Back in the dim and distant time that was 2012 when I was but a much younger thing I set myself my first ever Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Challenge (TOPCWFC). In case you don’t know this was for me to read a book by every author at the festival that year.
Well it quickly became apparent that that was rather an impossible feat, and I narrowed it down to reading something from at least one author from each session was much more manageable. Well its now 2016, I’ve just turned 40, and so it is fifth time lucky for the TOPCWFC.
This time I’m feeling pretty hopeful. As you’ll know I wrote a list of 40 things I’m going to do this year, it could be called 40 steps to making this year ‘The Year of Me’ (Spot The Middle reference there) Completing the TOPCWFC is one of those. The programme has been released and as always it looks like a fantastic weekend. There are some of my favourite authors returning including the excellent Peter James, Tess Gerritsen and Martina Cole. Val McDermid is doing a double hitter this year being in conversation on Friday night and of course doing my favourite New Blood panel. There is also what is sure to be one of my top ranked panel discussions ‘Domestic suspense – the killer behind the front door’ featuring five of my favourite female authors including Julia Crouch and Paula Hawkins.
As well as those who I’ve seen before there are some new faces to the festival although not new to crime fiction such as Jeffery Deaver the writer of the Lincoln Rhyme thrillers most of which I’ve already read. Then there are others such as Gerald Seymour who is a new name to me although he has actually just written his 32nd book.
This year if my maths is correct there are 48 authors appearing alongside comedians, playwrights, forensic podiatrists, and radio producers. Of these I’ve read 26 already, so only 22 to go. That shouldn’t be too hard to do surely? Thanks to netgalley I’ve already made a start on A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee and I recently purchased a novel by Ysra Sigurdardottir so fingers crossed I’m well on the way to completion for the first time ever! (There is nothing wrong with a bit of optimism)
So this week I’ve turned 40, which I have to say did not turn out to be the momentous occasion I thought it would be. In my head for some reason turning 40 was a huge deal. It’s half way through my life (although I have a 90 year old grandmother so I’m hoping I’m not quite there yet) and I thought this would be marked somehow. I don’t know how, maybe the Taj Mahal would appear in our garden, a troop of dancing elephants would shimmy down the Close singing happy birthday, I’d start wearing matching underwear and always carry a handkerchief. In reality, other than which box I tick on official forms absolutely nothing changed. I had a lovely day and thoroughly enjoyed myself but I didn’t change. I still haven’t brought about world peace, or done a handstand on the top of the Eiffel Tower, or anything particularly noteworthy.
This did cause me some consternation, and I was rather miserable when I woke up on my second day of my 40th year. Luckily I met a friend for lunch, who gave me just the kick up the backside I needed. She’d even bought me a book of things to do now that you’re 40. Her very good suggestion was to write a list of 40 things I want to do, and then actually do them. I’m a big list writer, although I’m not so good at the actual doing of the items. They don’t have to be big things like walking the Camino de Santiago as someone I know is doing (You can follow his blog here) They can be small things.
Another very good suggestion from a friend, was not just to write a list of things I want to do but also a list of 40 things I’ve already done that I enjoyed or am proud of. Both of these are excellent suggestions that I am going to be taking up.In fact by the end of the day I’d already knocked off one item from my list. I went to a lovely restaurant called Rattle Owl which I’d wanted to go to for ages and a friend took me as a birthday treat.
The day also reminded me that although I may not yet have found a way to stop slugs eating my cabbages or written a best selling novel, I have an awful lot of good friends which already means I have something to show for 40 years. So today after making 30 cupcakes for my party on Saturday I have begun my list. I still need lots more ideas but its a good start. Turning 40 may be just another number but doesn’t mean I can’t make this a momentous year (or at least a momentous list)
My 40 things to do
- Eat at the Rattle Owl
- Complete the TOPCWF 2016
- Afternoon tea at the Grand (My friend has already volunteered for that)
- See Orangutans in Borneo (actually a possibility as I’m going to Thailand at the end of the year)
- Eat a pizza in Italy
- Learn how to take good pictures
- Learn how to ride a bike
- Learn how to crochet
- Do a park run in at least 4 different cities (I was going to say 40 but thought that was rather excessive)
- Go on a wine tasting course and actually put it into practice (no more ordering ‘red wine, whatever is cheapest’!)
- Bluebell walk
- Horse ride on a beach (I do ride horses so its not such a long shot)
- Grow sweetcorn
- Ride in a hot air balloon
- Visit Blackpool
- Visit the Tower of London
- Go on a Jack the Ripper walk
- Visit Cromer
- Go on a pony trek
- Paint a picture
- Make a chinese meal from scratch
- Visit 4 news National Trust Houses
- Ride on a steam train
- Do an open water swim
- Take 4 different pictures of Roundhay Park across the 4 seasons
- Run 4 10ks
- Row a boat
- Visit Yorkshire Wildlife Park
- Go to the Manchester Sealife Centre
- See an Opera
- Go to the Horse Trials
- Collect pine cones in a wood
- Go on a bat walk
- Have a picnic
- Visit to the seaside
- Watch a sunrise outside
- Glass walk over Tower Bridge
The eagle eyed amongst you may have realised that the blog has been pretty quiet over the past few weeks. Sadly life does often have a habit of getting in the way of the blog and with so many other pressures on us things that you really enjoy doing sometimes have to be put on the back burner. In my case those pressures involved two weeks on all inclusive in the Caribbean with friends, and then a rather extended birthday celebration (I sense I may have lost any vague sympathy I was garnering at this point)
Whilst the writing may have been rather quiet, the same certainly can’t be said for the reading. In fact on the two week holiday I managed to get through 13 and a half books (yes I’m annoyed I didn’t make it a complete 14. I blame being introduced to electronic Sudoku on my phone which became highly addictive)
It just goes to show that if there is a desire to read then the time will always be found. It wasn’t as though there wasn’t a lot of swimming, kayaking, chatting, eating and drinking to be done. Not to mention the nightly rounds of tequila shots, vodka and cocktails. Still I somehow went through a book a day almost. Of course sitting on a beach is much different to real life, it’s the first time I’ve ever spent Easter Sunday on a beach reading a book, drinking champagne surrounded by men dressed in easter bunny suits, but as I’ve said before if you want to find the time to read then you will do.
Holidays are often the only time that people do read and this is where the kindle really does come into its own. The luggage allowance on our flights was tiny. There was barely enough allowed to carry my shoes and sun tan lotion (plus cardigans) so had I had to include 13 books I would have needed to buy an extra seat just to be allowed to take them with me.
It is not just the weight or the space, having to have picked just 13 books to take with me would have been impossible. At the last count my kindle had around 60 books I’ve read and another 50 waiting to be read, the only way to carry them would have been to travel round in my own mobile library. Whilst I think that would have been great fun it wouldn’t be quite so easy to get the Caribbean in.
This does obviously now mean that I am very behind in my review writing, and to top it all off I’ve just heard that the full programme for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival 2013 is being released on Friday. So although the blog may have been a bit quiet whilst I was topping up my tan (yes ok hiding under an umbrella covered in factor 50) It’s about to get a lot noisier, with the start of the TOPCWFC 2013!