Was I going to manage to get away to London for my book launch party? Spend a couple of nights at the University Women’s Club which was the venue for the event? If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know I’m trying to juggle writing my debut novel, promoting my new book: Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business, and nursing Edward, my estranged husband! He’s going through a punishing cycle of chemotherapy, and has been rushed to the A&E five times during the ten treatments.
I went to London the night before – this was a noon until 2pm party – slightly uneasy about the patient. But he assured me he’d be fine and to say hello to everyone.
Next morning I was up early at the club and breakfasted with a delicious Bucks Fizz to start this special day. I raised my glass and toasted myself, to the amusement of the handsome Hungarian waiter who wanted to know what I was celebrating.
My aunt and cousin, then my sister arrived along with some friends. Time for the party to begin. We climbed the wide elegant staircase to the first landing where a table had been set out with champagne glasses and soft drinks.
A waiter poured us our first glass of bubbly and we wandered into the library.
I think the library at the UWC is one of the loveliest rooms in London. The sun was bouncing off the chandeliers and there were a few cosy groups of tables and chairs, but leaving plenty of space in the centre for the guests to mill. Lorraine, the events manager, had already set up an oblong table with a ‘pile ‘em high’ display of Seller Beware together with copies of my previous book: from Bad to Wurst: Bavarian adventures of a veggie cook.
The guests strolled in. Crysta, who had flown in from Frankfurt and Genevieve, from Paris; John, an estate agent from Tunbridge Wells, who used to be one of my competitors; Kris, a Polish decorator and his wife;
Iain Dale, of Biteback Publishing, who brought with him Sam, my editor, Suzanne in PR, and Charlotte, their newest employee.
I met Harriet from Cornerstones literary consultancy and a few new faces who were friends of friends. I was honoured to see my philosophy tutor with his wife and a few students from our class. Writerly friends included Carol and Sue with whom I had spent the most wonderful writing week in a villa in Portugal last year.
But the most fun was seeing people who hadn’t seen one another for months, and even years, kissing and hugging. And that was just the men!
David, the photographer, was snapping away, dodging this way and that, with instructions to take the most flattering photographs (I’d primed him well!) and the waiters handed round the most delicious canapés. There was much animated talk and laughter enhanced by champagne glasses being constantly refilled.
Around one o’clock I made a short speech, telling how Kris, my charming Polish decorator, put me in touch with Iain, my lovely publisher (see a previous blogpost). Everyone laughed at my anecdote. But would they buy the book?
I breathed a sigh of relief when I noticed Lorraine, who had offered to be cashier, taking their tenners, and I began the delightful process of signing books. Everyone gave me lavish compliments on the event and the venue, along with regrets when they had to break up the party, and promises to meet up again very soon. It couldn’t have gone better, and I looked forward to a quiet evening with Crysta, who was also staying the second night at the club.
It was not to be. My sister rang me to say Edward looked poorly and was running a high temperature.
‘He’ll have to go to hospital immediately,’ I told her. By this time it was ten o’clock. She rang me a few minutes later and said they were on the way to the A&E.
Of course I couldn’t sleep. Finally, at one in the morning, my mobile jangled into life.
‘I’ve just got home,’ my sister said. ‘They’re keeping Ed in overnight.’
Well, at least he’d be safe there, was my last thought as I dropped off.
Can you see any pattern in the following? I took Edward to the hospital two hours before I was to appear at Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells to give a talk on Seller Beware. The Mayfair party ended up with him having to go into A&E that same night. Let me put this to you: I’m due to give a talk in Pembury library on 14th May. The question is – will I be taking Edward into hospital before my talk or after? Whatever the case, I’ll be prepared.