RARA-AVIS: Old News - but what the hell?

Since I'm introducing myself here for the first time, I thought I could get away with 
this piece of last year's news, penned by maverick journo Jimmy Vincent  - which should 
mean something to British readers, even if the names mentioned are not top of mind in 
the USA. (Apologies for the length.)

A Literary Evening At Filthy McNasty's

(On November 26th, two of London's darkest crime novelists, Russell James and Mark 
Timlin, were asked to read to a select audience at an Islington Whisky Cafe, Filthy 
McNasty's.  The evening did not go as planned.)

Three parties in one night, a fourth still to come, Mark Timlin was in the peaceful 
stage before the storm. 

The previous evening had seen the final episode of his TV series 'Sharman', which had 
pulled respectable viewing figures and seemed set for another run.  So Mark was happy.  
For him, this particular evening had started at a press party for famed rock group 
Oasis.  It had continued bleerily to the launch party for Maxim Jakubowski's erotic 
thriller 'It's You That I Want To Kiss' in specialist bookstore Murder One.  Mark was 

At Jakubowski's, Russell James appeared clad in black from whatever gangland fastness he 
had been hiding in, accompanied by a sharp white-blonde who seemed uncertain of his 
name.  They shared a taxi, five of them, Mark and Russell, the blonde, Mark's slinky PR 
handler from Gollancz and an unknown third girl expecting an intro to P D James.  Mark 
sung to the cab driver and pointed out the sights.

When they reached the venue they found it almost empty, save for your fearless reporter 
and half a dozen bearded gnomes seated at the counter drinking Guinness.  Over the next 
thirty minutes the audience slowly assembled, gaping in horror at the ragged line of 
uninterested Irishmen at the bar.  One of the gnomes lowered his trousers, which to most 
of the literati seemed an obvious insult.  But to John Williams (globe-trotting editor, 
novelist and critic) this was simply a post-modernist riposte.  The view (both that of 
the critic and that of the builder's backside) did not convince Mark Timlin, whose 
violent intentions were thwarted only when Lucy, the by now extraordinarily attentive PR 
minder, draped her sylph-like form about him and pinned him to his chair.  Russell James 
threw a lager at the flaunter, and the performance began.

Until the literati had arrived, this had been a quiet night in McNasty's.  Regular 
customers (non-reading and perhaps illiterate) found themselves outnumbered by outraged 
authors, hacks and fans.  John Williams pulled a knife  - at least, it looked like a 
knife, but turned out to be a novelty biro acquired at an earlier thrash that night.  
Lucy kept Mark in his chair, Russell threw an empty one, and the white-blonde girl leapt 
behind the bar, grabbed a bowl of hot soapy water and emptied it over a bearded head.  
Timlin now unwound his six and a half foot frame from the chair, dropped Lucy 
unceremoniously to the floor and chased two Irishmen out the door.

They met a publisher coming in  - late as is customary in his trade.  Peter Ayrton 
(Serpent's Tail) surveyed the chaos and asked, 'How did the reading go?'

A bearded, beer-soaked, portly man - Richard Thomas, organiser of the doomed soiree - 
looked up from the floor.  'They brought the house down,' he said.

The signing session was curtailed.

COUNT ME OUT is published as a paperback original in the UK 
by Serpent's Tail, and in America by Foul Play (Spring 97).
There is, of course, lots more news on my web site: 

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