Ex-News Junkie by Barbara Nadel

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It was the Harrogate Crime Fiction festival at the weekend and, just like Crimefest in May, I didn’t go. Up to my ears in stuff to do, I just whirled about like a dervish and then eventually collapsed in front of the last ever Monty Python reunion which was broadcast to my local cinema. Apparently I missed out on a lot of boozy fun and of course the company of some good friends, but I did see Terry Jones dressed as a pepperpot woman for probably the last time, so there were consolations.

This has been a strange year so far. In March I went to Istanbul and wandered about on the roof of the Grand Bazaar in the rain, then in April I had my throat cut, now I am involved in the most drawn out house move in the history of the world. We bought the place last December and should move in at the end of August. But there has been a lot to do, what with rewiring, replacing damaged walls and ceilings and trying to work at the same time. I’m actually quite proud of myself as I’ve managed to finish off one book, start and finish a second and now I’m on my third all since we bought the house. Don’t really know how I’m still upright if I’m honest. Probably held together by tea and rust.

Next year will be different. Then I will have to hit the old publicity road again and get people talking about my books again. I’ve got some really hot topics as backgrounds to my 2015 crime novels, including the unrest in Turkey and mental health provision in the UK. I’m also having some new publicity photographs taken next week. I’m going for a sort of old git vibe reminiscent of the wonderful Jonathan Meades who always looks as if he’s just heard the worst news ever. A big coat, big shoes and lots of rumpling.

Of course all of the above is so trivial when compared to events that are happening in the wider world at the moment, they are laughable. But what can you say about the Israel/Gaza business? About the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jet over the Ukraine? ISIS chucking the Christians out of Mosul? Beyond stating the bleeding obvious (‘Israel and Hamas – sort your shit out,’ ‘Vladimir Putin you’re really Stalin, aren’t you?’, ‘ISIS you are arseholes’) what can be said or done?

I’ll be honest, I’m over-loaded. I’m done with all this shit and can only concentrate with any degree of comfort on window blinds and lining paper. People being crucified in 2014 is not computing, or rather it is, but I just can’t take it. I mean, where did all this insanity come from? It seems to me that one day life was weird (always has been for me) but comprehensible, and then the next day the Middle Ages came over the hill closely followed by a load of ex-KGB men who had suddenly become billionaires. Now they own large parts of London (the KGB men) while otherwise quite sensible girls leave the country to go and marry men who crucify people in the desert.

Is it old age coming on or is the world just really so bad now? Well I’m not exactly 17 but then I’m not up for retirement either so I guess it must be the world. And, try as I might, I am unable, unlike the Pythons to ‘always look on the bright side of life’. So I’ve decided to ignore it. Just for a bit while I re-group and not implying in any way that I don’t care, I’m having a break. News off, newspapers in the bin, head in a book so light I have to staple it to my hands to read it.

I am at the moment, an ex-news-junkie, my desire for news has given up the ghost, kicked the bucket, snuffed it and gone to join the choir eternal.

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