Saturday, 19 March 2011

Talking of writing...

It’s that time of year again. The mists dissolve and the writers gather round the large room to hear words of support and wisdom from other more experienced writers.

Yup, it was Scottish Association of Writers’ Annual Conference time.

We call it the S.A.W. (We’re people too, you know. We use shorthand.) Except the hotel had signs at the door that read SAW. For the want of a series of full stops we assumed the appearance of a horror movie convention.

And that’s the power of the full-stop, my good people.

The speakers were excellent, the adjudicators worth their weight in the proverbial shiny material and the committee did their usual sterling job of making it all possible to bring these people together.

Jane Wenham- Jones was the special guest on Friday night and she was a hoot. She talked about a number of things that should be important to writers, including those old chestnuts of persistence and belief. She also talked about being searched at the airport on the way up from England and being worried that the searchers might find her lipstick-shaped vibrator in her hand luggage. Only her and the airport security people know whether this was a gag or not. Whichever it was, it had more than a few people chuckling.

Saturday’s speaker was Peter Kerr. The writer of several non-fiction books and several crime novels. He had a quiet charm and warmth about him that made him a very easy man to listen to. (Mind you he did take a while to get to the point.) His non-fiction books detail the years he took his young family to live in an orange farm on the island of Majorca.

One of my favourite anecdotes in his speech was when he recounted some of the adventures he and his family had while learning to speak the language. (You know us Brits. Few of can be arsed with the whole multi-lingual thing) It was a new year. His wife was in the local fishmonger’s – who unbeknown to her had just had his haemorrhoids dealt with. In her best Spanish she wished the fishmonger a Happy New Year. Except the Spanish word for “year” and “arsehole” are frighteningly similar, and she chose the wrong one.  Needless to say Mrs Kerr got an ear full of Catalan to go with her sardines.

Oh and during the course of the weekend I met up again with a little Irish lady – who I’ve known for a good few years and she told me her nephew is John Connolly (Every Dead Thing etc) Do you know him, she asked? Know him? I choked on my Glenmorangie over ice. He’s only one of my favourite authors. The next ten minutes passed in a pleasant fog/ day dream kinda thing where little Irish lady introduces me to JC and a bromance ensued. He’s now my new best bud, I’m riding his successful coat-tails and not the least bit embarrassed.

Then I ordered another whisky... and the mists claimed the halls  and everyone went home. 

Until next time.


  1. You capture it all so well , Michael, and what an extra pleasure for you in meeting JC. Roll on next year!

  2. I actually chatted with him years ago at a booksellers meet n greet in Glasgow. But he wouldnae know me from Adam now.

  3. What I want to know is: did you use the "J?" That may have made all the difference in his future rememberances.

  4. Linda, the "j" wasn't even thought of at that stage.

  5. Sounds like a perfect conference. I love JC too. That thrill should hold you til next year.

  6. Just to say I shall nick the Spanish fishmonger joke.

  7. Martie, it was lots of fun.

    Bill, help yourself.

  8. Mikey, just an aside regarding SAW: yesterday I was tutoring my little student and one of his word bank words was 'saw' and after reading the word he turned to me, very seriously, and said 'S A W - it's a bad bad movie, don't ever watch it. S A W.' and I said, yeah, don't ever watch it!

  9. Yeah and I won't ever watch it either. Not my cup of tea. When I was a teen (just a few short years ago) I loved a horror movie me. Now, not so much.

  10. a Scotsman drinking whiskey? Talk about being original :)))

  11. Dez it took a LOOOONG time before I got round to it. I think it's an age thing.