Free wine, book launches and poetry readings.



I have had a fascinating couple of days, attending, in spirit at least, an event called Fantasycon, held in the seaside resort of Scarborough.

It isn’t the sort of thing I normally do and can only put it down to a moment of weakness when Jim Webster mentioned free wine.

So I let him do the driving and once there I left him chained to a table in dealer alley as he pimped his books, whilst I drifted amongst the gorgeously clad throng, trying to get a feel for the event.

I confess I was impressed, the organisation was excellent, and in spite of the enthusiasm with which free wine was poured into otherwise respectable matrons at book launches, impropriety failed to manifest itself in any sordid and public manner.

Red-shirted helpers scurried to assist all and sundry. Apparently there is some cultural reference in the wearing of a red shirt which may have passed me by, an element of expendability perhaps? As it was I was left to revel in the novelty of having my bags carried by somebody who didn’t linger for a gratuity.

But for a poet there was only one place to be, the poetry readings on the Saturday evening. (In all candour as I examine that sentence I must admit that in truth that if you were looking for poets, then the book launches where wine was dispensed with liberal hand would also be an excellent place to start.)

But still, on the Saturday even it appears that Jim had been unchained from his table and was venturing forth to read a few of my verses.

Now some of you might be asking yourselves why I didn’t read my own poems. After all, I am not merely the creator, but I’m taller, more elegant, better dressed and my mellifluous tones are infinitely superior to his harsh northern accent.

But in circumstances like this where I am very much the guest, I feel it is unkind to sweep in and take over events. As it was, Jim read my work to a wondering audience and I merely sat at the back sipping a modest enough red wine and left him to it.

As Jim said by way of explanation at the start of his performance, ‘God alone knows, I’m no poet.’

Actually, I suspect that everybody else has realised this by now.


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