As the year lurches to a close, it’s time for me to look forward, and to wish the best for the celebrations to come, and for the whole damn year that follows, to my chosen people:
My family, nearest and dearest. They know who they are.
My circle of friends; the Gullane posse and the L’Escala crew.
My global army of readers, to whom I add my deepest thanks for your faith and your loyalty.
My correspondents, through this blog and through Facebook. Your praise is cherished and your feedback invaluable.
Eddie, Junette, Paul and all at the agency.
Martin Fletcher, my long-serving, long-suffering editor.
All the people at Headline Towers in Euston Road, and their Commonwealth colleagues.
Ryan Giggs, for allowing me to cling to the hope that I might yet make a successful comeback to the Thursday Legends.
Every single person in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary who has been involved in the care and treatment of my lovely wife Eileen, during her health hiccups this year, and to Alannah and the others who kept me ticking over.
Something I didn’t know until I became in a debate with my friend Pat Wright on the merits of Nicolas Cage: he is not the only acting Coppola to effect a career name change. Who is the other? Answers please, via Comments.
As the year draws to its end, I am indulging myself by watching telly. Currently it’s ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ on BBC4, relatively calm after a bizarre Nicolas Cage movie on Canal +, ‘Drive Angry’. Nic is a very fine actor, so what possessed him to take that one on? Did you know that his real name is Nicolas Coppola, and he’s the nephew of the ‘Godfather’ director, Francis Ford Coppola?
Finally, it’s official. For winning the Tour de France and another Olympic gold medal, Bradley Wiggins is made a knight of the realm. So is Ben Ainslie for winning four successive sailing golds. K’s also for the coaches Dave Brailsford and Dave Tanner, and Sarah Storey , the Paralympic cyclist becomes a dame. In the second tier CBEs go to Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, David Weir, Victoria Pendleton and Katherine Grainger. All well deserved, and congratulations to them.
Then there’s Andy Murray; Olympic tennis gold medallist, the first British male Wimbledon finalist since 1938 and the first British man to win a tennis Grand Slam event since 1936. Where do we find him in the Honours List? In the third tier. Andy says he’s delighted to receive an OBE, and I’m sure he is. I imagine he’d have been even more delighted to receive a CBE, and ecstatic to be knighted. As it is, I won’t be the only Scot to feel slightly scandalised by his rating on the Gong scale, particularly when one notes the CBE awarded for services to the computer gaming industry. And I might not be the only golfer to be surprised that in the post-Olympic frenzy, the Miracle at Medinah seems to have been completely overlooked.
Nice cruise; I envy you that one. I’ve followed your trail on Google Earth, and done a little research. New Caledonia seems to have been named in 1774 by Captain Cook, because it reminded him of Scotland. Seventy-five years later the crew of an American vessel were killed and eaten there. I know we Scots have a reputation for eating odd things, such as haggis and deep fried Mars Bars, but Americans have never been part of our staple diet.
The weather did us a favour on Boxing Day, December 26. It let us have lunch in the sun in St Marti, in La Terrassa d’Empuries, run by our friends Cisco and Loli. By the way, Primavera’s house, if it existed, would be on the gap site beside the church.
I’m glad you like ‘The Loner’, ‘cos I do too. And thanks for your support; seems like I’m in good company.
As for TV, there is little chance of Skinner being made into a series, as I will not allow anyone to mess about with my characters in a way that is unacceptable to me, and most production companies seem to want that right.
This may count as a Christmas present; it is to me, and for sure to my imaginary friend Bob.
One of my first tasks of 2013 will be to sign contracts for four more Skinner books. This will take the schedule through to 2018, and gives the man plenty of scope for career moves between now and then. At present he is in seclusion considering his position in the light of the Scottish Government’s ridiculous and risky decision to centralise the country’s policing into a single force. That’s what happens when you put an economist and a lawyer in charge of decision-making, neither profession being renowned for its common sense.
