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14 May 2004

I should definitely get out more. Preferably, out of town.

Iím just back from a swift one-nighter in Lincoln. We had a Murder Squad gig booked in, for their literary festival, and I wasnít sure I should have agreed to do it, because a rail journey of any length plus an overnight stay usually means no writing in the days on either side. But I was committed, so I went; and I went earlier than I needed to, because I would have just kicked around uselessly at home else, Iím not generally good at fruitfully using the odd couple of hours here and there.

So: three hours down to Lincoln, and a couple of hours to kill at that end before I meet up with the Squaddies. Obviously, the sensible traveller in an unfamiliar and pretty city spends this time looking round. Chaz spends this time finding a bookshop with a coffee franchise, annexing a corner table and writing a thousand words.

Then Iím heading off to meet Margaret Murphy off her train, and bump into Ann Cleeves in the street on the way; and we go to the venue to find John Baker waiting for us, and we have a really good evening. My favourite kind of gig: a panel discussion between the four of us, with Margaret chairing; quick readings; questions from the audience, and then selling and signing books.

And so to restaurant, to drink, to bed, flushed with the knowledge of a good day done; and I woke this morning knowing that if I didnít sprint to the station before 9am, I couldnít leave before midday. So I didnít try. A leisurely breakfast with Margaret, a wander up the hill - the exceedingly steep hill, helpfully called ĎSteep Hillí - to the cathedral (where Iím rather shocked by their practice of soliciting donations just inside the door and then charging an entrance fee once you reach the aisle, but hey, let it pass...), a happy chat with one of those elderly women who know their cathedrals from the bones out, a quick shop in a cat shop (ĎOmniPussí - believe it!) for a friendís birthday bash tonight - and I didnít even go into any of the second-hand bookshops (should that be second-hand-book shops, I wonder?), just straight back to the coffee franchise in Ottakarís to write another 500 words before my train. Virtue, my name is me.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.