My haven: Colin Dexter, the creator of Inspector Morse, 81, in the study of his home in Oxford
22:09 GMT, 17 August 2012
Colin Dexter at his home in his study in Oxford
This photo captures the first time I met dear John Thaw on the set of the first Morse book to be adapted for television, The Dead Of Jericho in 1986. In some ways he was quite like Morse. He was pretty knowledgeable about classical music, but unlike his character he was no great shakes at cryptic crosswords. As for dear old Kevin Whately, who’s now of course starring in Lewis, he’s been a most loyal friend to me and I visit him all the time on set.
I’ve been following Radio 4’s The Archers religiously since the early 50s. Similarly, Morse would never have let any murder get in the way of an episode – that was the most sacrosanct 15 minutes of the day for him. I’ve met the cast a few times – and had the honour of ‘opening’ the village fte two years ago. My favourite character is Lynda Snell because Carole Boyd, who plays her, always makes a tremendous fuss of me when I visit the set.
Richard Wagner’s Ring Of The Nibelung – his cycle of four epic operas – is one of the greatest services anybody has given to mankind. I’m a great lover of classical music generally, yet for all the pleasure Wagner and others have brought me over the years, I’ve never written while listening to music. Why not Because if the music was any good at all I’d have wanted to stop writing. And if it wasn’t, I’d have wanted to turn it off.
MY LITERARY HERO
The most valuable book I have is this first edition of AE Housman’s collection of poetry A Shropshire Lad, which is worth a few quid. Housman is my literary hero, his poetry has given me more enjoyment than just about anything else I’ve read. I’ve been a fan ever since a teacher at school, who I didn’t particularly get on with, read out his immortal line, ‘Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink. For fellows whom it hurts to think.’
SCROLL OF HONOUR
Apart from my OBE, being awarded the freedom of the city of Oxford is one of the greatest honours I’ve had. I’m one of only six – first was Nelson Mandela, second was Aung San Suu Kyi and I was third. You’re given this very nice scroll and granted various rights. So for instance, should I ever come to own a pedigree herd of sheep – some chance – and drive them over Magdalen Bridge, the police can’t arrest me!
I’ve been awarded four Crime Writers’ Association ‘daggers’ – two silver and two gold – for my Morse books, they’re the Oscars of the crime-writing world. I wrote all the Morse books in my study in longhand in blue Biro, except the first two which were written on the kitchen table. Then I got them typed up by a dear old lady down the road. She was very good – even if some of the pages were smeared with red nail varnish!