From 5pm: Conventioneers met in the Friend at Hand in Herbrand Street for an informal pre-dinner drink. The pub has a literary history - it's a former haunt of Oscar Wilde - but was chosen for its size and proximity to Il Fornello rather than for any Hoban connexions. The pub was packed and there was a great atmosphere, although attempts to put up sheets of yellow paper in the windows saying MIGRANTS YES to guide participants to the right place failed to curry favour with the management!


Click on small photos to see big photos



Photo credits: Top: Olaf Schneider; Bottom: Eli Bishop

To see more photos from the Friend at Hand see Eli's page





7pm: After introductions at the Friend at Hand, participants moved round the corner to Il Fornello in Southampton Row for a three-course group dinner. This Italian family-run restaurant is a longtime favourite of Russell Hoban's and forms the scene of convivial dinners in several of his novels. Hoban also once wrote about his late contemporary and friend Leon Garfield: "We'd meet from time to time at Il Fornello near Russell Square to exchange current pages and encourage each other over pizza della casa and beer. We talked about money, reviews and the lack of them, the decline of Western culture, as manifested by writers who got bigger advances than we did, and in any pauses he'd talk Shakespeare and I'd listen."



Il Fornello pix by Olaf Schneider


Olaf set up his laptop to display a slide-show of Hoban images on the wall throughout the meal and after dinner participants were presented with welcome packs which included a feast of Some-Poasyum goodies, including booklets, mouse-mats, pens, badges and bookmarks (for full details and pictures see the Welcome Packs page). Conventioneers were also able to collect the specially-designed mugs and t-shirts they had ordered (see the Merchandise page) and everyone was invited to sign a fabulous birthday card for Russ designed and hand-made by Ruthie Bosch.


Next: The London Tour

Somehow a very Hobanesque inn-sign


The frontage of Il Fornello ... looks small, but the restaurant extends far back from the road


Fornello interior, downstairs


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