No More Sitting On The ‘Reserve bench’

If you follow me on facebook, twitter, even instagram, you might have seen the occasional picture of me, grinning like a maniac, in front of an audience of similarly manic, arm-waving, happy folk (although usually there’s one lone woman, sitting there , arms folded, steadfastly refusing to take part – bless her).

I take these photos perhaps once or twice a week – whenever I’m asked to entertain a Women’s Institute, or a U3A, or a Townswomen Guild, or some similar group, with tales of my writing adventures.

People sometimes ask me how I got into the public speaking lark. I blame my Dad.

Years ago, my father used to run a U3A ‘discussion group’. Each month the group would invite someone along to speak on whatever topic they liked, and then afterwards a discussion would ensue. That was the idea anyway. My Dad loves a good discussion. In reality someone would put the kettle on, a packet of biscuits would be emptied onto a plate, and twenty minutes later my Dad would be washing cups and stacking chairs in the corner, wondering why no-one had actually ‘discussed’ anything.

Dad used to try and plan his group’s programme a good year in advance, presumably in the hopes of attracting a few new members with his trove of twelve tantalising topics. But a year is a long time. Stuff happens. And every now and then a speaker would cancel on dear old Dad, and he’d be forced to do some frantic phoning around in order to find a replacement.

Which is how I got my first gig.

Out of sheer desperation Dad called me and asked if I could step in and do a talk. He’d even decided what my topic would be! Could I speak for thirty or so minutes of “how banks make their money” – thanks very much – see you Thursday – don’t be late.

Now fortunately for me, I had at this point been in credit card banking for about twenty five years, the last ten of which was as a freelance consultant. I could have spoken for several days on how my clients separated the man on the street from his hard earned wedge. But I concentrated my talk on some of the sneakier, lesser known, less ethical tricks, that go on in the banking community.

My talk was a huge success: There was almost a riot when I announced that “in a few months” the banks would be announcing the ‘end of cheques’. “How will I pay the milkman!?” exclaimed one woman – at which point, for the first time ever, a proper discussion ensued. Dad was pleased as punch.

From that moment on I became my Dad’s ‘reserve man’. Each year, for about three years, I’d get a phone call whenever a speaker cancelled and would always be told what my topic would be. For instance, I did a talk entitled “How will I pay the milkman?” – forty five minutes about, amongst other things, how the banks really wanted to get rid of cheques, but at the last moment had changed their collective minds. I promise you it was more interesting than it sounds.

But after a few years I was fed up with being the flippin’ understudy. “Dad,” I said, “I want my own slot in the programme, but more than that, I want to be able to pick my own topic!”

“What do you want to talk on?” asked Dad.

“How to do everything, and be happy,” I replied.

“Hmmm,” said my Dad. “I’m not sure anyone’s going to be interested in that.”

Several years on and I’ve given that same talk – or a version of it – about two hundred times.


If you’d like to hear me speak, or if you’d like to invite me along to your group or society, drop me a line here, or visit my speaker’s website; PeterJonesPublicSpeaker.com

Twenty Five Things I Would Tell My Fifteen Year Old Self…


One of the characters in My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend is Gary. A troubled fifteen year old lad who’s as bright as a button, but in need of a father figure.

I loved writing him. And as the story developed, I, like my protagonist Ade, developed quite a fondness for this fresh faced youngster.

It started me thinking, if it were possible to somehow nip back in time and visit my fifteen year old self – or perhaps just send a message back somehow (maybe a text message – oh hang on, mobile phones hadn’t been invented – still, excellent idea for a plot) – what sage words of wisdom would I give myself?

Well, fans of How To Do Everything And Be Happy won’t be surprised to know that faced with this conundrum, I made a list. Just in case.

Here then is everything that I wish fifteen year old Peter Jones had read in a note that somehow appeared in his inside coat pocket.

