Excellent workshop on Saturday with Richard Skinner of the Faber Academy, held at Swindon’s Richard Jefferies Museum. The subject was characterisation, and amongst other things we explored the effectiveness of character names. I was still thinking about this on Sunday as I tried to rescue some of my panel-fencing, and indeed my apple tree, from some marauding ivy (Latin name: hedera helix). It was well and truly taking over, having curled itself around the trellis top and forced its way between the boards, even causing the wood itself to flake away in places. Clearly the only things that mattered to the ivy were (a) surviving and (b) getting to the top; and it didn’t matter what it destroyed on the way. Funnily enough, one of the characters in Truth Sister (out in July) is called Mater Hedera . . .