John James recounts our visit to the Big Smoke:
When it was first mooted, we all had our doubts. How would a local anthology fare up in the Big Smoke? Would anybody be interested in a bit of culchie culture in the rich tapestry of life and art, in the Bohemian student area of Botanic Avenue? Nevertheless we saddled our horses and put the remaining copies of our first print run in our panniers.
No Alibis Bookshop provided a home away from home, a table and microphone set amongst shelves and shelves brimful of learned tomes, literature and poetry, artfully decorated with playful prints.
Our host and the owner of No Alibis, David Torrans, was genial and made us feel welcome, as well providing competition in the wearing of fancy shirts. We settled down to await our audience. At first we were nervous, as it was a case of one man and his dog and the mutt was outside sniffing the lamp-post. However, when David introduced us and we peered anxiously around the corner, the aisles were full to the brim with punters.
Our Chair Tony Viney, began with a tale of criminal activity, appropriate for our venue, followed by John Kelly who reeled off a string of character-laden poetry. Pete Byrne followed with a tale of his misspent Dublin childhood, another Dub Marie Connor, delighted us all with a piece of homespun whimsy. John Llewelyn James got into his costume box, to tell a sentimental story in verse. It was left to Fermanagh native son, Ken Ramsay, to present a childhood memoir of wit and nostalgia. Tony rounded things off with a pithy haiku that will do wonders in the promotion of Fermanagh as a place to visit.
This played out to an appreciative crowd and camera-flashes that made us feel like movie-stars – though the latter was provided by our own Thomas McGovern. We spoke to people after the event and sold some books, made useful contacts for developing future partnerships for our group.
Our sincere and grateful thanks to David, Claudia and Emma at No Alibis for providing the venue and selling our books without any charge or commission – all David asked for were donations to the Northern Ireland Hospice. We hope he raised lots of money for that worthy cause. Our thanks also to Dianne Trimble for contacting David and organising the gig, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.