Sunday, 4 November 2012

Killer Launch

As you may have guessed, I have been busy.  Nearly finished the new book and finished editing the cook book.. you might have seen it in The Sun, The Sunday Post and many others as well as on daybreak Tv with Lorraine 'isn't that great' Kelly.

Waterstone's,. Thursday 15th November, 6.30 onwards - seven best selling crimewriters - nibbles from the cook book - wine- Prof Sue Black - more wine - a night of fun, books and  the most grizzly cooking since Hannibal Lecter went on 'Come Crime With Me!'

You have to be there!!

Caro

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

fish, chips and crime


Just got back from my world tour of all over the place, including a brief trip to hell and back through high water and all kinds of other metaphors. There was no email access anywhere. No phone signal. Just blame hurricane Jordan. The actual hurricane that is not the page three model in a strop.

Bumped into a few celebrities on the way, some are just as lovely or not lovely off stage as on but they are what they are. Some are just dure money grabbing gits off stage yet on stage they are all bon homie and lovliness dahling and butter would not melt. Off stage they will snub you, stab you in the back as easily as they would steal your last Rolo. They snap their fingers at their PR people to get them a taxi ( just asking would do!), they are as nice as ninepence on stage and really horrible to the other panellists afterwards. Daft to do that to a crime writer, as they will just write about them and get their own back in the next book. Not brutally slaughter them in fiction as they might enjoy that  but write about them and give them a mullet  or make them a Take That fan or something equally awful.

I am refusing to acknowledge the sock puppetting scandal. There is a good reason for this. I  don't understand it. But Tony Black and  Zoe Sharp and  I ( three crime writers who should have been making better use of their time! I just put that in in case my agent reads this as she thinks I am blogging instead of writing my next book but this is a freelance stream of consciousness- typing rather than dense plotting while really having to  concentrate and do big  thinking, I am able to eat  pringles while blogging! ). We three invented a  new word... fingerbobbing. That means writing over the internet about folk and being NICE about them. 
Let's start a trend!

Firstly, the lovely but extremely stressed Susan. She is stressed every time I see her. She runs the Milngavie  arts and book festival and is a little superstar.  I might be talking rubbish but she owns the book shop in  Milngavie that used to be owned by Magnus Magnusson. Each year she has run this festival for arts etc and on the last night it reaches it's climax. The culmination of all that is great and worthy about the  world of high brow literature.. the fish, chips and crime night. It is  hosted by the  marvellous Len Murray- every body's favourite grandad. That is not the trade union one, rather the QC one. The  man is a natural wit,  he needs no mic (  just as well as one minute in to the event the sound system was making noises like a cow having a spasm of the vocal chords.) Len does not need a mic, he said that if he asked a question in court two, the answer came from court four. In fact, you could probably hear him in Quebec. The other panellist was Sophie Hannah, a great girl if I can call her that . She said that any gig where you get chips is worth doing! She was funny, witty, informative, and a  general all round good egg, ad libbing with the rest of us as we waited for the secret signal that the chips had arrived.  If you ever get the  chance to go and see her do so. I’ve read a few of her books,  more observation and psych thriller than the specifics of forensically who did what to who  and  why. I was telling her that I watched a  programme on TV,  getting forty minutes through it before I realised it was a TV adaptation of one of her books. She said that she watched the whole thing and did not recognise it at all!
.
 She did ask me an interesting question though. She asked me which of my books was my  favourite. I answered and then she asked.. but which do you think is your best... and the answer was different.
We had rather a good natter about that over our chip butties.

The three of us kept going -  ready to be cut off in our prime the minute the chips arrived... just imagine all these  posh folk, crystal glasses, champagne, chandeliers, then  the fish suppers arrive.. what joy! And they all turn into finger lickers ( not to be confused with fingerbobbers ) 

Poor Susan, stressed no doubt by being driven slowly insane by the health and safety Nazis, has said No More festivals.
Boo hiss, but  I do understand. it's too much.
Go and visit her book shop. It has a wee coffee house  at the back. Great  latte and the best egg mayo sandwiches  I have ever tasted. And that is true.
Not just a  fingerbob!




Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pic; is it over yet?

The Great Lord Lushfield experimenting with his flashing. By now I just wanted Marmite.

before the launch

Before it starts, with singer and songwriter CKB.

picture; the launch

the launch of blood of crows!
Friday and Saturday were back down to earth with a slap.  6 am starts. Cold and driech, autumn is well and truly here. The days past in a patient list full of caffeine and tiredness. I was not in Florence Nightingale mode, I was in the mode of my other great medical hero. Gregory House. 'It's patients who get in the way of treatment!'

Sunday was a confusing day, too many kids, too many dogs,  high heels, blisters, trouser legs too long. A  big charity do  that could be an all day affair, but sore feet and sore throat had not recovered  from the launch. The do was 40 miles away... and  I had to do my face.. and look human despite the lack of sleep.
I've seen other guest speakers turn up as if they have just finished mowing the lawn but it seems a little disrespectful, unless you are Alan Titchmarsh of course.

It was a ladies who lunch type of thing, lots of cleavage and flowers. (Not  mine. I do not posses the first and am allergic to the second.) But they tend to talk, a lot. As if they have been let out from somewhere after a period of captivity.  They are lovely and very welcoming, even the lady with the job that would normally  make me produce an AK 47  - a home economics teacher,  but she  was quite normal. I normally class them with Douglas Adams 'B' ark, ie the sort of people the world is better off without... Telephone sanitisers, Simon Cowell, Big Brother, anybody who says 'spelled the Gaelic way etc'

There is always a intrinsic difficulty in these events, the audiences  are an unknown quantity and indeed, quality.  My 'audience' know that they are  going to get a sad sick pervert giving them verbal shrapnel. Crime audiences  don't mind us talking about chopping up prostitutes or  nailing household pets to the neighbours door   and they  will laugh. We might be SSP but we are nice with it.

Talking to the general public is always slightly more difficult. People have paid a lot of money to have a nice afternoon, it might be a mistake to stick to the script if folk are getting scared.  Chris Brookmyre does not alter his style at all, what you see is what you get, usually with both barrels.  I don't mind  yielding a little. If  people have paid money to come along and  I am part of the deal, the deal is to entertain them.... and get money out them. Would I say that if my granny was in the audience?  If not then I will keep stumm.

They were all very nice ladies, even the HE teacher, all dressed as if going to a wedding,  some of them  hyphenated.  I very quickly got the impression that they were under the (wrong ) impression that I was a nice, chick lit writer, a bit kind of Colin Firth and Shades of Jane Austin.

Oh dear.

My fall back plan was to poke fun at Mensa ( a great crowd pleaser that one!)
Then address questions that I was casually asked  during the dinner. Folk are curious about writers. They like to know things!  They want to know how to kill their husbands, then they want to know how to get away with it.
The lady in charge of me ( there has to be one!) is from the  'north of England'. I am not good at accents  but I  would place her  somewhere between James Bolam and Cheryl Cole. We were running late so the raffle was in double quick time, she was desperately trying to say 'Yuille' 'Crainlarich and Achencouchen' and I was desperately trying not to laugh.   Maybe  we should just make the raffle a comedy double act.   If we vote for independence, I think she should be allowed to stay.

There was a bit where I did have to bite my tongue and dig my fingernails  into my palms to stop laughing.  I have a very weird sense of humour and will laugh at at the most inappropriate things.  I  have spent much  of my life around professional musicians, indeed HWMBI is one.  People never  think that they can stand up and sort out the Higgs Boson  unless they have studied physics, so why do people think they can play the drums or sing?  In here please just insert my usual rant about the X factor.  The X factor is a success because so few who think they can sing actually can.  They are usually tone deaf and have no friends to tell them the truth. Often what passes for singing is a noise that can be auto tuned to sound less like a cat having a hysterectomy.  And there is a narrow range of song they feel is acceptable. Which is worse than a shame.

So after  my wee bit, a young girl got up to sing us a couple of songs. This was fine. She could sing.  She could hold a tune. She had a beautiful lyrical very pure voice..... so why did she sing along to a crap backing CD with crap backing vocals?  At that point... with her standing behind a lectern, nodding at the instrumental break with no guitarist to look at during the guitar solo, I just got a bit French and Saunders.

She had a great voice, we were on the banks of the Bonnie Doon.   I think one of the greatest song writers in the world had a wee ready made song for her there, a melody that is so beautiful it is tear jerking.  She could have done it unaccompanied, I think she is that talented.  So why did she sing that American shit?

However all that is just a personal opinion. It was a great day,  the committee worked very hard to make a success of it. Action For Medical Research is the best known charity that nobody knows anything about, they just politely go on  their way raising money.  And the research they make possible and the medical advances they fund are well  documented and worth every penny donated.  I've been in practice for 28 years and I see, in my lifetime, the difference that this charity has made to the public profile of conditions Rett's syndrome.  It is good stuff, check out the website.

They used to be ' help a  crippled child' - remember the wee boy collecting box that used to stand outside shops with a polished head as every body patted him as they walked by... and put money in. They are still much loved, and cherished. Probably to the annoyance of the PC nazis.  There was one such collecting box outside the fish mongers in Paisley Road West. I would not go in because of the kipper eyes ( still freak me out, the eyes of dead fish). I would stay outside and my gran would give me an old thrupence to put in the box to help the wee kiddies. I'd stand and chat away to him, waiting.  I think some times, I even heard him talk back. But I was only five at the time.

I think there might be a short story there!

Caro


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

the big day!


