Z is for Zanadja



I feel reasonably certain that I’m the only one in the A to Z Challenge blogging about Z for Zanadja.

The picture above is of my Mum and Dad’s house in Zanadja, Cyprus.

Actually, it is more properly my house in Zanadja. My Dad passed away a good few years ago and my Mum is returning to the UK – making the house mine.

There are all sorts of economic reasons that property in Cyprus is struggling as an investment class, but at the end of the day Zanadja is a gorgeous village ten minutes from Mediterranean beaches.

Mum and Dad had this house built in the 1990s. They had decided in the 1960s that they wanted to retire to Cyprus. They were serving there in the Royal Air Force at the time.

As the house was being built we talked about a name and I suggested Elysium which is a heavenly place of eternal rest in mythology.

Elysium was set in the idyllic village of Zanadja and my folks enjoyed some wonderful years there.

Before my Dad fell ill, he walked me around the house in Zanadja and standing almost exactly where the picture above was taken from, he turned to me and said;

“One day Son, all of this will be yours.”

I think that his tongue was firmly in his cheek when he said it, but I also believe that he felt enormously proud. The house represented what he and his wife had achieved through hard work and saving.

The house is now mine. I would much rather that my Dad was still around and the house gone, but that is not how things work.

So – Z is for Zanadja. My challenge is finished.

Phew! That was tough.

Thank you so much for coming by and reading. To the left of this text, there is an opportunity to subscribe to this blog.

All that this means is that you will receive a monthly update from me. I won’t spam you to death, I promise. If you are able to sign up, please do, I really appreciate it.


More battle-hardened blogs here 

Y is for Yank


Yanks. They are just such a nightmare.

Loud, uncultured, ignorant peasants. Always have been. Always will be.

I know this, as I was taught it from a young age.

Then, I met some.

Some loud ones. Some quiet ones.

Some uncultured ones. Some cultured ones.

They even came in a multitude of colours, races, creeds and religions.

Annoyingly, I have met some spectacularly amazing people that, God forbid, were born and bred in the USA.

On the quittrain.com there are some folk who are genuine, bona fide superstars from the States. Nancy, Babs, Colleen, Ava, DD, MQ, Sonic. Joe, Rez, Bakon – all on my bucket list of people to visit, thank and raise a glass with. (There are more too on this incredible site.)

I once posted on a golf site about having the possibility of tacking a day or two onto a trip to the US so that I could play a golf. Within 24 hours, it was arranged that I would be staying at someone’s house in California with guaranteed tee times on Pasatiempo, San Juan Oaks and…Pebble Beach. – Yes. THAT Pebble Beach.

The host was a Yank.

A Yank with exceptional taste in left bank Bordeaux.

I met a wonderfully intelligent, hospitable, humorous couple whom went out of their way to ensure that I enjoyed every second of my time in the USA.

It all came as a bit of a shock.

My eyes were opened to the enormity of the USA. Are there some bad things about the US? I am sure that there must be – guns would be an immediate question mark in my mind. However, in my experience, there are an incredible amount of positive things too.

Most importantly – the vast majority of Yanks seem to be ….well, quite normal people really.


Some great A to Z Challenge Blogs can be found here

X is for that thing. You know, the X Factor.



Lots of bloggers have been frantically googling “Words beginning with X”.

I have absolutely no doubt that there will be some fantastically clever posts around words which are completely new to me.

In itself, this is a good thing, as I will learn something today.

However, I must raise the question – Has X had its day?

Let’s be honest, if there were no letter between W and Y, we would cope.

There are absolutely no words in the the common parlance beginning with X


The closest might be -ray or -Factor.

I imagine that X ray might be replaced by Radio Image – and X Factor could be replaced by, oh I don’t know… white noise?

The Greeks have a few words beginning with X – but it seems likely that those will be lost to austerity cuts.

Language is a living, evolving and vibrant thing. I am not sure that X will make the grade.

Any modern writing resource that you might ever find will advise you to cut, cut, cut. “Make the writing tighter”.

“Look at adjectives and adverbs with suspicion. Show, don’t tell.”

‘The secret to effective writing is to keep the pace up, and not distract the reader with description or anything else that might require long words.’That appears to be the message.

