Monthly Archives: September 2018

…Authors… how my ‘Jack Calder’ character developed…

…ten  years ago, Master Gallacher had a faint notion to ‘write that book’ we all supposedly have in us… frankly, it was never intended to roll on into more than that initial novel, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY… the Jack Calder crime thriller series now has segued into five titles on Auntie Amazon Kindle, with a sixth as Work In Progress, and with an aggregate of more than 100,000 copies downloaded to date (gazillion thanks, you wunnerful, supportive readers!)… given that stretch of time, I can look back on how the various stages of development of Jack Calder’s character have evolved… it may be of interest to some of my fellow-scribblers as they trudge the same happy path to literary destiny…

PHASE ONE : The faint idea of a male character forms in my wee grey cells… NUTHIN more than that… a big guy, ‘coz he’s former SAS… a reasonably fit physique, ‘coz he’s gonna be involved in some fighting action… give him a bit of height, six foot two inches tall, blue eyes and blondish hair… nationality, Scottish… even more localized – from Docklands Govan in Glasgow, coz that’s my own birthplace and stamping ground… write what you know about, they said, right?… right!…

PHASE TWO : Along comes some of the ‘humanising’ stuff… feelings, emotions… particularly for this  ‘hard, tough-as-nails’ guy… it’s amazing how sensible it seems to have even this ‘trained-to-the-nth-to-kill’ legal assassin show that it’s not all ‘breathe-kill-breathe-kill again-have dinner-sleep’… that in the quiet recesses of his own mind there are conflicts, questions of morality…

PHASE THREE: More incidences of interaction with others around him… close friendships… even loving relationships… demonstrations of caring… the counterpoint to the ‘day job’ requirements… only a handful of ‘forever buddies’, regardless of how many ‘acquaintances’ he may acquire… vulnerabilities that nobody else is permitted to see, apart from his ‘significant other’

PHASE FOUR: Driven more by ‘what-is-right’ rather than by ‘what-pays-tons-of-money’...

PHASE FIVE: The full character is now recognisable to the reader… the prevailing narrative can leave unstated much of what impacts the character as he goes about his business, as the reader is now equipped to formulate that piece of the writing in his or her own mind, allowing me as the author to focus on other ‘bits’ of the story…

… so there you are – Master Gallacher’s understanding of how his characters come ‘alive’… for other players in the cast, shake the bottle and repeat ‘ad inforeverum’… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!








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…my Guest Blogger, m’Lady, Seher Hashmi, has had a peek at Boris Johnson’s diary…

…one of my dear friends, and a fellow member of the Bahrain Writers Circle, the charming, m’Lady, Seher Hashmi, is a highly accomplished poetess…

…however, there is much more to her literary prowess than merely poetry… here is a remarkably amusing and insightful prod at Boris Johnson, who oft-times finds himself ‘hoist with his own petard’Seher herself is a Muslim woman, very much of the modern world… enjoy her Guest Blog Post:

A Day in the Itinerary of Boris Johnson

6:30: Wakes up startled by jangling alarm mimicking the sound of firecrackers. Bangs the stop key, gasping like crazy.

6:40: Sits up straight, practicing balloon-breathing in bed.

6:50: Curses Trump, mouthing unspeakable profanities for at least 5 more minutes.

6:55: Changes the alarm setting to windchime, regrets letting his youngest grandkid play with his cell for a while.

7:00: Checks his Twitter which is breaking down with #apologiseJohnson #IslamophobicJohnson #hatefulJohnson. Takes sweet time going through all trending hashtags in a hope to find #YayJohnson or #GoodjobJohnson, in vain.

8:00: Shuts down his search and decides to go for a morning jog.

8:05: Catches his reflection in life-size mirror, wearing red and black chequered robe topped with his silvery tousled tuft; shrugs off an instant thought likening him to an old style British phone booth capped with snow, and changes into shorts and tee for the run.

8:30: While on his way down the street, finds himself running with at least 25 red-burka-clad ladies/letterboxes chanting in low rasping whispers, ‘Apologise!’.

