God bless and keep Eddie Cobb, bon viveur, Hearts adherent, pillar of every community to which he belonged, and the best of companions.
God bless and keep Brian Baxter, my son-in-law’s dad, quiet man, loved his family, and the epitome of self-effacing niceness.
God bless and keep Joaquim Alay, the central figure of St Marti d’Empuries, without whom the village will be a little less beautiful. Gone fishing.
Wow indeed. I never saw it coming either, Martin, when it happened to me. It’s fixable, though.
Yes, go on George, thank me. I will say nothing about Tenerife, other than that it’s a box I’ve ticked a couple of times in the past, but I won’t be going for the hat-trick.
Short answer, John. Fatal Last Words is already available in ebook format. CampbellReadbooks.com doesn’t stock that format (yet) but if you dig into the Waterstones website you’ll find it.
Your presumption is correct. You may be assured that Oz is not going to regenerate like a Time Lord. However, he does have a nephew called Jonny, who’s a grown man now, and who looks remarkably like his uncle. Best wishes to you too, Martyn. (We had our first Christmas card a couple of days ago. Here’s a business idea for Royal Mail: discounts for cards posted in November.)
It really does, honest. It’s a wee cliff-hanger. Is Wilding serious, or is he winding Sammy up? Who knows? (I don’t.)
I don’t have a great track record as a compiler of air-miles, but over the last couple of years I’ve been building up a balance. Yesterday I decided to spend some, so I logged into British Airways Executive Club. I wasn’t after much, just a couple of one-ways from Edinburgh to Barcelona, and I had the miles to cover it, so no problem. When I hit the select button I found that my ‘reward flights’ were going to cost me £143, for that’s the catch, folks, air-miles only cover the fare itself, not the various add-ons.
So what did I do? I logged on to Ryanair and booked from Edinburgh to Girona, which is around an hour closer to our ultimate destination. Saved myself £30.
Now I’m left wondering whether British Airways management actually understand the meaning of the phrase ‘customer loyalty. Is it any wonder that while Ryanair, unlikable as it may be in many ways, continues to expand, the major flag-carriers are swirling inexorably down the pan. (If you imagine that the BA take-over of Iberia . . . that’s what it is, not a merger, but the Spanish government wouldn’t want it described thus . . . will make any long-term difference, forget it.)
Not a lot as it happens, other than turn up the volume, and catch up with DVDs I might not watch if she was home. Her overnight trip to South Shields yesterday gave me a chance to view Perfect Square, a live REM concert recorded in Germany in 2003.
On the old-fashioned website I did an occasional review section, until I became handicapped by my reluctance to slag anything off. It’s my belief that anyone who sits down to do anything creative is giving of their absolute best. Only the individuals know if that’s true, but I’m usually prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. I told an audience in Toronto that I don’t read reviews of my own work. That’s true, because the good ones are bad for my ego, and the others are bad for my blood pressure, but it’s also the case that I have a problem with the whole industry. Every review you read in a newspaper, or worse on Amazon where any idiot can post his prejudices, is no more than that reader’s opinion of the work, and trust me, his or hers is irrelevant, set aside your own.
On that same Toronto platform I found myself discussing a quote by Saul Bellow which contained the phrase ‘an undeniably good book’. The theme puzzled all five of my fellow panelists as much as it did me, but what I found more remarkable was the notion that a Nobel prizewinner could write or say something so fundamentally stupid. Quality or its absence is entirely subjective; a book, a piece of music, a work of art, each one is what you make of it, personally.
All of that brings me back to REM and Perfect Square. In my eyes and to my ears it’s the best piece of recorded work that one of my favourite bands has ever done, and much as I missed my lovely wife last night I’d like to thank her and her friend Bet for giving me the opportunity to enjoy it on my big screen telly with my big sound system, as it’s meant to be played. She’s back now; I think I’ll go and play it again, to see if I can convert her.
I’m glad you’re getting into Primavera, even if you’re upset that she felt sorry for wee Frank, and extended him a little comfort in the night. Go on, cut her some slack; the truth is that she’s a one-man woman and she’ll never really get over Oz, so it’s tough for her. You’ll find her altogether more chaste in Blood Red. By the way, ‘boak’ is not a word that’s used in polite society, and I’ve never seen it in a text-book, but that’s how I was taught up to spell it. (And it’s just been passed as OK by my current soft-ware.)
News from the book sales front. After a promising beginning, http://www.campbellreadbooks.com, the only official source of signed Quintin Jardine novels, is expanding. Within the next few days, all of the Skinner titles will be listed on the site, signed by me, postage free in the UK, and subsided for overseas customers.
Look out too for Blood Red, the second Primavera Blackstone mystery. It’s scheduled for publication in hard-back and trade paperback on January 7, but it can be pre-ordered through CRB.
You can find the site by going back to the QJ homepage, or by clicking the link on the right.
