Some well written advice about how to write well

At 6k:

I sort of knew this. I now know it better. I might buy this book. I now need a longer sentence, one that drives the point home a bit, but not too much, because after all I didn’t think of this, I just nicked it.

LATER (also from 6k): Plummenausfahrtwunderschein. In Germany, if you want to drive your point home really hard, you don’t construct a long sentence. You construct a long word.

Signs in Seattle

Here:

I agree with what Matthew Continetti says in this piece, which the above photo adorns, that this is froth. History as farce, Tom Wolf style. This “Seattle Soviet” is going nowhere. It’s “signs and notices”, to quote one of my more frequent categories here, rather than revolutionary architecture of any substance. That being why the above photo is the most informative one I have seen concerning these dramas.

As Kurt Schlichter (who his now being seriously noticed by his enemies) says, the important thing about this Seattle drama is the impact it has on the forthcoming Presidential election in November. Will Trump get the blame for it? Or will the local Democrat politicians? And by extension, the Democrats nationally? Schlichter says the Democrats will get the blame for this Seattle farce, this being why Trump is leaving the local Democrats to not deal with it, until America landslides in his favour. “Silent majority” and all that.

Schlichter combines partisan rhetoric way beyond the point of self-parody with very shrewd observations and analysis. I read him regularly. He is like one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies. And as I understand him, which is only a bit, this is because Schlichter is one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies.

An old photo of a Robert Burns statue

I didn’t know until now that London had a statue of Robbie Bunrs, but apparently so:

How did I learn about this? I learned it from my photo-archives. I photoed this statue on August 29th 2008. The statue is one of several in Victoria Palace Gardens, a stretch of greenery-with-statues just downstream from Embankment tube station. Having photoed that photo, I gave it no more thought at all, from then on. Until now.

Partly it’s just that I quite like that photo, despite the over-brightness of the white building in the background. My camera then gave me rather mixed results.

But it is also, of course, that now is a time when statues are all over the news. Maybe Robert Burns, Sottish poet of yesteryear, will get involved. He must have said a few things that the Black Lives Matter people would disapprove of, it they were told about it. As they might well be told, by people trying to make problems for the Scottish Nationalists.

In other statue news, I see that Gandhi is now getting the treatment from the protesters. He said very un-woke things about black people when he lived in South Africa, but I suspect that what the people organising this demonstration really hate about Gandhi is that he is a Hindu hero, and the wokists are pro-Islam and consequently also anti-Hindu.

Roz Watkins “in the front rank of British crime writers”

About three weeks ago, I mentioned the latest DI Meg Dalton book, and its author (also my niece) Roz Watkins.

The Daily Mail just gave Cut To The Bone, which comes out this month, this glowing review:

TWO years ago, I warmly welcomed DI Meg Dalton in Watkins’ debut. Now in her third outing, she has developed into a memorable detective with attitude, pounding Derbyshire’s Peak District with commendable fortitude.

A young social media star — famous for cooking sausages on a barbecue wearing only a bikini — goes missing from her job at an abattoir on a summer’s night.

Traces of blood and hair are found in one of the pig troughs, but there is no sign of the victim. Has she been killed?

Even more importantly, what on earth was she doing working in an abattoir in the first place?

Have animal rights protesters harmed her, or is there something more sinister at work? Has she fallen prey to the ghost of the Pale Child who, legend has it, announces death if once seen?

Subtly plotted, and with a delicate sense of place, it confirms Watkins in the front rank of British crime writers.

Strong stuff, especially that last bit.

Roz Watkins talks about her latest book – and about animals

Crime writer Tony Kent does a fifteen minute video-at-a-distance interview with fellow crime writer Roz Watkins. Roz is my niece, which is partly why I keep mentioning her here. But the bigger reason I keep on about her is that she is very good at what she does, which is not just writing the books she writes but also selling them. She’s an excellent public speaker, and a very personable interviewee. So, if you want to know more about what sort of person Roz is, and also about the idyllic yet sometimes spooky place she lives in (the Peak District), as well as about her books, tune in here.

Animals figure prominently in this interview. Starsky the dog makes an appearance near the beginning. They talk about killing animals in crime thrillers and about how that upsets people far more than killing mere people seems to. Also, animals are a big part of the background of Roz’s latest book, Cut To The Bone, number three in her DI Meg Dalton series. A missing girl has got on the wrong side of animal rights activists, and traces of her blood and hair are found in an abattoir. That kind of grizzly thing. It’s due out in hardback in a month’s time, and, unless I have misunderstood things badly, is already readable as a computer file.

My favourite quote from the interview is when, 4 minutes 20 seconds in, Roz says: “Everyone wants to kill all the lawyers.” Very dramatic.

Christmas is coming – the goose is getting illuminated (and pursued by Sherlock Holmes)

Indeed, in Marylebone Road:

The same night I photoed the car and the leaves and Sherlock Holmes smoking.

