Tag Archives: Hilary Delamere

The Random Christmas Party

After frenzied discussions on facebook as to the level of insanity of me travelling in this snowy weather, it was all a bit of an anticlimax. Nothing untoward happened as far as my travelling was concerned. To go or not to go. That was the question. And until I put my coat on and locked the door behind me, I didn’t know myself.

Sat next to someone on the train who wrote a list of cocktails on his Macbook, and I wanted to scream when he listed vodke. But to point it out would have been to admit I was reading his document.

And while on the subject of drinks, I may have been standing in the part of the room at Random’s Christmas party where all (well, two) the wineglasses broke, but it wasn’t me. They simply exploded next to me.

I knew I was in the right place. Address, not exploding bits of glass corner of room. Partly because I’d been there before, and also because when I got to the front door Klaus Flugge stepped out of a cab, which was as good a sign as any.

Everyone was there. Except for all those less than intrepid souls who cancelled because of the weather. If I could broom in, then anyone could. Maybe. I understand it’s normally more of a crush at these parties, and although I was unable to hear myself think, Mum Clare told me it was on the quiet side. Of course it was.

Someone even missed Daughter, which was awfully kind of her, and it made Daughter’s day to have been remembered. I’d heard about these parties, and decided that people might dress to the nines for them, but that my Arctic explorer persona would allow me to be sensibly dressed. So I was only slightly disconcerted to find beautifully assembled guests ahead of me. And the rest of them changed into their party toilettes in the toilets.

So, who was there? Philip Pullman was there, until he left. I steered clear of him on account of me having complained about his writing speed only last week. Same for David Fickling, to spare him any more embarrassment. Eleanor Updale came, and I missed speaking to her too. Didn’t even see John Dickinson.

I did spy Sarah McIntyre, so decided to make myself known to her. Her beautiful spectacles and lipstick make her instantly recognisable. I looked at the floor to see if Sarah was wearing very exceptionally, extra high heels, but she wasn’t. I felt a wee bit short. Sarah introduced me to Neill Cameron, who’s one of her David Fickling Comics colleagues.

Neill has a book launch (for Mo-Bot High) today in Oxford, so make sure you don’t miss it. I hope Neill doesn’t miss it either. He looked worried when I said the forecast was for his non-return to Oxford, and said he’d leave at the first sign of a snowflake. We spent some time shouting to each other on a variety of subjects, from what three-year-old boys should read to me being followed on Twitter (and I don’t even tweet) by a fictional 17th century Scottish faerie (hi, Seth!).

I saw Jenny Downham, who actually had a new book out yesterday. I say they missed a seriously good opportunity for a book launch party there. I was introduced to Klaus Flugge, who is too old for blogs. I’ll show him!

Ian Beck was there, and so was Steve Cole, but I never made it across to say hello. Didn’t speak to Anthony McGowan either, and I so wanted to ask him to smile at me. Lindsey Barraclough was there. She’s the neighbour of Random’s Annie Eaton, and who will be a publishing sensation next year. Annie smiled at me and touched the sides of her head. She might have been saying her hair was very nice or that mine was awful. Either way she’d be right.

Agents Rosemary Canter and Hilary Delamere chatted by the window, and Philippa Dickinson made a good speech. It was all about hairnets and labcoats and Puffin’s Kaye Webb, whose biography we must read. I’m more worried about needing to wear a hairnet to operate my laptop.

At some point I found myself clasping a small spear and wondering why, as I had no intention of stabbing anyone, until I remembered it had arrived with a tasty mozzarella ball which I had eaten. Many delicious canapés were being walked around the rooms, but I seemed to attract mostly the sausages and the chicken. If there were no breadsticks left, I suspect it might have had something to do with me.

I have finally met Pete Johnson! And he wasn’t anywhere near as short as his name had lead me to believe. I was so overcome I couldn’t even recall the title of his book which I read about a year ago, so I had to assure him I could remember everything about it except the title. (The TV Time Travellers)

With elderly knee and hearing both giving out, I decided to call it a day before I ended up spending the night (I had threatened poor Clare that I’d come and sleep at her house if the trains were cancelled!) and broomed away pretty swiftly and caught the second last of the offpeak trains where I had a choice between sitting next to a John Boyne lookalike and a Nick Green lookalike. I picked Nick because he had a window.

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The author with her whole country behind her

It could be that Candy Gourlay’s neighbour is wrong. It could be that lots of countries are proud of their children’s authors and do everything in their power to show their support. Or it could be that her neighbour is right, and that the great interest taken by the Philippine Embassy in Tall Story goes way above the call of patriotic duty to their citizens.

Candy Gourlay

Philippine flag

I did think that although Candy’s novel is one of the best books I’ve read for a very long time and it really deserves all that praise and attention from the Ambassador, that there must be many other books by and about Filipinos. But I learned last night that the Philippines does not have the kind of children’s book publishing that we in the West take for granted, in which case all this makes perfect sense.

So H.E. Antonio M. Lagdameo is doing a wonderful job supporting both Candy and her book, and also all Filipino children who now have a great role model in Candy’s 8 foot giant. He was saying how his grandchildren could recognise themselves in their own experience going to another country to live.

Glasses and red somethings

Anyway, His Excellency invited a few people around on Friday night, for yet another celebration of Tall Story, and he even asked me, which was kind of him. I have yet to become blasé over embassy receptions, so I took myself off to London.

Richard Gourlay

Tall Story at the Philippine Embassy

Candy is a woman who shamelessly uses her fantastic family to promote her book, so they were all there. The Philippine contingency only in a video, but that video was full of singing people and cute babies, and it resulted in the whole roomful of people at the embassy bursting into song. (You’d think they were Swedish.) Mr G almost recognised me, and as introductions go you can’t beat telling a handsome teenager that you’ve slept in his bed. The eldest junior Gourlay is so well brought up that he thought his Mum was being rude in calling me a witch…

Andy Mulligan

There were lots of librarians, and other literary influencers. Random’s Corinne was there, despite a long week away doing bookish things. She’s the sort of woman who happily abandons her poor cat for yet another evening out. Corinne introduced me to Andy Mulligan, author of Trash, the other David Fickling Philippine novel of the year.

Fiona Dunbar

Fiona Dunbar was there, of course. We managed to have our usual – unplanned – meeting in the toilet regions, where I heard about her new books. Coming soon to a bookshop near you. Fiona’s and Candy’s agent Hilary Delamere was there too. Although I have to own up to having gone round this week calling her Felicity in my mind. It’ll be old age. My old age.

David Fickling

David Fickling came along, but as soon as he saw me he clapped his hand over his mouth and Mrs F moved in between us, so we were quite safe. There were also a whole lot of people I don’t know. As someone said, it’s interesting mingling in a totally new group. But hot. And crowded. I was introduced to someone with some sort of chicken website, which has nothing to do with chickens. Quite obvious.

2 x Tall Story

To finish off after the speeches and the singing and the sandwiches and drinks, Candy signed books. They had piles of both the DFB version of Tall Story and the new paperback from the Philippines. Candy signed and signed, and if I hadn’t noticed her presence later on facebook I’d have assumed she’d still be there signing. I got on the broomstick and flew home.