Life is Tough

I haven’t written on this blog for awhile. There has been a good reason. I was using a pen name and l thought I had hired a company to develop the virtual presence of that name. Now, less than a month before the London Book Fair and the official launch of the first in the Kate Allen thriller franchise, The Black Sea, I have been forced to revert to using my own name. Although, I hired these hucksters in August, to date there is little more than a handle full of Twitter followers by which they are trying to justify their exorbitant fees – which I eventually refused to pay – since they were not coming up with the “goods”. They claimed that they were handicapped by my not being in the country enough or when I was, I was sick and they basically took the money and ran and provided little if anything of what they had been hired to do. My absences were the very reason I went to them for help in the first place and were a determinant of giving them that work.

So they screwed me. So what? Life is tough. People will always be there to knock you, try to obstruct you, criticize you, block you or down right thwart your every move. These people can and often are your own friends and family. But for those who believe that eventually everything that goes up must fall I would point out that these people usually never amount to much. Karma or the courts will eventually kick them in the ass.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

So I and a quite a few others have been in crisis management mode getting things back to good. Everybody is working their asses off and despite these bad people lurking out their at every corner you must simply pick yourself up, brush yourself off – keep calm and carry on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BAZAAR BEVERLY HILLS

this restaurant is simple amazing. fabulous. without doubt one of the most interesting i have ever been in. food is not as good as New Castle Terrace, in Edinburgh, but this is like a sophisticated Disney Land with food. it is nothing less than exceptional.

465 La Cienega, Los Anegeles, Beverly Hills. DO NOT MISS IT IF YOU ARE IN LA. Jose Andres is magificent: do this in SPAIN for god’s sake.

definitely at the top of the Viscount’s List.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Los Angeles

Good evening from Los Angeles. Recommendation from the Viscount’;s Table, always insist on Ace of Spades champagne. It doesn’t get any better than this – all three, but especially . Two bottles by the roof top pool at the SLS in Beverly Hills is highly recommended for good living.

P

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“We’re Talking About Money Money.”

Slot Machine by Corpse Reviver

Slot Machine by Corpse Reviver

August 23rd, 1978.  The Brown family were shocked, each for their own reasons.  Mrs. Brown sat silently next to her husband.  The older children’s eyes spun wildly like  $1,000,000 slot machines.  The two younger ones weren’t quite sure of anything.  Why him?  Why now?  What rationale?

*****

In July 1978 the Browns were to travel to Europe, but while they made their plans, the mumps had made their plans too and had settled into the neck glands of Trevor, my charge. Mumps were a problem.  While women and children survived the disease well, in adult males it could lead to sterility or death. Mr. Brown tried to keep Trevor’s hopes up but eventually the doctor ruled out travel.

His older sister, Lilith, who was in the throes of a young romance insisted on staying with Trevor.  In a house with twenty-two bedrooms and twenty servants Trevor didn’t need or want Lilith to look after him.  He, like the rest of the staff, could barely tolerate her.  We used to call her the Anti-Christ.  It may even have been me who started it.  I was Trevor’s driver and bodyguard.  I cared for Trevor – more than his own parents.  Like Trevor, I was never fond of his siblings.  The older boys had grown up during a period when Mr. Brown’s vast industrial fortune was still growing, so they were lean years for the older children.  By the time Lilith and Trevor came along their lifestyle was extremely opulent.  The older children despised the younger ones for the privileges that their father’s wealth provided them in their childhoods.

The Family Home

The Family Home

Mr. Brown pressed ahead with the trip for him and his wife.  Childhood illness would not be permitted to interfere.  Although the others were in the dark, Trevor and I were the only ones to know the real reason that Mr. Brown was so adamant they continue – it would be the couple’s last trip together.  Unknown to his wife or the other children Mr. Brown had spoken to Trevor a few weeks earlier out by the larger pool.  He simply sat down and announced:  “Trevor, your mother and I are getting a divorce.  Who do you want to live with?”  Trevor was dumbfounded, but his reaction was immediate.  He would stay with his father.  On July 4th, 1978 Mr. and Mrs. Brown left for Europe on their Canadair private jet.

Lilith and Trevor stayed at home and, as anticipated, she was rarely seen or heard from.  I was one of the few staff members who had had the mumps so I stayed with Trevor night and day as he ran a high fever and his neck glands became rock solid.  Though there was little Trevor could do, he did look forward to a daily call with his father, with whom he shared a dry, sardonic sense of humor.  Nobody offered an explanation for Lilith’s constant absences, but her escapades were known: Mr. Brown had eyes everywhere.

About two weeks later Mr. Brown called from Paris; it was a memorable call for two reasons.  First, it was Lilith’s birthday, and despite a large party planned for her by the staff, she neither attended nor thanked them.  The second reason was that the phone call triggered a domino-like reaction, which took four weeks for the final domino to fall.

