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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Dr Jaegermeister, I presume

So that was Harrogate 2009.

A festival of new acquaintances being made and old ones being renewed, most notably in the form of Dr Jaegermeister. Actually, I've no idea if he's a doctor at all, but the name sounds German, and they dish out doctorates over there like we serve up ASBOs in Cardiff, so why not? Our meeting went a bit like this:

JT: Hello Dr Jaegermeister

DJ: Hello excellent thriller writer James Twining. Would you like a scrummy drink from my little green bottle?

JT: That's very kind of you Doctor J. Here's five pounds.

DJ: My pleasure. Here's a hammer to hit yourself on the head with in the morning.

JT: (slurring badly) Damn you Doctor Jaegermeister.

DJ: We will meet again, my young apprentice. Mwa-ha-ha-ha.

I last met Dr Jaegermeister, aged 20, on a university ski trip, when he kindly introduced me to his friend, Herr Groehe, whom porcelain connoisseur's among you might recognise as a close cousin of our very own Mr A. Shanks (of the Norfolk Shanks's, of course.)

I've not been able to touch a drop since, so the "ice bombs" I had on Friday night - jaegermeister + coke :-) - was something of a back to the future moment, although thankfully not accompanied this time by 7 hours curled up on the bathroom floor. Instead, I had to spend most of Saturday in sunglasses and knocking-back painkillers like they were smarties. Actually, they may well have been smarties - I was finding it hard to focus.

This of course gave me the perfect excuse to take advantage of the sunshine as I tried to piece the evening together. So far it's come to me in flashes: ian rankin's glass tankard, agatha christie's mug, cafe rouge, red ribbons, hotel roof, robbery, helium balloons ... fun, fun, fun.

Saturday night was a rather more abstemious affair, starting off with the author "murder mystery" dinner. Amazingly, my table won by guessing that Martin Waites had killed Mark Billingham because his huge success had been built on an idea he had stolen from him when they had been living together as students. I was pleased. The last time I won anything was my third form history competition (which I later learnt I was the only person to enter), so I thought that perhaps my luck was turning. Then I saw the "prize" - the latest Billingham opus. Signed.

Talk about a hollow victory.

Elsewhere, there was unfounded talk that there was a literary festival going on. Kevin Wignall and Steve Mosby sank to new depths of colour coordinated depravity (c.f. exhibit A, on the right). And controversy raged (is still raging)over Kernick's Dan Brown / WHSmith deal. Frankly, I don't see the problem. Actually let me rephrase that - I can't afford to see the problem. I have two deals coming up with Sainsbury's and Borders to co-promote my books alongside DB's - all I can say is well done HC and ker-ching! Frankly, I'd be more worried if I was DB, in case people read Simon's, then his, and then draw the inevitable conclusion ...

Big shout out to the Harper massive (Fiona, Wayne, Sarah, Rachel, Alice, who have I missed ...?) who did their usual excellent job in entertaining us.

Which brings me full circle to renewing old acquaintances, (c.f. awkward link to opening paragraph in a lame attempt to round the post off) and how good it was to see Stav Sherez and his crazy hair and unconstrained nicotine/caffeine addiction again. You've been missed, man

PS - Find me on Twitter - @jamestwining - come on, you know you want to.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Surprise! Surprise!

Life is full of surprises. Some good, like seeing your mate's face when you put a fresh cow pat under the passenger seat of his car on the hotest day of the year a few hours before he takes the girl he has been trying to date for 6 months out on a date, or opening the paper and being confronted by this. Some bad, like Barcelona sticking two past us in the last ten minutes of the Champions League final, or my father handing me a tube of shaving foam when I was seven and claiming that it was a new brand of toothpaste. Not funny.

But I have to confess to biggest surprise of all a few months ago now when, defying all confident diagnosis, statistics, hundreds of years of old wives tales about the shape of bumps, and the man who followed the wife off the bus (yes, really) to tell her that he had a gift for being able to forsee such things, we (or rather she with me looking) had a baby boy.

I. Was. Totally. Amazed. Still am.

After having two girls, you come to think that the dice are loaded to come up pink, so to roll blue on the third attempt ... well, let's just say it was like that moment in Terminator II when Arnie turned out NOT to be the bad guy. OK, so maybe it was a bit more special than that. More like when you realise that Bruce Willis is actually dead in the Sixth Sense.

Which leaves one question that readers of my last
post will be interested in knowing. What did we call him?

Anyone who has read my books will understand that in the end, there was only one choice: Felix. Or more specifically Felix Ludovic Robert Twining. Actually it wasn't that simple. Our initial choice was Ludovic, but our resolve faltered when half the people we told the name to pronounced it (for some reason I still haven't been able to fathom) Ludvig, and the other half made some sniggering reference to US gangsta' rapper Ludacris.

Naming him after a master art thief was an easy choice after that!