Woke this morning to Christmas Day 2012, in L’Escala, Spain. Bon Nadal.
Wherever you are and whatever you are celebrating, may it be a good one.
Where are you, Patricia? Is all well in Arizona?
Sally Nugent’s on ‘Breakfast’. I like her, not least for having the courage to wear **** me shoes at that time of the morning.
We had the great pleasure of attending the ‘Caga Tió’ event at our Mia’s nursery on Friday. I could put subtitles on the following video, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that as they hit the logs, the children are asking it to produce presents.
I’ve just read a newspaper account of a press conference given by Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, at which he is said to have given that body’s first meaningful reaction to the horrific Newtown school shooting, America’s Dunblane. Most non-Americans don’t understand the complexities of the Second Amendment, so I’m not going to comment on Mr LaPierre’s proposal that armed guards be posted in every school in the nation, or on his comment that the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Instead I’ll leave it to the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who said, ‘Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe.’
I’m saying nothing either about the Association’s criticism of video games either, because I reckon they may have a point.
However when it comes to Mr LaPierre’s crackpot call for a national database of the mentally ill, I will not hold my fire. That is one of the most dangerous, evil and fascistic ideas I have ever heard, and yet it comes from a body that is said to have made campaign donations to half the members of the US Congress.
I hear what you say, Gillian. The decision to use several readers was taken by Isis because of the structure of the book, and I was consulted on certain aspects of the casting. It was a brave call, given that it was always going to be impossible to please all of the people all of the time, and possibly any of them. For example, so far I haven’t got past the first section, because whoever else that guy is meant to sound like, he isn’t a ferocious Leither of Irish/Italian descent.
But I promise, it was a one-off. Pray for the Dying is third person, and my expectation is that Jim will be back.
I am indebted to the Herald, one of my morning newspaper reads, for the following,
‘BRUSSELS sprouts should come with a health warning after a Scot was taken to hospital when he ate too many last Christmas, it has been claimed.
The vegetable contains vitamin K, which aids blood clotting in humans but counteracts the effects of blood thinning medication.
The man from Ayrshire was prescribed anticoagulants after suffering heart failure, but doctors were mystified when he was admitted to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, with clotting.
They could not work out why the medication did not work until they discovered he had eaten too many sprouts, according to an Australian medical journal.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Roy Gardner said: “Patients taking anticoagulants are advised not to eat too many green leafy vegetables, as they are full of vitamin K.”’
They also make one fart.
Twelve years late, I’ve just got round to watching a movie called ‘Amores Perros‘. Breathtaking.
Every time I do a gig, the TV question comes up, one way or another. There’s a widespread assumption among readers that authors are keen to be snapped up for telly, 1) for the screen-time money, and 2) for the extra book sales it will generate. Yes, for a while I was that masked author, until I had first hand experience of the impact that a screen-writer can have on the characters that you created and hold dear to your heart.
I was reminded of this when I watched the Sky adaptation of Robert Wilson’s first two ‘Falcón‘ novels, under that title. My thoughts went straight to the Skinner script that was handed to me a few years back, and prompted me to buy and read the adapted works in their original form, to see how different the stories are. Currently, I am half way through the last of the quartet. They are gobsmackingly good. If you have seen the TV version and want to grasp the true meaning of the word ‘superficial’, my advice is to follow my example and read the works in their original form. If you haven’t seen the TV adaptation, don’t bother, just buy the books.
. . . to Andy Nimmo for that speedy comment. No, Andy, I was not washed anywhere by the recent North Berwick storm. In fact I wasn’t within a thousand miles of it, as we’ve been in Spain for the last week.
Things you forget: latest on the list is this . . . do not head north on the Ronda de Dalt through Barcelona at around 6:30pm on weekdays. It took us the best part of an hour to clear the city, all of it nose to tail. It was worth it in the end though,
as the weather’s been pretty decent ever since. Coffee time looms, so we’ll be heading down there again.