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13th November, 2011
It’s over and done and what a triumph the evening was, even if I do say it myself. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, at least I think I’m not, but it went even better than I expected. The hall was very crowded, the audience laughed in all the right places, we had a long queue of people waiting to have their books signed and it was such good fun. It was lovely to see so many people turn out. We now have comments about the book on Facebook which has generated some interest. We are tired but happy. Thank you to all those who came along and helped to make the evening such a success.
It’s two days to go to the launch. I’m not going to print out our introductory script one more time, this is it, finished and complete and wonderfully colour-coded. Carole’s words are in black, mine in light blue, the picture cues are purple, our actions red and the bits we say together in green. The script may be the best part of the show, but my favourite is the picture of a pile of mud in a skip we came across at Belsize Park. We will collect the copies of the book from the printer tomorrow and spend the evening gazing fondly at them. We appear in the Sevenoaks Chronicle today, the picture of us at Mornington Crescent wearing silly Christmas hats on page 2 accompanying Alice Hemmings article.
‘What was your favourite station?’ she asked. Mine Tufnell Park, the most farcical adventure as we searched in vain for Stalin’s tomb; Carole plumped for Collier’s Wood and Merton Abbey Mill. We had to confess to our worst station too. I’m sorry Woodside Park it was you because we struggled to find anything of interest there, as was the case with West Finchley, but it did have a consolation in the form of a strikingly attractive tall man with his son who told us the scout hut was not worth a visit. He said if we put anything of interest about West Finchley he’d pick it us. We didn’t so he couldn’t, but like so many people on our journey we appreciate his friendly desire to help and share his local knowledge.
We’ve got it. Two copies of Down the Tube have been printed so we can skim though and check for errors. It all looks wonderful, great cover, lovely paper and the pictures go so well with the text. Well I would say that wouldn’t I? So now it’s in production and we are still rehearsing for our launch speech. We need to get the pictures just right. My shoes, (the pink ones) and the Bank of England, the Kiss Me Hardy Wacky Warehouse and a pile of mud in a skip, Somerset House and so much more will make this introduction to the book entertaining, amusing and informative. I live in hope.
My drawing of Bumper Harris is continually interrupted by the doorbell ringing. I have to answer: wearing skeleton gloves my hand slides round the slowly opening door as the lights flash on and off in my feeble attempt to scare the junior witches, skeletons and surprising number of bats, (the costume must have been cheap at the local Tescos). What really scares them is my insistence on a trick in order to earn their treat. Only two of my numerous visitors come prepared.
Being a school night the stream of visitors ends early and I can go back to my consideration of Bumper, that one-legged man who was paid 4d. a day to ride the newly installed escalator at Earls Court in 1911 to reassure a nervous public that this form of downward ingress and upward egress is safe. Well it caught on didn’t it.
With twelve days to go before the launch Carole and I have spent the day getting our act together. In this case it’s not a generalisation about shaping up and sorting out a sloppy life, though neither of us can claim to be entirely free of that need, but it’s the act we’re going to put on for our book launch. How to enthuse, amuse and tease our audience into a frenzy of anticipation so they rush to buy our book, Down the Tube: The Northern Line.
We have a script, we have pictures, we have readings, we need to rehearse and revise but this is endless, we could continue to improve, sharpen and engage our audience but how many books will it sell on the night? Only time will tell.