8:35: Baffled, asks his bodyguard to take ladies away, who replies after giving him a fairly long look of concern, “Sir, guess you didn’t sleep well!”.

…8:40: Decides to cut short his run and takes a detour in his Aston Martin, sitting snuggled between his bodyguards,wondering if he saw burka-clad ladies or burka-clad letterboxes.

9:00: Takes shower, with bodyguard sitting inside washroom, covering eyes with his hands in case burka-clad ladies or letterboxes sneak in to infringe upon his privacy.

9:10: Catches bodyguard red-handed peeping through slits between his fingers and shames him, naming ‘Peeping Bod’.

9:30: Arrives by the breakfast table to find red velvet loaf served with black tea. Hesitantly nibbles on it while watching on tele the P.M Mrs. May urging him to apologise to people for his reckless remarks on Muslim women’s dressing code.

10:00: Skips eating; checks his cell phone and reads a message from his youngest son pleading with him to render apology, else his burka-donning GF will not do household chores for him.

10:30: Silently resolves to stay strong; picks up today’s newspaper where his wife’s picture blazes on the front-page headlining, “Human rights advocate, Mariana Johnson, demands apology from her husband and threatens failing to do so will end up in divorce”. Spills tea over his white shirt and yells out to his P.A., waving newspaper before him. Asks him to read out the entire news about Mariana. After a good five minutes of skimming and scanning, the P.A. lifts his head with a look given to a lunatic who insists upon being sane while being examined by a certified psychiatrist.

11:00: Calls his bodyguard to put him through to his daughter to gain her sympathy. She informs him right away about the rally of over a hundred feminist friends of hers, asking for women’s right to choose their dressing and his apology for dictating to them about it. Squeaks and squeals like a mouse to know his own daughter is heading and arranging it.

12:00: Curses Trump for putting extremist ideas into his head during his visit to the U.K.

12:30: Calls Trump only to be told that he is busy shooting out highly important tweets.

1:00: Regrets his own weakness for Russian beauty, fancying Melania and casting evil eye on Trump, which he is sure is the reason why Trump was able to delude him the way he did.

2:30: Frustrated, sends DM to Trump on twitter. He doesn’t reply.

3:30: Gets anonymous DM regarding Jeremy Corbin’s apology over anti-Semitism issue. A lesson in apology.

4:30: Switches tele to watch latest season of The Great British Bake Off only to realize another head-covering British woman has won it again.

5:30: Hitting different buttons on remote, flips through different channels and finally settles for, ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’; gawps absentmindedly to see all the Kardashian girls in black abayas with hijabs on heads, celebrating the spirit of Ramadan.

6:30: Turns off tele and rings Trump again and this time manages to catch him. Speaks his mind to him asking for help. Trump bashes Theresa May for not having balls enough to stand up for Boris Johnson against extreme-right factions within the party. Hangs up on Trump soon realizing Mrs. May isn’t supposed to have any.

7:30: Switches off all the electronic devices to block out horrific criticism. Sits down to tea served by celebrity cook Begum Nadiya Hussain, a head-covering lady of Muslim origin, in black abaya.

8:30: Completely drained of energy and strength, powers on the cell and sends his first tweet of the day, inserting broken heart emoji and apologises to all Muslim women for mocking them recklessly. Ends it with a namaste emoji meant to seek forgiveness.

9:00: Retires to bed feeling as light as a sheer silk veil worn by Muslim women of Arab origin.

…many thanks, m’Lady, Seher…

Seher Hashmi is a mummified poet, a classified satirist and a bona fide healthoholic. She lives by the lull of songs, lyrics, ballads, poems and spoken words, poetry and often records her rhythmic repertoire via her blog space. Her poems and imagery are inspired by the work of three iconic women of varying time zones: Maya Angelou, Arundhati Roy and Sia Furler. She is an active member of the Bahrain Writers Circle; her work has been published in prestigious magazines Muslim World Today, BLUE MINARET and in two anthologies of international poets titled, ‘THE ELEMENTS’ and ‘EROS’, compiled by Bahrain-based author Robin Barratt. Currently she is working on her first chap book of poetry with a passion known only to her.

