This will be brief. And this time I really mean it. Tomorrow we head off for a beautiful rented house in France, and I still haven’t entirely decided which books I’m taking. Clothes? Toiletries? Who cares? We have to get our priorities straight.
France isn’t the easiest place in the world to get into at the moment, at least the part of France we pitch up at after crossing the Channel. Between the usual run of timetable glitches and train breakdowns, and the newer but ongoing problem of several thousand displaced persons camped close to the end of the Channel Tunnel and desperately trying to get into the UK (a decision I sincerely hope they don’t have cause to regret), I don’t anticipate an easy ride.
And those displaced persons constitute just about the biggest crime in progress in the world at the moment. They’re the tip of a vast iceberg. Think hundreds of thousands of people whose homes have been destroyed because two sets of other people think the way to solve their differences is to bomb the hell out of each other. Then add hundreds of thousands more who didn’t have homes in the first place, and believe the search for something better (like clean water, enough to eat, and medical attention for sick children) is worth the risk of crossing an ocean in a rubber dinghy crammed with hundreds more like them.
In a world that lets this happen, who needs crime fiction? Actually we all do; in fiction the good guys win and the bad ones meet cosmic justice, so it kind of raises our spirits and gives us hope.
On which note, I’ll keep my word and keep this brief. Chris Nickson will be with you for the next two weeks. I’ll be back on September 16th, possibly with a family of displaced Syrians clinging to the roof of the car. And it won’t be me who pushes them off.