The sequel to Murder at the Mill is finally here. Death at the Lychgate was released by SpellBound Books Ltd on Sept 30th. Many thanks to Zoe from http://zooloosbooktours.co.uk for putting together such a fabulous collection of book bloggers for the tour.
AMY ROWLINGS RETURNS!
The book is set in Kent, during the spring of 1939.
AMY ROWLINGS RETURNS!
Sunday morning, and the body of Reverend Villiers has been found propped up on the vigil seat in the church’s lychgate. It appears that he has been poisoned.
When amateur sleuth and regular churchgoer, Amy Rowlings arrives she finds DI Bodkin already at the scene. Bodkin tells her about a cryptic scripture reference that has been scrawled in chalk on the stone slabs beneath the body. What the citation hints at, shocks everyone.
Amy, a huge Agatha Christie fan is determined to get involved in the investigation and despite a stern warning from the detective’s boss, Amy and Bodkin team up again to try to solve the most complex murder case he has ever been involved in. When the toxicology report comes back from the lab, the results only add to the mystery.
Meanwhile, Amy looks to her favourite Agatha Christie character, Hercule Poirot for help, and using his techniques, she narrows down the list of possible murderers to just nine suspects.
Never one to pass up on an exclusive (nor Thornton’s Continental chocs for that matter, but that’s another story) Maureen Vincent-Northam was delighted to be asked to dig deep into Tracy’s sack of fan mail for Writelinkers. Disregarding the less genteel communications (toad in the hole will never seem the same) Maureen has chosen letters from typical Tracy fans and the star herself tells her many, and varied, admirers what they really want to know.
Tracy is a rarity in this day and age: a young woman whose underwear is not always in free-fall. The woman whose Hotmail exchanges with best friend Emma is about to take the literary world by storm is driven by the same modest ambitions all young women have: fame, fortune and an alphamale celeb hanging onto her arm.
Which celebrity would you say is most in need of a make-over?
Chelsea Trumper, Broadbottom, Cheshire
Tracy: Hello Chelsea. Is your dad one of those annoying people like David Beckham who name their kids after places they’ve visited? It’s a good job little Brooklyn wasn’t conceived in Peckham isn’t it?
Are we talking hair, clothes, or everything?
I think Janet Street Porter’s teeth could do with a serious file down. If I was her, I’d have them pulled and get a nice, new, even set of dentures put in. She could sell her real teeth to ivory poachers. That might save an elephant’s life and not only would she look better, she’d have something to feel good about.
Kim Kardashian really should do something about that arse and Brad Pitt looks like he’s been dragged through a dozen hedges, backwards. I wouldn’t mind having the job of tidying him up though.
If I had to choose someone that needs a total makeover, I’d go for that tart, Olivia. She looks like a slut on drugs at the moment. Her clothes look like she’s slept in them for a month and her makeup looks like its been applied with a pastry knife. That hair has to go; I bet there’s at least a dozen combs, two styling wands and a colony of bats in there. I saw her once in the queue outside Slappers nightclub. It was pissing down with rain but she didn’t need an umbrella, nothing got past that hair. I heard a rumour that David Attenborough is going in with a film crew soon.
Another one I’d like to see sorted out is Russell Brand. He’s a right scruffy bugger and has exactly the same hair as Olivia. What is it with these people, have they never heard of shampoo?
Why do you think you’ve been so unlucky with romance?
Ron Lovall, Herts
Tracy: Hi, Ron. Unlucky? I think I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve managed to get rid of the useless swine without too much trouble. Some women get stuck with a bloke for life. Imagine what Simon will be like in a few years time? He’s already porn obsessed. By the time he’s twenty-five he’ll be sneaking around in the fog wearing nothing but a dirty old mac and a pair of trainers. I reckon I had a lucky escape there.
As for Tim, I think I was lucky there too. He wants to be a farmer. That would mean me being a farmer’s wife. Sod that for a lark. I really can’t see me in wellies and a smock, can you? Some people are meant to wake up at the crack of dawn to the smell of cow shit, and some aren’t. I’m definitely in the second category. I would look ridiculous trying to dodge the cowpats in my fake Lanvin sandals, and the closest I ever want to come to a pig, is when it’s been sliced and fried and lying in a roll with some brown sauce.
You’d make a perfect WAG. Have you ever pursued a gorgeous footballer – or even Wayne Rooney?
Tiffany Pratt, Isle of Dogs
Tracy: Hi Tiffany. I think I’m too young for Wayne, he’d be more likely to go for Gran, and I’m not on the game so he wouldn’t be interested in me. I did go out with a footballer once, but he only played for the local pub team and I only went out with him because I wanted to prove a point to the Ginger minger he was seeing at the time.
