Life with Arfur

An irreverent look at living with arthritis

September 22, 2017
by David Robinson
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We’re Back

Home again from our travels. Mablethorpe was its usual thrill-fest. While we were there, the traffic lights changed, drawing a massive roar from the crowd… all thirteen of them, fifteen if you count me and the missus.

In fact, it was quite a pleasant stay and if nothing else it got us out of this bloody house for a few days. Unfortunately, the weather changed yesterday. It was legging it down at six o’clock last night, so we cut it short and came home. We were walking into the house just after nine o’clock.

There’ll be a couple of video reports to come over the weekend and I’ll post the links here when they’re up and running.

I came home to a couple of surprises, one good, the other not so good.

One of my thrillers has been rejected for the umpteenth time. That’s the bad news, but maybe not bad as you might think. If nothing else, it’s been persuaded me that hard-boiled thrillers are not my forte. It puts my plans back a little, but I can cope with that.

There was better news on the cosy crime front. Peril in Palmanova, the 15th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, is on pre-order. When we left for Mablethorpe or Monday morning, it was ranked about number 10,000 in the overall Amazon chart. When I got back last night it had leapt to number 540. That is an incredible leap of 9,500 places in just three days.

As usual, I have all you wonderful readers to thank for that. You’re making an old man very happy… or a happy man very old.

It persuades me that I’m best working with cosy, light-hearted crime and/or humour, and David Robinson will be working in this area from now on. Robert Devine’s debut is deferred for a while and when he does put in an appearance it will probably be working with sci-fi/horror. More details when they’re available or when I can work out what it is I’m supposed to be doing.

***

Peril in Palmanova is still on pre-order, scheduled for release on October 26th. To secure your copy now, at today’s price, go to:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

September 18, 2017
by David Robinson
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A Few Days Away

It’s that time again when the Robinsons are off on their travels, toddling off to Skegness (Mablethorpe actually, but no one admits to going to Mablethorpe) for a few days.

After a stressful summer during which we lost our beloved Joe, my daughter was diagnosed with MND and also got married, we need a break and a poor flight back from Majorca at the end of May persuaded us that we didn’t feel like going abroad again this year.

So, Mablethorpe it is.

I had an interesting little event yesterday morning.  Running errands for Her Indoors (what else am I but an ageing errand boy?) I was leaving the house when I found a small parcel on the doormat.  This was a Sunday, remember.  Who delivers parcels on Sunday?

Amazon, that’s who.

As you can see from the photograph, it’s my advance paperback copy of Peril in Palmanova.  Good, innit?  It shows you how well I keep up with what’s going on around me.  I didn’t even know it was available in paperback…  Well, it isn’t available.  Not yet.  Not until…

October 26th.

Make a note of that in your diary.  It’s a Thursday, in October.  Course, it would be, wouldn’t it?  It would be bloody awkward if October 26th fell in April.

You don’t have to wait until then to order the book. It’s available for pre-order right now, and if you whip over there and put in your order, you’re guaranteed the price it’s selling at today.

So why are you sitting there reading this drivel? Get over there and get it ordered while it’s hot and cheap.

Closer to the time, I’ll be setting up a launch thrash on Facebook, and I may do some planning for that while I’m in Mablethorpe…  If I can find the time…  If I can be bothered.

That’s it for now.  We’re off to Mablethorpe.  While I’m gone, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.  And that gives you huge scope for getting into all sorts of trouble.

September 11, 2017
by David Robinson
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Rainy Days & Brighter News

Monday morning, again.

I’ve been retired for a good few years now, and I still get that Monday morning feeling… Even on a Thursday. It’s worse on Mondays especially when the weather is as bad as today. It’s absolutely hammering down one minute, and the next I’m having to turn the vertical blinds to keep the sun off the monitor screen.

I’m also having to use the keyboard. I can’t use speech recognition because I’m waiting for an electrician to arrive, and I won’t be able to hear him knocking while I have the headphones on.

Still, there is some good news, particularly for those amongst you who are fans of the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries.

Crooked Cat announced last week that STAC #15, Peril in Palmanova, will be released on Thursday, October 26th. That’s a little over six weeks from now on. The good news is, you can order it now, and guarantee yourself a price of just 99p/$1.31.

