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I supported three sons and several bartenders writing this sort of stuff I now give away free in these blogs

crime novel

 

I supported three sons and several bartenders writing this sort of stuff I now give away free in these blogs.

A beautiful young thing called Daisy came for some mysterious reason to interview me last week and told me that journalists no longer make money writing columns. Newspapers now acquire them for next to nothing off the blogs. I was lucky then, being a paid columnist and author of “colour pieces” from 1963 to 1999.

I also now write crime novels for no money at all. I have just published my fifth, Invitation To A Few Murders. My first, Death Dyed Blonde, was published by Quartet. It was half a bestseller, but only made enough money to go up to London for maybe two nights at a hotel, but no eating and no drinking.

The others – Murder In A Cold Climate, The Summer Stock Murders,  and Murder In Arcady  made enough to maybe hop on a bus and have a couple of beers – glasses, not pints.

“If you aren’t making any money, why are you doing it?” asks an old lady breaking into this blog.

It is, I suppose, a reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

It was not always like that. When I was young and lovely and couldn’t walk down a street without sexy blondes fainting, I wrote a novel that actually made money.

I mentioned  this before and I’m mentioning it again because I cannot believe there was an actual time in the long ago days before colour television and mobile phones and trips to the moon when people actually read books. Not only read them but bought them. Libraries also bought books then. You could count on the libraries in England buying 2000 copies of your novel in those days.

Now, alas, I am a lonely old scholar remote from enlightened conversation. I seem unable to know the difference between the Yukon and the Ukraine. My very up to date No 2 son said, “Are you out of your mind? The Yukon is in Alaska.”

“Alaska, like the Ukraine, once belonged to Russia,” I told him.

Who knows what Commissar Vlad Putin is up to?

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One of my Constant Readers expressed surprise that there were tobacco fields in New England, also Indians.

Murder in Arcady

 

One of my Constant Readers expressed surprise that there were tobacco fields in New England, also Indians.

She thought tobacco was only grown Down South and Injuns only lived Out West.

Our tobacco in New England is cigar tobacco – the best outside of Cuba. When I first started Murder In Arcady I very carefully put in the history of tobacco in the Connecticut River Valley. Then, reading it over, it looked exceedingly boring.

Now the Native Americans in Murder In Arcady are somewhat like that wonderful branch of the Algonquins that I covered in South County, Rhode Island, in the 1960s when I was a young reporter on the Providence Journal.

But I juiced them up, under a different name and located in a much different part of New England – on the Mohawk Trail, in fact. This gave me the chance to indulge in colourful speech coming out of the mouths of colourful people.

For instance, Miss Prudence Appleseed writes a novel featuring the sex lives of the people of North Holford.

Shotgun Logan, the chief of the Nonotucks, lives just outside of North Holford. Murder In Arcady contains this:

Out in Frenchtown Shotgun Logan’s wife, Bella, said, “Cigar Store Injun, how come none of our gals is in this filthy book? Ain’t our gals horny enough for that stuck-up Miss Prudence Appleseed?”

Little does Bella know that Miss Prudence is at the moment writing another sex saga, Venus is Overalls, starring Tula Salome, the beautiful Native American princess of the Nonotucks, who is Bella’s granddaughter.

In Murder In Arcady I also thought I might invent a religion, The Holy Astrology Church of Divine Guidance. It is, of course, a total scam, with the Rev Chuck Pierpoint, and his partner Wazoo Annie Longstreet, confidence tricksters taking in the suckers.

What with all this going on I almost forgot the murder, which would give work to my detectives, Boomer Daniels and Davy Shea; also the amorous police doctor, Phyllis Skypeck.

Other dolls include Calypso Mae and Atalanta. Girls for whom foolishness rises like a weed firmly implanted in their unmentionables, creating such an itch.

That is perhaps filthy enough to be in Miss Prudence’s novel, Satan With An Ice Cream Cone. That title comes from…but I’ll stop.