Considering where you come from, that is a cracking email address. I would like to visit Oberon, New South Wales, preferably on a midsummer night, (how’s the donkey population?) as it might be cold in winter, that high above sea level. It looks to be approximately the same distance from Sydney as Wigtown is from Gullane, and every bit as worthy of a visit. Keep working on your local library. If that doesn’t work, have you ever thought of setting up a library of your own, with some like-minded friends? Set up a book group, build up a small fund, draw up a reading list, buy the books on-line, and circulate them. QJ titles won’t be a problem; Hachette Australia should be able to advise you, but if they can’t, I promise that www.campbellreadbooks.com will.
No, I’m not going to plant a body in Wigtown. No disrespect to the charming place, but it’s in the wrong police area. Sorry you bottled out of asking your question at the Festival. The simple answer is that Stevie had to go because it was his time. I liked the lad too, and his demise wasn’t pre-planned, but when I reached that point in the story I knew it had to happen, and so, to my great regret, it did.
However, you can discard any notion that it had anything to do with a name clash. I’ve been around for a lot longer than the author you mention, and so, with all due respect to him, good guy that he is, if any character’s going to disappear for that reason, it ain’t going to be one of mine.
Yes, Eddie, yes. Do I like it when someone agrees with one of my wilder ideas? Do I ever. Peter Capaldi is a brilliant actor, who’s finally been given a job that lets him express all of his talents. I will go with your proposal of Gareth Thomas as Proud Jimmy, even though he’s at least five years too old for the part, because his brother Harvey is a very old and dear friend. For the same reason I will pass on Douglas Henshall as Andy Martin, in favour of my chum Scott Wilson, the most talented man on Scottish radio, who has a Taggart appearance in his cv.
You do not offer a suggestion for the casting of Alex. Let’s hear it if you have one.
Yes, Tracey, they do. If you go back to the main site and click on each of the series, Bob Skinner, Oz Blackstone and Primavera Blackstone, you’ll find the books listed in order of publication.
Many thanks to everyone who turned up at Motherwell Library on Monday evening, for the first book event I’ve done in the town where I was born, and lived for my first 23 years. The building was part of my growing up; I as a member when I was a kid and walked past it every day that I didn’t go in. It’s one of many erected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with funds provided by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and it’s still fit for purpose after more than 100 years.
Motherwell isn’t the town I knew, not any more. It’s fair to say that it’s in a period of transition, following the closure and demolition of the Ravenscraig steel plant, but I have a feeling that its regeneration is going to work out pretty well. Margaret Thatcher is often blamed for the closure of Ravenscraig, just as she tends to be blamed for everything that’s gone wrong in Scotland since 1979. I’m not one of her disciples, but I’ll defend her against that charge. The strip mill was set up during the Macmillan era as part of an industrial strategy, when Scottish Tory votes still counted for something. If the plan had been conceived properly, it would never have been put on that site; it would have been built instead beside a deep water port facility allowing iron ore and coal imports to be loaded directly from the dockside into the factory rather than hauled across central Scotland by road and rail. If it had . . . but life’s one big ‘if’ isn’t it.
For all that, I enjoyed the gig, not least for the presence in the front row of my old friend Bill Clark, one of the finest Scottish journalists of his generation. He told me afterwards he was worried that he might have constrained me. That will be the day!
Maybe your man should consider teaching the language, at introductory level, or even teaching English to Spanish speakers. I notice when I’m travelling that there’s an occasional problem with Spanish cabin crew. They assume that we speak our language as fast as they speak theirs, but we don’t. I remember being on a small plane in the US once; the lone flight attendant gave the safety briefing in English and I did not understand one word of it.
Bob is a Canon? Does that make him answerable to Richard Holloway? (Actually, that would probably be good for him.) I’m glad you enjoyed the small name game I played in Fatal Last Words. If I’d picked up last year’s Harrogate programme I could probably have worked even more in. By the way, it’s nice to encounter someone who’s been to Harrogate and isn’t a crime writer. (Or have I made a terrible mistake?)
No, you have not lost the plot. These things happen. People often stumble over names in real life. My Grandma Bell was a mistress of the art; she invariably addressed me as ‘Eh Malcolm, eh George, eh Duncan, eh Quintin’. My youngest uncle swore that he was ten before he realised that his name was not ‘Eh Malcolm, eh George, eh Duncan’. Grandma died when my son was twenty months old, but even in that short time he had become ‘Eh Malcolm, eh George, eh Duncan, eh Quintin, eh Allan’. And shouldn’t fiction reflect life?
In that case, I look forward to making you absolutely ecstatic. Are you saying that you still live in Port Glasgow? If so, is there much of a Hispanic community there?
Andy will be pleased to hear that help is at hand. He’s not a bad guy at heart, just a little confused, having never really got the scent of Alex out of his nostrils. He does seem to have crossed a line with Bob, though. Question is, whether that line is paint, or just chalk. To answer the other question, yours . . . yes, I am.