When  I was normal, before I was a published author, I thought that publication day would go like this;

One would rise to birdsong, the sun would be shining, the sky would be blue and my hair would sit right.  I would sink into a hot bath full of bubbles and swan around doing bugger all as bluebirds flew round my head in a disneyesque manner. I would wear a silk dressing gown when I opened the door to receive the bouquets of flowers being sent from grateful publishers, agents, acolytes etc.
I would spend the day being generally marvellous, eating handmade chocolates and sipping champagne, then I'd get dressed, everything would fit, my feet would slip into my shoes as if they were made of glass. Then a car would come for me and I'd be driven into town, where my adoring fans would wave as they waited outside Waterstones for me. I would be witty, erudite and fantastic and I would not swear. The queue to buy books would be out the door and the supply would be plentiful. My pen would not run out and I would not get RSI in the right wrist. Somehow I would lose any medical qualification that I ever had and my handwriting would become legible. I would leave them begging for more, I'd get back into the chauffeur driven car and be taken home, there would be no roadworks outside ASDA. The house would be warm and cosy, the pitbull would not run away with her friend Mr Fox. There would be toast and Marmite and a big comfy bed.

The reality was out of bed at 6am, dog out, met Jack Shit (cross between jack russell and a shit zu) and his mum who was nice... but I was watching the clock. Then I met the obnoxious woman, who always looks at pitbull as though she is an illegal immigrant with ebola. The pitbull just gave her a dismissive look but we had to stand back from the path while she wandered past with her pedigree rat.
Cleaned the cat hair out the bath, etc dressed and packed bag as can't spend all day in good shoes and  BBC radio want me in the middle of Glasgow at half ten.  Had to drive car laden with wine, glasses, water and orange juice to Glasgow and park as close to Waterstones as I could. Then swing around the railings in Blytheswood Square as the linen cupboard in the hotel was too noisy for the recording. Alex Grey persuaded me to do secret things that I cannot blog about but it has a sherlock feeling about it.  Chris Brookmyre and I chatted about the Borrheid mafia.  Then went to M and S for a coffee, it was empty, peace, quiet then  woman with screaming child came in and sat at the table next to me... the kid screamed and screamed. I am allergic to children- when they come near me they come out in bruises.
 Then I was sick.
 Then I had to redo my makeup  but I had my trowel with me so that was OK.
Then to Waterstones for filmed interview with Daily Record ( Google Caro Ramsay chapter and verse 2012 if you want to see it), John is making me laugh, asks me the same question twice and we are trying to ignore the small crowd behind the camera. I was determined not to use the phrase 50 shades of grey, but I did.
 Then the faithful PA arrived, laden with bookmarks and receipts. James from Waterstones produced a trolley and we pushed it up and down Sauchiehall street laden with boxes of glasses and Pringles, two blondes trying to bounce it up and down the kerbs. Did we drop any ? Nope! I think we were a bit too conscious of the £90 deposit which I promised HWMBI could spend on chocolate raisins in B&M stores if he washed all the glasses. He didn’t really mind the washing, it was the taking them back to Silverburn on the Saturday that required Cofe Annan type of negotiation.
Back at Waterstones the PA and I hid in cupboard and got changed, before we went out and put out the 200 glasses, the wine, the juice, the Pringles. People started arriving ( no bus).. my pal arrived with tears in his eyes having got the all clear from nasty things just that day. So we had a hug, then he saw somebody else he knew and hugged him. Then joe bloggs appeared and he gave me a hug thinking that was the done thing. Still no bus.
The place was filling up... can we get started said the Waterstone’s guy. He looked a bit concerned when I told him that the bus was not here...yet.
Then they arrived, wandering down the stairs in a dazed and confused way, like slightly pissed Zombies  ( they had been singing on the bus) The bus was more than a bit late,  then somebody  got locked in the loo. I had put out reserved seats for a pals with mobility issues - I had printed them out on the back of a friends edit. Little old lady sits down, turns over  paper and reads the words ..".'F... off you cow,' she said." Much hilarity.
The BBC lady was interviewing folk, including my 82 year old friend who could easily have said...'Well I do like Caro's books but like books with much more sex in them.'
Then I started... so I finished as Magnus would say.  The Mensa folk turned up an hour late and got confused between the queue to buy books and get books signed, after the shop closed they were escorted away by an off duty cop in case they could not find their way to the street.
Sore hand, pen ran out, lost my good pen, couldn't spell any of the Gaelic names and Waterstone’s ran out of books.
The hotel did us proud in the end and the bus took the home team away, pissed and happy, singing Achy Breaky heart all the way back to the small fishing village on the Clyde.  I received two thank you cards... to be passed onto the bus driver.
I got home... sixteen trips in and out the car to empty it of all the detritus of the day, the various furry ones sat and watched me, heads moving from side to side like they were watching Murray V Federer. It was well past midnight by the time  I was finished.
Then I collapsed in a heap,  it was cold, there was no toast and no marmite.
Now I understand Michael Jackson.
He turned to drugs due to lack of Marmite!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

the day before the day before the day..


It has all been a little fraught as you may have gathered, every blog I have typed has been full of expletives and unpublishable. But now, after the event, after the big day that was today, we are all back to normality and nobody died.  This is five days after the first attempt at this blog... at some point I was staggering up the street at one AM, having lost my shoes, my voice and the will to live.  And perfectly sober I may add.
At this moment, when a degree of normality returned, I am lying under the dog and the duvet, sipping red wine and trying to get warm.  So now, kiddiewinks, I will transport you back to the Tuesday before the BIG DAY.

 It was an effing disaster of a day.

 I was treating the patients as usual, they seemed to sense all was not well and bore more gifts that usual- the croissant were almond crusted, the sandwiches had mayo and not salad cream. The FPA was trying to firm up arrangements for the launch- arrangements that were already in place and were all moved a month forward as publication date changed.... then... well,  the FPA was trying to keep control of her bowels  as the day wound down from bad to worse.

 We opened the boxes of books that had been delivered from the publisher... there were a few missing....well 33% missing. No copies at all of one of the books. And I had a major charity event on Sunday... and they need the books to sell. My poor editor only came back from holiday on Monday and we have done nothing but moan at her.... another few emails.

Lots of coffee and almond croissants!

 Then the FPA phoned the hotel. They had lost the booking. Her face went pale, and I think she stopped breathing.  I think as her lungs collapsed, her bowels went into over drive. She didn’t tell me at that point, she asked the young lady, very pointedly to PHONE me BACK WHEN YOU HAVE FOUND IT.
Or die. I think was the subtext.

The girl did find it eventually and she was very apologetic, but by then the FPA was on life support. We did ask what would have happened if 100 Glaswegians had walked in looking for free booze and no function room was ready for them... oh we would have sorted out something she said.

Well good luck with that one pal!

Hiring room? Can we have one table, loads of chairs? How many chairs round how many tables? She said. Only one table, but a lot of chairs- they will move them around as they want? Yes, but how many tables do you want in the room?

 More than zero, less than two.

Why are they so many numpties in employment when there so many unemployed.  My pal had a border collie that would have grasped the situation quicker.

 But she was honest enough to admit it when the booking email was eventually found and the FPA was jump started by an adrenaline injection right into the cardiac muscle. Less than honest were Tesco, Sainsbury and some other glass hire lot. Unbelievably wrong on everything they said on the phone and then deny that that was what they said. Twenty pounds is not sixty pounds as they tell you.  Or was it forty?   So you want 300 glasses? Well we have twelve. Yes but on the phone you said you had 300. The response to this is a blank stare. And 12 glasses.

Ok said, faithful PA? Please give us twenty bottles of wine and three hundred straws.
Or a horse trough and they can just sort themselves out.

Maybe if I was a member of Mensa I would be oblivious.

Some of the guests seem to be mistaking the complimentary bus for the hokey cokey. They are in, then they are out.   Very confusing if you are the Bold Oscarina with the clipboard and the microphone. Her job was that Falklands thing of counting them out and counting them home.

There was one ray of sunshine. A patient had got hold of an advance copy of Blood Of Crows, started it at 8pm, and then read it until the wee small hours, he was enjoying it so much. And he was a wee bit scared so he thought he had better read on. He finished it in matter of hours, he said it was my best yet, real thrilling thriller.
 And I didn’t even owe him money.

Ps, he wasn’t a member of MENSA either.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

three days to go

'He'  has been looking on  the internet. He thinks that we do not have enough cute animals in the the house. This is what HWMBI gets up to while I am at work. I come home to the dog eating pizza in bed and the cat sitting in a box in the front room, glowering.  HWMBI was looking at skunks as pets, red pandas as pets and  ferrets as pets.  And falabella ponies as house pets. ( see previous blog about crap on the carpet!) He thinks that any thing remotely furry is a good pet... the fuzzier the fur the better. He probably thinks that Chewbacca  would be nice to walk round the park on a Sunday morning and would enjoy frightening the purple rinse COS brigade. Chewbacca would be easier to deal with than the Pit Bull when she meets Handsome Harry the flat coat, he is the Peirce Brosnan of dogs and the pit bull, the Anne Widdicome of dogs. She hates him with a passion. He  does not seen to realise that she is not actually playing hard to get, she really will bite off his reproductive organs, chew them up and spit them out. But on he comes,  The Handsome Harry, waggling his bottom and his tongue hanging out the side of his big silly mouth.  The pitbull always waits until he is within striking distance and she never misses. I'm not sure if it is  his daft smiley face that upsets her, his very good pedigree or the fact that he wears a red velvet collar, but something about him upsets her.
Imagine how HWMBI would behave if he was taking a ferret out for a walk.    There would be bunny massacre,  Watership battlefield.  It would be like alien versus predator but very close to the ground.
Worked usual 12 hour shift, got chatting to a few folk about problem pets. I knew about the attack donkey who lives in a farm yard.  Drive in there, stay in your car and sound your horn. There is no point in keeping your eye on the manky alsation, it's the wee donkey creeping up behind you that will kill you. The donkey is called Rosie I think, those that know her call her psychodonkey.  Sounds like a seaside cover version of a Talking Heads song.

