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Fascinating 40: More Memories From Our Members

Peter Labdon wrote:

In 1982, the National Book League (NBL) was administered from a suite of offices in Wandsworth by a chief executive and a committee drawn at large from within the book world, including public libraries and at the time, Margaret Drabble. I had been the committee representative of the (then) Library Association since 1980 and had become a colleague and supporter of Martyn Goff, the NBL’s chief executive. Nobody was deeper into the London literary world than Martyn, author, bookseller, Booker Prize administrator and all-round promoter of books and reading.

The NBL was a single-centre organisation. It had been in Albemarle Street W1 for many years, where it served as a bolthole for writers and others with literary interests until the exorbitant costs of a central London address proved too much for its never-robust income. Under Martyn’s direction, therefore, the NBL decamped to less glamorous but perfectly adequate premises in SW18, sacrificing a prestigious address to a practical one. The SBL’s current president will no doubt remember the journeys to Wandsworth and back with great affection, as I do, as we both served on the NBL’s committee at the time.

So it was that on a long-forgotten date in early 1982 (or late 1981) some members of the NBL executive assembled in the kitchen of Margaret Drabble’s house to review the progress of the organisation since its move and to consider how it might develop further. I do not remember the conversation in detail but out of it came the idea that the NBL might expand beyond London into several or more ambitiously a national network of mini-book leagues, so being in that place at that time I ‘volunteered’ Ipswich as a guinea pig location.

Several people were involved in the local development of what became the Suffolk Book League (SBL). The search for a chairman (unelected, to be confirmed) ended with Norman Scarfe’s agreement to serve and the then Headmaster’s permission to use the library of Ipswich School in which to meet – a much appreciated concession but one soon outgrown by the public responses to the early meetings.

And so it has continued, a steady accumulation of interest in the SBL’s programme of meetings under the guidance of successive occupants of the chair and enthusiastic committee members.

Jean Hill wrote:

My first memory is of Peter Labdon, then Chief Librarian in charge of the library in Northgate Street where I worked, announcing the inaugural meeting of the Suffolk Book League. This was to be held in the cinema at the back of the Corn Exchange. I remember Frank Muir (he of the pink bow tie) as part of the top table. He arrived late due to the confusing one-way system in Ipswich and was heartily cheered on his arrival.

I joined the SBL and became a member of the committee when our chairman was James MacGibbon, of the publishers MacGibbon & Kee. He was a lively personality, and a true gentleman as was another committee member at that time, Peter Hardiman Scott, the writer and former BBC political correspondent. Sometime later, I became Programme Secretary. Not being at all computer savvy I had to communicate with speakers by pen and paper, something which is unthinkable nowadays.

One speaker who springs to mind is Alan Sillitoe, who arrived complete with a Morse code machine (he had been a signaller during the war) and he proceeded to greet the audience in Morse code.

It wasn’t easy to obtain speakers even in those days and I often needed to send three or four letters before I received an acceptance. Consequently, many of our speakers had links with East Anglia. I remember Sybil Marshall, an ex-teacher brought up in the Cambridgeshire fens where her father had worked. Her reminiscences of childhood were fascinating. Malcolm Bradbury and John Wain, based at UEA, were popular speakers and I particularly recall the latter having to compete with a clock which struck noisily at regular intervals when he spoke at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook. He was very gracious and never complained.

We occasionally branched out into other spheres. I remember Robin Jarvis, a writer of historical children’s books featuring mice from the 1800s. He illustrated his talk with models of his characterful mice. Terry Pratchett spoke to a full house at Northgate School, wearing a skull and crossbones T-shirt and pacing up and down throughout his talk. This was probably the youngest audience we ever achieved and certainly one of the most appreciative.

Norman Scarfe, the eminent historian and expert on Suffolk and Essex, was a mainstay of the SBL from its inception, ultimately becoming our honorary president. We were very fortunate to be able to use the small but lovely library at Ipswich School. It provided a perfect setting, particularly at Christmas time when we were often regaled with creepy ghost stories by M. R. James or Dickens. Of course, we have always had our fair share of ‘big names’ including Penelope Fitzgerald, Doris Lessing, Penelope Lively, Fay Weldon, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Andrew Motion, Rose Tremain and, more than once, Marina Warner. I fondly remember that my daughter bought me a copy of From the Beast to the Blonde in 1996.

