A captive audience, in a pub, listening to me talk about myself for an hour.
A few friends and acquaintances have been put through that particular nightmare over the years, but on Friday night it was legitimate. Or as near legitimacy as you’re going to get.
I was speaking at the Isle of Wight literary festival on Friday night, at the Bargeman’s Rest pub in Newport. It’s an appropriate name, as I barged straight in with my tales of shipping forecastery without any hint of letting the audience rest. It was a blast though, even though it was a hot, humid night by the river. A sell-out crowd of 120 attended, which is apparently twice as many as attended any other event, including my old luncheon speaking compadre Kate Adie.
I managed to get out alive too, as apparently there’s a groundswell of opinion on the island that I gave Wight a bit of a slagging in Shipping. One bloke had even gone into Ottakar’s bookshop earlier in the day claiming that I’d labelled Wight “the carbuncle of the south”. Which is blatantly untrue. Still, I was taking no risks and insisted that everyone was frisked for weapons as they entered, and dived for cover every time someone in the audience so much as lifted a finger to scratch their nose.
As it turned out the crowd was very friendly and hung around for ages chatting and asking me to sign books. Alas I had to dash off the island before nightfall; would have been nice to hang around. Oh, and another claim to literary fame to add to the extensive Wight list in the book – Alec Guinness was apparently conceived during Cowes week, where his mother was working as a waitress. She appeared to have a busy time, as it was never established who his father actually was, but I gather a few rich gentleman used to blush whenever he loomed up on stage or screen.