There is a cute ferret, Minky who is a bit of a scoundrel. She went ..through the vent for the tumble dryer, in and out the pipe, then ripped it apart and got into the cavity walls, ran all over the house, builders bill for £500 to try and find the wee sod. By then she had chewed all kinds of wires and had a great time.

The prize had to go to  Penfold. Penfold was left in the house . The woman said to the heating engineer that she would have to go out  to post a letter and that he would be OK with Penfold. She went out, Penfold decided that he was not happy and went on the offensive. He attacked, biting the engineer in the face and  and hands. The heating engineer ran from the house face bleeding.  Penfold is a macaw. About £1500 of macaw.

65 emails came into today but they will have to wait. Too tired, will have to wrestle the pit bull from the duvet before I can use it. And shake it free from pizza crumbs.

Caro

Sunday, 26 August 2012

4 days to go

Well the  MFB ( mighty figbane... is his wife henbane? ) has come up trumphs with a website, that took me to another website and ended up with a website called my favourite sweeties! Like old proper sweeties.  There I found two that had kept me awake all night worrying  - the Pyramid Bar  and the Cracknel bar.
The pyramid bar was a chocolate pyramid filled with mint fondant, the Cracknel bar was  a slim, rather elegant dark chocolate that used to sit in a little cardboard sleeve so  you had to slide it out to eat it. Or eat the cardboard as well. Which I often did.
The inside was green methol/minty icicles  and a bit..snappy!
They were great.
 Somebody emailed me to say that they are still available  in South Africa. Have posh friend  who has a timeshare on a game reserve -she shares it with some impala. Might ask her to bring me some back next time.That reminds me of the old joke - give me a home where the buffalo roam and I will show you a house full of cow shit.
The bar six question has been answered due to the MFB and I know two members of the writers group that will be very pleased at that. Some of the writers group have to be kept happy/ sedated/ on a register other wise things can get a little out of order.   They are great , but slightly weird. talented but in no way arrogant. Criticism is given and received, no holds barred then we have coffee and tablet.. or coffee and tablets.. in some cases. It is a big strange on the ears when two lovely little old ladies start discussing the merits of the pointy pervert...( kind of cross between Benny Hill and that wee Red creature that inhabits Venice in don't look now. The thing I found most frightening about that film was Donald Sutherland's perm, after that the pervert was a dawdle!)    And two highly respected accountants start talking about the best torture to do with a broken  snooker queue and a snooker table. I suggested a surgical latex glove might be best deployed there. This sort of thing is the best reason to distrust accountants.
Did try to look out some clothes today for Thursday.. but they were put away some where safe and I have no hope of finding them- that'll be that high IQ thing again.
Edited another 100 pages of book, it goes really well  running through the pages, then I hit a sticky section that reads really clunky- and needs to be half the word count. That takes about ten minutes per page. And that is without a Dorito break.
Got an email from a fan who was carrying her husband a tray of breakfast up to bed with the newspapers on it. He was lying there.  Opened the paper and jumped out his bed. 'It's Caro,' he said... 'There in the paper. I can't be naked in front of her!'   Answers on a postcard to me about that one.
Meanwhile, it was very cold today for what is technically still summer. The MFB will be glad to know that the pItbull has it's own fire on with a huge cushion in front so that she can toast herself as winter draws in. That's Daily Record Devil dogs for you!

Me

Saturday, 25 August 2012

brain fried , Day 6 is it? no 5!



Patient with bad sinus trouble asked me to put my hand on her sphincter. Mmmmm. As this had helped her sinus to drain last time I did it.

Sphincter? I asked
Yes, here she answered, pointing to her head.
Sphenoid, I said.
I knew it began with a C, she said. And lay down.

That lady is very bright, a very bright human being indeed. But scatty and happy with it. She's delightful, mega intelligent who knows she can't find her own arse with a map but it does not concern her. She is shit hot at her very demanding, very worthwhile job. 
So...... I did my talk to Mensa in the afternoon.

Did not know what to expect. I know three members of Mensa. wouldn't let any of them walk my dog.


My hyper intelligent friend (slightly useless but aware it PhD person)  phoned to ask how I got on.  Mensa is outdated  he said,   society needs functioning intelligence in the species, and that comes in many different forms. People are rightly dismissive of those who claim to be bright but can't walk and talk at the same time. Well I think that was what he said but I  was dipping Doritos at  the time  and you have to have some sense  of proportion.
 Intelligence might not be a linear thing but might be spokes radiating out from a central point.  The creative genius go north, the spreadsheet anoraks go  south and all of mankind is in here or there.

I did ask a few patients about Mensa, answers varied but nobody had a good word to say. Not that anybody knew much. I had done some research about them but failed to see the point. Their PR is obviously done by MI6 .  The conversation went along the lines of .'well why would you join it?'  I have better things to do with my time.  If I want to speak to like minded people I'll speak to the CWA, the FIMLS, SSR and the MJWG . (crimewriters, forensic people, scottish staffie rescue etc) Why would I want  to speak to somebody I might have nothing in common with, apart from an ability to recognise a sequence of prime numbers? It's a strange tie to bind by.  Maybe in todays world, that IQ label is a barrier, as everybody else is too busy getting on with it. 
Are they stuck in a intellectual time warp?  I am hugely intelligent when interested (  diagnosis) ,  thick as shit when  not. .. tax returns.  My accountant marvels at my brain, I marvel at his. Neither is superior, we are just different. Each to their own, you wouldn't run Mo Farrah in the 100 metres.


My pal left school with one O' grade, at the age of 34 he got his PhD. It wasn't IQ that held him back, it was being poor. 

So I didn't know  what to expect,  but whatever it was, it wasn't what I got.
Kind of lovely but strange, like old geography teachers. Those very liberal left wing geography teachers where  nothing ever gets done as  everything is discussed ... but bugger all decided. I've always believed in benign dictatorship. Somebody has to have a steady hand on the helm. Even on board the Titanic.

They were talking about a lack of funds and a lack of membership. Now bearing in mind that I was an onlooker, listening and ingesting I might be  being totally unfair and I might be being so in this entire blog but... then, if they want to draw in new membership, what did I see?
No idea, but in the little snippet I saw there was a lack of cohesion and direction, a sort of wooly circular thinking.  I think most folk were elsewhere, doing something else. 
They had two great speakers.  One was on the website, great girl, good analysis of Lolita/edits/ rewrites.. did Nabokov basically write the same book more than once? Really interesting stuff.  The other speaker was not mentioned.  
I'm doing a non-crime event  next month, sold out 200 seats. Scottish book of the month. Seven national newspaper interviews, three national radio interviews lined up.  Not even a mention on the website.  Was that because as a mere crime writer I was not worthy??  

That does say something about their advertising and how they promote what they have.

But one by one, they were lovely. I thought I would get lively intellectual debate but only a mild ... oh no you don't, oh yes you do. type argument.    I was right of course but didn't want to press the point.  My Swedish background was  tipping the balance in my favour. If they had been bright  and conniving, instead of just bright,  they would have researched their guest and known better with that one!
I did chortle in a high IQ score but even higher psychopath score kind of way...
Food for thought.
Doritos are the best food for thought.
Whatever happened to Bar 6's? Any body know? Was it the EEC? 

Me 




Friday, 24 August 2012

day six and still counting



Hi

It was a kind of normal day today. Well normal for me. The main talk  amongst the patients was Anders Breivik, his 'sane' verdict had just come through this morning. Opinions range from he's obviously mad as  a sane person would never do that to.. it really doesn't matter if he is sane or not just lock him up. But we hope that will be an end to it all, he's another manipulating psychopath and the Norwegian courts have done a great job in not allowing him the space to spout his right wing views. And the relatives of the victims have been so dignified in their grief. It makes me think that revenge is not part of their psyche, but justice is.

Meanwhile Peter Robinson ( tall, well built, slightly balding) was on the TV this morning, I missed it but he was on at Harrogate when I was there, wearing a very nice leather jacket on stage.  He was on late at night and I  was tired and my contacts lens were a bit  fusty. The next day,  I was  in the lift of the holiday inn, and in gets  a man, ( tall, well built, slightly balding ) with a very nice leather jacket on. Oh I thought, I am standing in the lift with Peter Robinson. We walked across the foyer together, he let me go through the revolving doors first.  Then we did that embarrassing thing of walking stride for stride .. going to the same destination about ten minutes away ( the swan hotel in Harrogate - famous for being the hotel that the Sainted Agatha did a runner to).  I asked him if he was enjoying Harrogate, he paused before saying  'yes'.
 I asked him if he enjoyed the event yesterday. There was a pause and he said 'yes'
 By this time I was thinking that he might be very hung over.
I started again by commenting on the nice flowers in the ornamental gardens  as we strolled past, still stride for stride. There was a long pause, he looked at the gardens, then said 'yes'.
At this point I concluded he was deaf, there was just that pause when somebody hard of hearing computes what they have heard compared to what they thought they heard.
I said Harrogate was very twee.
 He asked me what Twee meant.
I realised that not only was he not Peter Robinson, he was not even English.
 He explained that he was a Norwegian Translator- he translated Me ( he recognised me  and he had known who I was from the minute he got in the lift) He did George Pelicanos and Dennis Lehane. And he  translates Peter Robinson. 'he is a good pal, ' He explained, 'yesterday, on stage he borrowed my jacket.'
At one o'clock that morning, he was very drunk, as was my German editor, trying to do the quiz and arguing about what kind of dog  Columbo had. It was Pythonesque!.. I know - do you?