I’ve probably forgotten lots more but it’s surprising how many names have risen to the surface, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of searching my memory. It’s been a satisfying and rich 40 years being a member of the Suffolk Book League.

Anne Parry wrote:

Forty years ago, the newly launched Ipswich and Suffolk Book League's main preoccupation was to find speakers. This was in a very different world, where there were no literary festivals and few opportunities for writers and publishers to promote their work, so it was a novel idea, especially as we could not pay them!

We relied on friends. Fortunately, our first Chairman, Norman Scarfe, was able to persuade many of his friends and acquaintances like Ronald Blythe, launching his book From the Headlands in 1982 (the first of six visits to the SBL over 23 years), and Frank Collieson of Heffers bookshop in Cambridge who gave an inspiring talk pre-Christmas entitled ‘Books do Furnish a Tree’ - giving books as Christmas presents. How quaint! And of course, it was through Norman that Princess Margaret came for his book launch Decision in Normandy as she was the Colonel in Chief of the Suffolk Regiment. As I recall, our very first meeting was ‘Hand Made Prints as Book Illustration’ by Joe Lubbock.

We were always, at first, in search of an audience. We soon abandoned the idea of making the Suffolk Book League meetings county wide, as meetings held outside Ipswich had an abysmal attendance. Attendances were always unpredictable, even in Ipswich. I remember arriving early to help with the talk by Lisa St Aubin de Terán on her autobiographical novel, Keepers of the House and panicking to find the room in the Town Hall empty. Persuaded by Peter Labdon (one of our founding fathers) to take a little walk I came back half an hour later to find the room full!

Rosamund Lehmann came and when asked how she wrote her books she replied with a pen and ink, which elicited a sigh of contentment from some ladies in the audience. Peter du Sautoy, then our President, talked of authors he had edited at Faber and Faber. I remember particularly his tale of trying to entertain e.e.cummings, who sat in silence for the whole visit. Penelope Fitzgerald reproved me for implying she wrote humorous books – though I still think there is humour in some of them.

We tried to make the programme varied with poetry reading, book launches, literary suppers, study days as well as writers in discussion rather than giving lectures. We had joint meetings in mutual support with the Suffolk Poetry Society and the Ipswich Children's Book Group. And in those early years the bookseller Martin Crook organised an annual mammoth Book Fair in the Corn Exchange which raised money for charity but also promoted the SBL. It was a joy and a privilege to be allowed to sort out and look through the books prior to the opening and have first pick to purchase!

The first newsletter, soon to be named BookTalk, was produced by Peter Labdon, who had been one of those sitting at Margaret Drabble’s kitchen table when the notion was hatched of creating an offshoot of the National Book League. It was produced by the Suffolk Library Services which supported us so well for many years. I believe it reached its heyday with James MacGibbon, an ex-publisher who was still in contact with many authors. He enlarged the scope of the Newsletter to include lively comments: often on current affairs, stories of writers and snippets of literary tales.

If I had to pick one memorable moment it would be P. D. James telling us how to commit the perfect murder. She had talked about her work and the use of poisons which had to be carefully researched, and weapons which had to be carefully planned. So, she advised us to – but of course I could not possibly reveal it to you!

Janet Bayliss wrote:

I don’t quite ‘come with the furniture’, but it is fair to say that I have been involved with Suffolk Book League in various roles since 1993, including a period of continuous service on the Committee that adds up to 29 years. They don’t get that in prison for GBH, as someone once said. I am currently the archivist but have had two periods as membership secretary and a few years as the general secretary. I missed out on the first 11 years of SBL, but I am sure that there are others who can fill in detail on the early period.

Looking back, it seems that the SBL has long had an eclectic mix of talks, varying from household names to presentations that can only be described as unapologetically ‘niche’. 1993 – the first year I got involved with SBL - gives a good example: besides Colin Dexter and Rose Tremain we also had contributions from much missed local worthy John Blatchly and also Anne Mustoe. She was a former headmistress of St Felix School, Southwold who cycled around the world and then wrote a book about her exploits. I remember it as an entertaining evening, and proof that you don’t need to be famous to be fascinating.

Veterans of SBL meetings will know that over the years we have utilised several venues with varying degrees of success. For many years we used the Ipswich School as a place to meet, most notably the School Library, which with its 18,000 books and four stained glass windows created by John Piper is a lovely space, conducive to the type of meeting that we hold.

