(CAN ANYONE WITH PHOTOS OF LARRY LET ME KNOW? He had to leave before we did pics. Thanks)
It’s been our busiest week yet for “real life” as it were. On Wednesday, Year Zero was Open-armed and Outcast at OVADA in Oxford, and on Thursday we had the privilege of Heikki’s company for the launch of Tulagi Hotel at Goldsboro Books in London. And then there was THAT cloud of ash, which resulted in a rather lovely lunch hour spent on Friday showing Heikki round some of Year Zero’s favourite haunts in Oxford.
The two events were about as different as you could get, but wonderful in their own way.
What was so great about the gig at OVADA was the air of utter relaxation, a feeling of genuine warmth coming from the crowd at every moment. And a huge amount of this was down to the fantastic people who run OVADA, a project to bring the arts to Oxford. They had got 100% behind the event even though they didn’t know us from Adam – had got us an ad on the Arts Council website, and airspace on local radio. They sent info to their mailing list more than once – all of which meant that of the 40-50 people who pitched up at some point on the night, way over half were people who were new to us.
We shared the space with a wonderful exhibition of work by young carers that couldn’t have been more appropriate to our theme. When I saw the tipi upstairs, lined like Tracey Emin’s tent with quotations from young carers like “I am not as happy as I fake myself to be” it felt as though the room could have been designed to contain Daisy and DJ’s audio piece.
And, I think, we rose to the crowd – I’ve never seen Penny and Larry and Marc on such great form, certainly. And Christi just blew people away with her rhythmic, lyrical poetry.
The launch, wonderfully organised by SJ and the DIIArts crew, for Tulagi Hotel and Greta van der Rol’s Die a dry Death was held in the absolute contrast of Cecil Court’s Goldsboro Books, but that made a perfect setting for the launch of such exquisite fiction. It was a chance to catch up with some old acquaintances, to meet some for the first time, but most of all it was about Heikki. We all know him as the master of short fiction, an incredibly talented novelist, and a tirelessly generous benign presence in our midst. For Daisy and I who actually got to meet him, all of this was confirmed and infinitely surpassed. From the enormous bear hug when we met to parting the follwoing day after the unexpected time in Oxford, the only impression I got of Heikki was of a thoughtful, intelligent, humble, talented, and lovely man whom I’m honoured to know. And hearing him read from Tulagi Hotel, I can honestly say I had tears of pride rolling down my face. Photos of the event will follow when Heikki is safely back in Finland or I can twist Sandie Dent’s arm!