I haven’t been writing about murder here much for the past few months. There’s a reason for that. Apart from the fact I’ve been busily immersed in a fantasy of my own creation (the book I’ve been working on not some kind of breakdown) it’s been very quiet in that department since July.
The courts summer break, through August and September, is always a quiet period. It’s one of the things I love about working down there…I have two clear months every year to write without a daily deadline. Last year I wrote Devil in the Red Dress, this year I spent the months editing my novel.
The courts have been back since the beginning of October but it’s been a slow start. The trials passing through the doors of the Central Criminal court haven’t been the type that would easily tempt an editor. One of the least savoury aspects of this job is the fact that you rapidly start to see trials from an almost commercial standpoint. There are certain cases that get everyone talking, the one’s with the “water cooler” edge and those are the ones you look out for.
It’s not that journalists are unnecessarily ghoulish, it’s just that we know the trials the public want to read about. Cases with elements that mark them out of the ordinary so that they stand apart from the standard details of these brutal crimes. It’s a sad fact that familiarity really does breed contempt so if there are too many of a particular type of trial the public, and consequently the press lose interest. Every murder used to be big news in the days when there were only a couple a year. These days we can have one a day so the process of selection begins. Anything unusual about a trial will elevate it to something of interest. The bigger the violence, the tragedy or the irony the bigger the splash will be. It’s not unusual, the selection process was no different in the Victorian press, even if the style of writing may have changed over the years.
Anyway, trials like this have been thin on the ground since the courts went back. It might seem as though there is always a big murder in the news but that’s not always the case. There can be a run of trials at some times and nothing for months at others.
So here I am at home waiting on news of one book and the next one not yet started. This is a time to catch up with all the minutiae of self employed life; updating the diary, filing notes and cuttings, filling in tax returns. Tax returns are the bane of the self employed existence. I’m not organised enough to find myself an accountant ahead of the deadline so in the middle of October you’ll find me up to my elbows in receipts, tearing my hair out and shouting at my calculator. I like the freelance life but taxes are our penance for a bit of freedom.
If you’ve never filled out a return you are very, very lucky. It’s a labarynthine form and if you’re not mathmatically inclined or, I’m increasingly inclined to thing, in possession of a qualification in advanced cryptography, trying to understand them is like trying to run while waist deep in mud. They’re doable, eventually, but at the end I always feel as if I’ve handed over a portion of my soul as well as a chunk of my bank balance.
Speaking of which I’d better get back to them.