Home after a hectic few days in London, and the first thing I did was get my thermal vest back on plus more layers, on with the walking boots and out around the field. It is freezing here and was unusually cold and wet in drought-riven London too.
A couple of days spent at the London Book Fair and how fascinating to see behind the scenes of the publishing industry and hear the conversations that are taking place. This is where all the business is done, acres and acres of publishers and agents from around the world converging on Earls Court to do the deals.
I had a few appointments and had also been invited to take part in a seminar on Social Reading by The Reading Agency. It is always a pleasure to talk about the way that we are able to share the inspiration of books and reading here. I told them about you ...all of you, and how much I value the discussions we have about each book, and how your comments are the oxygen that keeps it all alive here, and someone put that quote out on twitter, so you have all been tweeted and are all very famous now. It was good to meet everyone there as well, fellow panelists, people in the audience who I knew and plenty that I didn't but who came and said hello afterwards. Stewart, of the legendary Orkney Library, also on the panel, confirmed that I can join the library for a week when we are up there in the summer, so I plan to stock up on local books for us to read inbetween eating, mountaineering, eating, sleeping, sea-watching, eating, abseiling, cycling the islands, eating, wild swimming, sea-kayaking, sleeping base-jumping off Hoy and all the other things we plan to watch the Tinker do.
I went to some excellent seminars including one on Apps given by, amongst others, the developer of Faber's The Waste Land. We had a sneak preview of the next one due very soon, Shakespeare's Sonnets, very covetable, 154 readings to camera, it will fly off the .... the.. through the ether. And wait until you see Leonardo da Vinci - Anatomy, also coming soon and quite quite stunning, the Queen's collection as an App, with commentary and overlays which show the accuracy of Leonardo's findings, together with a spyglass facility which allows for close-up examination of the drawings.
Earls Court exhibition space is the size of a small continent and I must have walked miles, so I was very happy to park myself in a chair on the Book Guild Publishing stand, publishers of Effie A Victorian Scandal, and had a lovely catch up with Laura Lockington. If you have been reading here an awfully long time you may recall Laura's must-read book Cupboard Love which I wrote about eons ago. It was so good to meet Laura at last, and to continue our ongoing debate about the whys and wherefores of bubble and squeak, Laura would live on it, personally I think it should be a banned substance.
You will all have an opinion I feel sure so please state it in comments and we can have a Bubble and Squeak poll.
I took you all on some fabulous visits away from the book fair too which I hope you will all be enjoying on here soon once I have had a chance to ruminate over them.
The twilight visit to Dennis Severs' House in Spitalfields was everything I had expected and much much more besides. Please book and go if ever you are in London. I was swept away by the intensity of it and only wished I'd had my artist with me (who was at home building a garden wall.) I will write much more about the experience when I can find the right way to describe something that in a way resists being put into words.
Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields was a perfect follow on because having been encouraged to use my imagination by Dennis Severs I carried on the trend as I wandered around this most intimate and amazing house.
My visit to the Hunterian Museum across the way at The Royal College of Surgeons (now I know where all those doctors get their F.R.C.S. from) was, on the other hand, an exercise in leaving my imagination sitting on the seat outside, even with my strong nurse's stomach. Though it was lunchtime when I emerged I was relieved that there was no cafe on the premises, half of me could have murdered a nice big slice of coffee and walnut cake, the other half of me was ever so slightly queasy after the sight of so much pickling.
By the time the No 19 bus had delivered me to the King's Road I had recovered sufficiently unto a lunch, and after a wander and some shopping I headed back to The London Library where Elena very kindly gave me a personal guided tour and let me take lots of pictures for you... you'll love them.. books on shelves and more books on more shelves, our very favourite subject. I had my imagination back in full working order and feel sure I saw George Eliot in the stacks. Oh Oh Oh, what an incredible place, if we lived in London I'd find a way to afford membership somehow.
So plenty to look forward to here, but in the meantime I have to do a very swift turnaround (I knew this week was going to be like this) get the frocks in the wash and off to Reading on Friday bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the Elizabeth Taylor centenary day on Saturday, and then on my way home I am stopping off at Bath on Sunday to talk at the West Country Writer's Association's Annual Congress. My subject is Blogging to the World, so I fully expect you will all get another very huge mention, and I will send them your regards too.
In readiness for the Elizabeth Taylor day I have read A Game of Hide and Seek, a new one for me and an experiment to see if one book would allow me to pull out all the strengths of Elizabeth Taylor's writing that I have come to value ...it did and more. I have also re-read At Mrs Lippincote's and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont (I am facilitating the reading group discussion about Mrs P on Saturday) and can report the books get better and better with each read. One of the highlights for me will be to meet and talk with Elizabeth Taylor's son and daughter, I know some of you will be there in person, but don't worry I'll sneak the rest of you in vicariously to share the day and will report back.
Now please can we just sort out this bubble squeak thing once and for all...I'm right aren't I...it's a crime...