Fashion Icons.

Men and women really do copy what the stars and Royalty wear. I think I’ll stick with my 20 year old Church’s, battered corduroys and outspoken tweeds, far more convenient, far less expensive, always dependable but more to the point always ‘me’ !

JR

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Male Conceit V Female Vanity.

Someone wrote somewhere that, masculine conceit and sinewy chauvinism as a means to conquer, leaves an unimpressive veneer on the more subtle yet self-expressive vanity of a woman.

Contrary to popular belief the intelligent woman is not ruled by emotion but by intuition; a woman’s vanity therefore is merely an attempt at perfection and an acceptance of her own experience. Conversely men are always too busy worrying about muscles and sport, no contest is there!

JR

PS My ‘muscles’ disappeared a long time ago and ‘sport’ of any description bores me to tears. Perhaps that’s why so many of my main characters tend to be women, you are after all, a damn sight more interesting than men, and so magnificently complicated…….or maybe not, being complicated that is.

The Jogging Feminist.

Sometimes brain cells have a nasty habit of crashing into each other ie ideas and thoughts jump on top of one another or in between one another or even alongside one another. You get my drift, at least I hope you do.

The point is I was out walking Norman earlier on – that’s our dog by the way not my father, although I appreciate the fact that these days one would have to be an old ‘un with a name like ‘Norman’.

Be that as it may, now where was I? Ah yes, jumping thoughts.Well, whilst walking along a country road not far from my house, this gangly female jogger overtook me (joggers always have a habit of doing this, smug buggers).

She was wearing a red tee-shirt, I couldn’t miss it because printed on the back in bold black letters was ‘Fxxx Men!’. Now,  I have never quite understood the sense of all this ‘jogging’ business, simply because if one is healthy one doesn’t need to do it, and if one is unhealthy one shouldn’t be doing it anyway. This aside, as I watched the jogger’s sweaty back disappear around a bend, I thought, oh dear, another man-hater, what on earth is the matter with her –  we men gave her the vote didn’t we? And where would the suffragette movement have been without us in the first place?!

See what I mean about jumping thoughts?

JR

The Art of Book Signings! (And it is an art believe me!).

I have finally come to the end of my book signing tour, apart from some re-plays at Kingston, Guildford and Bristol. More signings will take place before Christmas, persistent devils some of these book store managers!

My thanks to all you hard-working staff and managers at WHS, you did me proud.

Now, a word for all you aspiring writers.

Book signings are effective, I usually sell anything between 40 and 60 copies (more at Christmas) at each event. However do note, that if you sit down and drink tea while cultivating a few corns on your arse you’re not going to get anywhere.

No matter how good the book, no matter how good the author, sitting down mouth open catching flies is fatal – come to think of it sitting down looking all superior and holier than thou isn’t much better either.

Readers are not going to come to you, you have to go to them. A riveting sense of humour, is essential as is devastating charm, good looks and not looking as if you have just spent the night in a skip, I’m not kidding either (how the hell does he do it, then? I hear you all wail, don’t ask me!) but believe me they all count in spite of what the mediocrity brigade will have you believe.

Assuming your writing commercial fiction, remember that 85% plus of the book shop buying public are women over 25, men will just whisk past you on their way to Jeremy Clarkson or some  ex-SAS memoir, that’s if they are in to buy a book at all which is doubtful.

So, while you’re standing there looking rather desperate and gripping a few copies of your latest bestseller for dear life, ignore the men oh and anyone under 25 (they don’t read), smile, look hopeful, be wonderfully sexist and discriminatory and pounce on any lady (over 25) who happens to be passing by. Pay no attention to the overwhelming ‘I don’t reads’ and the  ‘I don’t have times’ and the ‘I don’t read crap’ folk they are only in to buy the Sun anyway, so no loss and don’t do the hard sell either.

If a punter isn’t interersted leave them alone.