Came home to HWMBI reliving his mis spent youth by watching The Tomorrow People on DVD with the cast commentary on, it's hysterical.  If you are too young to know who The Tomorrow People are, just think of Dr Who  made by the cooncil  with special effects by John Noakes and Shep.  Shep being the talented one at the sticky back plastic. In this exciting episode-  the Klu Kluz Klan are  drilling to the centre of the earth as an extra from Sarah Brightman's video for  'I lost my heart to a star ship trooper' is trying to stop them. I think they want to take over the world or jump the methadone queue or something. Maybe they are trying to find an adult to use the scissors.  At the moment a girl wearing pants and thigh length leather boots is smoking a hubble bubble pipe with far too much blusher on ( the girl not the pipe but the show  is lit like 1972 Top of the pops all halogen green and pork pie pink), What has she to do with the actual plot? No idea.   Don't think the writers had much idea either.

Going to cheer myself up by editing the book and flinging a dead body off the rest and be thankful.  well somebody has too!  For the Americans reading the 'rest and be thankful' is a long slow hill in Argyll,  drilled out the hillside.  It is an ancient drovers road.. and it is Ronseal. It does  what  it says on the tin - you rest and are thankful.

Caro

Thursday, 23 August 2012

a week to go

This was my last day off from the day job until the time of the launch. There were many TTBD. ( things to be done). At times like this I wish I had no friends.

In short;-

Got email from the printers that the book marks would be delivered at work..between 7.30am and 5.30 pm.  I have very hard working staff but none of them would be there at 7.30 am. And I wonder whose work is open at that hour.  They were actually delivered at 10 so all was well.

The contractual copies of the Blood Of Crows arrived as well. No doubt they will be well fingered by the time I get there, the wee sods at work will have read the ending so they can tease the patients.

Had to finish off the shopping for the launch, that meant Morrisons and ASDA in a hurry, met four patients who were not in a hurry  and wanted to chat.

The pit bull wanted to investigate all that had passed in the 24 hours of her absence and walked our route, as blackadder would have it 'at the pace of an asthmatic ant carrying some very heavy shopping.'. She may be ugly but she is very thorough.

The pancreatic poodle was much better, he had had his hair combed. ( he needed it)

Got an email from a friend that contained the words of death - as you are working from home today we will just pop round. Why can't people see the lack of sense in that. They were bringing me round something I would enjoy. To pieces of beetroot. So that was tea sorted!

HWMBI disappeared without trace from his work. I naturally thought that something exciting had happened to him... abducted by aliens,  kidnapped to be Angelina Jolie's sex slave, signed by Glasgow Rangers... but he and his running mate ( in an Olympic sense not a presidential sense) had gone out for a 'run' at lunchtime.They had left their IQ at their desks as they had not realised how the mid day temp had risen, they were running at the coast, up steep hills, then missed a turn for home and ended up doing  3/4 of a marathon. With no water. One of them  hit the wall and had to be carried into a garden centre where  he was parked outside the toilet while the one who still had the power to walk and talk, went in search of the key. So they could get water.  Both these people  have a whole alphabet of degrees after their names. Which brings me to the matter of IQ, (see how that link was seamless) ? I am talking to Mensa on Saturday. It will be interesting to see what sort of people like to wear a badge to say they are clever.  They are probably the sort of people who forget to  hydrate during a long run.
John Stuart Mill said a few things about brains and the different way they work. I did read it, but don't have the sort of brain that would retain it.
I didn't retain that fact the fact that I was supposed to be blogging about Johnny Depps brother  and Peter Robinson's leather jacket,,, but I will keep that for next time.

Caro    

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

day nine and .....

Can't be a bad day when your first patient is a poodle with pancreatitis and a middle parting. The dog was very upset by the latter, but not really bothered about his dodgy insulin production at all.  It was a doggy kind of day all together... The mighty pitbull decided half way  round her walk that it was going to thunder.. and felt a desperate need to get back to the house to check all was well,  not that she was scared you understand.

Have to confess that I did laugh out loud this morning at the weather girl on BBC - you know the one who speaks fluent BBC Scotland,a  kind of cosy, Ovaltine and shortbread kind of Scottish accent, she could read out the problem page of the People's Friend. She was bitten on the bum while reading the weather forecast,  which was funny. She was bitten  on the bum by a penguin which was even funnier but when she whipped round, leaving the camera behind she exclaimed... oh you wee..( slight pause as she realised she could not swear) ... searching around for a word... then said.. RASCAL!

I really think she wanted to cast aspersions on its penguin parentage.

Did loads of work on novel this afternoon while kindly patient realised that she was going from Glasgow Airport to Stirling within ten minutes of me doing exactly the same thing. She'll be coming in from  Dubai and going onto Gleneagles. I'm flying in from Stornoway and going on to the Holiday Inn. So she very kindly offered to run me, in her very posh car. ( be the highlight of the trip that!)

That will be me on my way to Bloody Scotland, the inaugural crime fest north of the border.  I'm on with Yrsa on the Saturday afternoon and have already been invited to a few drinkie parties. Zoe Sharp is popping up with an american crime writer pal and Pat MacIntosh is on at the same time as I am talking about historical crime fiction- she's very good. Always knitting, razor sharp wit and usually has  a purple streak in her hair.  She's a Dr of Palaeoanthropology so what she doesn't know about velocoraptors ain't worth knowing.  

More about the highlights and low lights of the crime festival world tomorrow.
It is still damp and muggy, plenty of thunder in the air. Not that the pitbull is scared you understand, she is just paying great attention to the underside of the table.

no latte! bad day indeed.

Caro

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Day 10 and counting

Had only a short clinic  today as I was being interviewed by The Herald in the afternoon. One of the disadvantages (or maybe the great advantage) is that I can't be interrupted when I'm with a patient. So a 40 minute interview at some point after 12 means a clinic is cancelled. We had taken advantage of an 11 o'clock finish by living the high life and treating ourselves to coffee in Morrisons. Our creative thoughts and financial planning were grossly disrupted by very small children screaming very loudly indeed. My ears were bleeding my faithful PA has got two kids and has some sort of immune system but even she was stuffing napkins in her ears.

After the interview I settled down to work on the novel, tidy desk, coffee, dog at my feet, cat in front of laptop. Then the phone went , again and again... all cold calls, If you could set a pitbull on somebody down the phone.... I needed to concentrate. Sometimes a book goes out of focus in the middle and you only realise it when you get to the end, it is startlingly obvious when the first edit is done.

But it is a good book and so far so good.

 I have ordered Yrsa's Siguroardottir books as I am on with her at the Bloody Scotland crime festival. She still works full time as a civil engineer as  well as writing crime fiction. Barry Forshaw was trying to teach me how to pronounce her surname. It got easier the more wine Barry had. I really enjoyed Deadly Rituals so I am looking forward to the rest. She also donated a rather fine desert to the Killer Cookbook - it is battery operated! Meanwhile, my ipod is loaded with Mankell, now onto the White Lioness.

Just watching my pal David Wilson on the TV. His book about Bible John and Tobin is one of the best real crime books I have read. Simple facts., simple conclusions.  He is talking about the serial killer Colin Ireland. Never heard of him said HWMBI. So I gave a brief discourse. HWMBI gave me that look,  that look that says you are a sad, sick perv.

Indeed, but I am  nice with it. Just ask the Parsons Jack Russell.

Caro

Day 11 and counting

Well that was another 12 hour shift -- as I was walking back to the car, just a wee bit knackered I had a wee bit of reflection on the day. Presents from patients; bottle of pinot, latte, cheese sandwich with M and S dressing, loaf from Italian bakery.

My little grey haired cashmere lady who looks likes butter wouldn't melt in her armpit was telling me that a  new and lovely coffee shop had opened in the village. Patients do feel they have to advise me of such things. She said the Latte was £3.50, £2.50 for a biscuit  with two raisins in it. They had bought a biscuit between them and counted. Dick Turpin, as they say, wore a mask!
But the seats where comfy so the next day Fran and Anna go to Lidl and buy four Mars Bars for a pound and scoff them with the gold plate latte. They were sneaking them from under table to mouth  by slight of hand napkin manoeuvres.  Two whole Mars Bars each. We were celebrating she explained.
What was the occasion I asked.
My diabetes has stabilised she said.

Other patient had put her back out while performing the Heimlich Manoeuvre on a labrador.
Another patient was a Parsons Jack Russell who was a real wee cutie with a very bad leg. Nice and pally, sitting on my knee, wee kisses, smiley smiley.Took one look at the laser and said.. no way pal., Offsky!
Figbane would  be proud I am sure.

Got home in comatose mode to  eat crisps and watch that Ian Brady documentary.  I am too young to  comprehend the impact that the Moors Murderers had on the public psyche at that time. I've read a fair bit about them, read the court transcripts that are harrowing in extreme. They were not the worst, yet they are demonised so much more than Tobin or Huntley or the Wests. Is that justice or revenge? Maybe because  they were the first to have lived out their crimes and their detection in the public eye, in the glare of the media. Both Brady and Hindley have been guilty of using the media to their own ends. We are all aware of the tit for tat, he did /she did. The answer is that they did, end of!

 I was watching that programme last night thinking.. well you have the attention of the whole nation again.  And I felt guilty  about watching it, it's what he wants.  Just another wee wave of his flag for his swan song.
The man is ill, severely mentally disturbed. We should not try to understand what he is doing, it will make no sense to the sane mind and we could drive ourselves mad trying to make sense of  him and his airtime.

