Christmas Eve, December 24th 2010

I hope you are done with your shopping, wrapping, baking and whatever. The queen says what isn’t done strays undone.

The dustbin man has just emptied our wheelie bin. I am glad about that. Gives us more room to throw out more rubbish as it arises … at Christmastime there’s a lot of rubbish about.

The tree lights have gone out. I can’t fix them. I’ve done all I know. I suppose we can manage without them if we must.

Eileen Symonds at Penistone FM, a local radio station, best heard online, has asked me for a request to be played on her ‘Gift Box Special’ programme on Monday, 27th. December. If you want to know what I chose, please tune in to Penistone FM at 10 am. You can get there via Google.

I will be going to a service at Sheffield cathedral tomorrow, if the weather is no worse, and I hope to see you the other side of the turkeyfest. Have a super time. Cheers.
Thursday, December 23rd 2010.

Hello there.
I can’t remember a December as cold as this. As I write, through the window I can see a few stray flakes of snow drifting down like fluff from a goose's chest. I have had to turn the central heating up, and I see from the British Gas cardboard thermometer on my desk that the temperature is 21 degrees Centigrade (70 degrees Fahrenheit), your ideal room temperature, it reads. In addition, I have a hot rubber water bottle at my back and another under my stocking-feet, so I feel warm and very comfortable. In fact, I don’t want to go outside until around May or June. My dear wife, the queen, says that downstairs is too warm for her. The doors (back and front) keep being opened to let in visitors or the cat or deliveries, and by the feel of it, she isn’t in any hurry to close them. She has also taken to feeding the birds and cats and any other stray from the kitchen window, so that keeps being opened too!

Looking at the up side, if the weather makes it impossible to venture out, I shall definitely finish my book before March 31st 2011, which incidentally is the publication date of THE DOG COLLAR MURDERS. The one I am working on is a great plot that hopefully will keep you intrigued and guessing all the way up to the exposé. It is tentatively called THE CHESHIRE CAT MURDERS. I’ll keep you posted here how I get on.

Moving on …
We have a lot of friends and relations, and it is super to keep in touch with them at Christmastime. And we like to do it by sending Christmas cards. We don’t do it because it’s obligatory. We do it because we simply like to maintain the contact. I expect you are the same. But this year has been particularly difficult for us. I was unable to find any cards that I thought were appropriate for the season, so I hadn’t bought any. Then we had that gigantic fall of snow and we were snowed in at the critical time, so we couldn’t get any cards anyway.

We were concerned that by not sending cards we would lose that valuable personal contact with our friends and relations, so we decided to send everybody a letter explaining what had happened and wishing them Yuletide greetings, etcetera. We didn’t want them to think we’d gone potty or had become mean in our advanced years. We didn’t save any money by doing it, because we sent the value of what we had spent on cards last year to the Save The Children fund.
Unexpectedly, several friends have phoned to say that it was a great idea.
I don’t know. It wasn’t really planned. I sent the letter to get us out of a hole. I will have to think about it for next year.

Anyway, whatever you are doing, whatever your circumstances, the queen and I wish you the blessings of Christmas, the remembrance of the holy child, peace and comfort, and have a super time whether you are on your own, just two of you, or in a party of ten thousand. A very Merry Christmas.
Saturday, 13th November 2010

There you are!

You know the blurbs in the Radio Times, the TV Times and on the telly, that tell you about the films to be shown there? They usually start off so well, capturing our attention by naming two or three of our favourite actors. That’s followed up by saying that the actors are in a sparkling comedy, an exciting adventure, a chilling crime mystery, a romantic drama or something like that. After that, the blurb gives details about what happens, who does what to whom, how they react, and what they do next. It then goes on to tell us of an unexpected change in the circumstances and what happens then … and before you know where you are you have the whole ruddy plot spread out in front of you! Speaking for myself, I often decide that I don’t want to see the film if that’s what it’s all about. Does that happen to you?
Well, I have to write the blurb for the jacket of my own books, and I admit it isn’t easy. I have to write enough to persuade the reader to want to read the book, but not enough to make the reading of the book pointless. I introduce the main characters, set the scene, try to suggest the atmosphere then hope the reader will want to find out what happens in the story for themselves. It often takes several rewrites before I get it how I think it should be. Hales, the publishers, want me to write the blurb in 120 words only, which is quite limiting but entirely adequate.