Dad says I should become a WAG, but Gran says there’s a reason they call them that. They’re all dogs.
Given these two choices, would you rather be stinking rich or mega famous?
Tracy: Is that you Prince William? Nice to hear from you again. How’s the chopper? Still getting it up, I hope.
Hmm, tough question. I suppose if I had to choose I’d go for mega famous as I could always drop in on a celebrity mate if I had no money and I needed somewhere to crash for the night. Not that there would be many nights like that. Most celebs seem to cop-off with someone after they’ve been to one of those glitzy parties and I don’t think I would be any different. Anyway, if I was mega famous and skint, I could always go to a party wearing something a bit naughty and get interviewed by the Sun for a few quid.
Mega famous people probably get lots of free stuff when they open things, so I’d make sure I opened lots of supermarkets…and shoe shops of course. Stinking rich people tend to want to keep it all to themselves. That would rule Olivia out; she can’t keep anything to herself, especially her vagina.
When you go on Celebrities on Ice in the Jungle, what will you miss most about everyday life?
Precious Little, Watchet, Somerset
Tracy: Hi, Precious. I’d probably miss daydreaming about going on Celebrities on Ice in the Jungle.
What is your beauty routine and do you have any tips for your uglier fans?
Poppy Belcher, Diss, Norfolk
Tracy: Hello, We used to have a dog called Poppy but we got rid of her because she farted all the time and Dad was sick of getting the blame.
I don’t spend much time in front of the mirror because my housemate, Kiwi, will almost certainly be using it every time I want it. I’m lucky in that I can get away without having to do too much. Kiwi spends hours tarting herself up, and she still ends up looking like she’s let her seven-year-old sister do her face for her.
My best tip would be to buy the best make up you can afford. Don’t go for that crappy stuff they sell on the market, most of it doubles up as paint stripper. If you can’t afford good stuff, get some new friends who can. Girls are always on the lookout for ugly friends, as they make them look better on a night out. They’ll almost certainly let you use their make up if it means they’ll stand out in a crowd of munters.
Spotty Irene doesn’t look too good at times because of the terrible acne she suffers from. It doesn’t stop her trying to do something about it though. She once went to a fancy dress party, with a brown paper bag on her head. She told them she’d come as shopping.
There are a few ways of hiding your hideousness. You could be mysterious and wear a dark veil, but then people might just think you like going to funerals.
If you’re really ugly and desperate for a bloke, my tip would be to find one who wears specs like the bottom of beer glasses. If their eyes are that bad, they probably still won’t be able to see out of them properly. Of course you could just do what Olivia does, let blokes know you’re available, that always works after they’ve had ten pints.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play you?
Scarlet Shufflebottom, Hollywood, Birmingham
Tracy: It would have to be Lady Gaga or someone classy like that.
What do you keep in your handbag?
Tarquin DeVere, Odness, Orkney Islands
Tracy: Hmm, you ought to know, Tarquin. It was you that opened it up in front of everyone at that student’s party. Playing mousy on a string with a Tampax wasn’t, isn’t, and never will be, funny.
For anyone who doesn’t know though, apart from the usual girly things like panty liners, a sanitary towel and a spare pair of knickers, I have a my iPhone, lip gloss, mascara, compact, needle and thread, a condom, hair scrunch, brush, comb, purse, bus pass, pen, notepad, tissues, mints, tube of superglue, attack alarm and mace spray.
What possession could you not do without?
Billy Lillycrap, Quidhampton, Hampshire
Tracy: My TV. I couldn’t live without Strictly and X Factor. If I’m allowed more I’d have to say my laptop and my fake Gucci bag…Oh and my signed photo of Beckham in his Speedos.
If you were a type of vegetable, what would you be?
Moonchild, a field in Glastonbury
Tracy: You’d have to ask Kiwi that, she’s the hippy, and she’s named after a fruit.
If you were abducted by aliens, what would be the first question you’d ask them?
Prof. Mycroft Nutt, Lower Piddle on the March, Glos.
Tracy: Do you get the X Factor in the Vernuvian Quadrant?
Who do you think you were in a past life?
Napoleon Bonaparte, Crackpot, North Yorkshire
Tracy: I sometimes have strange dreams about snakes, so Cleopatra probably.
Out on the eight, back on the ten-fifteen which came at ten-twelve and almost made me run to catch it. In the end I just performed a sort of quick shuffle down the street and made it with seconds to spare, who says this gym thing doesn’t work?