I photoed many photos of these geese, in their clutches of four on each street lamp, while waiting for the Curry Night Boys to assemble, my favourite photo being this one …:

… because it turns the four geese into something that looks more like one giant insect. If I had showed only that one, it might have taken you a few moments to work out what was going on.

Okay, so, apart from four geese on each street light, what is going on? Why these geese? And why those strange blue smudges?

It took me a while, but eventually I came across this guide to Christmas street lights, which comes complete with a street map of the Baker Street “quarter”. These Marylebone Road geese are lights clutch number one:

Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, the ornate lamppost columns marking the gateway to the Quarter feature illuminated geese sporting blue jewels (carbuncles).

So, Sherlock Holmes again. If you are in that particular bit of London, you can’t escape the guy.

Wikipedia summarises the plot of this story, which involves a goose getting the above-mentioned blue carbuncle stuffed in its crop, concerning which Wikipedia interpolates angrily …:

… (the fact that geese do not have a crop has been regarded as Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest blunder) …

… and being chased across London. By Sherlock Holmes.

No smoking Sherlock

There’s not been a photo photoed by me here for a while, but here’s one I photoed last night, in a tube train.

I was trying to get a photo of the Baker Street version of the Underground logo featuring poppies, as seen in photo number 6 here.

Instead I got something rather more entertaining, in the form of a No Smoking sign (in focus) on top of a regular Baker Street sign (a bit blurry), alongside Sherlock Holmes himself. Smoking.

Bad Sherlock.

A tax infographic about and a meeting at my home about Hong Kong

Dominic Frisby:

Frisby says that Dan Neidle will like this. I don’t know anything about Dan Neidle, other than this. But I like it. As much for the colours and its hand-done nature as for its content.

Concerning Hong Kong, last night I semi- (as in: still to be solidified and date still to be settled) signed up a Hong Kong lady to speak at one of my Last-Friday-of-the-Month meetings, about how Hong Honk is demonstrating back, so to speak, against the Chinese Government’s plans to subjugate it.

I warned her that my meetings are not large, and not as a rule attended by The World’s Movers and Shakers (although such personages do sometimes show up). But that didn’t bother her, or didn’t seem to. She seems to understand instinctively that big things can come out of small gatherings, if only in the form of one suggested contact or one item of information.

Alas, Hong Kong’s era of low and simple taxes is now under severe threat, along with many other more important things.

Thoughts on concentra …

I was reading this piece by Will Self about the baleful effect upon literature of the internet, screen reading instead of proper reading from paper bound into books, etc. But then I got interrupted by the thought of writing this, which is about how a big difference between reading from a screen, as I just was, and reading from a printed book, is that if you are reading a book, it is more cumbersome, and sometimes not possible, to switch to attending to something else, like consulting the county cricket scores (Surrey are just now being bollocked by Essex), seeing what the latest is on Instapundit, or tuning into the latest pronouncements of Friends on Facebook or enemies on Twitter, or whatever is your equivalent list of interruptions.

This effect works when I am reading a book in the lavatory, even though, in my lavatory, there are several hundred other books present. The mere fact of reading a book seems to focus my mind. Perhaps this is only a habit of mine, just as not concentrating is only a habit when I am looking at a screen, but these onlys are still a big deal.

The effect is greatly enhanced when I go walkabout, and take a book with me. Then – when being publicly transported or when pausing for coffee or rest or whatever – I cannot switch. I can only concentrate on the one book, or not.

It’s the same in the theatre or the opera house, which friends occasionally entice me into. Recently I witnessed Lohengrin at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The production was the usual abomination, but the orchestra and chorus were sublime, as were occasional bits of the solo singing. And I now know Lohengrin a lot better. Why? Because, when I was stuck inside the ROH, there was nothing else to do except pay attention. I could shut my eyes, which I often did. But, I couldn’t wave a mouse or a stick at it and change it to The Mikado or Carry on Cleo, even though there were longish stretches when, if I could have, I would have. It was Lohengrin or nothing.

I surmise that quite a few people these days deliberately subject themselves to this sort of forced concentration, knowing that it may be a bit of a struggle, but that it will a struggle they will be glad to have struggled with. I don’t think it’s just me.

This explains, among other things, why I still resist portable screens. Getting out and about is a chance to concentrate.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The Devil’s Dice is The Times crime fiction book of the month

Yes. From yesterday’s Times, in the Review section:

Here is what Roz is making of this.

Sadly, that wonderfully admiring review is behind a pay wall. But: remarkable. I don’t know how much difference a thing like this makes to sales, but it surely can’t hurt. All those favourable Amazon reviews also help a lot, as Roz, unsurprisingly, confirms.

Here is a piece I did for Samizdata, more about crime fiction generally, but provoked by – and giving a plug to – The Devils Dice.

Why all this fuss from me about The Devil’s Dice is because Roz is my niece and because The Devil’s Dice is very good. See also this earlier posting here. I have not posted an Amazon review, because If I didn’t say I’m her uncle that would be dishonest, and if I did, then it would be dismissed as hopelessly biased, as it would be.

Roz’s cat is less impressed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog