A Funny Thing Happened…

… on the way to the supermarket. I rediscovered my Get Up and Go. Or, more accurately, my Get Up and Write.

Walking has often served me as a pipe-opener, literally and figuratively, and I go out for a walk most days, exploring my new neighbourhood, piecing together the jigsaw of London. But it was on an urgent walk to the supermarket (washing powder and Marmite-coated cashews) that I was suddenly able to answer a question that’s been plaguing me: what, if anything, to write next.

I had just spent a week looking at yellowing notes for a novel my former publishers didn’t want, trying to assemble them into a coherent plot and failing. Maybe the publishers were right after all. It has been known.  Then, leaning into the wind between Goswell Road and Golden Lane, came a moment of clarity. What I want to do is write Dr Dan 5 and then retire. A lo, the clouds opened.

I’ll begin the outlining and research next week. Start writing by March. Publish before the end of the year. By which time I’ll be 75 (how the heck did that happen?) and, I think, ready to confine myself to a bit of journalism and the occasional blog post. It’s a plan. I do love a plan.


  1. Elaine Brown on January 20, 2022 at 2:07 am

    I absolutely adore your writing. I lost my memory, not all of it after a bout of encephalitis caused by chicken pox, contracted at the local children’s hospital after my son had a brief stay there. I’d always been an avid reader, biographical, autobiographical especially about writers around the 20’s 30’s onwards its amazing how they all interlink i had squirreled away some wonderful uplifting quotes but alas they all evaporated into the ether. I loved Angela Carter, Robertson Davies, you & others but I couldn’t for the life of me told you their names but you I never forgot, your wonderful.

    • A J on May 10, 2022 at 5:57 am

      I sympathise – I too have suffered from encephalitis although it did not affect my memory. I hope you have made a good recovery.

  2. Mac White on January 28, 2022 at 8:31 pm

    I wonder if you will retire. I hope not. Just about to reread The Grand Duchess of Nowhere. The Windsor book is getting battered after so many rereads but they and the Kennedy book remain such a pleasure. Thank you

  3. Catherine Bradley on January 30, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    Delighted to hear there will be another Dr Dan, but sorry it will turn out to be your swan song. I agree with the post above…Gone with the Windsors and The Importance of Being Kennedy are two of my favourite books. Thank you indeed.

  4. Jean Summers on March 31, 2024 at 6:00 am

    I am working my way through all your books. 10 so far and have enjoyed each and every one of them. I will be at a loose end when the last of your brilliant books has been read.
    Apart from finding them so good, I have also learned such a lot with your wonderful mix of fact and fiction. Thank you

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