The day dawned bright with only a few gold-edged clouds in the east. Today, Tuesday, May 6th, was launch day for my book On The Trail Of The Prisoner: A Walking Guide To Portmeirion’s Prisoner Sites. I’d have taken anything including a hurricane as a good omen. In fact, very early the previous Sunday morning I was awakened rolling back and forth in my Hotel Portmeirion bed, bed posts creaking, to an earthquake. It turned out no one else had felt it. I’d have thought I dreamed it, if not for my certainty that it had been real (I’d experienced an earthquake before) buttressed by the fact that the electric clock had lost power sometime during that morning. Ah, an earth-shattering good omen!
But, back to launch Tuesday: While getting ready to visit the BBC studio in Penrhyndeudraeth for a drive time radio interview on Good Morning Wales, I suddenly heard BBC TV announce that a new guide to Portmeirion was being published that day. My first thought was, oh, someone else has written a guide to here, before grasping that they were talking about my new guide. The feeling was something like Christmas morning at age six.
The BBC studio in “Penrhyn” is in the old police station. Vaughan Roderick interviewed me from his Cardiff location. It was clear that both he and fellow host Felicity Evans were Prisoner fans of the old school, voicing that a movie version of the story would not fly. Vaughan asked whether Portmeirion was proud of its Prisoner association. So proud, I told them, that they had completely refurbished the Prisoner Shop a few years ago, installing a lovely reclaimed slate floor.
Back in Portmeirion my starry day continued with a feature in that morning’s Daily Post. Followed by a photo session. Interesting to note that Portmeirion Village’s iconic buildings face west (the Dome, the Bristol Colonnade) or northwest (the Campanile) and so make better photography subjects or backdrops in the afternoon sun.
The moment of truth, of course, was going to come when I would take my chair in the Prisoner Shop, ready with the archival pens I’d bought for the occasion, to sign my books. The gate had been open 45 minutes already. Robin Llywelyn, grandson of Sir Clough and Portmeirion’s general manager, arrived, as did my publisher Roger Goodman.
Emyr Williams of The Herald interviewed me and his subsequent story shouted out my not-so-secret romance with Portmeirion. With my husband (and book’s photographer), Bruce, happily conversing at the front of the store with Robin, Roger, Emyr and shopkeeper Karen Jones, I thought I should make my way to the hot seat in case any customers wanted their books signed. I thought I was going to split with anticipation. Thank goodness my sitting down was the very cue some good people needed to come over for an autograph and a little chat.
For world-wide mail order purchase of On The Trail Of The Prisoner and other Prisoner items, visit www.priz.biz
Read an excerpt from the book
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