Rankin Fans Paint Bethnal Green

Mon 9th Sep 2002

Rankin Fans Paint Bethnal GreenRobert Rankin had a very successful event in London to mark the launch of his new book, Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse. The official launch took place at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.

However, the day really started several hours earlier, with a signing in Forbidden Planet. Nobody thought to count the exact number of people who turned up, but it must have been in the hundreds. For most of the session the queue stretched all the way to the back of the shop. The large pile of books next to the desk dwindled to a couple of dozen copies during the hour-and-a-half Robert was there.

Robert was his usual relaxed self, chatting with everyone and drawing ornate inscriptions on peoples' books, which probably caused the queue to move a lot slower than it should have.

There was an excited buzz as the die-hard fans chatted in whatever corners of the shop they could find that the security guards didn't tell them off for blocking the entrance. Several new devotees were attracted to their number. Representatives from the publisher looked on in awe.

As the last few fans drifted off, Robert and his ensemble went to a local pub for a bite of lunch, before taking the Tube to Bethnal Green.

About sixty-five people turned up for the event, which is an excellent number, considering it was organised at quite short notice. After some administrative details were sorted out, everyone headed in to investigate the museum. The original plan was that Robert would give a conducted tour. However, this was abandoned in favour of letting everyone explore at their own pace. Before long, people were playing giant draughts and connect four, stuffing 20p pieces into slots to make the train set work, and even taking of their shoes and socks to play in the sand. Even the Orion staff were seen getting involved. However, all too soon it was time to go back outside for the official launch.

The publishers has very kindly laid on wine (and soft drinks for those who didn't wish to indulge), which everyone agreed was a very good idea. Robert then stood up and announced that rather than suffer the embarrassment of a speech or a reading, that he'd prefer to sing some songs. Quite how (or if) he thought this would be less embarrassing is anybody's guess. However, he gave an excellent rendition of a song which could be Elvis' next hit (if it wasn't for some minor technical detail or other). This and other songs were very well received, although no-one suggested that Robert should give up writing for a full-time singing career.

Following this there was another signing session. For the launch, Robert had prepared a special bookplate to stick inside people's book to identify them as having been signed at the unique event. LostCarPark was especially pleased to have persuaded Robert's fiancÚ, Sally (who designed the cover), to draw a bunny and add her signature to a copy.

As the supply of Orion wine had been exhausted, and it was getting dark, it was time to adjourn to a nearby hostelry. After everyone had acquired drinks, a raffle and auction of a number of special items, including replicas of the model from the cover photo, was held. After (or perhaps during) this, the second annual BARBIES (Brentford Awards to Recognise Brilliance, Inginuity and Excellence for Sproutlore) were awarded. These included a surprise award for James Bacon, organiser of Sproutlore and the event.

Although this ended the official part of the event, there was still plenty of time for consuming many drinks and talking toot late into the night. Everyone seemed to have a good day out, and many new friends were made by all.

(Photo shows Nicola Sinclair and Jo Fletcher from Orion with Robert Rankin in the Museum of Childhood)

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