I don’t know what the eventual price will be. That’s a matter for Crooked Cat, not me. But I do know that if you order it now, you pay the price as it is now, and you will automatically take delivery at midnight on the day of release.

There will be a launch shindig on Facebook. I just haven’t got round to setting it up yet. Well, these things take time, and you know how I’m fixed. Last Of The Summer Wine is on the telly at half past six, and we’ve also started packing for Mablethorpe next week, on which subject I’ve had to put my foot down. We take either the lawnmower or the tumble dryer, but not both.

In between times, while waiting for the forklift truck to charge up and so I can lift the cases into the car, I’m pushing on with STAC #16, Murder At Squire’s Lodge (working title).

So why are you sitting here reading this tripe. Get over to Amazon and pre-order your copy of Peril in Palmanova while it’s hot and cheap.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

September 5, 2017
by David Robinson
0 comments

Live. For One Day Only

Tomorrow, eleven in the morning, UK time, I will be live on Facebook.

It was a challenge laid down by Crooked Cat Books to its authors. Am I up to the challenge? What? You’re looking at the man who sang Mack the Knife while dressed as Darth Vader… I mean I was dressed as Darth Vader, not old Mackie.

So along with a few others I picked up the baton and I’m running with it… well, I’m sitting in my chair with it, and tomorrow morning, at eleven o’clock our time, in a dazzling display of lights (I’ll get the wife to switch the living room reading lamp on and off) I shall be prattling live on Facebook for all of ten minutes… if you’re lucky. And if you’re really lucky, it’ll only be five minutes.

And what am I gonna be talking about?

I did think of entertaining you with horror stories from my visits to the chiropodist and dentist, but I figured you get enough laughs out of me without checking my corns and dentures. So instead, I’ll be waffling about the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, and with very good reason. Peril in Palmanova, the fifteenth in the series is due for release October 26th.

I’m not gonna tell you anything about, but I will be detailing how it came about after a two year gap when it looked like there might never be any more tales from Joe and Co. I will let you in on the secrets of how a hill in Majorca provided the catalyst for the tale.

As it happens, the release coincides with plans for a revamp of the existing titles in the shape of new covers. Peril in Palmanova is an example, and here we have the new cover for The Filey Connection.

They may look bland and samey, but the key to them is their unusual, near exclusive design. I couldn’t find anything like them anywhere, and congratulations go to Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat for his design work.

So there it is. Tomorrow eleven in the morning. Be there or be not there. You will have the opportunity to comment, but it’ll be in the comment boxes only, and naturally, any comment you may have should be clean, printable, and suitable for mixed company.

I shall see you on the morrow. I might even shave for the event.

You can catch me tomorrow from about 11:00 BST on my Facebook timeline

August 27, 2017
by David Robinson
18 Comments

The Wedding Day

My daughter, Angela, and her partner, Tim, got married yesterday.  Big deal, you say.  Many of us have daughters who got married, and some of them may have tied the knot yesterday.

My daughter’s wedding was particularly poignant because she suffers from Motor Neurone Disease.

She was diagnosed four months ago, but she began suffering speech and swallowing difficulties as far back as Christmas.  Needless to say, the news was devastating for the entire family.

She’s typical of the Robinson gene in that she’s stubborn, determined and fight to the last.  That single-mindedness prompted her to defy her condition and WALK into the wedding room at Leeds Town Hall.  And as her father, it was my pleasure, my absolute joy, to lend her my arm in support of that walk.

Her daughters, Victoria and Hannah, pulled out all the stops to see that their mum had a special day, right down to arranging a Rolls Royce for the journey to the venue and the return to the reception.

Many of Angela’s friends (and Tim’s of course) turned out for them. Her brothers turned out too, David and his partner Sarah travelling in from Pudsey on the outskirts of Bradford, Colin and his wife Sally, making the journey from Coventry, and overall everyone had an enjoyable afternoon.

There was a downside. Everyone had to listen to a three-minute address from the father of the bride…  Me.

Not that there’s anything wrong with my ability to deliver a short speech, but even at my quietest I’m a noisy bugger, and my spec jokes are not always as funny as I think they are.

