“QUICK HALF?”

MEET MY BROTHER, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN AND ME!

Visiting my younger brother in Vancouver Canada after not seeing him for 16 months was an emotional time. I was happy to visit him after spending over a year there myself, and to communicate back to our two older brothers how young Russell was coping on the west coast of Canada.

Russell worked strange hours, working early mornings to finish mid afternoon, pipe laying all through the lower mainland.

Most afternoons I would be out and about, either visiting friends or sitting by the local lake putting the finishing touches to my first book ‘The Waiting Room.’

I would receive a call from my brother asking ‘Where are you?’ and ‘What are you up to?’ followed by a small pause before what has now become our catch phrase “Quick Half?” We would meet in the closest bar to both of our positions near Vancouver’s Commercial drive area.

One ‘Quick Half’ would turn into several complete ones and we would retire before doing it all over again the next day, my brother sluggishly to work and me to again sit by the lake and sleep off my headache.

After five weeks with my brother in Vancouver, I was setting off for another 5 week adventure across America to end in New York. On my parting evening we made a film to send to our older brothers back in the UK.

Letting them know we were both safe and happy, we sent the video to much admiration.

Click on ‘MEET MY BROTHER’…..at the top of the page, enjoy.

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MY TIP ON HOW TO WRITE

It is well documented that if you want to write you need to read, read and read!!!

As much as this is a big help along the path to writing, it is far from the definitive source for all new writers. Reading a book that I really enjoy makes me want to keep reading, it does nothing to stimulate me into further action in my own writing. When I pick up a book that disinterests me I can instantly see the negatives in my own work and I can adapt that and think how I don’t want my manuscript to turn out.

The biggest tip I can offer is observation. Observe your surroundings, family, neighbours, events and the best for me is strangers. Family and friends become predictable over time. Strangers when studied for a brief moment can bring a smile to the face of your characters, can reveal things you had not thought about. Take notes on your fellow passengers on planes, trains and buses on your commute to work. Study your work colleges.

Remember, what you are reading has already been written. Observation is the key!
Reading does help in lots of ways in how to present characters, how to direct your own thoughts and can be an escape for writers block. Writing about an observation a day can help you grow your own characters storyline.

People have told me how much they enjoyed my book, but how do I manage to summon such emotion and characters in what I write. I’m not married and don’t have children, so how did the events in my book come to me. I can say that I have read a lot and enjoyed 90% of what I have read, but I believe that spending a few moments each day, observing people helps develop characters and when you have your characters they write the book for you.

I have a friend who read my book and came back to me very confused. He said that he hadn’t understood what at all was happening. I didn’t explain anything to him but asked how long it had taken him to read the book, he told me a few hours.

It is only 147 pages long so if you read fast you can probably achieve this in a few hours.

Click on the cover to purchase

But take some time during that process to observe what is happening. When you sit with a book and have time to read, it’s not a race, but if you feel it is and you’re the only participant, then you can’t lose.The first chapter of my book ‘The Waiting Room’ is available on this page should you want to satisfy the curiosity.It is available now through most online retailers. x

WHO, WHAT AND WITH WHOM?

As ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen and David Bowie comes to a close we are reminded just how great these two acts are, singularly and together. Who would be brave enough to cover this song and who today, could duet to be as popular.

Queen – Under Pressure – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a01QQZyl-_I

We have had duos in the past, Sonny and Cher, Simon and Garfunkel and we have had ‘those’ songs that are forever covered, to name one is the Carson Parks  classic ‘Something Stupid’ which was covered by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman in 2001.

There are in fact plenty male/female duos out there and on most occasions the pair complement each other. On ‘Under Pressure’ where we have two male voices that finish each other’s lines and which harmonise so well, when the final verse is built up to explode it’s hard to think of two acts today who could summon up such emotion from a song.

Who in today’s industry could team up to produce something that is as worthy as being covered itself.  Nicky Wire, bassist of the Manic Street Preachers, recently spoke about the music scene claiming there are plenty of good bands and good music, but there are ‘No Great Bands and No Great Music.’ He continued saying we need a ‘Sex Pistols’ a ‘Libertines’ and “God knows we need a Nirvana”

For me there is one Great Band, The Arcade Fire. With already three classic albums that will live to become timeless pieces of art, they are who I would like to see be the Queen half of the Bowie/Queen cover. So now we need someone with a voice range like that of Freddie Mercury.

How about everyone’s new favourite Wouter De Backer or more commonly known as Gotye? His song ‘Somebody that I use to know’ (Now this has to be A Great Song with over 73 million YouTube views) shows signs that he could be a contender to sing along with the orchestral might of Arcade Fire. Or even Kimbra, Gotye’s partner in the hit song, her voice is as equally as beautiful as shown on her upcoming EP ‘Settle Down’ but for me, the part of Bowie has to be sung by a man.