Contact on Fb@SeherHashmi

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…you’d have to be crazy to go out in a night like that!…

…as I’m currently residing in the Middle East, it seemed a bit pointless to mark oneself  ‘safe’ during the storms that recently belted the Scottish coastline, but it brought back mem’ries of a similar episode going back over 45 years ago… to the time when Master Gallacher was serving his apprenticeship as a Trainee Master of the Financial Universe in the employ of the majestic Clydesdale & North of Scotland Bank in its branch at Tobermory on the beautiful Isle of Mull in the Scottish Hebrides...

…as a callow, bachelor Yoof, I shared lodgings with some excellent lads, characters all, as were the landlord and landlady, the wunnerful Alex and Betty Beaton… the digs sat on the crest of a hill overlooking the town (see the picture above)… access to the lower reaches of Tobermory was made by a dirt-track with its double-ruts, caused by vehicle wheels over many months and years, and when the rain came, which was often, wellington boots were the only footwear suitable to make the descent into the town… the day (and night) I remember vividly, saw a hurricane-force gale, relentlessly battering  the Scottish West Coast, including the islands… we lads, trapped inside the bungalow up on the hill, replete with a warm, cozy fire, initially hunkered down with a beer and a dram to wait until the next morning before venturing out… or so we intended… it’s amazing how a germ of an idea, coupled with boredom, causes restless daftness to appear… the rain was pounding horizontally against the window panes, transforming into glazed rivulets… and the gusts smacked the place like a heavyweight boxer’s onslaught… now here’s the key thing… the Mishnish pub was downtown, at the far end of the Main Street… the discussion began , ‘Should we go down and have a few?’, half-hearted responses were… ‘you’d have to be crazy to go out in a night like that’… needless to say, ten minutes later, myself, and my lodging buddies, Archie MacDonald, Ronnie Welsh, and the man from Stornoway, Neil (Cheery) MacKenzie, were kitted out in sou’ westers, wellies, and raincoats… yes,. we were crazy!… we struggled downtown, with the firm knowledge that we were the only lunatics in Tobermory who would be doing this… we reached the door of the pub and went in… the place was packed!… music belting out from a piano in the centre of the bar area, a fiddler and a couple of accordions…

…a full metal jacket ceilidh in progress!… and of course, the weather was far too wild to attempt to retrace our steps back up the hill… the ceilidh lasted on until the wee, wee, hours of the morning… when it was considered by all to be safe enuff to brave the elements again… Islanders know how to handle storms! … see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



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…being a literary ‘parent’ is precious…


…it usually starts innocently enuff… a wee WURD or a turn of phrase tickles the writing brain… whimsical, prob’ly… amusing, even more prob’ly… comes then the wish to have it embedded in the narrative… sum’where, anywhere, really… from there, the mind begins to expand on the WURD or phrase… embracing it with whole sentences… protecting it from the barrage of mere ordinary prose… making it the little ‘Queen Bee‘ in the Writer’s creative scribbling… association of ideas kicks in… paragraphs begin to emerge… linkage and flow push forward… and presto, hey!… chapters evolve… pause for wordsmithing breath… another gleam of prosaic individuality appears, a sibling to the original… sum’times at a tangent, other times choosing simply to be in lockstep to reinforce the first literary brainwave… the novel/book/tome ‘teases out’, and sum’times it stubbornly ‘difficults out’ from the Author’s grey cells… ordinary life (whatever that may be) is subsumed to the focus on polishing the WURK… crafting, sculpting, honing what has now become an entire tribe of related ideas, WURDS, phrases, sentences… future thoughts of publishing the masterpiece are a galaxy distant at this time… no time this for indulgence in the Luddite dreams of universal readership acceptance… no… this is the highly personal, unique birthing period of a mind-child… the transference of thought and creativity from person to paper or electronic mapping device… gestation may take weeks, months, or several years… but it is in this stretch of commitment that an Author’s WURK truly becomes their baby… it is in this stretch that the genes pass from the parent to the child… the later to-be-recognised features that identify the lineage… in some quarters, this is known as the ‘Authors Voice’… and it is as precious as any relationship a Writer is ever likely to have… my own wee babies are listed below… being a literary parent is precious… and I am just the proudest Daddy to each and every one of them… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!...










