Monthly Archives: December 2018

…decimal currency?… not a patch on the old Bank of England ten-bob note…

…the post-groat currency in the UK included farthings, halfpennies, pence, threepenny bits, tanners (sixpence pieces), shillings, florins, half-crowns, ten-shilling notes, and one- , five-, and ten-pound notes…

…this complicated range of hard cash and notes sufficed for the British population for centuries… complementing the standard coinage were crowns, half-sovereigns and sovereigns, plus guineas… for foreign visitors, the confusion was rife, while the locals smirked at the consternation it caused non-Brits… the financial powers-that-be decided to switch to a totally decimal currency, beginning on February 14th, 1971… sensibly, it was announced that a ‘cash-in’ exchange period would be  extended for some time after that particular Valentine’s Day… at the end of that period, all old currency would have to be surrendered at any bank offices within the British Isles, for further surrender to the Bank of England… so far so good, right?… however, human beings generally have an inherent resistance to change, and more so, older human beings… one such person of venerable status lived in a village called Salen, on the beautiful isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, where I was serving my time as a Trainee Financial Master of the Universe at the noble Clydesdale & North of Scotland Bank in Tobermory… at the time of this transition from the old currency to decimal, I frequently served on the mobile office the bank used to traverse the island, looking after our customers’ financial interests, principally collecting cash payments from local merchants and shop-owners, as well as cheque encashments – these were the days pre-ATMs… but back to our senior lady customer… she was totally baffled by the new-fangled coinage, and resisted using the new multi-sided ten-shilling (fifty pence) coin, preferring to handle the former red-coloured ten-bob notes… the instruction from the Head Office in Glasgow was to retire all the old notes as they appeared… however, for months we continued to let the old lady have the ten-shilling notes, of which we kept a stack on the van just for her needs… we let all the  shopkeepers in Salen know that it was okay to accept these ‘floaters’ from her and to pay them into us on the van when we came round for their weekly cash takings pay-ins… we must have been the last bank in the country to eventually surrender the old notes after our customer passed away… decimal currency?… not a patch on the old ten-bob note… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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…I’ve become a ghost… and I’m LUVVIN it!

…2018 was a year in which as a writer, I successfully disappeared… physically, there’s still a lot of me, bulk-wise, than p’raps there should be, but as I harbour a great passion for non-exercise, my solid frame is unlikely to diminish much in the near future… oh, yes, of course, my presence is still highly active on the SOSYAL NETWURKS, and that in itself IS writing, but the majority of my scribbling during the preceding twelve months has been that of a ghostwriter for autobiographies… no less than four separate individuals entrusted me with producing their life stories… and what a series of journeys that has entailed… like most things in my career, it happened almost by accident, when one gentleman who knows that I ‘write a bit’ thought it would be a good idea to ask me to get his story written… we agreed a price, and then I set about it in my usual manner – as a business proposition… a schedule of face-to-face meetings, an outline skeleton of the phases for the narrative, then listening, listening, listening

…it’s amazing how much one can ‘hear’ that’s not actually spoken… the halt in a man’s telling of emotional highs and lows in his existence… the glint in his eyes when you know incidents have left a lasting glorious memory with him… and the dark shadow across his mien at the recollection of disturbing times… slowly, the memoirs build… the shape of a man’s trip from childhood into manhood and maturity… the philosophies that attach themselves on the way through… and for some, the urgent desire to ‘leave sum’thing behind’ for family and descendants… a record of what has gone before…

…none of these projects were driven by ego… indeed, often I had to strive to insist that the positives get included in the personal history… and when they were done, the sense of immense humility I felt after each assignment was palpable… that special humility that comes from knowing that a person has spent weeks and months telling me, at first a complete stranger, some of the most intimate details of their life experiences… I know that I am much the better for each of their sharings… see yeez later … LUV YEEZ!