There were a few hiccups however, I particularly remember the occasion in 2001 when the novelist and distinguished children’s writer Nina Bawden came to speak to us. We arrived at the school in the early evening only to find that the meeting room was set up for a wedding reception and locked up. Fortunately, someone had the caretaker’s phone number, and the meeting was moved to the cricket pavilion. In the meantime, a good crowd had gathered. Everyone was remarkably good-humoured even when we discovered that the cricket pavilion was an L-shaped room. I was at the back and around the corner; standing as there was also a shortage of the not-terribly-comfortable wooden chairs. Having said all this, the speaker coped remarkably well, remained calm and delivered an excellent talk which thankfully, did not include visual aids.

In the years around the Millennium, we held our meetings in the lecture hall of the County Library. As I was then working for the public library, I used to spend a lot of time getting chairs, tables and other logistics organised beforehand. The capacity of the hall was adequate for most of our meetings but there was a limit (75 seated and 92 standing under fire regulations if my memory serves). When Rose Tremain came in 2002, that figure was exceeded, and we had to put a notice up turning people away. Unfortunately, one of those affected was our much-esteemed honorary president at that time, Norman Scarfe. We introduced a booking system after this meeting.

Several writers have been a number of times. The unconventional writer Jenny Diski came three times. I have strong memories of her describing her cruise to Antarctica during her visit to us in 1999, which became the subject of a haunting book Skating to Antarctica, which is part travelogue and partly a biographical meditation. It was a particularly memorable meeting but it didn’t start well. She had been booked to give a 40-minute lecture. Unfortunately, after 15 minutes she dried up. The then Chair of SBL, Brian Morron, told me later that he feared the worst when no-one seemed to want to ask any questions.

Fortunately, after a couple of feisty responses to questions of his own the meeting took off.

Reading can sometimes be a problem. When Doris Lessing came to the Ipswich School in 2004 and addressed a large and appreciative audience, for some reason my overriding memory is of a peculiar whistle in the way she spoke which obscured some of her words. I’ve always assumed that it was caused by badly fitting false teeth, but this may be a calumny against the dentition of a writer of renown, but I don’t think it was the sound system. Her talk, based on her recent book, was called ‘Grandmothers, soldiers and others’ which sounds interesting. Pity I can’t recall anything of its substance. Fortunately, she was much better at answering questions. By way of contrast, Romesh Gunesekera, a Sri-Lankan born British author visited us in 2006. He met some unexpected venue problems with remarkable grace and charm. I think that the meeting was badged as part of IpArt, the now defunct Ipswich Arts Festival, which meant that it was situated in what turned out to be a rather noisy bar instead of one of our usual meeting places. There was a rather small audience, balanced somewhat precariously on bar stools, but we were treated to an engaging session mixing memoir, novel writing, and cricket. He proved to be a superb reader of his own work - the exception, in my experience.

The hard-working people planning the programme at SBL have always tried to reflect the broad spectrum of writing and publishing: for example, we have hosted many biographers over the years. Anne Sebba was memorable in 2012, speaking about That Woman: the Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. She was not sure that she liked her subject, something that often leads to a more interesting biography, in my opinion, as it gets away from any sort of fawning style. Anne Sebba summed up her subject by quoting from Noel Coward – ‘a statue should be erected to Mrs Simpson in every town in England for the blessing she had bestowed upon the country’ e.g. sparing Britain the difficulties of an extended wartime reign by the ‘feckless’ King Edward VIII.

I recall Claire Tomalin (2001) discussing her award-winning book based upon the life and diaries of Samuel Pepys and noting that had he lived today Pepys would most likely have ended up in prison for his casually predatory attitudes towards women, which are recorded in almost painful detail in the diaries. Writers of autobiographies have also recounted memorably their own stories for SBL. Chris Mullin in 1999 was both honest and honourable in describing what he then described as his ‘brief career as a writer’ including his account of the pivotal and brave role he had in securing the release of the Birmingham Six, falsely convicted and gaoled of the pub bombings there in the 1970s. He subsequently returned as the award-winning writer of a series of political diaries.

