Admiral Rankin’s Birthday

He’s the only man I know who can walk into his own signing and demand – no, not tea – but a raygun.

A raygun was exactly what we provided (we’re professionals after all), but when facing the debonair onslaught of one Robert Rankin, I challenge anyone to say, ‘No, Sir, I’m afraid we’re out of stock. Can I interest you in something in a derringer?’

The signing was in Birmingham, made special by the lady who’d driven like a maniac from Leicester – and the gaggle of youfs loitering by the soft porn and ogling the most – erm – tasteful literature they could find.

Once they’d slunk out – to go back to Borstal, one assumes – much hilarity resulted from their choice of educational material.

And much hilarity was exactly what took place at Admiral Rankin’s birthday celebrations last weekend.

Take a boat down the Thames, stuff it full of Pirates, punctuate it with deafening bellows of ‘YARRR!’ at every bridge and much cutlass waving at passing tourists. Throw in a bar, brilliant sunshine and a tight corset, then garnish the whole thing with a live shipboard performance of The Brightonomicon…

…and you have the perfect recipe for craziness.

There was a tragic absence of plank-walking, keel-hauling and hanging from the yard-arm – the free-flowing grog ensured all potential boarding parties remained firmly on the fo’c’sle, even if a few did sway like Cap’n Jack Sparrow. Also swaying rather was the Brightonomicon reading, straying wide of the map and daring a realm of long wigs, short skirts and over-sized Italian sausages – along with much lurid audience participation.

And no power on earth will make me tell the rest of that story.

The pirateship docked in Brentford (where else?) where some of the dastardly crew fell by the wayside, lured by the wiles of eco-traders and watering holes close to the shoreline. The rest of us arrived at Fangio’s bar to celebrate birthdays and Sproutage until eight bells and the last tube home.

Top marks to Sproutlore for a wonderful day – and an unlooked-for reminder of what fandom can achieve with dedication, organisation and a passion for what they do. Not to mention a skull-fetish and a decent pair of bucket boots!

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