Archive for the ‘Bernie Bolts Bergen’ Category

No blog in a while; what to write? That question has been preying on my mind this last week once I had cleared a large work related project which had taken up most of my time over the last few months.

Mousa with his pants on

Should I bring forward one of the chapters of my second book, which has also suffered over the same period?  Should I proffer my apologies for the delays in releasing an illustrated copy of Bernie Bolts Bergen, for reasons beyond my control? Neither of these options felt right, but recent newspaper reports discussing aspects of Scotland’s unique diet, lack of sunshine and the arrival of two pandas provided an opportunity for a little wordplay.

First our diet, we Scots are famous for our unhealthy approach to food. Our love of fry ups, fish suppers, take-away Indian and Chinese, as well as the ubiquitous Macdonalds have helped to establish us as one of the world’s most obese nations.  This week’s addition of the Braveheart Butterball, deep fried frozen butter in an irn-bru batter served with Irn-Bru ice cream is a wonderful example of our love for the unhealthy. It’s not that we don’t know better, studies, published this week, show that we are well aware but either we can’t be bothered or we have decided that life is here to be lived for the day. 

Other studies this week show that people in Scotland lack vitamin D which can be increased if we all eat oily fish or increase our exposure to sunlight. The latter at this time of year is asking, if our current weather system is anything to go by, for the impossible. We have spent days recently with the house lights on for most of the day because it has been so dull; with low energy bulbs  it ain’t much better.

Munchkin in artificial light

Some professor appeared on the radio suggesting that the Scottish government should have supplements added to our food to remedy this deficiency, but surely another alternative would be to send us on holiday every year to sunnier climes to allow us to charge our vitamin D batteries. It would appear that the government is doing neither. 

The only government action taken that can be remotely linked to all of this, and I mean remotely, is that the Scottish Government has borrowed two big adorable Pandas and put them on display this week in Edinburgh Zoo. The pandas are, among other things, there to cheer us up ( I will be going to see them over the next few weeks) and go by the name of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, translated apparently as sweetness or sweetie and sunlight or sunshine, respectively. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Scottish government have brought us sunshine and sweetness. Will it make us any healthier – who knows.

The last comment on all this nonsense sits with Edinburgh Zoo’s famous penguins (see link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-16270214) who have poo’ed on the Panda parade and like the weather made it a little more difficult to enjoy any Sunshine in Scotland.



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It’s been a while since I posted a blog. Life has been busy, whose life hasn’t and I’ve kinda lost my blogging and writing mojo over the last few weeks. To lose one mojo may be an accident, to lose two could well be neglect. I’ve had several ideas for making my great writing comeback, but each idea  has met a premature ending and that may well be where the problem lies i.e. I’m searching for that great idea, in football (soccer) parlance the World Cup ball, when all that is needed is ‘the simple pass’.  Both  terms are used often when playing or coaching, but what do they mean. Searching on the internet failed to provide a definitive definition of either, in fact, the search yielded very little insight to either term. Yet, both terms are used by pundits, fans and players alike  and everybody nods, as if we all know and share the same understanding. To take the blog forward I need to profer a definition of sorts; here goes.

Leo watching intently

World Cup ball:  Usually a long range pass which leads to a game winning situation. The pass is usually one that requires precision and accuracy over distance and carries a high failure rate.

The simple pass: a short range pass which in itself may or may not create a game winning situation. Successful completion rates are high and carry less risk.

There is a suggestion that ‘the simple pass’ by its very name is safe, uncreative and boring whereas the ‘ World Cup ball’ is viewed as dynamic and creative. Yet, the truth is often very different; rather than being creative, the World Cup ball, or the attempt at the World Cup ball, is, in many cases, reckless. On the other hand, the simple pass, as many fans and observers of Barcelona Football Club will testify, can be creative, imaginative and powerful when harnessed fully, and in Barcelona’s case epitomises the beautiful game for many.

There are without doubt, books that are the equivalent of the ‘World Cup ball’  that stand out because of their daring, creativity and boldness in challenging conventional thought. There are also books constructed of simple beautiful passes that weave together to present a novel of considerable beauty. I have no intention of starting a debate of which writer fits which category and will leave that to you the reader. I’m open to suggestions should anyone wish to offer one.

