I said I’d blog about my reading at Keele University, and it’s taken me ages to get round to it, due to external factors rather than anything about the reading itself. Keele takes a bit of getting to. Train from Edinburgh to Manchester, train from Manchester to Stoke-on-Trent (there was an 8 minute changeover but, luckily, the trains all ran on time), and then taxi from Stoke to Keele University.
I had wondered about the taxi. Surely there were buses to Keele? Well, there may have been, but I would never have known where to get off or how to find anything. From the taxi window, Keele seems to consist of an industrial estate and a massive, modern university campus, including accommodation. It’s unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. Office and seminar buildings appear from all sides, at all angles. There are plenty of signposts, and just as well.
I met up with James Sheard and two other guys from the Creative Writing and English departments and we went to a bar. The weather was pleasant so we sat on tables outside with our pints – all very nice. Then it was time for the reading, which took place in a seminar room – small and intimate. The audience provided the atmosphere, and they really did seem like a good, friendly bunch of people. Most were Creative Writing and English students and staff. The reading was in two halves. In the first half, I read from The Opposite of Cabbage and read all new material in the second half. It seemed to go down well, and I even sold a decent number of books. Afterwards, it was back to the bar again for more conversation before grabbing something to eat at Jim’s house at around 11pm.
I wish I had some entertaining travel stories for you. Normally, I end up in a carriage where a fight breaks out, or people have loud, astonishing dialogues that are stranger than fiction. But these trains ran on time and without incident. I am thankful for that really.