  1. Your current girlfriend: She’s not ‘the one’. Ditch her. Really.
  2. Your stories are good, but you need to write a zillion words before anything REALLY good comes out. Start now.
  3. The formula is *not* YOU + THE GIRL = HAPPINESS, the formula is YOU + HAPPINESS = THE GIRL
  4. You are okay.
  5. Qualifications are a complete and utter waste of time.
  6. Take the full time job at Boots. Forget about a ‘career’. Write on your evenings and weekends. You’ll love it.
  7. Move out of home. Now. Never go back.
  8. Save up.
  9. When you can, buy shares in a company called ‘Google’
  10. You are okay.
  11. Long hair is fine.
  12. …But cut it off long before you’re thirty.
  13. You are okay.
  14. There aren’t different ‘types’ of love. It’s all love. And there’s plenty to go around.
  15. Have you started those zillion words yet?
  16. You are okay.
  17. Trust your instincts. They’re right 99.9999% of the time.
  18. Forget how you’d like the world to work – figure out how it ACTUALLY works.
  19. Beware the word ‘should’
  20. Business people are only interested in making money
  21. You are okay.
  22. Most ‘how to get published’ advice is utter BS. Ignore it.
  23. Publishers are business people. See number 20.
  24. Hearts break. But they also mend.
  25. You are okay.

So what would you tell your fifteen year old self? I’m curious to know. Let me know in the comments below. (If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit the blog)


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited period. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

Boxing Day Mugs

mug-and-flapjack

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that a rather fetching ‘Boxing Day’ Mug often features in my posts on twitface. I love it, it’s my favourite mug, makes me smile every time I use it and I just love how it’s white (and red, obviously) on the outside and black on the inside.

Anyway, having been asked where I got it from a few times now, I decided maybe it was about time I made it available to the rest of the world (or other fans of Boxing Day). So here’s the ‘sales spiel’……..

There are actually several versions.

  • There’s a simple mug that says KEEP CALM AND HAVE A BOXING DAY on both sides (the perfect gift for that stressed out individual in your life) {£11.60}
  • For right handed people there’s a mug that says KEEP CALM AND HAVE A BOXING DAY on the side facing you and KEEP CALM I’M HAVING A BOXING DAY on the side facing everyone else! {£11.60}
  • Then there’s a left handed version of the same mug – I know, I know – I have literally thought of everything! {£11.60}
  • And for those who want to save a couple of quid, there’s a moderately cheaper version, but without the black interior. {£10.90}

The mugs are expensive. There’s no denying it. And I only make a quid or two on each one that gets sold. But they are beautiful. The design is lovely, of course – I did that – but the mugs themselves are really good quality. I’ve had mine well over a year, use it almost every day, and put it through the dishwasher several times a week, and it still looks like new.

To get a mug for yourself or a loved one, hop over to my Zazzle shop front at zazzle.co.uk/peterjonesauthor

mug-and-pen

Peter Jones talks to Michelle Ward of Phoenix FM about… everything!

Several weeks back now, I was proud to be invited back by Michelle Ward of Phoenix98 FM to talk about my latest book, How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim.

However, Michelle being Michelle we actually ended up talking about how I became an author, as well as my first book, How To Do Everything and Be Happy, and my next book How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting!

More than that, along the way Michelle confessed that one of my ‘author business cards’  – which has my official author picture on the reverse – has been sitting by the side of her bed for some weeks! And as if that wasn’t enough to cope with, someone’s phone (not mine guvnor – I swear) went off whilst we were on air!

Click here if you’re reading this within an email, or you’d prefer to hear the interview via YouTube


How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim is available, now, in three formats.

Book Signing 10th Feb! Help me celebrate the re-launch of 'How To Do Everything And Be Happy'

smiley-hatSo, the new paperback version of How To Do Everything And Be Happy has been out for a good couple of weeks now and if you missed the flurry of activity on facebook, twitter, various radio stations up and down the country and, oddly, Spain – where have you been!??!

Needless to say, I’m pleased as punch, and for the first time in my short writing career I suddenly feel the need to celebrate with all those people who helped me get to this point. In other words, YOU. How does the afternoon of Sunday the 10th of February sound? From 1pm. Here in sunny Southend on Sea, at Waterstones Bookshop. Put that in your diary.

There’s no need to feel compelled to buy a new copy of the book if you’re an existing reader – I’ll sign whatever copy you have – but most of all I’d like to shake you firmly by the hand and thank you for your support.

As well as handshakes I can say with reasonable certainty that there’ll be FREE pens, badges, lollies, and glasses of fizz! Possibly with alcohol in them! And if none of that’s enough to entice you then there’s always the official How To Do Everything and Be Happy Balloon Hat! With his big smiley face and out-stretched arms, your smiley-balloon-hat will either communicate love for your fellow man, or stand in for you should you be feeling a little light in the love-giving department. And when you’re finished with him, just pop with a pin and pretend like it never happened. Definitely recommended for kids of all ages.

bookshopObviously feel free to just ‘rock up’ if you find yourself walking past the store that Sunday afternoon – though it would be mildly useful to get a feel for the number of people likely to show. You know, just so that I have enough bottles of fizz. Use the comments below or click here to let me know on facebook. Oh, and bring your friends.