Caro

Sunday, 19 August 2012

day 12 and counting

Knackered.

The monkey people have to get out their beds very early to go and  hit  a ball round a field with a stick - into a hole that is so small and far away that you cannot see it. It seems to be a popular pastime with Scottish blokes, as does wearing the funny trousers.... I'm not sure how looking like Rupert the bear on his day off is supposed to help get a ball into a hole but  I am not an expert on the subject.


Chris Bonnington would have thought twice at the mountain of paperwork I had to do but there was a lack of clarity about the head so HWMBI decided to go and see what Saltcoats looked like and what the cakes in Saltcoats tasted like.

My totally insane Auntie used to go to Saltcoats every Glasgow fair for about thirty years in a row. I think I drove through it once coming back from Ardrossan library but I don't remember much about it, might have sneezed and missed it.

It is a strange but rather beautful place, it reminded me of the setting of Glister. Not really of  this world.  The weather was dull, hot and oppressive. People were sitting on the beach, in swimsuits yet the sky was dark and threatening,  the clouds over Arran were black but not moving in any particular direction - they looked too heavy to move.  There was no wind, yet the arms on the turbines high on the hills were spinning like Simon Rattle  on crack cocaine.

They are everywhere on the horizon, a weird vanguard on the skyline, the water in front and Arran lying low in the water like a corpse. Saltcoats feels as though it is under seige. No wonder my Auntie went bonkers.

Saltcoats sea front has pulled itself up by its boot strings. Money has been put to great use. There is a walkway with a talking wall. Locals have been quoted on marble slabs and fixed to the wall as some kind of commentary  that is impossible not to read as you walk past.  From Hannah aged 8 ' a walk on the beach is best with a dog' to Gilbert aged 80 ' My best memories are standing in line for a pokey hat, listening to the Glaswegian accents.'  That was probably my mad auntie he was listening to - she had a voice like the Ailsa Craig foghorn and was about 30 stone. She was very fond of poky hats. And chips. often eaten at the same time.

We found good latte and cake shop but the joy of joy was meeting Ruby and Findlay, two lovely
Leonbergers. Huge animated teddy bears just ambling along  the front making sure that  all was as it should be. We gave them a wee rummel round the neck and left them to it, they knew what they were about.

The paperwork took three hours.  Finished a great book, unpublished but WHAT a book. tarty noir has a new star rising.

caro

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Day 13 and counting


Had to drag myself to work, latte fuelled.

My friend had survived her night in the  monkey den, the strange place where the teenage boys usually live and stay in quarantine. This is because they suffer from a strange affliction called X box. It's a bit like X factor but more tricky to dust.
The blonde crime writer who had sought shelter from the storm slept well in a Hitchcock type of way... wind howling round the turret, the branches of the trees tapping on the windows, the howl of the poltergeist as it is forced to watch yet another episode  of Top Gear on Dave.
But she drove off in the early hours on her super sticky tyres, well nourished with... well bugger all as we still don't have a functioning kitchen. The  new back door is well impressive though so we stood about and admired that for a bit instead.
Worked hard all day, many patients telling me of their experiences in the Olympic velodrome, all positive. The highlight of it all was Chris Hoy taking his shirt off. I think this might be proof of too much female hormone in the food chain...
Have been treating myself to all Henning Mankell's audio books in the right order to cheer myself up after the Marianas Trench of depression I suffered when I accidently read the last one on holiday. Only a Swede could finish a book like that. I should have seen it coming, the clues were there but I didn't. Always get the urge to call the Pit Bull Jussi after listening to Mankell. I'm on the white lioness at the moment.
Due to  monkey activity ( watching war films, eating Cheeky monkey bars, feeding the pitbull pringles to the point of bursting) in all other habitable areas of the house I retreated to the turret with French and Saunders, the last series. Jennifer doing Cher 'This is a collection of Songs  and wigs', Dawn doing Catherine Zeta Jones Spartacus Douglas 'I've got shit loads of cash me!' and tried to edit my book.
Too busy laughing.
Early to bed after excitement of the week,
A curry. A latte in Lidl carpark?
It's all too much.

Caro

the missing day

hi,

 The missing day was missing  for a very good cause, a crime writer lost in action somewhere south of somewhere north where she thought there was a ferry but there wasn't.  There was  a rumour  she had been  helping Stuart McBride fix his garage roof. He had crash landed on it during one of his nocturnal flights, he being one who casts no shadow in any accent, Aberdonian or not. The angel of the roofing felt  then continued her journey north, escaping the rain in Aberdeen to a  small remote island with a firing range and unreliable ferry service where she messed about with highly explosive devices in a way that would make any Blue Peter presented curl up and die in their sticky back plastic.   Once she had finished with that without killing anybody in reality but had a high body count in fiction, she headed  vaguely south-  back home to the land of whippets and the dropped apostrophe. Further south she headed, in a car  with extra griping wet weather tyres. (She'd been to Aberdeen before).  A slow thought crossed her newly blonde head.  It was quite far, she was tired. She put out an SOS. Well a text.
And just as the Carparthia and the other boat that I can't recall, steamed towards the stricken Titanic, so myself and A N Other -Writer set out into the night to save our friend.
 And take her to the sanctuary of a curry house where we ate saag panner and drank latte into the small hours, waving naan bread in the air as we were witty and urbane.. and talked about folk we don't like.
The conversational chit chat ( gossip) then continued back at the building site of a house with the pit bull  snoring melodically in front of the fire and  the cat licking the salt from Doritos.
There are more than a few ways to hang Doritos for  maximum cat lickage  experience  but much of this depends on the stretch ability of the cat in question. Mine has stretch limo stretch capacity. As Bill Bailey once said on QI, 'the domestic cat - kitty cattius-  is one of the longest mammals on the face of the planet.' It is actually longer than the blue whale. It can stretch to great lengths when in pursuit of high cheese.
We discussed many things into the small hours. The effect of the breakdown of the eurozone on the demand based economy, the  political unrest in Syria, do we recognise anybody on CBB? The rather attractive male crime writer with us talked rather unconvincingly in the third person about a 'friend' who was enjoying the side benefits that Fifty shades of Grey  was having on men who sign up to match dot com.  He reported that his friend was having lots of fun (sex)  with ladies (desperate ) wearing jodhpurs ( from Primark) and whips (do you think that might be an Olympic thing?All that dressage and being posh). I was thinking about writing fifty shades of mince as you know. One friend is thinking about writing the history of Scottish football, 'fifty shades of shite' Then a gay friend is already 'on it darling' not writing it but living it! Fifty shades of gay of course.
And so the evening and part of the next morning passed. hence no blog.
That is my excuse

No names,  no pack drill, no pakora, no indigestion.

No law suit.

Nibbled the Dorito once the cat spat it out.

Caro

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Day 15


short blog due to builders being annoying.

 had a lie in to ..7.00 am.
 then went out  to look for a solution to the pringle problem.
failed.
  got cash out bank for builders
went to asda, got a trolley load
realised had no purse
 this happens all the time,
they told me
 they were unfazed
 found purse in car
went back into shop
got home
 taxi parked  too close to driveway
street was empty
 builders appeared
 nearly an incident between builders and taxi driver
 then dog thought it might get involved
 dog out, builders in
104 emails
more proofs
payment for proofs
couldn't find credit card
it was amongst the ASDA shopping
nearly fell in boot of the car
got head butted by the cat
 it was only half past ten
 was knackered
worked on novel
 cleaned house for superstar writer staying  over tomorrow
I am not used to cleaning
So I fell over and hurt myself
Huge bruise appearing on leg
going out with other writer for curry
will talk of death and torture and put eavesdroppers off their tikka masala
hosted writers group
 dog gate crashed and eat ginger nuts
slagged off 50 shades of mince again.
writer appeared, went out to get story from car
came back 40 minutes later
 writer need to be put on lead
had to have glass of wine in peace
 once I closed the door to them
found cat playing with USB stick
 and that was my day off

Caro

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Day 16 and counting

Hi,

Sixteen days to go. Time to get thinking about the wine (sorted really) and the glasses, not sorted at all. Trying to cost up  buying glasses in, hiring or using plastic ones. And wine never  tastes as good from a plastic glass.

Hotel has been confirmed, numbers firmed up on the speadsheet, coffee and tea numbers guessed at. Still considering how best to do the Pringles and try to avoid that juggling wine, crisp, handbag, not enough hands  thing. Bookmarks have been proofed, five other events confirmed and another interview done but can't recall who for. This was all supposed to be going on in the office in peaceful quiet.. then the builders turned up with a new front door. It then was as peaceful as Aleppo.

Builder, who has more or less lived in my house for the last four years, seemed to have lost weight. He normally looks like a hammer thrower. Now he looks like a slightly thinner hammer thrower. On enquiry he said that he was taking part in Strictly Come Dancing in aid of the local hospice.  My gp is doing that as well,  but he is built like, because he is...a half marathon runner. That is one duel I will pay money to see.  Big Daddy taking on Mo Farah in Strictly come Prancing!

The faithful PA and I were driven from our office  by the noise and the lack of electricity for the spreadsheet of wonder.  So we went in search of muffins and latte, taking solace in Lidl carpark to eat strawberry tarts, sneaking in and out of poundshops to look at disposable table ware. Such is the life of the rich and famous!
The builders were supposed to be looking after the pit bull as there was no front to close obviously. They promised they would but the hairy beastie came down the road to meet us when she heard the car engine. The pitbull had obviously been enjoying some free range terrorisation of local squirrels and continued the war of attrition with the Parsons jack russell down the road. The Parsons russell is the one that looks as though it is on stilts.

