Allan Hands is a self-published Australian author who single-handedly captured medieval England in a two-book series titled Mirrored Sword. The reviews are rapturous so far, highlighting how well he caught the people, places and times with a story that is not only thrilling and realistic but witty also. Even the English (usually a grudging mob) admit that they have been won over, as shown by the customer reviews on the UK amazon pages. Allan wears all his reviews as proudly as medals, and you can find them on this blog by clicking on the Reviews button.
“But you are Allan Hands, aren’t you?” I hear you complain.
No, Allan Hands is a pen name. I’m too modest to brag, so I do it in Allan’s name instead.
“But why the bravado, this nonsense about capturing the sceptred isle singlehanded? You’re no hero.”
Certainly not! I have lived in a country and at a time when most people have never had to fight for anything, unlike my grandfathers, Allan McPherson and Claude Hands. Ring a bell? Yes, my pen name is borrowed from them. Allan Hands is an easier brand to remember than my own name, Ross McPherson, but it is also a tribute to family. All history, one way or another, is the history of families. So let me tell you something about the family.
Claude and Allan lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. Here on the left we see Claude and his brother Norman (seated) in their uniforms as volunteers in the Australian Infantry, circa 1917. Norman came home with a Military Medal on his chest (something about capturing a machine gun and turning it on the enemy – the usual story) but Claude returned with only some shrapnel in his shoulder. Allan, a dour Scottish immigrant, enlisted with the Australians and returned to Oz with a steel plate in his head, covering a hole also courtesy of Kaiser Bill.
Claude spent the first nine years after his return from the Front working hard and saving money to bring out his war bride, a girl from Manchester with rosy cheeks, whom he first met on furlough. We see Claude and Marion enjoying the Australian sunshine together. Sadly, she died prematurely after 15 years marriage, courtesy of a mosquito bite and the encephalitis it caused. Claude married a second time, very unhappily, but Allan married once only, in 1922, and both he and Thelma lived to a ripe old age.
And here we see my parents, Judith Hands and Colin McPherson, a gorgeous couple, enjoying life in post-war Australia. They divorced after about 25 years marriage but I dedicated my first book to Judith and my second to Colin, thus reuniting them in spite of everything. Both became victims of Covid hysteria in the last two years. Judith was residing an aged care home when it was suddenly locked down out of an abundance of caution, as they say. By the time we were allowed in, she was in a coma and died without ever regaining consciousness. Colin also died alone in an aged care home. His children couldn’t visit him because the state border was closed, also out of an abundance of caution.
So, you can’t say that Allan Hands is just another damned Australian who knows nothing about medieval England, with all its wars and plagues. It is etched in family memory, as it is for millions of others.