weren’t hopeful he had long but medical advances are such they reduced the lung tumour quickly and slowed the prostate. By the June he was fit enough to come with mum and my brother to Cornwall to see the Eden Project.   We wheeled mum, who had recently had a hip op, and dad all over that old quarry. With his irrepressible sense of humour to the fore, he ordered us ‘to charge the heathen’ as we approached a somewhat bemused school party. ‘Faster, boy, faster.’ You knew he was his old self when he stopped using my name and reverted to his favoured appellation for me of ‘boy’.


Behind this short lived jollity I was becoming increasingly angry. I learnt early that neither mum nor dad were in a fit state of mind to absorb all the awful diagnoses imparted by the variety of oncologists they saw so I insisted on coming to every appointment. And gradually I learnt about the problems he had had: difficulty urinating, the recurrent urge to pee, especially at night; discomfort peeing. The ignored back pain and the pain in his arms (from the secondary bone cancer). Some numbness from spinal compression. The signs were there and the signs were ignored.

Later mum would say he was a private man, he was of a stoic generation. What she meant was he disliked being embarrassed and while he may have had a scatological sense of humour he couldn’t discuss his own urinary malfunctions. He couldn’t show weakness.

Of course I recognised that man. His stubbornness took him a long way in life, given several setbacks. His refusal to give into to his fears was often noble. In the world of work, during his time in the forces at the end of WW2 those traits were seen as admirable.

But they also killed him. I have no doubt whatsoever that he had the constitution, absent those controllable cancers to still be alive now. And as I approach 60 I would much rather the old bugger was there, calling me boy and gently mocking my organisational incompetence than remembering a brave stubborn little fighter who in the final analysis forgot one of the most important lessons in a fight and that is you are stronger in a team than on your own.

Get yourself checked. If you are embarrassed about the nature of a prostate examination, and frankly a latexed digit up the anus has never been in my top ten bucket list ambitions, then think, not so much about yourself but all those others who will be left bereft by your selfishness if you don’t.

I loved my father, still do. I still hear him chiding me. And of course I know it wasn’t deliberate and it is me being selfish. But still, I can’t stop thinking how much better it would be to be able to answer him back.


About Geoff Le Pard


Geoff Le Pard (not Geoffrey, except to his mother) was born in 1956 and is a lawyer who saw the light. He started writing (creatively) in 2006 following a summer school course. Being a course junkie he had spells at Birkbeck College, twice at Arvon and most recently at Sheffield Hallam where he achieved an MA in Creative Writing.

And what did he learn?

That they are great fun, you meet wonderful people but the best lessons come from the unexpected places. He has a line of books waiting to be published but it has taken until now to find the courage to go live.

He blogs at on anything and everything. His aim is for each novel to be in a different style and genre. Most people have been nice about his writing (though when his brother’s dog peed on the manuscript he was editing, he did wonder) but he knows the skill is in seeking and accepting criticism. His career in the law has helped prepare him.

Books by Geoff Le Pard


Buy Geoff’s books

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Please feel free to comment and share this important message from Geoff with others. You may encourage a man who might have ignored symptoms to get checked. Thanks Sally



New Book Fanfare Revisited- My Father and Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard

New book fanfare

A new book by Geoff Le Pard out on the 14th but available on pre-order. No good deed goes unpunished after Maurice Oldham saves and American scientist…

My Father and Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard

My father and other liars cover POD v2 12 July

About the Book.

When British freelancer Maurice Oldham saves American scientist Lori-Ann Beaumont from a pack of journalists at a ProLife conference in San Francisco, neither expects to see the other again. But six months on, Lori-Ann is on Maurice’s doorstep, bruised, penniless and desperate to find her boyfriend, Peterson, who has gone missing in England. Maurice soon realises nothing is as it seems with Lori-Ann.

Why is she chasing Peterson; why has her father, Pastor of the Church of Science and Development sent people to bring her home; what is behind the Federal Agency who is investigating Lori-Ann’s workplace in connection with its use of human embryos; and what happened in Nicaragua a quarter of a century ago that is echoing down the years? For Maurice and Lori-Ann the answers lie somewhere in their Fathers’ pasts.

Finding those answers will take Lori-Ann and Maurice from England via America to Nicaragua; in so doing they will have to confront some uncomfortable truths about their Fathers and learn some surprising things about themselves.

Reviews for the book

A Global Setting for a Thought-Provoking Book By Charli Mills on October 27, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
“My Father and Other Liars” is a thoughtful book full of twists and complex characters. The way author Geoff Le Pard develops characters to be both flawed and evocative is becoming a hallmark of his writing. The suspense in the book rises from a multitude tensions at the heart of which is political intrigue in regards of the use of stem cells in research. One of the thought-provoking aspects of the story is the crossroads between theology and science. It’s handled in such a way as to be believable and not offensive (unless one has a highly sensitive nature in regards to religion used as a medium in fiction). The author even shares (at the end of the book) how he developed his fictional theology. Another tension arises from the idea of adult orphans and those who have absentee-fathers or poor relationships. It’s a theme that crosses global borders just as the book itself is set in England, America and Nicaragua. The pace is steady and picks up so that it is hard to deny the next chapter. This is the second published novel by Geoff Le Pard and while it is different from his first, “Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle,” his voice comes through as a writer and someone I will continue to follow as a reader.
Format: Kindle Edition
I was on team Lori-Ann from the first page on. Mr. LePard’s book masterfully encompasses several settings. He pulls off the complicated challenge of a religious thriller in which the main characters find mirror images of their own family issues in each other’s story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. But don’t read it at night — your mind will race too much and you’ll keep pulling it off the shelf until the sun comes up.


Buy the book – Amazon

Also by Geoff Le Pard


 About Geoff Le Pard


 I have been writing creatively since 2006 when at a summer school with my family I wrote a short radio play. That led to a novel, some more courses, more novels, each better than the last until I took an MA at Sheffield Hallam, realised you needed to edit, edit and then edit some more; the result is my first published book in 2014. I once was a lawyer; I am now a writer. When I’m not writing and thinking about writing, I’m blogging (which is a sort of writing); I cook, I walk, I read (but not enough) and I walk some more. The dog approves of my career choices.

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Thanks for dropping by and revisiting Geoff’s book.. Please feel free to share..thanks Sally