You’ve got to find something to discover in the book.

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Real life is such a miserable affair that I thought it would be better for me (and you) to bring Farce to the rescue.

Murder
Do you Blogland folk ever buy a bloody book?

Well, here goes, I’ve got a new one but I don’t know why I bother when I could be drunk in a nineteenth hole complaining about my putter.

Real life is such a miserable affair that I thought it would be better for me (and you) to bring Farce to the rescue. I hadn’t done any novel-length farce for 50 years (Yes, darling, Papa Stan is that old). I was in my twenties and had something of a success way back then with a satire on the American right-wing. Better Dead Than Red, I called it and it won rave reviews in England, America and in translation in Germany and Italy. The Italians thought I was like Marco Twain.
Satire it was called, but I thought it was farce; doing anything for a laugh, short of farts and belches which is what the half-wit scribes use. I was surprised when I was praised for my dark humour.
At that time I was earning a crust writing a humorous column two days a week for the Guardian, a weekly piece for Punch, and book reviews every month for the New Statesman.
Melancholy used to creep into my work. I don’t think it is supposed to. You won’t find it in Wodehouse. Nor in the great Frenchman, Feydeau.
Voltaire’s Candide is the best ever, and it’s got melancholy.
Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 was the heavyweight champ of the 20th Century. Personally I’d rather read Aldous Huxley. Crome Yellow started him off in 1921. “Delightful, witty, worldly and poetic” The Times called him. Brave New World (1932) was called “the greatest novel of the future ever written.” In it children are produced to order. It is an insane Utopia. In the Fertilizer Rooms the Director of Hatcheries produces Alpha, Beta, Deltas and Epsilons. I think they’re turning out modern Wimbledon lady tennis players now.
I like Huxley better when he’s being comic and poetic, as in Crome Yellow or the first part of After Many A Summer (1939) when he describes the mad people and places in Hollywood, California.

Well, my new one, Murder In Arcady, the fourth Boomer Daniels murder mystery set in the same rural New England town,
is not heavy stuff.

So what is it like?
I don’t think I really know.
I start it off with this:

Arcadian charm wrapped in a summer day luxuriated on the lakeside beaches of the cozy New England township.
Up and down the pure white lakeside sand strolled stunners with sex-stained eyes; and also waddling overgrown tourist ladies of a certain age offering massive views of flesh, some of which was even faraway New Jersey backsides. “Bebop a Lulu you’re my baby.” A radio sang the antique love song. And the air was so wonderful in North Holford that nobody died unless they were murdered.

That’s the way it starts and that is the way I wanted to go on. The critics will shout: “Roll over Voltaire, tell Wodehouse the news.”
I kept it down to 37,000 words – not a shilling shocker but a threepenny novella.
Farce is always full of character who could not really be real – that is the charm of it.
In Murder In Arcady I’ve got Miss Prudence Appleseed, who looked like a chicken who was for some reason wearing a wig. She’s written a saucy novel called Satan with an Ice Cream Cone.
There is her twin sister, Patience, who is writing a history of the 119 species of Connecticut butterflies.

Also a gunman called Sweeney; a crook clergyman, the Rev Chuck of the Holy Astrology Church of Divine Guidance; billionaire Alonzo the Arch Dude Stagg; sexy Savannah Moon, writer of dime novels; Hapless Jones, a journo; Shotgun Logan, Chief of the Nonotuck tribe; his granddaughter, Tula Salome, a beautiful Native American princess. Plus Boomer Daniels, the police chief, his sidekick crazy Sgt Davy Shea; and amorous Dr Phyllis Skypeck, the police doctor.
What I am doing with characters like that, with French Canucks, Bog Irish, Italians and Red Indians, is giving the folks a real New England which is something the late John Updike never did. Ditto the later John Cheever with his Yankee paradise. In other words, farce or no farce, I am truer to life than them guys, as Davy Shea would say.

