Special day, special blog! It can all be summed up in three little words: Anniversary, Apology, and Announcement.
Exactly five years ago today, this little fellow began his adventures in blogging, and what a world it opened up for me. I literally found my people, and, as usually happens when you’re looking for the perfect mate, the perfect boss, the perfect friends, they all live “out of the area”: Great Britain, China, India, Copenhagen . . . So it’s not like this blogger can grab a cup of joe with another blogger and talk into the wee hours about our antipathy for Van Dine’s Rules or the exciting rediscovery of Carr’s Cabin B-12 radio scripts. (Due in November from Crippen & Landru.) Of course, my special group of mystery lovers is so simpatico that last year I made a literal trip across the waters to find them, and what a time I had! Still, one can’t do that every day, especially with a pesky pandemic swinging over one’s head. Ah well! 355 posts and 352 followers later, I am grateful to have this place where I can go to share my love of old mysteries, movies, musicals, and mime. (Actually, I hate mime. Never gonna mention it again . . .)
Unfortunately, life has taken a turn. COVID has grabbed the US by the gonads and left us badly shaken, causing this bachelor to self-isolate for over six months. My summer plans to return to England got cancelled. So did my intention of returning to work as a high school drama teacher. Now, abruptly retired, I find myself stuck at home, enjoying no benefits of that decision except the removal of job-induced stress. I take walks twice daily. On rare occasions I visit my aged parents. Once a week, I don mask, gloves, and my bubble wrap suit and brave the perilous journey to the supermarket.
This leaves me far too much time to ponder the American political landscape. Now look – I know nobody wants me to talk about politics, but it is damn hard living with Trump and his minions looming over everything. In addition, you may be aware of the fires that have plagued California for the past month, turning the sky orange and the air acrid and unbreathable. For a week I was literally trapped inside my home, windows closed, light scarce. (It literally felt like nighttime all the time, giving one the feeling of being trapped in a particularly disturbing episode of The Twilight Zone.)
I am well aware of my good fortune. I have a roof over my head, a certain amount of financial stability, and some people out there who care about me. It can’t be helped, however: the last six months have gotten to me. On my first day of lockdown I wrote about how much mysteries can help us get through the hard times, and now I find it almost impossible to pick up a book, much less write about one. I mean, six book reviews in six months??? What gives? And so I began an epic saga, Murder at Dungarees, and then . . . . I stopped. And while I’m grateful to those of you who have asked me for a resolution, it means sitting down and reading the damn thing again so I can remember the details I threw in here and there over ten episodes.
So . . . let me apologize for letting this crazy world get the better of me. I would very much like to snap out of it, and the best way I can think of doing that is to set an impossible goal for myself! No, not Dungarees – not yet. But I know where it’s going, and it will return. This is something else, and I have to tell you that the challenge has become even greater now that my beloved WordPress has become the dreaded WordPress, with new “improvements” that make it almost impossible for me to format a blog page.
Which makes it a perfect time for an . . .
Yes, I might have neglected posting birthday wishes to Agatha Christie on September 15, but I was occupied in great matters, namely virtual attendance at a festival in honor of her upcoming centenary. That’s right: October marks the 100thanniversary of Christie’s premiere on the printed page. We had some remarkable speakers and fun events, but my favorite parts of the four day celebration were every chance I got to “talk Christie” with equally passionate and knowledgeable fans. One of the highlights for me was a chance to talk personally about my lifelong relationship with Christie with an equally fervent fan and fellow blogger, John Harrison. I’m going to try and embed our conversation right here, but with the new “improved” WordPress torturing my life – and the fact that this is the first video I have ever uploaded to YouTube, I promise nothing.
Back to my announcement.
What kind of centenary would this be if one of its most rabid Christie fans did nothing to celebrate. And so here is how I plan on over-extending myself. I will be posting ten – count ‘em, TEN – entries, one for each decade of the Christie centenary. The posts will start on October 1, and wouldn’t it be lovely if they finish before Halloween. Given my mindset these days, I again promise nothing. But I will give it the old college try.
This is not meant to be a mere history, especially since there are a number of excellent biographies and dissertations about the author to suit anyone’s taste. While each entry will begin with a list of all of her publications for that period, I hope to delve here and there into the essence of Christie – bringing up my favorite and least favorite aspects of each decade’s work, seeking out the elements that fascinate me so about her and tracing their development. Who knows what will come up? These haven’t even been written yet, but I hope they will appeal to the Christie fan in all of us (and there should be some of that in everyone!)
I better get cracking! Would it be too much of an imposition to ask you to cross your fingers for me? See you on the 1st!