Lee Benson and Wanda Pierpoint at Stafford Lit Fest

Not counting a Saturday on the M6, which was blocked in several places, I ventured up the old main roads to a car park which was about a minute’s walk to the venue, 1 Staffordshire Place. Alas this was not the case, as every time the satnav said arrived, it changed its mind and varied a one to three minutes to destination and even asking at least ten people, none knew where it was.

Miraculously an elderly lady asked me if I’d like to browse or buy some books as there was a fair on. I replied that I had come to perform and asked her why were no others strategically placed to help people find this hidden location as it was not 1 Staffordshire Place. She smiled and I walked into a small reception with four authors displaying their books and a further smaller room with a few more authors on show. The lady concerned happened to be the mother of the Poet Laureate. She showed me the coffee machine. Eventually I found a man who hailed from Wednesbury who apparently was in charge. Such luck. I was told I was second up and to take no more than five minutes to read. I was introduced as a local Stafford artist which, as you can imagine coming from Moseley in Birmingham was a long shot away, then proceeded to perform part of a chapter from my Now You’re the Artist… Deal With It.

I think I received a few titters and applause, duly sat down after 4 mins and 39 seconds, then heard the next author read for about 15 minutes and another and another who all missed the five minute mark What bliss. Luckily, a friend of mine met me and we found a pub with good Black Country ale and a cracking cheese and onion roll.

An hour later I found the library and joined some others for the children’s and light poetry section.

There I spied the wonderful Wanda Pierpoint who was also going to be reading her children’s book, Monsters, Ogres and Friends. I was reading my new tale, Wilhemena and Her Wind.Well, five minutes of it as instructed.

Funny really because the first lady must have read for over fifteen minutes and practically sent the children to sleep. Luckily I woke them up again, along with people hiding in sections of the library.

Wanda read brilliantly and I wanted her to read on as the tale of the frog and tortoise was superb. Then another chap read the put put on some music and retold the tale over again the piece de resistance came when two librarians said at 4 pm. the library was closed and would we all leave by the emergency exit. No meeting parents or signing bits of paper or even selling a book, God forbid.

That was it. Fuming!!!

I found the car park and fumed all the way back home. At least a very large Rioja calmed me down by the time the evening arrived. As Ian Dury once sang, What a Waste. Petrol, parking approx £35.00. Return. Zero.


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