Hello and welcome to my blog series – Susi Qs – where I will be quizzing some of your favourite crime fiction authors, in the style of the Smash Hits Biscuit Tin. For those of you unfamiliar/too young – this involved a celebrity choosing some very random questions from a biscuit tin. I’m using a virtual tin (let’s imagine it was one like this…), and instead of a celeb, I’ve got an author…
This week’s guest is Douglas Skelton, who was once considered to play James Bond but he refused to remove his vest. He began writing, first non-fiction and then fiction as there was no money in notes for the milkman. His most recent book is THE BLOOD IS STILL. Still what? He doesn’t know. His next will be out in August 2021.
So, without further ado – let’s see what Douglas has got to say for himself…
Who was your first crush?
I am old so have to say Queen Victoria, when she looked like Jenna Coleman. I remember well those days, as a mucky-faced Glasgow waif with skint knees, a bad haircut and the look of the perpetually perplexed (much as I am today). I would wait in the streets for her coach whenever she visited, praying for a glimpse of her face as she passed or, even better, a wave of a hand, a coin or two tossed in my direction or even to be splashed by street mud from the wheel. Many years later, when serving with the 4th Mounted Lavatory Inspectors I would share this memory with Lord Wellington, Lord Cardigan and, from Glasgow, Lord Stringvest. My, how they would laugh before smiting me with a riding crop and ordering me to scrub with increased vigour.
What is your most unrealistic ambition?
To listen to a politician, nod sagely and say, ‘the wise words of (insert name/ministerial position here) have the ring of truth about them and I will vote for them at the next election with relish’ even though the election officials take a dim view of me leaving tomato sauce on the ballot paper.
Why are coconuts so difficult to open?
It is a little known fact vouchsafed to certain students of divinity that when whatever supreme being you choose to acknowledge created the coconut, he/she/they had intended to include a small key very like those you get with tins of corned beef. However, she/he/they had been on the bevvy the night before (having just created malt whisky) and had what we call in Scotland a sair heid and they/she/he simply forgot. The coconut was then passed off as a test of ingenuity and intelligence on humankind which most of us have so far failed, plumping instead to devise and watch reality TV.
Who would you rather play golf with? Michael McIntyre, Take That or The Queen?
I don’t play golf, not since the great Niblick Disaster of ’88 when a carelessly wielded club took flight like a lance and managed a hole in one. Unfortunately the hole was in one of the players on the next green and he has never addressed his balls properly since. However, in the spirit of the blog, should I win against Her Majesty I fear a sojourn in the Tower while Take That may feel the need to trill a few ditties, making a sojourn in the Tower seem like a holiday. So it would have to be Michael McIntyre because he would never stand still long enough to take a decent swing so I may have the advantage.
What are you wearing?
This is usually a question I am asked by one of the many fulsome and extremely friendly young ladies who befriend me on social media and then try to get me onto Google Hangouts where we can discuss such grave matters as pandemics, political upheaval and Made in Chelsea while also giving fashion tips. At this very moment of typing I am wearing a rude ploughman’s vest and breeches. The rude ploughman is next door wearing mine.
What was your favourite toy?
I loved cars, the flashier the better. I had an original Aston Martin DB5 complete with ejector seat, I had a huge American number supposedly driven by Napoleon Solo while Ilya Kuryakin leaned out of the window and opened Channel D, I had Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce and a Batmobile. Luckily, we had a large garage and nobody knew I had nicked them.
Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?
No, but I do now. There has been one in the corner of my bedroom for a few nights now and sometimes he has been dangling over me like Tom Cruise in Mission:Impossible. Perhaps the temptation to drop into my gaping maw is one mission he has chosen not to accept.
Would you rather give up washing, smiling or reading?
I have unfortunate teeth, a hangover from my childhood when we could not afford bottle openers so my sisters used me to prise open their nightly six packs of sweet stout. So I suppose smiling would be the one I’d go for. I do enjoy washing and look forward to it, to be honest. I still have another two weeks to go before my next one.
What’s your favourite joke?
Why do elephants have big ears?
Because Noddy wouldn’t pay the ransom.
What are you having for lunch tomorrow?
Good grief, that’s too much planning! One of the big drawbacks of being an adult, apart from not being able to get into my Winnie the Pooh onesie with blackflap (for the pooh), is having to decide what to make to eat. I mean, it’s never-ending – breakfast, second breakfast (my great-great-great grandfather was a hobbit and we maintain the tradition. And the hairy feet, not to mention the urge to throw rings into volcanoes), lunch, afternoon tea, tiffin, dinner, supper. You also have to stay on top of those use by dates, which it turns out are not necessarily advisory as I learned to my cost in December of ’94 when a long-ignored spring onion led to a winter of discontent. At that time I tend to open the fridge and if it didn’t grab me by the throat and try to drag me in, then that’s what went next.
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Thank you, Douglas. The ploughman’s vest image will stay with me for some time…