Gotye – Somebody That I Use To Know – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UVNT4wvIGY

Who would you like to see sing a cover? What would they sing? And with whom?

OUT BACK AND OUT OF TOUCH

When the third letter landed on the door mat my father raised an eyebrow.

He had done the same with the first, but that had an inscription ‘Australian Traffic Police’ on it. On opening this first and later second letter he could relax safe in the knowledge his third son was speeding around the outback of Australia.

In 2004, after 5 years of saving and planning I and my best friend set off around the world.

This was at a time when everything was becoming big business on the World Wide Web. A time of ‘email me’ was the preferred route of communication and texting was in infancy.

In the back waters of deepest darkest Ross on Wye the internet was slowly gaining an audience. I had set up an email a few months before setting sail but didn’t have a mobile phone so communication was going to be old fashioned postcards and letters.

After a testing time of successfully traversing around Asia and circumnavigating around the lower part of Thailand where at the time was reported to be a terrorism surplus, we made it to Singapore, not dissimilar to the towers of London and sure enough we found a bar selling Strongbow.

Brewed not 16miles form our small town in the UK it had followed us to the shiny glass and metal futuristic city of Singapore.

Our next stop was Melbourne on the lower coast of Australia in mid winter.

We had heard a great deal about the ‘Great Ocean Road’ and had plans of lying on the beaches, taking in the surf and enjoying the rugged coastline that the Antarctic Ocean had forged so many years ago.

It didn’t stop raining.

Once we had picked up a car we drove, stopping only to take a few pictures of the fallen arch of the famous ‘London Bridge’ monument and then again to pour water into our engine.

Another story tells of our blown head gasket.

After spending time in rainy Victoria we were ready for some sun.

Our route was taking us into South Australia, to a balloon party in Mount Gambia, through the botanical gardens of Adelaide and then into the road train territory of the Australian Bush.

Internet Cafes were a think of the future in modern cities, in the outback of OZ, a cafe itself was a new development.

We left Adelaide travelling north on Stuart Highway, a relatively new road considering it wasn’t surfaced until the Americans arrived in the heat of WWII.

Shortly after leaving Port Germein, which was once the proud home of the southern hemispheres longest pier at 1.6kms, our first road sign read Alice Springs (the next town of significance) 1224kms. The sign after this read, Kangaroos 1223kms.

The chance of communication to the outside world was going to be sparse.

With a telephone call from Singapore two weeks earlier we were feeling in no need to contact our parents and so the road opened up before us.

We knew nothing about the hidden speed cameras that would tell of our progress to the waiting world.

With a worried sigh of relief my father opened the first two letters plotting our journey from Singapore, his last known point of contact.

As I continue to travel he calls me every week.

We didn’t know that too much beer, too little water and the Brisbane sun were going to turn our last few days in Australia into a nightmare for my father.

Fainting against the toilet door after throwing up all night had brought me some strange respect in the hostel we were staying at.

After help from various people my best friend managed to get me to the hospital.

Sipping water as he drove me to the Brisbane Hospital I collapse on the route from the car park to reception only to be saved from further injury by my friend diving under me so I could fall gracefully upon his lap.

After various tests and three saline solutions I am an enigma and am told that I am safe to fly.

The only problem with that was I was addicted to strawberry flavoured milk. As readily available as a pint of milk in the UK and to get rid of the taste of hospital I was eager to get my hands on one.

With regret I chose to wear a pair of white cotton trousers for our flight to New Zealand.

Luckily the elderly Lady next to me chose a dress of pink summer flowers.

Just after takeoff I look across the aisle to my companion and ask if he has a sick bag, but before he can pass it to me I unselfishly share the strawberry milkshake with my neighbours.

The result was a seat position not advertised in any brochure.

Upon landing I am wheeled through customs whilst my friend deals with our rucksacks, passport control and officials.

After a lengthy discussion about the use of drugs we are united in the back of an ambulance.

Our busy few days in Australia before embarking on our flight had not given us much time to look for transport routes into the city of Christchurch, so after landing in the middle of the night, the waiting ambulance proved to be a life saver in more ways than one.

And although healthcare is free in Australia and New Zealand to UK citizens, the ambulance ride is $40NZ.

The letter fell upon my Fathers door mat a few weeks later. Receiving this letter after no contact with a travelling child is a scare that I would not like to go through myself.  I can only thank those unnamed flight attendants, the staff at both hospitals, apologise to the lady in the summer dress and embrace my best friend who looked after me constantly.

Now my father calls me every week, regardless of where I am. He could hear my phone ring this Christmas as I returned home and spent the holidays drinking with him.