Reading at Hubbub: A Very British Problem

Yesterday, I retweeted a tweet from VeryBritishProblems (follow them on Twitter @SoVeryBritish for a regular dose of dry irony and self-deprecation):

Hearing a recording of your own voice and deciding it’s perhaps best never to speak again

I’ve long had a problem with that one. As a teenager, my accent wobbled between Surrey and Clapham, partly through upbringing and partly through attempting to suppress a stammer. Tape recorders made my flinch then, and they still do, although being ushered into radio stations to promote charities or update a city on whether its University has coped with 3mm of snow has helped to innoculate me to some extent. I’m more or less ok about speaking in public nowadays, but I generally don’t want to hear it back, thanks.

Today, I’m hoist on my own petard, albeit in a very flattering way. As part of the launch events for Mechanics Institute Review Issue 10, I read an extract of my story – GJ 526.1 A – at the October Hubbub event, and an audio recording is now available online. (My apologies for not including any sections that constitute a spoiler, but this is book promotion: you will need to actually buy a copy to see how the story pans out. But please have a listen.)

And if you need any further encouragement to invest in an excellent anthology, then perhaps a national press review will help? I wasn’t expecting to read these words:

From the superb tale of a troubled teen computer game addict to a gay man’s reflections on surrogate fatherhood and a reunion between old school friends (only one of whom seems to have matured), there’s also plenty of evidence to refute the claim that such courses result in an overly homogenous end product …

in The Daily Mail (full review online), but – as my partner pointed out – to come up with that summary they have to have read the story. (And now I have to wonder whether to rethink, even just a smidgen, my opinion on the Mail – which I think that can wait till I’ve had more coffee – but it’s satisfying on a Monday morning to know that you’re not ‘overly homogenous’.)

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