Well that was a bit brilliant. Tuesday saw August’s edition of Speakeasy hit Drink, Shop & Do, and goodness, goodness – what a one it was. Yet another fully-booked out night, yet more cocktails, yet more 1920s jazz and late 90s hiphop. Good times. Good times all round.
Up first, lovely Sarah Perry bewitched us with an extract from the unnervingly excellent AFTER ME COMES THE FLOOD (you must absolutely buy it here). She was swiftly followed by the brilliant Hannah Vincent, who read to us from her fab debut, ALARM GIRL (buy it here, right here).
We took a short break, during which we got to work on the all-important Short Story Challenge – more on that later – and then enthralling Emmi Itaranta brought us into the second half with a beautifully parched extract from MEMORY OF WATER (here, please, here). Finally, continuing the theme, Speakeasy favourite Kerry Hudson rounded off the show with a totally enchanting reading from her heart-swelling second novel, THIRST (which you should immediately purchase right here).
All that was left was for Nicci and Ian to present the results of their teams’ efforts for the Short Story Challenge. The theme for this month – thank you to the lovely lady sitting at the bar – was ‘Love Affair Mid-Air’, and what a great theme that was. And here, reprinted below for your reading pleasure, are the exact things that our teams did with it.
Team Cloke (Perry, Vincent, Cloke)
The hot wax drips down his neck as he falls, stars and feathers rushing up toward him. It is the first time in his life that Icarus sees stars and sunshine all at once. Stars and sunshine and pain and pleasure and fear and joy. If this isn’t euphoria, what is? He sees the land hurtling closer, and fancies it is the coast that he knows so well. Because if he is to fall, where else but there? He is down there. He is waiting. He is his life’s love. The person who has made Icarus fly.
And the very thought of him buoys Icarus, it pushes at his skin. He can feel it strengthening and flexing him, even the stubs of the wings that now are part of him. And the wings are growing, they are thickening, they are stiffening.
And he is flying.
Halfway between love and light.
Team Ellard (Itaranta, Hudson, Ellard)
It was a hot Tuesday in August and the city was full of love. At the London Wetlands Centre, dragonflies were docking deliciously. In Peckham Rye, a pair of pigeons were procreating passionately. In steamy Streatham, seagulls were sexing. Seriously.
In frightful Fulham, fruitbats fucked. Obviously.
On top of Charing Cross Hospital, there was a peregrine falcon, smoking a cigarette, while Aino-Elina Virtanen, who was Finnish, slept. Michael Gove, who had an unlikely name for a falcon, was thinking ‘I wonder if sex exists with love? I wonder if the two can ever come together?’
He smirked a mirthless, childish smirk. On a falcon, with its solid lips, that looks particularly desperate.
Aino Elina Vertanen, the Finnish falcon, stirred. She was dreaming.
Of material success.
Two houses, both alike (debatably) in dignity. So we put it to the audience, who voted by the use of their fair hands. It was close (it was – shhh Ian’s team), but in the end, Team Ellard and Michael Gove the peregrine falcon prevailed, making the score 7-6 to Team Cloke. Team Ellard are closing the gap, meaning in September it’s all to play for.
And that’ll be September 9th, by the way, Challenge Fans, when we’ve got another stupendously wonderful line-up just for you. Full line-up to be revealed this week; keep those peepers peeled.