Moving on …
It was the Northern Branch Crime Writer’s Association luncheon in Boroughbridge on Sunday last, 7th. Only writers who have crime novels published are members and can attend (with a friend). Everybody and their Aunt Nellie were there. The main thing on the agenda was this new commercial venture - publishing on line. This may possibly revolutionise conventional paper book publishing, like the introduction of sound to the film industry in 1914. I have two writing friends who have recently succumbed to the enticements of an on line publisher but it is too early to find out how successful the venture has been. Readers would need the novelty of an iPad to read the book in bed or on the train or wherever, which is an additional expense. I can see that it might have some success, but it surely can’t beat receiving a beautiful new printed hardback book as a gift, can it? I’d like to hear what you think.

Incidentally, I forgot to pay for my lunch at the hotel even though the branch chairman had made a special plea to all members not to forget to call at reception and settle up before leaving. However, there were a couple of friends I wanted to speak to, and some little bits of business I needed to attend to. After all, we only meet twice a year, so in the hurly burly of it all, I forgot. It was only when I was driving down the A1 bypassing Leeds that I suddenly remembered. I didn’t want to turn round. I was almost halfway home. So I thought I would phone it through on my credit card as soon as I got home. Anyway, I duly arrived here at about 4.15 pm. The queen was waiting for me wanting to know all the news. I said that I must pay for my lunch first. So I switched on my computer to tap out the hotel name to find the phone number. In the process I saw that there was an email from the branch chairman pointing out that I hadn’t paid and would I do it pronto. I was very surprised. He had certainly been quick on the draw. Anyway, I found the hotel number and dialled it.
Eventually a young woman’s voice said, ‘Reception.’
I said, ‘Hello. I had lunch in the hotel today and I am afraid that I left without paying.’
In a voice she used for asking tiny children with brown marks all round their mouths and on their fingers, if they’ve been at the chocolate cake, the hotel receptionist said, ‘Is that Mr Silverwood?’
Like Frankie Howerd, I was truly amazed! When I recovered from my amazement, I said, ‘Am the only one?’
‘You are,’ she said.
I apologised. Then I paid with my credit card, it only took a few seconds, and politely ended the call.
Do you know, I felt like Ronnie Kray. I really did.

Moving on very quickly …
In the current government squeeze, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport proposes to reduce payments to authors for the loan of their books from libraries. Currently we authors receive 6.29 pence each time a copy of a book is borrowed from a public library under the Public Lending Right (PLR) scheme. If the proposals are sanctioned the rate will be reduced to 6.25 pence per book. Further cuts are likely in following years with the government aiming to reduce the value of the overall PLR fund by 15% by 2014.

I suppose we should think ourselves fortunate. At least two publishers, a small chain of booksellers and a dozen or more libraries have closed during the year.

For the record …
My latest book, published on 30th June is called THE SNUFFBOX MURDERS. I have a new title coming out on March 31st 2011 called THE DOG COLLAR MURDERS and I am writing for publication hopefully next year THE CHESHIRE CAT MURDERS.

Well, I must leave you. I'm miles behind with everything. If you can stand the meanderings of this old writer, keep looking in.

Take care.
September 30th 2010

Hello there.

I was rambling through Wikipedia this morning and found that DI Angel was mentioned as a detective created by me. So (vanity will out) I tapped in my name and - blow me! -that was there also. Only a small entry admittedly, but to be mentioned at all in an encyclopaedia was much more than I had expected. My mother thought it was marvellous when I was first listed in the phone book! Hey Ho. THE CUCKOO CLOCK SCAM was also mentioned, plucked out as the 14th Angel book to be written by yours truly.

Moving on ...
I understand that the audio version of SHRINE TO MURDER (15th Angel book) is in the libraries and shops as from yesterday. If you know of anybody who has difficulty seeing or is blind, please let them know. There are books by me (and better known authors than me) available to be borrowed free or for a small fee from most public libraries. SHRINE TO MURDER has been recorded by Gordon Griffin. He records lots of books including Reg Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe.

I see the mince pies are already in Tescos. What does that tell us?

Keep happy. Come back soon.
14th September 2010

Ah, there you are.

