I am invited to a party!!!

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.

28 Comments

  1. Hi! I just wanted to tell you I’ve ordered your book, and I love the blog! I live near Boston. Congrats on the book!

  2. You should have taken the picture, and casually mentioned that you were doing so to assist the set-dressers for the docu-drama being made about your life. No loss of writer-cred and you get to bag whatever pictures you like.

    I ofer that idea for your next posh party.

    Also, you can get away with taking pictures of the famous people if you claim it is for your child/wife/elderly mother (depending on the expected fan-base of said writer). Then you can continue to appear un-excited. (at least if you manage not to say “ohmygodohmygodohmygod, I acan’t believe it , you’re [name of famous writer]”)

  3. This is heady stuff. It’s like living vicariously as a famous author only once more removed as it were – is that meta-vicariously or vivicariously?

    Quick question though – now that you’re a famousish author people are not only permitted but obliged to ask piercing and intelligent questions – did the Famous Author who was so very excited about Judith Kerr pronounce that as Oh Em Gee (which would be up-to-date and casual but a bit naff) or actually SAY Oh My God and you were just taking vicarious artistic license (in which case you might be next on the list for the rugby tackle)

  4. When you say you circled the venue warily did you mean the whole V & A? That’s a lot of circling to do warily. Did anyone notice?

  5. Wow. Can I be one of those people who talks about you in those True Hollywood Story shows where the actual subject doesn’t contribute at all?

    “So JonnyB, man, this was back in 2004 or 2005, he fucking walks right up to his computer and he just starts writing about it. That post must have taken fifteen minutes tops. Then he just shut down his PC – he shut it down and it made the noise, you know? And he… well he just walked away. And he came up and looked at me, straight in the eye just like you are now and he said: ‘I’m going to feed the chickens.’ That’s what you got with JonnyB, man. That was him. That’s how he did it.”

    VO: “Despite his success in 2010, nothing could have prepared him for what happened next…”

    (Ad break)

  6. We knew ye when, JonnyB. Ach, don’t be forgettin’ us wee, lame bloggers that saw your potential and cursed our own limping prose.

    Well done, laddie.

    (I always lapse into regional affectations when offering up grudging congratulations.)

  7. Me and Mrs Justthoughtyoumightbeinterested had our very first date at the V & A, it lasted for fourteen hours.

    Ironically in my pre Mrs Justthoughtyoumightbeinterested days it was a great place to meet women as it offered an almost perfect zero hetrosexual male competition environment as it is:

    a) A museum
    b) A museum with lots of clothes that serve no military purpose
    c) Lots and lots of ‘pretty beautiful things to look at at not one of which is capable of 0-60
    d) A museum with very few ‘bits of rough’ who are cursed with possessing an aesthetic sensibility that can’t really be shared with their laddish mates for fear of ridicule or censure.

    Oh happy days when all you had to do was plonk yourself beneath a Rodin pull out a notebook look vaguely distant and wait…

    _________________
    Just finished S&B&R&R (or SBRR as the trade are calling it apparently a shorthand soon to join LOTR & B7)

    Cracking read Fella. Well done that man.

  8. Why didn’t you introduce yourself to Judith Kerr? Or at least shouted “Sex & Bowls & Rock n’ Roll!” at her while she was pinned to the floor.

  9. Dave (bassist)

    I still can’t remember much about the fucking Bugsy Malone stuff…

    I was heavily into drugs at the time though…

    O_o

  10. Justthoughtyou etc. reminded me of something that the terribly pOsh horsey commentator, Dorian Williams said, must be back in the early 80’s. I thought I’d share it with you; it made me laugh then and it still does now –
    ” and presenting the prizes tonight is my wife, Mrs Dorian Williams”

    I don’t know – having written it down…..maybe you had to be there!

  11. Well, you’re an idiot right enough, Jonny – but it’s stretching it a bit to call your output a “book”. I personally have typed Outlook meeting acceptances with more literary merit. If that’s all it took I’d be in the V&A every night, or in the Priory getting treated for canapé fatigue…

  12. And this would be exactly why I refuse to write the rivetting, classic and socially poigniant novels that frolic through my mind at 3:00 a.m. during my recurrent bouts of insomnia. I have a deathly distaste for crowds in general, and parties in particular. Too many people, not enough breathing air.

    So yes, the world will simply have to do without my Great American Novel.

    Pshaw – I can’t keep it up. Yes, I hate crowds. No, nobody would ever read any pish I wrote. Including, doubtless, this comment.

  13. Hullo Connie and thank you!!! I like Boston and the area – lovely place.

    Megan: Thank you for your enquiry. As you know, I am often forced to paraphrase direct speech, for reasons of space on the Internet.

    Nope, AJB – you didn’t have to be there!!!

  14. Was Diana Athill there? She’s 93.

  15. I do love a pre order – your book arrived this morning and was a nice surprise as I had forgotten I’d ordered it. Not in a bad way you understand…
    I shall read you on the tube home!

  16. Gem – YOU MUST LAUGH REALLY REALLY LOUDLY and exclaim loudly stuff like “HAHA THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ”. Any time you are in public. It is important.

  17. Ooops sorry Dave (bassist) – your comment went straight into spam.

    Wasn’t trying to censor you. Honest. Hey! Everybody! Say hullo to Dave the Bass Player!!!

  18. How are your chickens?

  19. Aha! There will be EXCLUSIVE CHICKEN NEWS coming soon to Private Secret Diary…

  20. Got my copy from Amazon. Booooooo.
    No, not cos I got my copy, cos I’m a quarter of the way into a Frank Herbert book and I’ll have to finish that before starting S&B&R&R.

    I did read the cover though; I have never seen a recommendation on a book cover which says “You’ll piss yourself laughing.”
    But I turned to page 16 as instructed anyway, and only had to read one line!

    Frank Herbert’s in for a busy weekend.
    Hi Dave the Bass Player

  21. I was told a while back that my pre-ordered copy was on its way but I think the postman must be walking it over to Switzerland. I would like it before Saturday when I leave for South of France and then I can LAUGH REALLY LOUDLY AND SAY IT IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ while walking up and down the beach. Hi Dave the Bass Player.

  22. Hi Dave the Bass Player

  23. I was pleased with the blurb, although I hasten to add that somebody else wrote it…

  24. IT HAS ARRIVED!!! IT HAS ARRIVED!!! Although the vision of pissing myself with laughter while walking along the beach is not good. I will read it standing in the sea!!

  25. Tip – with the water above the waistline.

  26. Book arrived a couple of weeks ago and Amazon are now giving me £1 refund! You should mention this cash back offer when (constantly) promoting said tome, might shift some more copies.

  27. Judith Kerr killed Mog.

    But very tastefully.

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