Launching the blog book -- and Midweek
This was the week which launched the blog book. It is now well over 3 years since I have been blogging (reluctantly to start with, but soon with terrifying enthusiasm and not without its irritations, I am sure, for the long-suffering family). The whole thing has been strangely life changing, and in quite unexpected ways. If anyone had said to me four years ago that I would be sitting down to Sunday lunch to a couple of people from Swaziland whom I had previously only met electronically, I would not have understood what they were talking about.
But that is, of course, what happened a few days ago. (Thank you Paul and Glorious for coming from Africa to see the book on its way, thank you Eileen from the US, and thank you everyone else who went to such trouble to come to join in the fun.)
For those who haven't yet seen it, the book of the blog includes quite a few of the original comments from various commenters. And we decided to have two parties to launch the book, one in London and one in Cambridge, to make it as easy as possible for all those published commenters to make it. The Cambridge party was at Heffers, the London one at the Society of Antiquaries -- excellent locations, I should say.
A good time was had by all. The only problem for me -- who has an increasing difficulty with names (not, I like to think, a consequence of failing memory, but simply of having too many to remember . . . ha ha) -- was how to recognise the guests. Or rather it was how to tell those guests I had never seen before (the commenters known only previously through cyberspace) from my familiar friends whom I just happened to have temporarily forgotten.
I got it wrong several times. Sorry all. And it didn't get better after more alcohol.
That said, we all had a good time as well as a good deal to drink.
After the London do, I stayed over because the wonderful Profile publicity team had fixed up for me to be on Midweek on Radio 4 at 9.00 on Wednesday -- with a small crowd of other people most of whom were plugging their new books too. (This is one of the husband's least favourite programmes on Radio 4 -- and he is constantly comparing it unfavourably to what you can listen to at 9.00 on other mornings of the week. I'm not quite sure why he hates it so much -- partly because it never really says anything I guess.)
On this last Wednesday the guests were me, plus Phil Jupitus, Lawrence Dallaglio and Emma Freud (a unlikely combo). I rather virtuously read the books of Freud and Dallaglio (Rugby Tales) to try and get a handle on the fellow guests. I have to say that, while Dallaglio was an obviously nice bloke (and not without a bit of Latin, thanks to his Ampleforth upbringing), the book was a bit of a disappointment, for me at least. I guess that I had been hoping that it would show me just how wrong I had been about rugby players -- that they were not beer swilling thugs but went back to their hotel rooms and read a bit of Plato for pleasure or put on Radio 4 and had an early night.
If Dallaglio's anecdotes are anything to go by, the world of rugby is even more blokeish that I imagined and feared. Testerone oozes out from every page of this book. Yes they do regularly go on benders of 10 pints or more; their views of the female sex are what might politely be called laddish; and often enough the excesses of the night before mean that they have to bunk off training (some of which, especially the "eye exercises" does seem pretty weird). Maybe, I couldn't help thinking, the England team really would do better with some Plato, Radio 4 and an early night. (Still it's an Xmas present must for any rugby fan of your acquaintance!)
Oh in the pictures, you have Paulo and his colleague Glorious, the husband, Charlotte Higgins, Tom Holland, PL, the daughter, Harry Mount, Will Eaves (I think), FG, Foska, George Miller, Michael Bywater...but you will have to work out which is which.