Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Cop Shows

For me it all started with Dixon of Dock Green. I love cop shows. Z Cars, Inspector Frost, my special favourite Morse. I have watched Morse until I can recite pieces of it, a dubious talent, I realize. When I am having a bad day I reread the Rebus books. Now I have discovered a new talent, well, new to me.Mari Hannah. Boy, can this writer plot. The fun for me is that it's set in the North East of England and I am so prejudiced about the place but I don't think it would matter to anybody who loves crime stories.
Half the fun for me reading this kind of thing is that the whole thing is as mysterious to me as a film. I could never write crime.
The cops in these shows are always Mavericks and we love a Maverick best of all. The kind of person who doesn't fit in, or is smarter than the rest. I still love Rebus best with his faults and his failings but I love Frost, I'm reading Frost at Christmas and there he is the scruffy little man and all the characters I knew first from television and I haven't read any of the other Frost books yet. Oh joy.  Also Wycliffe, which again I watched on television first and I loved those but I can relive them again.
I suppose in a way all stories are cop stories, the goodies and the baddies, the goodies winning usually in some unobvious way and the baddies getting their deserts and a whole load of wonderful characters we want to see again and again so thank you, Helen, my friend who lives in Consett for mentioning Mari Hannah to me. For the first time I'm in on the ground floor here because she doesn't seem to have a huge backlist. Usually I am at least fifteen years later than everybody else in getting to these things. I'll be able to lie on my sofa and listen to the rain pattering on to the patio and go off into a world where Kate Daniels is looking out for us here in the north. Happy days.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

I Need A Hero

This week it all got too much. I felt like flinging myself on my chaise longue ( yes, I do actually have one, I'm that precious), finding someone to put a cooling palm to my fevered forehead and lots of other bits of me which would be comforted, and telling me that I didn't have to deal with any more.
I can't think where it started now but the computer began playing silly buggers, the car tyres went down, the roof leaked so much in the back bedroom that I could hear the sound of the rain plopping into my favourite pan from my own bed with the damned door shut. The damp proof course in the hall has given up and  has yellowed the walls and all the paint is peeling off. I went to Sainsbury's for my present drug of choice, Prosecco, came back and some bugger chipped my lovely little car's windscreen.
Actually I am thinking of getting rid of the lovely little car but I cry when my cars go to the great garage in the sky so I'm putting it off.
Then I went to London to see my editor and my agent and my writing friends and somewhere in among all the work and play I turned into the sort of thing which makes a burst balloon look like a jumbo jet. I wilted. I moaned over my friends, I moaned over my daughter.
My daughter is a manager. She managed me so beautifully.
'Regroup!' she said. 'Sit on the sofa, watch films and eat pizza.'  Actually she didn't tell me to eat pizza but I'm sure she meant me to.
'Stop the social networking, put the work away.'
I retreated, pyjama clad. I watched John Wayne Films.  John Wayne was my childhood hero. There is something about a man who is six foot three or four or whatever which makes me melt  like chocolate in hot weather. I spent a lovely part of my childhood sitting in the living room with the curtains closed on warm afternoons, ignoring the world and there with my dad I entered the door of cowboy land and never came home. My dad used to take me to the pictures, buy me sweets and then fall asleep. He worked too hard. I got my love of films from my dad. When I was younger I wanted to be a film director. I don't know what happened to that, just that there was another part of me that said 'why not spend your life alone in a little room, staring at a screen and being relatively poor?'
There I go, moaning again. My job meant I was here when my kid was little, when she was ill. I got to walk my dogs in the mornings and afternoons. Now I am here for all those workmen who come and go, I am here when the Ringtons man comes and the guys at the door try to sell me things and those cold callers who think I might listen to them and sometimes I feel so sorry for them that I do. I can talk to the bloke next door and hear the little kids over the fence playing in the garden on the few dry afternoons we have had this year. I can choose when I work, and my friends put up with me being a whining moaner.
Rio Bravo is at present my favourite film. It has everything, John Wayne being the sheriff and Angie Dickinson, the girl who comes to town, there is a drunk who comes good and a grumpy old man and a young gunslinger and its set in one small town. The plot is wonderful and the dialogue is to die for.  The acting is brilliant.There is music and tension, it never slips for a second. Good old Howard Hawks for doing it and for giving me such pleasure. Best of all, for the first time, yesterday I noticed in the credits that it said, 'from a short story'. I don't remember who wrote it but all of a sudden I remembered what I did and why I did it.
Stagecoach, another John Wayne film, came from a short story by the best short story writer of them all, Guy de Maupassant. All you need for a good film is a brilliant story, fantastic actors, the best director and somebody with a lot of money. And that's why I watch John Wayne in the afternoons. Because only the best will do.