Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate: Day One

Entry 1: 14:45

After an early start, due to massive anxiety, I caught my first train. It was on time and everything. The TransPennine Express is reasonably comfortable, and from Grimsby to Scunthorpe I had 1st Class all to myself.

Yes, I travel first class when I can. I need the extra leg room and the quiet. TPExpress trains don’t have a quiet carriage and the standard class carriages can turn into a scrum on a bad day.

So, I got to Doncaster on time and made use of the LNER 1st class lounge to get a cuppa and water. I’ve never been in there before, and since I’m getting the Northern rattletrap on the return journey I won’t be again, at least not this time. It was very comfortable. The train was late and I had to go across to platform 8 but it’s a warm, muggy day so sitting outside wasn’t too horrendous. I drank my hot chocolate – I filled up my travel cup while I was in the 1st class lounge – and waited, wrote some Twitter poetry about being anxious and tried to read some more of The Quaker, but it just wasn’t doing anything for me (see review post).

The LNER train was comfortable, again 1st class. It was better than the TPExpress, more leg room and a free drink, but the carriage was bigger and there were more people. It was the London King’s Cross to Leeds train so I was joining it late. Definitely impressed, and should I make any trips to London. I’m going to try to book far enough in advance that I can afford to go first class. I had a decent chair and table to myself. Not a big table, but better than the ones on the TPExpress.

Having got to Leeds late I missed my connection to Harrogate, but another one was due at 1315. I got that one. Northern have definitely improved their carriages. It was much better than the almost a tram I’ve been on on that route before.

I got to Harrogate about 1420, and after a taxi ride to the Premier Inn, I got here at 1430. To find that the computer system had crashed and I couldn’t check in yet. I’m in the bar using my portable wifi to write this. I’ll update later.


Entry 2: 21:28

Well, I’m back at my hotel after my first foray to The Old Swan.

It was terrifying. I didn’t know anyone. there were crowds, it was noisy. I went to the reception tent for help. Got a programme so I can plan my weekend and because I mentioned getting PIP they gave me an access pass so I could get in first for events. It sort of helped, but I wandered around confused a lot and ended up in the short queue walking in tight little circles like I normally do when I’m heading into a meltdown.

I’ve come back to my hotel rather than network and drink with everyone else because I’m in pain. Can’t decide if it’s from too much walking or anxiety. I’m really not up to socialising tonight, maybe I’ll try again tomorrow?

But what happened at the awards, I hear you ask.

There were speeches from one of the organisers, I didn’t catch her name, from the sponsor’s representative, Simon Theakston, and from the award presenter Mark Lawson. They were all very funny.

Mr Lawson invited all the nominees up on to the stage one at a time to talk about their books. They were also amusing. Boris Johnson kept getting a mention.

Ian Rankin presented the award for outstanding contribution to crime writing to James Patterson. He was marvellously hilarious.

Then, Simon Theakston opened the golden envelope, and announced the winner.

The winner of the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2019 went to Steven Cavenagh, for Thirteen.

Now, if you’ve read my reviews of the shortlist books, you’ll know I struggled with this one. Courtroom thrillers just aren’t my thing, but the judges liked it so who’m I to disagree. I’m only a little book blogger.

Oh and for people who are in Harrogate, I’m the big, fat woman who wears headphones all the time.

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