"When you are alone, bless the solitude; when you are with someone, bless the togetherness! Think of the seagull: It flies alone happily; it flies with another happily too! Solitude is a food; togetherness is a food; man needs both and he must be happy with both!" Mehmet Murat Ildan
A weekend of vagariousness and capriciousness, I wish, began straight after work on Thursday with a pop into local independent supplier of nice wines The Offy in Whitstable. Inside world famous author, wit and Whitstable's very own ornithological Oscar Wild, Sweary Seagull was assuming his human form and rearranging cups with funny swear words on them on a table next to piles of newly minted books whilst giggling uncontrollably to himself. The language was choice and stained the air with brown words. But I managed to procure a somewhat delicious crab sandwich from Wheelers and squeeze a visit to the pub across the road The Earl of Sausage, as the locals who do not hate DFL’s call it. Without the Londoners dumb, fucking money this town would still be in the 1950’s. Or so that pissed bloke from The Albert tells me.
This Easter weekend would of course see the price we pay for the pleasure of breathing the same air of their city riches and sophisticated ways; 10 deep at the bar, every bar, especially our favourite dive the Neppy; can’t get a table in a restaurant for love nor money - even Prezzo was fully booked and that's got to be the worse restaurant in town -, car parks full of new, wide, shiny cars with strange foreign sounding names like Mercedes Benz and Audi; pavements full of elegant women walking around in posh, new clothes from Whistles and Hobbs – as opposed to the de rigueur Whitstable fashion of Primark and Relate - delicately stepping over that pissed bloke from The Albert who was passed out in the street half on the pavement and half in the gutter gurgling gossip which Sweary Seagull, down on his knees, ear virtually in his mouth, was writing down every gem for some reason. Like they were pearls or something.
The nefarious world of publishing has a new inhabitant; a seagull that knows the sky, a seagull that knows how to fly happily in solitude and with togetherness. For now though he was supping on a pint and regaling about the world wide appeal of Viz, sorry, The Wind Farm. I mentioned how I would love the first signed copy he sold. Just mentioned it once. That was it. In passing.
“So, my mate in Australia was saying to me ‘Sweary, keep a copy of the new book for me’ so I said ‘why don’t you try to buy one online as I’ve just set up the PayPal payment system’ and he goes ‘alright’ so he did it and the payment went through and that was it; the first copy sold”. My heart sank. He could see it in my eyes. I was hoping to get the first signed copy for my collection that I was just starting that day of signed copies by any author I vaguely knew of anything that I could find out about and get there first to get a copy; signed. Although as I recall CJ Stone did give me a signed copy of Fierce Dancing when it first came out and we went on that book tour that Faber and Faber arranged. Anyway, that’s another story.
Meanwhile 6pm approached and, as Showtime neared, Sweary’s tartan bondage trousers started to become a tad anxious; “he’s been a bit jittery all week” says Mrs Seagull as Sweary noisily empties his bowels whilst flying over the bar area. Some would say adding a bit of flavour to the Shepherd Neame corporate piss they try to pass off as beer; but not me. I loved their brewery tour I went to the other year and would heartily recommend it to the DFL’s instead of blocking the roads right up Borstal Hill to the Long Reach roundabout as soon as the sun comes out or a bank holiday starts.
“That’ better”, says the gullmeister. He greets his chums heartily as they to pop into the bar for a quick one. We gather our thoughts and Sweary deep breathes and says “let’s go”. We all walk across the road to The Offy in a big group walking too close together, Sweary in front. We’re ambulatory in slow motion, like we know this is ‘an event and we’re going to it’ and like it does in the credits to Reservoir Dogs. Something’s going to happen.
There’s a wine tasting in full swing and for 6pm on a Thursday evening the place is jumping.
Sweary’s friends beat me to the counter he’s set up to sign the first run copies, limited edition, of the ‘The Wind Farm Easter Annual’. He flips the pack page open, clicks his green pen into action, and signs his name and puts some witty comment in the dedication to his friends. In the top left hand corner of the page he writes hash 2 - #2 – and hands them the book.
“Oz”, he caws. It's my turn. Ooh, I've never been so excited since I met Alexi Sayle at a book signing. I hand over my money. “Signed?” He sounds like James Bond; all nonchalant, like he does it every day. A slight, knowing shake of the head.
“Yes please”, I’m a fan lost in fandom, meeting a hero, the only guy in Whitstable who is funnier than me. Well maybe, Nick Wilty is funnier than both of us put together. Although, now I think about it I do get a lot of people coming up to me and saying, just before the punch comes, “Oi, cunt, that shit you wrote about me/my party/my drug habit/how ugly my girlfriend is? That wasn’t funny!”
My eyes mist over; I sign wistfully. I’m in book signing heaven. Our eyes meet, he looks down to the page, he looks up to my eyes; he writes “Up Ya bum”. I beam. We both bask in the genuine real life, real time satire for a brief glorious moment. The world goes quiet.
In the top left hand corner he writes #1. The moment extends into a friendship like connection. The world of sound suddenly returns and people chatter and bottles clatter. He hands me the book.
“No, thank you Andy”, and I leave him to his adoring public, all his nerves now gone, he’s flying high, sucking eggs. Things will never be this simple again.
The long awaited Wind Farm Easter Annual 2012
will be available from Thursday 5th April. With 130
pages of the ill informed and unreliable shoddy
journalism that has become The Wind Farm's
hallmark, this is THE book to buy this Spring.
Priced just £12.99, and available for a limited
run, reserve YOUR copy by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on