Time to say goodbye to another luminary of the book world and to fondly recall the day in 2009 when I met Colin Dexter at the Winchester Writers’ Conference. It was late morning, he had just finished speaking, and was suitably dismayed to learn that the bar was closed. “Can’t we go to the pub?” he asked Beryl Bainbridge. I have no idea what I was doing standing there – I was gobbier in those days, I’d probably pushed my way to the front to announce my addiction to Morse and enduring crush on John Thaw – but I was able to share with both these great writers, the intelligence I’d gathered the night before when in a similar fix. You could buy wine direct from the kitchen staff. I led the famous author to the chap who’d done the deal the previous evening, he purchased a bottle of red (it could have been two) which he generously invited me to share. I was speaking later myself, so God knows how that went, but I do recall a most entertaining lunch with the pair of them, feeling privileged indeed. “It was a delight to be with you,” Mr Dexter wrote in my Inspector Morse Omnibus, causing someone to joke that if I fell on hard times I could take the inscription to the News of the World. He laughed. I have treasured the tome ever since. I was pretty delighted too.