Some of the nicest compliments I have received for my first book in the Cumbria Police Novels series have been for the description of a circular, mid-winter fell walk, starting and finishing at the south end of Haweswater.
Richard Wallace, retired senior lecturer in classics at Keele University, in a review of My Cup Runneth Over, kindly wrote: “…One of the most attractive features of the novel is the lively and evocative scenes of Cumbria, its people, and its landscape.I particularly enjoyed a marvellous description of a winter walk over High Street. You could feel the crunch of the snow under your boots, the cold wind on your face, and the exhilaration of getting to the top and just looking at the views. I wanted to be there!…” (See more readers’ opinions)
The route, that day, went from Haweswater up past Small Water (photo 2) to the top of Nan Bield Pass. After a look over ‘the other side’, down into Kentmere (photo 3) and shortly afterwards getting an exciting shock-of-our lives from the jet, we continued up towards the top (photo 4) of the beautifully-named Mardale Ill Bell.
The photograph (number 4) of the snow, beautifully sculpted into drifts against a dry stone wall, of which only the top ‘cam’ stones are visible, was taken on Racecourse Hill (read Chapter 22 for an accurate description of how a mountain got such a name!), and I believe I was standing on the top of the trig’ point (i.e. a mapmakers’ triangulation pillar) to get the necessary high viewpoint.
Coming back down via Long Stile and Caspel Gate was interesting due to the fact that in places the snow had frozen extremely hard and in places there were large areas of sheet ice. Attempting it without crampons could potentially have proved lethal (photo 5).
In reality, this is the Horse & Farrier (1677), in my home village of Threlkeld in the Lake District National Park, but in ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ and the other Cumbria Police Novels to follow, the Drovers’ Inn at Linthwaite is based upon it.
The Salutation Inn — now sadly just known as ‘The Sally’ — which in the books is the Birch Hill Arms, is in the background on the right (with a red sign on the wall).
I took this photograph during the mid-1990s, despite the copyright date shown on the image. This was after the Farrier had been modernized as a pub but before the interior had been radically altered to create an admittedly great ‘restaurant with a bar’.
Now part of a restaurant, this is the interior of the former Magistrates Court at Keswick — the place known as Hawthwaite in Steve Shearwater’s Cumbria Police Novels — and it is still largely intact and recognisable.
The former witness box is beneath the small canopy, between the first and second windows on the left. Journalists sat behind the barrier that is nearer the camera, behind the lady in blue and red.
The magistrates — sometimes just two but usually three — sat directly behind the far barrier, up where the two distant people are, in this photo, and of course, facing this way. The Magistrates’ Clerk — the only legally trained person on the team (generally a qualified solicitor) — sat this side of that same barrier, where part of a wood and red leather seat can now be seen.
If the defendant was still under arrest and therefore coming from the cells, they would be with a police officer in the dock, seen here correctly with its brass rails still around it (behind the stacked, children’s high-seats, on the right).
Lastly, non-participating spectators would be seated where this shot was taken from, behind the nearest set of rails visible in the photograph.
I would be very curious to know how many police officers, over almost the entire 20th Century, went into this witness box and gave the oath:
“I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I will give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
[Note that there is no “so help me God” in Britain so over-enthusiastic witnesses who had seen too much American television and tried to include the phrase were reprimanded for not reading the words from the card!]
This was followed by the announcement of rank, number and name, e.g.
“Your Worships, I am Constable 8-6-8 Shearwater, currently stationed here at Hawthwaite” (or whichever other police station).
One then waited until the prosecution gave the instruction to proceed with what is correctly known as the ‘evidence in chief’.
Historical: It is thought local courts have been held in Keswick for hundreds of years. There was a Copyhold and Baronial Court in the town from medieval times. By 1847, a magistrates’ court operated on the second floor of Keswick Moot Hall on most Saturdays.
Building work commenced on Bank Street on the Keswick magistrates court and police station in 1901 and they were opened by Cumberland’s Chief Constable in 1902. They are on the site of a former workhouse that had been founded in the will of the eminent lawyer and judge Sir John Bankes, of Keswick. Born in 1589, he was eventually called to the bar, elected as an MP, and was knighted in 1631. He was appointed Attorney General and from 1640 until his death in 1644 he was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, one of the highest judicial officials in England and now the name of the restaurant that occupies these buildings. The court and police station remained in use until the year 2000. As well as being a magistrates’ court for almost 100 years, the building was also used for many thousands of inquests, including those concerning many major accidents on the A66 and mountain and lakes tragedies.
Sadly, asset-stripping by closing police stations and courts has been happening throughout Britain for many years now, and whilst it might be argued that we can get by with fewer, centralized courtrooms, there can be no denying that crime is on the increase because of fewer police officers (down by over 20,000, nationally) and similarly that road deaths are also rising because of the reduction in staffing or even the complete disbanding of each county’s Roads Policing Unit.
The RSPB* is investigating the death of a wild peregrine falcon in Cumbria…
The bird was given a post-mortem but the cause of death could not be confirmed. However, an X-ray carried out by a local vet uncovered three lead shot fragments in its neck, knee and hip, revealing the bird had been shot at an earlier date, but survived despite its injuries…
PC Sarah Rolland for Cumbria Police said: “It is quite apparent that the peregrine [found at] Newbiggin had been shot at some stage in its life. However, the post mortem indicates the fragments of shot may be historic and were not the direct cause of its death…”
Peregrines, like all birds of prey, are protected by UK law. Anyone found guilty of killing or harming a peregrine could face a fine of £5,000 and jail. Despite this, since 2010 there have been 57 confirmed cases of birds of prey being shot in northern England alone.
