To Aber and Back

It’s Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival 2023. It’s also 3pm on a Friday, and we’ve just checked into our hotel in Aberystwyth. Time, I think, for a leisurely lunch and possibly a swift pint before I clock on for ticket-checking duties at 5.00. There’s a nice Moroccan restaurant in the vicinity and I’m mentally running through which variety of kebab I’ll be making acquaintance with this afternoon and then…and then…my phone plings and it’s the GCCF WhatsApp group. Can I come round to the Green Room at Ceredigion Museum AS SOON AS POSSIBLE because there are 70 goodie bags for panellists that need filling with, well, random goodies RIGHT NOW.

After that, I’m straight into minding the shop at the museum as panellists arrive. Followed by the Dragon Parade along the front. In my Dragon Hat. Keep your dignity, Jonesy. As long as you keep your dignity, it’ll be all right. Well, that worked well, didn’t it?

Then we’re into the Gala Quiz Night, co-hosting with Bev Jones resplendent in deerstalker and me slightly less resplendent in the aforementioned dragon hat. The table with my wife, my agent and old friend James Oswald wins the main prize. This is, of course, a coincidence. I am aware that I haven’t eaten since breakfast, but improvise a splendid dinner from glasses of red wine and mini sausage rolls.

This sets the tone for the entire weekend. You might think that all of us on the organising committee would be passing the time in between panels drinking Martinis and lighting cigars with £50 notes. But in reality it’s a blur of running from event to event, from the museum to the library to back again and – am I checking tickets- am I the microphone guy- am I doing the three-minute “Close Up” reading – or, hang on, a I actually taking part in this panel myself? Tiredness is kicking in by now, and I almost refuse Cathy Ace admittance *to her own panel* and yet it’s only 9.00 on Saturday morning…

And then it’s Sunday afternoon, and it’s all done and, well, we did it. Wales has its own crime festival now, and it is, frankly, a bloody brilliant one! We pulled off a book festival of international standard in the space of about 16 weeks. And now, all I want to do is get home and start writing again. Actually, no, that’s wrong…what I want to do is sleep for about a week and then start writing again.

I met up with some old friends and made lots of new ones. I also learned some important lessons, perhaps the most important being *never go out drinking with Trevor Wood*. 2024 will be online, and that’ll be great as well, but – I tell you what – I cannot wait for 2025 when we’ll be live and back in Aber again!

I hope to see lots of you there!

2 thoughts on “To Aber and Back

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