Well. my daughter and I flew to Amsterdam and then trained to Groningen to attend the World & Universal Arts Festival held in the University Theatre, and it was terrific! As a first time event for the organisers, the performers (including me!) and the audience, it was a roaring success. I spoke to Jean-Marcel Bikouta-Nkaoulou who did most of the hard work. He personally congratulated me on winning the silver and special award for my unpublished novel, Hot Air. I was asked to speak about the novel and even though I was the only one who spoke in English to the mainly Dutch audience, they laughed in the right places. Fair enough, I could only grab the gist of the stories and poems other writers read to the audience but their passion shone through. Also coming through the air, floor and walls were the percussion vibrations of the Bikouta drums and African style drum ballet. The drummers danced with their large drums. A touch of the event can be snatched from this page on my website along with two Youtube extracts of teh Bikouta drums and Basile, a wonderful mellow-voiced singer and acoustic guitar performer. See here.
My daughter coming along with me added a very welcome dimension as we travelled around the Netherlands. We re-visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. I hadn’t realised, but should have, that Deborah Rey, who asked me to wave at the Martini Tower in Gronigen, used to live next door to Anne Frank during the war. She wrote a terrific book of her experience of being a child-courier, as chilling as Anne Frank’s diary. Deborah Rey’s book is here.
At my wife’s suggestion my daughter and I experienced again the amazing pancakes at a nearby pancake parlour – yum.
Back to the award. Yes, I am now an award-winning author – yeay! Besides a glossy certificate, I was presented with a bouquet of ‘bloomen’, which in turn I presented to my gorgeous daughter. Sadly, we are not allowed to bring them back to the UK so she presented them to the barmaid in the University of Groningen theatre – so they went to a good home My Hot Air will be published as part of the award – details in a later bulletin.
Finally, I can’t finish without mentioning the heart-warming experience of seeing so many cyclists in the Netherlands. Although most fitted with bells, we hardly heard any street noise. Motorbikes, cars and bicycles seemed to braid really well together and at a gentle patient pace. You know how outside British mainline rail stations you find a multistorey carpark? Outside Central Station in Amsterdam is a multistorey bicycle park – four floors of thousands of bikes!
One final final point. I discovered in my e-mails today that I’ve won another prize – this time first prize! Yes I won a draw in a web forum I dip into about motorbikes. I used a motorbike for my hero in my other thriller, Escaping Reality, and needed help in the research. An advert for Escaping Reality resides in this motorbike forum. What goes around – as they say, comes around… sometimes. I’m on a winning roll. It’s too much to expect the jackpot and have a publisher snap up Left Luggage so I’ll buy a lottery ticket. Then maybe I’ll stop deleting all those adverts saying I’ve won the lottery!