Have you noticed how much cooler it is?
A week or two back as I was thinking of winter and not looking forward to it, a leaflet from our local council was pushed through the letterbox with the post. It said that if we had our loft insulated with special glass wool to a thickness of 10 inches, it would reduce our heating bill by 25%. It got me thinking. 25% would be a considerable amount in this household. What’s more, I had heard that in certain circumstances, this could be done free. Our local council was promoting the scheme so I thought I would look into it. I heard also that most power suppliers are offering a similar scheme to their customers. Although it isn’t means tested, I discovered that because we already had some existing insulation, we didn’t qualify for free (which I didn’t mind, though the logic is beyond my simple mind).

Anyway a young man came last week, humped the rolls of stuff upstairs, pushed it through the little loft hole and spread it to an even thickness of 10 inches, and it cost us £250.00.

I am fully expecting to have a holiday in the Maldives with the saving the experts say we will make this winter. Have you had any experience of this? A saving of 25% off a regular household heating bill is a very substantial claim.

On something else …
Have you heard the phrase ‘EXERCISE IS MEDICINE’? I don’t know what smart arse said it, but I am trying to get with it and stay healthy. I have got that exercise bug. I must be a late developer. I don’t mean serious running, and squash and all that sweaty Johnny Weissmuller stuff (Tarzan to you youngsters). Oh no. But I do believe that gentle exercise is necessary to counter the many hours I spend in my dressing gown and pyjamas in my little room tapping out on the computer.
In the summer I can take my exercise walking round the Park about seven days out of eight, but on the eighth it invariably rains and so I don’t go out. On those days –and there will be many more of them in the coming winter - I should take some other form of exercise indoors. I don’t know exactly what yet, but I have taken the first step in preparation. I have bought a walkman.

Must get back to writing my book. Thank you for looking in and reading the ramblings of this old writer.
6th September 2010

Ah, there you are. Sorry not to have kept this diary up to date. The fact is the queen is not well and has had two weeks in hospital. I have had to be nurse, cook, secretary and message taker for the past month. She still isn’t so bright. It’s worrying when the one you love is not well. Everybody has been so nice, which is making it tolerable for her, but I’d rather like to see her getting out and about again.

It was our wedding anniversary at the end of August, and I had asked her a month or so back what she would like. She said she would like a watch. Now I had bought her a watch a few years back. The leather strap had been replaced and was now tatty and anyway she preferred an expandable bracelet type thing, also she needed a watch with a slightly bigger dial to make it easier to read.

Coincidentally, I had recently pulled off the top of the button on my watch when trying to change the time which had left a sharp point projecting. I had asked the jeweller how much it would cost to repair and was quoted £10 to £17, so, as the watch was only about £25 new, I was not inclined to pay it.

Now you can spend a lot of money on watches these days, but they still tell the same time. I mean a £10,000 watch doesn’t tell you a more accurate time or offer superior time. It doesn’t come with the assurance of sunny weather or a promise of better health for the wearer or anything like that, and gilt ones look like gold even if they are made from reclaimed FrayBentos tins.

The outcome was that the queen and I agreed that we would buy watches for each other for our anniversary, and that, as she wasn’t yet mobile, I would go down town on my own and choose them. I was carefully briefed and we agreed that I should pay whatever was necessary to get exactly what each of us wanted. We expected this to be anything from £25 to £100 each.

I started at the place we had always regarded as our ‘watch shop’, and was surprised to be told that they had nothing in that price range at the moment because they had let stocks run down prior to imminent structural changes and re-decoration of the shop. ‘If I cared to come back in three weeks …’

No I didn’t.

I crossed the road and went into another small jeweller’s shop. There was a beautiful young lady who should have been on a cat walk. She smiled so sweetly that I couldn’t stop staring at her. ‘We don’t sell watches in the ordinary way,’ she breathed. ‘Perhaps the occasional antique watch bought privately … but if you go into the Alhambra Centre there is a jeweller there who sells nothing but watches, I think you will find what you are looking for. Can I help you with anything else?’

She could, and I didn’t want to stop looking at her, but the queen wanted a watch. I had to move on. I reluctantly came out and made my way to the Alhambra Centre. On the way I passed the huge window of a big jeweller’s shop and peeked in. I saw several ranges of watches with price tickets on them with numbers as long as my National Insurance number … I walked on.

