Like 60s music (or 70s or 80s?)

Last Friday we trotted off to The Plaza in Romsey which is one of our fave venues not just because it’s a little art deco jewel  – it has rows with extra-leg-room seats! We were attending a 60s tribute night featuring The Zoots whom we’d not seen before but we’ll be seeing again as soon as we get the chance.

They create a brilliant atmosphere through costumes, videos, sheer weight of personality and great musicianship. If you like good live music and they’re playing near you, give them a whirl. We can thoroughly recommend their 60s act but I bet their 70s and 80s ones are as good.



Charlie’s latest newsletter

Hello all. The sun is cracking the paving stones here in the UK – okay, technically it’s in the high 60’s Fahrenheit but that’s barbecue weather for us. Given that it’s a bank holiday weekend I daresay the rain will be here by Monday.
A busy few months ahead for releases. Love in Every Season (please note change of title!) is almost ready for pre-order and will be out on 22nd July. It contains the reissued stories Horns and Halos (representing spring), Tumble Turn (summer), Sand (autumn) and What you Will (winter). The next Cambridge Fellows novella is ready to rock and will be hitting the shelves on 26th August. And the twin novellas (one old, one new) featuring my actor laddies will be out from Williams and Whiting, as well. More about that below.
I’m delighted to be a guest of Havant writers on June 5th. I’ll be talking about twining romance and mystery together – afterwards I’ll blog my thoughts on the subject as (though I say it myself) I think it’ll be a useful topic. I’ve had some of my best ideas!
This week’s special offers on Charlie books include the kindle Lessons in Love  and a continued special price for the audio version of Promises Made Under Fire.
The excerpt this week comes from The Case of the Undesirable Actor, the new Alasdair/Toby story in An Act of Detection. These two are 1950s actors, who try to play Holmes and Watson offscreen as well as on. Here’s the very start of the story, where the scene gets set…
The girl’s footsteps quickened as she entered the dark alley. The noise and safety of the busy London streets had been left behind temporarily, to be regained when she reached the end of her short cut. Her friends had told her, day on day and again not five minutes since, that she was unwise to take this route, but she was tired and desperate for home. The five minutes’ walk she saved would make all the difference to her aching legs and rumbling stomach.
Too foolish to have put safety before comfort, too focussed on simply getting through the passage as quickly as possible rather than keeping alert, it seemed inevitable that the girl wouldn’t notice the soft-footed figure falling into step ten yards behind her. Not until he was almost upon her, by which time it was too late to pick up the pace and escape his grasp.
“Hello, my lovely,” the man rasped, one hand round her waist to pull her towards him, and the other slipping over her mouth. “What did I do to deserve you walking past my door?”
She struggled—in vain—to break the iron grip, desperate to free her mouth to scream.
“Ow! The cow bit me.” The assailant flung the girl away from him.
“Sorry, Mr. Howell.” She protested. “I didn’t mean to.”
“Oh, yes, we all believe that,” he sneered. “Look at this, Robert. She’s almost drawn blood.”
The director, who’d left his seat at the first cry of anguish, trotted over, hands waving placatingly. “I’m sure it was just over enthusiasm at her first time being in a film with you, George. That’s so, isn’t it, Yvette?”
“Oh, yes, Mr. Temple. It’s all so exciting.” If she was acting this bit as well, the girl had a lot of potential. “I lost my head.”
“Then you should get yourself back under control,” George snorted. “I’m off to my dressing room. I won’t be back until you can reassure me that I can get through a scene without being assaulted, Robert. If that means having to change the actress, I can wait.”
“But George…”
Howell ignored the director’s words. Who was the star of this film, the person who’d get the money flowing through the tills for Marquess studios? Not the production team, for a start, given that the script was ordinary, the supporting cast workmanlike at best, and only he could elevate it to something like a decent offering. Yvette wasn’t going to make that much of a contribution apart from standing there looking pretty but gormless. Why did the studio insist on having such useless bints in the minor roles? How many casting couches had been lain on during Yvette’s progress from the pool of extras or wherever she’d been lurking, to the role of third victim?
By the time he’d reached his dressing room, burst through the door and slammed it dramatically behind him he’d worked himself up a fair head of steam. Shame he’d had to knock the drinking on the head because this was the sort of occasion when he could have done with a stiffener.
A rap on his dressing room got answered with a curt, “Clear off!”
 If that was Robert, coming to cast oil on the waters, he’d have to bide his time.  If it was George’s dresser, Edith, then she’d gauge his mood and be back soon with a cup of strong tea and a cheese roll. Neither of which were as good as a glass of whisky but they’d raise his spirits. Edith always knew what to do and say, which was more than could be said for most women.
He was about to go and shout for her to bring him them anyway, now he’d got those creature comforts in mind, when he noticed an envelope on the dressing table, tucked behind a pot of cold cream. Somebody must have left a note for him while he’d been on set, possibly one of his adoring fans. They had a habit of bribing stagehands—never the blessed Edith who was immune to such stratagems—to place things in his room. It couldn’t hurt to read such messages, actors’ egos being frail things that needed encouragement, or so he always vowed when he had a sympathetic female ear to hand. Maybe such solace was exactly what he needed now.
He slit open the envelope and pulled out the letter. The lack of the usual cloud of fragrance wasn’t the only thing to make bring him up short. Here was another one.
I know what happened. We all do. Don’t think you’ll always get away with it.
Frozen for a moment, he read the words again, unable to believe that anybody could have found out.
Don’t think you’ll always get away with it.
That hadn’t been in the previous notes. What the hell should he do now?

And finally – one of the new pals I made in Newcastle!



Weekend picspam part the second

Friday turned out to be a typical Brit spring day – roasting if you were in the sun and perishing cold if you were out of it. Coat, hat and gloves on and off like the proverbial tart’s knickers. Still, we intrepid travellers set off to Newcastle, which was full of French people who’d come over for the Challenge cup final between La Rochelle and Clermont. Allez les bleus!

Fabulous fanzones, although we didn’t try the zip wire.

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Back to the hotel via the Roman Fort (this bit’s repro.)