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…Authors… stuff I learned from John Steinbeck, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, John O’Hara, Umberto Eco and others…

…as a young child growing up in 1950s Docklands Govan in Glasgow, my heroes were mainly cartoon characters from the black-and-white television programmes on offer from basically only two channels  – Auntie BBC and the Scottish Television arm of the Independent Television NetworkTop Cat, Yogi Bear, and Freddie Flintstone were foremost among these… moving into my teens and my own professional football playing days, the idols were Slim Jim Baxter of Glasgow Rangers, Dave Mackay of Hearts and latterly Tottenham Hotspur, and emb’dy who played for Manchester United… progressively, into my twenties and thirties, my inherent love of books led me toward literature, and some of the greatest novelists who ever manoeuvered a quill, pen or typewriter… of course, at school, exposure included the icons of the craft, the classic writers such as Dickens, Stevenson, Lamb, Burns and dozens more… little wonder, then, when the scribbling bug eventually snuck up, ambushed and kidnapped me, that I should have ample grounding in writing-style examples… not plagiarism, which I abhor whenever I see it, but the sense of emulation of the techniques the Literary Gods employed… by no means do I claim any parity in the quality they each produced, but at least my desire is metaphorically to track their footsteps in the print trails… fr’example, Steinbeck wrote such a host of work encompassing the early California hinterland experience that his books seem to interlap, becoming a ‘phalanx’ of his writing… Zafon, in his magnificent ‘Shadow of the Wind’, has his closing paragraph almost paraphrasing the opening sentences  in the story, ‘bookending’ his novel, so to speak, thereby producing a satisfactory narrative parenthesisO’Hara is the master of highs and lows of sentiment in continually mixing perceived triumph with defeat, emphasising  that both of these are really imposters, paralleling the timeless poem, ‘If’ by Kipling... Umberto Eco inspires amazing caricatures in his work, as if each player is handcrafted by the comic art genius of the model-maker, Guillermo Forchino and I LUVVED them all, and still do… fellow authors, what’s your take on who has impacted the approach to your writing?  see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

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…where did ‘Jack Calder’ come from?…

…as with many of my author friends, I’m frequently asked if the characters in my Jack Calder crime thrillers are based on real-life people… the true answer for most of them lies sum’where ‘twixt ‘yes’ and ‘no’… however, for the main man, Jack, the ex-SAS officer, there does exist a gentleman… a true gentleman at that, and a man I’m pleased to call a friend, who fits most of his characteristics… he would not thank me for naming him, but he lives in my books almost precisely as I’ve seen him behave in civvy street many times… without pinpointing the location in which the following event happened, let me describe one incident which enthralled me at the time… ‘Jack’ as I will continue to use his pseudonym, was owed some money by a guy who belonged to the local Hell’s Angels chapter, and was slow to repay the debt, despite several polite, and then not-so-polite requests for its return… one evening, on a late Saturday night in Asia, the English Premier League football was showing on live television… some friends and I were watching the match in a local bar, in which there were also a bunch of the Hell’s Angels, including the debtor… the place was crowded… the bar door swung open, like a passage in a movie… framed in the doorway, the six foot, two inches of ‘Jack’ stood, dressed in his customary, black, muscle-bound T-shirt… he took his time to look  around… the place hushed quiet… only the sound of the television commentary was unusually clearly audible… he noted the bikers’ group and approached slowly, staring at the recalcitrant debtor… the group parted until ‘Jack’ came face to face with the man… wordlessly, he stretched out an arm and opened the guy’s jacket and removed his wallet from its inside pocket… he glanced from the man, to the group, to the wallet, and took whatever money was inside, then threw the wallet onto the bar… not a word was uttered during all of this… nobody moved a muscle, least of all the debtor… there were at least six of the Hell’s Angels present… not one of them budged even as much as an eyebrow… ‘Jack’ backed off one step, and turned his back on all of them before taking his time to walk to the door and left, without looking back… it was the darnedest thing I have ever seen that, dear readers, that is my man, Jack!… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

THE VIOLIN MANS LEGACY

myBook.to/theviolinmanslegacy

VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK

myBook.to/vengeancewearsblack

SAVAGE PAYBACK

myBook.to/savagepayback

KILLER CITY

myBook.to/calderkillercity

DEADLY IMPASSE

myBook.to/Calderdeadlyimpasse

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

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