Boxing Day at the seaside. I think it was the highlight of the holiday so far. But let’s talk about Christmas Day first - and a couple of stand-out presents. Not many chaps will enthuse over a steel shovel, gift-wrapped, but I did. I lost my last one in a move some years ago and have never replaced it. That’s fixed now. In keeping with this spirit of utility was a Pilates work-out DVD. My fault, for complaining about stiff joints. In fact, I had been muttering darkly about looking around for such a thing, and the hint was taken. Leaving aside an enormous cheese veined with blue, and a half-share in a bottle of 16-year-old malt, the other gift I can’t wait to get into is the complete first season of The Larry Sanders Show. Not to everybody’s taste, but I love it.
No day is complete without a text from Mike Pannett, and mid-morning on the 25th he was in a state of high excitement. Our friends at http://www.amazon.co.uk/ had decided that the kindle download of our first book, Now Then Lad, should be reduced in price from £7.99 to just 99p - and it has rocketed up the books chart to rub shoulders with the Christmas best-sellers. I hope this is good news for us, but without scanning the fine print of our contract I cannot recall how much of the discount comes off our share.
So, on to Boxing Day - and an almost empty beach. If you could overlook a wind that was gusting at 50-60 mph it wasn’t unlike early summer on the Northumbrian coast. In fact, with the sun shining and the temperature hovering around the 13 degree mark (that’s 13 C, or 55 F) it was more comfortable than many a day in May or June. I offer as evidence this robust little daisy, blooming merrily within fifty yards of the waves.
We parked at Low Newton, just around the corner from the pub where they serve kippers and brown bread, and walked along to Dunstanburgh Castle. Built in the early 14th century, it only really saw any significant action during the War of the Roses, when it fell into the hands of the Lancastrians. They did what Lancastrians excelled at - vandalism - and it has remained in a state of picturesque ruin for well over 500 years.
I’m sort of back to work now. I have re-arranged my study in an attempt to create space for an extra piece of furniture. If I find one, I’ll be able to file all the stacks of material that currently occupy the floor. I managed to complete my first draft of the 13th and final chapter of Book 5 at about six o’clock on Christmas Eve. Mike has already started sending back the early chapters with his and his wife’s suggestions. I shall start re-writing after the weekend and hope to deliver the finished article by the end of the month, after which - woo-hoo, pay-day!