I suppose that this is good advice.

Us folk of Generation X grew up with the writing of Stephen King and others, where the pace is relentless. The phrase ‘a real page-turner’ was born.

Tolstoy was for us, an examination text. I mean that fellow was just all adverbs and adjectives….


What do you mean War and Peace is important?

Well written?

Has an X Factor?

Oh No. Maybe we need X after all?



Great Blogs here!



W is for Whisky


Stone me. Would it happen to be the 27th of April?

W in the A to Z Blogging Challenge?

Quite apart from these momentous events, I will be celebrating the beginning of my forty fifth year on the planet.

Friend and foe from my past will be surprised that I have made it this far. I mean to forty-five. Although my reaching W in the A to Z Challenge will probably also come as a surprise to them.

Whisky. Will I drink some? Yes.

Ok. There is a fair chance that I may drink a lot.

Why will I drink a Whisky particularly?

1. Whisky is Scotland. I am irrationally, passionately, Scottish.

2. Whisky brings to mind the greatest man to walk this earth. Dad. (I may be a little biased.)

3. Whisky is the spirit of the landmark.

On Hogmanay, do people reach for a gin? A Vodka? No. Should auld acquaintance be forgot…’let’s have a Scotch’.

There is something fundamental about a Scotch.

I have no doubt that the Japanese have made an incredible whisky or two and will continue to do so. The Irish and the Americans have some great spirits, and even felt moved to sneak an additional vowel in – Whiskey as opposed to Whisky.

But here’s the thing. When presented with Sashimi, it never occurs to me that the Salmon is Scottish. Sashimi is Japanese.

Presented with a Whisky, I raise a toast to the King ‘across the water’, nod to my Father and revel in being a Scot.

Whiskey is Scottish.

Live with it.

Take a strong nip of Whisky, roll it around your mouth, and just for a second touch your inner William Wallis.



There are lots of great blogs to try – here 

V is for Vanity

From the Oxford Dictionary

Excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements: e.g. ‘it flattered his vanity to think I was in love with him’



He certainly had a way with words didn’t he?

Are we living in the Age of Vanity?

An age where people ‘share their status’ – through a variety of media.

People seem much keener to tell the world that they are shopping in Harrods than they are to let us know that they have gone to the corner shop to buy milk.

Judging by Facebook, the world is a place where everyone is fabulously wealthy, taking exotic holidays and drinking only the finest Champagne. And their children? Oh don’t get me started on that…

“Vanity asks the question: Is it popular?”

I am a writer. I want people to read my words. Ultimately, I want people to pay to read my words. Vanity is an essential driver.

In the new world of publishing, I am expected to ‘build my following’, to attract followers on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. I am not even sure that I understand Instagram! (Nevertheless – I can be found on all of those channels and more, feel free to follow me.) I am expected to persuade you good people to subscribe to my blog.

In the age of vanity, the more popular that I can demonstrate I am, the better support I would get from a publisher.

This is just business sense I guess; but it does seem a little backwards.


More blogs here

U is for Unicum


U is for Unicum

Over the last couple of days, I have been catching up on my blog posts. I had fallen far behind the schedule.

Yesterday, I pulled my finger out and got busy. There may have been a glass of wine involved. Difficult to believe, I know.

Today, the 23rd, is ‘T’.

This post is ‘U’.

Readers, or possibly Reader. I am officially ahead of the curve.


Oh yeah!

Now, to the subject of the post. Unicum.

This is a digestif from Hungary. Sometimes known as the Hungarian accelerator. It is a fierce herbal concoction that will put hairs on the chest. (Apparently it has a dramatic effect on men too.)

Sean has recently experienced the joys of an Unicum or two. Most particularly he has experienced the joys of waking up after an evening of Unicums. As a right of passage, there is much to be said for the Unicum. Otherwise, there is not much to be said for Unicum.

It is ferocious. It does not taste great. It gives you one hell of a hangover.

Looking at the last paragraphs, my SEO score on this post is going to be enormous. How many times have I mentioned Unicum?

In my past, there have been several fantastic nights involving Unicum. Unfortunately, I remember very little of them.

