December 26th Boxing Day 2008

It’s all over. Christmas Day came and went as fast as a publisher’s royalty cheque.

After midnight communion (where I developed a sore throat, the result of a determination to sing all eight carols whether the woman in front of me liked it or not), the queen and I got to bed at about one forty-five Christmas day morning. I was so excited I didn’t drop off until about three, but woke up with a slight headache and a dry throat around seven thirty in the morning, about as happy as Woolworth’s sweetie supplier.

Between several phone calls to and from family and friends, I wrote and wrote my new Angel book. I made good progress. Meanwhile the queen was downstairs preparing a gargantuan meal to be served up at five-thirty.

Christmas dinner was great, but I had a second helping of Christmas pudding, which was the quintessence of Silverwood gluttony and my personal downfall.

We saw a bit of telly in the evening, and a great little film we had recorded called THE MAN WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS. (Shades of FOYLE’S WAR which we enjoy.) Sounds like a kid’s tale, but it was about a toy factory owner in the US, torn between making armaments or toys during World War 1. The only actor we knew was an amusing crusty old shuffler called Edward Asner. I remember he played an amusing crusty young editor in THE MARY TAYLOR MOORE SHOW a hundred years previously. You might remember him.

Yesterday (and today) there were some top-notch films but we’ve seen them all several times before.

Went to bed early to make up for loss of sleep. However I woke up at 3.20 am this morning. Couldn’t get off again. The overindulgence of Christmas pud was part of the reason. I knew I would pay for it. Anyway, it was not all a loss. I used some of the quiet time to write more of my Angel book until just gone five. Then the queen woke up, so I got up and made us a very early breakfast.

The Christmas pud problem was still with me. There was only one thing to do. At seven o’clock, I got washed, shaved and dressed and went out for a four mile walk. Now that might seem no distance at all to you, but it equates to walking from Land’s End to Melbourne and back to me. And it was absolutely desolate. It was like attending my own funeral procession. I only saw four zombies the entire walk. One every mile. And they were in hoodies and walking big ugly dogs. The streets were about as lively as the main street in Tombstone just before Jesse James, Frank James and Doc Holliday were expected to ride in.

I got back home at 10.35 am. The front of my legs hurt something rotten. The queen just laughed at me. I got undressed, came back to bed and wrote more Angel. I got stuck just after 12 noon, so I began to write this.

You know, the queen and I have had a super Christmas and I hope that - whatever your dreams were for this Christmastime - that they all came true.

One small gripe. The media seems to think that Christmas is all about buying, and high street retailers and whether it’s at a 30%, 50% or 75% discount. I must say, I have never been less interested. It’s true that I am very lucky, but even so, there are stacks of things in life that I would still like, but none of them could be bought from a high street retailer at even 100% discount. They simply haven't anything I want.

In this house, we ignore the media and all that advertising and PR stuff, and those overpaid celebrities pushing their pension schemes, debt advice, building societies, three piece suites and whatever. Join us. Keep the magic of Christmas alive. Do what you want to do and have a wonderful time.
December 22nd 2008

It’s all done. In our small way, we are ready for the great day.

And this year, we’ve never had so many Christmas cards. I’ve enjoyed opening every one. And each one is joyfully reciprocated. Some are from beloved distant relatives, who we haven’t seen for ages. Some from valuable friends we have made over the years who live far away. The rest are from life’s throng of friends, relations and enemies. Each card is enjoyed, renews and restores old relationships, and is full of memories.
I heard the husband of a well known celebrity couple on the telly say, in a superior way, ‘We aren’t sending cards this year … such a waste … we are sending the money to charity.’
On what they’re paid, they could afford to do both.
Poor souls. I don’t suppose they have many friends.

Happier news …
Another of my nephews, Dylan, popped in on Saturday. It was great to see him. He brought a bottle, a Christmas cake and some mince pies, which was very nice. We had a long chat and I took him down to the pub for an hour. He’s going to the West Indies over the holiday season. He enjoys diving so he’ll be having a great time in the water and warmth of the Caribbean. I thought, he’ll want something to read in the plane, so I gave him a copy of THE WIGMAKER. Well, all right. I don’t know whether he wanted something to read in the plane or not. I gave him the book anyway. Got to get rid of them somehow.

I’ve had a glance at the new Radio Times. There’s very little on the box for us this Christmastime. Comedians who aren’t funny. Repeats of very old films. Do you know, I’ve seen THE AFRICAN QUEEN that many times, I know the lines and pauses better than Humphrey Bogart.
Almost everything else is a repeat of a repeat. So most of the time I shall be cracking along writing my new Angel book, and I might catch up with some sleep. The queen has some reading she wants to do and she enjoys the TV hospital soaps like Casualty and Holby City where there is a lot of blood, pain, hypodermic needles and all the patients die.

Anyway there’s only two days to go, so now is the time to slip gently into ‘the magic of Christmas’ mode. Whether you’re joining in a big party, or there’s just two of you, or you are on your own, keep the magic alive.
And whatever your dreams are for this Christmastime, I hope they all come true.
I’ll get back to you very soon.
December 19th 2008

Ah, there you are.

