Gratitude and thanks

Amidst these cold and grey days of the English winter, I'm pausing for a warming tipple of gratitude.

Firstly, for those who've suffered me in so many ways this year. The friends and family, the readers of my novels and those very brave ones who've subjected themselves to me in person, at teaching or book talk events.

Here are some of the most recent - youngsters and parents from Park School in north Devon, where last week I had the wonderful experience of presenting an Inspire to Aspire talk; to offer a few ideas about decent careers they might like to consider.

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I very much enjoyed the night, hope I managed to pass on a few tips about how to land yourself a reasonably passable life, and thanks to all for playing along with my daft games.

And this is me with some of the students from the night.

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(I'm trying to work out if they look like they've had a good time, or just sat through a couple of hours of emotional torment.)

I was also fortunate enough to do some teaching at the excellent Exeter College last week, this time about novel writing, and very much enjoyed that too.

For both events, I had to talk a little about my career and all the things I've done. Which, in turn, left me with a warm glow of gratitude. Sometimes, it's good to just stop, recap and consider.

I've been very lucky with the lot I've been given in life - the media work, the writing - but most of all the people I've been fortunate enough to be surrounded with, and those I've met along the way.

So, at this reflective Xmas time of year, it feels the right point to say a big thank you to one and all for everything they've done, and to appreciate all that this wonderful world has been kind enough to bring.