Who would have thought that a book launch would require such preparations? (Tonight, Croma Restaurant, Chorlton, 7 pm, the launch for my collection, Balancing on the Edge of the World.)
I'm not talking the printing of the invitations by my lovely publisher, Salt, or the sending of them out, or the liaising with the venue (well, there wasn't any really, the marvellous Kirsty, Croma's manager, just offered me the launch!) or the bookshop (ditto: Chortlon Bookshop have been wonderful, as they always are!), or press releases etc.
No, I'm talking DECORATING A ROOM!
When John and I first bought this rather large house together the reason we (writers!) could afford it was that it had only just been converted back to single occupancy after years as pretty grotty flats. The work to be done was, well, monumental, and although the previous owners had worked hard, they'd really only scratched the surface before they had to sell up and move on for their work.
Well, John and I had great intentions, but we also had young kids, and we were very busy with our writing and our work, and let's say we got used to the congealed and peeling paint, the dropping plaster, the plumbing that never worked - and anyway, we could never afford the improvements. We stopped seeing the remains of yale locks on all the doors and the big dents where they'd been kicked in (now there are a few narratives lurking!). And the books piled up and hid it all, as well as the furniture we inherited from dead relatives - well, we had the big house, didn't we? We could be the depository for the family 'heirlooms' (a piano that doesn't work any more, but on which my mother learned to play when she went as a playmate to the lord of the manor's daughter, so it simply can't be jettisoned! Chests of drawers with half their handles missing etc etc).
Except when people came to stay: that's when I'd get embarrassed about the piled junk and peeling wallpaper in the bedrooms and the cracks in the walls, and the patterns drawn on the ceiling by the previous owners' children and the blocks of wood knocked into holes in the plaster (!). Well, I won't go on.
And now all of a sudden we are going to have a houseful: people coming to the launch tonight need to stay! So three weeks ago John and I decided to create at least one decent bedroom. This is why I haven't been blogging. For the past week we have been working against the clock, from nine in the morning till nine in the evening, scraping and sanding and painting and driving ourselves to distraction and exhaustion.
A strange way to prepare for a launch, don't you think? And guess what, the room's not finished anyway, so there's one less half-decent room than before...