Mr. Brown had not been feeling well and was diagnosed with the mumps in Paris – one side of his face had swollen and turned hard almost in an identical fashion to Trevor’s, so it seemed a logical diagnosis.  Trevor meanwhile had recovered and was the only Brown on the estate.  He was spending most of his time with the horses at the far end of the grounds, playing tennis with me, or swimming in one of the two pools. .  And now, with that call, he was awaiting the imminent return of his parents

The next night the parents’ call came from London.  The following night it came from New York.  Then the house manager contacted all the children and asked them, in no uncertain terms, to be present for the Browns’ return the next day.  The family was rarely together in one room.  Several times I had to tell Trevor who his elder half brother was when he attended the estate.  In fairness he had only seen him five or six times in his life.  That is how unusual such a family gathering was.  Something big was about to happen.

The next day all the children were settled in the drawing room in an unnatural manner that avoided conversation and eye contact.  A lot of families are dysfunctional, but in my experience wealth amplifies dysfunction exponentially.  There was no love lost between any of them.  The only sound in the room was the clank of tea spoons, a sip of a drink and the crunch of the odd biscuit.

Mercedes 600 by Benutzer-Vic Dorn

Mercedes 600 by Benutzer-Vic Dorn

Finally the Mercedes 600 limousine pulled up out in front of the pillars of the Georgian mansion.  All the staff were outside on the front steps waiting to greet the Browns.  Once in the house, pleasantries were exchanged at a distance with the children: no kisses, no embraces.  There was a dangerous but unspoken discord in the air – as though the smallest of sparks would have set off the largest of explosions.

Mr Brown ordered a Dubonnet on the rocks with a twist, and his wife a Crown Royal whiskey.  There was silence while the house manager saw to the drinks.  Mr. and Mrs. Brown left momentarily to freshen up.  I was standing, as I usually did, a meter or two behind Trevor – the staff hadn’t been asked to leave.  The room was writhing with melancholic energy and the strange artificiality of the situation.  When returning from other trips Mr. and Mrs. Brown would be greeted and retire to their apartment in the mansion.

This was uncomfortable.  Lilith rather cruelly suggested the meeting was to announce their mother’s pregnancy.  The eldest, Roy, looked Lilith dead in the eye and replied that perhaps the family was broke.  Sinisterly he continued that perhaps her father knew about her underage “fuckfest,” and she would be written out of the will like their other brother Jeff had been for a similar offence.  Roy had managed two shots across the bows of two siblings with one attack.  Trevor, no doubt, thought it was the news of the divorce.

Back Gardens photo by PvH

Back Gardens photo by PvH

Mr. and Mrs. Brown returned.  They took their drinks from a Tiffany tray, and had a sip.  The father stood, the mother sat.  Mr. Brown began: “you all know we have returned because of a medical problem.  When we informed the staff of this, we thought it was the mumps.  Doctors in London, however, were not convinced.  They sent us to New York where I underwent further testing.  Unfortunately, the hard swelling in the neck had moved down to the collarbone and they biopsied it.  It is cancerous.  I have been told I have four weeks.”

Mr. Brown died on September 24, 1978 one of the richest and poorest men in the world.  In his wake he left many questions about love and money and family.  Mr. Brown had left Trevor a letter which I leave to the reader below.  In a move I thought cruel and unnecessary, Mrs. Brown directed me to tell Trevor his father’s last words: “between family and money… choose money every time.”  The others used this to mar the father’s memory but I wanted Trevor to see it from a different perspective: What is a 42 year old man with such a vast fortune going to say?  Losing the money doesn’t hurt.  Losing your family does.  No family, no pain.

September 23, 1978

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

Room 1072
Timberland Hospital

Hi Trevor,

This weekend was the best on record.  The days seem brighter with you around, but they pass too quickly.

I can see I have at least brought one good thing into this world when you came along.  You are growing up so fast it is hard to believe it was ten years ago that I had to visit you between meetings while you were fighting for your life in the hospital.

I see a young man who is strong, but gentle, who loves life and seeks wisdom, who is polite and thoughtful, but forgives others their foolishness.  Never lose this ability to see the world as it is.  Never let people use or hurt your pride.  Always be proud!

Use that intelligent mind to make you happy and wise.  Your mother and I were never going to make it together but we both knew you were the one good thing we did together.

Love Dad
Ps.  Between love and money, choose love.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cancer, Capitalism, Consumerism, Death, Death of a Parent, English, Family Feuds, Getting Published, Healthcare, Journalism, Novels, Wealth, Writing

I am going to finish the subject of advertising – readership numbers have failed to an ironic point: I should probably start adverstising the blog.

