Family life


This is how we roll in our family on Boxing Day.

One of us hosts, we eat a lot of bubble & squeak and cheese & biscuits, washed down with copious amounts of beer and red wine, and then we play a general knowledge game.

This year we decided to go traditional and play the board game, Articulate. For those of you not in the know, Articulate is played in teams and you have to describe the things given on the playing cards to your teammate(s) before the timer runs out.

Now I wouldn’t say I’m competitive. I mean, okay, sure, I have a compulsive obsessive need to be the best at everything and I don’t like having losers on my team, but that’s normal, right? So I was not best pleased when we flipped coins for partners and I got saddled with Mum.

Let me explain why.

This is me trying to describe Albert Einstein to her.

Me: He is a Nobel Prize winning scientist.

Mum: I don’t know any scientists.

Me: He is the most famous scientist ever. You will know this guy.

Mum: (Looks blank).

Me: Okay, the last part of his surname is the same as the famous monster in the Mary Shelley book.

Mum: Who is Mary Shelley?

Me: (Head in hands) She wrote a book about a famous monster villain. Think, who are the two most famous movie villains? There is Dracula and?

Mum: Frankenstein.

Me: Yes, so what is the last part of his name?

Mum: Frankenstein.

Me: No, the last part.

Mum: Stein.

Me: Yes, now who is the famous scientist?

Mum: Albert Stein?

Me: (Shaking head in disbelief) There’s another bit to his name, in front of Stein.

Mum: I don’t know.

Me:  You do know.

Brother: How do you say the number ‘one’ in German?

Mum: Uno?

This went on for quite some time and eventually we just had to tell her, Albert Einstein, to which she replied.

‘Oh, him. Yes, I’ve heard of him.’

Second place shout out to my sister for her doofus answer when my brother described Ecuador.

Brother: It’s a smallish country in South America, beginning with the letter E.

Sister: Ethiopia.



Interview with Paul Beaumont, author of A Brief Eternity


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I have been very fortunate to connect with a fantastic and supportive group of authors over the past year and my plan is to introduce them to you in a series of weekly interviews.

First up is Paul Beaumont, whose thought provoking and extremely funny first novel, A Brief Eternity, was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize.

Take it away, Paul.

Can you tell us about yourself in 100 words? No more and no less.

To my general astonishment I find myself in my mid-fifties and enjoying my first proper adolescence. My teenage one was hijacked by God, who made me become a Christian but who, like Bad Santa, failed to deliver His Presence. I am a slow learner and it took me 25 years to leave my Imaginary Friend. At about the same time my wife left me, I lost my job and I had to sell the family home. What else could I do but become a writer?! In real life I work in the renewable energy sector, saving the planet. Go me!

Why did you decide to become a writer?

To impress my wife. We were going through a rocky time in our marriage and everyone knows that women cannot resist a writer, right? Well, that turns out not to be the case, as it happens, but once I had started writing I enjoyed the story so much I had to keep going. In the end, I created a book that a publisher was delighted to publish, but I’m now a bachelor, so I guess I won the battle and lost the war, in some sense at least.

Tell us about your book.

The Old and New Testaments are simply crying out for the sequel to make the trilogy complete, aren’t they? In spite of the fact that they have sold pretty well, God doesn’t seem interested in doing the job, so I’ve stepped in with my debut novel, A Brief Eternity. The book begins with the Rapture and the Second Coming, as you might have predicted if you know your Bible. Our hero, Jerry, is amazed to find that Heaven is real, and mortified to discover the same is true of Hell. Jerry’s life in Paradise has its good moments, but slides inexorably towards misery when he realises his girlfriend, Rachael, has been sentenced to an eternity in the Underworld. He makes it his mission to rescue her, a feat that will merely involve out-witting an omniscient, omnipotent God and all his angels. The story is, I hope, both thought-provoking and entertaining; it’s certainly a lot funnier than anything God ever wrote and has already received some great reviews.

If you could find out the answer to one of life’s mysteries, which one would you choose?

What triggered the Big Bang and how did the first self-replicating molecules self-replicate? (Strictly speaking that’s two questions, but I’ll get away with it because I’ve only used one question mark!)

Tell us about the authors who inspire you?

Philip Pullman, Christopher Hitchens, AC Grayling, Markus Zusak, Garrison Keillor, Ben Elton, Voltaire, Jean-Paul Sartre. Basically, anyone whose writing is either clever or funny, and preferably both.

How did it feel when you first saw your book published?


What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

Well, being short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize was pretty cool; and receiving the e-mail saying “Yes” from my publisher was very exciting; but nothing beats the book launch party for A Brief Eternity. Fifty lovely, interesting, kind people came and made it the best book launch party I have ever been to. OK, so it was my first book launch party, but it was still the best!

What words of advice would you give to any budding writers out there?

Write something good, then find a publisher who is sympathetic to the genre. If no-one will publish it for you, publish it yourself. Don’t give up.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

Distraction activity. Read what I wrote yesterday. Fiddle with it. Distraction activity. Start writing new stuff. Distraction activity. Have lunch. Review new stuff; consider it rubbish and delete. Un-delete. Distraction activity. Decide new stuff is OK and write some more. Write something really funny and celebrate with well-earned distraction activity. Review new new stuff and realise it’s not so funny after all. Delete. Distraction activity. Un-delete. Have dinner. Decide new new stuff has potential after all and develop it. Get in groove and write undistracted for an hour or less. Distraction activity. Wrestle with new new stuff in order to avoid the guilt of an entirely wasted day. Eventually produce new new new stuff, some of which is OK. Pour glass of wine as it is now the early hours of the morning. Read through the day’s output. Resist temptation to Delete All; it’ll look better in the morning. Sleep.

What would you do in life if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Be a stand-up comedian

Share one quote, or saying, that keeps you going in life.

Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end (Woody Allen)

What would be the perfect day for you?

Seeing my kids; playing tennis; reading something clever and funny; writing something clever and funny; watching a play; having a dinner party with clever and interesting guests.

And the cliché question, four guests at your dinner party (dead or alive), who do you choose?

Brian Cox (the physicist); AC Grayling; Tim Minchin; Woody Allen


To find out more about Paul, please see the links below.



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