Congratulations to my good friend Sarah Bourne on the recent Sydney launch of her novel Two Lives, available here. Unfortunately I couldn’t be at the launch because at the time I was fighting off the fans as I signed copies of one of my novels in San Francisco (well I signed four books at my wife’s aunt’s house), but you can read about Sarah’s event here, and you can read my review of her book here.
Being a fan of book launches, especially the well lubricated variety, I couldn’t resist including one in my novel An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity. Here it is, narrated by my character Fiona Salmon.
My time as a widowed gym-addicted police officer hadn’t left time for anyone outside professional contacts, let alone friends or casual acquaintances. But my author’s book launch crowd were a stratum of cathedral town society I’d never known existed: Earnest students – the kind who look like Che Guevara and Janis Joplin, whichever era they are born in; elderly amateur intellectuals – the women with close cropped hair and large red framed glasses, and the men with embroidered waistcoats and brown trainers; comfy young couples in conservative wear paired together like lovebirds; assorted old lecturers and young tutors from the university, looking harassed and twitchy from marking essays into the early hours; and the old codgers and their mates on the scrounge for a plastic cup of Rioja and as many cheese cubes as they could snaffle up. My author greeted them at the door and I milled around shaking hands and topping up the plastic cups. I couldn’t remember when I’d last spent time with forty or so people who demanded nothing of me.
My author had appointed a stand-up comic – a friend who didn’t expect a fee – to MC the event and launch the book. The comic rang a small bell and stood on a shelving stool.
“Fank you ladies and gentlemen. I note that all the wine has gone so you can fuck off ‘ome,” he said, and walked out of the door and into the street, at which a couple of Che Guevaras rushed outside, captured him and stood him back on the shelving stool. And that set the tone for the rest of the evening. The wine did indeed soon run out, but I gave two Janis Joplins fifty quid, and they came back with half a dozen bottles of something exiled from the New World. My author autographed and sold fifteen copies of the novel and listened philosophically as the old codgers lectured him on using the f-word on the first page.
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