Bar to Car

My sense of direction, never wonderful, fails completely when I’m in London so, despite detailed instructions from Tom, I still end up walking in the wrong direction and have to phone to be reoriented. Still, at least I’ve got as far as St James’s Park without falling down the gap boarding the train at Epsom, laddering my tights or snapping the heel off my shoes – all fears which have been haunting me. Reaching the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the venue for the RNA summer party, my next fear is that no one will talk to me and I’ll be left standing on the side like the girl nobody wants to dance with. Fortunately this too becomes a needless worry. The problem isn’t about having no one to talk to, but rather the opposite; there just isn’t enough time to catch up with everyone.

It’s a great delight to meet my fellow Choc Lit authors Sue, Christina and Margaret for the first time (Jane and Juliet, we missed you!) and to catch up with Lyn, Publisher Extraordinaire. We share a few collective ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ at the cover of Sue’s All That Mullarkey and I realise that it won’t be too long now before I’m holding a copy of Turning the Tide.

My shiny red shoes are another ice-breaker, with one lovely lady crossing the room to talk to me because of them. When Janet Gover photographs them for her famous Shoe Blog, along with Christina’s gorgeous floral platforms, I feel very honoured. Shoes, champagne and Choc Lit, I think, as we raise our glasses to Lucy King, the winner of this year’s Joan Hessayon trophy; what a night!

Now all I have to do is get home. After the party Bird Cage Walk seems much lonelier and darker than it was before (well, of course it is darker – because it’s later, but it feels dark too). My moment of relief at finding my way back to the Tube is short-lived when I discover that all trains are cancelled. ‘What are we supposed to do then?’ someone asks. ‘Walk,’ comes the succinct reply. After another quick call to Tom to find out which way to go, my shiny new shoes and I find our way (quite carefully, it must be said) to Victoria. Happily I’m just in time for the fast train. Someone’s even left their new ‘Hello’ magazine behind for me which is a bonus, even if it is a little heavy on royalty. The only slight problem comes when we reach Epsom and I lose the station, but then I realise I’m facing the wrong way so am pleasantly surprised when I turn round to see it’s still there, huge gap and all.

And finally...
Oh dear, we’ve had to face up to the fact that running two cars is a bit of a luxury so, last night, Lester The Fiesta was driven away by the father of one very happy new driver. I hope they enjoy their life together. Farewell Lester, a good and faithful servant.

'Abstracts' by Tom Tomos


Preseli Mags said…
What stars those shoes turned out to be! I still have shoe envy... It's sounds like you had a brilliant night out. London always seems to involve so much walking somehow. Farewell to Lester.
Love the shoes - but how on earth did you walk so far in them!

I think you need a GPS to navigate you.

Looking forward to 'Turning the Tide'
Calico Kate said…
Am so with you on the etting lost front, be it in car or on foot. I never get on a bus because I don't know where it goes or when to get off and I know I'll get lost! Thank goodness for trains esp, with magazines on.

What a super night out - but walking around London, at all never mind in heels, was SO brave!

It's astonishing just how quickly one gets used to one car! Really it is!
Calico Kate said…
Just been across to the Shoe Blog, what a neat set of pins and a dishy bag you have too!
Lane said…
You did so well! Navigating the unfamiliar is difficult enough. Navigating in those beauties is truly impressive.

Also (speaking as a bag hussy) - hubba hubba.

Glad you had a good time.
Jude said…
Just popped over to Shoe Blog....yours were the best!!
Was going to suggest a scooter but then thought no...
Take care
lampworkbeader said…
Sounds like you had fun.Maybe I'll see you there next year, she sighs!
Pondside said…
Well done, finding your way - I'm in awe, as the thought of a big city, at night, on my own, is a bit much for me!
I visited the shoe blog and had a moment of 'I knew her when' aimed at the shoes - after all, I saw them before their debut. I must say, I'd have been a bit intimidated by all the gorgeous shoes and a bit out of place in my comfy flats - good thing you were more than up to the night!
mountainear said…
Firstly, well done for all that walking in those gorgeous shoes. My flat-loving feet are wincing at the very thought.

