Its over... somehow it all passed so quickly...
Yes, I have returned from Harrogate.
Here he is, looking stunned, while one of his groupies observes, with hunger in her eyes.
I think she's just wanting to get her hands on his barrel.
In other news, the festival seemed to go down very well indeed. My own personal highlights in terms of events included the final morning's rant-fest with Val "No Cats Please" McDermid, Mark "Potter Spoiler" Billingham, Natasha "Jailbird" Cooper and Christopher "Don't Ask Me About the TV adaptation again!" Brookmyre.
And, of course, Stuart MacBride's "Have I got Crime Writers For You" also known as "Getting Vigorous". The gameshow format was perfect, Stuart was a genial host and Simon Kernick, Zoe Sharp, Michael Marshall and C.J. Carver were perfect guests who got right into the swing of things.
Just like Stuart got right into the swing of the Foul Play. He'll never make a real life detective. The unflappable Laura Lippman, on the other hand, may have a chance.
Non panel highlights included:
- Julie Lewthwaite discovering me on a bench and thinking I was hungover. I was just tuckered after my morning run, guv'nor. Honest!
- Lots of dinners and lunches in estimable company.
- Every time you meet Donna Moore is a highlight - - but I have to say that or she'll punt me with her deadly crutches!
- An impromptu knife-fight lesson while talking to Zoe Sharp
- Meeting Nick Stone, author of the excellent Mr Clarinet and the even better King of Swords
- Kevin Wignall's first words: "There's someone in my suite!" Apparently not in the good way.
- Getting the chance to read Wignall's upcoming novel on the train home. A report will be forthcoming on CSS reviews - - its a good 'un.
- Being informed that I have a "distinctive style" by a lovely lass who refused to elaborate other than to say I've clearly stuck with it since she recognised me from two years earlier.
- The varying reactions to my newly bald chin and remaining sideburns - - Johnny Cash, Elvis Presely, 70's detectives and goths were all mentioned.
- Getting introduced to someone as "John Rickards". I did not abuse this introduction and set the record straight because, frankly, I couldn't be any worse than the man himself!
- Seeing the real John Rickards clearly delighted at his new position as a father.
- Being able to buy the new Billingham. I mean the book, not like a clone or something...
- Miserably failing at the quiz except the music round where we kicked arse. Of course, Ali Karim (and his team) won it. That's, like, a foregone conclusion I suppose.
- Changing hotels at the last minute when I discovered my original hotel was NOT actually in Harrogate despite what it said on the website. My new hotel was lovely, except for the fact they seemed to have stuck me in the boxroom. But it did the job and was comfortable if somewhat cosy.
It was, of course, a fantastic time. One thing I still can't seem to do is seamlessly ask people to sign books - - even if its for other people! Or even when its someone I already know to talk to! This, I shall work on. At least I am occasionally remembering to actually have the books on me these days!
And so, to bed... or the bar... oh, wait, I am no longer in convention land...