This post was inspired by this one by fellow writer, Joan Livingston. I’ve even used the same title. I hope she doesn’t mind.

I’ve moved around in my life, possibly not as much as Joan, but I did move countries. In fact I just celebrated that anniversary – forth-three years, which is at the same time hard to believe and feels obvious. As I was fairly young at the time of the move, I hadn’t acquired enough stuff to warrant sending a container. I just took what I could in my suitcase.

My Oldest Books

What books did I bring with me? I don’t think I brought all of these in one go, but I brought some back with me on each visit. So, these are all books I had in the UK, which arrived in Israel, either on that first day or soon afterwards, and have remained with me ever since. There might be more; this is what a cursory search produced:

The Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language, selected and arranged by Francis Turner Palgrave

I inherited this book, published in 1952, from my big brother. There are poems by Tennyson, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Byron, Milton, Keats, Scott, Wordsworth, Browning, and more.

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

I haven’t read much science fiction, and this is probably my first read of the genre.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I haven’t read any of his books for a long time, but he used to be a favourite of mine.

The History of Mr. Polly by H.G. Wells

I had to read this for ‘O’ level English Lit. Even so, I enjoyed it.

Exodus by Leon Uris

This was probably one of the first things that influenced my decision to move to Israel.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Funnily enough, I recently saw the film and the story came flooding back to me.

How to be a Jewish Mother by Dan Greenburg

I loved this book when I was quite little. I still remember at least one joke:

Give your son Marvin two sports shirts as a present. The first time he wears one of them, look at him sadly and say in your Basic Tone of Voice: “The other one you didn’t like?”

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Another ‘O’ level book I enjoyed.

The Star and the Sword by Pamela Melnikoff

The book I would never lend! First of all, it was the first book I read in which I identified with the main characters. Even though it’s set in medieval times, the two Jewish children felt closer than any from books by Enid Blyton or any other story I’d read up to then. Also, this book contains a note to me from Gabriel Costa, a lovely man who lived in our street. He was in his nineties when he gave me the book in 1965, and still wrote book reviews for newspapers.

Note to me from Gabriel Costa

The Oxford Companion to Music by Percy A. Scholes

This hefty volume helped me get through ‘O’ and ‘A’ level music. Who would buy a book like that, these days, when all the information is available online?

How about you? What books have always accompanied you?

And while you’re thinking about that…

Remember my books, available from Amazon: Social Anxiety Revealed and Cultivating a Fuji.

It’s the beginning of October. That means it’s less than a month to…

NaNoWriMo Writer

…NaNoWriMo! (That month when people all over the world go a bit crazy, trying to write 50,000 words, all in November.)

The question, this year, was never whether I was going to join in. I didn’t even consider missing out on all the fun (and hard work). It was what I was going to write.

NaNo2Small.jpg

At a NaNoWriMo Meetup in Jerusalem, 2018

I decided on something. I created the book on the new NaNoWriMo website, complete with cover, description, Pinterest board and playlist.

Then I changed my mind. I’m going to rewrite my novel, Neither Here Nor There. When I’ve reached the end, at a date that hopefully will coincide with the end of November, I’ll examine the two versions and decide which parts to keep and which to discard.

Now I have to do some plotting. I’ve already made one decision: the title is going to change. The current title is One Foot. But I might have second thoughts about that. Or third thoughts. The cover will definitely change.

OneFootCover

Temporary cover for a probably temporary title

A widely travelled banking expert, corporate trouble-shooter, wordsmith, writer of crime novels and poetry, filler of social media with humour and sincerity, and now… autobiographer. It’s the amazing Seumas Gallacher with news of a journey.

A Journey to myself – writing my autobiography

Seumas GallacherFor authors, the old maxim is often quoted, ‘Write about what you know.’

I’ve been at this writing game properly for over a decade now, with a back list of five crime thrillers, a book of my poetry, a self-help marketing and promotional guide for authors, and almost 2,000 blog posts. Add to that a catalogue of half-a-dozen ghostwriting assignments for other people’s ‘autobiographies’, and it’s of little wonder that the thought occurred to put my own life story and experiences to print. ‘Write about what you know.’

What happened next was a sometime bewildering, sometime painful, sometime joyful, but always exhilarating, writing trip of discovery. I now understand more clearly than ever before just how much I am truly an amalgam of everything, everybody and everywhere with which and with whom I have ever been associated.

Were there regrets? Of course. Probably far too many to register. I doubt if more than a handful of people on this planet have led a flawless, blameless existence. But I do know that every single incident and experience, good, bad and indifferent, was necessary to bring me to this moment in my life. And I would not seek to change one second of it.

Jack Calder Crime Series

It is amazing how memories bring back not only the plain telling of the story, but for me, it also recalled the feelings and emotions that I had in most of them. I felt them again, and again, and again, some with laughter, but also many of them attended with a quiet tear.

I believe, at this age, finally, I am aware of who and what I am as a person. I like the man I see in the mirror each morning, although it was not always thus. I have acquired a tolerance of myself and my own shortcomings, but more importantly, I have learned to ‘live and let live’ in relation to others whom I meet day to day.

What surprises me, is that having published the book just a few weeks ago, I find that I am remembering many other things which could have been included in the memoir. I will resist the temptation to edit online the Amazon Kindle version, which is easy to do, on the same premise that once I finish writing my novels, I leave them finished.

