Boomer on Books: The Interview

Today I did a live (yes, that’s LIVE) interview with Vincent Stevenson – a speaker/trainer on overcoming the fear of public speaking. He is also the author of the self-help book, The Fear Doctor.

We talked about reading, writing, and goats among other things. I burbled away for England while pulling an amazing array of weird faces. The vid is worth watching just for that.

Don’t forget to check out other interviews on Vince’s YouTube channel. And if there are any authors out there: he’d love to hear from you. @vincestev @boomersonbooks

Liebster Award

Thank you Ingrid, experimentsinfiction.com for nominating me. Please click on the link and check out Ingrid’s page for some fantastic fiction and poetry.

RULES
Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
Answer the 11 questions given to you.
Share 11 facts about yourself.
Nominate 5-11 other bloggers.
Ask your nominees 11 questions of your choice.
Notify your nominees once you have uploaded your post.

MY ANSWERS TO INGRID’S 11 QUESTIONS:
Have you or do you ever want to write a book?
A big fat, yes. I published my first book Sunday Girl last year and am currently wrestling with the final edits of my second.

How long have you been blogging and what is your favourite subject to write about?
I started my blog last year, but I didn’t post regularly. All very hit and miss, with a few book reviews and some articles about life in Bulgaria. This all changed in April with the Discover Prompts Challenge. Trying to write a post every day has made me a more disciplined and self-confident writer.

If you could move to a different town, state or country… where would you be?
I was born and raised in Bristol but spent most of my adult life living in Plymouth. My husband and I always talked about buying some land and living self-sufficiently. There was no way we could afford to do this in the UK, and after research, we settled on Bulgaria. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

What is your favourite quality about yourself?
Torn between practical and tenacious because I like finding solutions, but I hate giving up on something.

Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert or even both?
Introvert. I get all shy and tongue-tied when I meet new people. My extrovert side only comes out when I am in the company of family or friends.

What is THE JOB of your dreams?
To be a full-time (and paid!) writer.

Other than blogging/writing, what is the one favourite thing you LOVE to do?
If wet, cooking and baking, and in good weather long walks in the country.

Where is one of the first places you plan on going after quarantine is over?
A trip to Varna, for a dip in the Black Sea.

Speaking of Covid-19, is there anything that you learned about yourself or will be changing about yourself when ‘life moves on?’
I am a homebody, happy as a pig in poo pottering around our smallholding. But I do miss dropping in on our friends and neighbours or having them drop in on us. When ‘life moves on’, I will make more of an effort to be sociable rather than a-social!

Is there anything as far as food that you will absolutely NOT eat?
I live in rural Bulgaria, where nose-to-tail eating is de rigueur. This is a waste-not want-not culture. But I draw the line at semolina pudding, melon and anything with fish.

Do you own a website for your writing?
No website, but you can find me here on WordPress, Twitter, Amazon, Goodreads and Pinterest.

11 FACTS ABOUT ME:
1.  I have eaten goat’s testicles, raw pig fat, and soup with chicken heads floating in it.
2.  My favourite food is curry.
3.  I used to have a massive phobia about worms, but after hypnotherapy, I just mildly detest them.
4.  My favourite animals are orangutans, hippopotamuses, and walruses.
5.  I have belly danced at weddings, on a football (soccer) pitch, and in a public library.
6.  My favourite form of exercise and relaxation is yoga.
7.  I am left-handed.
8.  My feet are a UK size 8, but I am only 5 feet 3 inches tall. I don’t fall over much.
9.  If I’d been born a boy, my parents were going to call me Andrew or Stuart.
10.  My first pet was a hamster called Misty.
11.  I now have two dogs – Fenster and McManus – named after two characters in the film The Usual Suspects.

MY NOMINEES ARE:
Gottfried, Banter Republic
kinge, kevinkinge.com
jamesmwlewis, Struggling Dad
Megha, wanderlust
Confessions of A Married Mom
The Ponderer

Please answer the questions above – just replace my answers with your own!

Discover Prompts: Distance

We celebrated Easter a week after the Western world. Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodox and follows the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian one. You will have to wait until 2025 for the dates to synchronise.

Easter is bigger than Christmas here, and on Easter Sunday families gather to enjoy a festive feast. This includes gallons of Rakia (surprise!) with salad, followed by plates of lamb, rabbit, turkey, rice and potatoes. For pudding, there is kozunak (козунак) a sweet bread, rich in eggs, milk and butter and often stuffed with chocolate and walnuts. This is unbelievably scrummy.

Before the meal, there is a traditional egg-breaking competition. The eggs are prepared by boiling a week’s worth of chicken eggs. When they are cool, artistic types paint pleasing designs on them in wax. Me, I just dot leaves all over the eggs, securing them with scraps of old tights (panty-hose).

The first egg is always dyed red and placed with the home icon until next Easter. If the previous year’s egg is dry, this means the year will be a prosperous one. No prizes for guessing what a rotten egg has in store.

