Last night in Chapter One Books in the beard-strokingly hip Northern Quarter of Manchester was the place I first read from my own pamphlet. What a weird sensation that is. All these words in this thing are mine. Standing up in front of a bunch of (mostly) strangers monopolizing their attention for 20 minutes or so with nothing but your own imaginings is a bizarre and bizarrely egotistical thing to do. I have taken penalties in cup finals (and scored them) but I’ve rarely felt more nervous than at about 8.15pm yesterday.

Nice venue, could do with a quieter coffee machine, or fewer people ordering cappuccinos I guess. Fortunately I had been pre-warned about it being a “dry” venue, and so had a flask of Jameson’s stowed away. Tip: this is a really good way of breaking that ice between chronic introverts and making friends with fellow readers.

Some lovely friends came along, seemed to enjoy themselves and said some nice things.

I legged it to the station in the company of another poet, where we both found our trains delayed. For me this presented a problem as I had an onward connection…which was duly missed. However, credit to the train company at Leeds, when I complained they sorted me out a taxi and paid for it. So I was home about 45 minutes later than planned but no damage done.

All of this is of course made worth while when a complete stranger shyly approaches me afterwards, tells me she loves my poems and asks to buy a copy of the pamphlet. For some reason the fact that she appeared to be about 30 years younger than me also added to that moment of happiness.

Doing it all again tonight; hopefully without the train nonsense. See you down The Chemic.


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