Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The weekend: what's yours for?

Don’t you just love weekends? Time to slow the pace a little, relax in the bath with an ebook? Caroline and I often end up having a row on Friday night, the accumulated tension of the working week boiling up into a tornado of misunderstanding. But by Saturday morning, everything’s fine again. We both have a large capacity for forgiveness, which is just as well after the scrapes Caroline got into when setting up a new office for her company in Germany.

It is a timely story, an insight into a behind the scenes world of politics and finance. I just had to collect the evidence and write it down. A small indiscretion with work colleagues in Spain had brought my wife to the attention of Melody Bigger, former chief executive of a medical instruments company and part-time Madame. Melody had an old score to settle with a banker, Von Wolfswinkle. She tricked Caroline into attending Wolfswinkle’s weekend sex parties, a private relaxation for hard working financiers and politicians.

It was quite an education for Caroline, but understandably she was reluctant to give me the details of her initiation into the Inner Circle. In the end I had to rescue her from a sex club in Copenhagen. I’m a lawyer, and it was satisfying to do some investigative work to uncover the honey trap plot. That Melody Bigger is, as the Americans say, ‘a piece of work’.

People ask, ‘How did you come up with the story?’ The plot was taken from life, and marriage gave me the character of Caroline. The book gives some insight of the pressures many face in trying to balance the competing demands of work and marriage. But if you can laugh while chaos threatens to derail your life, then you’ll probably enjoy Shameless Ambition

I don’t like the idea of being pigeon-holed into a genre or sub-genre. How many times do you read a ‘blurb’ after finishing a book and think, ‘no, that’s not the book I read?’ Perhaps I also wonder about the word ‘romantic’ in relation to the gritty world we experience and to which I try to be true. But romance is story, and it is all for love, even though sometimes we misread the signals. A genre label is a helpful signpost, giving the potential reader a shortcut or a health warning – ‘may contain sexy scenes.’

In the end, all that matters is good writing. Good writing makes good reading. There is something real, an underlying truth, in well written fantasy, however outrageous it may seem; and there’s nearly always something wonderful and fantastic in the real things that happen in our lives. That’s why we all have stories to tell, and why I spend my weekends writing.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Economy Drive

Caroline controls the household finances and makes sure I do nothing to damage our credit rating. She won't let me forget the time I incurred double bank charges to pay for her birthday present. But I always know when she's about to spend a load of money, because it's preceded by an announcement of an economy drive. After two weeks of forgoing my morning coffee on the way to work, Caroline tells me she's bought a new car or some Agent Provocateur underwear.

This time, it was a holiday. She'd read an article about SAD and said she didn't want to be sad so had booked a trip to the sunshine in Gran Canaria.
"It's only a week, it won't cost much. I really think you need a break from work."
It doesn't have to cost much but Caroline decided we should stay in a five star hotel popular with the Germans, so popular that it employs a number of German staff. Ever since her spell in Frankfurt opening up Monsaint's European hub she has been completely in love with everything Teutonic.
"You'll love it Robert, I promise. German women are so attractive. They really know how to look after themselves."

There was one small flaw in Caroline's calculations. In January, in Europe, in 2014, the only people who can afford the time and money for a five star hotel near the tropics are public sector pensioners and long retired doctors, dentists, and pharmacists from Germany. However well you look after yourself the bloom begins to fade when it's five minutes to midnight. The Germans are health conscious and the hotel had a doctor in residence with morning surgeries but there comes a point where daily sausage, beer and the five-cigarette breakfast show through even the best manicured exterior.

Now, in your imagination, factor in a small geographical detail. The said five-star hotel is next to a nudist beach extending two miles to the next resort along the coast. I am a big fan of the concept of nudism, even though the reality can be disappointing. Let me just say I am full of admiration for those ageing wrinklies who are at ease with being as nature intended; the view out over the Atlantic was beautiful. Only on Saturday, when the Spanish locals come down to the beach on their day off did the view on the sand improve.

Even Caroline found her admiration of Germans tested by the scramble for dinner. Pleading (and somewhat misleading) letters from the hotel management reassuring guests that there would still be something to eat at 8.30 pm did nothing to halt the 6.30 pm stampede for a good table, an indecently early hour to dine on Spanish territory. At breakfast I placed an order for an omelette (onion, tomato, ham and coriander) only to have it snatched from under my nose by a German in a hurry.
"Hey, that was mine! He stole my omelette!" The Spanish egg chef shrugged his shoulders and started my omelette again. I was happy to stand there another five minutes. You can't complain about breakfast outside in January.

We had to get out of the resort to see the real Gran Canaria and booked a couple of walks in the mountains. We've been on organised walks in Spain before, including a series of adventures with the rotund Pepe which ended in the drunken recital of Robert Graves' poems an hour and a half after the advertised finish time. But this walk was catering for Germans, complete with walking poles and a strict timetable.
"We stop for half an hour at the bar in Santa Lucia." After twenty minutes, we were reminded it was time to begin leaving. Ah, so this is what Spain would be like if it was run entirely by Germans. We did get an interesting tour round the southern resorts of the island as we dropped people off at their vast hotels. We didn't see anywhere better than where we were staying.

