Cambridge is a town well experienced in repelling would-be boarders. I have never managed to drive directly to any goal in this town, even when I’ve had a GPS, or SatNav as they’re known here. This time I had only some scribbled notes from the map on my new iPad, and although on my second attempt I did spot the road I wanted, I was already past it. Oh well, thinks I, I’ll just turn around somewhere and come back.
An hour later, I found the road again.
Fortunately, once there, I could abandon the car and turn myself over to the insider tracking device of my friend Michelle Spring, who nonchalantly led an unerring way to the store I would have found only after forty minutes of casting about and begging bicycle-mounting students and scurrying shoppers for help.
But find this mythic mirage of a store she did, and we entered the welcoming doors of Heffer’s (now a part of the Blackwells chain, which sensibly kept the name) for their Bodies in the Bookshop event. Sixty three crime writers gathered to sell books and chat with readers and each other, comparing covers, talking about what’s next, catching up on the lives of colleagues we see a whole lot less often than people who work in offices see their colleagues. Just another typical example of the community of crime writers.
Then on Friday I took the tube into London, to drop in and sign books and to meet the writer whose book is the subject of discussion over at the Virtual Book Club this month, China Miėville. I adored The City and The City, and am having a great time with The Kraken, a whole different kind of book but equally stunning in its originality.
The afternoon I treated myself with a quick visit to the Museum of London, one of my very favorite museums, and then over to the Marylebone library, a stone’s throw from 221b Baker Street, which appropriately has a collection of Holmes material. I slanted my talk towards Holmes, although they seemed happy to talk about anything–and to my surprise, nearly half the audience were Americans, on holiday. The librarians were surprised, but pleased that I brought my own audience…
There followed drinks and dinner at the pub around the corner, the Allsop Arms, where the Sherlock Holmes society of London originally met, and remains a place for conviviality.
Another community

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  1. Beth Havens on July 18, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    sounds heavenly! wish I’d been there. 🙂 Beth

  2. Nikki on July 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    ***An hour later, I found the road again.***

    Hee hee. Kinda sounds like that night in DC, huh? Too bad you didn’t have WV plates to fall back on to generate some pity and understanding from the other drivers. (snort)

  3. Carrie Ward on July 19, 2010 at 7:10 am

    I hate Baker Street tube station, actually I detest all of the tube and every single station. (I think I am one of the few Londoners who actually walks an hour to get any where, unless I am in a rush which I was on Friday)It was fantastic listening to you talk in Marylebone Library, despite the sweating and the running and the shouting at the tourists (American) to NOT congregate at the top of the escalator. (Why,why do you do that?) Thankfully none of those Americans were going to your talk 🙂
    It was an absolute pleasure meeting you and thank you for signing my (your?)book.

  4. Strawberry Curls on July 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Heavens, I can’t imagine Cambridge being worse than Oxford, where we ended up going around the block for quite some time and found ourselves on not one but two dead-end streets that just narrowed and poof, they were dead-ends, no signs or anything. Backing out was quite the achievement(not mine, but my friend and driver, Merrily). I wasn’t sure we would ever get out of that town given those streets. LOL I would love to see Cambridge, but will have to think about this a bit more given your description. I think both cities are best seen on foot, but you still have to get to the town and then out of it again.


  5. RussellHolmes on July 20, 2010 at 9:40 am


  6. Mem on July 22, 2010 at 7:22 am

    From Cambridge you are are only a brief drive from The Manor at Hemingford Grey (the setting of Lucy Boston’s Green Knowe books). We went there this spring for a LOVELY visit, and had lunch in the truly remarkable Pheasant pub in the village.

  7. Merrily on July 25, 2010 at 6:09 am

    I know Oxford better than Cambridge but both are driving challenges! Love The Museum of the City of London, especially the “London Fire” exhibit. Good gift shop, too!

  8. Elizabeth on July 26, 2010 at 6:01 am

    I don’t believe my brain. My husband and I were in the Museum of London that same day, and I was planning on coming to your talk which I thought was in August. I really need to write things down in places where I can find them … I’m glad your talk went well and am so sorry I missed you! What did you think of the MoL’s new galleries? I loved the Pleasure Gardens.

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