Sunday, 29 May 2011
2. I wanted to go to a talk by a certain author; it's sold out, but turns out she is doing another one, straight afterwards. It's free, and much more relaxed, with far fewer people there. She's metres away and answers my questions. When I ask her to sign my book, she asks me why I have been taking notes. I explain I've just finished a novel of my own. She takes the time to ask me how it feels and ask me to email her. I don't know if she has any idea how exciting that is for me, especially given that hers is a book I've wanted to read since it came out last summer.
3. My book continues to climb the Authonomy chart; I'm now safely inside the top 250.
Saturday, 28 May 2011
'I walk out and you guys laugh and I feel great, and I don't know what that's about,' he said.
I don't know either, but there was something winsome about his admitting that, straight up. It made me sit up and listen. (Okay, I was already sitting up and listening pretty closely.) It made me identify with him on some level: I was also the equivalent of the nerdy kid in school who didn't get picked for the soccer team.
He talked about how his fame gives him a sense of communicating, of being heard, of control, all of which were lacking from his childhood. He talked, too, about the freedom of being sober and how he no longer worries what other people think of him, and that freedom is what enables him to be funny.
He mentioned his love of literature and language, passed on to him by his mother; he talked too of his crafting his book. I was a little skeptical about his having written it himself, but I no longer am, and now I get to feel a kinship with him as I do with all other authors. Oh, to be in a room with him and get to chat about all of this stuff at length.
He talked, too, about the hurt he felt as a young man when he saw a star he admired throw away a lollipop he had passed on to him - the contempt it showed. I knew then that I would see a different attitude, a willingness to engage with his fans, that I haven't really seen in any of the four other West Wingers that I've met (or failed to meet) so far. I was right: he was gracious, and fun. He posed for cameras; at the book signing, he joked, he winked, he made eye contact.
And he was also realistic about what adulation often is: he knows somewhere deep inside him that that adulation can't be all about him, or who he is, or his work. Often it's objectification - young people, especially, using him, in some way, to work through their own issues. Things like that show a depth of thought that I hadn't necessarily expected to see in him.
Predictably, I also loved what he said about us West Wing fans: he said that in the end, the actors were just in it, but the show belongs to us now, that it's part of us. I think on some level that shows a special kind of humility, of being willing to give a gift and let go of it. I was suitably impressed.
'But at something like Hay, I mean surely...'
'You'd be surprised.' He rolls his eyes. 'People lose all sense of decorum.'
'But,' I persist, not one to be deterred so easily, 'some of those people might have come all the way from other countries to meet him.'
'Then ' he says, 'I suggest those people take a long, hard look at what they're reading.'
I redeem myself with a not entirely true claim that it's really just the West Wing that I'm obsessed with, and he just happens to be a West Winger, and I walk away happy, having enjoyed the banter.
2. Books and board games: two of my favourite things. Turns out the two have been combined into one - kind of a cross between Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit, incredibly clever, and a lot of fun.Turns out, too, that the guy I spend a contented half hour playing it with invented the whole thing, and is the designer behind those funky Penguin mugs and notebooks. I come over all starstruck, not for the last time this weekend, and full of admiration. I even consider appointing myself his assistant, Donna Moss style. I really do think he may find me valuable.
3. The talk on the making of the King James Bible is fascinating, inspiring, and unexpectedly funny. Since Adam Nicolson is signing his book afterwards, I decide to buy two copies - one for me, and one for my step dad, who's interested in this kind of issue. We have a brief exchange about how mystery and simplicity meet in the King James, and how important that is to understanding the character of God.
I'm holding Rob Lowe's book, too, as well as my Hay programme with a rather dashing picture of him. Adam Nicholson asks me how Rob was.
'Not till this afternoon,' I say.
He signs my book, then the other one.
'To Roger,' I say, 'he's my stepdad.'
'Not your boyfriend, 'because obviously that's Rob Lowe.'
He writes 'to Roger,' then pretends to add, 'you're no Rob Lowe.'
I walk away smiling again after more enjoyable banter, and of course anticipation. Which, as it turns out, was well-founded.
Yes. I queue jumped.
Rob Lowe's talk had just ended; I had been one of the lucky few endowed with a microphone and had asked him a relatively coherent question, without breaking into a fake American accent. Then, like all the other hundreds of people, I pegged it to the bookshop to get his autobiography signed. I snaked in and out of courtyards, though I don't think I elbowed or pushed anyone. In the meantime, I made a new friend, who was doing the same.
But oh, the size of the queue.
You have to understand, I had come all the way from Belgium for this.
I had also almost lost my chance to seize the microphone, out of uncharacteristic graciousness, when I let someone else go first, and then it was taken from me and I had to fight to get it back.
My new friend said, 'I'm here with someone who's disabled, and I'm going to ask if we can go to the front. Come with us.' I found out both their names and, feeling like a fraud, I followed them to the front. Someone saw, and told me off, and I am still British enough for that to fill me with shame. I hung back. I gave my book to my new friends. But, bless them, they persuaded me they needed me. And then took pictures of Rob signing me book.
I did not lose all sense of propriety, and stammer 'I loved you in the West Wing' as I had with Stockard Channing (which is not, in fact, strictly true, though I do love the West Wing, and she was in it). I was not momentarily paralysed as I had been with Richard Schiff. In fact, I think it's fair to say I have nothing to be embarrassed about at all, though in the photographs ot does look, inexplicably, as though his publicist is trying to restrain me. He looked straight at me - and oh, those eyes - and he winked at one friend and joked with the other.
And, my word, the man is beautiful.
Location:Hay Literary Festival
Thursday, 26 May 2011
2. The smell of the pavement after springtime rain.
3. "This train is really quick," says the well-dressed youngish man in the seat across from me on the Eurostar. He's right, of course, and in a time where we have lost our capacity to be wowed, it's refreshing to hear someone pause and acknowledge techonology.
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Monday, 23 May 2011
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Monday, 9 May 2011
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Thursday, 5 May 2011
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
Monday, 2 May 2011
You know the novel I've been yabbering on about for months? Well, a sneak preview of is now available!
If you wanted to drop by and read anything from a paragraph to 15,000 words - please feel free!
If you want to comment, back, or rate me, it could help me get published too, so needless to say I'd really appreciate that... and if you're feeling like you want to be super helpful you could post the link to your Facebook wall too.
The site is run by publishers HarperCollins, so it's totally legit - no worries there! They ask you to register but it only takes a minute, and you don't get spam.