Firstly, thank you to all those who sent messages for my birthday. Following the excitements in Austin, I landed in Heathrow and without touching the sides immediately caught another flight to Geneva for a week of skiing with my wife, brothers and some of our children.
And a whole week without going online.
Days spent pummelling my dodgy knees on the slopes and evenings with the unlikely apres-ski activity of playing the card version of Monopoly – which proved to be great fun and, surprisingly, a big improvement on the classic board version (and much quicker). A knowledgeable brother pointed out that the original was invented to “demonstrate that an economy that rewards wealth creation is better than one where monopolists work under few constraints”. I am not sure that the card version shares such lofty concerns, but good fun was had by all.
An unexpected side-product of the trip to Austin was that my brain, which has seemed rather sluggish all year, finally kicked back into action. On the very first night, I lay awake with plots for the fourth Vicar Chronicle fizzing past. So much that the fun task will now be to make it fit into one book. And some plot lines that will be frankly terrifying to write, as I dip my toe into contentious, troubled waters. But that would seem to be exactly where The Vicar belongs.
I needed to process the DGM artist royalties on my immediate return, which I feared might kill the momentum, but, as I know many other people have found, it is amazing how long you can last from one real surge of energy. Still buzzing now. Long may it last!