Sunday, September 06, 2009

Ghost stories

I feel a bit awkward interrupting Alan's superb social history researches, but I feel a need to display this picture.

As AB knows, Jane is due to publish on October 31st. a set of ghost stories based on locations on the South Oxford Canal. (It'll be available on Amazon.) There have been many discussions, Jane's even been to see Colin Dexter (of inspector Morse fame) to read him some of the stories (he loved them - as he should, they are absolutely superb. Of course people assume I say that because Jane's my wife - not so, I'm really rude if I don't like something she's written!)

However, the discussions included that there really should be a map. Jane was so worried about this I foolishly said "I'll do that!" Since I can't really draw, the remark came out of sheer male protective bravado and landed me with the awful problem of how to to create something suitable.

Eventually I found a method. I think it'll do - hope you all agree.

The stories themselves are much more fun mind you - I've just re-read the lot because Jane's sort-of-publisher had some suggestions were.... (woops, nearly wrote a rude word.) No question Jane's original (bar a couple of tiny things) was far better.

Only my opinion, of course. Just as it's my opinion AB's postings deserve an even wider audience.


  1. Hey Edwin,
    I like the idea of Ghost Stories & I have Family Connections with that neck of the wood, so I might well buy a copy (Lord, its nearly "Christmas-Present-Time" Again!)

  2. Anonymous1:30 PM


  3. Of course I don't mind the interruption Edwin. And in such a splendid cause. I have read the stories in draft form and I can recommend them to anyone. Perhaps we can persuade Jane to let us republish one of the shorter ones in the blog one day. Great drawing, I have tried maps on the computer myself and I know how difficult it is.

  4. Um. Looking idly at my blog posting, I see I posted the wrong edition of the map causing me a hasty scramble to make sure computer file "Canal Final" was actually that. Dear me, talk about missing the forest for looking at the trees.

    I really loathe salesmen so, apologies, but I can't resist, Tony, pointing out that Jane has a published book called "A Proper Family Christmas" available in many bookshops (and on Amazon) - absolutely the thing for Christmas - the only complaint I've ever heard about it (from my dentist) was that it needed a Family Tree at the start.

    Slightly embarassing because the fact is that it was missing from the first edition (it's in the new one, available, tarra, etc.!) purely by accident.. neither of us noticed being so keen to check the dots on i's and the crosses on t's so a complete missing page escaped our notice. As such things do, of course. (It's common knowledge, isn't it?) (I still think one of my funniest Christmas reminiscences was the year just none of us had remembered to do the potatoes - we'd actually sat down with all gloriously laid out.. I leave you to imagine...)

    Ali, my trick was that having tried to do a genuine hand-drawn sketch map (and labels) (we quite liked the idea of something less "formal",)well, after about 8 hours I realised it really wasn't "professional" enough (although quite fun!) - so the canal line is actually traced from a real map "skillfully" reduced to suitable size on the photocopier. (In other words I pushed the zoom button and about ten wasted bits of paper later had something about right.) Canal line then transferred into the digital age by scanning. Jane had to do that, the scanner crashes my computer. Very curious. No idea why - the computer crashes before I can read the error messages.

    The clever labelling is all courtesy of Picassa 3 which I hastily uploaded, had me screaming in frustration it's more than a bit tricky to use, especially to correct errors.. although quite a lot easier after I'd worked out what you were supposed to do. The only genuine Edwin-hand-drawn bits are the arrows from the story titles and the railway line near Thrupp (it doesn't actually run quite like that, but, for goodness sakes, the book is fiction!) Oh, and the compass symbol.

    I must scan in a post-card for people to say what they make of my hand-writing - I was really quite proud of my hand-written version of the map before I decided it just wasn't quite neat enough.

    If anybody wants to know, Jane's got a website (that took me ages the other day adding a clever link to a Mills and Boon publication she has a story in.) If it's not the best story it's right up there with the other good ones. Some are absolute... well, OK, but SO predictable you only needed to read the first two sentences.

    If you want to have a look, just Google "Jane Gordon-Cumming" including the inverted commas. Madly enough, you only have to click and there the website is in all its glory. Please remember the absolute hours it took me to encode it - and no doubt on "your" browser it doesn't look as neat as it does on mine. Shucks, too bad. That's life.

  5. very cool. always up for a tingling shiver from a good ghost story...

  6. This is so exciting! I didn't realize your wife was an author! And a book of true ghost stories would be so much fun, especially since I know you! I'll have to get a copy from Amazon when it comes out!

  7. Again, for the sake of avoiding any misunderstanding (and in order to protect Jane from a charge of bigamy) I should point out that this is Edwin's post and it is Edwin who is married to Jane the author and not me.

  8. Braunston? That's very close to where I grew up. In fact I think I spent my 16th birthday getting drunk there...didn't spot any ghosts, though...

  9. Louise, did I need to know you got drunk at Braunston on your 16th. birthday?!!!! (Ah dear, one's "secret" memories!)

    But you wouldn't have met the horrid old man/ghost at Braunston itself - look at the map(!) - he's where a railway line used-to cross the canal. My goodness is it a spooky place. (And, er, no, we didn't met him, either, but that's not the point of a good story....)

  10. Betsy, you're right, it is huge fun and exciting that my wife Jane is an author. (Her sister is as well - and quite well known, so I won't mention her name(!) - she gets plenty of publicity already(!))

    I should perhaps warn that Jane's stories are SO funny (between the lines, that's the incredibly clever trick) I can't read more than a page at a time because I have to wipe away tears of laughter - where, yes, the last 10% is because I know who wrote it quite well, the other 90% is - I'd claim - totally objective. I may be a scientist by degree but I'm also an avid reader - and English literature was my best school subject by miles until I decided I was "probably a scientist". Er, well, I thought so at the time.


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