I reached the Alhambra Centre, went through the swing doors and quickly spotted a shop with a huge display of watches … several shelves with about a hundred or more on each shelf. There were no prices showing which I found irritating. They could cost hundreds … even thousands. Anyway, they did look interesting. A young man came up to me. He didn’t speak. I quickly saw a watch that looked like the very thing that would suit the queen.
‘May I see that?’ I said.
He nodded and handed it to me. Then I saw one that looked like what I wanted. He handed it to me and I put it on my wrist. It seemed to fill the bill. I had a closer look at each of them. They seemed fine. ‘How much are these two?’ I said.
He pointed to a sign high up over the counter. It read: “Watches - 3 for £10.”
I read it again. I couldn’t believe it. I took a step back. I was stunned, but my training as a husband told me not to show it. I looked back down at the watches. I didn’t know what to say. I checked that both watches were working. They were. They both showed the correct time and the second hand was sweeping round the dial at an even rate.

Eventually I managed to speak. ‘But I don’t want three watches,’ I said.
The young man pointed back up to the sign. Then I realised he wasn’t English. ‘Tree for ten pund,’ he said.
I said, ‘How about these two for six pounds?’
He looked thoughtful, then after a moment he shook his head.
I said, ‘How about these two for seven pounds?’
He nodded.
I pulled out a five pound note and two pound coins. ‘Wrap them up,’ I said.
‘No boxes,’ he said dropping the money in the cash till.
I frowned. But I wasn’t going to argue about boxes. I put the two watches in my pocket and looked up to say, ‘Thank you,’ but he had moved away to attend to another customer.

I came home highly chuffed. So was the queen. Now I’m stuck, trying to think of a Wedding Anniversary present for her.

Well, I have started my new book, but not progressed far due to hospitals and other problems. I still have to get a carpet for the little box room I use as a study, but I have to get motivated for that sort of thing. I want to do it before the winter winds start, and I noticed quite a few leaves on the lawn this morning. Autumn isn’t far away.

I enjoy hearing from you. I seem to have readers all round the world. You can always reach me at, and if you write anything really interesting, I might mention it here on the diary.

Cheers for now, and thanks for looking in.

PS. What do you buy a woman who has everything?

13 July 2010

Great news!
I have just heard that my latest Angel book has been accepted by my publishers. It is called THE DOG COLLAR MURDERS. It will come out in March 2011, and I am naturally delighted.

I am particularly pleased because everywhere you go, I hear of good, experienced, competent authors stuck with manuscripts in their hands, not knowing which way to turn. The credit strain is battering authors very hard. Money is short. Libraries have had their already mean buying allowance drastically cut back. So orders to publishers aren’t flowing in so readily. Some authors have sold the rights to an email publisher. I am not sure how that works. I understand that the book is never actually printed, and that it is sold on line for a fee, like music. It might eventually be sold to readers who have one of these new IPADs. I think an IPAD is a computer about the size of an A4 sheet of paper and around two inches thick. One side is mostly screen, and I understand that an IPAD can store more books than you could read in a lifetime; also you can do all sorts of clever tricks with it, such as change the font size to make it easier to read, and that sort of thing. The practical and commercial mechanics of ‘publishing’ that way are beyond my comprehension. I hope we are not seeing the end of the published book. After all, there’s nothing like unwrapping a book as a gift … it wouldn’t be the same as unwrapping an internet file as a Christmas present, would it?

Well, we are in the dog days of Summer. I read that the saying comes from the Romans who called the hottest days of the summer, ‘dog days’. They believed that the DOG-STAR (Sirius) rose with the sun, added to its heat and therefore bore the combined heat of both. So it says in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. It says that the hottest period therefore is from about 3rd July to 11th July. So we have just had it! I must say, it does feel a bit chilly today.

It has been beautiful this last week and I have managed a few walks round the Park. I hope you are able to take advantage of the good weather and get outside and enjoy the fresh air, the green grass and the trees. The bad weather is soon enough with us when we will want to be huddled up inside.

I must get started on my new book. I have a super plot for an Angel book in my mind, but the queen and I have a few domestic jobs to do before I can get started.

Have a nice holiday if you’re going away; if you’re not going away, have a lovely, quiet, unhurried time at home doing whatever you want to do.

Thank you for reading the ramblings of this old writer.
28th June 2010

Oh dear. Oh dear. And it will cost £12m to get rid of the ‘poor’ man. All that money. How much will it cost to keep him, I ask myself? What ever does he live on? Goldfish?

