Not wearing any pants...

My ability to scare people away is becoming legendary. Seriously. I was down at the Douglas Library in Dundee last week, inflicting my first event of the year on anyone daft enough to turn up, and I have to admit that it didn't get off to the most auspicious of starts.

Given the kind of book I write, and the kind of people who populate the kind of books I write, when I do a reading it tends to include adult themes and swearwords of a sexual nature. And some that have nothing to do with sex. Unless you're very, very wrong in the head. Anyway, I always start by asking if anyone in the audience has problems with 'The Fruitier Words In The English Language'.

What usually happens is that everyone goes, "No," and we get on with proceedings. But at the Douglas, when I stood up and said, "Does anyone have a problem with the fruitier parts of the English language?" one woman in the back row looked confused. Frowned a bit. Then said, "What?"
Aha, thinks I, we've got a live one here. "Do you have a problem with fruity language?"
"Fruity...?"
"Language. Fruity Language. Can I talk dirty to you, you saucy minx?"
At which point she got up from her seat, mumbled, "I think I've come to the wrong place." and left.

Not forty seconds into the event and already I've managed to piss someone off enough that they felt the need to bugger off out of it. Ah, be still my rampaging ego... Oh dear hairy Jesus... But the consummate professional that I am *ahem* I made light of this terrible setback and embarked upon the next hour and a half of rambling nonsense.

And I was extremely surprised and chuffed when someone in the audience announced they were from DC Thomson - a fine organisation what does (amongst other things) comics! She Who Must Be Mentioned Frequently On The Blog As She Feels All Left Out Otherwise had three separate interviews with DC Thomson*, and they passed on the opportunity of a lifetime by failing to offer me lots of money to draw dinosaurs and people with handlebar moustaches. Bah... Anyway, I was giving this guy, Scott, a hard time for these terrible corporate indiscretions when he dug from his bag five mint copies of Commando.

Go Commando!It turned out that Scott's the Chief Sub editor of Commando! How cool is that? My brothers and I used to read it when we was little. Stopping off at the Four Mile Garage on the way out to Westhill, we'd be treated to an issue of that (or it's sister publication Starburst) and a bag of boiled sweeties. The garage had an entire wall devoted to glass and plastic jars of jewel-like sweets. The sharp-edged yellow of Cola and Pineaple Cubes; the glorious ruby and yellow striped 'Rhubarb and Custard'; the strangely chemical reek of Pear Drops; silky smooth Sugared Almonds; green and red Granny Sookers; tart little Soor Plooms...** Sherbet Lemons were always my favourite, even though they'd cut the roof of my mouth to ribbons after seven or eight of the glassy little ovals.

OK, so I digress. The point is that Commando magazine was very much part of my childhood, and being given five pristine copies by a bloke who actually works there was pretty damn cool. Especially as he'd brought them along as an early birthday present.

And the joy was not to end there, after we'd finished, Elaine, another of the attendees had brought along packets of Tomato Sauce flavour crisps for me too! As I was always mentioning them in the pub scenes in the book. How great is that?

All this birthday-related generosity was gradually overcoming the crushing blow of being walked out on in the first forty five seconds by the not saucy minx in the back row. And then someone told me that she'd actually been looking for the French class upstairs.

Bonjour mon nom Stuart, peut-il moi est-il vous parler sale?

* But didn't give her the job. Obviously their interviewing procedures are more rigorous than mine own...
** It's arguable that this was the point in my life that gave birth to DI Insch's obsessive consumption of retro confectionery.

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