If I’m making a lot of this it’s not in the pursuit of ‘aww, how lovely’ reactions, and it’s certainly not in search of sympathy.  The whole family is now dedicated to raising awareness of this terrible disease.

Angela has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of MND known as Progressive Bulbar Palsy.  Statistically, the life expectancy of sufferers is six months to three years.

There is no cure.  No one knows what causes it.  But we, as a family, and only too aware of its devastating impact.

Having said that I offer no apologies for wishing a long and happy marriage for my daughter, Angela, and her new husband, Tim.

Comments are open and welcome.

My daughter blogs about her illness at: https://angie1926.wordpress.com/

And her daughter,Victoria has made efforts at raising awareness on her blog at: https://daughterofmnd.wordpress.com/

If you would like to learn more about Motor Neurone Disease, go to: https://www.mndassociation.org/

July 17, 2017
by David Robinson
2 Comments

An Unexpected but Brilliant Meet-up

Had a message from my granddaughter, Victoria yesterday morning. She, her sister Hannah and their mother, my daughter Angela, were on their way to Pugfest in Manchester. Would I like to meet up with them at eleven o’clock?

I don’t sleep well. A combination of various complaints and bone-idleness means I can never get to sleep until I’m really tired. So I didn’t go to bed until half past three in the morning. I crawled out of the pit at half past nine to find this message waiting for me.

Angela has Motor Neurone Disease (MND). It’s a terrible, progressive condition which will eventually rob her of her independence.  Diagnosed earlier this year, she has already lost most of the power of speech, she tires quickly, has at least one weak ankle, and the prescription drug do provoke mood swings. I take whatever opportunity I can to see her.

Having had only about five hours’ sleep was no excuse. Quick wash and shave, and I was at the nearest tram stop for half past ten and on my way to Manchester.

I know people who when they get a cold take to their beds for days in a passable imitation of Camille. Not so my daughter. This girl is a determined not to give in to this disease until it really beats her. It’s the Robinson gene. We never give in. Not just not very often. Never.

And her daughters are amazing. Two young women who cannot do enough for their mother, they deserve a medal. They know far more about their mother’s condition and her limitations than I do, and Victoria is blogging about it.

If you’re looking for insight into the way it feels to work with someone suffering as Angela does, go to Victoria’s blog at: https://daughterofmnd.wordpress.com/

So I passed a couple of happy hours in Manchester with daughter and granddaughters and of course, the star of the show, Oscar, Angela’s 9-year-old pug, who takes an absolute delight in the way complete strangers fuss over him.

And the sun chose to shine on us, lending a quite continental feel to the heart of the city.

The only downside was Metrolink, the Manchester tram operators who, thanks to a council edict, do not allow dogs on the trams. They’re fine on trains, okay on buses and taxi drivers are mostly happy to carry them but you can’t have them on trams. Bleeding politicians living with head in sand again.

I got home about half past two with the grim thought that in order to catch up on the work I should have been doing while I was skiving in Manchester, I’ll probably be up until three tomorrow morning.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, is there?

 

July 6, 2017
by David Robinson
0 comments

Teabreak Over. Get Back To Work

Teabreak Over. Get Back To Work

Are you a fan of the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries? Course you are. And as such, you might have noticed a slight hiatus… a teabreak lasting two years. That’s how long it is since Joe and his gang of third-age, born-again teenagers last bothered us in Trial by Fire.

There are a number of reasons for this, and some of them are personal. I bet that’s got your attention, hasn’t it? Oh boy, here comes the scandal.

Hard luck. I’m not gonna go into the reasons for the break.

But what I am gonna do is tell you that the teabreak is over and it’s time to get back to work, and it seems fitting to me that just as the Drama Channel gets round to the episode of Last of the Summer Wine where Foggy first appears, we can announce STAC #15, Peril in Palmanova. Quite what LOTSW has to do with STAC, I don’t know, but I just thought I’d throw that in.

In the grand scheme of things, the next title should have been Care for Murder (working title only) but that book has caused me so many problems that I almost abandoned it altogether.

The solution to those issues came in May, when the missus and I were sunning ourselves in Majorca. And where were we staying? Palmanova of course.

