Another dull crime scene photo this week from Friday morning, the first day of the second cold snap. And not exactly what you would call a walk either unless you count the slither up to Tufnell Park station (and back from K-Town) after brief stops at Highgate and Archway libraries.

When I say crime scene I’m not talking about non-payment of library fines, no, Sir. Nor f*ing shunting accidents on Lady Somerset Road. I’m talking about the serial killer who dumped a stiffy here in the woods next to Highgate tube  – but not without being seen: middle-aged, tall, greying hair. I’ve got the perfect alibi, as it happens: I’ve never been in  a Mark Billingham novel and even if I had been, I would definitely have been on the side of the angels, or rather DI Tom Thorne which is as close to supernatural as it gets in Sleepyhead, the first of Billingham’s crime series featuring Kentish Town’s finest sleuth – the country music loving, fast food and supermarket lager guzzling (the friends and family numbers in his handset run the gamut of K-Town gastronomy from A to B where B=Bengal Lancer) career dodging detective.

I enjoyed it but was slightly disappointed at the same time. I’m not sure why – the plotting is as tight as the proverbial snake’s nether regions, the hero is one of us, the relationships work, the landscapes and settings work. The dénouement isn’t too disappointing. Perhaps I feel a bit proprietorial about the Town or perhaps there are just too many Dicks here with piles of country CDs and writerly aspirations. At least, one too many.

I hadn’t realized that George Jones had duetted with Elvis Costello. I saw George Jones and Tammy Wynette on 25 September 1995. They were touring to promote their first album together for fifteen years – it would also turn out to be their last as Tammy Wynette died in 1998. Also in the audience (I forget the venue but probably Hammersmith Odeon:  it was definitely seated, anyway) was Elvis Costello who was sat next to his pal, Nick Lowe who had released The Impossible Bird, the previous year. London Country’s  Pearly Kings paying their dues to Tennessee Royalty.


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