Friday, October 22, 2010

faux pas de deux 

Yesterday evening. I am in a pub in smelly London attending the launch party for Sarah McIntyre's magnificent Vern and Lettuce book. (Buy it. Buy it now.) I have had some champagne and some cake. I have some beer. Mr David Fickling has given a rousing speech. There is more cake available. There are any number of talented cartoonists knocking about the place with whom I may converse freely about pens should I so desire (and I so do). In particular I spend a good deal of time catching up with me old mate (and sometime Good Dog, Bad Dog colourist) Faz Choudhury. In short, all is very much well with the world.

A man, a woman and a boy enter. The man approaches me in familiar fashion, says hello, says, "This is my wife, Lucia". I think, "never mind your wife, who are you". I smile dimly and take my first opportunity to scuttle over to Faz and John Aggs who inform me of the mystery man's identity. He is a fine fellow who I have indeed met before on one or two occasions and who I had good cause to take proper note of and remember. A little later I approach him, confess my earlier lack of recognition of him and apologise. He is very gracious and we have a brief, very pleasant chat about his work and the failings of Italian government. I feel this has been a good save - a social gaffe tackled head on and turned into a jolly and friendly exchange.

Shortly after I find myself standing next to Kate Brown, creator of Spider Moon, another volume in the DFC Library's first wave of releases back in the spring. I start up a friendly conversation with her and find that she seems strangely more reticent than I remember her. It's almost as if (oh the irony) she can't remember who I am although we've met a number of times before. But she's polite and attentive and I press on. I ask if she's just in London for the day and she tells me that, yes, she'll be catching a train back to Oxford relatively soon. I ask what she's working on at the moment and she tells me a little about her next book, the details of which are unfamiliar to me. I ask her if she knows how well Spider Moon is selling. She hasn't heard the question and asks me to repeat it. I repeat it.

"I didn't write that," she says, and all becomes clear.

She is not Kate Brown.

Not at all.

In fact, look, over there, there's Kate Brown, looking as if she's leaving soon (quite possibly she has a train to catch back to Oxford). She looks a little like the woman I'm talking to. Kind of. If you squint a bit. And stretch her vertically by about eight inches.


Several dry months of further, even more stilted, but profoundly polite, conversation follow in which, I am sure, the poor woman who is not Kate Brown (who is, instead, an award-winning children's prose author of some note) would be perfectly happy for my wish to melt from embarrassment and be soaked into the pub carpet to come true. I cannot recall afterwards which of us first moved away, or how that blissful escape was made, I am only grateful that somehow the whole ordeal is over.

Of course, quite probably, I'd met her sometime before and just don't remember.

Oh no! Ha ha, yup, that was Sally. And actually, yeah, she does look more like Kate Brown than anyone I know! Now I'm kicking myself for not introducing them, I've meant to for ages because they both live in Oxford. Argh. I was doing a lot of brainless flitting about that night. (Nice to know I had company in it!) XD

Great to see you, though! I'm so glad you were able to come along. xx

Oh dear!! I remember working at a book fair once and an author illustrator strode up to me and said "Are you with the bookshop? If you want me to sign some copies of my book for stock just bring them over." I said "Um, OK, that would be great!", hoping that one of my colleagues knew who she was. They didn't. I stared at the boxes of books hoping for a revelation while she glared at me from her little table. In the end I had a frantic, whispered bicker with the bookshop owner and I think we played scissors paper stone to to decide who would ask her who she was. Thankfully it wasn't me - I very much didn't want to see her flounce and hear her say "Don't you know ho I am?". Moral: authors & illustrators, please wear name badges to events.

Love your boy and bear work Dave!! x

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