I raced home yesterday afternoon from a twice yearly meeting of the Northern Chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association lunch and meeting hoping I might catch the end of the match on the telly. I needn’t have rushed by all accounts.

The chapter meeting was very interesting and I met up with some old friends including Peter N Walker (of Heartbeat fame) and his dear wife Rhoda. They were both looking younger. Peter was Chairman of the northern chapter for ages.
A hundred years ago when I was shy and struggling, it was Peter who encouraged me to join in branch activities. (Come to think of it, I am still shy and struggling.)

Next years AGM was announced and apparently it is to be in Darlington. Also the junior crime writers’ competition was discussed. This is a national scheme sponsored by the CWA to get young people interested in crime writing at an early age. There have been thousands of entries. Entry forms available at participating public libraries. If you know any young person who wants to get started and can’t get an entry form, email me and I’ll put you in touch with the appropriate library. My email address, as always, is -

Watch out for publication of my latest Angel book THE SNUFFBOX MURDERS on Wednesday next, 30th June. If you see anything unusual in the sky it could be the rockets.

Come back soon … if you can stand the pace.
7 June 2010

Hi there.

Welcome back. I’ve neglected the diary a bit, I must say. My excuse is that I was busy finishing off with what is possibly my most exciting book. I completed it yesterday and the queen is downstairs proof reading it for me so that I can hopefully I post it off to the publishers tomorrow. It is called THE DOG COLLAR MURDERS. I hope you will think it is Angel at his best.

It is impossible in this life to get through without pain. I should have learned that from when I was five when I had a spanking from my mother with a coat hanger for deliberately setting fire to the white lace bedroom curtains.

Anyway, about two years ago I had terrible toothache. I was in agony. It was at the weekend, and my regular dentist who had been treating me over ten or twelve years was closed. There was a message on his answerphone saying that I should contact the NHS emergency dentist and it gave the number, which I duly rang, many times. However, that phone was always engaged. It must have been off the hook. So, in desperation, I went to the A and E department at the hospital. It was explained to me that while they didn’t have an orthodontics department - I thought that that was the specialist department that dealt with donkeys - the duty doctor would take a look at me. I sat there patiently waiting and wondered if it was possible to give me an antibiotic to get rid of the infection and thereby ease the pain. A few minutes later a 12 year old boy in a white coat came into the cubicle where I had been shunted. He had a look in my mouth and declared that, ‘The gum was a bit red and swollen, but nothing serious,’ and sent me home with 2 co-codamol and advice that I ‘should see a dentist.’

Do you know, writing about this is getting me all worked up, so I’ll skip a few stages and move on.

A friend told me that there was a painless dentist I could go to. A painless dentist? I thought anything to do with teeth had to be painful. I had visions of Bob Hope in that silly film where he was supposed to be ‘Painless Potter’ the travelling dentist touring the Wild West in the 1880’s. He was anything but painless. Anyway I found the man’s name in the phone book, and he had more letters after his name than Idi Amin. Anyway I made an appointment to see him. I had to go private so the cost was enormous. Anyway, to cut the story short, the surgeon extracted the tooth and I didn’t feel a thing. No needles. Just a scratch on the back of the hand. Nothing painful. I slept all the way through it. I had a taxi home and had a painfree snooze through the afternoon. Since then I have had a filling there, no needles, no heavy weapons, utterly painfree, without being anaesthetised.

Last week the same man took out two wisdom teeth and one ordinary tooth. Again no needles. No pain. Slept through the whole operation. It is outrageously expensive, of course, but it is totally without pain and horror.

If you suffer from toothache and you need a dentist, forsake something like a weekend break, or three six month’s booze and go to a painless dentist.

Moving on …
I had a delightful letter from Patricia of Ipswich. I won’t give her name in full in case she is shy. She wrote to me at my publishers, Robert Hale. She says some very kind things about the Angel books. I quote:

‘I love them. They are in plain English, understandable and the best read I’ve had in years.’

She goes on to say that she has read all the titles except one which her library can’t get hold of. It must be MURDER IN BARE FEET, because it is sold out. Although it is no help to Patricia, I am pleased to take this opportunity to remind readers that audio versions of the book were recorded and published in April by Soundings. The actor who made the recording is Jonathan Keeble who also recorded my book, WILD ABOUT HARRY published in 2010. By the way, I have just heard that Hales are reprinting CUCKOO CLOCK SCAM which is excellent news.