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Back when the world was young and journalists worked in Fleet Street…

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Back when the world was young and journalists worked in Fleet Street, drinking two hour lunches at El Vino – called El Vino’s by them even when sober – I met some interesting people.

One of them was the late Kinglsey Amis. I often stood or sat side by side with Kingsley and listened to him brag about his collection of 18th Century snuff boxes.

He had many ccurious notions, not all of them inspired by drink.

I recall once, seated at the first table in from the front door, Kingsley getting exceedingly cross about The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic was first published in 1908 and has been loved by one and all ever since – except for Kingsley.

My readers in Rostov-on-Don, Tokyo, Calgary and maybe even Dodo, Australia, may not know or care about The Wind in the Willows.

It, along with Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, is essential if one wishes to be on a first-name basis with English as she is written.

Even if one has not had a lower upper middle-class English childhood one can still read The Wind in the Willows at any age and enjoy it.

Ratty and Mole and Badger become close friends, presented to you in Kenneth Grahame’s wonderful style; and E.H.Shepard’s superb illustrations.

But the greatest hit of the book is Mr Toad. He leaps out of the page. He is rich. He lives in Toad Hall. He takes up pursuits, like rowing on the river, caravanning, or driving a motor car with insane enthusiasm, which is quite funny.


When my youngest son was in prep school I used to take him out for weekend treats on the Thames looking for Toad Hall – the house Shepard used for it. Eventually, after a year or so of searching, we found it.

All my sons have been taken to the theatre to see Toad of Toad Hall, A.A.Milne’s excellent comedy. Contemporary morons have turned their backs on Toad of Toad Hall; preferring, I suppose, to murder Shakespeare in modern dress.

But I must return to Kingsley. I sat wondering why he hated Mr Toad. Then I took a good look at him. He was Mr Toad. His bragging about his collection of snuff boxes is just what Mr Toad would do.

Now, of course, almost every man is Mr Toad. I know one writer who has changed the name of his house in the country to Toad Cottage. Most men, however, don’t realize how much Mr Toad they are.

I recall leaving Punch magazine one night to go to the theatre and someone said, “You’re actually going to see Toad of Toad Hall looking like you do?”

I was wearing a tweedy suit of a rather excessive heather mixture and my neckwear was perhaps a trifle ear-splitting.

I did not mind the remark; at the theatre I saw a number of Mr Toad’s in the audience.

But Kingsley was too vain, he could not stand looking in the mirror and seeing Mr Toad.

An old lady enters the blog and says:

“Young man, what has this to do with publication of your wonderful novel, The Summer Stock Murders?

“Nothing whatsoever,” I am forced to admit.

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A number of important people have emailed me over last week’s blog…

Stanley Reynolds Crime Novelist

 

Readers, yet more maundering.

A number of important people have emailed me over last week’s blog. In it I wrote of stormy weather aiding an author’s plot. Lady Ottoline Morrell 1V, Mr Osbert Sitwell 111, Madame Jacques Reverat, the Viscountess Cecil, V.Sackville-West, Mr T.S.Eliot OM, and Vanessa Bell V, and many other distinguished personages have written to tell me that Virginia Woolf, a leading female in the 20th Century paper trade, exceeded all others with her weather in her novel Orlando in 1928.

Sparing no effort in my desire to right wrongs (NB Miss Desirée, who does my typewriting: that’s right wrongs, not write wrongs, dear) I searched through the numerous piles of books displayed on the floor where I, with an unmade bed by my side, write both books and blogs, also cheques to duns.

There, next to The Waves (1927) and The Years (1937) which was the only novel of Virginia’s to sell 40,000 copies and make it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It topped the list in early June and remained there through July and finally fell off altogether only in late October.

I recently asked an Oxford-educated novelist friend what she thought of The Years. She had a PhD in Virginia Woolf and somehow managed never to have read or even heard of The Years.

