Although you wouldn't know it from the state of this blog, I have actually been quite busy lately, but that's no excuse for having simply vanished. I've been half-expecting to see my face on a milk carton. So, apologies for having, as the kids say, ghosted you! More about what's been keeping me so busy below.
Of course, there have been some changes in the world since I last posted. Condolences to those who feel a little bereft at the loss of Queen Elizabeth II. For an impassioned Anglophile, I've always been a bit oblivious to the doings of the royals (by contrast, I have co-workers who, not notably Anglophilic, are obsessed with the royals), but I have to admit that she was an inspiring figure and a rather needed point of stability in an increasingly crazy world. It's hard to imagine the UK without her, and it will be startling indeed to see Charles' face on currency and coins in the near future. (I was naive enough—or, if you like, had sufficient faith in British efficiency—to think that the new currency and coins would have been prepared in advance and would roll out immediately from a vault somewhere deep beneath a Scottish loch. I confess to being a bit disappointed that this bit of drama and stagecraft hasn't come about.)
This is all not to mention that, in a way specific to my own interests, Queen Elizabeth was just about the last surviving link with the world of many of "my" authors. I couldn't begin to count all the references to her in the novels I love: the Princesses in London during the war, Elizabeth's time in the ATS, her coronation—all garner mentions from various perspectives, not to mention that several instances in which debutantes were presented at court would have featured her as the presentee (at least for a few years, until she did away with the process altogether).
In short, rest in peace Elizabeth II, and best of luck to Charles III, who has an impossible act to follow.
I should also confess that, although I wish Queen Elizabeth could have lived forever, I am simultaneously relieved that she didn't wait three or four more weeks to enter the Pearly Gates. Andy and I have rather spontaneously planned a trip to the UK in October (hence the OMG), and it would have been a bummer indeed to arrive at Heathrow to discover that much of the country was shut down for two weeks. Of course, observances must be made and they're being beautifully done, but it would not have been ideal from a tourist standpoint.
As you might imagine, the trip has been occupying much of my time of late. We're always ambitious in our vacation planning, and if I gave you the list of places we're planning to go I know I'd get a chorus of "Oh, that's ridiculous!" and "You'll never get to all those places!". But we'll be happily trotting along, seeing as much as we can, and enjoying "the English air" (hopefully not too much of the English rain…). On our last trip, we had a car for three days and survived—Andy in the driver's seat, NOT me!—with only a little bit of shrieking here and there on narrow country roads. So this time I asked if he'd be up for a bit more. Just a bit—like maybe, three times as much? Poor Andy. But he's a trooper, and it will be such fun, and opens up our possibilities considerably. Wish us luck!
I'm considering doing some tweeting of the trip, though I also may get distracted and forget some of the time. So if you are on Twitter and haven't already connected with me there, you may be able to get some laughs from the two geeky Yanks abroad @FurrowedMiddle.
One very important stop (perhaps two) on this trip will be the British Library, at which I hope to so some actual research and glimpse some books I have only ever dreamed about reading. It's just possible that I'll end up doing a morning's research at the Bodleian as well (assuming they don't laugh me out of the building), so I will be quite pompous and unbearable in my Serious International Researcher mode by the time I return. I still can't quite believe that it will all work out, but wish me luck there too…
Finally, in addition to travel planning, I have been hard at work on a very special FM/Dean Street Press project, which I hope you'll be hearing about soon. My day job (you know, the one that pays the bills?) has also presented some challenges lately, but everything is fine, just busy. However, I haven't been able to focus much on writing reviews of late.
Thus, apart from an announcement at some point of our next FM releases (likely coming in March 2023 this time instead of January, due to various logistics), for which I will need no encouragement to come out of hiding, I'm going to make my unintended hiatus into a more or less official one, at least until early November. (Am I the only one who thinks it's mad that we're approaching winter again? It really does sometimes seem, as Edwina once said on Absolutely Fabulous, that I hit an oil patch at 40 and am now just skidding toward the grave.)
In the meantime, take care of yourselves, perform copious self-care as needed (possibly with an FM/DSP reprint or two), and I'll see you back here in a bit.