The Mad Whirl in the UK

THE MAD WHIRL

It is later. Much later, as a matter o fact. I’m on the flight home, and so far so good.

I did successfully make the change for the Bath train, but it was not without some panic and requiring the assistance of my fellow travellers. A train had been cancelled and another held over, so there was a real question as to whether the train on the platform in fron of me was the one I was supposed to take, and I got on not really knowing. Well, it was and I did get to Bath and to the hotel, which was…eh. For such an old and famous town, it was really lacking in any charm whatsoever. However, my room was ready, the restauraunt was open and I had a very good dinner. Guinea fowl in a marjoram-cream sauce, followed by pear and apple crumble with clotted cream. Seriously yummy.

Slept pretty well, woke up and made a mistake. Never when in UK assume anything is too far to walk to. Thinking it would be easier, I ate in the restauraunt again, and alas, it was a really mediocre buffett. It was only after this I asked if the old Roman  baths were within walking distance. They were. I got directions and set out with a half hour before I was scheduled to meet my next interviewer.

Outside, it was gorgeous. I had a lovely walk along the canal to the high tstreet, which was full of shops, some of which were serving way the heck better breakfasts than I got at the hotel.

$#@!%!!

Oh, well.

A glass shop was just opening. I nicked in and did a tacticle shopping strike for presents for the folks who are helping look after Alexander while I’m gone. I also scored a gorgeous necklace for myself.

Then, alas, it was time to walk briskly back to the hotel, which I did, only to find the SFX gju and photographer already there. I apologized profusely and was assured it was fine.

Interview went well, I think, except, the interviewer’s batteries ran out and it turned out the first 1/2 of the interview hadn’t been recorded, so we had to do it again. This much, I could have  told the guy. Take notes. Always. Something IS going to go wrong with the recorder. Always.

Anyway. The photoshoot was quite cool. The guy, Toby, had spotted an old iron portcullis under an equally old gothic style bridge, and so we did it there.

And then, it was straight onto the London train, this time quite sure of the train. It all would have been perfect but there was a delay and we got in a half hour late, so I had no time to do anything but drop my bags at the hotel and jump in the cab with Ingrid my publicity person, and head for the BBC.

I’ll tell you something, though, it was kind of funny heading into London. The closer we got, the more I relaxed. I’d felt kind of a long way from home in Cornwall, not sure what I’d do if something  went really wrong, but London’s my city. I know what I’m doing there and how to handle it. Schlep suitcase and self across town on the tube? No problem. I’ve done that.

Anyway. First to the BBC again. This was a recorded interview and rather more literary than the other. Again, I think it went well on the grounds that I can’t remember what I said.

Then it was straight to, Heaven help us, Starbucks, to meet a freelance interviewer. Was able to grab a sandwich there at least, so I was running on something other than pure nerves. That also went well. Turned out to be a person I knew from cons.

From there, it was to Waterstones and Forbidden Planet to sign stock and then straight to the publishers to sign _their_ stock, which amounted to…

250 Books.

I wish now to speak in praise of tai chi which holds back writer’s cramp.

Oh — in the middle of all this rushing around we made a brief detour into Hanley’s, a major toy store in Piccadilly so I could grab a presant for Alexander.

Anyway. Books were signed in good time, if not terribly legibly and it was off to dinner with a bunch of the publishing folks, including Jane Johnson, who is more or less my big boss there. We went to a vegetarian place called The Gate. I was skeptical, I must admit, but I had an excellent fresh-veggie pasta with parmasagn cheese and a raspberry-vanilla brulee. The only downside was I also had the only bad cup of tea I’ve ever had in an English restauraunt. I was stunned.

It was about 10:00 pm by the time we made it back to the hotel. finally got to call home and found out Alexander was sick.

AAAAAAHHHHGGGGHHHH!!!!

Stomach bug of some nature causing vomiting and diherreah. Boy, did the mommy guilt come down hard, despite the fact that Tim had expertly handled everything, including calming me down over the phone.

Did manage to sleep and although breakfast was included in my very pricey room, I was _not_ going to stay in there for my 1 and 1/2 hours left in London. I packed up my A to Zed and headed out.

Covent Garden, which is a total tourist trap was walking distance and that’s the way I headed. London, as I’ve said, is my city. I love just walking its streets. I love suddenly finding myself in Chancery St., Bow St., and Drury Lane. I love walking into a court and finding a new statue or walking down a side street and finding a lovely little park with trees that have clearly been there for the past three or four centuries. I loved my little sandwich shop brekkie with a proper cup of milky tea. No, I didn’t get to do any of the thousand things there are to do, but I got to be and see and feel it again, and it was a Good Thing.

Checked out. Treated myself to a cab ride to Heathrow, which cost the Earth, but I got to see the city a little more and do a bit of the memory lane thing. Caught plane without hassle and am now over Canada and really looking forward to home.

Other notes and thoughts:

It’s funny to think of the stories you intrude into so briefly while travelling. On the way over, I sat next to an American social worker who was on his way home to Romania where he lives with his wife and the son they just adopted. My cab driver in London had just gotten a call from his best friend whom he hadn’t seen in 20 years and was utterly fabbergasted (and on the phone) the whole drive. Now I’m sitting next to a couple of nice older ladies on their way back from Barcelona.

Thus Endeth the Journal.

P.S. I’d also like to speak in praise of the Cottage Tea Shop B&B in Tintagel . Sandy & Vic were great. The food was excellent, the rooms clean and comfy. I got to meet my fellow guests and thus had good company for meals. Made for a very nice, very homey stay.

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