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25 August 2010
....Alice Liddell's mother, that is. Those who have read my book will know that I am not certain that Alice Liddell WAS the "real" Alice of Dodgson's story, but never mind....

Here's the story.

When the Earl of Warwick & Brooke was an undergraduate at Christ Church in the 1870s, (and of course he wasn't the Earl then - just an immature, cheerful, idiotic teenager with loads of money) - he went to a ball at University College. Like Cinderella, the Christ Church undergraduates were obliged to leave by midnight unless they had permission to stay out later. If they came back after midnight, they'd find the gates locked, and they would get into trouble. Many of them would try to climb in over the walls, which also got them into trouble. If they got into really bad trouble and disobeyed college rules too much, they'd get thrown out.

The Earl-to-be, who sounds something of an airhead, had not thought to get permission to stay late. Mrs. Liddell was also at the ball, and when she heard of his predicament, she was very sympathetic. So when she left the ball with her daughters at 4 a.m., the young man shared her carriage, but since he was not supposed to be there, he spent the trip crouching inside the carriage, concealed by the enormous skirts of Mrs. L and her daughters. Once inside the gates, she secretly let him loose.

Naughty boy - and rather naughty Mrs. Liddell, considering that she was the Dean's wife and should have been upholding the rules.

Mind you, this is what the Earl was heir to - so perhaps she thought she might as well get into his good books while she could.
18 August 2010
There are countless websites for writers, and many of them are very good. Here are three which other writers have recommended to me, and I have found useful myself.

First, Writers Services is extremely comprehensive. It has links to almost everything you could want as a writer, from lists of agents to info about printing your own book, podcasting and even checking online security. I'm always referring to it.

Second, Preditors and Editors lists agents and editors, like so many other sites, but the great thing about them is that they recommend or (more importantly) DO NOT RECOMMEND certain publishers and agents. There is nothing subjective about it - the criteria are strict, require documentary proof and include things like non payment, unethical behaviour, etc.

Thirdly for non fiction writers, there's no over emphasising the value of a "hook" for your book or your article. The place to go is Ideas4Writers which also has all kinds of other bright ideas to help you think up great stories and conquer writers block.
13 August 2010
After 10 years, I have decided to repaint the kitchen drawer knobs. We all painted images on one or more of these when we modernized the kitchen a few years ago - here's a picture I painted of Alice, now a bit the worse for wear. When painting her, I realised how sad she looks in so many of the Tenniel pictures. I don't think I found one which showed her smiling or laughing. (sorry the pic is so blurry)


I've just repainted the one which reflects another of my loves- a cup of tea.


You need a steady hand to do these paintings as the surface is curved. I did them in gouache and varnished them but to get proper coverage I should have used acrylics

I've also decided to re-start learning German - think I'll try Yabla

But that's summer holiday stuff - not WORK.

True, I'm happy to be without a major work project at this very moment. This summer I've sometimes felt like the White Rabbit, rushing around crying "Oh my ears and whiskers!" We've had house guests of all ages, and seen a lot of friends.

But soon the holidays will be over and then what next? Over the last year I've been doing articles on travel in Europe, with the idea of rejoining the British Guild of Travel Writers as a full member (I dropped back to being an Associate some years ago). Th ere are some very nice people in the Guild and it runs very useful meetings on all aspects of travel and the professional writing life. I really value being part of it all. But reasonably enough, you need to do a LOT of travelling to fulfil their full membership quota and right now I feel like Alice trying to keep up with the White Queen - every time I think I might just get there, I realise that actually I'm no nearer the goal.

And how frustrating that I can't research any travel stories in New York while I'm there, because of visa restrictions.

So maybe my next book project should be to do with travel. Writing a travel related book would get me back into the Guild's full membership. Or should it be something else about Lewis Carroll? About children's literature? Or something completely different?

It will need to be something that earns money without having to wait around too long, unless sales figures are good enough to tide me over a while. With two different publishers, THE MYSTERY OF LEWIS CARROLL will have two sets of sales figures.

09 August 2010
New York

I have been invited to New York in November to talk to the Lewis Carroll Society of North America at their annual convention. My last (and only) trip to NYC was a distinctly curious but very interesting experience. I had to write an article for a national newspaper travel section about travelling on the Concorde. They didn't much care where I went on Concorde, which was doing a lot of special trips all over the world in those days. Since its only regular route was to New York, that's where I went. A friend with a tiny apartment on W. 33rd St. kindly put me up and he was highly tickled at driving his little Toyota into the Concorde parking at JFK to pick me up, and mingling with all the limos.

I don't think I went to sleep most of the time I was in the city, and have memories of living it up with my friend's mates who were all dressed up as reindeers ... and seeing everyone skating at the Rockefeller Center (since it was nearly Christmas) and being rather freaked at some giant toys at FAO Schwarz. . It was fun.

I'm not going with my journalist hat on this time, but I'm looking forward to giving the talk, and meeting some North American Carrollians who have till now only been names on a page. And it will be nice to make the acquaintance of New York again.

02 August 2010
There's been a letter in Smithsonian in response to my article: I'm pleased that an attorney thinks I give a balanced view. Here's the link.