It’s no good going in for a quick hour either, unless you’re selling another Harry Potter adventure. Give yourself plenty of time, a target and don’t damn well leave until you have achieved it, come what may. Don’t go off for some coffee, something to eat, the toilet etc etc, you could lose a sale, remember you’re in there to flog books like it or not, so it’s no good sitting there thinking aren’t I a clever little bugger and aren’t you lucky to have the chance to experience my genius.

Of course, it helps if you have written something people want to read (the back cover is critical here, it makes or breaks a sale along with a roller banner –  handy for those who don’t have their reading glasses with them!).

After all this, book signings can actually be quite enjoyable, it all depends on the customers. Some are lovely, some are interested, some come in for advice on ‘getting published’ and some are just incredibly rude and plain mean ( I mean how dare they ignore the best novel ever written!) but that’s the great British public for you. Have a skin thicker than the aforementioned Jeremy, don’t give in, always beam enthusiasm about your book and you might well sell a copy or two.

Good luck to all of you, you will need it!

JR

PS Always make sure you set up your stall as it were, close to the biggest footfall traffic – usually as near to the main entrance as possible. For the big stores, being in the ‘Book’ department isn’t always the best place, not enough customers to convince

PPS And before any of you comment, particularly those of a more intellectual persuasion, Waterstones is no different (I have done plenty of them) apart from the fact that newspapers are nowhere to be seen and some of the customers believe they are covered in chocolate, as indeed do some of the staff. Either way it is apparent that such superior snobbery has failed miserably to generate enough vulgar profit, thus the recent Red takeover, the proletariat wins again!

A Dutch Burger.

I forgot to tell you about a young reader I met at an Ipswich book signing a few weeks ago, and I promise you this is true – me meeting a ‘young’ reader that is, because let’s face it, they are a rare breed these days.

Having put the aspiring young author off writing for life, a  Netherlands burgher back in the seventeenth century popped into the conversation – I’m not quite sure how this  particular subject came about, something to do with social mobility if I remember correctly.

Well, the young ‘un stood still, all starry-eyed and respectful for a few minutes, before eventually saying, ‘Really? I never knew that. I’ll have to try one the next time I’m in McDonald’s. A Netherlands burgher you say………..’

JR

PS She had just obtained a first class honours degree in Medieval European History too! Mind you, at least her degree wasn’t in Creative Writing, because that really would have blown her chances of ever becoming a successful novelist!

A Welshy Mountain Top.

To-day I sat on a mountain top in Midwales. Greens, browns and mysterious shades and shadows of instant nature reached out to me, from valleys filled to the brim with watery beauty and giggling nonsense. No care for past or present or what might have been. No ruffian rucks, no tragic choirs, no corned beef pasties, no petty politics or the language of an ancient dream of kingly dynasty.

Just Wales alone, just pure, breathtaking Wales.

The true Wales.

The only Wales.

JR

Red Kites and The Lunch Club.

What a curious day.

Me, Welshy Tony Trapp and Brummie Colin Sidebender – he can’t make up his mind which side of the fence to swing his you know what’s, thus the surname, that’s modern-day sexuality for you.

Well, the Lunch Club was in fine fettle yesterday.  A humble scribbler, a confused lawyer and a retired Colonel who had given up his pistols on account of an over-indulgence of sherry, all stuffed into a Daimler Dart fresh out of the restorers.

I have to admit the car was really quite something. All shiny blue, sparkling chrome and growls…. not forgetting the passenger door that flew open all of its own accord whenever it felt like it.

So there we were, a trio of misfits and all victims of modern life. Age probably had something to do with it too, you know, Toffler’s future shock and all that. Anyway the Dart flew us into the bowels of Midwales and what a lovely journey it was too. Green everywhere with nothing but people to spoil the natural splendour.Tony wasn’t allowed to hold onto anything every time Colin drove around a bend, which I thought was rather mean bearing in mind there are no seat belts in a Dart, his fingers apparently could damage the coach work.

So, at each corner he yelped for deliverance and hoped to God his arse held on to the small sporty seat. Once or twice the passenger door tried to kill him outright but he managed to stay afloat – just.

