Beyond The Lockdown

Reading & Writing

The news this morning that people are frantically booking their post-lockdown flights felt predictable. Imagining perhaps some sunlit moment when the shackles of the world are released and we all dance away into the Elysian Fields, it seems increasingly unlikely that such a scenario will unfold. The idea of attending a fiesta in Seville, say, now seems as remote as a mission to Mars.

Thanks to the disastrously tentative, short-sighted behaviour of a government not fit for service, Britain had the highest number of Covid deaths in the world last week. The vaccination program, like various initiatives before it, is random and chaotic. As someone who has to take a Covid test two days before being admitted for chemo every week, you’d think it would be a good idea to vaccinate me before I completely lose my immune system to this pernicious disease, but no such initiative has been prepared.

Speaking to friends in other countries I’m struck by the clarity and simplicity of other lockdowns, combining strict instructions with curfews. In countries where the weather is warm it’s easier to serve food safely outdoors and continue with a semblance of normal life, but in the detested British months of January and February life here is particularly gruelling, and is now taking a grim mental toll. A rising tide of graffiti has begun to engulf the neighbourhood. Homeless people are sleeping in the closed shop doorways. Everyone is wary and exhausted.

Things are happier on the work front. Although admittedly a fan, my editor has now passed judgement on ‘Bryant & May 20: London Bridge Is Falling Down’. Sadly it will probably have to be the final Bryant & May novel, the 20th book in the series, a pleasingly round figure on which to end. In an ideal world I would go on but sometimes it’s good to leave on a high. Depending on what happens after this latest bout with the Enemy That Cannot Be Defeated, I may be able to pull one more surprise out of the hat.

And there are a number of non-Bryant & May books now finished, because I work two years ahead, so books will hopefully keep appearing. I hadn’t expected to be dealing with this in my mid-sixties but of course there’s never an ideal time. Too many writers seem to leave early. I think of old pals like Iain Banks, Graham Joyce and Storm Constantine and realise they’ve all gone.

Meanwhile I’m fit enough to work and will finally tackle ‘The Foot on the Crown’, draft number four. Only one version was read, admittedly by an editor for whom I have no respect, and she hated it without being able to supply any cogent criticism. I’ll follow my own instincts – always dodgy – and see how it turns out.



15 comments on “Beyond The Lockdown”

  1. Liz Thompson says:

    Stick to your instincts, they are NOT dodgy. More likely a dodgy editor. I’m pleased on the one hand that London Bridge is going ahead, and I’ve already pre-ordered it. On the other hand, it is always rather sad to say goodbye to excellent characters and the series. But I appreciate you ‘going out on a high’, it’s what I’d want to do if I knew the enemy was at, or near, the door, even if it was no chance to win, I’d man the barricades and salute the enemy with two fingers. Good luck with the treatment, good luck with the work in progress, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

  2. Brian Evans says:

    Dear Chris, I could not agree more with Liz nor put it better, so I would like to say “I’ll second that”

    All the very best to you.

  3. Martin Tolley says:

    What Liz said… times 10 (or more).

  4. Peter T says:

    Again, with Liz.

  5. Roger Allen says:


  6. Jo W says:

    Sounds like you’re fighting all the way Chris, good on you! I agree that vaccinating you now might make sense but, would it interfere with the efficacy of your treatment?
    A space on the shelf is already waiting for number twenty. That’s The Shelf,reserved for Christopher’s books only.
    Alan and I are still sending all our good thoughts and wishes to you and Pete at this time. Nil Desperandum! (whoever he is.) X

  7. roxanne reynolds says:

    i cried when John Harvey finished his Charlie Resnick series. i cried when Henning Mankell finished with Wallander.
    all i ask is that you please don’t kill off any PCU members.

  8. brooke says:

    O&L arrived this week–book and audio. Saving for post-inaugural treat.
    Re: The Foot on the Crown, 4.0; may I suggest immersing yourself visually in the sensuality and imagery of the time period before returning to “rational” tasks of re-drafting, It could help free your mind of silly editorial comments and energize you..

  9. Helen Martin says:

    Agree with all the above.

  10. Peter T says:

    That’s a remarkable photo: a lady brought to life from an Art Deco sculpture and an old-timer from a 1950s western walking down a very quiet street on a sunny day in Provence.

  11. SteveB says:

    In Germany at least the whole vaccination thing is almost farcical so far. You’re better off in the UK.
    I think it might be optimistic for people in the UK to be booking flights abroad before July or so, simply because whatever happens in the UK most other countries will still have travel restrictions in place till then I reckon.
    Chris – As far as going out on a high is concerned, 30 seems like an even nicer round number to me. Plenty more highs to come. I’ve got my 3-monthly 45 minutes in the tube tomorrow btw, if it looks good it’ll be 6 months to the next one, fingers crossed.

  12. John Howard says:

    I certainly couldn’t put my thoughts into any better form than Liz has done… SO: What she said…

  13. BB says:

    Ooooo I agree with SteveB. 30 sounds about right.

  14. Jan says:

    Dear Dodgy Fowler. Will e mail wen I get proper chance. Take it steady x

  15. Ian Luck says:

    What Liz said, and then some. I wish that you’d been dealt a better hand, health wise.
    On a lighter note, I’m reading, and greatly enjoying ‘Fabulosa! The Story Of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language’, by Paul Baker. It’s completely fascinating. As someone who was brought up to not dislike anyone just because they were different from me in some way, the attitudes of people in the past annoy, and baffle me. This book shows how difficult the lives of gay people were, and, all too sadly, still are, in some places. But this is also a lot of fun, too. A good read.

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