Watch out for THE SNUFFBOX MURDERS, which is the 16th Angel book, to be published on June 30th. If you live anywhere near Barnsley in South Yorkshire, watch out for the sky lighting up!

Take care. Back soon.
30 April 2010.

There you are.

Had a great time at the Ladies Group at Emmanuel Hall, Barnsley, on Wednesday night, the 28th. I gave a talk called ‘Writing Your First Book,’ where I tried to inflame the imagination and then have a session writing a piece of narrative. Some of the ladies were very inventive and dived straight into varied and exciting plots. Believe me, gentlemen, the ladies weren’t short of ideas, and there’s probably at least one writer of a best-seller among them!

Would you believe it, for the first time this year, we now have two big vases of beautiful fresh spring flowers in the house… mostly daffodils but some tulips, picked from our own garden? The queen was greatly cheered. There seems to be great satisfaction in growing and picking what you’ve grown, isn’t there?

Hey, we’ve bought a 42” flat screen TV, which is absolutely fabulous. The screen is like a big window and I was brought out my drowsy state the other night when I thought Anthea Turner was coming straight through it into our sitting-room. When I discovered she wasn’t, of course, I went back to dozing.

Still banging away at the book. Hope to finish it soon. I seem to have been writing it forever.

Come back soon if you can tolerate the meanderings of this old writer.
April 25th 2010

Hello there.
There was panic in the Silverwood household yesterday.

It was so beautiful yesterday morning, where we live at the foot of the Pennines, that the queen was inspired to go round the house, look out at the views and open all the windows. Spring is here, she said. Freshen up the house, she said.

Of course, I followed her round closing them. I’m not paying good money out to the gas people to heat up the garden and fields!

Anyway, as a result of that, later that morning, I was in the bathroom getting washed and I reached out to the rim of the sink searching for the towel when I suddenly experienced a pain on my finger. It was a pain to end all pain. It was a pain that I shall not forget. It was like being stabbed in the finger with a hot needle that had an electric element running through it. I naturally pulled it away and an angry wasp fell off the end of it onto the carpet. I chased it round but soon gave up. The pain on my finger was too severe. I dashed to the cabinet, found some iodine and cotton wool, and dabbed round the area. It didn’t seem to make any difference. I went down stairs and showed the queen my finger. By this time it was red and swelling. I told her about the pain and asked her if she had any ideas about what to do to relieve it. She said we should ring NHS Direct. I said no, it wasn’t serious enough to bother them with, but she rang them anyway, then pushed the phone at me. It was a pleasant enough young woman at the other end. I explained that I had been stung by a wasp and asked if there was any quick way she could tell me how to relieve the pain. She said there were some questions she would have to ask me first. I struggled to find out how I could get relief from the pain, but lost, so I held out my throbbing finger and submitted myself to answering a series of irrelevant questions. I thought that she might come up with the advice when she reached the end of them, but no. She was apparently only a clerk, and she said that a nurse would phone me back in about half an hour. She had gone off the phone before I had chance to say that I might be dead by then. Anyway, to be fair, the nurse rang back about ten minutes later. She asked me another load of questions, many the same as the clerk had asked. Then at last I got the information I had been seeking, which was simply to wash my hands thoroughly with soap and water and then gently rub a piece of ice round the inflamed area. I thanked her and rang off. I washed my hands thoroughly although it was painful. I didn’t have any ice in the fridge, but I did have an unopened bag of frozen peas. I didn’t open them, I just put the affected part of my finger onto the bag. I have to admit it was very soothing. After an hour the pain had almost gone leaving a swollen pink area about as big as a postage stamp. This morning there is no pain at all.
I am most grateful to the NHS.

On somethings entirely different …

I am speaking to the Young Wives Group about ‘Writing your first book,’ at Emmanuel Hall, Huddersfield Road, Barnsley, at 7.30 pm on Wednesday evening next, April 28th. If you want to join in, please come along. Admission is free.

I am still working away at my new book for October or so this year. But my next Angel book out is THE SNUFFBOX MURDERS on June 16th 2010.

Come back soon if you can put up with more ramblings from this old writer.
Thursday 25th March 2010

There you are.

Terrific news. I have just heard that THE CUCKOO CLOCK SCAM, published on the 30th September 2009 is already out of print. That means on the one hand that sales have rocketed (which, of course, I am ecstatic about), but it also mean that latecomers won’t get a copy, as it will be impossible to persuade my publisher to reprint it in this financial climate. (It took 31 years to get a reprint of my first book, DEADLY DAFFODILS!)

