And after some queuing,and collecting our pre-signed copies of the new book, we found ourselves in the auditorium. It's a former cinema, and still has some lovely panels on the ceiling.
Chris Riddell was on stage as we came in, sharpening his pencils and drawing sketches. (As Neil commented" There was a moment of panic, about 20 minutes ago, up in the Green Room when we looked around and went, ' where's Chris?' . We thought we'd lost you" )
Then Neil read the 'Art Matters' speech from the book (after pointing out that it was a slightly new version, as it is the elements of the original speech which Chris liked and chose to illustrate), At the tart, this was accompainied by a running commentary from Neil's son Ash, before his mother took him backstage again. Which was a shame, his enthusiastic 'Dadda!' was lovely to hear! After which Neil ad Chris both answered questions put by host Lauren Laverne.
Neil spoke briefly about his current involvement as a show runner for the 'Good Omens' TV show ("Stuff like budget meetings, I was not put on this earth for fucking budget meetings") and about writing the sequel to 'Neverwhere' 100 pages in, but taking time due to the demands of being a show runner)
Towards the end of the evening, Antonia Byatt, Director of English Pen spoke a little about the organisation and it's aims, and read from a recent letter from writer Ahmet Altan , who who has been imprisoned in Turkey for expressing unpopular views.
There was also an auction in support of EnglishPen, of one of the original artworks for the book, (which auctioneer Lauren Laverne pointed out, included DNA samples from Neil and Chris from where they had handled it, so the winner would be able to clone their own Neil or Chris!)
|Neil holding the artwork to be auctioned|
(and photographer Tom Bowles took the most perfect picture of it, which you can see here)
There was then some time for a few questions from the audience, for which Chris drew replies, as well as giving verbals replies.
I had to leave just before the end, in order to catch my train home, but the entire evening was videoed and is up on YouTube for all to enjoy. And of course the book is available to buy all over the place. If you don't already have a copy, I urge you to get one.