A young Rhumtetum showing how to win

Where, does that leave me and my writing. I can only dream about the ‘World Cup Ball’, the reality if I’m lucky is the simple pass. But the simple pass isn’t any more reachable than the World Cup Ball. In fact the simple pass may be harder to attain, because the beauty of the simple pass lies in its disguise. To execute it fully, requires understanding, foresight and the ability to synthesise words, story and reader in perfect harmony. To achieve this harmony requires, not only, a continued study of the art , but practice, more practice and even more practice. Bernie Bolts Bergen is a start, but my writing has still some way to go and may be, at this point in time, more Raith Rovers, our local team, rather than the silky soccer of Barcelona.

All in all, it’s good to be back



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I suspect that the majority of postings at this time of the year reflect on the year gone past and give thoughts for the new year ahead. I did think about doing something different, but as I sit in our living room with the Christmas tree in the corner and plans for Hogmanay, the 1st and 2nd of January dominating our conversations I reverted to the expected.

Nemie Sabie


In terms of years it was a bit of a mixed bag, despite plans to the contrary, work dominated our lives, we need to pay the bills and this big old house likes to eat the money, which meant that plans for writing for pleasure were constantly under pressure. We unexpectedly lost one of the most stunning cats, Coco, we have ever had the pleasure to be owned by, which shook us up a bit and we lost another star Nemie Sabie to CRF.

The cats, as all who have read my blog before will know, form a major part of our lives, there are currently 10 of them, all living in the house just now because it’s far too cold outside. Lots of my tweets have  involved the cats, the majority of pictures have been about the cats and the blogs too. I think every cat has featured at some stage but just in case I’ve missed anyone I’ve listed them all here – Torsay, Costa, Mousa, Pixie, Bute, Munchkin, Misty, Leo, Fara and Teaser. Teaser is Bernie’s sister, the cat that formed the basis of Bernie Bolts Bergen.

One of my key goals for 2010 was to put Bernie Bolts Bergen out in the hope that someone would like it. I refrained from declaring in my profile that I was an author, even now I hesitate, I think that will continue until I manage to find an agent who likes my work. Feedback on the book has been good and I have to thank Molly Campbell (check her blog out http://mollydcampbell.com), (Molly, I do hope the books arrive soon) and @Danepoes  for their continued support.

Daantje and the book. Pic copyright Danepoes




The last part, i.e. support, is important. Through Twitter, I have met some wonderful people across the globe and find myself checking their tweets to hear what they have been up to, and looking forward to their comments, insights and general tweets. I see them as friends and look forward to tweeting with them through 2011.

As for 2011, I don’t like setting New Year resolutions so there aren’t any. However, there will be a new book and it does involve a cat, it’s for a slightly older reading group and is a little dark but we will see how it goes. I will do something more with Bernie Bolts Bergen but that is being kept under wraps for the time being. I will continue to tweet with my twitter pals and I hope they with me. Hopefully, new friendships will emerge and develop. Tomorrow is  Hogmanay so I wish everyone a most wonderful and prosperous 2011.

Speak soon.



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Amidst the news of spending cuts, spending cuts and even more spending cuts this morning, a couple of statements confirming the start of the wintry weather, as if de-icing the car wasn’t enough, sneaked across the radio airwaves a few mornings this week. A week or two ago, I mentioned that pink footed geese had arrived at a local nature reserve and on Wednesday morning the BBC weather forecast mentioned the early arrival of Bewick Swans in England as an indicator of a potentially cold winter ahead. For us in Scotland, the real signal that winter has arrived is the mention of the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road in the the traffic and weather report and sure enough those wonderful names floated across the radio waves.

When the clocks go back next weekend I will be driving most of my journey to work avoiding the snow and ice mainly in the dark. This week, though, it has been a pleasure driving for most of the week in gorgeous winter sunshine showing off the beautiful autumn reds, browns and golds of the trees as the leaves fall to the ground.

Loch Leven, which I pass by each day, has looked incredible and the pink footed geese have been evident in their numbers; as well as a few deer, magpies, who I have to acknowledge as I pass them, buzzards and a white tailed eagle. Every day I pass by, I moan because I haven’t a camera with me. I promise if I do I’ll post the pictures.

What no pictures of cats I hear you say. It isn’t possible to have a Rhumtetum blog without a cat picture so as not to disappoint I have included a picture of Bernie and his sister, Teaser, who still lives with us. As for his book I’m holding all the promo stuff back until the book is available on Amazon.

Loving Purrs to all

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The title of this blog is borrowed from the title of a song by one of my favourite bands, James. As I struggled to load material to Cafepress last night the words of the song came to mind. This last week has been full of frustrations; Bernie Bolts Bergen is still awaiting its Amazon listing; the web page that we designed for my other half’s business has to wait 24-48 hours before all the links go live; due to work load I have been unable to find time to write my blog or develop the new book idea and/or even finalise the promotional aspects of Bernie’s book because of the Amazon thing and I am now way off plan. I even struggled to find time to tweet. Just to prove the point my internet connection crashed in the middle of writing this blog.