Is there a bottle of something in your drinks cabinet that may well still be there in twenty years?


Check out some great blogs on the A to Z Challenge here.

T is for Ties




Curious things. Even the ones that are not neon.

My wife has far better taste than me in almost everything.

One of the curious exceptions to this rule is the tie. I think that there are rules to choosing a tie. I am not sure that I could explain the rules – but I know them.

A striped tie does not go with a pinstripe suit. Ties and shirts of the same colour had their moment. It was a moment. That was it. Ladies, let it go.

When I sold out of the corporate world and elected to become a writer, I consciously put the ties away.

However, I am a freemason (oooooooooooooooh!) and at Lodge, we wear ties. So I wore one.

Then, I sat on the interview panel for a new General Manager for the golf club. It seemed right to wear a tie. The chairman of the panel had remarked on the previous day “Well, I will be in jacket and tie, but there is no way that I am going to tell Stuart to wear a tie!”

Finally, I attended a funeral. The mother of a great friend had passed away. (Love you DCJ.)

As a younger man, I wore a tie under sufferance. In the corporate world, I saw it as a uniform. A cop-out. A statement of a conscious lack of personality or style.

In many ways, I still hold those views.

Increasingly, I have come to understand that there is a comfort in a tie. In each of the scenarios above my wearing a tie made others feel better.


The power of an eccentric clothing accessory.

Any thoughts on ties?


I am doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge – go check out some more blogs here

S is for Sex

That has done it.

I used the word Sex.

I will spend most of tomorrow moderating comments from robots offering me ways to buy more sex or to get tablets to make me better at sex.

I’m writing a book.

Have I mentioned that already?

Sean, the hero, is most definitely about to get some action.

Lucky him.

This brings me to my challenge.

How on earth does one write about sex?

I suddenly find myself being incredibly English. “A stiff upper lip” has the right adjective – but the nouns are all wrong.

What to do?

Take a course? Phone a friend? Ask the audience?

Don’t get me wrong, I have had sex. More than once actually. Sometimes with someone else.

Never though, have I written about it.

After much thought, and even a little fretting, I believe that I will simply close the bedroom door and let the reader work out the rest.

What do you think?

Was Fifty Shades incredibly erotic or toe-curlingly awkward?


Click here for some great blogs from the A to Z Challenge 2015.

R is for Rutherford

Sean Rutherford.

My hero.

In my books I mean.

When I say books, I mean the books that I am going to write.

I am currently in the midst of the first in what I hope will become a series of novels about Sean Rutherford.

It is with complete honesty that I can say that I do not know how the series will proceed or finish.

Sean has his own ideas about how the Rutherford books will go and he is not saying as yet.

Young Sean is, at present, enjoying himself in post-Soviet-bloc Hungary.

He has new Russian friends with seemingly endless supplies of beautiful girls and currency. What could possibly go wrong?

Curiously, he is spending a lot of time in places that I once saw. Sean is perhaps a little braver and more adventurous than I was.

Although obviously, he is not as dashing or handsome as his creator…


Great blogs here

Q is for Quittrain.com




If you smoke – go visit this site. Join the forum and interact with people.

I smoked anything from 30 to 60 cigarettes a day for 30 years. I feel qualified on smoking. I had a lot of practice.

If you smoke, you want to quit. I appreciate that you may not believe that you want to quit. But you do.

Every smoker knows that you want to quit. I know that you want to quit. You know that you want to quit.

Go the Quittrain.com and quit.

It really is a whole lot easier that you might believe.

The site is run by a quitter who goes by the name of Maryland Quitter. He is not selling anything. Nothing.

The site is supported/supervised/protected by volunteers.

There is no selling, no judging. Just quitters helping and supporting each other.

The quittrain.com helped me to quit smoking, It has saved me a fortune and quite possibly my life.

Equally Quittrain.com has restored my faith in the positive power of the internet.

When a bunch of people with a common aim unite to support each other, extraordinary, humbling and powerful things can happen.

Go along. You might even catch sight of a fat guy in a kilt.

Have you found somewhere special on the internet?


After you have been to the Quittrain.com – go check out some great blogs here