Last night we celebrated the publication of Mother Of Darkness at the Groucho Club in Soho. The turn -up was phenomenal and the ambience could not have been more vibrant.

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Here is the short address that I made on this memorable occasion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Venetia Welby, the author of this book, is a young lady who is endowed with a special talent. She is a keen observer of the frailties of human nature, and has a style of writing with a deft mélange of expressive words that are uniquely her own.

When I read her manuscript I knew for certain that Venetia’s first book was bound to receive a great deal of attention for it has all it takes to become a best seller, at least among those who appreciate a story woven with such skill and flair that it leaves the reader wanting for more.

Venetia and I have a great deal in common. We both have in some way adopted Soho and marvelled at its bristle of the mundane, the esoteric and the bustling of every disparate and in-depth human emotion possible. In my youthful days, I spent most of my time in Soho, having met a proprietor of a jazz club, a former Oxford graduate, who had been through a stretch in prison for a drug offence involving cannabis. He and I formed a friendship which led to my being offered the job of a bouncer in his club. Since that time, Soho became my favoured place of activity until about 1994. Even now, Soho remains engrained in my very being for it has a magical effect hard to forget.

Venetia’s book is a novel of rare quality. Beautifully written, gripping throughout its 250 pages, it tells the story of the raffish world of old Soho being torn down to make way for a millionaire’s playground. Caught in the crossfire is Matty Corani, who from his poky studio flat yearns for the good old days, but when Matty wakes up next to a stranger one morning, to find his life in tatters, the bulldozers and the moneymen are the reason for his worries. His family has been ripped apart by a sudden catastrophe, his busybody lawyer says he’s wanted in court and he is being tormented by strange and savage dreams.

Luckily, his friend Fix is on his way over with the promise of a good time. As the debauchery intensifies over the coming days and Matty’s mental state becomes increasingly precarious, his story is splintered by a series of psychotherapy sessions, erratic life writings, hallucinations and visions. Soon enough Matty realises he is destined for far greater prospects than what is left of the grimy glamour and earthly delights of Soho.

A lyrical, wry and darkly comic debut that navigates the no man’s land of loss, addiction and religious zeal, Mother of Darkness is a dazzlingly original work from an unmistakable new voice.

That’s a resumé of a great novel which has much to offer.

Every budding author needs all the support that you, the readers, can give. So please show your generosity in real terms by giving Venetia the encouragement that speaks volumes as to your determination to make her dreams come true.

The answer is simple. Please dip deep into your pockets and show us the good colour of you money by buying as many copies of the book as you can afford. And in the process, please entice your friends to do the same and to spread the good word far and wide, so that this evening will mark the triumph of an amalgam of talent and hard work.

It is then that Venetia’s labour of love would have been adequately rewarded and as such will pave the way for more nuggets of such literary excellence. Thank you.

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