On Thursday, the day before the London launch of Beyond the Beehive I was at Broadcasting House to appear, live, on Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. You can read about my morning at Broadcasting House here and listen to the interview here (my interview starts at 33 minutes in)
And then it was Friday, the day of the launch. The day started with a dash to Muswell Hill to see Frank my hairdresser. His dad used to have a café in Piccadilly in the Fifties and Frank used to play snooker with Tommy Steele and all the stars. So it wasn’t about preening so much as getting in to the groove. We listened to some Motown and I ended up looking a little bit like Cilla Black.
At 5 o’clock, just before the launch – which started at 6.30 pm – I was to record an interview with Georgey Spanswick for BBC radio. The programme, Feelgood Friday, is syndicated to all the local radio stations in the UK (that’s a lot of stations – 36, including Guernsey!) I would be in Broadcasting House while Georgey Spanswick would be in another studio – in Leeds I think. I had had strict instructions from the Manager (as she does not like to be called) that I must get away as soon as possible, to get back to the Launch pad as soon as possible, although she was not optimistic. Her media experience was telling her that there would be time spent setting up, adjusting and generally farting around, before the recording began.
And the Manager was right. At 5.15 we still hadn’t started. However, after a short tussle over studios, the recording began. Georgey Spanswick was funny, cheerful and we got on famously. I’d sent her a list of some iconic bits of music from the era and she played My Generation by the Who and Rescue Me by Fontella Bass. You can listen to the programme here (the interview starts at 1 hour 10 minutes in). What I hadn’t realised, was that the programme was going to go out at 8pm that night – while we would be eating Twiglets and listening to the Harlem Shuffle at the launch.
No time to think about that. I dashed down to Oxford Circus tube and jumped onto the Bakerloo line – it’s just one stop to Piccadilly Circus. Then I pushed through the Friday night crowds of tourists, school children and wanderers, leaped onto a bus as its doors were closing, went one stop down Shaftesbury Avenue and arrived breathless into the hall at St Anne’s in Dean Street at 6 o’clock. Fortunately Team Beehive aka friends and family had arrived and were doing great work making the hall look lovely with cunningly placed posters and the Banner. The hall has a sweet garden and with a few well placed flickering fake candles it looked like fairy land (in the middle of Soho!). The evening was mild and balmy which meant people could stand outside.
And people came, from all stages of my life, my pal Christine (aka Sandra), a mate from Tec College, people from Birmingham Uni, Feminists, Guardians, lawyers and a couple of judges, my French class, friends of friends of mine who knew each other quite independently.
At 7 o’clock it was the Readings. After a few minutes of intro and thanks and a mention of a fund raiser for WiFi for refugees on 6 December (information here) I read a couple of short pieces from the book. The Election, where Linda is poll-checking for her dad, and A Day Out in London (Wormwood Scrubs) where bad boy Danny tries to fix Linda up with Trevor, a fellow in-mate. People laughed in all the right places. And lots of books were sold and signed
We drove home very slowly, the car full of glasses and wine bottles, posters, the Banner and empty cardboard boxes. One of the battery candles wouldn’t go out and kept flashing and the iPlayer was playing tinnily in one of the bags. But at home we discovered, after people had obviously listened to Georgey Spanswick’s programme, I’d sold another shed-load of books!
Of course, for me obviously it is all about art and literature. I merely include information about sales because I know some people are interested.
Thanks to everyone who provided support and to all those who came. It was a great evening.