Monday, 24 September 2007

Back from London...

...slightly reluctantly. I missed husband and daughters lots (mostly at odd random moments, when brushing my teeth or waking suddenly in the night) but blimey, did I have a good time.

I kind of fell in love with London a bit, which took me by surprise as for a long time I’ve maintained a stubborn prejudice against it. This stems from a nightmare visit a few years ago during which I came to the conclusion that attempting to negotiate the capital with a pushchair and small children is a bit like trying to climb Everest in stilettos—ie. dangerous and ultimately futile. This time it all felt very different as I left my Bloomsbury hotel and strode purposefully off to meet my lovely editor.

We met over afternoon tea in the most astonishing and fabulous place—the Wolseley hotel in Piccadilly, which looks like an imposing 1930s bank. My editor was very excited when I arrived as she’d just spotted Cilla Black-- but frankly I was so thrilled to be meeting her that James d’Arcy could have come striding in and I wouldn’t have glanced twice at him. (Well... maybe I would... but only to show how seriously I take research....)

Returning to the hotel several hours later I found Abby Green in residence (luckily, having arrived first, I’d already bagged the best bed and most of the hanging space in the wardrobe) and so began forty eight hours of non-stop talking, punctuated by regular sessions of eating and drinking. That night we met fellow Presents authors Kate Walker, Michelle Reid (both of whom had generously brought along their lovely men to share) Jacqui Baird, Christina Hollis and Natalie Rivers and it was one of those evenings that speeds by in a blur of great company until you suddenly realise it’s 1.30 am.

On Friday morning I’d intended to get up early and take in shops and culture, but was badly led astray by my room-mate and ended up spending the morning eating croissants in bed and watching trash tv. Eventually we got ourselves smartened up and set off for the AMBA lunch, which was held in the RAF club in Piccadilly. I was pretty excited to be there as the hero in the book I’ve just finished (gorgeous Orlando Winterton) is an ex-RAF fighter pilot, so I half expected to see his portrait on the walls alongside all the other distinguished officers. Disappointment that I didn't was more than made up for by meeting up with friends old and new (including lovely Donna Alward, who'd come over from Canada) and by the glorious food. Afterwards the Q&A session, led by Michelle Styles, was great—exactly how I always felt lectures should be when I was at university—interesting, informative, relevant, and carried out over delicious pudding and petits fours.

In the couple of hours between lunch and evening drinking we walked over to Selfridges where Abby, Donna and I went in search of the underwear department while the other members of our party went for a cup of tea. I took the opportunity to nip off and buy a going-home present for The Daughters in the form of a vast box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts (unavailable in the cultural wasteland of the north) and then realised I was going to have to carry them around with me for the remainder of the evening, thus significantly hampering my attempts to look sleek and businesslike. Luckily, on arriving at the Oriental Club where Mills & Boon were holding the annual Toast to the Authors we discovered a cupboard in the huge and stately ladies cloakroom and, leaving the doughnuts in there, sailed forth to drink champagne.

It was a lovely evening. Not only did I get to put faces to many familiar names, but also cheer on Kate Hardy and Kate Walker as they collected beautiful diamond-studded pins for 25 books and 50 books respectively. Then it was time to collect the Krispy Kreme package and make our way through dark streets to the restaurant where the partying continued...
(Trish Wylie and Fiona Harper)

(Meg Sleighthome of HMB, Michelle Styles and Abby Green)
(Natasha Oakley)
(Fiona Harper and Donna Alward)
It's perhaps something of a miracle that the doughnuts did finally make it home pretty much intact and were met with cries of rapture from the daughters, who are now desperate for another fix.
Ha. It looks like I'll just have to go back to London as soon as possible....


Rachel said...

Sounds and looks like the stuff of dreams!
So pleased you had a brilliant time and double plus, well done for the photos!

suefromdevon said...

It does look the stuff of dreams!
Glad you had a brilliant time!

India said...

Thank you so much ladies! As it's just the 3 of us here I'll confess to being completely overwhelmed with nerves at the outset and feeling exactly like I did on the first day at big school, but I was very lucky to have Abby to hold my hand (and lead me astray...)

It's very hard to settle back down to writing now!

Kate Hardy said...

Lovely to see you. And you didn't look nervous - you looked VERY glam!

And (whispers) there's a place that sells Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Norwich... you know you want to come and visit...

(Bad Influence Kate exits, cackling, to write her book)

Eva said...

What a wonderful trip, India! Thanks for the commentary...I feel as if I were right there with you!

India said...

Kate-- how could you?! I'm so in the mood for more gossip and good food and I'm having to forcibly restrain myself from booking my ticket RIGHT NOW! (There's this small matter of a book to write, you see...)

Eva, did you get to spend much time in London when you were over here? Because when you come back for Hay-on-Wye Lit Fest, I think we should also add a trip to the city to our itinerary!

Sharon J said...

Now you've got me missing my old home. London's a wonderful city to visit but I certainly wouldn't want to live there again. The lifestyle's too quick - I'd be left behind. Glad you enjoyed your trip, though :)

Anonymous said...

Every time I come here, I feel this despereate urge to pack bags, kittens, puppies and husband, and move to the UK.

I'm so thrilled you had a lovely time (er...have the girls stopped bouncing from the K.K. sugar high?), you deserve it!

Eva said...

I love London, particularly the shopping and the museums. As you know, we travelled extensively while living in England, and visited London at least half a dozen times (and just as many times before moving to the UK).

However, I always leave it feeling exhausted. London is a town for walking. Oh, yeah, and spending money!

Did you buy yourself anything?

India said...

I know Sharon. It's a great place to go for a few days, but I came home absolutely wiped out. (fell asleep on the train... and, oh the SHAME when I felt my head drop onto the shoulder of the man next to me. He was very nice about it!!)

Brown, you must do that thing. If only for a couple of weeks! (the puppies and kittens may be a problem though...)

The Krispy Kreme doughnuts were the extent of my purchasing, thank goodness Eva. I consider it a positive virtue that Abby and I spent so much time lying in bed eating and gossiping that we didn't have time to shop!

Donna Alward said...

You actually brought up the underwear dept.

I should have guessed you would. LOL.

It was wayyyyy too much fun. I'm still recovering.

India said...

The underwear dept was one of my favourite bits of the trip!

Next time, young lady, we have to build in a lot more shopping time.