Saturday, 8 June 2013


I have been really bad about keeping the blog up to date.  Apologies to all who came and found old posts here.  I know how frustrating I find that when I look at the blogs of other writers and artists.  I have promised in the past to try harder and I make that promise again - this time with hopefully more resolve.

There is a lot to catch up with but first I will say that I have recently returned from a trip to Scotland where I was shortlisted for the Angus Book Award for Mister Creecher.  My fellow shortlisted authors were Tim Bowler, William Osborne and Teri Terry - and it was Teri with her book, Slated (as with the North-East Book Award) who beat me to it this time.  Congratulations to her and thanks to everyone who voted for me.  I think we all know that there was some kind of terrible mistake in the counting (sob).

Everyone I mentioned the Angus Book Award to raved about it and I can see why.  It is extraordinarily well run and everyone concerned with it was friendly and enthusiastic and very supportive.  We stayed on the coast at the Carnoustie Hotel right next to the famous golf course and on the day of the event we each did two separate school visits.  I went to Webster's High School and to Brechin High School, the first a small group in the library, the second a large group of nearly a hundred, in the school hall.  Both visits went pretty well, I hope.  I certainly enjoyed them.

On the way, my chauffeur for the day, Lynn ('are your shoes...purple?') took me to see some Pictish stones.  The Serpent Stone at Aberlemno at the top of the page is the model for the award itself and it was some compensation to be seeing the original.  To be honest, it was worth it for me to come all that way and see these incredible pieces of art.  It was a chilly and overcast day, but that somehow seemed right.

The event at Arbroath High School was compered with incredible confidence and poise by two students from the school and each of the school involved in the voting process had made films about the books on the shortlist.  These two were full of wit and imagination and put many a publisher's trailer to shame.

Each of the authors did a five minute piece about their book and then Teri's name was read out and she received her award, after which we signed books (posters & scraps of paper) before going back to the hotel for a well-earned drink and some very fine chips.  A huge thanks to everyone concerned - the organisers, the staff and students of all the schools involved.  Hope to be back soon.

The next day I was driven back to Edinburgh airport with Tim Bowler.  I'd driven up with Tim and we talked about books and writing and all that kind of thing.  We shared some enthusiasms - especially for Rosemary Sutcliff, with whom Tim had amazingly exchanged letters just before she died).

Tim caught his plane back to Devon and I went into Edinburgh for a a few hours on what turned out from a very unpromising start, to be a glorious day.  I must have seen Edinburgh in sunshine before, but I can't quite remember when that would have been.

I put my bag into left luggage in Waverley Station and then mooched around, walking up to the castle and around the old town.  I made my usual pilgrimage to Greyfriar's Cemetery and generally enjoyed being in arguably Britain's most spectacular city.

The day was ruined by Easyjet of course.  My flight was, without explanation (unless you regard 'operational difficulties' an explanation) delayed from 5.30pm to 11.30pm.  We were given the option of changing planes to an earlier flight to Luton, which is what I ended up doing, incurring a massive taxi bill to get to Cambridge.

To the victor the spoils.  To the loser the spoiled travel plans.

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