So we descended on the extraordinary Fab Cafe in Manchester last Thursday 11th October to launch Pat Kelleher's spectacular close to the No Man's World trilogy, The Alleyman (Pye Parr's atmospheric art supplied to the right)...
It was pretty much an amazing night. The venue was awesome; if you have the opportunity to go for a drink there, or to one of the other Fab Cafes (I believe there are three?), do go for it. A very strange, very fun sort of environment. It's apparently a "TV and movie themed bar," but mostly I caught an "alien invasion B-movie" vibe. They did sell Space Raider crisps behind the bar, though, which was a nice touch.
There was an enthusiastic crowd, all clamouring to buy Pat's book, get it signed and hear him read (or in some cases, possibly, they'd come in to get a drink and then felt too embarrassed to leave; but it's all grist to the mill).
Pat had sorted out some awesome WWI-era recruitment posters (you know, the whole "Lord Kitchener wants you" shenanigans, and variations of the theme of "women will find you more attractive/signing up reflects well on your masculine worth and moral value"), and we stuck them up around the place (including the ladies' loos, natch) along with bunting and Union Flags. Pat had even labelled some lovely cream envelopes with the standard "Will you shirk your duty? Buy The Alleyman today!" each duly filled with a white feather, to hand out to people. Sadly your reporter failed to photograph either posters or feathers...
All of which was beautifully rounded out by this guy:
His name is David Eliot Cooper, and he's the a "historical interpreter," and the creative director at Histrionics, who provide walking, talking, moving history for all your entertainment or educational purposes. He played the recruiting private - check out his authentic uniform including puttees - and shouted us all into order before delivering a real recruitment speech written by Rudyard during the war. Set the mood very well.
And then we had Pat's reading, giving us a glimpse of the eerie alien/Tommy shenanigans coming up in the third book.
And then came the selling and signing:
And then, naturally, the singalong, with traditional WWI marching songs. Yes, you heard that right.
Everyone belted along nicely. A few people needed jollying along, but with Private David Cooper to hand, there really was no saying no. It would have been something like the terrifying combination of kicking a puppy and standing up to your gym teacher:
Good time had by all, and only enhanced by the opportunity to catch up on some old friends of mine living in Manchester who obligingly came along to support the event, and by wandering along to a live gig at a band around the corner. Which was nice.