I've just heard that the police have conclusive forensic evidence to prove that a man called Robert Napper murdered Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common 16 years ago. This is another instance of the police finding and meticulously preserving a substance belonging to a murderer, on the body (or at the scene) of the dead person, then years later, as science was developed, forensic services through DNA revealing the identity of the criminal.
In this instance, they don’t say what the substance was, but it could be as anodyne as dried out perspiration on a garment, or a small flake of skin under the victim’s fingernails, or a single hair that may have fallen from the murderer onto the victim’s body or clothing. Whatever it was, after 16 years, I call that pretty fantastic, don’t you?

To domestic matters …

I’ve finished the cards and posted them. I just have a few cards in walking distance to deliver. All I need is a bit more sunshine, like today, to encourage me outside and they’ll be done.

Presents all bought and despatched (except one). I don’t know what to get the queen. I said she can have anything she likes. It was a bit risky to say that, I know. Consequently, I was very nervous when we were watching the telly and there was a news item about the possible extinction of elephants, and how they need a safe haven. You see, the queen is as soft as a Strangeway’s dumpling, and I could visualise my favourite chair being occupied by a big grey chap with a long hooter.

We’ve already got the turkey. We’ve the tree to do, the cards to put up and we’re all set.

My eldest nephew, Simon, his daughters, Jazmin and Holly, and his friend, Sarah, came to see us at the weekend. The girls are all grown up now and flying around looking at the world. It seems so easy to them. Holly has already walked on the Great Wall of China and taken in the scene of the two towers disaster in New York. As soon as she gets a long weekend off work, I expect she’ll be going to the moon.

I am really looking forward to this Christmas … to the quiet, the rest and the opportunity to write undisturbed. Also, maybe I will sleep better when things settle down and there’s just the two of us.

Christmas is a great festival and it’s for everyone to enjoy and celebrate in their own way. The nativity is a magical story bringing love and hope to a poor man and his wife. We can do with it here and now, so, whether you’re on your own, just two of you, or in a big party, keep the magic alive. I hope your troubles are small ones, and whatever your dreams are for this Christmas time, may they all come true. Have a great time.

I’ll get back to you soon.
December 9th 2008

Glad you came back.

Well, I don’t know how you intend spending Christmas. But I have my plans made. It’s going to be paradise here. The staff will be off. The family and friends who are visiting will have been and gone. TV won’t tempt me; I expect it will be the usual rubbish or repeats of repeats. The house will be quiet, so after we have taken our Christmas communion, eaten our turkey and parsnips, and had a snooze, my wife has plans for some quiet reading and a bit of cooking, and I’ll be upstairs continuing to bang out my new Angel book. I will hope to have written twenty more pages by the New Year.

I said in my last diary entry that because it was The National Year of Reading, 2008, I was going to support it by emailing the nearest 12 libraries offering to give a talk to readers’ clubs or to anybody who was interested? Well, I didn’t send the emails. May I be forgiven.
My mind is too caught up with my new book, which I am about half way through. When I am carrying a new plot and a dozen new characters around in my head, it is quite enough for my little brain to think about.
Haven’t you ever gone to sleep thinking about something, and then woken up still thinking about it? Well that’s how I am when putting a new book together. I don’t sleep well either, which in these circumstances for me is normal.
Anyway, frankly, I didn't want to commit myself to turning out of the house in the cold weather. I really don’t want to face the fog, the frost and the snow. I know I must sound a bit of a wet Nellie, but I don’t care. My name’s Silverwood not Fiennes.
I’ll send the emails when the winter is almost over in February maybe, or earlier if I get a sudden attack of guilty conscience.

I hear from RED HERRINGS, the house journal for members of The Crime Writers’ Association that there is more gloomy news from libraries. They are planning to spend less again next year on books. Also 38 libraries have been closed and the forecast is that a similar number will have succumbed to the same fate by next March bringing the total number in three years to over a hundred.
By the time the library bosses have paid for the heating, lighting, rates and staff wages there’s nothing left to buy books! What a carry on.

I’ve had notification that the AGM of the Crime Writers’ Association 2009 will take place in Lincoln in April. So I will easily be able to attend that. It’s only an hour away. Last year it was in Kent and the year before that, Dublin. I understand that among other treats, we will be able to have a looksee at the control room and other ‘private’ places at Lincoln County police station.

One of my great nieces, Holly, has enrolled me onto something called 'Facebook'. Ever since, I have been receiving emails from all parts of the globe…. From people I met years ago …can’t remember many of them … it’s very agreeable but also very time consuming. As a matter of courtesy, I always reply to everybody who writes to me, but they will maybe have to wait a little while. If you want to write to me, you can, at <>, and if it’s really interesting, I might publish it here. How about that?

Well, I hope you are having a pleasant time despite the gloomy news. Don’t forget to go to the library and borrow a few books to tide you over the Christmas holiday ... or there are some good deals on the internet.

I’ll get back to you soon.