There Will Be No MistakesRobin Ince's Blog
Today I will play a left wing political bookshop that has an entertaining military precision when it comes to bookshop talks.
The revolution may not be televised, but it will follow the schedule exactly as listed in the Radio Times with no deviation for regional variations.
I begin from home, traveling through London and onto to Southampton Airport Parkway where I am picked up by John Ottaway. John forms a vital part of my chapter on death as he eloquently spoke of how he and his family dealt with death of his son, Jamie. He is also an engineer who designs lifts for railway stations so that whenever I post a photo of platform, he will tell me whether he did or didn’t work on the lift. We arrive early at October Books near St Denys and I browse for books that I can use to help create tangents and stop my talk from rusting. In the back room, I am told how my talk will run. It is the first talk for a while and the first talk the organiser has ever put on.
There will be no mistakes.
There are no mistakes.
I make a book stack including Merlin Sheldrake, Octavia Butler and Pragya Agarwal.
46 minutes in, the organiser puts her hand up to suggest that I should start thinking about taking questions if we are to keep to time.
The questions are interesting as are the face masks, which include a Mission face mask and a New Model Army one. Later, I embarrass myself by totally forgetting the names of all of New Model Army’s albums. This sort of thing can happen at gig 59.
We finish as bang on time as it is possible (for me) to manage.
Karen Rodham, who also helped me with my book (on the problem of pain), pops along and brings me a lovely present of Christopher Isherwood’s Mr Norris Changes Trains adapted for my own journeys. Karen kindly buys John and I coffee and cake. This is useful as it ensures that I will not make it to Winchester’s Oxfam Bookshop before closing time. This is good news as I have never left there empty-handed. I have already bought 3 books at October Books – a series of essays on Tabloid Culture, a book on the sixties with a lengthy piece on The Avengers and a book on galaxies and quasars. It is 42 years old, so perhaps a little out of date, but it has a beautiful dedication scribbled in it.
From a quarrelsome and recalcitrant, if not positively contrary offspring.
In gratitude for all your efforts before and after and during the 27th August, 1981.
If I do not lay the world at your feet, it is because I send you galaxies and quasars,
with love (squiggle signature)”
I was also given a fascinating looking book of poetry – A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes by Madhur Anand, thank you, masked man.
We are far too early for the book event at P&G Wells in Winchester, so we go for a walk in the wrong direction for a while. I see two old friends at the bookshop and create an entirely different pile of books to scratch the evening rust off.
The train to Waterloo is quiet, but Waterloo and the tube below is not. To me, it is some of the worst of England. It is boozy, arrogant, selfish, an ugly spectacle of swigging and bullying laughter. My final train is similar. I arrive home to see my son and his friend watching Poltergeist in an unimpressed manner, desperate to fall into TikTok.
I drink a beer and eat a cheese slice, lying on my bed, waiting for brain to switch off enough for sleep.
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Robin Ince is a multi-award winning comedian, writer and broadcaster. As well as spending decades as one the UK’s most respected stand-ups, Robin is perhaps best known for co-hosting The Infinite Monkey Cage radio show with Brian Cox. For his work on projects like Cosmic Shambles he was made an Honorary Doctor of Science by Royal Holloway, University of London. His latest book, The Importance of Being Interested has just been released.