In a completely different vein, Iestyn Edwards, a writer, singer and performer all rolled into one (and best known for a character called Madame Galina, the Prima Ballerina) came to give a performance of My Tutu Went AWOL, a rather loose interpretation of his times entertaining troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a bit off-the-wall even for the Suffolk Book League, but none the worst for that.

This is both a partisan and anecdotal look at SBL meetings. What surprises me is the sheer range of speakers and subjects that we have had over the years. I am sure you may feel that I have recalled some episodes wrongly or there is much important material that I have overlooked. If so, do get in touch as I am sure that the production team of our journal BookTalk would love to hear from you.

David Ryland wrote:

It was with some trepidation that I nodded nervous agreement to Brian Morron’s suggestion that I became Speakers’ Secretary of the SBL. In our short membership my wife Stephanie and I had been incredibly impressed by the professionalism of the meetings and the quality of the speakers, and I was concerned that it would be hard to keep up the standard. My copy of How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read would only take me so far.

I'll leave lists to modernist novels, and I'll just mention some of our guests I recall for more than literary reasons. Some I invited, like Meg Rosoff because I'd worked with them. Others because they, like me, had been to St Jo's [St. Joseph’s College Ipswich]. Chris Mullin and I shared a tour of the school so we could see how much it had changed since ‘our day’. Alexandra Harris stayed overnight so we could take her to Sutton Hoo.

Nicholas Lezard sticks in the mind because we got him to, if not on, the train on time

Amanda Foreman was snowed-in in New York when she was due to be talking to us. Manhattan or Ipswich? Tricky.

I'm still trying to remember who it was I took to a private house rather than the B&B I was aiming for. We only realised we had gate-crashed a private party when we asked to go to our room, and it was frostily suggested that perhaps we should try next door. Jenny Diski was an easy early choice for me because of Apology for the Woman Writing – a must read. Edward Vallance's History of Radical Britain ‘woke’ all my basic beliefs.

I gave up my role as Speakers' Secretary with some reluctance and some relief.

It was time for new thinking and people, and that is what we have. The future is bright for the SBL.

Now read on...

Stephanie Ryland wrote:

When we retired to the country after an exciting life in London (advertising for David and admin at the RCA for me) we didn’t expect to find ourselves meeting any more famous folk. But how wrong we were! We joined the Suffolk Book League because we both loved books and because we wanted to make friends locally. David soon volunteered for the Committee and became Speakers’ Secretary. I was so lucky to be able to go with David and ‘meet and greet’ the speaker he had chosen each month. We would stand outside the exit at Ipswich Railway Station, holding prominently one of the books by that month’s speaker and, of course, they always recognized their books straight away and then knew we were from the Book League. Then we would take them in our car over to a restaurant or wine bar to give them supper and to relax them and to chat for an hour before the talk at the Institute or St Jo’s. These early evenings were some of the most stimulating and interesting times. It was lovely to see how the speakers relaxed with us – Brian Morron, the Chairman, would join us for this too - and they were always surprised and pleased to find that we were interested in them as people as well as looking forward to their talks.

One of those that I remember particularly is John Stubbs – who was one of the first we met and greeted. He had written a book about John Donne, whose work I had studied with the OU. I thought he looked like an Elizabethan poet and told him so! He later dedicated one of his books to the Suffolk Book League with thanks for their support. Alexander McCall Smith was another memorable speaker – very famous at the time but modest and charming as we sat and chatted with him in the café. I loved meeting Posy Simmonds, the famous illustrator and writer, whose work I admired. She is so observant of people and captures their idiosyncrasies so accurately in her drawings, which look swift and simple but are definitely the work of a skilled artist. I often see people through Posy Simmonds’ eyes, especially young mothers pushing buggies! And one of the nicest people we met was Alan Johnson, the MP, who had written autobiographies – This Boy and Please Mr Postman. He was very charismatic but totally natural. Of course, it was a real treat to meet Margaret Drabble, someone whose work I had studied – and enjoyed – when I was young! There were so many more lovely people and intelligent authors. And all those fascinating books to read which we still have on our shelves.

Something I do love to hear about are the author’s writing methods. Living with the characters in their heads or carrying notebooks round with them so that they can jot down ideas as they come. Fascinating.

And we made special friends amongst the other members. The Suffolk Book League was one of the best things for us about moving to the country.

