February 26th 2009

Hello there …
I have just heard that the publishers have accepted my new Angel book, SHRINE TO MURDER. This is the fifteenth book in the Angel series.
Blow the trumpets. Bang the drum. Put out the red carpet. The Milky Bars are on me! Somebody up there likes me, or is it Inspector Angel they like?
I haven’t got an official publication date yet, but it will likely be December this year or January 2010.

Less pleasing, I had to have a barium enema at the hospital on Monday afternoon.
No solid grub for the one and a half days before the enema … just jelly, consomm√©, tea and coffee without milk, and water. Absolutely nothing else. Not a lot of fun. They sent me all the detailed preparatory instructions including two pouches of a special laxative, which I had to mix carefully with water, stand well back, leave to stand for five minutes then drink it. It tasted of salty petrol. Well, about two hours later, I knew it had found its target. I think it’s the same stuff they use to power rockets to the moon.
Anyway, as Roy Barraclough asked Les Dawson on his return from his holiday to Athens, ‘Did you get on the Acropolis?’ And the comedian famously replied, ‘I was never off it.’
Well, I was never off our Acropolis.
Anyway, on Monday afternoon, I went to the hospital, went through ‘the procedure’ … it wasn’t so bad. It took about an hour. I returned home and since then I have been back on a normal diet. But it’s now Thursday afternoon and I’m just working away … I’ve had no call to … go back to visit our Acropolis.
It’s all a bit worrying … I’ve heard these stories about doctors doing operations and leaving a retractor or a scalpel inside the patient … I wonder if they’ve left anything up there? I've just remembered, a very rude man once said something to me. I wonder if one of those doctors was him in disguise, and there's a manuscript of one of my books causing the blockage?

Thanks for looking in. I’ll get back to you soon.
February 16th 2009.

Last Wednesday, the queen stumbled coming down a step out of the pantry and hurt her leg. It was very painful for her to walk, so she rang our GP and asked him to have a look at her. He said an X ray was necessary so a hospital trip was unavoidable. He could organize an ambulance or we could make our own way to A & E. It was a struggle getting her in and out of the car, but we managed it, and after three hours waiting around in the hospital, the doctor pronounced that she had a damaged cartilage and that she must rest it for a few weeks! Weeks!!
Well I’m very sorry for her, bless her, and I know it hurts a heck of a lot, but who do you think is back on the old washing up, cooking and cat feeding routine?

Anyway, rejoice. I say rejoice and be exceeding glad because I have finished writing my 15th Angel book. Yes. And I have finally settled on the title – SHRINE TO MURDER. The book’s a bit scary and very different, but it’s fun. I hope my loyal band of followers will enjoy reading it. (It won’t be published before November at the earliest, and that’s assuming Hales accept it! The financial climate being what it is, who knows what to expect?)
I started printing the finished copy on my PC last night to submit it to the publishers, but it went wrong. It printed a few pages then started missing the top half of the letters across a full line, irregularly down the page. I phoned James, who looks after this website for suggestions. He suggested cleaning the heads, but I told him that I had done that several times: he was tending to think that the thing had printed off its last book narrative. I phoned Leigh who looks after my computers, and he thought the printer head had probably had it, but as a get me by, he suggested that I changed the Printing Preferences setting from ‘Text only’ to ‘Text and pictures.’ He said it would push more ink through and might work. It did work and seemed a great idea. However, after printing 5 or 6 pages it pushed too much ink through which meant that a untidy spider marks sometimes appeared on the page. Anyway, I have persevered and have finished up with a reasonably tidy and clean copy to submit to Hales.
I can’t be messing about like that so I’ve asked Leigh to kit me out with a laser printer which is supposed to be much more reliable and quicker. It only prints in black, but I reckon colours are for wimps, don’t you?
Of course, the queen has to read it first and give me her verdict. She is always very kind (too kind). She always says it’s good to encourage me and keep me happy, when it might be rubbish, so I have to take her opinion with a pinch of salt. But I can often tell by her questions, if I haven’t covered a point sufficiently well, or I haven’t reasonably or adequately explained something, or she simply doesn’t like it.

Hey! What do you think to the mild weather? Soon have to think of getting our cossies out again. Where’s the suntan?

Thanks for looking in. Wish me luck with the book. I’ll keep you posted, and get back to you soon.
February 8th 2009

Hello there.

Is the white stuff getting you down?

We live in an old ostler’s house near the foot of the Pennines. It’s at the bottom of a steep lane, which makes access difficult in winter weather. We are surrounded by snow. On two sides its snow as far as you can see. It’s beautiful in sunshine but can be spooky when the sky comes dark. We haven’t been able to get out for five days. Had no post, and the dustbin men haven’t been. It’s been like so quiet. Unexpectedly on Thursday, there was a knock on the door. I couldn’t imagine who it was. I thought it might have been a passing reindeer who had lost his way, seeking directions to the North Pole, but no … it was a pretty lady called Vicky, who must be new to the big house further down the lane. She and her husband were going to tackle the hill on foot (sounds like the Eiger) and wondered if we needed anything from the shop. How very kind. Thankfully the queen had been very clever. We did an extra big shop last weekend in anticipation of a heavy snowfall, which has meant that we hadn't been short of anything during our forced isolation. But it was very kind of Vicky (whoever she is) though, wasn’t it?

I had been out each day to feed the wild birds and the feral cats, of course. Must look after them, particularly when there’s snow on the ground. But it has been very very quiet. The quietness has had its advantages though. It has enabled me to finish the first draft of my Angel book, which I’m very excited about. Another two weeks and I should have completed it ready to go the publishers. I’m toying with SHRINE TO MURDER for the title. I had originally thought of MURDER BY NUMBERS. What do you think?

The postman delivered a load of post the first time this morning. Included in it was my bank statement, which doesn’t make for good reading so close after Christmas.
Also had an email from the publishers. It was the artist’s book jacket rough of my Angel book, THE CUCKOO CLOCK SCAM, which is to be published in October, which looks positively great.

Hope you’re managing through these cold, inhospitable days. They are really testing some people. The bad weather usually finishes by the end of February, so there’s only 20 days to go …. Then cometh the Spring, daffodils and all that. So hang on in there.

PS. Late yesterday afternoon, we went out to Tescos for some victuals after all. The queen had taken stock and looked at the weather forecast. It had been thawing a bit in the sun, so I said I thought we’d be able to get the car up the hill. We managed it easily and the roads at the top were clear. We dashed out and brought back a boatload of stuff without any difficulty. I quickly unloaded it and plonked it in the kitchen, and put the car in the garage, while she unpacked it and put it away.
When I came upstairs to write this, the queen was in her favourite chair with a cup of coffee, purring.

Take care.