The existential agony of the trade

I’m going to assume, for the sake of argument, that everyone else is as knackered as I am after Christmas. I didn’t get much of a break, because I had some urgent writing jobs to finish (damn you, Buster Crabb!), some very large plates of Christmas pudden to consume (damn you, Father Christmouse), and the most appalling chest, throat and nose and ears infection which I assumed was terminal and everybody else cruelly categorised as man flu. (Damn the lot of you; it’s a pity I didn’t die. That [might] have wiped the smiles off…)

Any road up, here I am, just out of me sick bed, struggling manfully to carry on, and worrying about me tax return. Does nobody care about me?

Funny you should say that, because maybe someone does. Or then again, maybe not. You be the judge.

It was Wilf, possibly the most eccentric of my many eccentric sons, who is studying in Glasgow, but claimed to have got me the most original Christmas present of all time. What’s more, he even managed not to forget it (thank you, Lucy) when he came down to civilisation for a while.

Go on then, sez I. Was ist? (I may be ill, but I can still show off).

‘It’s a gallery of famous writers,’ he said. Or maybe smirked, it’s hard to tell when you’re suffering. ‘The ones you introduced me to as among your favourites. Except the first one, bien sur. He’s no one’s favourite. Because it’s you.’

He’s a charming chap. I sometimes wonder where he gets it from. Answers on a postcard, please.

Go on then, sez I. My breath is bated.


No, bated, ignoramus. Look it up upon your googley fone thingie. My breath is bated. Make with the goodies.

It was four pictures. In the style one might call naive. Or maybe prehistoric. Apparently a man called Sean Ryan does them, apparently on demand if you cross his palm with enough silver. I asked Wilf how much silver that actually was, but he said they were beyond price. And anyway, not to be so effin rude. In some ways, he was right. Ryan, incidentally, bills himself as ‘artist, slacker, pizza fan.’ Can anyone say fairer?

So here they are. The men he claims I told him were my top scribblers. And me. There will be a small cash prize to the one who names them all correctly. A very small cash prize, which will not, sadly, cover the postage of the claimant’s letter.

I like them. They grew on me. And one day, Wilf assures me, they will be worth a lorra, lorra money.

But then again, that’s what he told me when I had to buy him endless packs of Pokemon cards as I dragged him home from school each evening. They’re still piled in his old bedroom, waiting for the market to peak.

The other kids got me presents, too; some weird, all wunnerful. Ain’t chillern just the job? They almost make life live worthing..

So maybe I’ll summon up the energy to fight off this dire infection after all.

If some bugger will only bring me up a cup of tea!

Here’s the link for Sean Ryan. Well worth a click. Who knows, someone might want to make you famous, too…

Sean Ryan Illustration

Incidentally, the magazine of the International Thriller Writers Association – The Big Thrill – have done a splendid interview with me about The Bonus Boys in this month’s mag. Sadly, because of my inefficiency (blame the man flu!) the book won’t be out for a couple of weeks. Ah me.

But here’s the link:

The Big