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.