In the 1970s when I was fleet of foot and sound of wind and limb I turned down a job to teach literature to the imbeciles at Harvard. Perhaps, if Oxford is anything to go by, I should have gone to Massachusetts and taught the swine.

I digress. In Orlando in the time of King James there was according to Virginia The Great Frost, which historians tell us, was the most severe that ever visited these islands.

She wrote:

“Birds froze in mid-air and fell like stones to the ground. At Norwich a young country-woman started to cross the road in her usual robust health and was seen by the onlookers to turn visibly to powder and be blown in a puff of dust over the roofs as the icy blast struck her at the street corner. The mortality among sheep and cattle was enormous. Corpses froze and could not be drawn from the sheets. It was no uncommon sight to come upon a whole herd of swine frozen immovable upon the road. The fields were full of shepherds, ploughmen, teams of horses, and little bird-scaring boys, all struck stark in the act of the moment, one with his hand to his nose….”

Virginia was such fun among the Bloomsbury Circle.

This excellent stuff comes because in my new summer holiday read, The Summer Stock Murders, the weather rescued me from not knowing what the hell I was going to do for a plot.

I recommend my book, and Virginia Woolf’s, to my many blog-fans.

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The Summer Stock Murders

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Sitting in my bower in the April sunlight reading my friend Sir Max Beerbohm’s one and only novel, Zuleika Dobson, it suddenly struck me how much my latest masterpiece,  is like the tale of Zuleika.

Men, as in Sir Max’s little effort of 1911, cannot keep from falling in love with my femme fatale, Martha Flowers.

Here is an example: “…Martha suddenly looked at him. He was immediately hooked. Martha allowed him to worship her for two days and then on the third day she dumped him….. That was par for the course with Martha.”

Zuleika’s failed lovers threw themselves into the river at Oxford and drowned. (None of the men in love with my Miss Flowers does this. Their thoughts of love turn inevitably to murder.)

But, dear post-feminist readers, fear not. My gal also attracts women. They fall in love with her too. None drowns, but poor love-struck Roz Quilty plans to throw herself off a ferris wheel.

Will she be saved?

Buy the book while stocks last. Meanwhile I shall be sprawled in the April sun dreaming of those magic days I spent with Sir Max at his house at Rapallo on the Italian Riviera.

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Most clichés are true and some are getting truer.

1781486344Most clichés are true and some are getting truer. Like, for example, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

No author is ever happy about his cover, especially if it attempts to illustrate a character in the book. No, he says, she didn’t look nothing like that.

Some authors have suffered so much they stopped complaining. I speak of the Master, P.G.Wodehouse. The Empress of Blandings, Lord Emsworth’s prize pig, is a Berkshire Black, but illustrators present all sorts of white pigs; some with black or brown spots.

A newish edition of Leave it to Psmith  has the Efficient Baxter, Lord Emsworth’s pain in the ass secretary, outside Blandings Castle hurling flower pots through Lord Emsworth’s bedroom window. This truly classic comedy was first published in 1923 so you’d think illustrators would know what’s what by now. Not a bit of it, the excellent cover is ruined because Baxter is wearing green panamas. In the story Baxter is wearing lemon-coloured panamas and they are important because the light colour made Baxter visible to Lord Emsworth.

Another error of colour is the hair of Jane Abbott, the main gal in Summer Moonshine (1937). Wodehouse describes Jane as having “fair hair”, but in the otherwise exceptional drawing her hair is red. Joe, the hero of the book, sometimes calls Jane Ginger. Jane hates that name but I guess that was the reason for the red hair.

From my years at Punch, I learned that cartoonists did not read books; or read at all. The only illustrator who was spot on was Posy Simmons. When I wrote a column for the Guardian she often illustrated it. I was sometimes unhappy about the way Posy drew me. I wanted something more dramatic. “Let’s face it,” she said, “no matter what you do you’ll always be Mr Chips.”