Tonight’s mission was to explore the sights and sounds of Parliament Street in Nottingham. There are lots of dens of iniquity to choose from, so I stepped off the bus and launched myself into the first of many pubs blasting out old seventies’ hits to their aging clientele. No pub or aging clientele names will be mentioned in this piece, partly to protect the innocent, but mostly to protect me the next time I go in any of them. I wrote a Saturday Night Live about my home town, Ilkeston once and it didn’t go down well in the Neanderthal Arms I can tell you.
The disco was in full swing as I walked into the pub. The queue at the bar was so long I had to queue to get into the queue. I thought I’d got the wrong bus and ended up in London at one point.
Finally, armed with a pint of John Smiths Extra Smooth bitter I fought my way through the melee and grabbed a foot of prime real estate next to the door where I could see the dancers giving their all, in front of a thirty-five-foot flat screen TV on which the old nineteen-seventies videos were being shown to accompany the music. They need a screen that size so the people who haven’t had their cataract operations yet, and came out without their hearing aids (AGAIN!) can join in with the fun.
I nearly shat myself when Phil Collins’ massive balding pate suddenly hit the screen. I was thirty feet away but it felt like he was right on top of me. Now, me and Phil don’t get on, so I tore my eyes away from the screen as Phil did his Voldemort impression whilst singing, ‘You can’t hurry love.’
You can hurry love, actually, Phil, I’ve managed to do it for years.
Sadly, Phil couldn’t hurry the song either, so I concentrated on the elderly dancers as they cavorted across the dance floor, waving arms, swinging hips and other body parts. One poor old sod was knocked clean off his feet by a pair of low-slung boobs that hit him right in the kisser as the owner of the said breasts, swung around to scream, ‘love don’t come easy,’ to the wrinkly old gal who was swinging her own bits, a few feet away.
I never did get Phil, but by the looks of it most of the geriatric gyrating ensemble did. The dance floor was heaving, a plethora of nineteen sixties style mini dresses, stocking tops, caked on makeup, slipping wigs and zimmers on wheels, and that was just the men.
I hung around, alternating between sips of my pint and mouthing the words to the Drifters, Saturday Night at the Movies. Mouthing to songs is a tradition in that pub. Everyone does it, even the people, like me, who actually know the words. The ones that don’t just open and shut their mouths like goldfish, as I said, it’s a tradition in there, no one wants to be seen flouting the rules.
From there I wandered across the road to the pub near the Theatre Royal. A DJ was installed at the end of the bar and I was treated to the rousing chorus from the Killers hit, Mr Brightside as I entered. This bar is populated by the late forties, early fifties set, you know the sort I mean. Men with shaved heads and women wearing push up bras so load bearing that their boobs are almost under their chins. There was so much bare flesh is on show, that they look like they’ve got a couple of the bald heads stuffed down their dresses.
The weird thing about this group of piss heads is their love for the Ibiza club anthems. It’s a scary sight when the first, boom boom, bass notes thud out, people don’t head for the dance floor, they just start thrashing around where they stand. Beer, gin and bald head tits are suddenly flung into the air as the middle-aged revellers relive their 1980s Spanish holidays.
I didn’t last long in there I can tell you. I’d already washed my hair before I went out, I didn’t need a beer shampoo.
The streets very packed as I stepped out of the bar and made my way down the slight incline towards the famous Motown pub. On the way I passed a few ‘homeless,’ people who were propped up in blankets calling out for loose change, gripping their cans of special brew as though it was their prized possession. I always give at least one of them a few coins as I pass by. I don’t judge. I’m about to get pissed so why shouldn’t they?
I haven’t been to Nottingham for about a year now, but I still recognise some of the ‘pro beggars’ that only ever show up on a Saturday. Their blankets are always spotless so it’s easy to pick them out.
The Motown pub was rammed, as usual. I spent a while in another long queue and looked around for David Beckham. Sadly, he wasn’t in this part of the queue so I smiled at the woman next to me and said,’ busy, isn’t it?’
She curled up her lip and looked at me like I’d just asked her for a shag. Turning to her flat faced mate, she flicked her head towards me and rolled her eyes. Her mate was not only flat faced, she had an incredible turned up nose. Now, I don’t mean one of those cute little noses you see in those period dramas, this one was turned up so much, she could look directly into her flared nostrils with just a slight movement of her eyes. I’d hate to be her if she got a bad cold. She’d be blinded with snot every time she sneezed. I got my revenge for the sullen looks by pushing in front of them at the bar. I won’t repeat the insult that flat face used when I turned away smirking into my pint, but it rhymes with punt.
