There’s an old Monty Python sketch about a fellow called Arthur ‘Two Sheds’ Jackson (because – well – he had two sheds). Thanks to the tireless promotion of my latest novel by Propolis Books, I am coming to be known within my immediate circle – not without a raised eyebrow or two – as Haydn ‘Four Launches’ Middleton. So I would like to take this opportunity to confirm that I insisted on no rider in my contract to the effect that there should be this surely unprecedented number of launches. (Can you actually even have four launches of the same product, some of my more pedantic acquaintances like to muse within my earshot.) No, all the partying has been conceived and orchestrated by my fabulous publisher Henry Layte and his Propolis /Book Hive team, and for that I am forever in their debt.
Currently I’m biding my time between the third and the fourth event, and ‘launch fatigue’ is still a phrase quite foreign to my lexicon. This is partly because each event has been so sui generis – the Oxford ‘do’ being basically a knees-up, that in Norwich a far more cerebral affair (both figuring in earlier Updates), and then on 8 November we had a hugely enjoyable kind of hybrid of the two at the charming premises of Burley Fisher Books in Dalston – and heartfelt thanks to its proprietors for allowing so many keen punters to cram themselves into its idiosyncratic basement/bar area. The Q & A session was especially memorable for me; it really did feel as if we were all chipping in on a communal quest to get to the heart of what creativity is all about, and why it matters so.
Since last Updating, I have also done some rewarding bits of solo promotion. I attach below a PDF of an interview that appeared in last week’s Cambridge News. But nothing can quite top the half hour I spent at Radio Cambridgeshire earlier this week, talking about the book with Syd Barrett’s younger sister Rosemary Breen. The link can be found in this copy of a bulletin from the Book Hive website, written in the inimitable style of Mr Henry Layte, viz:
“Grab your headphones, because Propolis (our publishing imprint) has been on the radio!
“Haydn Middleton, author of our latest novel The Ballad of Syd and Morgan, was on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire earlier today. He was interviewed by lunchtime host Jeremy Sallis, alongside Syd Barrett’s sister, Rosemary.
“You can listen here, or on the BBC Sounds app. Jump to 20 minutes and 30 seconds in.
“It’s a cracking interview, full of interesting facts and friendly conversation – not to mention some high praise from Rosemary (who said she was amazed at how accurately Haydn had brought her brother to life in the book, right down to the description of his hand gestures!)”I
I’ll allow the conversation largely to speak for itself, should you care to tune into it. (I guess it will be accessible for only 20-odd days…) But it really was a rather special passage of time for me. As readers of my novel will be aware, Rosemary is a ‘character’ in the story, albeit one who is several times spoken about, as opposed to putting in a personal appearance. Even so, it’s not often that one gets to meet any character from a novel, nor that a character has the dubious honour of sitting next to her ‘creator’ on a damp autumn Monday at a radio studio on an industrial estate and discussing with him what ‘charisma’ might be. I would say personally that this is a quality which the very gracious Rosemary has herself – I guess it must run in her family – and I thank her for saying, “I feel that this book is a gentle conversation between two very interesting minds – from that point of view it’s fantastic”. But of course (long after the audio recording has vanished into the ether) I will treasure her further remark that, “Uncannily the book is a very, very good representation of Syd… I couldn’t believe that Haydn hadn’t actually met him… I felt very close to Syd when I read the book… It was lovely – yeah – it was a great feeling. Really, really nice to feel close to him again. And I thought they must have been best friends, Haydn and Syd.”
And on that note I’ll bow out – dreaming of what might have been.