It's become sort of traditional to live blog the ExpatWoman Festive Family Fair, which I usually share with madcap children's author Rachel 'Poo Pants' Hamilton and winsome author of 'domestic noir', Annabel Kantaria. Annabel can't make it this year so it's just me and the lunatic. And I'm ill. This could get twisted.
This is not starting well. I've been sick as a dog for the last two weeks and its showing no signs of abating. Up all night in a terrible state, shivers, sweats, yarking up boluses of phlegm and generally gibbering. My stomach's not good, I've got a head like Oliver Plunkett. Thank God I loaded the car yesterday. Coffee is making things better but I guess I don't really need a day standing in the sun right now. I hope to God Hamilton hasn't remembered the bloody gold dinosaur.
I have set up next to Hamilton's mad empire of tottering popups and branding, a huge display of THIS IS RACHEL HAMILTON GIVE HER YOUR CHILDREN'S MONEY. I'm not well. There's a lady shouting at us over the tannoy which makes talking to people quite difficult. Hamilton is running around banking money and screaming CHING CHING.
It's warm enough but we're nicely shaded. Books have been moving which is nice and there's been a lively run on Birdkill. Chatting to Hamilton about Jamalon's POD operations, she suddenly breaks off and dances around the table. There's a small child looking at her books, face illuminated in awe. Two seconds later, small child has been relieved of money. It's terrible...
People are funny, they really are. I just sold a copy of Beirut to a Lebanese lady who doesn't read in English. She's off to try the experience and has promised to let me know how it goes for her. It's hot. I'm still alive, the waves of nausea and misery have receded, probably burned off by the sun like morning mist. Hamilton is on a massive run of book sales. Depressing, really...
Rachel's daughter Jodie has been sent on a leafleting mission with 100 flyers promoting Poo Pants and me. This is a cunning scheme indeed!
Five minutes later she's back, all dispirited. They're all really rude,' she complains. She's been given 50 shades of 'No, thank you, we don't want your leaflet little girl now go away' from the general public. Cunning plan thwarted, then. That's a new one for the marketing things wot I learn at ExpatWoman Festive Fairs list. I'm melting. Someone's cooking sharwamas and I hate them. The person, not the shawarmas. The shawarmas, I want.
There's something of a lull on. Hamilton goes for a wander around, but a small child approaches her table. Quick as a flash she does a double take from way over on the other side of the courtyard and there's a Matrix-like blur and stop-motion emergence from hyperspace aaaand she's back. One small child relieved of funds later, she takes off for her wander. Honestly, it's beyond belief.
I've just put something strange and wrong in my mouth. It's supposed to be a hot dog, but it reminds me of something out of Terry Pratchett. I remember Elton John once describing a gustatory experience with, 'I've had stranger things in my mouth.' Well, while Elton (or Reg, as he should really be known) and I have different tastes, I can honestly say I can't recall anything quite so odd passing my lips. It was very kind of Hamilton to take a few seconds out of vacuuming money from small children to get them, but they are very, very strange.
A lady has just told me she loved Olives so much she lent it to all her friends. I managed to keep smiling, I'm not sure how, with my heart so black and murderous. Oh, I loved your book so much I photocopied it and put it up on a torrent site. Yvette and Flora from the LitFest have swung by to laugh at Hamilton and I being slowly reduced to sweaty, crumpled heaps. It's just struck me how much I've earned today compared to my hourly fee in my day job. I am now in a deep depression. But it's all about the readers, honestly. Truly, really, honestly. I mean it. Most sincerely. My lovely, lovely readers. I burp an aftershock of turgid pink proto-meat sausage, HFCS laden tomato gloop and scabby mustard and think of all those super, wonderful readers.
I'm on the downward spiral here, I'm running out of energy and things have slowed up a bit. Reckon I'll hightail it in a while. Even the madcap Hamilton has become less assiduous in her thieving of innocents. The Christmas music in the heat and hacienda style architecture of the Ranches Polo Club is endearingly odd, perhaps even slightly surreal. This is starting to trigger visions and this is probably not a good thing.
That's it. I'm out. Totally done. Sold some books, met some people, chatted with some nice strangers, watched Hamilton's mad pop-up empire come tottering down around her ears like a great metaphorical thing, caught in the breeze and dominoing disastrously. I manage to laugh long and loud enough so she notices.
It's funny how people are with books: how much convincing they take to pick up something new, how people will come back for more if they like what you've done before. As usual, the seminal importance of covers and blurbs reinforced but, oddly enough, how many people will just walk past books with absolutely no curiosity at all - anecdotally from today, at least, I'd say the majority of people don't actually, you know, care about books. And that's hard for me to say.
Sick, exhausted, sweaty and shivering, I retire with a few thousand Dirhams in my pocket and only one box of books left to carry to the car. Which is just as well, because I don't have the energy for anything else.
Until next year, then... Yay.