Fans meet Michael Palin at Chichester bookshop

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BOOK lovers had the chance to meet Michael Palin in Chichester earlier this week.

Close to 130 fans of the writer, globetrotter, comedian and actor attended a book signing at Waterstone’s, on West Street, on Wednesday, November 18, for his latest book, Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988 – 1998.

The event, which had been organised by senior bookseller Holly Jones, was held on the bookstore’s first floor from 1 to 2pm.

Chichester resident Scarlett Ayers, who has been a fan of Palin for 40 years, was first in the queue.

She described him as ‘absolutely fantastic’ and had arrived at 11am, unaware that queuing did not begin until midday.

Scarlett, who had seen Palin on stage recently in Southampton as part of his Thirty Years Tour, was delighted when she discovered that he would be signing books 20 minutes from her home.

After having her copy of his book signed, she said: “I’m in pure shock.”

Palin’s latest non-fiction work, published on September 24, is the third in a series of edited diary entries.

The new volume starts in September 1988, when he embarked on his ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ travel programme for the BBC.

Also in the queue was Matt Lindsay, a final-year art and design student at the University of Chichester who lives in Portsmouth.

He said: “I’m very much a fan of Michael Palin’s travel writing.”

Matt, who had previously taken a trip to Latin America, added that reading about Palin’s journeys had informed his passion for travel and inspired his artwork.

The store’s lead bookseller Ollie Browning, who lives in Westbourne, said that the event was the biggest signing it had hosted for a while.

Ollie, who grew up watching Palin’s programmes and reading his books, is currently reading the second of Palin’s memoir series.

He added: “It’s great that such a big author has come to Waterstone’s in Chichester – we like to be at the literary heart of the community, and events like this are the best way to do that.”

At the end of the event, Palin, who was to sign books in Lewes at 3:30pm, said that it had been a ‘very good signing indeed’.

He has kept a diary for 46 years, and said that he tries to spend no longer than 30 minutes writing entries each day, otherwise you start living for it.

Only 20 per cent of what he writes in his diary is included in the final volumes, but he still tries to make them honest and personal.

Asked if when reading back his diaries he remembers events differently, he said that part of the beauty of a daily diary is that it ‘takes you by surprise’.

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