I found a six-inch square piece of territory at a table near the front windows and spent an enjoyable ten minutes watching the septuagenarians swing their hips to the proper version of, you can’t hurry love. There were some younger women in there, but they were all surrounded by groups of bald, Junior Soprano lookalikes, who looked like they were waiting to dive into the buffet at a wedding. Lips smacked, saliva drooled and hands were reaching out in expectation. The women didn’t seem to mind, they were obviously used to being slavered over like some tasty morsel presented on a plastic platter.
Just then I was poked in the ribs by a bony elbow. I looked to the side where a woman wearing glasses as thick as the shatter-proof front window was looking up at me.
‘Sorry,’ she lied.
I smiled and went back to watching the men of the musical, meat market, stick out their chests and attempt to muscle the competition out of the way.
Suddenly the bony elbow found its target again. I winced. It felt like I had been skewered. She looked me in the eyes again. ‘Sorry,’ she lied, again.
She was a painfully thin woman of about sixty-five, wearing a tight-fitting dress that showed of her skeletal frame to perfection. She had a mop of red-dyed hair that perfectly matched the daub of lipstick that was smeared across her face. She looked like The Joker from the Batman movie.
‘Are you gay?’ she asked as I turned away again. ‘Only I’ve been trying to get your attention for ages and all you do is look at those men.’
I was sorely tempted to tell her that I was indeed, gay, and hope the news would encourage her to piss off. Like a fool, I told her I wasn’t.
‘Really,’ she replied. ‘You look gay.’
By now her three mates had become interested. They surrounded me, looking me up and down, pulling faces as they tried to make up their minds whether I was or wasn’t.
I gulped down my pint as fast as I could and headed towards the door.
‘He is,’ I head the chorus of crackly voices call as I stepped away.
Back on the street I found a doddering, ancient, foul mouthed, excuse for a man, trying to negotiate the price of a blow job with a middle-aged, blanket covered, greasy-haired woman whose mouth was ringed with scabs and sores. Apparently, he felt that a quid was a fair price. She wanted a tenner. I hope he raised his offer. She deserves the money and he deserves whatever disease he’ll wake up with in the morning. I shuddered at the thought of them performing and headed up the hill towards the bus stop.
The bus was pretty full but I managed to get a seat opposite a couple of pretty young girls. I didn’t smile at them; I’m a modern man and I know I’d only be accused of being an old pervert if I did.
One of the girls was wearing jeans and a crop top thing that left the bottom quarter of her breasts, exposed. The other was wearing a strip of fabric, so flimsy, it looked more of a waist sash than a dress. I gave her a cursory glance for five minutes, then looked to my side where a fifty-something woman with a mouth so small she would struggle to even make the ‘ooh,’ sound, was giving the girls a withering look.
‘Disgusting,’ she said, suddenly staring at me.
I didn’t know if she meant me or the girls to begin with. Then all became clear.
‘When I was young, I wore more than that when I had sex.’
I looked from her back to the two girls. That was another vision I desperately tried to push out of my mind.
The girl in the sash noticed that I was looking at her and gave me the finger. I blew out my cheeks. I didn’t have a lot of choice really as she was sitting directly opposite and I had to look somewhere. It was either that or pretend to be asleep but even then I’d probably be accused of thinking filthy thoughts.
The old codger on my right didn’t seem to care what the young girls thought of him.
‘KINNEL,’ he gasped as the girl crossed her legs. ‘It’s been a long time since I saw anything like that.’
‘I’ve NEVER seen anything like that,’ muttered his wrinkly mate on the seat next to him. ‘And I lived in Coventry for years and they used to give it away for a drag from your fag there.’
The girl gave them both the finger, then looked back at me as if she thought I had instigated the whole thing.
‘Pervert,’ she spat.’
I shrugged. I’ve been called worse and she was probably right anyway. So, not giving a flying one any longer. I stared straight ahead and gave her my best smile.
I ended up back at my local in Ilkeston where I am among friends… Mostly. I had a few more pints and managed to grab the last slow dance with a nice blonde lady of about my own age who, thankfully, wasn’t wearing either a wig, two inches of makeup or a nineteen sixties Mary Quant mini dress.
As I mentioned earlier. I am a modern man. I didn’t even try to copy a crafty feel.
I suppose you’ve heard the news about the Queen dying, it’s such sad news, isn’t it? She’s been on the throne so long that everyone on TV seems to have a different memory of her. I’ll always remember her producing a marmalade sandwich from her handbag when she had tea with Paddington Bear. That just shows what a good sense of humour she had. I mean, that sandwich must have made a right mess in her bag. Her lippy must have been covered in it.