VP Von Hoehen - self portrait

VP Von Hoehen - self portrait

I thought that a lot of people might like this experiment, but seeing the numbers, either I am writing too much for people to keep following, or I am boring you guys to death.

The whole idea was interesting for me, from the beginning: a simpler life in a complex world. Though it was immensely difficult, as I pointed out, to eliminate advertising intake in a city like London.

The exercise has produced a much calmer me – ‘a kinder, gentler me’ – if you will. I found that constant bombardment of advertising had my mind reeling with constant thoughts and ideas that became so overwhelming it was actually damaging my creativity and capacity to focus.

Well, the experiment is over. I am not sure what I am going to do with what I have learned.  However when I do know, I will, let you all know.

I am certain – beyond any reasonable doubt – that I am a better person and less stressed as a result of this project.

I hope you keep following this blog. It is going to go back to more of a writing theme from now on. I will go back to my focus on how to become a well paid writer even if you aren’t a good one and a variety of essays.

I hope you will check in from time to time, but I must say The Viscount’s Table seems to have hit my readership here. That is probably a good thing in as much as this is and has been the testing ground for what I want to do with the Viscount’s Table.  Though for the foreseeable future I will keep posting on this page.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

and so the story goes…

PvH the Viscount Perran Von Hoehen

PvH the Viscount Perran Von Hoehen

Did you know that KFC branches have about 40-80 company centric advertisements in a branch? (on a side note: why KFC bothered changing the name is beyond me… who on earth thinks that KFC is healthier than Kentucky Fried Chicken? Anyway I digress.)

The other day caught I was walking by a KFC which, despite my attempts to embargo all types of advertising, couldn’t be avoided.  It hit me like walking into an IMAX screen.  It must have occupied the entire peripheral vision of anyone remotely near Europe or flying over it.

KFC by Terence Ong

KFC by Terence Ong

Avoiding advertising is I believe is, in principle, a good idea – as eliminating it is virtually impossible.  Living in a large cities requires the acceptance of a certain amount of advertising in your day to day life.  Don’t get me wrong,  I do believe that advertising can add value such as education but think about it when was the last time you saw a commercial that made you feel sufficiently informed about a product or service – enough to buy it to buy I mean?

What do you think if I tell you this is an ad for condoms? photo by PvH

What do you think if I tell you this is an ad for condoms? photo by PvH

No, what is more common is that we look at commercial or ad, as we say in North America, and the advertising is directed more at sex, drugs (alcohol to pharmaceuticals), and rock and roll (associations with songs and lyrics that are supposed to be meaningful for your demographic).

Think about your favorite adverts.  It is must admit that most of what are memorable ads are in fact memorable ads, but they don’t help to us to remember what product they are advertising.  These are the ads that usually win the awards too. Think about it, the most memorable ads – most people can’t even remember what they were selling and that has been a global phenomena not just a local one (eg. Get upba… get upba…wasn’t that a great ad for Orangina??? Can you remember without thinking to hard, was it really an Orangina ad???)

If you think about it, it is hard to come up with more than a few examples of ads that are information led.  As a result everyone tries to spread their message by more and more and ever more placement which eventually spirals into giant screens screaming out to you KFC’s offers of the moment.  Because bombardment and not actual education has become the goal of the advertising industry, the industry looks for more and more ways to throw their brands.  If advertising allowed for 33% branding content and 67% information I believe that both image and content.

So instead of having an educative value they rely on the rule that most people need to see a brand (anything for that matter) 26-28 times before it will stick in the long term memory.  But, now there seems to be a race to achieve that number rather than think about how the product or service is going to make our lives better.

City living gaurantees a certain amout of advertising: photo by the Viscountess

City living gaurantees a certain amout of advertising: photo by the Viscountess

I started out with the objective of an advertising embargo.  Realistically, living in the center of London I have had to cut that back to meet the demands of living in the center of a city like London.  Now, I have gotten about, what I think must be, 80% of advertising out of my life.  When I try something like this I always give it a 6-8 weeks to see if it really makes any difference to my life… like when I gave up meat, or diet cola etc.  Most of my experiments have yielded little in the way of a result that made me think it was worth continuing ie. becoming a vegetarian (which I did not because I love animals, but because I hate vegetables).   This experience has proven to me that there is more to life when I consume less advertising.

I know that advertising isn’t going anywhere but honestly, when does it all end?  When businesses start calling your house at all hours with recorded messages, adverts on your phone, in your email, in your snail mail, on the TV, on transport and park benches on the wall in front of your car as you park, airplanes drag banners and enormous CO2 omission across the sky, in planes, trains and automobiles, in the taxi, on the tube, buses, parks, T-shirts, magazines, condom machines, urinals, business cards, texts, websites, newspapers, your wardrobe, schools and educational materials, look at how the launch of BING made its way on to the television shows that we are watching that are no supposed to have product endorsements – C.S.I Miami to name just one example on the BING gravy train.   What is next?  Where do we go from here?  When you are wiping your ass with toilet paper endorsed by hemorrhoid cream?  Is that exaggeration?  Ask yourself how deep and intimate advertising already is in your life, before you think I am losing the plot.

