The Doncaster Connection
Anna told me, You’re at Doncaster Central Library today, talking about books. You realise you’re in competition with Wimbledon, the world cup and a heat wave?
I said, It’s OK. Doncaster’s cool. Some people will turn out.
The train squeezed me on to the platform at Doncaster station. It had been a short but sticky journey and I felt not unlike a warm fruit sponge.
Within five minutes of arriving at the library there were two power cuts. I went outside to watch the storm. We were in the eye of it. The sky was criss-crossed with static electricity, as if there was a fire in a fireworks factory. Buildings and plate-glass windows were shaking and one woman was standing screaming on the street. For a few minutes the density of the rain brought visibility down to almost zero. The claps of thunder were so loud you might have thought god was dismantling heaven in a rage, pulling huge chunks of masonry from the sides of celestial palaces and hurling them down on the earth. People were ducking and hiding, no doubt about it. No one said much. I sent Anna a text message (I texted – is that valid?), saying: The competition has increased. What you said this morning? Add to it, power cuts, thunder storms and torrential rain.
I talked for a time about ideas. I read some extracts from my books and we had a fairly lengthy question and answer period about concentration and criticism and character. But we couldn’t reach a concensus about the publishing industry. Maybe it needs to get worse before anyone can see how it’s going to get better?
Doncaster was cool. Twenty plus people turned out despite the opposition.