I’m currently rereading The Nine tailors by Dorothy L Sayers.

I say ‘re-reading’ but it’s so long since the first time that I couldn’t really remember much of the plot apart from him crashing the car into a ditch and that complex notes on bell ringing were involved. It’s odd that I’ve not come back to it sooner because in many ways this book was pivotal in my eventually becoming a writer; it was certainly pivotal in expanding my reading.

Years and years ago, when I was still in my early teens, Ian Carmichael played Lord Peter Wimsey in various TV series. At the end of The Nine Tailors, when the credits rolled, I discovered that this was based on an actual book! Imagine! – yes, I could be a bit slow, sometimes.

Our local library was in a ‘temporary building’ that had been put up when the housing estate was built in about 1947 and was presided over by a rather fearsome lady librarian. I, along with my next door neighbour’s children, had been a frequent visitor since primary school. We were trusted to get our own books, my dad’s thrillers, and their mother’s romances – also their Nan’s selection; she’d read just about anything. We usually went up to the library with Nan’s tartan shopping trolley and took turns to haul the obstreperous, wobbly wheeled creature back and forth. So, on our next visit, I asked the librarian about Sir Peter Wimsey and she pointed an imperious finger towards a shelf of yellow books in the far corner of the library.

Dorothy L Sayers’, she told me. ‘The gentleman in question is merely a character.’

Sayers, at that time, was published by Gollancz in their then famous yellow jackets and I’ve got to say, these yellow books were a revelation. British and American detective stories, SF, de Maupassant…Du Maurier…it was an endless, canary coloured feast and, frankly, I didn’t pay too much attention to what I borrowed, week on week. If it was yellow, it was likely to be good.

It’s strange coming back to the Nine Tailors after all this time. I’d forgotten how intricately woven it was – plot and character and landscape and bells. How wonderfully well Dorothy L Sayers had realised the fenland landscape or how much that had probably influenced the choice of location for my first novel, The Greenway, set in the flat lands of Norfolk, against those vast skies.

My only regret is that I’m not reading the book as a yellow jacketed hardback but as an e-book. But the words are the same and the memories it brings back of my fourteen year old self, off on another library adventure are very precious indeed.