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…Authors, fear not, the ‘business’ of story-telling is limitless…

…the phrase, ‘there are only seven story plots’  is an old chestnut, averred by alleged ‘literary’ pundits over the years… I’m not convinced, but my take on it is a bit broader… even if the assumption of the surreptitious, silvery, slippery seven is correct… how does it explain the millions of books, novels and stories that have filled our libraries and bookshops for the past coupla thousand years?… p’raps the not-so-secret clue is in the actual ‘telling’ of the story… ask any theatre performer what differentiates a great performance from a merely good performance, and they will say “it’s in the ‘business’ on stage”… in other WURDS, “it’s the way they tell ’em”… such it is with any great book…

…granted, there are those authors whose use of vocabulary is outstanding, but even the simplest unfolding of a narrative can contain that magical element that glues readers’ eyeballs to the pages… that hypnotic ‘sum’thing’ that makes the reader put the book down when finished and think, “…wow, that was a terrific read…”… as an author, I don’t think it’s normal to approach the writing with the intent to create a book that elicits such a reader response… it should flow naturally… it takes practice… it demands constant attention to honing the scribbling skills… it demands an eye to grammar, syntax, and all the usual suspects for producing a good novel or book…

…but above all, it requires the imagination of the storyteller… the imagination that has lived down through the centuries in every language… the ability to conjure images in print that sparkle in the minds of every person who deigns to read the book… myth, fable, and fact all get thrown into the mix, and the creative ‘take’ from the writer makes that blend compelling… and when it comes to that, then forget about the ‘only seven stories’Authors, fear not, the ‘business’ of story-telling is limitless… and we, as readers and as writers, we thank the literary Gods for that… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



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…of Gaelic airs and grace notes in the Park Bar in Glasgow…

…this cutting from The Oban Times, dated around 1970, sent to me recently by Eric Macintyre, the youngest son of the incomparable Angus Macintyre, my Manager at the Clydesdale & North of Scotland Bank branch in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull… Angus was a legend in the ceilidh circuit in Argyllshire and beyond… the article has my passport-version English name ‘Jim’... the ‘Seumas’ evolved from the Gaelic after becoming a successful Mod multi-medal winner for Celtic singing back in the day… the piece evoked mem’ries galore, not the least of which was the regular visits to Glasgow, where the famed Park Bar was a magnet for all visiting and Glasgow-based Scottish Highlanders and Islanders…

…every evening featured ad hoc ceilidhs, with usually always several people present who had won singing medals at local or National Mods in their time… there was little in musical accompaniment, the Gael being well able to carry a song without instruments, although on occasion an accordionist or fiddle-player would turn up to add to the party…

…there was no formal leader… sumb’dy would say, ‘hey, Seumas, give us a song’, or ‘Mhairi, how about a duet’, and off it would start… one of the regulars who turned up was the marvellous Donald Macrae

…what a tenor voice… no ‘big-shotism from any of those who joined in, many with singing achievement credentials that would have made their Mammys proud… the songs of the glens and the islands rang loud and lilting, with that communal camaraderie that defines the Scot… of course, added to the mix, the ubiquitous ‘electric soup’ was quaffed in splendid quantity… when the barman’s ‘last drinks please’ call closed the ceilidh, often the ‘after-ceilidhs’ in sumb’dy’s digs sprouted easily… the next morning’s hangovers were a small price to pay for such superb entertainment… I miss it greatly, but I can still conjure up in my head the resonance of Donal’ Macrae’s’ Dark Island’, and Calum Kennedy’s ‘Mo Mathair’ … have a wee nostalgic listen here…