Did a biog for John Gordon Sinclair for the killer cookbook, and spent the rest of my time checking proofs, and answering another 45 emails.

The builders eventually left, without giving me a key for the door.
Men!


More tomorrow,

Caro



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Day 17 and counting

Hi,

The faithful PA was back at work today and somehow the arrival of the complicated spreadsheets, the requests for receipts, the hyper efficient typing made it all seem so grown up  - the Olympics seemed a long way away, all that simplicity of running round and round as fast as you can.  Like cleaning up after a good party, dipping into the after eight box to find out that someone has eaten all the chocolate and put the envelopes back in. ( another offence that should bar you from voting). It's a bit like settling down to start a book you really like the look of and then thinking.. I've read this before.

Took dog out very early.  Saw  a lovely wee border collie, about 6 months old. It took one look at Pit Bull and ran away, (clever dog).  The owner came over and said that my dog was  'interesting looking.' He should get a job in the United Nations Peace keeping force with that degree of diplomacy. Did some patients, tried to make that spreadsheet work, coloured lots of boxes in red,  typed in boxes but I couldn't see it. Took my ages to work out I was typing in red  font on  a red back ground.  Stressed about that, I then sat down with a cup of tea and watched Mo Farah's  5000 metres again, still thought the Ethiopian was going to go past him in the last 100 metres. But he didn't manage it, again.

Getting together some of the plans for the Killer Cook book which is a rather exciting project, something a little different. I think I said earlier that is it the best Christmas present for somebody that you do not like.
I can say no more or I would have to kill you. From looking at them some of these recipes just might.

Have been given a book to look at  by a friend. It is nearly very good just technically a  bit fuzzy at times, nothing that a close edit will not sort out. The close edit will go on in a rather tasty curry house with some wine - it's the best way to do it!

Got through 105 emails today, including a email discussion on how to keep pigeons off the top of the windows at work. Without killing them  - that seemed to be the automatic response. Kill Them! Decided that the war on pigeon pooh might be more honourably  won by putting that wirey brush stuff on. That was a lot of typing all about pigeon shit.  It's very difficult to remove, hardened and in many layers. Like Joan Rivers make-up
. Two minutes after all that bird pooh that I was being posh,  doing an interview with the Herald.

Tomorrow I am going to get my novel back on schedule. For Defo!
or Else!

Caro

Monday, 13 August 2012

Day 18 and counting

Big Big clinic day.

13 hours in all.
But flights for my wee tour of Stornoway and Benbecula sorted, book marks for launch sorted, lots more folk coming.

Lots of good patients in   - three lattes and two salad rolls, a bottle of wine and three packets of crisps. That was the food haul from the patients. I think that they think I will not hurt them if they bring me gifts to feast on. They are wrong.

Topics of discussion today were Jessie J's outfits at the closing ceremony. ( Did she look in a mirror?) The ongoing question of the universe - why are people reading 50 shades of mince? Can yummy mummies bring down the government? Those last two seem to be related topics. Maybe reading and enjoying 50 shades of mince should exclude you from having the right to vote. This seems to be a common view. It is also a good conversation starter, just ask if you ruled the world who would you exclude from voting on the basis that they  have no sense. Answers I have heard include - Runrig fans, Sun readers, anybody who buys a dog that is a doodle, anybody with a 'child on board' sticker, adults who read Harry Potter, adults who don't read Harry Potter, anyone who votes on Big Brother/X Factor/The Voice, etc etc, anybody who finds subtitles 'distracting'.

Now that I have remembered all those I will not sleep, as all the others come flooding back to me.
... anybody who thinks Liam Gallagher can sing, anybody who thinks it is cool to wear an FCUK t-shirt.

You see, endless hours of amusement

People who make lists of those ineligible to vote!

Caro

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Day 19 and counting

Hi

The Closing Ceremony

As I write this I am thinking that the world is a good place. Ray Davies might  look a bit older, a bit greyer  but he still sounds like a Kink. As for One Direction, there was only ever one real direction for them..out the stadium. Quickly. Please.

HWMBI is getting excited looking at the drum kit set up as it looks like a big drummer, Oasis? The Who? Pink Floyd?  Oh he is so  excited. ( he's a drummer. And a musician. He had to leave the room when One Direction came on or his ears would bleed.)

Who invited Elbow? Should be something quicker to march in to ....Errol Brown and Everyone's a winner?
We are the Champions? Heroes, again but it is a good one!

My hope for the legacy of these Olympics?. I hope it kills reality TV stone dead. I hope we start to applaud people who are good at things and not because their tits are bigger than their IQ. Or they come from Essex. Or granny died while they were filming the X-factor and they wanted to own that song. Babe.

I think Pele might be putting in an appearance. No doubt young receptionist at work will ask me who that old bloke was.

Did all three interviews today, chose my favourite all time books. Black Beauty was way up there. The two works of fiction widely held to have decreased suffering in the world...Uncle Tom's Cabin and Black Beauty. Was reading that Anna Sewell probably died from Systemic Lupus,  an unknown condition then and obviously untreated. And fatal. That was what caused her mobility problems and led to her affection for her brother's horse, no  doubt the inspiration for the story.

Just had a terrible thought. Cliff Richard!

Would anybody have objected if Bradley Wiggins had sung Pinball Wizard?

Well, HWMBI was right about the drummer who he recognised immediately then asked who the wee guy with the red hair was! I think this closing ceremony is in danger of taking itself a wee bit too seriously.

Russell Brand has appeared and the dog has been sick. I don't blame it.

Latte 1, coke 0,  Anti depressant medication to get me through the closing ceremony. I have allergy issues to Jessie J. La la la la....zzzzzzz

Caro

Saturday, 11 August 2012

day 20 and counting

Yet another hard day at the coal face.

But being the weekend, the email side of things was quiet, so work was at least straight forward. I am fortunate to see some national champions, world champions and some folk who are just extremely good at sport.. and that is the people I work with, never mind the patients who come in.

Interesting to hear my colleague who is  a Scottish Champion runner, represented us at the Commonwealth games was telling me about the short strides of the  400 metre runners who step up to 800, and the long stride of the 1500 metres who step down to 800 metres... and how that leads to all the argy bargy, pushing, shoving and general childlike naughty step behaviour in the middle of the bunch... usually a few metres behind the Ethiopian and the Kenyan who are at the front and keeping well out of trouble. In middle distance running these days, there is always an Ethiopian and a Kenyan at the front.

Also saw a patient who  was a three day eventer... it was the human half I was treating after the equine half had spooked and thrown her then decided to tap dance on her femur. Bruises like I have never seen apart from post surgery. It is not an unusual injury, horses are big heavy beasties with solid hooves edged in steel, but they are animals not robots. I know a horse who is brave at all  things.. and terrified of crisp packets.

Just shows you how difficult dressage and disciplines like that are - making a horse skip effectively. I can't even get the pit bull to give me a paw without a degree of negotiation. And a chewy treat.

In the evening we practicised our Mo bots while screaming at the  tele. I can understand why Usain Bolt captures the imagination, but it's the Mo Farrahs and the other distance runners that I really admire.

We were thinking, over crisps and dips and Pringles about what we would like to see at the Olympics. What I would like to hear is a commentary between  Brendan Foster, Mark Cavendish and Bert ( the South African swimmer's dad). They would never understand each other and maybe the best event for them to commentate on would be the German discus gold medal winner Robert Harting doing the hurdles without his shirt on. Seemingly he was out celebrating and got as celebrated as a newt, lost his pass and had to kip on the floor until somebody recognised him and let him.
I just wonder who had the cahonies to argue with him.

The might spreadsheet of the launch took a bit of a back seat today. Too busy watching the might Mo!  And of course Tom Daley, well done that man.
latte 2, coke 1, sensible calories 0 (only pringles!)

Caro
    

Friday, 10 August 2012

Day 21 and counting

Today was a day job day.

82 emails came in while I was at work, two needing instant answers that I did not have. And they will have to wait until Monday. And then it might be too late. But such is life when you have a patient list that is full, and emergencies have stolen the teabreaks and the lunch breaks.. and then a wee sneaky emergency sneaks in at close of play.

By eight thirty a.m.I had walked dog, been to bank, been to supermarket, answered three of the over night emails, done my notes for one interview and then turned up at work as a caffeine desperado.

There was  a wee break when a patient failed to turn up... then walked in the door  three hours late.  we explained that she was three hours late . Oh, she said, where am I supposed to be now? We couldn't help her  with that one so she had a coffee and a jammy dodger and we sorted her our later. She is a nail expert person and offered to paint crows on my nails for the launch! Watch this space.

A few patients homed in on my only copy of Blood Of Crows ( bought at the Blackwell book shop yesterday, the first time I had seen it!)  and tried to steal it, or steal a wee glance at it. Or have a wee peek at the end to see who was doing and who the fourth wee craw actually was.

The good news was the bus got booked, five more interviews came through, loads more people confirmed that they are coming.   The bad news was that writers group now have no place to meet (banned from the pub again!)  and the Brits are out the four by four relay.

I have to do my top six books ever- I asked patients what they would say. The Old Man of the Sea, The Great Gatsby, Catch 22, loads of folk said they had really tried with Gabriel Garcia Marquez but couldn't quite understand it - the Love in the Time of Cholera guy!  I couldn't understand it either.   One did mention 50 shades of mince.  But she was a hair dresser.

Another of the interviews I have to do is describe my favourite weekend.  It will not involve working, going to the supermarket etc etc.... it will involve sleep!
And then some more sleep!

Latte 2, diet coke 1, healthy calories err ... 0?


