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Talks, hospitals, emptiness, Giles Coren and Gibraltar...


Bloody busy week just gone. Had two speaking engagements, at Middlesex University on Tuesday and Whitechapel Idea Store Wednesday. The Tuesday talk was about my long, gruelling road to publication, and the questions were really thought-provoking. Many thanks to lecturer and author  David Rain (aka Tom Arden) for arranging that one.

On Wednesday I was on a panel with AlexWheatle and fellow Legend author Andrew Blackman to discuss London writing. I was asked to step in when Robert Elms had to pull out – maybe his tailor needed to see him again. The debate was invigorating and I’d recommend Alex’s books to anyone who wants to understand London from the sharp end (I’ve already recommended Andrew Blackman and will do so again, in the hope Private Eye gives us a mention in the you-scratch-my-back bit of the books section).

This week I also finally finished “emptiness” and with the usual trepidation have sent it off to my agent, James Wills. What a strange, dark book; unlike anything I’ve ever written and by far the most ambitious. Fairly pleased with it; now I just need to convince the rest of you. Sadly, self-promotion has never been my selling point; lately I’ve been told I must make more of an effort to market my products. So –erm – buy me books you bastards or I’ll twat you. How’s that?

I was already under pressure to finish the book before flying off to Gibraltar (see below), but then me nan was rushed in to Chase Farm Hospital with a minor heart attack. With some excellent support from the medical staff she’s doing well; pity I can’t say the same about the hospital building. What a dump. I’ve been there too frequently lately – granddad was in earlier this year, and two years ago me other nan – but it doesn’t improve with age. Sprawling, dirty, scary, no security and miles from public transport; all this after thirteen years of a Labour government. An utter disgrace. Thank god me nan’s out of there soon...

So yes, Gibraltar.Just home from Chase Farm and about to start packing. Flying out of Luton 7am tomorrow, two nights in the lovely Rock Hotel, plus a guided tour, dolphin-spearing* and monkeys. My good wife is delighted for me; I just asked her where the sun-cream is and she suggested a place I could stick the bottle, which was most helpful.

Finally, in recent posts I may have given the impression that Times/Sunday Times editors don’t know their collective ring-pieces from rib-cages. I take it all back because today I opened the Sunday Times Culture Section and was delighted to find my name. Not, sadly, a review of my novel, but in its way, even more pleasing. See p.61...

*According to the itinerary from the tourist board it’s a “dolphin safari” but if there are no harpoons involved at any stage I’ll be very disappointed.

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