…and I am partly sated… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!…



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…weaned on a television viewing diet of Hughie Greens, Arthur Askeys, Alma Cogans, and the Good Old Days…

…in the late 1950s, the Gallacher household in Docklands Govan, in Glasgow, sum’how eked out enuff from father’s frugal income to buy a television on Hire Purchase… as with Christmas presents, as much fun was derived from playing with the huge cardboard box in which it arrived in our wee slum dwelling as watching the programmes…

…the cheapest model consisted of what resembled a standing cabinet with a teeny-weeny 12-inch screen with a curvature from the middle of it to the sides… we had black and white, or white and black, and all shades of grey… colour programming was a thing of the far distant  future… the BBC ROOLED the roost until the commercial channels began to appear… ours had Scottish Television, whose standard reception seemed to be a flurry of snow permanently across the screen… but never mind, it had advertisements and jingles, which oft-times were far superior to the programmes… ‘McEwans is the best buy, the best buy in beer!’, ‘You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent’, and Bing Crosby crooning away ‘I’m going Shell, I’m going well, I’m going Shell, Shell, Shell,’ all accompanied by us kids sitting in a semicircle on the floor around the ‘box’, singing in the key of ‘very loud’… but the evening entertainment, especially at weekends, gave us endless pleasure… …we were weaned on a viewing diet of the Hughie Greens, the Arthur Askeys, the Alma Cogans,

…and The Good Old Days, and loads of other names now long since faded from our immediate mem’ries…

…given the garbage I see offered up most of the time now,  mostly slot-fillers, I yearn for a Frankie Vaughn warble, a Brucie Forsyth and Angela, ‘giving us a whirl’, and the haunting trumpet-playing wrapped around the credits for Coronation Street… gone are the ‘open the box!, or take the money! audience shrieking in the quiz shows…

…and the unflappable Richard Dimbleby, the doyen of broadcasters,  describing Royal weddings and funerals of the great and the good… hardly surprising that I watch very little on the television these days other than sport… emb’dy else get that gnaw of nostalgia?… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



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…you keep great literature alive by giving it away…

…a quick tally of books inhabiting my small cabinet/converted bookcase will not tax emb’dy’s counting abilities… I have a sum total of only approximately 120 books… an eclectic assortment of mostly fiction, and a smattering of nonfiction… some of the greatest writers’ opus productions (Steinbeck, Dickens, O’Hara, Ruark, Conan Doyle, Solzhenitsyn, Churchill) sit comfortably alongside two Oxford Dictionaries (yeez can never have enuff WURDS), some author-signed copies of writers whose scribblings I admire, a bible, a copy of the Quran, some ad hoc compilations of humorous and other quotations, a few treasured over-a century-old Gaelic poetry and prose collections, and of course, my own Jack Calder crime thrillers…

…it seems a lamentably minuscule residue from all the books I have purchased over the years… having lived abroad for decades, trips to London always included a purchasing raid on Waterstones, where tomes were bought by the luggage-terrorising mega-kilo… prior to leaving the UK, my appetite for reading was honed by chomping on the best offerings from various literary giants of England, Europe and the USA… a voracious intake, diminished over the years only by the immersion in the opposite end of the cycle by becoming an author myself… the through-put of reading material must aggregate in the thousands of books, so why the metaphorical mere ‘drop in the ocean’ reading on my shelves?… easy… apart from those ‘keeper’ volumes mentioned above, I rarely read a book a second time… thereafter, they serve principally as dust gatherers, albeit with treasures between their flyleaves…

…happily, along the way, I’ve met and enjoyed the company of many others who also admire good authors, and I freely give to them books I have read and savoured, with the request to pass them on when they have finished with them…  in my not-so-‘umble opinion, you keep great literature alive by giving it away… what about you, fellow bibliophiles?… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



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