18 MARCH 2013
Anyone who uses SOSYAL NETWURKIN will know Seumas Gallacher, the ex-Govan ‘weaver of the written weft’. As the winner of the Blogger of the year 2013 award, I couldn’t wait to have him on my Getting To Know feature so he could tell me how he does it.
NED : So, Seumas, how do you do it?
SG : If by ‘it’ you mean this whole mystifying bizness of writin’ an’ bloggin’ an’ stuff, it’s quite simple really, ..ye let yer mind go blank, which is pretty much my permanent state, anyway, don’t use any words with more than seventeen letters in them, force yerself to work 29 hours per day, forego ANY contact with other human beings, except p\raps a spouse, coz sumb’dy’s got to make the tea…then just change yer whole $%@*&%* life…easy innit?...
NED : Everyone knows you used to be a banker. Aside from having a new lease of life as a best-selling author, how good is it not to be in banking anymore? Do you feel saddened at all by the current state of your former industry?
SG : Having entered banking 50 years ago, I grew up with the ‘my word is my bond’ mentality. I have developed into ‘the customer from Hell’ for the banks that supposedly ‘serve’ me - I am truly appalled at the criminal negligence (I’m being kind here) that’s mangled the world’s economies for the past six years now…and banks have all become defensive… they seem intent to protect themselves rather than their customers’ interests, in large part… there are some exceptions, of course, but in the main, the entire industry has become nothing more than a huge pawn-broking cartel…..(one of these days I’m gonna say what I really think….)
NED : A serious subject for you, obviously. Your banking career took you to the Far East. How did you end up in Abu Dhabi?
SG : I was asked out of retirement nine years ago to join a team of great people re-vamping a major local bank…it was a wonderful period. I retired from that just over four years ago, and decided to stay in the country… I love it here, and run my own management advisory services firm, doing turnarounds, corporate re-alignment and re-engineering…
NED : All part of your 29 hour working day, I suppose. Are there many ex-pat Scots in Abu Dhabi? Do you celebrate Burns night? And how do you manage for the odd ‘wee dram or two’ in a Muslim country?
SG : There’s enough of us here to make a noise. Burns night IS celebrated here. I gave the Immortal Memory speech a few years ago to a full house. The odd dram or two is available, (although I personally gave it away 30 years ago, having done my quota) as the UAE is a tolerant society. Always remembering that expatriates are guests in the country also makes logical sense to me…
NED : Even before I studied your blog I meant to ask whether there was any literary scene in your part of the world. Clearly there is as you mentioned the Dubai Literary Festival. What can you tell us about it?
SG : The Dubai Literary Festival is in full swing as I write this …It’s now in its 5th year, and attracting a lot of interest. There are writers groups also in Abu Dhabi and Dubai…and of course, there’s always the web and the SOSYAL NETWURKIN scene….
NED : I know you’re a great Manchester United fan. How do you feel about living in the Etihad Towers?
SG : My best buddy here is a Manchester City fan, but he’s not at all biased,.. he doesn’t mind WHO beats Manchester United…
NED : You recently invented F.I.R.S.T. (Facebook International Rates Standard Tariffs) for the purpose of swapping likes and reviews etc. I have a substantial quantity of ‘remainders’ left over from my last book launch. What could I expect to get for them?
SG : I’d suggest piling them into a plastic bag and flogging them on eBay under ‘mystery treasures’ .You won’t get done on the first part of the description by the Trade Descriptions Act…but maybe a tad leery on the second word…?
NED : Hmm… Not quite what I was looking for – I think I’ll wait until my exchange rate improves. I loved your quote about Nye Bevan from Winston Churchill. Here’s one for you. Churchill was always dismissive of Clement Attlee whom he once described as ‘a sheep in sheep’s clothing’. My favourite is as follows. ‘An empty taxi drew up and Clement Attlee got out’. Any other gems you could let us have from WC?
SG : In his early parliamentary career, Churchill was having much the better of a lively debate across the floor with an opposite number, an older gentleman named Paling. In exasperation, Paling called out, “Churchill you’re nothing but a young pup!”… to which Winston immediately retorted, “Yes, and we know what young pups do to palings, don’t we…”
On another occasion, sat next to a society dame at dinner, she exclaimed, “Churchill, I like neither your politics nor your moustache!” His response was “You should rest easy ma’am, as you’re unlikely to come in contact with either…”
NED : And finally, do you have a message for Mabel? Or from Matron?
SG : I have a million messages per day for dear Mabel, but she seems intent in setting up some sort of Guinness Book of Records entry for completely ignoring me…as for Matron, I’m sure in Heaven, I’ll be the one wielding that bluudy syringe, and I’ll be none too gentle on where I plunge it…oops, she heard that,,.here she comes…gotta scarper, see yeez later…thanks for having me aboard, that man…
And my thanks to Seumas for taking the time to give us a brief insight into his busy life. You can read his award-winning blog at www.seumasgallacher.com and you can follow him on Twitter @seumasgallacher. Seumas has two great books available from Amazon, ‘The Violin Man’s Legacy’ and ‘Vengeance Wears Black’. I would encourage you to go and have a look at them. Rumour has it that he’s working on a third - SOYSAL NETWURKIN permitting of course!