The Life Assistance 2017 UK tour has three dates. World domination postponed.

It’s hard to know from which angle to approach this blog. Not only was my appearance, to be interviewed by the ever-charming Paul Blezard, at the delightful Curious Arts Festival in Hampshire a debut one, but it was also the first time I’d taken children to a festival. I blame both for a beer earlier in the day than I might otherwise have indulged.

I was emboldened to find that my appearance at 1pm in the Arcadia was following a whiskey-making class and it was raining, so finding a pissed up captive audience in my tent couldn’t have been better planned. However, they had clearly drifted off to find cigars or something. Nonetheless a welcoming crowd met me, albeit a sober one.

I read out a chapter, and got a few laughs that weren’t from a family member, before a warm and pleasant conversation with Paul, during which I heard myself publicly admitting that I self-deluded myself into thinking I was not writing a humorous novel in case it wasn’t funny. Afterwards I even signed some copies, and spoke to some glorious people who were so defined because they had read (and thoroughly enjoyed) the Life Assistance Agency, and keen for a sequel, which is fortunate as it is scheduled for publication next year.

In addition to the promotional opportunity, the organisers were kind enough to provide with a spacious glamping tepee, in which we rolled out Snooze 200 sleeping bags amongst 500 mini zombling toys. Despite the headroom and space, glamping is still camping, and the night was spent restlessly dreaming of the Snooze 400 sleeping bag, while trying to change sides while zipped up in a body bag.

Having two kids with you certainly prevents you from agreeing to a glitter make-over at 5am in the dance tent, although plenty of parents were happy to make the most of their compromised situation by blocking the exits to the main tent with pushchairs and trolleys of snoozing kids during the main act of  Tom Odell, (an alluring mix of Elton John gorging on early piano house). Other parents had spent the day making do with getting pissed in the kids’ tent while their offspring made papier mâché masks and cadged money for face painting. It may not be a good look, but a look nonetheless.

The most inspiring characteristic of children is their disregard for torrential rain, but realising a change of scene was needed, we decamped from the kids tent to, well, the campsite, where the festival programme of events served as something to taunt you while sitting in a tepee while the kids treated the inflatable beds as unregulated bouncy castles.

The weather improved the next day, allowing for Dave Eggers to talk about giving up writing for a year, which in light of his recent Heroes of the Frontier* is a good thing. He is instead taking up the challenge to personally impeach President Trump. This is fine, although the unquestioning obedience with which his audience held up their hands to take a solemn oath to similarly overturn Brexit was chilling. Thankfully the good humour of Crazy Golf ensured matters did not get out of hand politically. A hole-in-one by my 3 year old, witnessed by myself, will remain the highlight of this and any festival I’ve ever attended, as it did him. He spent the entre day informing anyone attempting the hole that he had managed the hole in one, before demonstrating how impossible it was to recreate.

The Curious Arts festival is a welcome addition to the festival calendar and not simply because they invited me to attend. It’s chilled like the Big Chill can barely dream of these days, amongst the glorious surroundings of a manor house on talking terms with PG Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle.

My novel, The Life Assistance Agency – selected by WHSmith Fresh Talent 2017 –  is available here – – 

A farcical road trip around Europe. ‘This is what would happen if the Blues Brothers went on a search for the Holy Grail.’

http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-life-assistance-agency,thomas-hocknell-9781911129035

and on ebook here –

 

* Disclaimer. I have thoroughly enjoyed his previous books, but this one is succeeds only in being conceited, boring, judgemental and irritating. He was however following up the Circle, which algorithms have proven to be the perfect novel, so we can forgive him the pressure.