Friday, August 18, 2017

To Ben Cleuch and beyond....

This week I have been out and about driving across the country to a place called Tillicoultry, deep in the shadows of Ben Cleuch. It turned out to be one of those beautiful events, it was as if the entire village had turned out to see me.  I don't think a lot goes on In Tillicoultry. The Sava centre shut at 6pm and my event was on at  7.

There were people standing at the back and sitting on the stairs, and there was that most marvellous of sights; a big pile of books turning into a small pile of books as people bought them. It was also pleasing to see a few teenagers there, who also went on to buy books. In Scotland, school leavers had just found out the previous week how they got on in their big exams and if they were going on into the University of their choice. One girl said she was going on to do chemical engineering. 'Oh,' I said, 'Are you going to work on weapons of mass destruction.'  'Yes,' she replied, smiling sweetly.
I had elected to be interviewed by Ian Keane, who was a very charming young man with his best tie on and what I later found out was a newly rumped hair do. I judged from the conversation that his parents were in the audience and he knew the young attractive female bookseller well enough to give her a bit of the banter. To non Scots this sounds like swapping very rude insults, but it's basically being 'pals with insults' which is not the same as 'friends with benefits'. 

We had an initial chit chat about books, life the universe and somebody in the audience pointed out that Ian had been challenged to write a Mills and Boons book - big mistake, i think he realized as I turned in my seat and said..Oh really.

It was probably a drunken bet over a late night curry but of course I knew now. So I asked him how many words he had, 10,000 but that's a detailed synopsis he said - he's not started the book yet. I told him the average Mills and Boon reader might not be able to cope with that much plot. He said the book was about a shepherdess, I asked if the shepherdess had a faithful border Collie - oh shit he said, I'd better put one in. It would seem unromantic to have the shepherdess tootilling around in a quad bike.
                                           an ochil

                                                                  two yokels

I could now see the hatred in his eyes, I have that effect  on most men.  I asked him what the title of the novel was and he responded - twilight in the Ochils. The locals in the audience heard twilight in the ochils, we far flung Glaswegians of which there was many in the audience, burst out laughing as we heard - toilet in the yokels. So once we got that sorted out, he explained it was twilight because it was a bit like the twilight series on the tv, and the Ochils were the range of hills that go across Scotland around Stirling and Perth. Those of you who have been to Bloody Scotland have probably perched on an Ochil. 

                                                  some american yokels

Crap title, I said with my usual subtlety  and then explained in a helpful way while being totally insulting, about the Brataslava effect and how you would only know what an Ochil was if you were local. I then went on with the help of the audience to expand his novel for him. As it was a Mills and Boon we should incorporate a Colin Firth type in a wet shepherd's outfit lying face down in a babbling burn ( small river !) and the shepherdess can come along and save him, although at this point the novel deviated towards the horror genre when I suggested it might be nice if Mr Firth was dead and his back covered in the hoofprints of the feral goats that are known to roam the moors. 

I don't think he thought much of my suggestion, but the audience were keen to see the film and kept adding ideas for product placement, the  casting couch and it it have enough legs to be the next Game Of Thrones.  The Feral Goats Of Ochil  doesn't have the same ring...
                                                          A toilet
Afterwards, he was saying that he's actually a huge sci fi fan and I said that a good story is a good story and can be set anywhere - in any genre, in any time or place. A faraway look came into his eye and he said he has a recurring sentence that comes into his mind, and the sentence was 'the shadow of the dark son...'.
                                            some feral goats...

That's not a sentence from the novel you numpty I said, that sounds more like the title of the book!

 I considered my work done. I had signed books, made people laugh and I had totally confused someone who spoke like he might be a really good writer and could be my opposition in a couple of years time.  I don't need the competition.

nice ochils!
Time to go home and eat chocolate

Caro Ramsay  18 08 2017


  1. How do you come up with this stuff? You are amazing, Caro, feral goats, local yokels, friends with benefits (excluding the above, hopefully), of God's Green Perth.

    1. I come up with this as I am gifted with the ability to confuse and baffle before skidaddling. Don't ask.

  2. I was extremely glad that you included the photo of the toilet, because I wasn't sure that what you were talking about was the same as what I thought you were talking about, as you know how the Scots do love to butcher anything remotely 'English'. At first, I though maybe you were talking about miniature toys, but couldn't figure out how those fit into a story about Irish shivers (O'Chills). I was becoming QUITE confused ('Confussi' is the 51st US state, the one in which I normally reside).

    Thankfully, the photos straightened me right out. Not that I'm against gay rights, or anything, don't get confused...

    1. The original caption under the toilet picture was 'American toilet'. Ben cleuch is gealic for toilet. Well it's not but with Mr trump I guess you guys have to believe in something!

  3. That's very odd, as "American toilet," in today's political climate, is redundant. In fact, with Trump on top of our government, we're feeling like "U.S." stands for Under Shit.