If you have any information relating to this case [or any other wildlife crimes] call Cumbria police on 101…
Well-known commentator Jeremy Paxman, in an article in the Financial Times, accurately wrote: [Metropolitan police officers] “consider themselves fortunate that, in central London, back-up can be with them inside a minute or so. Police officers patrolling county towns on a weekend night are much more exposed.”
My own comment: As was the case for many, many of my colleagues back in the 1970s and 80s, I recall occasions when I had to wait 15 minutes or more for the ‘urgent assistance’ I had requested for the violent situations I was dealing with, alone. It was accepted as being part of our job, and in rural areas I suspect that the situation is now even worse, given the reduction in officer numbers and the closure of many small-town police stations over recent years. At times, rural policing can be very far from the idyllic job it might appear to be. Steve Shearwater
The Facebook page ‘Cumbria Police Novels’ (which is the ‘tag line’ at the top of each page and blog post on this website) now has both the paperback and Kindle versions of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ on sale through Amazon UK. British readers click here.
As of 12 February I have been lucky enough to get 40 reader reviews on the amazon.co.uk website (at least ten more needed, please*) and eight on amazon.com website (at least 42 more needed, please!*).
Each reader making one of those reviews can award up to five stars for the book and for the 40 reviews on the UK site I lost just three stars from the possible total of 200 – an astonishing and delightful score of 98.5%.
The dot-com (USA and global) website so far has only eight reviews, something that researchers would call a small ‘sample size’, so it is nowhere near as reliable regarding the quality and enjoyability of my novel, but even so, to date I haven’t lost any stars at all there so I’m running at 100% for now.
Thanks to ALL of you have taken the time to write any review or opinion of my book, but may I ask that for those of you who have not yet done so on any of the Amazon websites, it would help me tremendously if you could copy and paste you remarks that have been posted here on the steveshearwater.co.uk website and put them on the relevant Amazon site please. Likewise for anybody who has not posted one at all, please consider doing a review for me on the relevant Amazon website. You do not need to have bought the book from Amazon in order to do this. Just go to the site, search for Steve Shearwater (in the ‘books’ section if you are given that option) and when you find the book you should get the opportunity to ‘write a review’.
If you can do this it will help me tremendously with promoting the book – a financially and embarrassingly necessary activity for authors in this day and age – because when I reach 50 reviews on each of the two above sites (see the asterisks * in the first paragraph) Amazon will actually start promoting the book on those websites, something that is vital for my success if I’m going to carry on and write the full ‘Cumbria Police Novels’ series. Thank you in anticipation.
I’m asking a big favour from anyone who likes my first novel, ‘My Cup Runneth Over’, please (even if you have already sent complimentary remarks directly to me or via Facebook).
Whether or not you have previously commented on the book – for which your collective kindness in what you have all written has been unbelievable – the most important and valuable comments for me are those that are posted on either the amazon.co.uk or the amazon.com websites where, in both cases, it is best to search for ‘Steve Shearwater’ (in the ‘books’ category if at the dot-com site) rather than for the name of the book, because there are several books with the same title. Of course, some of you already have commented on Amazon, for which I’m very grateful, and so you are exempt from this request!
When I can get enough positive reviews on each of those Amazon websites, and **I need at least 50 on each,** algorithms are triggered which would mean that the Amazon sites would then actually promote and advertise my book to other readers; something that is vital to me if I’m going to make this venture financially viable so that I can keep writing the other novels in the series.
You do NOT need to have bought your book direct from Amazon in order for you to make a comment there, it can be a book that was purchased at a bookshop or directly from myself. All they would then want is confirmation of who you are (so that one person can’t submit multiple comments).
It does NOT need to be anything lengthy; a simple “I liked the book” (or whatever) would suffice, although more detail is great, too.
For those of you who have already kindly sent me comments that are not yet on Amazon but are on the Readers’ Comments page on my website, do please see if you can find time to copy your original comment from there, edited if necessary, and paste it on the relevant Amazon page. My comments page is here.
Many thanks in anticipation. This would really help me move forward with the planned series of novels.
This month (February 2017) Cumbria magazine has published a much-shortened chapter from my novel – ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ – and next month they are kindly adding a review of the whole book.
Clearly, a book about being a young police officer stationed at a town in the stunningly beautiful Lake District National Park in the north-west corner of England has interest for British folks who know the Lake District but it has also been written to appeal to people from other countries, too – particularly those of you from the USA, where I have lived for over ten years.
Is this another example of the so-called, cultural ‘British Invasion’ in the USA? I’d like to think so but as this is my first novel it would be silly of me to actually believe that. I have, however, had the delightful good fortune to have had the style and humour of my novel repeatedly compared to the wonderful books by the famous veterinary surgeon James Herriot.
Remembering as well that even today the vast majority of British police officers do not carry lethal weapons, the novel offers a great insight into how such unarmed officers can operate in general safety and it also gives a great insight into rural life in England’s second-largest and most scenic county – home of the famed ‘Lakes Poets’ such as William Wordsworth.
Dialect and police jargon are included in the writing but they are carefully explained in glossaries on the website – see the link below – so nobody need struggle to understand these fascinating cultural aspects. (The Lakeland dialect, for example, is strongly based upon Old Norse, from Viking times.)
And then, of course, there’s the crime aspect! Naturally, none of the crimes or criminals in the book are actual events or real people, but each has been developed from my own lengthy experience in the police and the events are therefore very true-to-life and accurate in terms of police procedure back in the 1970s where the story is set.