Incidentally, the real daffs in our garden have arrived! The gold colour from my study window cuts through the mist, lightens the gloom and cheers me up. I thought we’d lost them all in the big freeze. Thank goodness for some normality.

Of course the winter just past is how winters used to be. I suppose if you’re under 20, you will think it unusual. I remember being caught in Aberdeen in 1962 and having to spend the weekend there because the roads were impassable and the trains had stopped running.

Moving on …
I received a cosy letter from the gas people telling they want more money. MORE MONEY! There is a subtle hint in the small print if you look hard for it that had me dashing off to read the meter.
The gas companies don’t read meters anymore. They haven’t time. They are too busy adjusting price lists upwards. Besides that, reading meters is a dirty, cold unsociable job … creeping round houses, knocking on doors, waiting for folks to answer. So many people out at work … nobody in all day, so that the reader has to call back in the evening. Can’t do that.
Anyway, I phoned the actual meter reading through to the sugar tonsilled lady at the gas company and she lowered the bill. Just like that.

I frequently mention in the books that Angel is worried about paying the gas bill. I would be interested to hear what you think about today’s gas prices (or anything else). The address is If you write anything interesting, I might mention it here on the diary.

I heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer say he was making plans to make it easy for everybody to have a bank account. (Presumably as the first stage in organising a new way of taking money off us).
And I was thinking, doesn’t he know it’s always been easy to open a bank account? The only requirement was that you had to have money, the more the better. If you hadn’t any or much, there wasn’t much point and you might have been turned away.
Anyway, millions of people still don’t want a bank account and pay their bills at the Post Office. They trust the Post Office. But the government wants to close down the Post Offices that everybody trusts and move the business to the banks that nobody trusts!

Is there any hope for commonsense?

Still hacking away at the Angel book. It’s taking shape now. It should be finished in about six weeks. It is proving quite a marathon, but I am writing carefully. I want Angel fans to enjoy it and get their money’s worth. This will be the 17th Angel book. My next Angel book out is THE SNUFFBOX MURDERS on June 16th 2010.

Come back soon if you can put up with more ramblings from this old writer.
Tuesday, March 16th 2010

Well hello there. Welcome back.

The temperature today in sunny South Yorkshire is forecast to be 15C. Isn’t that fantabulous? I may soon have no excuse at all for not walking round the Park. My main reason this year has been the atrocious weather, and the need to work at my new Angel book.

It was a heavy fall of snow overnight that prevented some members, me included, from attending the Crime Writers’ Association Northern Branch dinner and conference last month. Meeting up with fellow writers and old friends, enables us to compare notes, talk about publishers and generally beef about everything to do with writing crime. That companionship is valuable and I missed it. The next one is in October, I will have to wait until then to recharge my battery.

We have a dear lady, Elaine, who looks after the queen and me. She keeps the dust out of mouths, prepares meals and generally does everything. She planned to go away for a week’s holiday recently which was fine, although I wondered how we would manage. Anyway, Elaine said that her elder daughter, Sharon, could come in for a few hours and keep us tidy and organised while she was away, if we would like. The queen and I were very grateful and gladly agreed to the idea. So Elaine went off on her holiday with her younger daughter Sheree to Italy, and Sharon duly arrived that Monday morning and did her stuff. Although Elaine was a thousand miles away in a foreign country, (‘Bonjourno,’ to all my Italian readers, by the by), apparently she was in regular contact by ‘text’ with Sharon. And Sharon, who I thought was a darling, looked after us admirably, and everything seemed to go all right.
However, when Elaine returned, among many other things she showed me a text that Sharon had sent to her after the first day coming here. It read, ‘I could throttle Mr Silverwood. He complains so much.’
Naturally I wasn’t pleased, but I made light of it.
Then later Sharon came round to show me the text her mother had sent to her from Italy in reply. It read, ‘Yes. He moans. Take no notice.’
‘He moans. Take no notice.’ Me! I didn’t know what to say. I denied it categorically, of course. Everybody who knows me, knows that I am as easy as an old boot. Women!