Evelyn Waugh illustrated his first novel, Decline and Fall.  He would dislike the covers Penguin put on the Sword of Honour trilogy. Men at Arms has a soldier who is obviously other ranks and Officers and Gentlemen  has a photograph of sailors running about on the deck of a battleship. This is absolutely wrong. This is a novel about Commandoes, not the Navy.

The final novel, Unconditional Surrender, is not so bad, but also not so good. Penguin fell back on a photograph of a much bombed street. It is the cliché shot. They just about got away with it, but it lacks imagination.

There must be many other examples. I remember Penguin’s first edition of The Natural, a novel about a baseball player. The cover showed men playing softball. It was almost like showing men playing croquet in a novel about cricket.

And what about your covers, Mr Stan?

I hated all the British and American covers of Better Dead Than Red, both the hardback and paperback. For the hardback the cover took longer to do than I took to write the book. The German and Italian covers had excellent illustrations; the German edition took longer to translate than I took writing it; I knocked it off at top speed, twenty hours a day, in one week.

That was when I was a boy in my twenties. My next book, Death Dyed Blonde, was supposed to have a dead, hardly-clothed blonde on the cover. They wrapped her in a rug.

The new number, Murder in a Cold Climate, which predicts the snow America is now having, has a cover which shows a country house that has been turned into a hotel. People are skating on the ice in front of the hotel.

There is a flaw and it is mine and not the illustrator’s. Where is the hottie ice-skating nude? Well, she wasn’t in the book. It is a mistake I will not make again.

From now on I’ll have a looker in the altogether, maybe with a gun in her hand, in all future epics.

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I have hardly ever read Virginia Woolf

sHere at Blog Manor, pouring vintage pre-phylloxera port, only slightly crusted, down the red lane, it comes as a surprise to moi that I have hardly ever read Virginia Woolf.

I wonder what was the reason?

I sent Harrington, the only slightly lame second footman, to the bookshop to correct this fault.

I discover that Ginnie was a gal after my own heart. In Mrs Dalloway (1925) she relates that things went to hell when water closets started to be talked about; and written about in otherwise respectable magazines. Did she mean Plumbers Weekly or the Gentleman’s Quarterly Cistern?

Even more telling was the road to hell being littered by skirts short enough to expose the ankles – particular Arabs will know from whence the Woolfette was speaking. They like their gals wrapped up in cloth with only the eyes looking through.

As well as writing educated chick-lit Virginia was not as other women. Unlike the liberated rug-chewers of today she kept quiet about it.

      An Old Lady enters the Blog

      Old Lady: Young man, must you be so disgusting.

      Me: I’m working my way out of it.

Virginia Woolf is amazing. She should have written poetry. In fact, she does. The first chapter of Night and Day (1919) is like T.S.Eliot; like, in fact, Eliot’s Portrait of a Lady (1917).

Eliot: “Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon/ You have the scene arrange itself…”

Woolf: “It was a Sunday evening in October. . . the remaining parts of her mind leapt over the little barrier of day which interposed between Monday morning and this rather  subdued moment…”

She is very popular among some, mainly intellectual, ladies who are usually professors and make a living out of her. Night and Day and her first novel, The Voyage Out (1913)
were published by her step-brother’s firm Duckworth. After that Virginia started self-publishing with her husband Leonard Woolf at the Hogarth Press at 52 Tavistock Square London WC. To The Lighthouse (1927) was perhaps her best-known and loved novel; a granddaughter of mine did it for A Level.

One of Virginia Woolf’s most talked about novels is Orlando (1928). This is because it was written for Vita Sackville-West and the morons think it might be pretty steamy lesbo fare. It isn’t. It’s fun with history, starting with a page to Queen Elizabeth I and working its way, (with gender changes) to the 20th Century. Orlando stands history on its head and rewrites literature with wit, vigour and exuberance.

Virginia’s one and only big bestseller was The Years (1937); a novel hardly known these days, even by fans.

