Tag Archives: Steve Hartley

Launching Shine

The custard creams made all the difference. They and the Coke. Halfway through the launch party for Candy Gourlay’s new book Shine, I was overcome by an urge to liberate ‘a few’ custard creams. They were looking lonely, sitting on a table at Archway Library. That sugar rush kept me going all night, more or less.

Archway Library

I arrived just in time for The Three Hundred Word Challenge. Candy read out as many entries as there was time for, and her collected authors pitched in with their thoughts. The advice was good. The fledgling stories were even better. It’s reassuring to find that young people still want to write, and that they know how.

Teri Terry, Candy Gourlay and Jane McLoughlin

While this was going on in front of an audience so numerous they ran out of chairs, people went about their business in the library, and there was a nice mix of festival special and ordinary library behaviour. (It was the first day of the first Archway With Words Festival.) The authors couldn’t always agree on their advice, which should go a long way to proving that there is no one correct way to write. (I thought they were going to come to blows. Which would have been exciting.)

Random's Clare, Simon Mason, Philippa Dickinson and Keren David

Once it was time for the launch proper, I had a job recognising people without the customary name badges. I managed some. I was discovered in my corner by Random’s Clare, who was almost on her own doorstep for this event.

There were speeches. MDs Philippa Dickinson and Simon Mason came. David Fickling, on the other hand, did not. Replacing him, Philippa and Bella Pearson spoke, but they couldn’t quite manage David’s voice, so Candy had to help out.

Candy Gourlay with Philippa Dickinson and Bella Pearson

In her own speech, Candy told us of the long hard slog to get there. What’s three years between friends? Bella went on maternity leave, and came back. Candy said nice things about her editor Simon, even after he told her that her first attempt was no repair job.

Candy’s daughter Mia and friends sang a cappella. Absolutely lovely.

Candy Gourlay at Archway Library

Dave Cousins

We mingled. There were more authors than you could shake a stick at. (Not that I’d want to, I hasten to add.) Fiona Dunbar and I met where we always seem to meet. I met several facebook friends for real. (They exist!) Teri Terry was surrounded by young fans. Dave Cousins came.I recognised Jane McLoughlin but took ages to work out who she was. Missed Joe Friedman. Ruth Eastham was over from Italy, which was very nice. She introduced me to Sarah Mussi, whose book I just ‘happened’ to be reading, so I hauled it out for an autograph. (Very scary. The book. Not so much Sarah.)

Sarah McIntyre

The other Sarah (McIntyre) also ended up signing stuff, although not for me. Keren David said hello, and then goodbye. I chatted to Inbali Iserles and Savita Kalhan. I spoke to people I have emailed with, and to people I haven’t. Sam Hepburn.

Steve Hartley

And then Mr Gourlay went round saying it was time to go home. So we did. To the Gourley home, where the eldest junior Gourlay was looking after food and drink. There was a lot of it.

The Gourlays

They have the loveliest of gardens! Admittedly it was dark, but it was all lit up and the evening was balmy, and there was somewhere to sit. Not the trampoline for me. Spoke to DFB basement man Simon, and the kind Tilda who once bought me a sandwich. At some point I had to admit to a fondness for the Circle Line. (Yeah, well.)

The wine flowed (the recycling men were most impressed with the bottle collection the next morning) and there was cheese beginning with the letter c, and for the carnivores pork sausages on the barbecue, very ably operated by Mr G.

It was dark. As I said. So I gave up on the camera and simply enjoyed, which is why there are no scandalous shots of anyone. I think the man who hugged me before he left long past midnight might have been Cliff McNish, despite him being underwhelmed by my drinking.

Recommended crime to beautiful blonde, who was impressed with my recent meeting with Colin Bateman… When it got too cold we repaired to the inner regions. In the end most people went home, and Candy was left with a mere five houseguests. Eldest son politely gave up his bed for an old witch, and was banished to his godmother’s ‘vomiting room.’

In the morning I got up long after the six o’clock taxi guest had departed, and people had dispersed to school and jobs and things. I met my brand newest facebook friend (less than 24 hours) in her pyjamas. And then Candy made us breakfast and we gossiped about the great and the famous.

But I had a noon train to catch, so shouldered my nightie and toothbrush and walked up the hill to the tube station hidden in mist. Once I got to Euston I encountered the Poet Laureate on the escalators, going the opposite way. Bought some treats for the Resident IT Consultant to celebrate our first 31 years, and hopped on my train.

Tired library visitor

(I know how that doll feels.)

Christmas in the Northwest

Melvin Burgess ate some of my bread. Again. But that’s OK. There was lots of it. Although I did admit that if this was my last week, I would spend it eating. Someone at our table said he would run. (Someone has their priorities wrong.)

Nine of us met up for some Armenian food in Manchester last night, and it was a modest start, but I think we’re on to something here. Us northerners can’t always be travelling to London, so will have to look for fun closer to home. Marnie Riches was tired of not having Christmas parties to go to, so got a few people together to remedy this. And then I tagged on, as their very own Rita Skeeter.

Someone did mention the words ‘top secret’ but I am afraid I wasn’t paying enough attention to be able to tell you any more. In fact, I was so concerned it would be boring, I had brought a book to read. It wasn’t, so I didn’t.

Almost didn’t find the place, as I had forgotten to factor in that Albert Square would be overflowing with continental gemütlichkeit this time of year. I almost overdid the ‘don’t get there too early’ by being second last to arrive, which jarred my Swedish sensitivities. As previously mentioned, Melvin Burgess was there and so was Lady Melvin. Jon Mayhew arrived after me, and my fellow Stopfordian Philip Caveney was just before me. I didn’t know Steve Hartley before, but he seemed really nice, apart from being unable to read a menu.

Enjoyed meeting someone I’ve previously seen on facebook, and also chatting to Lorrie Porter who was one of the panelists from the talk at MMU in the summer. I knew I recognised her, but it took some minutes to work out from where.

Melvin Burgess

I learned that occasionally a manuscript will return from an editor with more typos than when it left. And we could all be a little autistic, but some are definitely more autistic than others.

At some point everyone got their cameras out, and it was actually quite hard to take any pictures that didn’t feature the person opposite you with a camera in front of their face.

This was more a private than a public gathering, so I won’t tell you who had a go with the toothpicks, or who could have got away with leaving without paying. Most of us had pudding, but only in the name of research. We were wanting to find out the difference between the two almost identical sounding desserts, which could only be done by ordering and sampling. Both were nice, but mine was the best.

It was a relief to be doing this sitting down. In London you nearly always stand the whole time. Admittedly, we didn’t see anything of the velvet trousers belonging to one famous author, the subject of which used up so much of people’s imagination on facebook earlier this week. But then, I’m not convinced they did either.