I will admit that to start with I didn’t have a clue what people were expecting. And I had 45 minutes to let that cluelessness ramble on, and on, and on.
How to start? A sample from one of the books. In Loft Island there is a wedding. Stephen – you’ve read the book so you you know he’s the son, now about 18 – is best man at a joint wedding; his father’s second and his brother’s first.
He loses his speech and has to extemporise. My intro read:
Stephen felt a weight lift from his shoulders, until he remembered he had to deliver the speech that he and Mary had spent hours perfecting over the previous few days. He was about to dig it out of his pocket when the first of his school colleagues started talking to him.
After drinks and talk which seemed to Stephen to be never-ending, they were called to sit for the celebration wedding breakfast. Not for the first time did Stephen wonder why a meal starting after midday was termed breakfast but he said nothing, just dreading the moment when he had to stand up and speak. Once again he fumbled in his pocket but was immediately grabbed by Mary who had seen where they were sitting.
No sooner had they all sat down, waiting presumably for food to appear, than Henry stood again. Silence gathered.
“I’m speaking not as a bridegroom at the moment, but as head of the Loft family. Those who have the duty of speech-making, and I’m referring to myself, of course, would like to eat without the strain of knowing we have to stand up later and talk. Speeches first would aid our digestion and enjoyment. So if I may, could I ask my very efficient best man to speak now, rather than later?”
A round of applause and some supportive comments rang out. Stephen, shocked, and with his heart suddenly beating faster, was finally able to dig in his pocket for the carefully prepared speech.
It was not there.
His eyes grew wide. He dug in all his other pockets. Nothing apart from the empty ring boxes.
He breathed deeply, making himself somehow calm down. He bent to speak to Mary, finding her already looking at him in shock. “Prompt me when I dry up,” he pleaded. She nodded.
He stood again, aware the room was silent. All eyes were on him. He looked around, and finally latched on to the kindly, twinkling face of his honorary grandfather, who winked and nodded.
“It would appear…” he paused “that the very efficient best man has efficiently left his carefully prepared speech somewhere.”
To his surprise there was a roar of laughter and some scattered applause.
“So… what follows will be short, to the point, wandering from what Mary and I concocted, and maybe end up as rubbish.”
That’s from Loft Island. I am slightly more efficient than my character – I have my… well, talk… safely here.
Okay, quite a long-winded almost-amusing bit, but it broke the ice.
Next I went over the reasons behind wanting to write the books. I’ve covered that already in previous posts. More excerpts were read out. At the end I gave an idea that Loft Island would have a sequel in due course, but that I was currently working on a book set in a version of Bishopstone Tide Mills. It’s now a ruin, but not in the book which sees it working but run down.
Since the talk was in nearby Seaford the idea promoted some interest. People could understand why the Loft Island sequel had taken a back seat. Questions were asked… and I had run out of time!
Where did 45 minutes go?
It can’t have been too bad as I’ve been asked back next year.