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Thursday, 9 August 2012

My working week is ending early. Well, I’m a writer - and how many people in publishing are at their desks this time of year? Try calling a few, and you’ll soon see. I’m off to God’s Own Country. That’s Yorkshire, if you didn’t realise it. Leaving home Friday morning and taking my bike with me to the train station. I believe I’ll be calling on six separate lots of people in 72 hours, so it may be that I’ve burdened myself with more than I can manage. However, there’s a lot of catching up to do.

First stop will be York, where I have a midday meeting with Mike Pannett and his missus. Top of the agenda is this proposed trip to the Kentucky Book Fair. The questions include: what are we going for? Will it be worth it? Are we there to talk about our books, or policing in the UK, or both? And… is our agent going to come with us? He’s certainly thinking about it. We’ve been working up our contacts over there, but we really need to evaluate the whole thing before we take the plunge. The fact is that the Americans, as many as have read our books, seem to like them - and compare them favourably with the James Herriot series (All Creatures Great And Small, etc.) That’s good news, and very satisfying, because we have been thinking about Herriot from the get-go: concentrating as much on the Yorkshire countryside and its rural characters as on the nitty-gritty of police work. If we could get these things published over there, well, it’d be feet on the mantelpiece and light the big cigar….

After that meeting - and a hearty all-day breakfast at Harkers in St Helens Square - I’m off on the train to Leeds to catch up with my daughter and her family, also my son. I suspect that he and I - and my daughter’s husband - will have to promise not to spend the entire visit talking about football like we did last time I was over there. That’s not going to be easy.

Saturday morning it’s back to York to catch up with an old friend for morning coffee - or lunch - and then I make my way fourteen miles north-east to Malton, probably by bike; in fact, if the sun is shining, definitely. There I’m meeting my mate Greg Christie, biographer of Eric Knight (the man who wrote Lassie). I say biographer: what I mean is that he’s done all the research, fourteen years of it, but has yet to complete the book. I shall give him the usual kick up the Khyber and tell him to get his finger out. The Khyber, you ask? Cockney rhyming slang: Khyber Pass, ass.

Once I’ve sorted Greg out I take the twelve-mile ride out to Helperthorpe to see Chainsaw Phil. They’ve just re-opened a pub in the next village to his, so I dare say we’ll saunter down the lane for a couple of beers in the evening, then plan a hike for Sunday - after a cooked breakfast, I hope. And finally… around teatime I’ll be pedal a few miles over the hills before dropping in on a farming couple out on the Yorkshire Wolds. I last called on them about four years ago, and used their place - and to a degree them - to create a setting and a couple of characters for the fourth Mike Pannett book. I took this picture on that first visit, being particularly struck by the different tones of the winter barley in the foreground and the spring variety behind it.

If that all goes to plan, I should get back here around midday Monday - by which time I’ll be counting the days until the new football season kicks off.

On the subject of sport, I did mention that I was spending the day at another cricket match on Tuesday. It was a gorgeous day - as the pictures show - but an inglorious one for the county of my birth, Surrey, who were outplayed throughout and managed to lose the game comprehensively in two and a half days. (It was a four-day fixture.) Still, it was a cracker of day, as you can see.

Okay, I’m going to pack, check the bike over, and will aim to report back on Monday.

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