As you may know, I am taking a writing retreat month in the middle of this year, which has (rightly or wrongly) taken the pressure off me with regard to actual writing at the moment. But it turns out that when you invent someone – as I have done, with my scrummy policeman Sam Plank – he never goes away. I find myself thinking about him every day, and wondering how he is.
This (let’s be honest) mild obsession takes its most obvious form in my reaction to certain things. When I am working in London for the day, I will often try to slip into a museum or gallery for 30 minutes, just as a respite. And once in there, I make a beeline for anything Regency. In the Rijksmuseum last year, my husband tells me that I wandered around various rooms muttering, “Too late – too early – collar too high – hat-brim too wide…” as I compared depictions of gentlemen with my lovely Sam. (Husband made sure to keep a distance from me, as frankly I looked a bit doolally, he says.) If I hear the word Regency on the radio, my little ears prick up – and I’m thinking of starting a campaign to have Regent Street in London renamed so that it does not clog up all of my Google searches.
So Sam and I may not be communing through words at the moment, but he is always with me, and I am always looking out for ways to make him more real to people other than me. I’m off to an exhibition at the Royal Society of British Artists the week after next, and woe betide those artists if they haven’t seen fit to paint a Regency chap or two.