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I've Been Tagged for a Very British Blog...

I’ve Been Tagged for a Very British Blog…

I've been tagged by fellow Very British writer Terry Tyler and invited to answer some Very British questions! I believe it all started with Very British novelist Clive Eaton’s post here

To quote Clive: 

"By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions, and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it. For example...

Gentlemen will wear suits, white shirts and dark ties. (Military ties are expected wherever possible). Ladies will wear dresses (one inch above the knee, no higher, no lower) and floral summer hats. A break for TEA and cucumber sandwiches is expected at some stage and is permissible. The list at the bottom of the page is not a queue. It is an invitation and you are expected to accept that invitation and support the home-grown product. Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?

Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten is - stuffy, class conscious, boring, staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it."

 Anyhow, without further ado, here are my answers:


Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?

 A. I was born in Middlesex Hospital, London and a few days later taken home to Beckenham, Kent, where I lived and grew up. I now live in Indonesia.


Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?

A. I left the UK in April 1983 for Singapore and lived (and worked) there for 13 years. I then moved to Bali, Indonesia in January 1997 and have lived here ever since.


Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

A. I like parts of Yorkshire, Devon, Cornwall and Wales (I recently discovered Tenby – what a pretty place!), and I also like the Sussex coast. But my favourite part is rural Kent. Hang on - wait a second - I nearly forgot I LOVE London!


Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?

A. I haven’t. My debut novel is mainly set in Vienna, Austria, New York and Washington DC with a brief excursion to an island off Bali.


Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish - about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?

A. My older sister, older brother and I were brought up to be pretty ‘stiff upper lip’ I’d say… but that’s not the same as having a cold, un-loving or miserable family life. Our parents wanted us to be happy and there was no shortage of laughter and silliness in our house, but we tended not to show other emotions in public. We definitely projected ‘I’m good and I’m happy’ even if, at times, we weren’t! I remember visiting the cabinet-making factory where my dad and his twin brother worked when I was a young child, and my uncle took my teddy bear and pretended to throw it in the massive paint trough. Of course he didn’t really, but I thought he had. I remember I didn’t cry or make a fuss, just jutted out my chin and gripped my Dad’s hand - but I was very happy when he gave me my teddy bear back before we left, I can tell you.

I don’t think the ‘stiff upper lip’ is an illusion or a myth. The British were renowned for being independent, self-sufficient and hardy. But now these admirable traits are fast disappearing. I don’t think it’s just a British problem, though. I think people living in developed countries all round the globe are deliberately being ‘dumbed down’ and encouraged to be dependent to keep them easier to manage. But then… if anyone has read my book… they’ll know that I just love a conspiracy story!


Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?

A. There are only two British female characters in my novel. Rebecca, although soft and sweet, does carry the ‘stiff upper lip’ and she is a very tough and determined woman beneath her pliant exterior. The second, Rachael, grows up in a very different world, but underneath she is also self-sufficient and independent. The only British male character is a little different. Although he has the British sense of humour and a great love of ‘taking the mickey’ out of people, he grew up as an expatriate child and, as a result, developed a more flamboyant character.


Q. Tell us about one of your recent books

A. The Zul Enigma, my debut novel, is set in 2068 and looks back at a cataclysmic event that occurs in December 2012. Zul is behind it but who… or what… is Zul: a human with a hidden agenda… or a being of higher consciousness? The book is packed with alien visitations, communications mysteries, political intrigue, secret organisations, romance, suicide, murder and betrayal, and is underpinned by the granddaddy of conspiracy stories that has prompted more than a few people to wonder if something similar could happen in real life.


Q. What are you currently working on?

A. Ah ha! I’m afraid that’s a secret for the time being.


Q. How do you spend your leisure time?

A. I LOVE to read and I even listen to books when I’m driving. I also like to play tennis, do Pilates, have friends over, go to friends, go for drinks at our local beach bar and every now and then try out a new restaurant or visit an old favourite. My husband, daughter and I also like the cinema and watching DVDs at home. And, of course, we love to travel.


Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

A. As I’ve lived over half my life overseas, I write for a global audience. The England that I grew up and lived in is a very different place now and when I visit there are times when I hardly recognise it any more.


Q. Can you provide links to your work?

A. I would be honoured to! And here they are:

The Zul Enigma Amazon UK

The Zul Enigma Amazon US

The Zul Enigma Website

The Zul Enigma Facebook Page

J M Leitch Facebook Page

Twitter @ JMLeitch

J M Leitch at the Red Room (where you can also find my blog posts)