One of the many great things about writing is how much you can learn about yourself.

Traits, ideas, principles, beliefs, themes that you may have been vaguely aware of, knew were about somewhere in your character, can be sharply focused when you come to set them down in words.  I never knew how truly sceptical I was about the British justice system, for example, before I wrote about it, and out came...

Well, I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't read the tvdetective books (first aside here - what are you waiting for?! Chop chop!), but those who have will know exactly what I'm talking about.  The observations are far from fond.

The reason this comes to mind now, is that I've been thinking about the small matters of life, time and mortality of late.  I suspect this is much to do with it being the introductory month of a new year, an obvious time for reflection.  Plus it's my 40-somethingth birthday in a few weeks time, too.

I was writing a little section for a new book, about Dan going out with Rutherford for one of their familiar runs around Hartley Park.  And I found myself describing how he could no longer go as fast, or as far, as was once the case.  And Rutherford too was slowing up and not demanding quite the exercise he once did back in those younger years.

And then later on, when home at the flat, in the harshness of the electric lights - the growing grey in Rutherford's fur, the relentless erosion of poor Dan's hairline...

Yep, there's a definite feeling of mortality around at the moment, in a way I don't think I've ever known before.  When you're young you can go on for ever - or so you think - but as you age you can feel time going about her insidious work.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing.  It could be nature's way of dropping hints that it might be time to slow down a tad.  But it is something I'm not finding so easy to come to terms with. In my mind I'm still 19, even if the physical reality is very different.

I'm wondering if it's unfair on Dan, and the rest of the crew in the books, to let time go about her work on them.  Perhaps I should be more JM Barrie, and give them a Neverland to live in?

But then, I always do my best to keep it fairly real, so if I've got to suffer the attentions of the ageing process, then so can they! 

Excuse me, I must be off now, think I'll pop down to the shops to see what anti-ageing creams they've got... industrial quantities ruefully required.