Sunday, April 25, 2010

Three Golfers' and An Agent's Journey to London

William Clark Associates--also known as me, myself, and I--represented at the volcano-challenged London Book Fair this year, which took place from the 20th through the 22nd of April, and from which so many Americans and Europeans were  absent and missed.  Many associates--family, friends, and colleagues--have inquired after our attendance, so setting aside the attentions of our wife on a Sunday evening, here goes...

Preparations for the fair had consumed many preceding weeks, among them proofing the rights lists, selling in translation rights, and developing new projects and strategy for selling their primary rights while there.  Equally determined to take our annual guest room at The Charles Lamb in Islington, run by our impeccably gracious friend Camille Hobby-Limon, and even enjoy a cocktail or two at her and Professor Tony Conigliaro's new bar, 69 Colebrooke Row, upon arrival on Thursday evening, we woke to a cancelled flight at five o'clock that morning, and booked the only available flight on Aer Lingus to London via Shannon on Friday night.  With things shutting down throughout Friday, passage was only guaranteed to Shannon by takeoff.  If Ireland, then England!

By takeoff the flight was diverted to Dublin, and it was there we shivered in windbreaker at ten to six on Saturday morning, before taking a taxi to Dun Laoghaire, one of the ferry ports to the United Kingdom.  A minivan of guys who had behaved convivially on the flight over were unfolding onto the curb in front of the taxi, and they were made agency associates as they worked their cell phones and laptops intently.  The obviously capable trio were golfers heading home from a tour, including The Masters at Augusta, and several rounds at Pinehurst.  Including Rich, the affable golf pro from Roehampton, their American-style country club outside London;  Adam, a derivatives trader who works in Islington, and the original Mr. "Can Do;"  and "Mr. Church" from Wandsworth, who married Ms. Church of Church's Shoes, otherwise known as Jeremy.  All kind and generous fellows, who were happy to have my contribution to the effort, if not my company.

A port officer showed up at the quay and unlocked the doors, though the ferry ticket windows would remain closed until 11:00.  As other hopeful travellers were arriving at this desolate port, my acquaintances determined we needed to go as far north as possible to definitely get a ferry to Scotland.  Such a port would be Larne, somewhere somewhat north of Belfast, and a three hour trip from where we were.  Negotiating a fare with the golfers' driver from the airport, we fitted into the minivan already piled high with three set of golf clubs and three weeks' luggage and embarked for the north.

From Larne, Ireland we were ferried to Stranraer, Scotland;  driven to Carlisle;  and entrained at Carlisle for London, England.  On the way down Jeremy pointed out the Church's factory as we passed by Northampton. Via air, land, and water, it was an olfactory and visual tour of those three countries, and our companionable quartet smelled each of their manures while taking in the most verdant vistas on a spectacularly cloudless day.  We exchanged contact details before parting ways on the platform at Euston Station.

Stumbling down Elia Street around nine o'clock that evening, we gained a spring in our step reviewing the accomplishment, and were sufficiently revived to pursue that schedule fantasied prior:  drinks and a visit to the new bar with Camille's husband, the irrepressible art dealer Hobby, regular guest in our house, also resident of the pub, of course, and partner in TAG Fine Arts.

Peter Ginna, Publisher and Editorial Director of Bloomsbury Press whose nom de plume de blog is Dr. Syntax, took a similar route, which you may read about here.