FIRE, MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN?

There are many books about how to write your first novel. Few discuss the blind terror aspect of the activity. Due to a grand bouffe of tweets, text spaghetti requesting how I wrote Taking Leave, here is an apocryphal short story about writing that book. Episode One.

Writing your first novel is never easy. Not when you are worried about winning the Booker Prize before lifting a  pen to write the first paragraph. I chose to write ‘Shedding Skin’ as it was then known, on a Greek island situated in the middle of nowhere. Athens was a 12-hour boat ride away, Turkey six hours and London 48 hours, with a very good tailwind. The date of my arrival was auspicious – March 17th – St Patrick’s night. I had decided that if I was going to write the book I needed to sever my connections with the UK and go as far away as possible from prying eyes of friends and family.

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DON’T MUCK WITH MY MACKEREL!

Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc have rightly been singing this fish’s praises as the tastiest and healthy option.

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HH THOMAS, PRESIDENT OF KEW GARDENS

My paternal grandfather was called Harry Higgot Thomas. Until  recently, I thought he had been a prolific author of gardening books and the editor of the Daily Telegraph gardening section. A chance search on Google, yielded the following rather groovy tribute on his retirement as President of Kew Gardens. Any man who held that job and wrote books called Making Love to Mother Earth is a top man. Thank goodness, he had the good sense not continue working in a bank…

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