Our friends told us the egg fight is called чукане с яйца (chukane s yaĭtsa). I hope this is a game of wind up the English. When we googled the phrase, the translation wasn’t a harmless “playing” or “messing” with eggs, but a word best not used in polite company. Clue: It rhymes with clucking.

The game begins when everyone grabs an egg; our village starts with the pointy end first. Cue the cries of “give me head!” They say it in Bulgarian, but I still giggle like the child I am. And yes, I laugh when the eggs need turning over and someone says “show me your bottom!”

People take it in turns trying to break their opponent’s eggs. Mind your knuckles here, being walloped with a hard-boiled egg hurts. The person with the last unbroken egg (and fingers!) is the winner and assured health, wealth, and good luck.

Last year we celebrated with our neighbours, but this year we were on our own. Our houses are only 100 yards apart, but in these times, it feels like 100 miles.

Discover Prompts: Dish or The Last Supper

Three days before lockdown, we received an invitation to supper. At six in the evening. The party started at eight. This is not an unusual occurrence because Bulgarians live to socialise and grab any excuse to enjoy a massive meal with friends and family.

At ten to eight, Mr & Mrs Neighbour collected us, and off we toddled. As is the Bulgarian custom, we bought along a small gift. Only to be outdone by the neighbours. They had a dish of mushroom risotto and a saucepan full of kofte, rabbit, sausage, and pork chops. We had a box of chocolates.

We arrived to find our host, Plamen, in fine spirits, singing along to Tom Jones on a karaoke machine in his summer kitchen. Now, we were afraid, because that meant Yancho was here. This is a man who knows how to party. With mounting trepidation, we followed Plamen into the house.

For once, we didn’t have to remove our shoes. This is unheard of in Bulgaria. But when we saw the floor, or lack of it, we understood. Plamen had ripped up the old floors and planned to lay laminate in the next few days. This may have been the reason for the impromptu bun-fight.

We joined the six people already sitting at the table, and Plamen set plates of salad before us, along with platters of chopped salami and liver. He encouraged us to eat the liver while it was still hot because it isn’t so nice cold.

(Note: a Bulgarian’s idea of hot is somewhere to the left of tepid).

We duly ate some liver (tasty and tender) and started slowly on the salad to prevent our plates from being refilled. Ditto for our glasses.

Even though the rakia was a ten-year-old oak-aged liquid nectar, one shot is enough, no matter how good it is. Yancho produced a bottle of what he claimed was homemade wine. I have never had a drink that can make my eyes bleed before. Didn’t make me cough, because it caused temporary paralysis. When I could move again, I discovered my rakia glass was full to the brim.

Halfway through the second course, the aforementioned risotto, two ladies arrived. We all bunched up to make room. One lady tucked into her salad with relish, but the other just stabbed at her plate with a fork and chain-smoked. No worrying about smoking between courses for her, she smoked between mouthfuls.

It was at this point my dining companion asked if I needed the toilet. Cue all the females in the room, grabbing torches and exiting. I thought we would walk around the house to the outdoor loo. Silly me.

We traipsed into a field where one of the party promptly fell over. I hoisted her to her feet, and we both fell down. When the other women stopped laughing, they came to our assistance. Then we all found a spot and had a mass squat. God smiles on drunks and fools because I managed not to wee all over my feet or fall in the puddle I just made.

Back in the house, Plamen handed me a plate loaded with mashed potato and more meat than I eat in a week. I foolishly thought this was to be shared between two or three. No, this was all for me. I loosened my belt and dug in with a groan and galloping indigestion.

I was saved from a Mr Creosote moment when the dancing and singing started. Shoving my still overflowing plate aside, I joined in with a glorious mix of east and west. We danced traditional право хоро (line or straight dances) and sang along with more Tom Jones and a lot of Frank Sinatra.

By now, it was midnight, and time for pudding, which involved three kinds of cake and ice-cream. After this, we said our thanks to Plamen and waddled off into the night. Only for Yancho to catch us up and insist we go back to his place for a nightcap. And like idiots, we went. All of us.

More rakia appeared, and Yancho offered to make banitsa, “it only takes an hour”. Mrs Neighbour convinced him not to. So he made mish-mash instead.

The second party ended at three in the morning.

I miss these evenings.

Discover prompts: Joke


Joke (noun) A humorous anecdote or remark intended to provoke laughter.

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Last year, I went on a day trip to Varna with the ladies from the village for a dip in the Black Sea.

A friend loaned me a bikini two sizes too small for me, and it was not a pretty sight. But the most embarrassing moment was me mangling the language.

I wore my ill-fitting bikini under my dress. But before whipping off my frock, I had a little furkel up my kilt to make sure everything was tucked in.

My friend asked what I was doing. I wanted to say – I was making sure my lady beard was under wraps.

But not knowing the phrase for pubic hair, I tried to use the word for hair, коса (kosa).

Only I didn’t – I said коза (koza).

This is the word for goat.

Which is an odd thing to call your front bottom in any language, but explains why everyone in earshot fell about laughing.