Of course I have been hammering away on my computer at my new book which is something of a tussle. (It’s like marriage. It gets harder as you go along.) Getting the characters believable, Angel’s wit as sharp as I can make it and a plot that is both original and exciting is no mean task for Angel’s 17th outing. It will still be some weeks before I finish it. I hope readers will think it’s all been worth waiting for.

Meanwhile, THE SNUFFBOX MURDERS will be published in July and will be the 16th Angel book.

And while writing, I am pleased to advise that the audio rights in SHRINE TO MURDER have been sold to Isis, so that the blind can hear it recorded by Jonathan Keeble on disc or cassette. They will be ready in April.

Also, the large print rights in WILD ABOUT HARRY have been sold to Thorpes and will be published in April. Thorpes have published my other Angel books, which is super.

I think that's about all I can think of for now. Now I must find my walking boots and stick.

Take care and come back soon.
Saturday, January 23rd 2010

Hello there. Welcome back. I’ve got some great news …

The wheelie man has been and emptied our grey bin. He has left the green box of tin cans and glass bottles standing outside our front gate, though. They have been there since Christmas. I hope he’ll come back and move them soon. This is the drawback of living off the beaten track.

Also, I note from figures supplied by the Public Lending Rights people, who monitor the borrowing of books from the council run free public libraries in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, that the borrowing of my Angel books has slightly more than doubled for the 12 months period ending June 30th 2009. There were three new titles published during that time which would of course add to the figures. They were MURDER IN BARE FEET, WILD ABOUT HARRY and THE WIGMAKER. They added about 18% to the total but if you divide the borrowings by pi, add a lemon and throw in a corpse or two, it still means that many more of you lovely people are reading about Inspector Angel.
Writing the books stops me watching the telly, thinking about women and it helps pay the gas bill and invest in the occasional bottle of bubbly, which can’t be bad. So I thank you for all of that.

I say, I am looking forward to next Friday, January 29th, when the latest Angel book, SHRINE TO MURDER will be published. This book has the most intricate plot I have ever written. When you’ve read it, I hope you will see what I mean. I tried to write it so that just when you thought you knew whodunit, the storyline took on a slightly different emphasis and the clues slipped away like money at Meadowhall. I won’t say more or I shall give the plot away. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.
I expect the queen and I will go out to the pub for our usual haddock and chips to celebrate!

Hope you are keeping well through this cold weather. It is these temperatures and barometric pressures that find all our weak spots. I was complaining to my doctor about painful aches in my leg and back and she said that gentle walking is as good as anything. As soon as I can, and weather permitting I shall take a gentle stroll round the park. It might help me to work out the fine points of the plot of the present book I am struggling with.

Take care, keep well and come back soon.
Sunday, January 3rd 2010

Happy new year to you. I can’t believe it’s 12 months since I last said that. This year has gone faster than a teenager’s Christmas money.

I have to say that it’s been a tolerably kind year to my friends and relatives. I haven’t had to go to a single funeral. So many have been in hospital and had operations which they have graciously come through - Praise God and the NHS.
Thinking about it, I haven’t been to a wedding either.

2009 has been a great year for me. I had two new Angel books, THE WIGMAKER and CUCKOO CLOCK SCAM published in hardback and MURDER IN BAREFEET published in large print, also a CD audio version of it recorded for the blind.
I am highly delighted at the continued success of my Inspector Angel books and I thank all you lovely people who buy them or borrow them from their libraries. A few – only a very few I hasten to say – are kind enough to email me and tell me they like them. Special thanks to you for going to the trouble.

It is sad that in 2009, I noted that two book publishers have closed their doors for the last time and I hear that two multiple book retailers have also ceased trading. All, no doubt, a result of the recession.

You know, the government are trying to tell us that the recession is almost over. They blind us with statistics to which we have no access. We’ll know when the recession is over when everybody who wants a job has got a job.
While I’m chuntering on, I do wish they’d stop this ‘quantitative easing’. That’s fancy talk for printing more money at the Royal Mint. Everybody knows where that leads to - INFLATION on a grand scale.

Well, as a good friend of mine says, ‘Life may not be perfect but it’s better than the alternative.’

The queen is in good fettle and has been bustling me around these last couple of days, so there is not a lot different here in 2010. We are almost cut off with the snow and it is still coming down. It is very picture postcard, but if it doesn’t stop soon, I shall have to mount the hill in my snow skis, harness the huskies and fetch us some victuals.

Take care in the snow, and come back here soon.