Kay McElhinney wrote:

One of the joys of the SBL has always been coming along to hear someone new and discover real gems – especially if they have a back catalogue. Another is the surprise at discovering that an author unknown to you has a huge following. Eamon Duffy’s talk was a sell-out and people came clutching well-worn copies of The Stripping of the Altars for him to sign. The ‘house full’ signs had to beput up when Simon Jenkins came to talk about England’s Thousand Best Churches and for local author Lesly Glaister.

I must thank Terry Pratchett for making my children eager readers. When he gave his hilarious talk at the sold-out main hall at Northgate High School they were ‘his for life’ afterwards, and he took ages signing books for as many children as he physically could. They treasure their somewhat battered signed copies to this day. He was, of course, not the only entertaining speaker we have had. A. L. Kennedy was an absolute hoot, which was quite a surprise if you’ve read her rather dark books. I wasn’t surprised when she had a go at stand-up comedy not long afterwards. Alexander McCall Smith came more than once and did what I can only describe as after-dinner speeches which had us rolling in the aisles, but some people we have had (I won’t mention names) were obviously deeply uncomfortable at being in the spotlight after spending so much time locked away in their studies on their own writing their books and were very hesitant, rambling speakers. I’m glad to say we haven’t had many of those!

I’ve always enjoyed the way in which the SBL has involved its members in producing the programme of speakers, either by putting forward suggestions based on books they have read and found interesting, or by hearing authors speak somewhere else and thinking that we might find them thought provoking too. Two authors came to speak to the SBL via this method and their talks are among my favourite memories. One was Louis de Bernieres. One of our members had enjoyed Captain Correlli’s Mandolin at her book group, when it was still unknown, but sales were beginning to go up because of word-of-mouth publicity. As we book our authors a year ahead, when we asked him to come his novel was an unknown quantity to most of us. By the time he came it had been top of the bestseller charts for weeks, and the meeting in the Ipswich School Library was packed to the rafters. The gallery was full, with people leaning rather dangerously over the edge, and I’m sure we’d exceeded the fire safety limit on numbers by quite a few (luckily several Ipswich School teachers were present and took responsibility). The atmosphere was electric. People couldn’t believe such a big name was here in Ipswich and virtually everyone in the hall had read and loved the book. The talk was good too, as he was such an unassuming guy who seemed to have been blindsided by what had happened to him.

The other author was someone I’d approached to come – Hilary Mantel. Rather unbelievably, friends in Debenham had said she was coming to speak there as part of a festival, so we duly went along to hear her talk about Wolf Hall in a half-empty church. It turned out a family member lived in the village! I plucked up courage to ask her when she was signing my book if she would consider coming to talk to the SBL and she said she would. We were meeting at St Jo’s Library so there was parking onsite. My husband oversaw the car park for the evening as we were expecting a big crowd and we wanted to make sure that there was a space reserved for her. He couldn’t remember what she looked like so came in to ask and was shown her photo on the book jacket by the committee member on the door. Ms Mantel arrived, chauffeured by her husband in their Rolls Royce which slid into their parking space. As she came into the room the same committee member asked her if she was a member while attempting to get her to pay for a ticket.

John Bayley came to talk about Russian literature, and to everyone’s surprise, his wife Iris Murdoch came along too. She sat quietly by his side, not saying a word but smiling throughout. It was only sometime later that we realised that she was already suffering from dementia, and he couldn’t leave her at home.

Jonathan Coe is always an excellent speaker and came three times to speak. He always gave a ‘proper’ talk, not just confining himself to the usual publicity- tour-type reading followed by a Q & A that has now become so common. We had a full house for his talk about B. S. Johnson, which, given the rather niche subject, was a surprise. After his talk he invited questions from the floor and was staggered to be told that the lady in the front row had been B. S. Johnson’s landlady and knew him well, filling in a couple of blanks for poor Jonathan – alas too late for inclusion in Coe’s biography which had just been published. Fortunately, it still went on to win the Samuel Johnson prize for biography.

