A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading my work at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester. If you haven’t been, you should. I was merely a warm-up nonentity before the main attraction, Magnus Mills, a tall and genial fellow in a noticeable shirt. He looks like Syd Little and sounds like Tommy Cooper. He entertained the crowd with a selection of droll readings, my favourite being a telephone interaction between a less than forthcoming grocer and an increasingly exasperated customer. Mills himself likened it to a Python sketch. He was very good. But let’s return to the nonentity. I read from a work in progress. The piece seemed to acceptable to a boisterous crowd hungry for Mills. Indeed, nothing unsavoury was hurled in my direction. Does that count as success?
Jamie Stewart reviewed the event for Humanity Hallows. I was pleased to see what he’d written:
“Lambert flows through Dublin,” Stephen Hargadon begins as he kicked off the night with the equally hilarious and gruesome story of a “faded, rather hairy pop-star from the 1960s, who hides himself away in the West of Ireland.” It’s hard to listen to Hargadon’s prose without feeling Dublin around you, hearing the river and the voices curl nearby. “Lambert is observing, listening, walking.” Hargadon’s ear for city sounds is both disarming and utterly charming. Hargadon has previously had his work published in Black Static and Popshot.”
To be pedantic, Lambert was strolling, not flowing, through Dublin. But no matter. My dulcet tones, combined with a dry mouth, probably led to the confusion. Indeed, it was a happy mistake. I rather like the idea of Lambert flowing through Dublin like the Liffey. Constructive criticism at its finest. (BS Johnson thought critics a waste of space unless they could suggest improvements.) As for the dry mouth, there must have been something in the air that night, for Magnus Mills reached for his glass of water several times to pacify a mutinous throat.
An enjoyable and instructive evening for all concerned.