21 March 1996: London Evening Standard commission BJF to write an article on BSE. Readers' responses suggest there is a need for a factual account of the disease.
25 March: Why not a book? The idea arises in London; a provisional proposal is put to current hardback publishers, Little, Brown. They decline because of the haste: they believe it's a good idea, but are not geared up to do an 'instant book'.
26 March: Revised proposal faxed as a courtesy to Jonathan Cape, who had asked about current science projects, but declined for the same reasons. Meanwhile, BSE and CJD are suddenly international news: Stephen Dorrell makes his historic statement in the Commons.
27 March: (day) Meeting of Institute of Biology Council - Officers and other members of Council who had read the Evening Standard article encourage the idea of a book. (evening) Rang Transworld Pubnlishing at 6.15pm to leave a message for the chief executive of Corgi Books, who had published Cult of the Expert. At 7.30pm, their Managing Director, Patrick Janson-Smith suddenly returned the call. He was 'very intrigued', and would like to a formal synopsis. The proposal seemed acceptable in principle, and the advance was agreed. A 12-page proposal was written and faxed to him overnight.
28 March: (day) At Institute of Biology meetings of Council in London the idea is warmly supported. Transworld (Corgi) phoned the IoB in London to say the advance has been agreed, and the cheque has already been drawn. (evening) Down to Cardiff for University visit.
29 March: Lunch: With Professor Michael Claridge at Cardiff University. Numerous faxes and phone calls all day re the Corgi contract, faxed and agreed by phone. Dinner: High table at Cardiff, with the Association of Past Students.
30 March: Long lunch in London: (until 8.15pm, a record) with Sir Clive Sinclair and other friends. Private supper: with Lindsay and children at Notting Hill Gate
31 March: All day: Mensa Board meeting, Kensington.
01 April: Lunch: with editor Averil Ashfield at Transworld to collect first advance cheque (made out by hand), and to agree timetable - text to be finished by 30 April at 50,000 words.
02 April: Morning: Guest apparance on Channel Four's 'Big Breakfast' television programme with Mensa youngsters. Afternoon: Visit to Royal Society to check the latest BSE reports; their archives department ask for some research photographs to include in their new exhibition. Prints will be needed later in the week.
03 April: Morning: Weekly
coffee morning with neighbour Lilian Hoyle and Norah Wood
at Lilian's thatched cottage. Lunch: Lunch at
home, preparing for the onslaught over fine wine.
Afternoon: Writing begins. 6,000 words by day's end.
04 April: Delivered negatives requested by the Royal Society to the photo processors. Book at 11,270 words by the day's end.
05 April: Institute of Biology President Prof Brian Heap rang at length, offering crucial advice and information. Manuscript already at 19,100 words.
06 April: Cambridge, discussed BSE over tea at home with former Institute of Biology President Professor Peter Biggs and his veterinarian son Andrew. Book reaches 23,730 words.
07 April Celebratory family Easter breakfast, manuscript now at 28,250 words, more than half-way.
08 April: Bank holiday, further chapters drafted (now at 37,792 words).
09 April: Collected Royal Society's prints from processors, first draft of book ready at 42,303 words by midnight. (afternoon) Proofs of photographs faxed to the Royal Society to aid design of exhibition.
10 April: To Cambridge to open 'Junior Mensa at Cambridge' day. Lunchtime: To Cambridge University Library to check further BSE official publications. Final draft is now complete. Night: Final checked pages ready, faxed up starting ay 2.30 am. As material is finalised here it is printed out in London (not seen by author until page proofs arrived).
11 April: Morning: To take
part in Royal Society 'Archives' symposium, 7.00 am start
Lunch: at the Royal Society.
Afternoon: Attended lectures, then final BSE research in the Library
Evening: Reception and party at British Library; met colleagues from Utrecht, Cambridge, etc.