It sold 40,000 copies and went to number one in the New York Times  bestseller list. It topped the list in June, remained number one in July and only fell off the list in late October.

The Years is the story of the Pargeter from Victorian years (1880 and 1891)to the 20th Century: 1907 to 1918 to “the Present Day”.

Leonard Woolf didn’t like all this success. He said it was the worst thing she ever wrote. One wonders how good he was for Virginia’s brain. All her life she suffered nervous breakdowns. Fearing another coming on in 1941 she filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself.

What, if anything, does this have to do with Murder In A Cold Climate, that jovial stocking-filler now weighing down the library shelves at Blog Manor awaiting the Christmas rush?

Not much. But I counted them and I seem to have eight women in Murder In A Cold Climate, all playing big parts, a couple of them major roles.

      A LITTLE OLD LADY re-enters

OLD LADY: Are there any little old ladies? Do they appear in chemis?

THE AUTHOR: Only young nifty numbers in their step-ins and other unmentionables.

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December 12, 2013 · 2:16 pm

Reviews for ‘Murder In A Cold Climate’

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Reviews for ‘Murder In A Cold Climate’

Agnes Eve
Beyond `Golden Age’ of Crime Writing.

My heart sinks whenever a new crime novel promises to transport me back in time to the Golden Age of crime writing, and so it was with joy and surprise that I discovered the work of Stanley Reynolds whose column in the Guardian I loved, and whose brilliant, satirical first novel `Better Dead than Red’ is in my top ten.

There is nothing arch or derivative in `Murder in a Cold Climate’, no laboured period detail nor over-researched references to brand names etc to unsuspend one’s disbelief, just the natural product of a fine mind and talented writer with an obvious deep love and knowledge of literature applying his skills to this genre and creating the most beautifully written crime novel I have ever read.

For those with a predilection for fictional heroes, unlikely Police Chief, Parker `Boomer’ Daniels is one to fall in love with. together with fellow lost soul and misfit, acting pathologist Dr Phyllis Skypeck. In this, the second novel in what I hope will be a much longer series, no one is what they seem. All the characters have true depth not just in their enigmatic, slowly emerging back-stories (fascinating as these are) but also in the actions that stem from their personalities and how that drives the plot; in fact it is only in Moll, the adorable SBT, that what you see is just what you get. Inhabitants of and visitors to the evocatively described, snow-covered New England small town of North Holford hide their secrets, all as seemingly impenetrable as the glacially frozen lake.

The versatility of style is masterfully handled moving from haunting to poetic to thrillingly exciting (the twists of the plot race along compellingly, at a rate of knots) and often comic especially in the scenes with Sergeant Davy Shea who with Parker makes up one of the oddest couples ever.

In fact it is reductive to go on about the Golden Age at all; this novel is, like all good writing, timeless.

Amie Lister

The Prologue kicks off with sex and literature, but the story soon turns into sex, literature and murder most foul. MURDER IN A COLD CLIMATE is also funny; and an easy read in the great American crime novel style of Raymond “Big Sleep” Chandler and Dashiell “The Maltese Falcon” Hammett. An absorbing read.

Helen Highwater

Set in a poetically described New England town (I mean this literally, the ice cream parlour is called ‘The Emperor of Ice Cream’) during a harsh and snowy winter, this intricate crime novel both lets you in and keeps you guessing just the right amount to make a truly satisfying murder mystery–something of a rarity in recent times.

‘I’m not a real cop’ Parker “Boomer” Daniels speaks this mantra throughout Stanley Reynolds’ subtle and evocative crime novels. And I believe him. He doesn’t always carry a gun, he gets too close to the suspects, he well…muddles along really. But as the crimes are solved, so the characters grow. While Boomer may not be a real cop, his character does resonate as a real person– flawed, emotionally battle scarred, carrying on as best he can.

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Cricket is in the news.

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After winning the Ashes in the summer, England went Down Under and were poisonously defeated in the First Test.