Manchurian Candidate from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Manchurian Candidate from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

I, for one, am going to monitor what advertising what comes into my life and continue to ignore the vast majority of it.  I have had enough.   It is getting crazy.  And given what we know about subliminal messages how can anyone ever really say in this day and age that The Manchurian Candidate is a work of fiction?

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising, Consumerism, English, Fasting, Goals, Hypocrisy, Journalism, Marketing, Media

ISRAEL ATTACKS the TURKS

IMAGINE if it had been an American ship attacked in international waters… by let’s say Morocco for the sake of argument: WHAT WOULD HAVE AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT DONE?

Alliances Can Be Tricky: photo by James Emery wikicommons
Alliances Can Be Tricky: photo by James Emery wikicommons

***** I think everyone knows the answer to this question.  America is famous for the protection of its own citizens.  It would hardly tolerate a country attacking at boat gangland style while delivering aid to the long suffering Palestinian people regardless of the affiliations of anyone on that boat.

Can you imagine Morocco justifying such an attack to America by saying that, “hey, don’t blame us, there were Christian extremists from the Republican Party aboard.”

Israel systematically uses terror to coerce the Palestinian people (this is the very definition of TERRORISM).  Now, not only has Israel needlessly killed innocent Palestinians but they can add among the count the 12 dead Turks.  There is no justification in the world that can or could be acceptable for the action of the Israelis, unless the Israelis are actually anarchists (abolishing responsibility) and masquerading as democrats.

Turkish Ship in Home Waters: photo by Rey Edu

Turkish Ship in Home Waters: photo by Rey Edu

I am not talking about Jewish nationalism is which only a stones throw from Islamic nationalism.  Countries that claim religious superiority and use it as a means to kill those of other faiths MUST are contrary to very essence of their own teachings: surely I am not mistaken!

Forget Islam, and forget Judaism.  This was an overtly aggressive attack on the citizens of a sovereign foreign nation.

I hoped that Turkey would respond like the Americans would have: an appropriate attack on Israel in the SHOCK AND AWE style of the American ‘foreign policy.’  After all this was an act of war by any sensible definition of an ‘act of war.’

Alliances Can Be Tricky: foto by Lokum wikicommons
Alliances Can Be Tricky: foto by Lokum wikicommons

It was not that long ago that I watched Tony Blair declare on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart say that no two democratic countries have ever gone to war (I dispute this as Mr Blair is clearly playing it pretty fast and loose with the definition of democracy and, perhaps, war).

Well, Mr Blair, Israel – democracy – Turkey – democracy – so if not war, it must be terrorism even by your own standards.

There are some times in this life when you must turn to world leaders and simply say, ‘you’re full of shit.’  This seems to be one of those occasions.

Argentina attacked the tiny little, almost forgotten islands, called the Falklands.  Britain called it the Falklands War.

TURKS MUST DEFEND THEMSELVES ON THE WORLD STAGE AND NOT BE A   WHIPPING BOY FOR EITHER EUROPE OR THEIR SO-CALLED ALLY - AMERICA: foto   by Rey Edu
TURKS MUST DEFEND THEMSELVES ON THE WORLD STAGE AND NOT BE A WHIPPING BOY FOR EITHER EUROPE OR THEIR SO-CALLED ALLY – AMERICA: foto by Rey Edu

I know what you are thinking, I should go easier on Mr Blair because clearly his memory has gone the way of Margaret Thatcher but don’t be hood winked by the geriatrics – and one might argue that Argentina was under a repressive military regime, but it is worth reminding those with failing memories that that Argentinian government was aided and abetted by the democratically elected American government and the CIA vis a vis Operation Condor.  There wasn’t much that regime did, without America knowing about it.  I wonder how much America knew about last week’s boarding prior to the event?

Please Turkey.  Stand your ground.  Protect your citizens as other countries that call themselves your allies would do themselves.  Don’t shirk against the Israeli terrorist state.  They have brought this upon themselves.  They have over stepped the mark with their murder of innocent Palestinians.

Now, innocent or not they, have attacked another country in their efforts to spread terror.  Please, I beg of you respond, and show the world that you are a strong, proud and an equal nation on the global stage.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace

JL

1 Comment

Filed under Allies, American Foreign Policy, Capitalism, Dental Work, English, Hypocrisy, Islam, Israeli Foreign Policy, Israeli Terrorism, Journalism, Judaism, Middle East, Palestine, Palestinian Aid, Terrorism, Tony Blair, Turkey, War, Writing