It was a pleasure to welcome iconic musician Hugh Cornwell to The Silvester Horne Institute, Church Stretton, to talk about his latest novel, ‘Arnold Drive’. Hugh was the original guitarist, singer and main songwriter in the British rock band The Stranglers.

Hugh was there to meet people as they arrived, to pose for photos and sign copies of his books and CDs, including his latest solo album, ‘Totem and Taboo’, which was recently released to rave reviews.

The event was compered with great humour and insight by David Wright, himself a musician who played the circuit at the same time as The Stranglers and who now spends much of his time with the Owen Lewis Portable Theatre Company. Hugh began by talking about how he came to write books, and gave a brief synopsis of ‘Arnold Drive’ before reading a passage from it. He then chatted with David for a while before opening out the questions to the audience. There were a good variety of questions, lasting over 45 minutes, ranging from where he does his writing to whether his characters are drawn from real life, and how he got published.

Following the Q&A, Hugh was happy to pose for more photos and sign more books.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and we hope he will return to Church Stretton when future books are published.

Synopsis of Arnold Drive

Nothing much has ever happened to Reverend Arnold Drive, the meekly quiet vicar of St Tobias. Feeling safe only within the walls of his church and the gentle rules of his faith, Arnold is ironically a man utterly without drive; a man content that nothing much ever happens. Nothing, that is, until the day his church is sold off to property developers. Ejected from his church and his home, Arnold is thrust out into the modern world – a world for which he is utterly ill-equipped. Suddenly, life presents Arnold with a series of moral dilemmas that test his faith, his judgement and his understanding of human nature.

His first experience of love and sex, a surprise confession of murder, a suicide, the prospect of unexpected wealth, the discovery of a hidden family history, all cause Arnold to reassess the certainties he has taken for granted. Then, a near-fatal car accident forces him to face up to the fragility of sanity and of life itself…

Arnold Drive is the story of a man’s journey from innocence to experience where he discovers his moral compass isn’t always pointing the right way.

Photographs copywright Natasha Savage

Hugh Cornwell: ‘Arnold Drive’ March 18th 2015