Research during lock-down

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a rethink on how to conduct research for my book

I had big plans for April 2020.

My teaching commitments at Manchester Metropolitan University would be over. I had a few days’ holiday booked and I was planning a research trip to the university archives in Edinburgh and Glasgow for my book The Jigsaw Murders.

It was not to be. It hardly seems important compared to what so many people are going through during the coronavirus pandemic, but I am having to rethink how I complete crucial research for my book.

I had mapped out the route I was going to drive to Scotland, travelling via Moffat and the Devil’s Beef Tub, a key location at the heart of my true crime book. It was here that the gruesome discovery was made of the two victims’ bodies in autumn 1935.

I was to stay in Edinburgh and Glasgow for a couple of days each, immersing myself in the archives relating to the Ruxton killings and the landmark work done by the Scottish forensic pathologists who helped to solve the mystery.

I was also planning a trip to the National Archives at Kew, London.

The longer the lock-down continues, the likelihood is that I will have to use the money I would have spent on hotels and fuel on paying the archivists to copy the material for me instead so that I can do my research from home.

It’s not what I intended, but in uncertain times you have to be resourceful.

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