But the solution brought problems of its own, the chief one being the need for a complete backstory to explain the opening position in Care for Murder. When I got back, I put the proposition to Laurence and Steph at Crooked Cat, and while they considered it, I set to work.

The result is Peril in Palmanova. Who’s in peril? Wait and see. Why is (s)he in peril? You’ll find out. Why did it have to be in Palmanova? Because I was there. Note: there are other reasons, but you’ll learn about them when you read the book. Why is it necessary for Care for Murder to have this backstory. You really will have to wait to find that out.

What I will tell you is that it is a novella; a single story, with no subplots, and although it fits well into the general theme of the STACs, it does diverge ever so slightly.

I signed the contract this morning. We don’t yet have a cover and we don’t have a release date, but all will be revealed in due course.

You are welcome to keep abreast of events by subscribing to the blog. To do so, click the NetworkedBlogs icon in the upper sidebar. The offer of free titles by subscribing to my newsletter is currently suspended, but it will be put in place again very soon.

June 27, 2017
by David Robinson
11 Comments

End Of The Road (For Some, Anyway)

This Friday, June 30, sees the publication rights to three of my titles revert to me. The Handshaker, The Deep Secret, and Voices will cease to appear on Crooked Cat Books’ lists.

I want to make it clear from the outset that this is not a reflection on Crooked Cat. I have an excellent working relationship with them, and they continue to hold the rights to most of my catalogue, including all 14 Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, the two Spookies titles, and Life With Arfur. Should you be thinking that I’m only biding my time before taking those back, sorry, but you’re wrong. There are new Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries in the pipeline, and they will be published by Crooked Cat (subject to meeting the company’s usual quality standards).

So why, you may ask, are these three titles coming back to me? On the other hand, you may be thinking it’s time you were clipping your toenails.

A mistake was made with them, and it was mine, not the publisher’s.

These three books represent a departure from my usual light-hearted work. They’re hard-boiled tales, crime bordering on horror, with graphic scenes of sex and violence, and language which reflects the modern world. They are not for the faint-hearted.

Notwithstanding this, I asked for them to be published under my real name, David Robinson.

Big mistake #1.

I didn’t reckon on the success of the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, which made my name synonymous with semi-humorous work. The two genres don’t make comfortable bedfellows. Those who like cosy crime tend not to enjoy grittier work and vice versa. Naturally, there is some overlap, but it was never enough to give me any traction on the marketing of the three thrillers.

In my opinion, and that of the few people who’ve reviewed it, Voices remains one of the best pieces I’ve ever written, but since its publication in 2012, notwithstanding my best efforts and those of Crooked Cat to let people know it’s there, it’s sold less than 100 copies.

The other two thrillers, while doing a little better have still performed abysmally. The combined total sales of all three volumes is less than 500 copies.

For me, it all points at one thing: they should have been written under a pseudonym.

It’s not like this just occurred to me. It’s something I’ve known about for quite some time. So why didn’t I do anything about it? I couldn’t be bothered.

To be honest, that answer is inaccurate and unfair to myself. The real truth is, the complexities of running two author names on, say, Amazon, is a logistical nightmare, and one that I was reluctant to take on.

Big mistake #2.

Changing the author name on any book is problematic. They’re all identified by their individual ISBNs and to change the author’s name is an administrative nightmare. Thanks to my initial short-sightedness, I now have no option but to confront that nightmare, and I haven’t a clue how long it will take. I can’t simply re-publish them under a pseudonym. I could find myself in the ridiculous position of breaching my own copyright. The books have to be withdrawn from sale and I then need advice on how to proceed with re-publication under the chosen pen name, Robert Devine.

The upshot of all this is, The Handshaker, The Deep Secret, and Voices will be removed from sale as soon as is practicable on or after July 1st and I haven’t the foggiest idea when they will reappear.

So if you want a copy of any of them, you’d better get a move on.

All three are exclusive to Amazon and you can find them at:

The Handshaker

The Deep Secret

Voices

(global links)

 

June 21, 2017
by David Robinson
0 comments

Website Changes

With effect from today, June 21st 2017, the offer of free downloads in exchange for email addresses is temporarily suspended.

Please accept my apologies.  The site is undergoing alterations and revisions, and the offer will be reinstated as soon as is practicable.

Thank you for your patience