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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Yesterday's mishap with the rented vehicle must have shaken me up in more ways than one. I clean forgot to remark on the weekend’s football highlights: Chelsea's satisfying F A Cup Final victory over Liverpool (which cheered me no end) and... York City's fantastic 1-0 win at Mansfield (achieved with a goal in the 111th minute) which sets up a play-off final against Luton (as predicted in these pages some weeks ago). I'll put my head on the block one more time and say that we will win that one too and return to the Football League after a seven (or is it eight?) year absence.

I won’t be starting work until mid-morning today. I have an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist, to see whether he can offer a surgical solution to my arthritic big toe joint. The last one I saw, a few years ago, said, ‘Wait until it gets worse.’ So... a bus ride to Chester-le-Street, which will be a novel experience. And, upon my return, there should be an audio tape awaiting on the door-mat. This will be Mike Pannett's account of one of his more dramatic escapades in the Metropolitan Police.  Without giving too much away, I can reveal that he sets up a raid on a drug-dealer's flat, breaks the door in and is confronted by a youth high on crack cocaine and pointing a sawn-off shotgun at him. If all goes to plan, I’ll listen to that this afternoon, make notes and start writing the chapter tomorrow. Meanwhile he and his missus will be going through the chapter I completed last week, adding bits and pieces of procedural detail, colouring in a few corners. This is very much like writing for TV. It's collaborative; you might say ‘layered’. We get there in the end. 

I have been thinking about my holiday. I will be away from the end of this month until the end of June, and have more or less decided not to take so much as an iPhone with me (mainly because I do not yet possess one). As someone pointed out to me yesterday, ‘It’s meant to be a break!’ That will mean no blog postings for four weeks. A perfect opportunity, I think, for scheduling a few extracts from what will be my next e-book, to appear at intervals of five or six days.  

I first wrote Toad’s Road-Kill CafĂ© (and other stories from the Hundredth Meridian) after I’d done that road trip, Mexican border to Canadian and back again, in 2001. Every publisher I sent it to admired it to death but turned it down. Not that I tried that many. And besides, I am aware that the easiest thing for a publisher to do is to praise a piece while slamming the door in your face. Doesn’t do them any harm, and kind of lets them off the hook. But I still believe in Toad (it’s named after a wonderful little diner I stopped at in Leakey, Texas). The acid test, for me, is that when I re-read it - as I did a few weeks ago - it still made my pulse race, and I found very little in it that I wished to change.

I realise that it’s some little time since I complained about the weather. It hasn’t changed - or hadn’t until yesterday. After the wettest April on record, we remain in a horribly cold spell. Yesterday did feel a little like spring, but it was a blip: tomorrow’s forecast is for heavy rain and temperatures around 50 F (10 C). Can’t see me declaring the porridge season closed just yet.

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