You may have noted that for the first time in its brief history, this organisation has gone more than a week without a new blog being posted. ATRIED phonelines were flooded, in an entirely made up kind of way, by complaints from disgruntled readers missing their weekly slice of literary cake. Was the editor on holiday? Were there gremlins on the website? Had the world ended and nuclear submarine commanders were about to start firing missiles because they could no longer receive their blog equivalent of the Today radio programme?

No, none of the above. I was busy, you see. Very, very busy actually. On your behalf, of course. The book has gone to the printers. Repeat, the book has gone to the printers. This is not a hidden code for a spying network; it has really happened. My first venture into proper (as opposed to electronic) publishing will soon be hitting my driveway, if not quite the shelves of your local bookstore.

I found the process of writing a daily blog, whilst travelling the land on my eighty-day adventure, a trying undertaking. Like most DIY tasks, I had severely underestimated the time it would take. When I thought each blog was done, I would get out the scholarly spirit level and discover it was wonky, and have to pop back to B&Q for a pack of rawl plugs and some new adjectives. But it was a blog, and if I decided the next week that I didn’t like the look of it I could take down the set of shelves and start again.

A book seems more permanent, and once it’s out there it cannot be recalled or altered. So I agonised over the content, and the process of it being “only a few weeks off” went on for months. In my final draft last week, I discovered a whole new rash of changes had sprung out of nowhere, like I’d just finished weeding the flower bed and turned around to find that new ones had grown in the space available. Then on Friday, literally minutes away from uploading my masterpiece onto the printers website, the computer crashed and it is still of some surprise that it didn’t end in pieces on the floor.

Jason, who bravely offered to give me a hand with the book cover, has been extremely patient whilst I go through the iterations of having the title moved 2mm higher or the background a slightly richer shade. And The Wife, who may have understandably thought that the hard graft of looking after a family and continuing the day job whilst an absent husband worked his way through a bizarre mid-life crisis was over, has again been burdened with those dual tasks as well as the unenviable position of chief proof-reader. Huge thanks to you both for all your efforts – I couldn’t have done it without you.

During my eighty-day tour I had to come to terms with the surprising revelation that writing a blog is not a game of perfect. The persistent and looming deadlines meant that good enough was good enough. Now I have discovered that writing a book is the same, although those feelings are multiplied by a million. A talented artist somehow senses the point at which adding more paint to the canvas only means less overall. Like my odyssey itself, the thing is done and rests somewhere on the spectrum of imperfection, hopefully closer to the ‘very slightly flawed’ end rather than the reaches of ‘littered with gross failings’.

I may not be doing a great job of selling my work to you, but I hope you have realised by now that I am nothing if not honest, brutally so at times. The rough edges of my diamond may add a little charm, and they can be rounded off by a qualified wordsmith should you choose to later employ one. And in all the stench of sickly-sweet Christmas adverts that promise the world and deliver a box of ill-fitting plastic parts, I would rather take the opposite approach. If you buy my book it may not make your life perfect, but it might just distract you from the relatives on Boxing Day for a few hours, and as a first edition there is always the chance that in years to come you will have something that is worth more in its original form than pulped down to make cereal packets.

The book

The book

Around The Races In Eighty Days shall be available in mid-December ready for those last-minute gaps in your Christmas shopping. Details of how to secure your copy shall appear here soon.