An Evening with William McInnes

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on 26 Feb 2014 
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At 7.30 pm on Monday night William McInnes and I sat down together on the stage of the Albany Town Hall for what was supposed to be an hour of conversation about his latest book 'The Birdwatcher'.  It's essentially a soft little love story set between Melbourne and far north Queensland, built around twitching.

The event was sold out, I'd read the book twice and done a heap of prep work, carefully crafted to elicit from William the full range of his multi-faceted 'Renaissance Man' personality and interests, from side-splitting hilarity through fair dinkum sport- and beer-loving Aussie bloke to softness, pathos and tears. So, we shook hands, sat down, I told him that I'd heard he was 'conversationally untidy' and so had crafted some navigational notes to keep us on track, and he simply sailed off on his own inimitable course!

Soon realising the impossibility of steering it, I joined the rest of the audience laughing and crying in turns as he regaled us with the stories of his life.  My occasional prompts were almost entirely unnecessary.  Having spent time with him through the day earlier, I'd been a little concerned about the prospect of colourful language as I'd watched the grey- and blue-haired ladies of multiple Albany book clubs gathering for the event. The language wasn't tempered at all, but it was such a rollicking ride that any prissiness soon fell away in its wake.

Soon 8.30pm came and went, I listened carefully for the telltale sounds of restlessness or seats being vacated out there in the darkness of the auditorium, but everyone was riveted. After a few questions from the audience we finally called it a wrap at 9.15pm, after which he mingled with the crowd in the foyer while signing many books. It was a great night. I've left William with a card and contacts, and an open invitation to chase birds on any of our reserves around the country.  We may well hear from him.....

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