Of course the Aussies were cheating. They had bats.

There were also verbals. Sledging, making less than charming remarks to the opposition, was invented by Australia.

It has been around a long time. A bespectacled friend of mine, an opening bat for the fearsome Manchester Guardian XI, was asked at the last minute to play for a team in the Lancashire League. He went in wearing his glasses and faced a hurricane West Indian pace bowler. Out of fright, my friend let his bat get in the way of the first lightning delivery. It went for six.

The West Indian paceman ended two feet from my friend and said:

“The next one’s for your glasses, white man.”

I have witnessed extreme behaviour in a match I played in one glorious summer afternoon.

I was fielding in the slips alongside a visiting Australian. A man was batting the ball all over the place. He was obviously heading for a century.

A ball came between me and the Australian. He picked it up off the ground and hurled it. Not at the wicket but at the running batsman, who fell to the ground spurting blood.

He lay unconscious. The Australian turned and looked at me.

“That was the only way we could get him out,” he said.

An ambulance took the man sway, but like a Boys’ Own story he returned with a bandaged head and scored the century.

That was a quiet friendly match on an English summer afternoon.

Those were the heavenly years I spent at a cricket club drinking beer with my fellow cricketers around me talking about how drunk they were the night before and how late they were going to be getting home for the dinner the little woman was cooking for them.

As a former third baseman for the Highland Bulldogs in leafy Massachusetts, cricket was not my native ballgame. I took it up when I learned  that the bar stayed open all day when a match was being played. This was in the dear dead days of early closing.

Cricket and beer used to go together like fish and chips. Centuries of cricket and beer  proved this sacred truth.

Just before the First World War poetry was added to beer and cricket.

Apparently you could not go to a rural cricket match without half of the XI being well-known poets. Beer and cricket were supposed to be manly and poets were supposed to be manly fellows. This ended in 1918.

There has been some very good writing about cricket. When I joined the Guardian Neville Cardus was the cricket man. Later John Arlott took over. He had been a 12th man for Hampshire but he never got in to bat. The best sportswriters in the past had never played the game professionally. Now they have and none of them are the equals of the men of long ago summers.

Cricket has also featured in many books. England, Their England (1933) by A.G.MacDonell is a major one. Set in the 1920s it is written as if it is the travel memoir of a young Scotsman. Cricket is only part of the book but it is the best part and the only reason why England, Their England is still around.

Incidentally when I looked this up I got England, My England by mistake. This was written by D.H.Lawrence and for a moment I thought I was going to get Lady Chatterley’s  wicket-keeper.

Love On A Branch Line (1959) by John Hadfield, perhaps remembered as editor of Saturday Books, has a famous  cricket match. Jasper Pye, the hero, goes in to bat nearly dead drunk after being locked in a wine cellar..

The Go Between has a good match and Siegfried  Sassoon had  perhaps the most pleasant match in The Flower Show Game, in which a young boy goes in to bat for the village for the first time.

Americans do not continue to play baseball after they leave school. Fat old men play softball instead.

Because of this there are no comic baseball games in American novels.

In fact the only baseball novel I know is The Natural (1952) by Bernard Malamud. The story of Ray Hobbs is based on a true incident when Eddie Waitkus of the Philadelphia Phillies was shot by a woman during a game. This was not the first such incident. Billy Jurges, the short stop for the Chicago Cubs, was shot while  playing by a  showgirl with whom he was as they say, romantically linked.

Malamud’s story has a magical twist. Hobbs has a handmade bat called Wonderboy – shades of King Arthur’s Excalibur.

In my fantastical disclosure of life, love and murder in a small New England town, Murder In A Cold Climate, it is winter and no one is playing baseball, but Police Sergeant Davy Shea dreams about the Boys of Spring. And my hero, Boomer Daniels, wishes he had a love for a game that Davy has. It is beautiful – get out and buy!

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