A splendid time teaching crime writing in Torquay at the weekend has prompted a little reflection on the unifying power of books and authoring.
There was a lovely mix of people on the course, both older and younger; here are some of them, wrestling with an exercise I'd set on show and tell (while I disappeared looking for the power cord for the computer - the clue is on the screen!)
One of the great things about writing is that it's not age discriminatory. You can do it however old you are, do it well, and enjoy it.
In recent years, for the first time in my life, I've felt distinctly mortal as time goes about its insiduous work. I can't run as fast as I used to, or for as long. And many other things besides, which you really don't want to know about.
But - hopefully, at least - I can still think and feel, and observe the world. And they're the key components of the author's art.
It's just another reason to love writing. I never chose it because it would be a joyous companion into older age, but I'm so happy it's turned out that way.
Bless my good fortune, and also the fine folk I met in Torquay.
Thanks for putting up with my oddball ways of teaching, not minding being sprayed with my cologne, asked to narrate love scenes from Shakespeare in a cynical tone, being frightened by my throwing around objects in the dark, asking you to pour out your innermost secrets in the name of learning about characters, and so much else.
I hope it was all worthwhile and wish you the best of luck in your writing. If you're as fortunate as me, it'll serve you well as both friend and inspiration in all the years ahead.