Why should I? (Groan)
That gag is older than me, which doesn’t augur too well for the rest of this post.
One of the issues with writing full time, is sleep. You tend to kip when you need to, and this morning I didn’t go to bed until pushing on 4 o’clock. As a consequence, I didn’t get up until half past ten, by which time, the sun was shining on the moors and there was a sense of spring in the air.
It didn’t last. One pace outside the door with the dog and it became obvious that it was a visual impression only. The reality was colder than polar bear’s backside. It was the little things which told me. The way my glasses froze up, the manner in which the dog had to be dragged out for his morning walkies and the sheet of ice on the ground which almost had me arse over tit.
But, in truth, spring isn’t far away. A month ago, the sun rose at 8:25 and was gone again by 4 p.m. this morning, it was up at just after 7:50 and it won’t set until getting on for 5 o’clock. The temperature does rise to the point where we can turn the thermostat down a few notches. Before you know it, we’ll be through March, into April and Easter will be knocking on the door.
All of which reminds me that the next STAC Mystery, Death in Distribution is due around Easter time, and if we’re going to make the deadline I’d better get a move on.
Last year, we released The Chocolate Egg Murders in time for Easter, which was advantageous because there’s not a lot of point releasing an Easter title around August Bank Holiday. The Chocolate Egg Murders was a success, reaching #5 in its category chart. I’m hoping Death in Distribution will improve on that.
To give you a small taster of what’s to come, Joe and Keith, the STAC bus driver, have arrived at Ballantyne Distribution after one of their trucks was involved in a fender bender with the bus, and Joe is in fine form dealing with a stroppy security guard on the main gate.
The guard indicated the giant building two hundreds away, directly ahead of them. “That’s the Sort Centre. You’ll find the main entrance on that side.” He pointed to the right. “Report to security. They’ll sign you in and take you through to Dispatch, and once you sign in, you’re liable for a search.” He now pointed down to yellow parallel lines on the ground. Three feet apart, they were marked with pedestrian icons. “Stick to the marked footpaths and watch out for lorries and shunters.”
“Shunters?” Joe asked. “You have a railway line in there?”
The guard scowled further and pointed to one of the yellow tugs towing a trailer at speed around the yard. “The guys driving the tugs are called shunters.”
Joe slotted his car into gear. “And what do they call people like you? Warders or just plain screws?”
“Keep your tights on, pal. Liable for a search.” Joe dropped his sneering tone. “Come on, Keith.”
As they wandered along the marked footpath, following it towards the building, then off to the right, the car park reminded Joe of a visit he had made to a car factory on the outskirts of Liverpool. There were simply hundreds and hundreds of cars, even if these were mostly second hand, and no empty spaces.
Even from this point, no more than thirty yards from building, it was long walk, moving to the right, then along the end, and it involved crossing the roadways used by the shunters and lorry drivers.
A tug pulled up to let them cross. As they reached the pathway alongside the main sort building, the driver slid open his window.
“Where’s your hi-vis vest?” he shouted.
“Under me low-vis shirt,” Joe called back. “What the hell are you on about?”
The shunter fingered his day-glow yellow vest. “High visibility clothing. It’s compulsory. You can’t walk round this yard without one.”
“We just did,” Joe replied.
The shunter reached for his radio. “I’ll have to report it. Health and Safety will have you for it.”
“Yes, well, tell Health and Safety that if they want me, I don’t come cheap.”
Will Joe’s irritability get him anywhere? Will Health & Safety have him? Will they be searched? Or will something more sinister take place? Sorry, but you’ll have to wait to find out.
In the meantime, we have another one of those little celebrations coming up: Valentine’s Day. And what do you know? Joe got into some trouble last year when someone thought he was the Sanford Valentine Strangler. You can read all about it in:
My Deadly Valentine STAC Mystery #6. is published by Crooked Cat Books, available for the Kindle and all e-readers, and also in paperback from most online booksellers.
Death in Distribution, STAC Mystery #11 will be published by Crooked Cat Books in the spring.