The economy drive was completed on the journey home with the purchase of a duty free diving watch (Caroline: "I want to know the time if the plane crashes into the sea"), diamond earrings, Obsession perfume, spirits (two litres of super-filtered Vodka), a box of Cuban cigars for a colleague who smokes, luxury chocolates, and two pairs of wrap-around sunglasses tested to destruction in a wind tunnel. We're going to start cycling the half mile to the station in the morning.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Shameless Exposure: The Review

Part of me expects to get beaten over the head when I reveal more of the recent experiences of my wife, Caroline. I know some things would be better left unsaid, but writing is a compulsive activity, and I can't ignore the material that's right there in front of my nose. Caroline hasn't read Shameless Exposure to the end yet, so I have no bruises. She did contribute a couple of chapters, but that's another story. Better still, the fab people at Readers' Favorite have produced a review which gives the author, me, great heart.

When Caroline does read it, I will direct her to this review before she starts throwing things.It demonstrates, I think, that at least one person in America understands me.

Book Review
Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite.

Robert Fanshaw takes readers on a fantastic voyage filled with interesting characters from all walks of life in Shameless Exposure. From the very first page we know this story is going to be unique. Starting with an ominous warning letter of a Bigger woman causing trouble to an accidental turn as a prostitute, Robert and Caroline prove to be quite the characters themselves. But the real trouble starts when Caroline agrees to model for a calendar to raise money for cancer research. It’s a great cause, so what’s the problem? The problem is Erik, the artist behind the calendar and Caroline’s world famous ex-lover. Then a million dollar case takes Robert off to Scotland where the oddities really pop up like a crocus in the snow.

In Scotland, Robert and then Caroline are unwitting pawns in a twisted mind game perpetuated by a woman who fancies herself as a prophet. As leader of her own cult, Regina is in the position to execute a revenge plan that threatens Robert and Caroline’s relationship. Robert Fanshaw does a good job painting these odd creatures from the nuances of their speech to the manipulative vagueness of Regina’s slow revelations. There is a lot to be learned from every character in the subtleties he presents in every word chosen that reveals so much about each character. The plot twists in Shameless Exposure were enough to keep me glued to the book until the very end. This story is written in a very ‘British’ style that is more cerebral than action-packed, but that just made the story more enjoyable and realistic. Both realistic and as fantastic as this could be.

Any further support, via the comments section below or reviews on Amazon would be much appreciated and may help prevent personal injury.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The A, B, C, Award

Darry Fraser told me it would as easy as ABC. Not in this household. Caroline read my first go at this and a few smashed plates later we decided to share it out. Caroline started with 'A', I did 'B' and so on... Please don't lose track, I wouldn't want you to think I wanted to be a Bond girl.

Here's what you do...
  1. Display the logo and link back to the person who gave you the award.
  2. Nominate some other blogs.
  3. Work through the alphabet writing one word or phrase about yourself or things you like or associate with yourself that begin, A... B... C... All 26 of them.
Caroline, you go first...

A: Attractive, of course.
B: Bone idle - well, according to Caroline I am.
C: Curvaceous. But only I can say this; when Robert says 'curvaceous' it means 'fat'. Oh, and The Catch , Robert's latest story.
D: Dad. He taught me everything I know about being an idler.
E: Electricity. I love the way it makes the lights come on.
F: Food. Has to be. Anything cooked by someone else.
G: Gorgeous, of course. 
H: Heidi Klum. No, I'm not being shallow, Caroline. Her personality shines through the gold lame dress.
I: Ian Flemming. I enjoy James Bond films. I would have loved to be a Bond girl for the swimsuits but not for the nearly getting killed bits.
J: Jelly. Preferably in a trifle.
K: Katherine Heigl. Why? If she had red hair she would look quite like me.
L: Love. It's all you need Caroline, isn't it? Along with a nice house, a car, two incomes...
M: Melody Bigger. She showed me the ropes. For an explanation see Shameless Ambition
N: No, no, no! My reaction when Caroline said she wanted to pose naked for an ex. She did it anyway.
O: Orgasm. I can't get the thought out of my mind after reading about the proselytes in Shameless Exposure
P: Peas. Nice with steak and chips.
Q: Quantum Physics. I love intelligent men.
R: Random acts of kindness.
S: Steam eReads of Australia. They publish Robert's books and when he's happy he doesn't bother me all the time.
T: Trains. They take you places, and you can eat sandwiches and drink coffee without stopping.
U: Underwear by Agent Provocateur. I like expensive.
V: Von Wolfswinkle. What a banker! For details see Shameless Ambition
W: A win/win situation, aka our marriage (I win whatever).
X: Has to be Xena Bardot. She was Miss August in Shameless Exposure Blonde, big t***. Not as attractive as C, of course...
Y: Yacht. I've told Robert I want one.
Z: A zero sum game, aka our marriage (for every winner, a loser).

So now it is my pleasure to bestow the ABC Award to:

  1. Isabella Brooke The Arkthwaite stories.
  2. Annie Oakfield  It's a bucket list, a rude one.
  3. Liz Hurst  A girl and her cat write. Yes they do.
  4. Erica Hayes  Urban Fantasy. 
  5. Julie Houston  A funny, feelgood writer. 
Thanks again to Darry Fraser who nominated me.

Who are these people?

The world is divided into voyeurs and exhibitionists... It takes one of each to make a good marriage.

Robert and Caroline Fanshaw are an ambitious young couple trying to make their way in a complex world.

What happens when their private affairs collide with world events and the big issues of our times? Drama, comedy and x-rated scenes.