It's Going To Be A Trilogy

Christopher Fowler
I've been granted leave of absence by my doctors so I'm off to Madrid for the weekend to see my oldest friend, who has been restricted for a very long time by one of the toughest lockdowns in the world. The thought of fresh sights thrills me to the core. As much as I love my flat I've seen a little too much of it lately. I'm in the sweet spot wherein my infusions are still working and I feel the best I've felt in two years. I'm far from fit, though. I just looked at my old exercise regime and was awed; 100 press-ups to warm up?? Now I can manage just one press-up before collapsing. But tomorrow I'll manage two. On account of being Not Dead Yet I'm giving it my best shot, writing the third part of my blurred-memory memoir series. After 'Paperboy' and 'Film Freak' will come 'Word Monkey' - that's how my first job was billed. It's meant to be about writing but already family, doctors and friends are creeping into the pages, not to mention the talking squirrel. It's very hard to stay on the tightrope that keeps something from being offensive, because inevitably there will be a lot of jokes about death. The best way to write humour is to be deadly serious about it. I always admired the writing in 'Green Wing' because it was a hospital comedy TV series without illness or patients and mostly surreal jokes, and the hospital was treated as a kind of adventure playground. It even managed a closure episode. The tone is everything - can I get away with jokes on upsetting subjects? So, Madrid, then a quick train down to Barcelona, where friends are complaining that they're freezing to death at 16C, whereas the British will be in shorts. I'll report back on the pandemic situation from there.  
Posted in
The Arts


Jo W (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 14:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Chris, have yourself a great time and catch lots of sunshine. Sixteen degrees? Scorchio…..phew.

Cornelia Appleyard (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 15:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Enjoy your trip.
A space is reserved on my bookshelf already.

Max (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 15:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Did you get the 'original' of the Oranges & Lemons cover I sent your agent?
Just wondering as I didn't hear back.

Paul+C (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 15:33

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Recommend the Goya paintings in the Prado in Madrid if you have time

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 16:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

¡Buen viaje! On the third day there were three press-ups. And he said 'Let there be five press-ups.' And there were and he saw that they were good. Opportune time to be headed to Madrid with the international jazz festival kicking off today (03 Nov) and a Magritte retrospective and Spanish 19th c. painting exhibition in full swing,as is the mixed media Circo de los Horrores' latest, 'Bacanal.'

Peter (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 17:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Have a wonderful trip, Chris! Enjoy it!

Helen+Martin (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 17:53

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Have a great time, Chris, and maybe fit in a couple of Stu's suggestions.

Roger Allen (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 19:54

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"IT'S GOING TO BE A TRILOGY"... in five parts, I hope.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Wed, 03/11/2021 - 21:39

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As for that 'blurred-memory memoir' business --- it's not an academic treatise with required references nor is it that you've actually changed the course of human events (sorry...). It's a 'memoir,' not a biography and memories are notoriously unreliable under the best of circumstances. There's many a slip twixt the encoding, storage and retrieval of them. We've been studying memory for decades and what we can state unequivocally about it is that our recall is rubbish. Let's face it, on closer inspection, even those heavily footnoted disquisitions very often refer to what are several others' best recollections. So, in my usual ponderous way, what I'm saying is 'Who gives a toss!' Does the memories-as-prose evoke an honest sense of who you were in a time and place ? That's all I personally would ask or expect.

And just as 'Film Freak' is about the British cinema so 'Word Monkey' will, in fact, be about writing --- but no more simply a dissertation on its craft and commerce, I would guess, than 'Film Freak' is a detailed analysis of British cinema. Just the other ends of the same telescopes. Life happens. It tends to impose its inevitable diversions and disorder just when we think we've finally settled in.

And not to put too fine a point on it --- of course you can get away with upsetting subjects. If for no other reason, than they involved you and not the reader, who can be both sympathetic and have a frisson of relief that they personally weren't involved. So you get special dispensation. Cynical perhaps and certainly not entirely pleasant --- but life happens.

Peter+T (not verified) Thu, 04/11/2021 - 16:38

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Any experience of accident investigation shows that the memories of most people are largely a series of vague impressions with gaps filled in with what they believe (or prefer to believe) happened. It's true immediately after the event and only gets worse with time. I hate to think of all the poor souls condemned by eye witness testimony. Memoirs and criticisms of memoirs should be seen in that light.

Christopher Fowler Fri, 05/11/2021 - 08:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Madrid is bloody freezing, and there's been snow somewhere nearby so it's winter woollies on. I'm here with the best cultural intentions but the important thing is to go to dinner, as an old friend his having a big birthday.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Fri, 05/11/2021 - 12:45

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@admin As los 'Gatos' (Madrileños) say, 'Hasta el 40 de mayo, no te quites el sayo.' ('Keep your coat on until the 40th of May')

Nancy Farmer (not verified) Fri, 05/11/2021 - 18:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Mr. Fowler, I thoroughly enjoyed your first two biographies and will certainly get the third the minute it is out. I am writing to answer a question you had about John Creasey's typewriter keys. He was supposed to have three extra ones. I live a few blocks away from his third wife, Jeanne Williams, and asked her about it. She said it was a myth because he didn't use a typewriter and wrote in longhand. Later he hired a team of typists when he was composing seven novel series at the same time.

SteveB (not verified) Sat, 06/11/2021 - 11:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Just a trilogy? I reckon you should go for the pentalogy st least!
Oh just saw I'm not the first with that thought :-)

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Sat, 06/11/2021 - 21:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@admin If your treatment allowed it, hope you were able to roundly pissed at the celebration.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Sat, 06/11/2021 - 21:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@admin Of course that should be 'get' roundly pissed... Speaking of which, probably should avoid another of Scotland's finest while I'm at it.

Paul+C (not verified) Mon, 08/11/2021 - 11:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Nancy - re John Creasey's special typewriter, according to an interview in Life Magazine (27.4.1962) the typewriter was equipped with 3 extra keys to facilitate dialogue writing by making it possible to produce singe and double quotation marks and exclamation points without shifting the carriage. The article is easy to find online if you're interested.

Helen+Martin (not verified) Tue, 09/11/2021 - 17:56

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Paul, is it possible Creasey's 3rd wife didn't see his writing process prior to hiring the typists, that Creasey was lying to Life's reporter, that the wife had forgotten, or that she was lying?

Wayne+Mook (not verified) Wed, 10/11/2021 - 01:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen - or that the reporter is lying or carrying on an accepted myth. What's the old saying, Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Look forward to book 3, one of the best books on writing is by Stephen King and it's part memoir and other interests.


Liz+Thompson (not verified) Wed, 10/11/2021 - 08:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Enjoy yourself, Chris, and wear an extra pullover.

Paul+C (not verified) Wed, 10/11/2021 - 09:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen - Creasey was married 4 times including to Evelyn Jean Fudge from 1941 to 1970

The Life Magazine article in 1962 appeared before his marriage to Jeanne so I think he was telling the truth to the Life reporter. Why would he lie ? Perhaps he simply switched his method later on. I've sent an email to the John Creasey website and will report back if they answer. This looks like a mystery for B & M..........

Wayne - you might be thinking of a line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance : "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend"

Pauline wallin (not verified) Thu, 11/11/2021 - 17:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Glad you are well and creative. I listen to Bryant and May on audible for hours at a time. The London you have conjured up is both magical and recognisable. I enjoy living there for the length of each of your wonderful novels.