What with all this book research, Hooting Yard is taking on a rather neglected air, I’m afraid. But a man can only write so much, even Mr Key!

What is happening at the moment is that instead of sitting down with my goose-quill and my parchment and painstakingly inscribing sweeping paragraphs of majestic prose for the elves in the cellar to tap out on a keyboard and post on Het Internet, instead of that more or less daily routine I have devised a quite different routine, which involves browsing through various dusty tomes on the creaking bookshelves of Haemoglobin Towers, winnowing from them choice snippets about the lives and absurdities of persons part and present. Persons such as, to pluck an example at random . . .

Peary, Robert (American explorer, 1856 – 1920). Peary had idiosyncratic views on how best to survive the harsh polar climate. On his expeditions, he never slept in a tent, preferring to remain out in the open with his dogs. He chewed frozen chunks of pemmican (concentrated fat and protein) rather than cooking it.

Today I have also added to my manuscript Britney Spears, Cecil B. DeMille, the ornithologist and aviator Angelo d’Arrigo, and the tearaway son of Edward G. Robinson, among others. No wonder by this time of day (just after 8.00 PM) my wits are addled. (Actually, they were addled simply from considering the activities of Angelo d’Arrigo, but you will have to wait for the book to come out to find out about him.)

So I am going to do my best to inject a bit of vitamin-enhanced vim ‘n’ verve into Hooting Yard, but I hope you will bear with me. Of course one way to hasten my completion of the book so we can all get back to blessed normality is for you lot to send me your own choice snippets of odd and unlikely biographical flapdoodlery (with a note on sources).

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