March 02, 2008

Then We Take King's Lynn

…Then We Take King’s Lynn

Nearly fifty people converged on King’s Lynn Waterstone’s on Friday February 29 to help me finally launch my novel.

It was great standing in the doorway greeting people from so many different parts and phases of my life. Some had come a long way in terms of miles, and as many had come enormous distances in terms of years.

There was plenty of wine courtesy of my publisher and amazing support from Kate Garner at Georgie at the bookshop itself. It made the 27 years of researching the book and nineteen years of writing it all worthwhile.

I introduced the book by saying how at Abersychan Grammar Technical school in the early 70s, as a prefect required to contribute a Bible reading to Morning Assembly, I always planned to read a Leonard Cohen lyric instead of the Bible extract. I never had the nerve to do it. So I launched the novel with the following quotation from Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan”

They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
For trying to change the system from within
I’m coming now, I’m coming to reward them,
First we take Abersychan, then we take King’s Lynn.

I read three brief extracts from the novel and appeared to achieve my main ambition with this novel – to make people laugh. As one student friend at UEA once said to me, “You have a certain entertainment value.”

I also touched on the romance in the book with my dialogue of Young Megan and Young Dafydd studying Biology under Colonic Irrigation Ken (absent having a fag in the staffroom) all those years ago.

After that, it was the longest signing session in my own personal literary history – not that I’m complaining.

It’s impossible to express how good it was to see so many years of friends/colleagues all in one place – the major players of my career were all present among many others it was great to see. I can also claim the distinction of having the gentleman who looks after my bike, the gentleman who looks after my house (I even commissioned him for a bit of stonework while he was getting his book signed), the gentleman who used to look after my house in the days when he and I were younger, the lady who photocopied my earliest publications, a London cabbie who occasionally ferries me from Bristol City games and more often celebrates them before and after, and all sorts of other people who keep me going in various ways. My dentist was conspicuously absent and there was no known nurse but luckily neither was needed – though I hope both will buy the book in due course!

And I did finally get to read Leonard Cohen to an assembly.

Next stop the Cardiff launch - Borders Books and Music Stores, Good Friday March 21. Invitations will be going out shortly.

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