This weekend, amid the rain and wind, I had a visit from my oldest friend, Justin Hill, and his parents. I've known Justin since we started together at St Luke's Primary School in Brighton nearly forty years ago, and the best bits of my early teens were the times we spent making movies, or staying up all night painting pictures and wondering if we'd ever be allowed into art college. (Justin was hoping to be a Surrealist, while I was a sort of Lidl Brian Froud). Justin lives in Thailand now, so he's quite a rare visitor to these parts. You can see some of his photos at http://zazzle.com/justin_hill and his cartoons at http://zazzle.com/gingerbloke. The festive snowmen here are his; the latest addition to an ever-expanding snow-tribe. As for the unconvincingly-disguised Wilf (above, left) I remember Justin inventing him when we were at school. He now features on his own range of mugs, mouse-mats and other handily stocking-sized objects.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we start trying to write books about scientists and engineers and we're only feeble-minded arts graduates with no real grasp of how anything works. The first four Mortal Engines novels are full of scientific nonsense, but I guess it doesn't matter, since they're just fantasy adventures. But now Fever Crumb has come on the scene, and she's a stickler for scientific accuracy, which means I have to get things right. Luckily I have my Chief Scientific Advisor Kjartan Poskitt on hand to set me straight. He's just been reading the proofs of the new book, A Web of Air, and has spotted something wildly unlikely about the motor which powers Fever's prototype aeroplane. Kind man that he is, he's suggested some rewrites which should make sense of it. He even offered me some optional extra dialogue. ("Ey up, lad," said Fever, "'appen we've cracked it!" ) No wonder whole future civilisations worship him as a god.