Sounds like a great night - one which will give you much pleasure after the event just by reliving it.
her at home said…
So happy you got over your nerves and enjoyed a goo dnight and that those little red shoes served you well!
Flowerpot said…
Very brave of you to wear such shoes Chris - I wouldn't have been able to walk a step in them! They looked lovely though and glad you had sucha good time at the party.
Chris Stovell said…
Hi Mags, Cardigan Outlet shop is the place to go!! Yes, shame about Lester.

Rosie, slowly is the answer! GPS? Now that's a good idea!

Kate, thank you on both fronts - hope your OU course is going well.

Lane, bag is from Matalan sale - who says I don't shop in all the right places!

Jude, I'm a bit jealous of Christina's floral numbers! Scooter? I don't think the world's quite ready for me on a scooter!

Lampie - BELIEVE IT!! See you there!

Pondside - I wish you had been there it would have made it even better.

Mountainear, I think my feet had a wtf moment! Then they were too shellshocked to protest!

HAH - even though we know what our mothers think about girls who wear them!! Thanks!

FP, shame I didn't see you there - hope all is well with you and yours.
Debs said…
Glad you had such a lovel time (great shoes by the way) and managed to get home safely.
Frances said…
Chris, that trip to London did have a bit of everything. Surprises added to the schedule, and you (with Tom on call) able to face every switcheroo.

Must has been fun to meet all the fellow authors. Hoping that you all will be able to stay in touch.

Those shoes are beauties, and how wonderful that they stood up to the challenge!

Please tell Tom I like those pictures.

Think you are wise to go with the one car solution.

Could write more, but will most likely send you an e-mail before too long. xo
Pipany said…
Hello Chris. Just had a catch up on your blog and am now suffering shoe envy...sigh. Love the odd trip to London though I am always glad to get back to Cornwall (trying to sound like I do sometimes leave the blooming place!!) x
Elizabethd said…
Love the shoes, but think I'd have been tempted to call a taxi rather than walk in dark streets.
Just catching up, Chris, and WHAT an exciting time of it you seem to be having (yes, I too, veteran of shiny red shoes, am also marvelling at how you managed to get from Bird Cage Walk to Epsom in them. It was all I could do to get from the changing room to a strategically placed desk about five yards away in mine).

Sad to see Lester go, but sounds like he'll be much loved. Could well be facing similar scenario as mine is up for MOT next week, hopefully for Richard to make his usual evaluation that "it's probably not quite as bad as it looks"... We'll see.

Ooh, what I wouldn't give for a trip to London at the moment. It sounds like a great time. And those shoes are fabulous.
Now I have book envy and shoe envy :)
What an exciting time this must be for you.

warm wishes
HelenMHunt said…
I have no sense of direction either. Glad it's not just me!
elizabethm said…
Love your night and love your shoes. Definitely the best ones! I think I have lost for ever the capacity to walk in heels. Odd because not so long ago I thought nothing of it but somehow I have just got addicted to flats. Not a good scheme for someone not so tall like me!
Chris Stovell said…
Debs, will you be going to the conference?

Frances, good to hear from you - I'll email you. Hope all is well.

Pipany - and it was an odd trip! Seriously, I'm always a bit out of my comfort zone going to London, but it was worth it.

Elizabethd, my instinct was just to keep walking, but I take your point.

LBD, I think yours were higher! Hope your car got through the MOT - fingers crossed.

BSM, with everything on your plate at the moment, it's just really nice of you to stop by. Best wishes, Cx.

Helen, we'll have to take a GPS if we ever go out together!

Elizabeth, ah, you haven't been away from heels as long as me - you'd be fine!
Nishant said…
Sounds like a great night - one which will give you much pleasure after the event just by reliving it.
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