A quieter week at Hedges Towers. By the time you read this, the closing date for our objections to the local town council's sneaky planning application will have passed. Interestingly though, we have now discovered what one might euphemistically call an 'anomaly' on the actual application.
Under the Wildlife and Ecology section, the council has declared that there are NO protected species who would be adversely affected by their road and the dumping of earth upon the adjoining Wildlife Site. Really? Not sure the Roman Snails (protected by law and IUCN Red listed) would agree with that.
Am I saying that the town council is a collective of mendacious offspring of unwed parents? Probably. Watch this space. We have made a formal complaint to the Planning Officer. Meanwhile, the frostbite continues to heal albeit slowly, thanks for asking, and the Roman Snails are still hibernating, unaware of the furore breaking over their innocent heads.
And so to the new novel. Those of you who have followed this blog from its inception last May know that one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place was to dissipate my anger over the inability of mainstream publishers to appreciate my enormous writing talents (sic), and publish the Victorian novel, coupled with frustration about my current publisher's refusal to commission a fifth Spy Girl book. I am a warning to all those writers who think that once you get an agent, fame and fortune will follow. Were it true, I'd be writing this on the terrazzo of my villa in Tuscany, with my pink Ferrari parked in the driveway.
The Victorian novel now nears its rewritten completion. It is called Diamond Girl and can be loosely summarized as: 'Orphaned 17 year old inherits priceless diamond after horrific murder of uncle. But dark and evil forces are waiting to steal it.' There are also more subplots than you could shake a stick at, two slightly pastiche detectives and a gigantic hound. It is probably best described as a 'homage' to the Victorian era, a kind of: 'Terry Pratchett and Charles Dickens go clubbing with practically every novelist from the period and they all have fun.' This is how it opens:
''London, 1860. Dreamworld of pain and pleasure, of fantasy and phantom. It is midnight, a full moon and a cold mist rising up from the river. Mist ghosts the masts of the sloops and Russian brigs waiting to unload their cargo. Mist curls itself possessively around sooty chimneys and rooftops. Mist gently fingers its way into fetid courts and alleyways, and the crowded tenements where a myriad Londoners toss and turn in troubled sleep.
Not everyone is sleeping though, in this vast city of many million souls. Strange shapes of men and women drift through the misty streets like ghostly apparitions. They gather outside dim gaslit haunts. Street corners are beset by night prowlers. The devil puts a diamond ring on his taloned finger, sticks a pin in his shirtfront and takes the air.
Look more closely. A solitary man is crossing Westminster Bridge. Tall and broad shouldered, he wears a top hat and an overcoat with wide lapels and a velvet collar. It is buttoned up against the chill night air. He walks with purpose, as if on his way to an important rendezvous. A gas lamp throws its shifting radiance upon the upper planes of his face; the lower part is covered by a knitted scarf, protection from the stinking miasma that rises from the oozing mud.
Footsteps approach from behind. Someone else is crossing the bridge, moving with incredible speed. Darkness clings to a misty outline, pools around feet that step from shadow into light and back into shadow. The figure stretches out a black gloved hand. Touches the man upon the left shoulder.
He turns. Freezes. Then cowers back, uttering a low cry of horror and covering his face with his arms. There is the sound of blows being struck, the shatter of bone. The thud of something heavy hitting the ground, followed by silence. Steps re-cross the bridge and echo into the distance. The man remains, lying motionless in the gutter, blood pooling beneath his broken body. A gas lamp flickers momentarily overhead, and goes out. ''
Feel free to comment. Next week, if they ever stop fighting on the landing, one of my elite selection of guests will be joining me upon the PINK SOFA for a chat. Don't miss it.