Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that 2019 treats you well. My inspiration for this year is a bit of graffiti which has appeared under a bridge in Romsey – have courage and be kind. I don’t think you can do much better than that.
Rather slack on the news front, although it’s lovely to have a bit of a quiet time after Christmas and before the madness of the next few months sets in. Very much looking forward to the Portsmouth Bookfest where you can have tea with the Deadly Dames (including yours truly) on February 22nd. I’ll also be on a panel about favourite detectives on the 7th of March.
Last time I promised a free story to newsletter subscribers. It’s the third instalment of my shifter story, in which the full moon doesn’t cause lycanthropy, but whatever the equivalent is for glyptodonts. You can find the first two parts, Shell Shocked and Gobsmacked, for download here although the third part won’t be uploaded there for a couple of months. If you can’t wait, sign up for my newsletter (from any page of my site) and I’ll send you the link to it.
Anyway, to return to my muttons, as Hercule Poirot doesn’t quite say, it was December 3rd and Jonny couldn’t go to evensong, because the moon was rising late afternoon and even if it was black as your grandfather’s moustache out there I don’t suppose he could have lurked in the churchyard listening to the choir belting out “Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel” because he’d have hurried some of the old dears’ progress towards the pearly gates if they’d seen him.
As a result he was in a right mood. No Advent carols, no candles, no Advent wreath; I suggested he go to the morning service but it’s not the same, apparently. “Not the same numinous sense of wonder.” Whatever that is. Then I thought he might listen to the service on the radio, because Radio 3 or 4 must put on that sort of stuff, probably from King’s college Cambridge. That idea went down like a lead balloon, too. Jonny used all sorts of words I bet he’d never use in church. In a final effort to cheer him up, I put forward the idea of taking him up onto the old airfield before he shifted.
We’d discovered this little part of West Wales when we’d been out on a scenic drive one day—there’s not a lot there and the only people who seem to use it are the model aircraft buffs. The views are spectacular, but more importantly it’s got flat stretches which are wheelchair accessible, which isn’t typical of your average hill top with a sea view. We decided to have a gander up there of an evening—don’t ask what we got up to in my car in the pitch black cos I ain’t telling—and had the place entirely to ourselves.
Which made me think it might be a great place to come on a full moon night so that himself could indulge his giant armadillo side to its full extent. It would take a bit of planning, because I couldn’t just abandon him there and return to pick him up when he’d changed back, but the logistical side of things is just my cup of tea. Sleeping bag, thermos, snacks—I’d just have to park up, let events take their course, then take him home and let him sleep it off. There’d be risks, of course, although not to him so long as he didn’t go haring down a hole and getting stuck. Somebody might spot my car and report me, although what crime I’d be guilty of I can’t imagine, although my previous run in with the law had left me wary. Somebody might see Jonny, of course, but even if they believed their eyes and went calling 999, no doubt the police would put it down to the caller’s over indulgence in Brains. By which I mean the beer, not what Hercule Poirot would call “the little grey cells”.
Anyway, it took me a while to get my act together on this idea, what with the moon sometimes rising before the sun’s set and all that mallarky, but December 3rd seemed to be the date, what with overcoming Jonny’s disappointment about Advent carols, etc. It would be the perfect time of year, too, for giving the plan a try. All those Christmas parties going on and people ending up off their faces, nobody would believe they’d seen a giant armadillo rolling over the old airfield.
When I suggested it, this strange expression came over his face, so I thought I’d cocked up well and truly. I was about to apologise and tell him to forget I ever made the suggestion, when he got all teary. He said he was blown away at the idea, especially because it would involve a lot of sacrifice from me—night on a bare mountain, or at least on a draughty airfield—and because it would let him have the sort of freedom he so rarely gets.
He gave me a great big snog and would have given me a lot more, favours in advance of his treat to come, but a bloody man from DPD rang the doorbell and we had to sign for a parcel.
And finally – my highlight of 2018. The arctic!