To all my author friends and even those who have not yet caught the writing addiction, you may want to consider a similar project. It is a wondrous journey to yourself.

 

Strangely I'm Still HereHere’s the book blurb:

Fact is often more incredible than fiction.

Seumas Gallacher has survived long enough to savour places, characters and events for more than forty years in the Far East and the Arabian Gulf.

He started life in Scotland, travelled far and wide as a wannabe Trainee Master of the Universe, but the Universe had other plans for him.

From a career in banking, he escaped to become a corporate trouble-shooter.

He discovered the joy and torture of becoming a wordsmith, writing five best-selling crime novels, a book of poetry, and being hyper-active on social media.

Strangely, I’m Still Here is his story.

In my previous post, I mentioned how a trip to Britain is unlike any other. Our visit to the London Transport Museum is also unlike a visit to any other transport museum could be. Why? Because we remember.

Gibson Ticket MachineYears ago, before we moved away, we travelled on those old buses and trains that fill the museum. We remember the bus conductor, who rang the bell to signal to the driver that he (always he) could continue to the next stop, took our money and printed tickets using the machine that hung on her neck. “Only five standing,” he’d call out.

And we love revisiting the old tube trains, which really functioned just as they do today, except that they were much quieter. None of that, “Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge.” And definitely no, “See it, say it, sorted.”

Underground Memories

Sheltering in the UndergroundOf course, we see exhibits that even we aren’t old enough to remember. I find the film of the underground during the war very interesting and educational, as well as this notice. On all the occasions that I watched films of people sheltering from the bombs in underground stations during the war, I never realised how organised a procedure this was.

“I didn’t think you’d be interested in that,” said David of this museum.

Of course I am. This is where I grew up.

I’ve been away. Again. To a place that will always be special for me. Despite the forty-three years that have passed since I left Britain, it will never feel like any of the other countries I visit.

I have to admit that things have changed over that time. Now, if you sit in a pub, all the conversations around you contain that B word. Various associated terms float towards you in that noisy but cosy place. Terms like “no deal”, “remain” and “leave”. But pubs themselves remain the same: the bar where you order, the drinks, the food, the pleasant, friendly atmosphere.

And then there was Whaley Bridge. Despite its name, it’s a small town. If you live in Britain, you’ll no doubt have heard of it. We hadn’t. We just followed a hiking route that happened to end up in that town, which was convenient for us because we could catch a train back from there to Buxton, where we were staying.

The first sign we saw of something unusual was when we walked close to Toddbrook Reservoir.

“That’s strange,” said David.

“What?” I asked.

“The reservoir is empty.”

I looked across the field and, sure enough, there was no water in the reservoir.

Money Tree

The money tree we discovered on a different walk. Who said money doesn’t grow on trees!

The second sign was that our footpath was closed, with a notice saying it was closed for three months. We retraced our steps to the edge of the town, where a helpful resident told us which way to go to walk to the town centre.

Then we met two men, who told us a better way to walk (through a park) and said the authorities didn’t really know how long the work would take, but it would definitely be longer than three months. The conversation then diverted to the purpose of the reservoir and the history of a long-abandoned railway line. It was very interesting, but I won’t go into it here.

We followed their advice, reached the town centre via the park, and ordered and consumed cream teas before taking the train back.

Strange happenings always come in threes, or at least this series did. My friend Gill, who lives in that area, asked me, on Scrabble, what we’d done that day.

“We walked to Whaley Bridge,” I replied.

“Lucky it’s still there,” she commented.

Huh? What was that about? I googled “Whaley Bridge” and discovered the worrying events that took place just last month. The whole saga made it to the national news, despite the preoccupation with the B word. That’s why those we spoke to didn’t think to tell us what happened. It’s probably a result of sounding British, even though we’re not, any more… almost but not quite.

If you don’t know what happened at Whaley Bridge, you can google it, too.

 

When you’ve experienced everything you’re ever going to experience, it’s time to write: THE END.

…said I, although I’m probably not the first!

I’m back home after an amazing trip to China and Tibet. I’ve posted my photos and videos on Facebook, which must mean I’m well and truly back, and you’re welcome to view them, whether or not you’re a friend of mine there.

Labrang Monastery - sculpture.

Labrang Monastery

Today, I’m thinking about firsts. Yes, even at my age, there are firsts.

The first time I went to China. The first time I went to Tibet. The first time I slept nearly 4,000 metres above sea level. The first time I climbed to almost 5,000 metres. My first plane ride in which the air pressure was increased as we took off. The first video I created for one of my books:

I hope you enjoyed that. And don’t forget, this is the place to buy Cultivating a Fuji.

I’m taking a break, but Martin isn’t. You can still read about him in Cultivating a Fuji.

Just before I go, here’s the interesting result of the poll I’ve been running on Twitter this past week.

Poll Result

Look at that middle number: 0%.

In other words, of those who answered the poll, not one will have any difficulty imagining what he’s like. Either you’ll see yourself in him or he’ll remind you of someone you’ve met.

Think about it. If you’re one of the 18% and see yourself in Martin, you can compare your experience with his. If you’re one of the 82%, this is your chance to look inside his head and maybe gain an understanding of what’s behind the behaviour that you’ve witnessed.

Cultivating a Fuji - Front Cover

Have a great summer!