‘All this frustration
I can’t meet all my desires
Strange conversation
Self-control has just expired’

I could have thrown a tantrum but my days of tantrums are gone now; I could have thrown things at the TV, but that would cost too much; I could have shouted at the cat but that would have required a decision as to which cat to shout at, bearing in mind we have 10. Costa, one of our Toms, would have thought that the shout was a form of affection and would have run towards me; the other boys would have probably looked at me in disgust, the girls may have slowly raised their bodies off the sofa and the bed and then slowly walked away, while old Torsay might have raised her head or, more likely, a single whisker. In any case when you are bottom of the pecking order behind 10 cats there doesn’t seem much point in throwing a tantrum

A little clip of a young Bernie expressing his frustration.

‘Stop stop talkin ’bout who’s to blame
When all that counts is how to change’

The promotional plan for Bernie Bolts Bergen has to be reworked. Meantime I’m off for another beer before this network of mine crashes once more.

Frustrated Purrs


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I saw a recent tweet that said publishing required courage, I have to say that I fully agree and if I’m honest I hesitated and dithered a good bit, over a number of days, perhaps weeks, before eventually pressing that ‘approve’  button.

My fear existed at a number of levels: firstly; would anyone like the story, secondly; after all the editing did the story still hold together and thirdly; had we managed to sort all the typos, glitches and more importantly the grammar. Numerous proofs were ordered, checked, amended, returned and rechecked. Eventually, after much deliberation, soul searching and a lot of hours of application it was time for Bernie Bolts Bergen to take those first faltering steps into the printed world. So you can purchase it on Lulu and I’m waiting for it to appear on Amazon. There is also a kindle version.

After these first few steps, Bernie went on to great success, I hope the same will be true for the book. Feedback on Bernie Bolts Bergen has been really good.

I promised another bit of cuteness. Yesterday was my granddaughters 1st birthday, her party was today, so a rare person picture on Rhumtetum’s blog.

Lots of purrs


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Nearly there, Bernie Bolts Bergen is almost ready – final proof readings are done, the cover has been designed and the promotional website, video etc are near completion. It has taken a little longer than planned – I am 7-10 days behind schedule – but the next few days should see it all coming together. Over the last few weeks/months  I have had a number of discussions about different parts of the book; Chapter 1 underwent numerous revisions and even last week was tweaked, yet again; in another early chapter I adopt a lighter humerous touch to represent the gap between Bernie’s show career and his decision to escape – a decision to retain or change the chapter had to be made, it stayed with some minor adjustments; and finally, the chapter in which the characters speak using Scots.

Gaunae no dae that

A number of blogs have argued against the use of dialect citing reasons such as; errors in spelling or presentation; it breaks pace for the reader; it may be condescending and patronizing;  it may present the speaker as an object of ridicule and represent the tongue used as inferior, ignorant or of a lower class.

First of all Scots is not a dialect, it is a language. It’s a variant of English, ‘a branch of the  same tree and with some effort and good will (both languages (sic)) are mutually intelligible and complementary to one another’ (Billy Kay). However, the questions/issues of translation, breaking pace and condescension remain and are compounded by my own schooling where we were actively discouraged from using Scots orally and in writing. ‘Please don’t do that’ rather than ‘Gaunae no dae that’ was a common cry from parents and primary school teachers. But, as Kay argues, Scots is part of our culture, landscape, people and history and represents a way of looking at the world that is unique to us and not easily translated. So when Bernie meets up with Hamish, a Scottish Fold, who refers to him as  ‘a big feartie’ in the book I feel it conveys a stronger more vivid picture than the literal translation of him being a ‘big coward’.

Scottish Fold

Yes, children will have to stop a little and think about what is being said but is that a bad thing?  Reading isn’t a passive activity, children should be engaged and new words, new ideas, thoughts and viewpoints  should all be part of that engagement. The aim of the chapter was to capture and present Bernie as being lost in his own country, in the hielands of Scotland.  The language used helps to enrich the chapter giving it a depth that would not have been possible if I had used a language which is ‘rootless and impersonal.’

I wanted the book to be about Bernie returning to Scotland and to convey some idea and feel of my own country. This small chapter I hope goes some way towards that end without causing offence, appearing to be condescending or patronising.  Ah ken that sum fowk ‘il no be happy but here’s hoping



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