I met up with an old friend on Friday for the first time in far too long. She’s a writer, and it was she who badgered me into my first forays with my fiction on the internet. She has a lot to answer for.

She has a WIP that features a blind sculptor. Before you ask the obvious question, don’t waste your breath. I don’t know. But this led us onto how easy it is to get the detail wrong, at which point the armchair critics will be on you like a pack of attack dogs.

One thing my mate does is rigorously research things. Life in a circus? Go and join a circus for a few days. Blind sculptors? Go and talk to one. And this is where it gets interesting, because she told me something that had never occurred to me.

Blind sculptors, like all sculptors, have rough and toughened fingertips. This is a cosmetic and possible social handicap if you’re sighted. However, if you’re unsighted, it’s a bit of a bugger reading Braille. Obvious when you think about it, but you do have to think about it.

Some time ago I had to write about the trials and tribulations of being a lesbian going through adolescence, the first relationship, the whole coming out thing. Since I’m a sixty odd year old straight man, I was at a bit of a disadvantage. I knew what it was like to have a first girlfriend from a blokey point of view, but that was it.

I have a lot of writer friends who are gay women, so I wrote what I imagined it might be like, and got them to read what I’d written. I did pretty well, all things considered, and apart from a bit of fine tuning there wasn’t much wrong with it. However, I thought it best to check.

Just to cheer me up, I know full well even the big boys can get it arse about face. I was watching a film the other night, a not very distinguished effort about a hitman. He and his accomplice were discussing offing some villain. Accomplice said, ‘Adrenalin into the heart.’ Hero replied, ‘Problem is, if he doesn’t die immediately the medics come in and give him epinephrine, and that’s the antidote.’

Errrm ‘scuse me, calling Messrs Wenk and Carlino, the writers. Adrenalin and epinephrine are one and the same. It’s adrenalin in Britain, epinephrine in the US. Two names for the same neurotransmitter. Durr.

By the way, before anybody tries to nail me on the spelling of adrenalin, that’s the English spelling. Adrenaline is the US spelling of the English word. The devil truly is in the details.