The Gentlemen Ranters site is a brilliant compendium of reminiscences of the great days of Fleet Street. – The Times

November, 2013

What we did in the holidays

Next month will mark two years (apart from a necessary obit) since the last edition of this website.

During that last year there had been more than three million hits on the site and so it was probably not surprising that one or two people noticed, and caringly wrote to check that all was well on the sunshine island of San Serif when it didn’t return from the planned Christmas break.

One or two is not much of an exaggeration. One or two others wrote to complain about its absence. A lapsed snapper who had never contributed a single word during the four years that the website was going (sometimes running as many as ten pieces a week) moaned about its sudden failure to meet the intended deadline... “Call yourselves journalists?”

(I am not sure that we ever did call ourselves that. We were hacks and snappers, and occasionally reporters and photographers and sometimes even subs.)

As for the rest, week after week something akin to fifty thousand people out there appeared not to miss the website at all. Or, if they did, they kept schtum.

Over the holidays the editorial board (as Professor Greenslade kindly called it) had reached the conclusion that Ranters had had its day. Among other factors the Leveson Inquiry seemed to have drawn a thick line between the old journalism (call yourselves what...?) and the new. We were witnessing things in the TV coverage that were as foreign to us as tales of the Glory Days were to the children who sit today in Canary Wharf typing their name on to PA copy and PR handouts.

The policy decision was made... a good time to stop.

(Plus, there was no incoming copy.)

So what did we do during the Long Vacation?

The usual stuff. Divorce... a twelve-day sojourn in Intensive Care, and becoming a registered fisherman (call yourself what...?). Three novels...

And it would be a criminal waste if one didn’t take advantage of the Ranters unique address list to mention, and even to promote, the novels. I have repeatedly moaned about journalists (oops!) not buying books, but there are a few who do. And Christmas is coming, so some kind soul might buy one for them.

Nevertheless, I’ll be brief. But will remind you that they can be sourced - with free delivery world-wide - from the Book Depository, or of course from amazon-uk in either paperback or e-book form.

The first was actually a revision. It may seem odd to revise a novel but the postscript is a totally factual piece and needed updating when a forensic scientist told me what he had found after being allowed to examine what the Russians said were fragments of Hitler’s skull and over which, reportedly, Stalin used to stand and gloat.

The Hitler Scoop was, courtesy of the Captured Records Office in Washington DC, part-based on the diaries of Hitler’s doctor and is about a Fleet Street hack who tries to solve the mystery of what happened to the Fuhrer at the end of the war.

Giles Gordon, London’s leading literary agent, described it as “a sure-fire best-seller and a block-buster movie”. Mike Molloy said it was a rattling good yarn. The Northern Echo described it as “the most thought-provoking book of the year”; the Yorkshire Post made it Book Of The Month, and the Daily Mail said it was “full of Arthur Daley-style characters”. It never made a movie but went into a second printing in the first month of publication (2004) and is still being bought at a decent rate. It is also available for downloading, retitled Hitler: The Last Conspiracy.

The Mayor of Montebello is the story of a reporter who takes early retirement from The Street, moves to an island in the middle of the Med and accidentally becomes mayor. The stories in it are (more or less) true, even the capture of 700 Italian soldiers by a lone British airman. Only the names have been changed... It was the best-selling “political novel” on amazon, earlier this year, and is also available as an E-book.

As is the latest, The Blood Secret, out as a paperback this month. Here’s the blurb:

A cardinals' cabal to depose a newly elected but unpopular Pope leads to the death of a British arms dealer on the Maltese island of Gozo. To Chief-inspector 'Bob' Shilling, sent from Scotland Yard to assist the inquiry, it seems like a murder without a motive.

But then he discovers that the murder is directly linked to the Crucifixion of Jesus and an ancient fragment of papyrus that contains information hidden by the Vatican for centuries.

That is The Blood Secret

As the story unfolds it challenges everything he knows (or thought he knew) about the Church, the Crusaders, the Knights of Malta, Freemasonry - but most of all about the New Testament.

Colin Dunne writes, on the front: “Impossible to put down. It’s like The DaVinci Code written by Raymond Chandler.”

All three books are available from amazon – or with FREE postage world-wide, from Book Depository. And in E-form from Kindle at amazon-uk

Or you could go to our Books page and find something written by somebody else...  Maybe even by somebody you know. The authors are listed in the column on the left.

So those among you who could never be arsed to write anything could enjoy reading something, instead.

Have a very merry Christmas, when it comes.

The Editorial Board.


 

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