I'm so pleased and relieved Reality Street Live 2 (Sunday 10 May) went off almost without a hitch, and that the readings, the music and even the weather were so enjoyable and enjoyed by all.

I suppose I wish I could replay it all now, because I was a bit too wound up - having to cater for guests, deal with the venue (the staff of The Crown were great), work out the scheduling, do the publicity (designing and printing flyers, doing online stuff), practise my bass so as to at least give a passable performance in two bands, set up the PA, take it down again, do the MC bit and introduce it all, actually play and sing, sell books and CDs - to really take it all in and properly enjoy it. That it happened at all is due in large part to my magnificent wife Elaine who (hampered by a broken wrist) managed to both organise much of the cooking and catering and technical preparations for the music but also blew some of the most scorching soprano and tenor sax I've heard from her, not once but in two separate sets, for The Moors and Afrit Nebula. (She also, amazingly, plays flute and accordion, but this would have been a step too far for her broken wrist, though she did substitute the melodica on three numbers for The Moors...)

It wouldn't have happened either but for the goodwill of the other musicians, playing for a free drink and expenses only: Jamie Harris of Afrit Nebula (percussion), and Russell Field (drums), Jenny Benwell (fiddle) and Richard Butler (guitar) of The Moors.

 

And finally the authors of the new books, which all this was in aid of: Peter Hughes and Lou Rowan (pictures above by Andrea Augé) gave wonderful readings from, respectively, Quite Frankly and Alphabet of Love Serial. They were witty and entertaining and completely professional in their delivery - what more can you ask? (You can replay their readings by going to their respective pages and clicking on the mp3 players at the end of the book descriptions - or, alternatively, going straight here.)

There was a decent audience, attentive and appreciative. What I hadn't bargained for was that on this wonderfully sunny Sunday afternoon the pub would be so busy with regular clientele - such that there was a regular hum of chatter which you can hear on the recordings. I hope some of those who were not there specifically for Reality Street Live ended up enjoying at least some of it. What I also hadn't bargained for was that the performance space was right in the path from the main bar to the loos, so there was a constant procession in both directions, but that in the end became part of the entertainment, the body language of the toilet visitors providing endless fascination, some nervous and apologetic as they ventured past the performers, others brazen.

We had a small group of Hastings-based regulars in the audience, among them Paul A Green, Richard Makin, Antony Mair, Tim and Georgia from the Stone Squid Gallery, and from slightly further afield Brian Marley, and a few others who may have been attracted, either to the music or the words, by the news story I wrote for the Hastings Observer. We sold a handful of books. I am grateful to the gentleman whose name I didn't catch who bought a copy of my Down With Beauty. I am disappointed that no others took up my invitation to come down to Hastings for the day - it was a brilliant day - from London or elsewhere.

I am also disappointed that my efforts to attract others in Hastings and St Leonards with literary interests to Reality Street events has borne so little fruit. For this reason, I doubt there will be another Reality Street Live in Hastings, so we must cherish the memory while it lasts.