23 Oct 08
Reading in London and Mentor
My recent reading in London was a success.
New to public speaking, I arrived at the Royal Festival Hall so nervous I went straight to the men’s room. Passing the bar, I was tempted to order a glass of wine to assuage my anxiety. Instead, I reassured myself by recollecting how the chaplain at Towers jail, an Anglophile who delighted in my accent, used to insist I read passages from the Bible during mass. Audiences don’t get more unruly than that.
Standing behind the microphone, I managed to only tremble from the waist down as I read an abbreviated version of my short story “Amazing Grace.” Reading the dialogue was the most fun. The main characters in the story are a youngster, an Aryan Brother and a “shit slinger,” who constantly exchange obscene words and threats.
The audience (including Chris-H who bought me the glass of wine I'd wished for earlier – cheers Chris!) applauded, and some people complimented me on my oratory. When all of the readings were over, I stayed and answered questions until the room was closed.
The reading was videoed and I hope to have footage online soon.
Present at the reading was Sally Hinchcliffe, a published author who is now my mentor. I’ll be meeting her once a month for one year. I’ve asked her for help improving my writing and getting published. I like to work with tough no-nonsense people and she seems to fall into that category.
Here’s a link to her website:
The next day in London, I lunched with a friend from university, the Fair Surrah, at a delicious Indian buffet. Later that day, I stopped in Wolverhampton to visit Sarah, an ardent reader of Jon’s Jail Journal and a crime-story aficionado. Sarah rustled up a spicy vegetable curry. I could get used to travelling around the country being spoiled by the hospitality of people. Thanks Sarah and Surrah!
I also met the staff of Prisoners Abroad at their office in London. I had no idea of the scope of their activities. Their office is the first stop for prisoners returning to England who have no family, friends or means of support. They offer them a shower and help finding lodgings and employment. Without this help, many of these English citizens just out of foreign prisons would be back on the streets committing crimes to survive. Prisoners Abroad are doing a great job and I hope to be returning to London in November to help them with their fund-raising activity.
Tomorrow, I’m back to London for Royo Girl’s arrival. Yes, I will be blogging how things progress between us. And no, I don't think she's up for steamy hotel video footage.
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Shaun P. Attwood