I circle the venue warily.
The whole thing is intimidating. It is hosted by my important publishers. They have invited all their authors to a glittering party. Plus me, who is an idiot who has written a book.
I study the invitation. It has silver writing and is on expensive card. They have hired the V&A Museum for the night. I take a deep breath and walk in.
“Hello,” says the lady on the door. “Welcome to our party for proper authors, and not just idiots who have written a book. There are name badges here, in alphabetical order. And you are…?”
I point her towards my name badge, which is sitting next to Lord Mandelson’s. Adopting an air of ‘I am completely and utterly comfortable in these surroundings and not at all overawed by the circumstances, in fact I am quite cool about the whole thing yes I am,” I wonder if it would spoil the effect should I take out my camera phone and photograph the name badges.
I enter the arena of party. I do not know many authors by sight, and having previously had a bad dream in which I handed my coat to VS Naipaul to check in, I keep my jacket on. I meander around Whitbread prize winners, editors of The Times, Sue Lawley etc., before joining a group of authors who turn out to be extremely nice and hospitable people.
“OMG OMG!” says one of them, pointing to an elderly lady. “That is Judith Kerr over there!”
I have heard of Judith Kerr, legendary 87 year-old author of ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea.’ It is a book that I loved when I was a child, and my companion is clearly also a fan. I do not mention that I am convinced that the book is an allegory, and is about a lady who runs a brothel at home. However, looking at kindly Judith Kerr, 87 year-old author of ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea,’ I start to suspect that I might be reading too much into it. She turns to potter carefully away.
“I MUST go and say hello and tell her how much her book meant to me,” cries my fellow author, leaving the canapés and breaking into a sprint. I chat to somebody else, who has written some very funny stuff about Father Christmas. In the background, Judith Kerr, 87 year-old author of ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea,’ is rugby-tackled to the ground.
“Can I have your attention please?” exclaims the party host, who makes a speech thanking everybody for coming. At one point she announces that, in a rare event, she is going to single out one particular author for praise. I get all flustered about this, but it turns out that she is talking about the Booker prize winner, which is a bit disappointing. There is a shriek in the background, as somebody administers a paralysing Vulcan death grip to escaping Judith Kerr, 87 year-old author of ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea.’ I drink lots more champagne before leaving.
Welcome to my new world.