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Day 22 and counting

Well it's 22 days until the launch of The Blood Of Crows. It was the first day of many, many events. It was the day Bolt did the double. It was also the first time I have set eyes on the new book. Counts today in Bridget Jones style? Latte 3, coke 0, screaming kids 5 After quiet and long dog walk accompanied by Henning Mankell (on Ipod not personally though I think Emily and Jussi might get on well), met HWMBI on train for Edinburgh. Train of hell, needed latte to get through. Waverley station is chaos, Edinburgh is Chaos, Princess gardens were warm and beautiful... but chaos. Why do kids run away from parents? Dogs come back when their name is called, so why not kids. Maybe if I was called Murray Sweetheart ( hyphenated ) and forced to wear a kilt I'd do a bloody runner too. Most ridiculous was a Samoyed being taken for draggies... in the middle of Edinburgh in the festival in searing heat. Got to gig, climbed over the copies of 50 Shades of mince at the front door of Blackwells to the proper books. There was a fine crowd to hear Hazel McHaffie talking about her book, How far would you go to Save Sebastian? It was a good talk but all I could think of were the screaming kids on the train, if one of them had been Sebastian, I wouldn't have gone very far at all. Anne Connolly then read from her beautiful new poetry collection Love-in-the-Mist and added a few funny poems ( the best sort to a philistine like me. My favourite poet is Spike Milligan!). Jennie Erdal then talked about translation and philosophy in The Missing Shade of Blue. HWMBI has all kinds of degrees in the stuff (Philosophy - not the shade of blue!) started wittering on about John Stuart Mill and David Hume on the train home, but I couldn't hear him due to very noisy Italian teenagers squawking). Ewan Morrison was supposed to be there doing a piece called Close Your Eyes and hear Tales from the Mall or indeed close your eyes and you'll miss him as it turned out. Then there was me- billed as Caro Ramsay: Gritty Glaswegian Crime fiction. It was a good event, varied. I usually feel like the poor intellectual cousin at these things, probably because crime writing is still viewed as being something inferior than 'Literature.' Just had a think, if 50 shades of mince is literature... there is no hope! Did speak a bit about The Killer Cookbook, that seemed to go down well. Sold a few books. Overall, very well received and asked to do another gig which means I didn't bore anybody to death. Emails out 15. Emails in 85. Must do better tomorrow. On way home small screaming child had on a bib that said Mr Noisey. I suppose that shows some degree of self awareness. HWMBI had a philosophical comment about self awareness but it was in Latin and it was very late and my brain switched off. Had a cup of tea watching young ladies kick each other in the head and then punch each other. That was the Olympics. Not a thursday night at Glasgow central. Caro

Friday, 1 June 2012

Crime Fest Part One

Sorry about the lack of format activity in the previous blog but we are doing something strange with the website thing and I am supposed to do something else to keep the paragraphing in. Unfortunately I view myself as a creative genius and such things are beyond me until it is explained to me in simple terms. As yet it has not. And therefore this might be OBC. (One big chunk). Just back from Crimefest in Bristol where I was moderating the international panel and doing a wee talk on forensics for crime writers i.e. how not to get caught, which is what most crime writers are interested in. I read that only two types of people are interested in that- psychopaths and crime writers. Some might argue that we are not that far apart. The forensic talk went down well – standing room only. Then I was moderating a panel for the first time. Scary stuff. I had read two novels of each of the panellists – well read six and listened to the other two – as I was running out of time. It was a treat to do as I am so busy I don’t really have time to read a book that I am not researching or reviewing. To sit and eat chocolate while reading fantastic crime fiction by folk I didn’t know was a treat indeed. And I could classify it as work and put the cost of the chocolate against tax. Really enjoyed David Jackson’s books, Pariah and The Helper, set in New York and very traditionally structured – baddie taunting the conscientious cop in a ‘catch me if you can’ type of way. At every turn the killer leaves clues for our hero. Of course, David allows the reader to think that they are one step ahead of our hero. But the writer is always three steps ahead, tantalisingly so. I think I am pretty good at spotting the way books like this are set up and I had this figured out 99.9% of the time. But it’s that last 0.1% that makes a good novel great and both these books are. Clever bloke. Clever books. The panel introduced me to the Kubu mysteries set in Botswana, slow paced and full of sunshine. Inspector Kubu is a great character who I hope gets the chance to run and run with a long series of books. I’ve not met a lot of folk who have read them but I am spreading the word and everybody falls in love with Kubu, just a little bit. I read that these books (four in the series so far I think) are considered Alexander McColl Smith for grown-ups and I think that hits the nail on the head. The fiction is comfortable, lulling the reader into a false sense of cosy and then a body appears being stripped of all its flesh by a hyena and various other bodies are floated into the river as a freshwater buffet for the crocs. It’s that strange juxta position of homely family life and sunshine with body decomposition and the darker side of the human soul. Great plotting and an interesting view on a country I confess I knew bugger all about. I was totally ignorant of the politics there, the importance of the diamond industry. I was reading it while it was snowing in Glasgow. Kubu was spending all his time trying to find shade. It had me transported in a way only a good book can do. David Hewson is, of course all over the media with his novel of the Danish TV series The Killing. I had presumed as many had that The Killing was a Danish novel that had been made into a TV series but it was always only ever a TV script. The novel was a mammoth task for David, nearly 600 pages and it was interesting to hear how he went about it. A daunting task for any writer, maybe easier for one that has a background in journalism? I can’t imagine it at all, being given a story and readymade characters and being told ‘well there you go – no changing the ending now! I have not read it yet, but it is going all holiday with me. All 600 pages – we are not flying EasyJet so are allowed a heavy book in our baggage allowance. For the panel I read one of David Nik Costa series (set in Rome) and a Lupo book (Venice). He writes very high end literary crime friction, not a lot of shooting and violence but very beautiful prose that you want to sink into. Defiantly the Bourneville Chocolate type of crime writing, rich and well textured. I know my mother-in-law type person would love these and indeed, she has already snaffled them. David writes a little like Colin Dexter without the tumble turns, no fancy footwork, just beautiful writing. I don’t think I would recommend The Seconds to the mother in law type, it would all be too much for her and she would need her medication adjusted. Quickly. The Swedish writing team of Roslund and Helstom have two books available here are the moment – or it is five - or is it three? Such are the issues of being translated out of sequence. . It is hard hitting (not ultra violent) fiction that stays with you long after you have read the book. These books will be on your mind at three in the morning and will have you wrestling with your social conscience. Not many book s can make me cry unless they hurt a puppy or squash a wombat or something (but I am perfectly happy to throw a well characterised baddie to a hungry hyena with an attitude problem). But both Cell 8 (the flavour of this book reminded me very much of the film – the life of David Gale) and Three Seconds had me weeping a little, thinking about them while out with the horror hound. Three Seconds is a book that has you reading the last paragraph again, then again.... and suddenly you get what the whole book was about. A really remarkable book. Two books that maybe can only be written by writers from a country with a well developed moral compass. These authors still work as voluntary probation officers, they still give 10% of their profits to the issues raised in the books. Rosland is a journalist, Helstrom is an ex criminal, when they speak you tend to pay attention. One of their books is going into production in Hollywood in January and I confess that the book had such a big impact on me, I might avoid the film. I’m sure those who love the book The Children of Man by P D James will know what I mean. And that leads me to my next blog where I will be talking about the Saturday of the Crimefest, the P D James events, The Killing and what Swedish crime writers do when their country wins the Eurovision Song Competition. This has indeed formatted all wrong so I have corrected it, hope it reads ok! C

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Tony Black Magic

A touch of Tony Black Magic! Amongst other busy things I have been doing I went to Tony Black’s book launch in Ayr last night. Well that was the excuse to try out a restaurant that HWMBI had been to with his workmates the week before. I think the last time we went out for something to eat was last October ( the two baked potatoes for a fiver at Morrison’s doesn’t count) and even though it was the five thirty special ( two dinners for £15) it was great that somebody else was making it and there would be no fights about who was loading the dishwasher. Rumours were, the veggie food was good. And it was. The place was almost empty as we arrived, only one other couple there. So the waitress showed us to the table right next to them. Why do they do that? As I looked up the woman sitting there was somebody I know, a nice patient who just said hello. Fifty miles away and I met a patient. Much more embarrassing is when it is a bloke who says loudly ‘ahh I bet you didn’t recognise me with my clothes on’. A reference to the day job I hope. They were already on their coffee and left quickly which I hope was nothing to do with us arriving. Another woman sat down. The restaurant had its tables so close together that even the skinniest person had to squeeze in between the tables causing you to lift your pinot (£5 a glass I thank you) just in case it goes the way of the Greek economy. She was then followed by a much older man, an old Ayrshire farmer I think who was having none of this bistro cuisine. He was mischievous tyke who muttered just loud enough for others to hear that he was not going to eat this grass. “Chives” said his companion (who I deduce might have been a younger sister), He complained there was no chicken. “It’s under the pastry” she said with the patience of a saint. “That’s not a chicken” he said. “Been a fermer for fifty year an’ I’ve never seen a chicken like that”. “Eat it anyway and be quiet”. “I asked for a beer.” “That is a beer.” “No in that glass it’s no.” And so it went on. He even asked the waitress how they got away with charging five quid for a ‘dod o bried’ and a ‘wee bit of vinegar’. Better off at the chippy was the clear inference. There was then an interesting exchange when the sister asked him “Did you let the dogs out”? “A’hm no dignifying that with an answer”. “Yes but did you let all the dogs out?” With the emphasis on the all. In my mind I was replaying that Specsaver add with the collie that gets an unfortunate hair cut. Tony was in fine form as usual, the wee Waterstones in Ayr is a good venue but he did need to be mic’d up to be heard over the buzz of the refrigeration unit. He was interviewed by Michael Malloy, renowned poet of the West Coast. But at least he had a mic. At Paisley library, three of my ‘fans’ decided they needed to have their ears waxed when they didn’t. It was just such a big venue that nobody at the back could hear me. Not read Murder Mile yet, HWMBI’s mum has it. She tends to knick the good stuff on the reading pile and the harder boiled the crime fiction the better, as it often is with these little old ladies who wear cashmere a lot. Tony appeared and was given flowers by a male fan and this male fan should get a job as Tony’s PR guy as he asked every question with lashings of marvellousness. Wish he would come to my launch but I think I’d miss the dogs abuse that I get from my own fans. There was much chat about kindle stuff and how it is affecting publishing. What people seem to forget is that people will soon get fed up with paying anything for a novel that has not been properly edited. All novel writing is a team sport, you need fresh eyes at some point. Amazon might be happy to get 1% of 500 books costing £!0. They will be equally happy to get 1% of one million e-books selling at a pound each. The reader doesn’t know until they buy it. There are people out there writing books and putting the first draft out for sale because they think that is how it works. The buying public are not that daft ... Sales of e-books in Japan are already starting to streamline into the normal ways of publishing. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I do not know. But any badly written book, or non-edited book, even the best of them, needs an editor! It’s a bad thing. Next week Uddingston and then the world. Next time the blog is about Alex Grey and I in the NCP car park in Dundee. Enough said.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

