W is for Whisky

Scotch-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.

Slainte.

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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’

1529

 

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.

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More blogs here

U is for Unicum

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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.

Hoorah!

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?

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

T is for Ties

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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.

Odd.

The power of an eccentric clothing accessory.

Any thoughts on ties?

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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?

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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…

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Great blogs here

Q is for Quittrain.com

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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?

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

P is for Purple Patsy Collins

Patsy Collins.

She wears purple too.

Patsy Collins is an author, curator of #writingchat on Twitter and all round good egg.

Find her on Facebook here and her blog here.

If you like a good read, then get along to her Amazon author page here. There is even a FREE book for you to check out before you buy the rest. It’s good too.

Go try it. Let me tell you again. It’s free. What do you have to lose?

Patsy led a twitter chat (#writingchat) this evening.

The topic was ‘Promotion’. Can authors over promote their work? Can they turn people off their work through over-enthusiastic promotion?

#writingchat happens on Twitter every Wednesday evening at 2000 UK time for one hour. Come along.

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Check out more A to Z blogs

O is for Oenophile

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Oenophile. Not a dastardly criminal.

The mighty Wikipedia informs;

“Oenophilia (/ˌiːnɵˈfɪliə/ ee-no-fil-ee-ə; Greek for the love (philia) of wine (oinos)) is a love of wine. In the strictest sense, oenophilia describes a disciplined devotion to wine, accompanying strict traditions of consumption and appreciation. In a general sense however, oenophilia simply refers to the enjoyment of wine, often by laymen. Oenophiles are also known as wine aficionados or connoisseurs. They are people who appreciate or collect wine, particularly grape wines from certain regions, varietal types, or methods of manufacture. While most oenophiles are hobbyists, some may also be professionals like vintners, sommeliers, wine merchants, or one who tastes and grades wines for a living.”

I am not incredibly knowledgeable about wine.

On occasion I enjoy it in such volumes as to prohibit realistic memories of characteristics of nose, character and taste.

I do however truly love it. I love what goes with it, whether that be joyful sparkling times with friends or quiet contentment with a rounded velvety red.

I am an Oenophile.

What is your favourite wine?

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Check out blogs in the A to Z Challenge here

N is for Novel Writing

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Where does the time go?

All of a sudden, I am way behind.

More organised bloggers are posting S – and I am at N.

I will make a concerted effort to catch up by Monday.

I would love to report that I have been so caught up in writing my debut novel that my blogging has suffered.

However, I have simply been caught up in ‘stuff’. Sorting out the garden, bits and pieces of corporate tasks, bits and pieces of golf club admin and other important, but uninteresting chores.

Am I avoiding my novel?

No. I’m not. I have gazed intently at my navel. (Not an easy task in itself) Sometimes, we have to concede that life can just get in the way.

The novel is still being written, in my head. It will come out.

I’m sure of it.

Now – got to run, I have O,P,Q,R,S and T staring over my shoulder.