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Monday, February 6th 2006 : "The launch"
My last day in Shetland, and it's real Shetland weather, windy and rainy, so I'm not much looking forward to the crossing on the Northlink tonight.
The launch party on Friday night was wonderful. So many old friends turned out. Lots of people who had once lived on Fair Isle. Bill and Margo who still live on the Isle were on their way south. The sound man was Michael Stout, whom I'd last met as a schoolboy! Sarah, my editor had flown in from London the day before. There were people who'd helped me with the writing of the book, library staff, Arthur from the Arts Trust. And readers, plenty of readers. The whole event managed with efficiency and good humour by Silvija, Shetland libraries manager.
James and Claire, two members of the Shetland Youth Theatre did the readings for me. They read magnificently and though I don't usually like hearing my work out loud, the local accents and young voices brought the story to life in a way I hadn't thought possible. And then it was off to the Lounge for a couple of beers with the library people and poet in residence Jen Hadfield. More talk of books.
On Saturday, Marsali Taylor, a local writer, took Sarah and me sailing out of Aith. The day was so still that I couldn't believe we'd ever move, but we did, up the voe towards the open sea, followed by seals and scattering seabirds from the rocks. Sarah flew home on Saturday afternoon and took the good weather home with her.
Sunday was foul. A blanket of cloud and driving rain. I'd arranged to go to Yell one of the north isles, to the Wind Dog cafe, to meet some of the local writers and readers. The ferry was full of schoolkids on their way to a netball competition, dressed in shorts despite the cold. I'd brought Ingirid and Ann, two friend with me for moral support. I couldn't believe anyone would turn out on such a dreadful day. In the end we were a small but select gathering - including a local storyteller, a school librarian, and Wendy who lives right at the north end of Unst, the most northerly place to live in the UK.
And now it's my last day. Time to head south. But I'll be back. There's research to do for the next book.
Posted by Ann at 11:17 AM GMT