the corduroy underpants

Just got back from a wee party in London for those of us on the Penguin crime list to have a chat with some reviewers, bloggers, twitters (?) and mess about with some indiscriminate others.
One interesting character lived on a house boat on the Thames but was from Clydebank… and he and I turned out to be the informal cabaret for the evening. Our task was to find the most difficult sentence for an English person to say in a Glaswegian accent. The answer is … ‘Oh there’s been a murder in my corduroy underpants!’ The word curly wurly also provoked a fair degree of hysteria amongst those who pronounce the word grass with more than one A in the middle.
I met old pals like Tim Weaver, Mad Chris, Slightly More Sane Chris and totally Absolutely Barking Chris ( he had claimed he had another event to go to but ended up having so much fun with our corduroy underpants that he decided to hang around.) The lovely Barry Forshaw was there. If you watch a lot of TV you have probably seen him on things like the A to Z Of Crime Fiction speaking words of wisdom. It turns out that we are interviewing the same authors at different crime festivals over the summer so he is going to give me the heads up re good questions or not! And what to avoid. Nicki French was also there. I had walked past her/ them at various venues and said hello but had never been formally introduced. She was a really nice person, funny and witty. Totally understanding that to me, with my sense of geography (north being up and south is down!), Suffolk was somewhere ‘over there’ while vaguely pointing with a glass... in the middle of Soho, Suffolk must have been somewhere to the left. I did gain some respect by knowing much about the famous horses of Suffolk.
I did my training in London and lived right in the centre for five years. I don’t know if I am older or if London has changed, but it seems so much dirtier now, bins and rubbish everywhere, the homeless everywhere. There is still the interchangeable Glaswegian, dark brown skin with nicotine, raddled face singing somewhere near a tube station entrance. This time he was outside the embankment staggering up the middle of the road, singing Amazing Grace. He was holding the tune better than any X Factor contestant and a nifty dance while negotiating the kerb. If he was cleaned up a bit he could represent an independent Scotland in Eurovision.
He’d probably do quite well...
I’m saying nothing about Englebert. I know the age of retirement is going up but what next? Sean returning as James Bond. Joan Collins in Miss World? Brucie on yet another series of Strictly.
Small people were in the house last week – watching TV and asking who this old geyser was. Tom Jones I replied. And who’s that they asked.
Nearly as good as somebody at work asking me how many Beatles there actually was.
The catalogue is out for the next book The Blood Of Crows and it is available for pre-order on Amazon. The book after that is going well. Working title is The Night Hunter.
Off for a busy time with events next week.
More soon.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

of mice and ponies

After having a jolly good exciting time at Pitlochry mixing with the rich and infamous I was off to the sunny climes of Bonnyrigg Library. It was a bitter, bitter cold day, a day that would make brass monkeys wear thermals. Being rich and famous, we stopped in a Greggs on the way in, and studied the array of Scottish take away Haute Cuisine. The study did not take very long; we were thinking did any of this resemble the animal it started out as? We played safe and fortified ourselves with two coffees before venturing forth into the wind again. It cut through us like Adele hitting a bum note. We were chilled to the bone, feet numb, fingers red, cheeks burning and weather beaten. It was a Shackleton moment. Once in the library, I found I could not let my coffee go, my hands had melted onto the cup.
After being so busy /popular the previous week, I was brought down to earth by a total audience turn out of.....one. Well it was minus 2 outside (about -25 with the East Coast wind chill factor and lack of warm coffee), it was a Saturday lunchtime and the rugby was on ( this was East Coast remember!) but the staff were lovely. And a decidedly hardy bunch... one only had a T-shirt on. I did the whole event with my coat on, still hanging onto my coffee. I didn’t do a reading as I was too bloody cold, big sausage fingers couldn't have turned the pages.
My ‘fan’, who hadn’t read any of my books was great, we had a good chat, a few more folk joined in, some young girls also came and sat down when I started my Johnny Depp story. I ended up spending time after the event signing photographs. It turned out to be a little gem of an event, nice to hear what the punters think about things rather than us telling them what they should think.
Got home to do a 800 word essay on Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men for senior time share child. It was about symbolism in the novel. After two hours of trawling through stuff my opinion was confirmed that Steinbeck may be a great writer but he might have had a few issues with women and that he killed small furry animals for dramatic effect. My opinion as totally disregarded by the three men in the room. They settled for the argument that Of Mice And Men was the seminal novel of the Great American Depression and what the pool meant. What the barn meant. What the rabbits meant.
What Steinbeck meant.
Did Steinbeck really men all that or did he just write it as he saw it and let others see in it as they wish. Who knows. I only got as far as the bit in the The Red Pony (and I thought that was all about a.. .well, a red pony) where the pony died. That book and Bambi have scared me for life. As has the thought of the contents of a Gregg’s meat and potato pie.
The next outing was to Gullan, (pronounce it as you will). We went to the beach and watched posh dogs run along the sand; flat coats, springers, labs – some in their own Barbour jackets . But there was not a mongrel in sight. Not a staffie. Nothing that resembled a pit bull type. Poor Emily would have stood out like a komodo dragon in a herb garden.
We went into a small cafe, and was told loudly that ‘that’ll be us not way at 5.’ ( it was four 15 and all we had ordered was a coffee and a cake!)There was a woman breast feeding in the corner, and another lady at different table not eating anything but spouting forth about the cost of nannies. The cost of a nanny in Edinburgh is about the same as that of a two bed flat in Paisley. The waitress forgot our cake, our milk, our bill but did remember to give us our coffee. In the end. I think Mr Salmond’s hopes for tourism in this little country of ours needs to start somewhere below grass roots level. But it was an insight into another type of life. We went outside after coffee and had a good laugh at the house prices. We could never be Phil and Kirsty.
That event was very well attended, by folk who had read all the books, there was lots of chit chat going back and forth, indeed some were so kind as to email the library and say how refreshing I was.
I think that might be a euphemism for something. As Billy Connelly said, put a Glaswegian in good clothes and they will still look as though they have stolen them. Each to their own!
Publication of book four will be the last Thursday in September. Plans for launch are progressing slowly. Too busy with events and murdering folk in book 5. Funny how murdering people can be entertaining. But killing ponies never is.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The delights of deepest Pitlochry

It was amazing that we got there at all really, what with me driving and Alex Gray navigating - two blondes in one car.... all the way to the Pitlochry Winter Words writing festival. There was one roundabout we went round twice - that was because we were wittering on about a little plot point that had drifted into her brain at three thirty that morning and I was concurring, having had a similar experience about two hours later. The creative moon must have been hovering over the West Coast that morning.


The festival was quietly attended for all speakers except Neil Oliver, he of the lustrous hair. I think he could make a fortune doing the L'Oreal ads - because he is worth it. I have never met him but I do know his old sidekick Tony Pollard, (they used to dig ditches together on TV and look at who killed who, why and when and every episode I saw they blamed the English but then .. they could do the who killed who and why bit on the streets of Paisley without ever having to dig a hole). Tony wrote the book The Lazarus Club which is as intellectual a crime book as you will ever read. But at a publishing party, I was sent into a corner to 'see what was up with him!!' This was from a very posh publishing boy ( he looked about twelve). Posh publishing boy was very scared of Tony's general demeanour (Scottish!), his drinking (one glass of red wine), his language (Glaswegian) etc etc. Once dispatched I realised that Tony was being his usual self - just totally unable to understand the guy he was talking to because every second word was spiffing. Some people in publishing have only two languages .. .Enid Blyton English and A level Harvey Nichols. That is a good topic of conversation to get Chris Brookmyre started on, if any English person ever says to him, 'I didn't understand what you were saying,' he just keeps saying pardon.
And I mean KEEPS saying pardon. Wonder what Mr Salmond would say to that!

Meanwhile the Penguins are flying me to London for posh drinky parties ...those occasions where I never have enough hands..drink in one, posh pringle in the other and trying to shake hands with somebody important with no free limbs.

I've got very exciting news about Crime fest but I will wait until it is all confirmed until I let you know but it sounds like a joke... A Scot, a Swede, an American and a South African sit on a panel....

Next weeks exciting episode is my travels in Midlothian! and the strangest coffee shop in the shop. It was straight out of League Of Gentlemen - it was a local shop for local people!