What’s the Craic with Victor Calleja?

Victor Calljea

When I went to meet Victor Calleja to interview him about his new book, I figured it would be like most of the interviews I have conducted before. Informative, interesting, but quite formal.

On the contrary…it was a series of giggles, inspiration and anecdotes from beginning to end.  The tone of the entire conversation was set by the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on your point of view) scene that presented itself right across the café from us, as a gentleman sat down right in Victor’s eye line with full builder’s crack on show. It was disturbingly difficult to tear our eyes away from and had us spend the first ten minutes sniggering like naughty school children.

Victor told me that there is a difference between being a storyteller and just having a story: and trust me, Mr. Calleja is a born storyteller. Having read some of his first book, I am sure our crack anecdote will make it into the next one, told far more hilariously than I have.

Where’s My Brother? & Other Confessions is a collection of “stories I feature in, full of mistakes, misdeeds, missed opportunities and hopefully some laughs”, says Calleja in his introduction. What stuck with me the most was Victor’s answer to the why? question I inevitably asked him. He said that “everyone should tell their story. We leave things to our children, but what about our stories? Stories are like treasures.” I must agree whole heartedly. Stories are gems of knowledge that when pieced together, form a much more elaborate piece of jewellery that represents a life, filled with triumphs and tribulations, laughter and tears, and seemingly inconsequential moments of just being.

I wanted to know what made Victor sure his stories would be funny to a wider audience.  He told me that his friends used to laugh at them when he would regale them with antics from his youth.  He seemed to have a penchant for humour. Victor told me that he believes that “humour makes bad times more tolerable”, so to use it means bringing joy to our relationships. This view about his talent for making people laugh was cemented, when feedback for his first article published in the local press, about boobs, was greeted with excellent feedback.

Victor CallejaThrough the laughs in our exchange, mostly triggered by side glances to check if our friend was still at the table across the room, I got a sense of the younger Victor that features in the book.  A normal son, husband, father, and friend, who came to writing later in his life and who views his now chosen path with wide-eyed excitement and enthusiasm. He tells me that he started writing at 55, but regrets not having started much earlier. I get the impression that he feels there are so many more stories he can tell and doesn’t want to run out of time in which to do it.

Where’s My Brother? & Other Confessions, though completely autobiographical, is told entirely from Victor’s point of view. So, whether as a 7-year-old youngest child of 5, or a 40 something dad on holiday with his own kids, it is always his own special, slightly sarcastic take on the situations which create such an easy, hilariously entertaining read.

As we wrap up the interview, Victor leaves me with one piece of advice, which I will be honest, I often try to prescribe to already. “Have some fun!!” in every aspect of your life.  Judging by the preceding hour and what I have read of Victor’s life in his book, he seems to live by this mantra.

I recommend that you head out and get your hands on a copy of Where’s My Brother? & Other Confessions, immediately. Definitely a great way to make someone smile this Christmas.


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