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A visit to Chard Library in Somerset – 16th May 2019

It began with a conversation at Lincoln’s Steampunk Festival over the August Bank Holiday 2018.  Steampunk fan Jo Portway, who was standing in a long queue, past the SS&M stand, for the stall next door (!), introduced herself as the head librarian at Chard Library, and asked if I gave ‘library talks’.

Because I owe such a massive debt of gratitude to libraries – I wouldn’t be typing this now if it hadn’t been for the Kensal Rise Library in north-west London, shaping my passion for books at a very early age – I happily agreed to visit Chard. I’m always keen to visit libraries, to bang on about their importance and field questions from the audience.

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Photo ©Jo Portway

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The stage is set…

Thanks to the creative industry of Jo and Debbie Grabham Ingham, the ‘library talk’ evolved into a ‘Steam, Smoke & Mirrors Murder Mystery Evening’, written by Jo and Debbie, with the proceeds going to the development of the library’s Wellbeing Zone.

Despite my advertised attendance, a capacity crowd of 60 citizens of Chard and the surrounding area packed into the library to polish their magnifying glasses, don their deerstalkers, and try to figure out ‘whodunnit’.


With Debbie Grabham Ingham and the cast.

With me playing Professor Artemus More, it was fascinating to watch the glorious cast, in full Steampunk outfits, embracing the characters and offering full-on performances.


Five sleuths correctly deduced the murderer, but only one named the killer and his motive for committing the foul crime.

A fun night with lovely people. Thank you Jo and the people of Chard.

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