Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Launched into the world...

I've peaked, apparently, in all departments...  Though the book hasn't even been out a week, I'm already slipping down the Amazon charts faster than a hooker's bra straps.  Furthermore, the snow passed and so did Romantic Interest.  As I had feared, our mutual recovery came even quicker than I had anticipated - a mere 24 hour bug when I was hoping for a lingering virus that would afflict us both deliriously for months. Sobered by recent events, I woke with that faint cringing, embarrassment that you get after a night on the lash where you've lost your dignity and shudder at the memory of what you said, and what you did, and wish you had been more cautious, more circumspect, and less - well... less of a drunken fool.

Except that, no, wait a minute, that's because I was that drunken fool.  Drunk, not on love but on The Portobello Gold's finest screw top white, followed by several glasses of Pedantic champagne courtesy of the lovely Mr T and my friend Kimberly at E&O later augmented, I seem to remember, by Mr T's idea of a nightcap - tequila shots.  Mine is Ovaltine, but the Tequila certainly numbs the pain of Romantic Disinterest more effectively than malted milk -  as well as the lips.

As another of the guests, our lovely author Graham Rawle remarked:

The correct response to the suggestion of tequila as a nightcap is 'On top of champagne? You must be insane. It will give me a raging headache because tequila always does and I have to be up at 5.30. It is a very, very bad idea and I will not have any. No, thank you. No. No. No.'  

So why do I hear myself saying, 'Oh, go on then'?

I wholeheartedly agree but readers, finally,

yeah... it came to pass...

The Book Launch

I dressed up in my Jackie O does Weightwatchers,  fuschia coloured Mad Men frock and a French roll, for once in my hair, not in my hand and didn't, after the first half hour, look at the door winsomely half hoping that those I knew were not coming, would come anyway.

Instead I was too delighted to see all those who did come...  my kids, smiling and gorgeous,  all the Pedants, en masse, which is like rent a crowd, but with enthusiasm, and many old friends, some of whom had schlepped a very long way at considerable effort.   Books were sold, cheap plonk was imbibed and, inevitably, thanks to the insistence of my erstwhile Salsa partner, Mr Angie, speeches were made.

While I didn't quite do a Gwynneth Paltrow or a Kate Winslett, it is probably fair to say that the gift for public speaking is not one with which I have been blessed.  Furthermore, only after the toast did I realise that my thanks were somewhat sketchy.

In my defence, alcohol and memory are known to be mutually exclusive, however  there were some people I left out:

So here goes...  Karen 'Fashionista' Duffy was the person who really saved me from the slush pile, or the large black hole of unsolicited manuscripts that sit on the floor behind Mr T's desk and to which, I imagine (since I didn't work there then) I was relegated when he unwisely offered to read my book.

I remember the day I came in to see him for the sort of 'cup of tea' I now arrange for others, when I sat at his little round table and said:  'but I want you to like it...'

Months passed...

until six of them later when I was on holiday and, due to the fact that Karen liked it.  'No, I mean really liked it,' stressed Mr T, he recommended me to an agent.

Karen read it not once, but three times in three different guises, and though Pedantic still had no room on their 'already overcrowded list' (is that a line familiar to any of you prospective writers out there?) without her enthusiasm it would simply have been another thing at the back of a drawer marked failed projects, and - believe me - I'm running out of drawer space.  So HUGE thanks.

Next - step forward - the Pedants:  All of you who read this stuffed into your little RSS feeds every morning and gobble it up like biscuits by franking machine, thanks for suffering the curse of the lost wife that has been me over the last year and for being such really nice people (and they are - you out there in less fortunate companies, my heart goes out to you).  Lapsed Romantic Interest remarked that he didn't think he should come along to the launch as the book happened before him (erm, yes darling - I've had cheese in my fridge that lasted longer than you did) but if I excluded people on that basis, there would have been no party.  Without all of you cheery souls - none of whom I knew a year ago, it would have been a truly miserable affair.  The party, I mean, not the romance...  sadly you can't do much about the love life.

And finally - My kids - who, as one of them felt moved to point out rather indignantly, I also failed to mention in the speech.

Sweet children.  'But , ahem - you didn't do anything.'  Didn't read the book, don't read this blog, act like I'm trying to give you smallpox when I ask if you want to go to the cinema with so, yes, I realise the gesture is a bit wasted on you, but...

'We're your kids...  I came all the way from university,' said the offended one. (£100 quid for the train, £20 for a taxi,  £20 for booze and a kebab.. but you can't put a price on love.)

This is indeed true, and I should, of course, have mentioned the joy bestowing properties of parenthood.

Ahem:  'Parenting is such a joy.'

At some time after the excruciating speech was over, some local colour in the form of a tall disheveled and very drunk man (strangely enough, not  a publisher) wandered in with his wife who looked like a Bassett Hound on Crack.  I asked one of the Waddlers if we could get rid of him.

'Erm, he's drawing you a picture,' she said, with a sort of Nick Parks type expression and very wide plasticine eyes.  This is Notting Hill, we have the Bohemian artist types here you know...  Still...  And then he bought a copy of the book and asked me to dedicate it to Poochie, his poodle.  Well, it takes all sorts, I suppose.  I did my duty and was just about to return to the real, invited guests when he handed me another copy of my own book which he hadn't paid for.

Thanks, I suppose, and then I opened up the fly leaf to discover a very, very detailed drawing of a great many poodles scampering across the title page.

'Oh my god,' says Eva, looking over my shoulder anxiously, 'Who is that strange man?  He came into my gallery today and wouldn't leave and did exactly the same thing - left me a drawing of poodles...'

Obviously he likes dogs...

After my recent disappointments in love I'm becoming increasingly fond of the idea of a Labradoodle, in lieu of all the devotion I am now sorely missing.

I mean they're lavishly affectionate, always delighted to see you, they get up and run to you when you walk into a room, are undemanding, loving, and very, very loyal.  Frankly, if you could teach them how to text..


there's not a lot in it...