Waterstones Southend is opposite Marks & Spencers at 49-51 High Street, SS1 1HZ. Map below.


Happy Club – this Thursday!

ny2013

Happy New Year!

So how’s it going so far? Is it all lovely and exciting? Or is it pretty much like last year? Perhaps even a little bit dull? Would you say that, aside from joining hands with friends and family on the stroke of midnight and mumbling the words to a song you only sing once a year, it’s actually quite difficult to know where 2012 came to an end, and 2013 began?

I know how you feel.

Which is why, in a few days time, I will be hosting the first of this years Happy Clubs, here in Southend-on-Sea.

Happy Club – starts Thursday 24th January 2013

If you’re a long time visitor to this blog you’ll know that this year I’ve run numerous How To Do Everything And Be Happy workshops in various parts of Essex.

I think it’s safe to say that the workshops went down a storm, and I’m delighted to announce that using the invaluable feedback I received, Southend’s Therapy Life Centre and I will be running a series of monthly Happiness workshops – starting next Thursday, on the 24th January – to coincide with the recent re-launch of the paperback.

What’s covered?

Each month we’ll spend the first hour looking at a different idea from the book How To Do Everything and Be Happy and how to implement it into your life, whether that be Boxing Day, Wish List, Now Lists, Focus, Trophy Boards, or Diaries. Then after a short tea-break (biscuits provided – probably, if I remember) we’re back, looking at your Goals, how far you’ve got with them and how you can take the next step towards achieving them.

This Thursday we’ll be concentrating on how to eliminate unhappiness, and working out exactly what we want for the coming months. It’ll be fun! I can definitely promise you that. But I have a feeling it’s also going to be the start of something special.

Is it a workshop? Or a course? It’s a “club”.

Technically it’s a series of six stand-alone, related, repeating, workshops (when we get to workshop number six we’ll start afresh the following month). You can come along to just one, a series of six, or every month, it’s totally your choice.

The evening will have more of a club-feel to it making the whole experience less “rushed”, more intensive, and introducing a strong focus on helping you achieve your goals as the months roll by.

It’s a fun way to get motivated and fired up about making changes in your life, whilst being practical, realistic and keeping your feet firmly on the floor.

How much does it cost?

The cost is just £60 for six sessions (if you pay in advance – see below), or £12 per session if you pay on the night.

Where and when?

The club starts on January 24th 2013
Subsequent clubs are on the last Thursday of each month and last two hours (including a ten minute break around half time).
We start promptly at 8pm (so maybe get there about 7:45? Put that in your diary).

We meet at The Therapy Life Centre, in Southend On Sea, Essex. (the old driving test centre) – there is reasonable parking.
The address is 11 Prittlewell Chase, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 0RX
The nearest station is Prittlewell (just fifteen minutes walk away) which is on the Liverpool Street – Southend Victoria line.

Map

View Larger Map

Sign Up and Pay!

The cost is just £60 for six sessions (if you pay in advance), or £12 per session if you pay on the night.

There are three ways to pay in advance

  1. In person at the Therapy Life Centre. Click here for opening hours. 
  2. Over the phone with a credit or debit card. Call 01702 433959. Click here for opening hours. 
  3. Pay here via credit / debit card and/or paypal!

Refunds & General Terms

  • Workshop credits can be carried forward – you do not have to attend six concurrent workshops
  • If you wish to transfer your credits to another person please let us know first
  • Payments via the internet will appear as “soundhaven” on your statement
  • Refunds will not be issued at a workshop and must be requested in the manner the original payment was made (ie. in person, over the phone, or via this website)
  • We reserve the right to charge a £2 admin fee to cover the cost of processing refunds
  • In the event that you cannot make six workshops we reserve the right to retain £12 per workshop you’ve attended, and refund the balance
  • We require five working days notice (via the contact form on this website) process a paypal refund

Any questions?

Drop me a line via the contact page if you have any questions. Operators are standing by.


Visit the Therapy Life Centre’s website
More about the Therapy Life Centre