12 April: Morning: Proofs of book jacket design arrive for approval, look very good. Approved by phone. In Peterborough, browsing around the market to relax, followed by short spell at library checking final European BSE references. Afternoon: Faxed final text corrections to Editor. First 10 chapters on disk collected by courier.
13 April: Sarah, her partner Mark and Elaina arrived with Lucy for weekend visit. We shared poached wild salmon and Reims champagne to celebrate.
14 April: Elizabeth Powell (Dedham artist) joins family for lunch party. Mark and Sarah leave late afternoon. Editing in the evening until early hours.
15 April: First 10 chapters edited, files converted for Word; the courier comes to collect finalised disks to be rushed by motorcycle direct to printer in Yorkshire. Artwork is requested to illustrate pages: all pictures completed that same evening (with Elaina's assistance).
16 April: Chapters assembled overnight; complete text reads 50,043 words (contract was for 50,000). Artwork and final disks for chapters 11-16 complete for courier at 8.15am. Family in Peterborough. David Arscott comes. Time for haircut at 5.00pm, at the station for David at 6.30pm. He had missed train; spent the spare hour relaxing with Elaina in lounge at Great Eastern Hotel. Dinner and overnight with David here.
17 April: Morning, To
station with David at 7.50am. Returned home to collate
documents. Left by train for London at 9.15am. Calls and
editorial faxes at Institute of Biology from Transworld.
Lunch with committee, then planning meeting til 3.30pm.
Evening. Draft Index generated and faxed to Averil.
18 April: George, production
manager at Corgi, proposes index can be up to 500
Lunch: At Sutton, by the river; afternoon visit with girls to Baytree near Spalding.
Evening: Computer files adjusted for final index. Proofs faxed overnight.
19 April:Page proofs came at
8.15am. Disk for index sent to printer in Yorkshire;
shopping and out to lunch with Elaina.
Evening: Annual dinner for Institute of Biology at Imperial College, Kensington. Worked on proofs throughout train journey and during the reception. Travelled back with Peter Biggs who looked over page proofs. Bed at 3.00am.
20 April: Many small mistakes introduced during in-house editing. Sarah and Mark arrived for dinner and weekend.
21 April: Corrections faxed overnight to Averil (and also to the typesetter for confirmation).
22 April: In Derby, council offices: Board of Directors' meeting of National Science Centre, with leaders of Council. Typesetter due to fax text figures direct to author for confirmation.
23 April: Final pages arrived at typesetter. He sent me index and artwork pages as faxes, to double-check editor's work. Confirmed at 2.00pm; now ready for printer. Flights to Turkey confirmed, and we depart.
29 April: Printed and bound copies ready for distribution. We, meanwhile, had been cruising in the Aegean, landing for picnics, swimming, exploring and sleeping in our cabin at sea.
07 May: Returned to London and a barrage of media interest on publication day. Over ten programmes in the day, plus lots of press interviews - down to earth with a jolt.
... 5 Apr 6 Apr 7 Apr 8 Apr 9 Apr [10 Apr]
1: 00731 00774 00774 01094 01221 01760
2: 01535 03226 03506 03766 03766 04458
3: 02881 02706 02706 02706 02706 02856
4: 02700 03239 03239 03239 03279 03437
5: 03224 02654 02654 02654 02656 03194
6: 02360 02335 02375 02375 02375 02620
7: 02846 02846 02846 02853 02853 03219
8: 02846 03444 03673 03673 03673 04008
9: ------- 02179 02383 02599 02599 02652
10: ------ 00328 02027 02200 02361 02721
11: ------ ------- 01885 02447 02713 02946
12: ------ ------- 01818 02795 02795 03267
13: ------- ------- ------ 01875 01942 02850
14: ------- ------- ------ 00511 02354 02407
15: ------- ------- ------ 00981 01242 02463
16: ------- ------- ------ 02024 03768 04704
--- 19123 23731 28256 37792 42303 49562
Contents page: 88
Grand total: 50,043
Contract wordage: 50,000