Reading books

 I confess to being excited about the invitation to read from my fiction to a public gathering at Ullapool's Seaforth Inn (as opposed to 'hotel' as I stated previously) on the evening of Saturday 5th March, This is World Book Day. I don't claim to having a particularly strong speaking voice and am a little unsure of how much 'acting and accent' to inject, therefore am trying to pick selections of words that will speak for themselves about the power and general direction of the stories and the quality of the writing.

I have done readings before so it is not new to me but I have a feeling that an invited audience of friends in a Gairloch cafe is going to be a different proposition to this gathering of strangers, obviously serious readers one and all. I'm making assumptions about the expected duration of each extract but, if it is left to me, I shall do a reading of the whole of my March short story of the month, There Was A Soldier -  ten minutes or so - then a few brief extracts from each of my two novels and Twenty Bites, my anthology of short fiction.

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I said recently that I would write about T E Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I've changed my mind. The fact is that for me there is great difficulty in establishing what is fact and what is this genius's fanciful love for all things Arabia. Besides that I feel there's nothing really left to say about the man and his masterpiece. What could you possibly say about an officer in the British Army who is invited to a private audience with his King and who politely declines the monarch's award of the supreme medal available to the armed forces, the Victoria Cross? Why did he do so? Because he believed (quite correctly) that the King and his Government had broken their word, had broken faith with the Arabs.

Somebody should have told him it was ever thus. But had Lawrence's much heralded State of Arabia, extending from Syria and Mesopotamia (Iraq) down to The Yemen and Oman, come into being, what problems might now be no more or may never have been?

That's the trouble with genius. Far too idealistic.

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