Monday, 28 October 2013

Autumn Fete

     Having built a bridge and told myself to fucking get over it, on Thursday I went to London.

     If you are in any way even slightly kickarse, this will not seem like a big deal to you. But to me, it assumed massive proportions. I haven’t been to London for four years, back in my previous life when I had to suck an awful lot of corporate cock and used to attend Big Important Government Department Meetings. Back then, everything was on expenses, so I’d arrive at King’s Cross, jump in a black cab, spend the day being professional, then catch a taxi back to the station again. Now, obviously, things are different, because I am an impecunious writer. So I’d have to navigate the tube, then make my way along unfamiliar streets before arriving at a party where I would know no one, and where I would do my best to sparkle and impress Important Writer Types, before having to make the return journey, arriving back in Norwich at the very precise time of 23:29.

     Frankly, I was bricking it. I left the house stupidly early to make sure I reached the train station in time and I was so jittery that I half-jogged most of the way there in my far too warm wool coat, and was a sweat-sodden mess when I arrived at the station, fifty minutes before my train was leaving. Alistair phoned to check I was on my way (there had been an awful lot of bolstering me in the days leading up to this) and I appeared to have adopted the voice of Beaker from The Muppets and lost the ability to form a coherent sentence. I tried to eat a baguette and my throat was so dry it actually creaked when I attempted to swallow. Luckily I had my pen and notebook with me, so I was able to lose myself in a project I’ve been working on and it was a bit of a shock to look up after two hours and find that we were nearly at Liverpool Street.

     I made my ways into the bowels of the Underground, successfully made my way to the right platform and boarded the next train, feeling stupidly proud of myself. Then I realised I was on the wrong bloody train and had to humiliatingly get off at the next stop, and get on another train (the right one this time). At Hammersmith, I wandered around aimlessly for ten minutes, trying and failing to locate familiar street names, before I found what I was looking for. Only forty minutes early this time, so that’s an improvement. Oh look, there’s a pub.

     And at six o’clock, quivering with nerves, I made my way here.

     Harper Collins. Harper bloody Collins! (yes, I was a bit shaky).

     Harper Impulse (the digital romance imprint of Harper Collins) were throwing a party, an Autumn Fete, to say thank you to their writers, their reviewers, guest bloggers and for all of us to meet. Although quite a few of us follow each other on twitter, I had never met any of them and I was terrified. Terrified. I made my way into a massive atrium, up a flight of stairs and into the most fabulously glamorous party I have ever underdressed for. Clutching a glass of Pimm’s, I turned slowly on the spot, wondering if anyone from twitter would recognise me. And then two complete strangers entered, and from their faces, I knew exactly how they felt. I joined them and blurted out ‘I DON’T KNOW ANYONE ELSE HERE EITHER!’ We all burst out laughing and here we are:

     The very lovely @MiaHoddell and @stephanie_khani. That’s yours truly in the middle, my claws gripping my glass of Pimm’s (from my cold, dead hands…). I don't know what I was squirrelling away in my cheeks. Then Liz-Sheena from @fivegoglamping arrived and I had just the best evening with my new friends. I met the writers Lorraine Wilson and Jane Linfoot , the incomparably bright and bubbly Harper Impulse team,

 all of whom are so friendly and so much fun that when I grow up I want to be them, and the CEO of Harper Collins

 (yes, he does look like Mr Big).

     There was Pimm’s, prosecco and painted pumpkins, canapés and nibbles, beautiful sweet treats, music and a wonderful speech from the head of Harper Impulse, Kim. My favourite part of the evening was when the authors came face to face with copies of their own books, specially printed for the Fete. To see their faces, absolutely aglow with bashful pride at seeing their creations in real life for the first time was really very touching (may have had a vicarious tear in my eye there). It was almost as though the reality of their achievement finally hit home and was, if it doesn’t sound too gushing,  inspirational.

     Sadly, it was all too quickly eight o’clock and time for this fangirl to set off home. But one further surprise 

– GOODY BAGS! And not filled with any old tat, oh no.

     Books! And the type of books I actually want to read! It was a very happy me that boarded the train at Liverpool Street at half past nine. And just to round off my utterly brilliant day, I’d booked myself into first class (it was only an extra £5). I had a table lamp and free refreshments

     An acre of space to sit and write in

     And a dangerously giddy mood that led me to take an ill-advised selfie to prove that this actually happened.

     A massive, massive thank you to Harper Impulse for hosting such a wonderful get together, and allowing me to meet so many fantastic and insanely talented people. I haven’t stopped smiling since.


Katie said...

I'm so glad you overcame your nerves and came! We were all a bit nervous too, if that makes you feel any better! But I had such a great night - thank you for being a part of it!

Lucy Benedict said...

It was fabulous! I'm still bouncing around just thinking back to it!

Anonymous said...

I am so so so SO glad you came and that I got to meet you! Steph x

Lucy Benedict said...

I am so so so SO SO glad I came and got to meet you too! Was a ruddy marvellous evening!

Sam said...

Aw Lucy! I'm so glad you went too! And had such a great time. Sometimes when you go somewhere like that on your own and you feel terrified that's when you actually really get to meet people and have the most fun. I'm green with envy too - a bag full of free books and a first class journey! I used to go to quite a lot of publisher parties when I wrote and edited a website on children's books - I never really went alone though always with a colleague - don't know if I would have had the guts! The best one was probably Penguin's 60th anniversary bash held at the Kensington Roof Gardens - oh those were the days!

Lucy Benedict said...

KENSINGTON ROOF GARDENS? I could vomit with jealousy right here and now.

I think the thing is that when you go somewhere with someone, you can hide a little. When you're on your own, you just have to go up to strangers, or be the weirdo hanging out on their own (I have never done this, definitely not).

Jane Linfoot said...

You weren't the only one to be really nervous. But it was such a fab party, wasn't it worth it? - so amazing to meet everyone. Totally fizzy, and now I keep wondering if i dreamed it. So lovely to meet you xx

Anonymous said...

Great recap! I'm glad you came, it was a great night, wasn't it? :)

Five Go Glamping said...

Brilliant post! Thanks for the mention and well done on getting there!

Lucy Benedict said...

It was a brilliant night, and I'm so glad I didn't give in to my instincts and refuse to get off the train when it arrived in London.

Something that's amazed me is how supportive everyone is in the Harper Impulse community, whether they're part of the team, a reviewer, an author, or just a blogger like me. It's something very special to be a part of.

Anonymous said...

This blog made me smile, a lot. That is all :o) xx

Lucy Benedict said...

Thank you very much! I'm grinning like a loon now myself!

Lottie Lomas said...

Hooray!This is all good news in every way from start to finish :-) You were brave to go and deserved to have a wonderful time. x

Lucy Benedict said...

I was a sweat drenched puddle of insecurity Lottie, and it's testament to how great the Harper Impulse community is that I didn't die a death of social obscurity and awkwardness.

Still smiling when I think about it now!