• Richard James

Remembrance Of Things Past

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

Where do stories come from? Everywhere! Here's a case in point. What with today being one of the hottest February days on record, I took a walk with my wife along the River Thames to Henley (perhaps it's because I've lived half my adult life by this particular river that it features so prominently in my books!).

After a rather special lunch at Cafe Rouge (I was spending a birthday meal voucher), we popped into a vintage bric-a-brac store next door. It's called The Vintage Look and if ever you're passing, I'd urge you to pop in. I love these places. They're full of stories! Take a look at these:

A Victorian photo album - with no photos! It's positively oozing with mystery. Quite apart form the look of the thing, the feel of the thing and the SMELL of the thing (ok, is that just me?) - WHERE ARE ALL THE PHOTOS?

Believe you me, I go into a shop like this, and I make notes. You can bet this is going to pop up in a story sometime (now you'll HAVE to read them all!).

It was a beautiful thing, maybe ten inches by six, and heavy. It was beautifully bound too, with an ornate clasp so the thing could be locked shut. Oh, you can bet that's going to be a crucial piece of evidence one day...

A small battered suitcase. It just HAS to be battered, doesn't it? There's nothing remotely interesting or mysterious about a pristine, modern Samsonite, but give me an old, battered suitcase and I'm buying a first class ticket for a flight of fancy!

Because yes, a battered suitcase means travel, but it also means mystery. Whose is it? What sights must it have seen? But, most importantly WHAT'S INSIDE? Because you can hide stuff in a suitcase. You can smuggle stuff in it. It can carry contraband, money, stolen goods or - disappointingly - just clothes.

Let's hear it for the humble suitcase.

Take a look at this. It's a beautiful old Victorian Davenport writing desk with a compartment for all those important bits of paper. And your pens. And your shoe stretchers.

Wait, WHAT?

Open the rather rickety and ill-secured lid and there they are. And thereby hangs a story! Quite which story I don't know yet, but you can bet that in one of my books soon, a rather pompous man will be undone by the discovery of a pair of shoe stretchers in his Davenport. As a result of this damning piece of evidence, he'll be found guilty of some heinous crime as sure as night follows day. Now, all I need is a title.

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