Those Reading Groups

An inexplicable circumstance has been drawn to my attention.

Dear Mr Key, writes Dimity Cashew, You seem to think that all your devotees belong to Hooting Yard Reading Groups, groups which meet to discuss your works long into the night, until one among them remarks how late it is, how late, and the cows come home. Well, I for one am a member of no such group, though I am a loyal devotee who has been reading your mighty prose since time immemorial, or thereabouts. I devour your outpourings daily, reading the postages on my comp-yoo-dah, or via the special app on my iHoot, or by poring over your splendid paperback books. Sometimes I even listen to the podcasts, where I might be fortunate enough to hear some of your stories in between all that coughing and spluttering. The point is that, however I choose to ingest your blatherings, I do so alone, and I never discuss the experience with another living soul, not even with Little Severin, my pet badger. (Actually, I must confess that I did once express an opinion on one of your pieces to Little Severin, but being a badger, he neither comprehends nor is able to imitate human speech, so that was something of a fool’s errand on my part. It is true that he is a mystic badger, but his mysticism is confined to prognostications of the future derived from scrubbling about in undergrowth, akin to the way a haruspex would read the hot and bloody entrails of a recently slaughtered poultry bird.) I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to sit around with a groupuscule of other Hooting Yard readers, babbling about your prose off the tops of our heads. The thought had never even occurred to me. Now it has, I am quite intrigued. Do you have any tips on how I might set about organising such a group, including some guidance on what manner of refreshments I ought to make available? Please note that I am currently residing on a remote and barren atoll, plopped somewhere in the middle of a wild and wanton sea, with only a ragged tarpaulin for shelter, and Little Severin for company.

I am pleased to inform Ms Cashew that I have made special arrangements for a jet aircraft to zoom over her atoll later in the week, spelling out clear and comprehensive instructions for the setting up of a Hooting Yard Reading Group by means of ingeniously-patterned vapour trails emblazoned across the blue, blue, cloudless sky.

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