She was a really lovely lady, wasn’t she, Emma? It was like the sun coming out from between dark clouds when she smiled and her eyes were piercing, even when she got a bit old and doddery.
What are we going to do without her, Em? I mean, she’s always been there hasn’t she. No matter how bad things got in the world she was there, giving us that smile and telling us everything was going to be okay. And it always was in the end. Remember in the pandemic when she said, ‘We’ll meet again?’ Even Gran cried at that. Apparently, she nicked the line from an old war time song, but so what? She can’t be expected to use a Taylor Swift song at her age, can she?
Mum says she’ll be back with Prince Phillip again now, so that’s something good to come out of it. I hope there’s someone waiting for me when I go, Em. As long as it’s not my ex, Simon. I can’t think about spending another hour in his company let alone eternity. I hope there’s someone else waiting for the queen too. I mean, she’ll be really happy to see Phillip I would imagine but she’ll want some friends around to have a good girly goss with, won’t she? Blokes never talk about anything other than football and politics, so she’d need a break from that. I’m sure she’ll want to know what her mates thinks about the latest episode of TOWIE or Love Island. That’s if they can get FREEVIEW up there… they must be able to… it’s beamed down from space, so she’ll probably get to know what happens before we do.
Mum has been crying a lot. She bursts into tears every time the BBC newsreader repeats the headline. Gran, an arch royalist, is made of sterner stuff. She took herself off to her room for a few moments of quiet reflection, then came back wearing a Sex Pistols t shirt she bought for the jubilee in 1976 and her union jack bloomers. Dad said she was being disrespectful, but Gran called him a commie fifth columnist. who had never liked, ‘Little Lizzie,’ and should be hung as a traitor.
Gran always calls the queen, ‘Little Lizzie as though she’s a girl that lived on her street when she was growing up. When we were having our tea, she told us about VE night in London on the day the war officially ended. The area outside Buckingham Palace was swarming with people and Gran, although she was only thirteen, went out to join them. She reckons she saw, Little Lizzie and her sister Margaret, dancing and singing along with the crowd on the Mall.
Gran told us about how she got snogged by a sailor that night. (Her not Little Lizzie). Dad said, that would have been the first of many over the years. Gran narrowed her eyes and said Dad was just jealous because even the most desperate of sailors wouldn’t snog him.
Dad is in a bit of an awkward place. He’s always been a republican and has often said, (mainly when under the influence of drink,) that the lot of them will be put up against the wall and shot when the revolution comes.
‘I didn’t mean her,’ he bleated when Gran reminded him of his drunken rants. ‘If she had stood for president, I would have voted for her.’
The news has hit Dad a lot harder than he will admit to. His voice keeps going croaky and he claimed the tears that were running down his face were the result of Mum putting too much chilli powder in the dinner. He finished his meal in silence, then said he was going to organise a whip round for her at the Labour Club. She has a lot of fans down there. He thinks they’ll easily raise enough to get a decent painting of her to go in the refurbished bar.
Mum and Gran are going to get the train to London tomorrow to lay some flowers outside Buckingham Palace. Dad said he hopes she’s going to put some clothes on before she goes but Gran said she intends to show her patriotism, so she’s going in her bloomers. Mum said she ought to wear a mac at least, just in case it rains.
I’m worried about money now, Emma. I got paid £300 cash in hand for judging that wet t shirt competition in Norks night club last Saturday and it might not be worth anything now she’s gone. I wonder if they’ll have an exchange scheme to swap the old coins and banknotes for ones with King Charles’s face on them when they’re minted?
It’s going to be really weird for Charles, isn’t it, Em? I mean, he’s going to have to stand at public events singing God Save The Queen even though he’s the King. I think they might bring out a new anthem for him to save him having to do that. I hope they make it something a bit livelier. Maybe they could get Ed Sheeran to write a new tune, he’d soon knock up a jolly ditty. I hope they don’t ask Adele; her songs are more dirge-like than our old anthem.
Right, I’m off now, Emma. I’m going to start a campaign to see if we can get our street renamed to Queen Elizabeth Way.
R.I.P. Little Lizzie. Thank you for everything you did for us.
It began with a trivial moment of carelessness, but the shockwaves that reverberate from this seemingly insignificant incident, spread far and wide.
Ed and his heavily pregnant wife Mary are on an errand for Ed’s ailing father before the pair depart for warmer climes. But the winter of 1962 comes early and one innocuous event and a hastily taken decision will have devastating consequences for the family of young Rose Gorton. Mary’s already fragile mental state is put under further stress while Ed tries to make sense of events that are spiralling massively, Out of Control.
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