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.
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