After enjoying Michael Carrollís write up on Robert Rankin in The Wizards Knob issue 6 (a quick plug there) I decided to take his advise and went to a book signing and talk held at the Komedia Club in Bristol on 7th October.
I got the impression that Robert was quite nervous about giving the talk, even though there were only about thirty ticket holders at the event. He started to talk by reminiscing about his father who, even though he spent his working life as a carpenter, managed to convince Robertís teacher and classmates that he was a whaler. He was so believable that he gave a speech at school about whaling and even turned up with a harpoon which he had made.
After his fathers death in 1991, Robert attended a memorial service where he was sure the vicar was giving a eulogy about the wrong person. It was only after he heard the giggling behind him that he realised that for the last nine months of his fathers life he had been winding the vicar up with wild stories of his adventures sailing around Cape Horn and walking across the Sahara. This cumulated with the vicar on seeing a swordfish snout which Robert had given his father, recall a tale of his dad wrestling and breaking the sword off whilst stopping his boat sinking off the Florida peninsula.
Robert Rankin called his father the greatest influence and inspiration on his life. After all, when you are brought up in a climate of tall tales it is only natural to spin a few good yarns of your own and long may the creative juices flow.
The short talk finished with Robert reading a short number of his poems which will be published next year in his Ďautobiographyí, although I always find it hard to believe anything that is told to me concerning Robert Rankin as heís such an unusual character. I once fond a sheet of silver stickers stuck to page 118 of ĎA Dog Called Demolitioní and was convinced they had some kind of role to play in the development of the story-did they?
Iíve enclosed a tape of the talk but you may need to turn the volume up as it is quite faint. Feel free to use this review as such in the next issue of Sproutlore. By the way I saw your advert in the latest paperback, congratulations and I hope this brings a lot more readers into the fold. I only hope Transworld get around to printing ours.
All the best and Iím still after another copy of issue 6 (Jan í96) if you can lay your hands on one. Please adjust my subscription accordingly. If you know anyone who wants to sell the first three issues of Sproutlore Iíll give them £20 for the three.