When the sun set last Sunday, I felt it was time for a relaxing evening in front of the log fire.
Time too for a dry martini and some escapist television before the busy week ahead when my novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love receives its official launch on Tuesday at the The Phoenix Artist Club in London.
I had recorded two episodes of ITV’s Hercule Poirot dramas starring the splendid David Suchet shamelessly and gloriously hamming up Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective in his final performances in this his signature role. I watched the first of the two, The Labours Of Hercules -perfect escapist drama I thought and perfect it was.
The Labours of Hercules was the second Agatha Christie book that I read as a child (I’d started with The ABC Murders, another Poirot story) and I soon devoured all of the Poirot books – never quite liking the Miss Marple stories as much – and as a serious-minded but seriously ignorant nine year old, I thought Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens were the two greatest writers that had ever lived. I’m frightened of reading them again as an adult in case I disappoint fond childhood memories. Well, this is true of Agatha Christie but not Dickens whose David Copperfield I read last year ensnaring myself once again in Dickens’ mastery. Maybe I should give Mrs Christie another go too. The Labours Of Hercules is a collection of twelve Hercule Poirot short stories where Poirot sets out to solve twelve murders, each connected to one of the legendary labours of, well yes, Hercule’s namesake, the ancient hero Hercules. This TV show was based on just one of the stories, the fourth labour, The Erymanthian Boar, and it was terrific fun with its cast of eccentric villains and those things that went bump in the night. In one of the commercial breaks I went upstairs to the study to check if my website had gone up after crashing earlier in the day but it still wasn’t there so I returned to the world of M. Poirot for the last half hour.
Going back into my study when the show was over, I turned on the light and was temporarily blinded by four lights shining directly in my face from a shadowy presence in the middle of the room. A murderer? A burglar? Or maybe Monsieur Poirot himself, I thought. But no, it was much more sinister. It could have been a story line in one of Agatha Christie’s novels. Where I had been sitting, half an hour earlier, on the chair in front of my desk, was the potential instrument of my murder. The overhead light fitting with its sharp metal corners had crashed down from the ceiling onto the precise spot where my head would have been.
Who could’ve loosened those screws and why would anyone want to murder me? And who do I know who is clever enough to do it Christie-style when I would have least expected the attack? Nobody probably or, yes, it’s a possibility, that dastardly perpetrator of perfect crimes, the mysterious murderer from my childhood dreams.
My study has a high ceiling so the drop of the light would have been like a guillotine’s blade. A lucky escape, perhaps, but I’m now alert to the threat – I just wish Hercule Poirot was still around to help me solve the mystery.
My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.
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