No, not the aftermath of Brexit, though that's continuing too. This is far more important.
Last week I announced with great pride and glee that we were in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.
Reader, we won. We’re in the semis! And by the time you read this... no, I’m not even going to put the thought into words; I really, really really don’t want to jinx the possibility that... Shut up, Lynne; that little nasty gremlin is probably listening.
OK, a catch-up. The semi-final of the second biggest football (soccer if you prefer) tournament in the world takes place tonight. (I’m writing this a day early, because tomorrow will be busy.) My team (and bear in mind that football is definitely not a game that interests me as a rule), my little, insignificant team from a small country with just three million inhabitants, a team which was never expected even to qualify for the tournament, has somehow, through some miracle of luck, skill I didn’t know they had, and sheer gritty determination, is playing in that match, just one step away from the final battle. And, biggest surprise of all, I’ve been sitting through the entire ninety minutes of each match they’ve played to get here, unable to take my eyes off the TV screen.
I’ll keep you posted. Watch this space.
Meanwhile, in other news...
Loved Jeff’s post on July 4th. Read it, if you haven’t. Makes you proud to be human. If more people talked that kind of sense, instead of digging their heels in and condemning everyone else; in fact if more people simply communicated in real words instead of in violence and rhetoric, listened as well as shouted, and were open to change and amendment of anything in need of it, the whole world would be a better, safer, happier place and we might be able to enjoy living in it again instead of being afraid to turn on the TV for fear of much darker news than a football team from a small country making the semi-finals of a big tournament.
And now to crime fiction, which is, after all, the prime purpose of this blog.
Over the past week I’ve read two books, both set in beautiful places, and I’ve been revelling in the way they drew me in and made me feel I was there alongside the characters. The plots and casts were fine, no complaints there; but in each case it was the setting which really did it for me. Fortunately both books form part of long-running series, so I can return to those beautiful places over and over again. Maybe even literally. One of the places lies a short drive from my own front door: the Derbyshire Peak District, a glorious area of rocks and moorland, sprinkled with pretty villages and lots of sheep, and wonderful places to walk and rest and let the scenery feed my soul. The author is Stephen Booth; the series features small-town DI Ben Cooper and his abrasive city-loving nemesis DS Diane Fry.
The other place is France profonde: the real France, outside the cities, where farmers sell their produce in village markets without paying too much attention to rules and regulations which reduce everything to bland ordinariness, and incomers from across the English Channel are welcomed as long as they make the effort to fit in, and don’t try to disrupt a lifestyle which has worked just fine for centuries. The series is by Martin Walker, and features Bruno, the police chief of a small town in this beautiful area.
If you enjoy exploring unfamiliar places, even vicariously through the pages of a book, these two series will grab you the way they’ve been grabbing me for a few years. Try them and see.