Memories of ‘The Friend in Hand’ and Rae Desmond Jones

6 Feb

Last weekend Linda Adair and I attended a double book launch at the Friend in Hand pub in Glebe. Nothing too remarkable there, I have been to many book launches at the Friend in Hand, indeed my own book launch took place there (https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/03/16/decades-of-percolation-anna-couani-launches-concrete-flamingos-by-mark-roberts/). But, as I listened to Margaret Bradstock launch Les Wick’s Belief and Anna Couani launch Kit Kelen’s  Poor Man’s Coat: Hardanger Poems, I had what is commonly referred to a flashback to the first launch Linda and I had organised at the Friend in Hand.

Back in late 2012 the launch of two Rochford Press books took place at the Friend in Hand, P76 Issue 6 (The Lost Issue) and The Selected Your Friendly Fascist edited by Rae Desmond Jones. Both these titles were nostalgic in their own right. Issue 6 of P76 had  been over 15 years in the making. Linda and I had created the original layout for the issue in the 1990s on an old Mac and then lost the disk in the confusion of babies and house moves, only to discover it years later in a box under the house. The Selected Your Friendly Fascist grew out of an article Rae Desmond Jones had written for Rochford Street Review on the magazine that he and John Edwards had edited and produced for many years “Lots of energy here, not much control”: Your Friendly Fascist – 1970 – 1984. Rae Desmond Jones remembers…... The article attracted much attention and reminiscing and a few months later I suggested to Rae that he might like to consider pulling together a “best of” YFF . At the time Rae was in hospital and I remember his initial response was “it would have to be called the Worst of”. Shortly after he returned home, however, I received a phone call “is 120 pages enough”.

As a result in October 2012 there was a large gathering of those of us who had survived being published in Your Friendly Fascist and/or P76. In my memory of that day the figure of Rae looms large against the red curtains of the upstairs bar of the Friend in Hand and, as I watched Les and Kit read from their new books last Saturday, I looked across at the corner near the stage where Rae had sat just over 6 years ago.

Of course the fact that I have spent the last 8 months or so working with Linda Adair, Narelle Adair, John Edwards and Ruth Saunders to bring Rae’s final collection of poetry into the world probably had a lot to do with that feeling. So I searched through some old photos and found Rae at the Friend in Hand, launching The Selected Your Friendly Fascist, back in October 2012. I suspect I will have the same feeling when we launch The End of the Line (Rae’s final collection) on Sunday 24 February at 1.30pm at the Exodus Foundation (The Burns Philip Hall) 180 Liverpool Road Ashfield.

Rae Desmond Jones carefully considers Alan Wearne’s launch speech for The Selected Your Friendly Fascist at The Friend in Hand Hotel, October 2012

 

Rae Desmond Jones in full flight at the launch of The Selected Your Friendly Fascist

Joanne Burns, Rae Desmond Jones and Joseph Chetcuti at the launch of The Selected Your Friendly Fascist, Friend in Hand Hotel, October 2012

The End of the Line by Rae Desmond Jones will be launched on Sunday 24 February at 1.30pm at the Exodus Foundation (The Burns Philip Hall) 180 Liverpool Road Ashfield. Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/events/242278270027993/

Copies of The End of Line can be purchased at https://rochfordpress.com/rochford-press-book-shop/

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