There could always be problems if we asked someone to come and talk about a particular book as it could be so long before the talk took place. One author said that they’d published another and were working on a third by the time they came, and their memory of the book was probably less good than ours. But back in the day we used to ask them to come and give a talk on a subject of their choosing and Helen Dunmore always delivered. On one visit she memorably talked about characterisation and how she gave the reader hints about her characters rather than long descriptions. She said describing their kitchen was always very revealing. At this my heart sank, as she would unexpectedly be seeing mine later that evening. We hadn’t had a lot of luck getting her to come. Once, it had snowed so she couldn’t get here and the second time she turned up at Ipswich Station the week before the meeting and couldn’t come back on the right day. This time she had come but hadn’t told us she expected to be put up for the night and we hadn’t booked anywhere. She was fine, and easy to look after as it turned out, but I kept reading her next few books anxiously in case we (or our kitchen) appeared in them. The visit did mean I have the dubious claim to fame that ‘My Dog Bit Helen Dunmore’. We had checked that she didn’t mind dogs and our normally very noisy but safe Schnauzer shot silently straight into the hall and nipped her finger before shooting straight back to her bed. She’d never done it before or since. My subsequent migraine lasted quite a while.

Isla Clough wrote:

A few memories from 40 years of enjoying various speakers at the SBL.

Malcolm Bradbury (1983) – This, the first talk at Stoke High School in a packed sports hall, gave insight into the new creative writing course at University of East Anglia. The course produced successful writing careers for many writers including Rose Tremain and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Fay Weldon (1984) – I remember Fay Weldon's talk illuminated her book published the previous year, The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil. The theme, a highly unattractive woman seeking revenge on her husband and his beautiful lover based on Fay Weldon's own experience of betrayal. The book was later made into a successful TV drama.

Elizabeth Jane Howard (1986) was a beautiful old lady. I cannot remember ever meeting any woman so good looking. I think her novels had some autobiographical content, but I remember her talking about beauty, Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis.

She had never thought of herself as beautiful and was always indifferent to it because her brother was better looking. However, she attracted many lovers and married three times. She married Peter Scott (a naturalist and famous son of Captain Scott ), she left him with their small daughter, and it was many years before she repaired the relationship with her. The marriage with Kingsley Amis lasted 18 years and included a close relationship with Martin Amis, Kingsley's son.

These early memories must have been significant because writing about them now is so clear. Meeting Hilary Mantel on the door at St Joseph’s in 2010 is still vivid. Wolf Hall, a best seller, ensured the SBL meeting was packed, sold out. I conscientiously checked tickets including asking Hilary Mantel for hers. Embarrassment for me to be told by her that she was the speaker. Amusement for Brian Morron, the SBL chair.

Keith Jones wrote:

The Suffolk Book League was one of the first organisations my wife Viola and I joined when we returned to live in Ipswich on my retirement in 2012. Since then, I think we have hardly missed a meeting, and since taking the chair in 2021 my own involvement has been even more intense.

A particular memory will surely remain from September 16th, 2021, when we welcomed John Preston to the first meeting in person following the shut-down enforced by the Covid-19 epidemic. The committee had loyally continued to meet by Zoom, so our impressions of one another were imperfect. Nevertheless, we were determined to be optimistic and to recommence our regular meetings with energy. John Preston had published his novel about the excavations at Sutton Hoo as long ago as 2007, but the film (starring Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan) was still attracting good audiences at cinemas. A first-class novel, local interest, the sense of a new beginning: all was propitious. The committee was eager to hold our meeting with John Preston where we could gather in good numbers.

Two of us went to Sutton Hoo to see if we might meet there. John Preston was keen to support us. The National Trust had been investing in much improved facilities, including a cafe and a shop, and there was good parking space, though we would be required to leave the site in good time. They could not have been more obliging, but we had to conclude that nowhere there would be both spacious and comfortable for our preferred kind of meeting. The best site they had was now full of books for sale, and the restaurant would require furniture to be moved to provide hardly more capacity than our beloved Ipswich Institute. Sadly, we decided not to proceed.

So, we welcomed John Preston to our usual home, and hoped that we would have a reasonable gathering. It was for me one of our most enjoyable meetings. The speaker was excellent, the Institute reasonably but not excessively filled (seating was reduced because of spacing to fulfil the Covid obligations). It was my first chance to host an evening for the Book League and take advantage of one of the perquisites of the role, which is to have time with the authors over a plate of food beforehand. Everything went smoothly. Andrew Marsh, of Dial Lane Books, provided what has become his regular bookstall and was thrilled with the volume of sales the evening generated.

With many thanks to Brian Morron for generously assisting in collating these memories.

Jeff Taylor


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