Mavis's Shoe

Author of two novels and a creative memoir.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Rue End Street

Rue End Street, the sequel to Mavis’s Shoe, is published and out there on the shelves waiting to be picked up. It is September 1943 and Lenny Gillespie, our heroine, is 12 years old, but growing up fast. The tides of war are turning and Britain is gaining confidence as Germany weakens. But disaster strikes Lenny's life again, propelling her the length of the great Clyde estuary, to the ports of Helensburgh and Greenock.

Known as 'Port Number One' during WW2, Greenock was a hive of activity, the main assembly point for the Atlantic convoys and the re-entry point for returning convoys carrying vital goods for the survival of Britain. Over two million US servicemen and many more from other Allied countries also landed there as well as the survivors of sinkings including the Arandora Star. Many of these various groups were herded immediately onto trains at Princes Pier Station (now gone) while others were stationed in and around the Lower Clyde Basin for lengthy periods. As is only natural with so many men in one place, trouble occurred, and Rue End Street was said to be the epicentre of such trouble. Hence the title of the book.

The people of Greenock have reason to be proud of what they gave and the hard work put in for the survival of the country. Winston Churchill himself said: 'the only thing that ever really frightened me during the war' was the U-boat peril'.

Publication of Rue End Street has followed several weeks of frantic activity which culminated in two launch events, one in Waterstones Argyle Street Glasgow, the other in Clydebank Library. Both included two short dramatisations of sections of the book. Those of you who came to the launch of Mavis’s Shoe at the aye Write! book festival in Glasgow may remember the dramatisation of that came with lots of bells and whistles, or at least explosions and sirens, and actors from STaG theatre company, or Student Theatre at Glasgow under the direction of the wonderful John May. For Rue End Street we were mostly in-house:

This is Liz Small, MD of Waverley Books, as the Leeds lass manning (womanning?) the desk of the Army Office in Greenock in September 1943. Liz sported a spectacular, if slightly exaggerated Leeds accent. Oh, and a rather attractive wig. Liz is actually naturally blond.

We also had these two, Ron Grosset (left), the other MD of Waverley Books, and Drew Campbell (right), President of Scottish PEN, playing sextons. That’s sexton as in grave attendant, not as in relatives of mine.

For our second launch we had Mark Mechan, the designer of the wonderful covers of both books, as gravedigger #2, a world debut performance of the same outstanding quality as the covers. A wonderful time was had by all.

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