The mystery of the vanishing images

Just logged into the blog to discover that most of the pretty pictures have vanished. Apologies to anyone else who’s found the same thing: there should be a mosaic above this, and pics of the book covers on the right. I am about to try the only fixes I know, which are:

1) wait and hope it gets better by itself

2) turn it off and ignore it, then turn it back on later and see if (1) has happened yet.

Back later.


OK, those are fixed but the Photo Gallery still isn’t there. So no job awaits me in the computer industry yet, then.


Magic. The fairies have found the pictures and put them back overnight. Phew. Clearly a triumph for what they used to call in Social Work ‘Radical non-intervention’. (it sounded so much better than ‘doing nothing’, which was what it meant).

Look, Mum!

Adrian Magson gave an entertaining talk to an appreciative audience at Towcester Library last night. He’s known to readers through his Gavin and Palmer crime series, and to many writers through his ‘Beginners’ column in Writing Magazine. So at last, here’s one of those ‘Look Mum, here’s me with famous author!’ moments…

Ruth in the library with Adrian Magson

Meanwhile, back at Downie Towers, the deadline for Book Three approaches. From now until mid-August the diary has little in it except WRITE!!! in big red letters.

Namedrop in the bookshop

The annual readers-and-writers event organised by Richard Reynolds at Heffers bookshop was, as usual, packed with interesting people and there wasn’t time to talk to all of them. Roz Southey and I are still hoping to have a proper conversation one of these days… In the meantime I’m really grateful to everyone who made time to stop and chat, and especially to those who were kind enough to buy books. (Hello to Jeanine, a lady of extremely good taste who not only bought a Ruso book but is also a huge fan of ‘Rome’.)

As this is the third ‘Bodies in the bookshop’ I’ve been to, many faces are familiar, but I’m still surprised when I meet new people whose books I’ve been shelving in the library for years. Last night I found myself sharing a book table with David Donachie and Paul Doherty. I was too much of a wimp to take photos inside Heffers (look at me standing next to famous authors, Mum!) but to convey the refined atmosphere of the city in which this extravaganza takes place, here’s a shot of some bodies just down the road:

Crowd by the river at King's College Chapel, Cambridge

While most of us were gassing, Harry Sidebottom was busily signing a trolleyload of copies of ‘Warrior of Rome’. This is definitely going to be one to look out for. He politely remembered that I got a nice review in the TLS recently and I was too overawed to remember that he’d received a rave review on the same page. Duh. Definitely ‘nul points’ for social etiquette there. Anyway, I intend to devour ‘Warrior of Rome’ as soon as Ruso 3 goes off to the editors (and before it comes back bearing a stack of tactful suggestions for improvement).

Roger (RN) Morris has a new Porfiry Petrovich book out – ‘A Vengeful Longing’. It’s received excellent reviews and an award nomination, which he modestly didn’t mention so I will.

‘Bodies’ is always a fun event. Oddly enough, crime writers are reckoned to be the friendliest bunch out of all the genres. Must be because we get all our deep dark urges dealt with on paper.

Done with digging

Sadly, the Whitehall Villa summer dig is over for another year. I’m never happier than when grovelling around in the mud of a Northamptonshire hillside with an archaeological trowel. There are those (including Husband) who view this hobby as oddly obsessive and dreadfully dirty. Absolutely right. But the delight of archaeology is that you never know what will turn up – and for a writer, anything that provides physical activity and companionship in the fresh air without requiring either fitness or any sort of sporting ability is a real bonus.

Grubbing around in the past is also very humbling. So many human lives reduced to a few scraps of anonymous pot, some building rubble and the odd stain in the soil. What will be left of any of us in 2000 years’ time?

On a less sombre note, it also provides a chance to wear the sort of hat you wouldn’t be seen dead in anywhere else.

Back to the 21st Century next week, with this year’s Bodies in the Bookshop event at Heffers in Cambridge on Tuesday (always fun – see the Diary page for details) and hopefully a trip to Towcester Library on Wednesday to hear Adrian Magson, who’s celebrating the publication of the 5th book in his Riley and Palmer crime series.