The book isn't quite right yet but it's 'in shape'. I'm going to leave it alone for a while and work on something else.
Thanks for all the comments on the limping character. It's important to get those things right. I remember the 'biochemist' in the film 'Red Planet' who thought that the DNA code letters were ACGM. One letter ruined that whole film because in that instant, the biochemist became an actor and the credibility vanished.
Anyway, I haven't been completely engrossed in writing. The greenhouse plants still have to be watered even though going out in the rain to water the plants is a little bit surreal. I have far too many tobacco plants so I offered some to a neighbour. A smoking neighbour.
"Oh no," she said. "We couldn't get involved in anything like that."
"Anything like what?" I was genuinely puzzled.
"Well, you know, anything illegal."
"Illegal? Tobacco isn't illegal. You can buy it in Tesco."
"Oh, no, I'm sure growing it is illegal."
I gave up. People, even smokers, are now so convinced that tobacco is evil and criminal that they run in fear at the slightest hint of anything that might bring the dawn raid with jackboots.
Tobacco is not illegal. Nobody is interested if you grow a few plants. If you manage to dry and cure it correctly, then really you should pay duty on the finished product but if all the plants just end up in the compost box, nobody cares. They are just annual flowers. Which reminds me, mine are poking roots through the bottom of their 3-inch pots. They are ready to graduate. It's not safe to leave the greenhouse yet, still cold here, so on to the bigger pots.
The drying and curing part is the hard part. If I get one pipe's worth out of my first attempt I'll be pleased. Even UKBA wouldn't bother chasing the ten pence of duty they might get from that. In fact, with my little garden, I'm unlikely to ever produce enough duty-chargeable tobacco to cover the UKBA's bus fare to come and collect it.
People grow Nicotiana all over the country. They come in a wide range of varieties, not all of which can be made into actual tobacco, but none of them are illegal. If they were, you wouldn't be able to buy the seeds on Amazon.
They won't be made illegal but they will disappear anyway. Just as eBay will no longer allow the sale of tobacco products, Amazon will eventually remove these seeds 'for the cheeldren'. Because as everyone knows, cheeeldren will be tempted to grow the pretty flowers and then spend months drying, fermenting and processing the leaves. They will then use illegal penknives to carve their own pipes out of the bones of social workers and embark on a terrible smoking habit, and all because Amazon had seeds on sale. That is precisely the reasoning you will hear when the seeds vanish.
It goes further. eBay will not allow the sale of replica guns, the ones that cannot possibly be made to fire because they are made of the wrong metal. Put in a live round and it will blow your hand off. I once had a plastic model kit of an old flintlock pistol listed on there. Plastic. They pulled it. It was 'a gun'. Someone had complained, apparently. Someone had been frightened by a non-assembled plastic model of a 16th-century flintlock pistol. Somehow I doubt that waving a sprue of parts at a bank teller would be an effective means of robbery. Comedy, yes, robbery, no. "Put the money in the bag or I'll glue this thing together."
Unbelievable? Not any more.
Airguns are still legal, for now. If you live in the country, you might go rabbit hunting with one. All you need is the landowner's permission and there is no law broken. When I was a kid, a whole bunch of us would head into the woods with an air rifle each and nobody batted an eyelid. Yet the sight of someone with an airgun is enough to initiate a full scale panic now.
Oddly, these same people find the image of an armoured policeman carrying an automatic weapon comforting, whereas as kids, we were scared of a man in a blue suit with a pointy hat and a stick. We really are plumbing new depths of stupid in this country.
I don't have cucumbers in the greenhouse but I'm tempted. They are set to be more scary than tobacco this summer. I bet you won't be allowed to take them on planes soon. "Take this plane to Cuba or it's salad time."
These people believe they are respected, you know. Yes, really. They shriek and cower like preschool children faced with a spider and still they believe their views are important. They think they can threaten the rest of us, when all we need do is light a cigarette or point a cucumber at them and they will literally shit themsleves.
It's like being challenged by a bluebottle. And yet they will posture and whine and threaten, as if they were actually capable of doing anything without nanny holding their hands.
That's the part that's unbelievable.