I was fine, the roof was down and my skinny rump had no trouble fitting into the back.Hell, I have to run around the shower in order to get some water on me!

Having swigged some beer, smoked a rollie and eaten some Black Beef (no racist insult intended, the beef was of the Welsh variety before anyone starts), we eventually arrived at our destination. We had been told that a gathering of wild Red Kites (or, Welsh translation from the Latin: Milvusio Milvusio) looking for a bite to eat were due to appear at 3pm.

The three of us leaned over a rickety fence and waited.

A few sheep seemed to catch the attention of Welshy Tony for a moment or two which was rather worrying, I’m sure I spotted him licking his lips, I mean he was Welsh after all and a lawyer…..I mean well…….I’m Welsh myself but that’s hardly the point is it, there are limits. Anyway sure enough, at about 2.40 some Kites appeared in the distance.

A few minutes later there were about 50 of them, all seeming to start their own Battle of Britain with some crows who sat and squawked defiance in that ugly way of theirs. We watched as white ensigns on wings stretched back for speed, darted through the air and then quickly spread out into a blaze of chestnut red.There was the odd tumble in the air, the odd clash of feathers but most seemed to get what they were after -the meaty morsals hidden in lumps of prickly green grass.

The three of us stood and watched. There was something so removed about it all. So bloody simple. So magnificent.All of us seemed to be thinking the same thing.

Red Kites always stayed together in a relationship. There was never any Kitey infidelity or fly by night divorce. Once the nest was shared that was it – forever.

We also knew that Kites stayed together more for reasons of territory and nest site than love.

……………..Now there’s a thought!

JR

Urdu Nuptials and Glendower’s Ghost.

This weekend Birmingham and Worcester have been the victims of my latest book signing extravaganza.

Before I go any further Birmingham is old turf, I lived and worked there for a good few years and even picked up a bit of Urdu and Punjabi along the way.

Anyway, I was talking with a Muslim charmer in WHS (with a bit of Urdu thrown in) about her upcoming wedding. £65,000 it was costing and we think the whities are overdoing it!

Now I knew Asian weddings could cost s few bob (the Sikh variety always has a bottle of whisky and Bacardi on every table, that’s why I rarely remember any of them!), but £65,000!

Being the usual miserable Killjoy that I am I said, “Bloody hell, and I suppose you’ve just taken out a whacking great mortgage on the matrimonial nest have you?!’

‘Oh yes,’ came the pretty reply, and she was pretty too believe me, all black eyelash, deep brown eyes and brimming with Turkish Delight – Turkish Delight? She was Pakistani, never mind, literary license and all that nonsenese. Well, there wasn’t much more I could say was there? ‘Multiculturalism’?

When it comes to matrimonial bliss, we’re all just as daft.

Once the ‘nuptials’ as it were had been disposed of, this beauty from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights asked if I spoke any Welsh, she had been to the Gower Peninsula apparently and loved it, thus the interest in my Ragged Cliffs trilogy. ‘Of course I do!’ I replied enthusiastically.

‘But it’s so hard to speak!’ She grinned.

‘No it’s not.’ I gallantly assured. ‘Just add ‘io’ to every English word and you’re there. Parkio, busio, fish and chipsio…..see what I mean?’

She bought all three of the trilogy (WHSmith are doing 3 for 2 on my books for pretty obvious reasons) and went off giggling all the way to her nuptials.

JR

For Better For Worse.

Loving married couples generally express the view, that life would  be utterly pointless without one another. Indeed,the planet would be blown off its axis, if  one or the other were unavailable for that loving good morning kiss, oh and let’s not forget the ‘I can’t live without you’ element to matrimonial bliss (better include civil partnerships here, otherwise I’ll be accused of discrimination and homophobia!).

Well, I just commented to my darling wife that, ‘Should anything untoward happen to you dearest, then believe me I would never be able to live with another’. To which she replied, ‘ Same for me darling, so don’t worry. Living with you has put me off shacking up with anyone else for life!’

For better for worse eh!

JR