Posted by: Kevan Manwaring | November 20, 2008

Mysteries in Cardiff

8 November

Kevan and Chrissy at her big night

Kevan and Chrissy at her big night

Mysteries book launch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

 

Tonight I travelled over to Cardiff to launch the first book by Chrissy Derbyshire – a rising star if ever there was one. It was the first time I had been back to Cardiff since my graduation in 2004. It felt satisfying to be returning as a publisher – I wouldn’t have conceived it at the time, even though I had launched Awen Publications a year before. But my small press hasn’t really taken off until this year – with a flurry of seven titles! This month has seen a hat-trick of launches – Bath, Stroud and now Cardiff.

 

I made my way through the rain to Chapter Arts Centre, negotiating the buses and the strange accents. Just getting out of Cardiff Central station was a challenge, as it had all been barricaded off as hordes of rugby fans were being funnelled to their respective coaches and trains. I seemed to be the only one going the other way, and not dressed in colours.

 

I arrived early and had a pint of Rev. James and a lite bite of Welsh rarebit in the café. Finally, Chrissy’s entourage turned up and, after introductions to her folks, we set to work, setting the place up. Chrissy’s family and friends were very supportive, taking care of refreshments and a generous bar – with lots of mead! I held back as I was due to introduce the evening. I recalled how special my first book launch was – you never forget it. Afterwards, Chrissy said it had been one of the best nights of her life!

 

After my introduction, which wasn’t as eloquent or as focussed as I wanted to be (guess my bardic energies were flagging) Chrissy impressed everyone with a good talk and a series of readings from her book. She seemed to take to the ‘stage’ naturally and is a good speaker. She also sings, but I haven’t heard her yet – fulfilling the Awen author criteria to be a spoken word performer as well, our USP. You could say we’re a bardic publisher.

 

It was very satisfying to see people queuing up around the room waiting to get their books signed by Chrissy. Virtually all were family and friends but it was still good to see. Chrissy must have been buzzing. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay and continue celebrating with her and the others as I had a train to catch! I had to dash and luckily a bus came just at the right time to get me to the station. Unfortunately, this ‘last train to England’ was packed with drunken revellers, and there was one or two altercations – one bloke being collared by a policeman for being lippy. Two gay bicyclists standing by me were getting hassled by an odious rugby fan, who objected to their bikes taking up seating space, even though that part of the carriage was dedicated to bikes. He was being far more objectionable, but when other fans piled on, they chatted away to the gay guys without a problem – it was clear who had ‘the problem’ here, and he was marginalised in his loathsome opinions. It was a sour note to end on, after a good note. But the contrast could not have been more striking. I wish I could have stayed and shared Chrissy’s success – but I’d already booked my return. This was an echo of the problem when I was studying at Cardiff. Sometimes I would stay over, but often I came back – and missed out on the social element. Chrissy’s circle, which has largely come out of the Cardiff Uni Pagan Society shows what college life can be like. Lifetime friendships can be forged. Chrissy’s circle of friends showed their support admirably – whilst I felt the ‘lone wolf’, slinking back to my solitary lair. Sometimes a bardic life can be isolated – it is not always possible to share the path we walk with others.  

 

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