everything’s fine by socrates adams – book launch

last night

the Post-Dr and I fulfilled an invitation to a book launch, which led us to a room populated by the great and bespectacled of the Manchester literature scene. it was at a bookshop.

as usual, everyone was wearing pumps. did you know that the heeled shoe was actually invented by George Bush Snr, as a weapon, during the first Iraq war? most were also afraid of a potential tax on surplus trouser material. a woman carried around and wore her baby like a badge of extra special hipness, and encouraged it to ‘express’ during the readings.

four young male writers read some things they’d written. two out of the four things were to do with trains, but i think that was incidental.

the first was a charming, shy and softly-spoken man who offered a charming, shy and softly-spoken poem about being humble and alone and not alone. it was a lot better than i’ve made it sound. i laughed.

the second reader was a slighter male with a shirt that an American would call ‘plaid’. i think it was blue, but i could be misremembering – i did not write it down. his ‘thing’ as he called it, was ‘new’, which meant printed on a sheet of paper rather than in a book. it was about an interview at a job centre. i liked him and it.

at that point the not-so-funny MC who continually made reference to his being fat, declared it ‘half time’ and invited us for the twentieth time to drink up all the beer – ‘cos there’s plenty of beer and after this we’ll all go to the pub anyway ‘cos beer is great and we’re not at all the sort of people who wouldn’t always drink it or have it at a book launch.

the second half started with my least favourite of the readings. it was another new one on paper and seemed to be an extract from an as yet unfinished story about someone with newly-fitted prothetic legs – possibly (although this was subtext) because of a war – who was arriving at a place in Cheshire.

i can’t remember what the place in Cheshire was called, but the name was mentioned too many times. although the author-cum-reader had a pleasant northwest accent, he did that thing where he made his voice all thin and lingered over the sounds at the end of sentences to make sure that every tee and ess came with the requisite emotional punch. i hate that thing, and the story took itself too seriously for my liking. it was full of fashionably off-beat similes, like the conversation of a public school boy on soft drugs.

the final reader was the author of the book that was being launched, rather than another of his friends, and read from that, his latest, book. he had a beard and a voice reminiscent of Jack Whitehall’s voice. his name is Socrates, which, presumably to avoid confusion with the other two, is pronounced with a long ‘ahhh’.

his novel apparently unfolds the tale of a tube salesman who is forced by his boss to take a tube home and treat it like a baby. instead of reading the opening section of the book, which he implied would have been his instinct, he followed the advice of others and read from elsewhere in the book. as such, i do not know why the boss forced the man to mother the tube, although it’s possible, perhaps likely, that i wouldn’t have anyway.

what i heard was fine; not quite pretentious enough to be like Kafka, not down-to-earth enough to be like Dan Rhodes. it was not, from what i heard, as good as either, despite what everyone was saying and how much they were laughing.

we would have gone to the pub for all the beer with the lit-folk, but we hadn’t had any tea, so we went home.

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  • Comments (15)
  1. I love to laugh

    Long and loud and clear

    And when I laugh

    Ha ha ha ha

    I cry tears of joy
    For trains I missed

    Ha ha ha ha

    Like there was no one to fear

  2. That humble alone poem is a keeper.
    Also, your writing is a keeper.
    That is a compliment.
    That is all.

    • Dude, you know you rock my world.

      Get to Manchester soon, you fantastic human being, so I can bromance you.

      • Knowing the truth and telling the truth are two, very different things.  

  3. I enjoyed reading this. :D

  4. Hello. Thanks for writing about the launch. I’m glad that you enjoyed it (I think). The reason for the way I pronounce my name is because of my mother, who is Greek – I think it’s the way that’s the closest to the Greek. Sometimes I do pronounce it the English style, because I feel embarrassed about having such an extravagant name. Seems weird to comment on the way that someone chooses to look after their baby. People try their best to live in a way that they feel happy with. Seems odd to criticise that. Also, seems weird not to include the names of the readers when you tag them next to the article so that, I guess, people searching for them on-line are directed to your site. Maybe that’s not the reason though, as you wrote my last name as ‘Adam’ in your tags. Maybe you don’t want people who search for me to be directed here. All the best, Socrates.

    • Dear Socrates.

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I did enjoy the event and I hope you were not offended by my comments about your name, beard, voice, or what you read. None of them was intended to be vindictive, rather simply a record of my experience.

      Interestingly, the philosopher Socrates’ name is written in Greek with an alpha (short ‘a’) in the second syllable and an eta (long ‘a’) in the third, which suggests that you, him and the Brazilian footballer all pronounce it differently.

      I’m sorry you think bad of me for noticing the way a women carried her baby and for writing that down. I don’t think I was criticising her, just conveying my impression of what I saw. To me, that seems an odd thing for you, a writer, to disapprove of.

      As for the names, I chose not to pair up the readers closely with my descriptions mostly in order that the post didn’t look like a review, which it is not. Also, as you might have noticed, I did not remember one of the names and therefore am missing a tag. Perhaps you could remind me of who the other reader was?

      As for your tag, well that, I’m afraid was a typo and one that I have now corrected. I sort of wish I were as scheming as you implied, but in truth things round here are less sinister and more haphazard.

      I am amazed when anyone arrives as a result of a web search, especially given that I have refused to be bothered to do any proper optimization.


  5. Hi RQT,

    I think that ancient Greek pronounciation is different from modern Greek. It’s nice to think that I don’t pronounce it the same way as ‘the big guy’ I guess.

    I don’t think bad of you for criticising the way someone looks after their baby, I just said that I found it odd. The implication of your writng was that she was using the baby as some sort of accesory, although I might be wrong, which seems unfair to any mother.

    As for the names and tags, I’m sorry for bringing it up – now that you’ve explained it makes perfect sense. The third reader’s name is Chris Killen.

    I wasn’t hurt or offended about your comments about my beard, voice, name, or what I read – I think it’s lovely that anyone would write anything at all about it. My comment was just, I suppose, my record of my experience of reading this article.

    God, reading that first comment back, I seem pretty insane. Sorry about that. I guess I am just panicking about things.

    All the best,


    • Hi Socrates,

      Thanks for taking the time to reply, and for providing Chris’ name (he should now be tagged).

      Do not worry, I did not think you sounded insane. I can completely understand that you must feel a bit panicky. What you’ve done is a great achievement, and yet there will probably be some people who want to attack you and your work (some of whom will probably be more important than just ‘some guy with a blog’).

      I liked it that you seemed more protective of your friends than of your work. For what it’s worth, I commend you on that piece of prioritisation, although I hope you now know that I wasn’t meaning to attack anyone.

      I guess, looking back, it did strike me a bit from what she was doing that the woman was thinking of her baby as something of an accessory. I did not think badly of her as a mother for one moment, however I must confess there was something about the way she was acting that struck me quite strongly, and therefore seemed comment-worthy. Perhaps it was unkind.

      Good luck with everything from here on out, and I hope to grab a copy of the book in the future (I foolishly came to the launch without my wallet).


    • Kes
    • May 12th, 2012

    Fab. Met Socrates today and he really did seem quite lovely . . . Can’t wait to read his book. RQT you sound like a beautiful nutcase, will you both come round for dinner?

    • Thank you. I’m free on most Tuesdays and some Wednesdays, and I eat everything except raw celery.

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