About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Monday, 17 February 2014


Just as royalty are alleged to believe that the world smells of fresh paint, famous authors are surely under the impression the world is made up of tongue-tied blurters.  I am basing this on my own world class blurting display last Wednesday in Manchester, when I stood in the queue to get my copy of The Days of Anna Madrigal signed by Armistead Maupin.

I know.  Scream.  I waited for an hour, and judging by the length of the queue, there were people waiting as long again.  The trouble with waiting that long is that you have time to craft your tiny introductory speech to perfection, turning your exquisite gems of wit on the lathe of your intellect until they gleam.  And then you butter-finger them and scatter them across the floor.  Metaphorically.  Which is a really poncy way of saying you blurt out the first thing that comes to your lips, bypassing the cerebral cortex entirely.

Here's what I heard myself say: 'Hello.  I'm the one who's been stalking you from Liverpool.'  And here is the photograph capturing the moment when Mr Maupin realises it's now too late to get away.

Meanwhile, outside a storm was busy trashing the north of England, ripping stations roofs off, and making it impossible for me to get home to Liverpool.  I was rescued by a colleague with a spare room, and what I now realise is an infinite capacity to put up with me ranting about how I've met Armistead Maupin.

This, then, is just one fan's account of the power of fiction--the power of a completely made up world to move, entertain, instruct and open new horizons to the reader.  My experience has been replicated thousands of times over across the UK during the last week.  A good novel is a hospitable space.  It invites you in and says welcome to my world.  And it was clear that for many there braving the storm in Manchester, entering the world of Tales of the City was like being welcomed home for the first time.  I'm sorry that The Days of Anna Madrigal is going to be the last in the series.  But I'd have to tell you, the view of the queue was 'I'll believe that when I see it.'

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