I’ve been having the recurring nightmare where I wake up and find an unexpected hamster in a cage right beside my bed. The cage has been sitting untouched for two weeks – I’ve completely forgotten about the hamster’s existence . An immobile hump of amber fur crests the chewed up toilet roll. Amazingly, the hamster is still alive. He drinks an entire bottle of water and I’m left realising what a horrible, out-of-control person I am who can’t deal with responsibility. The dream is actually based on a real-life incident when I was aged about eleven, only that time it didn’t have a happy ending.
Anyway, this dream always turns up when I’m trying to sort something out. No matter how organised I try to be, there’s always a selection of dumb-brain panics that clog up the last 3% of any project. I’ve got the sort of chronic vertigo that starts with quirk and ends with a trip to the Old Person’s Home.
So – bearing all this in mind, I decided to do my own book launch. But it is so blindingly obvious I could never have managed it alone, I need to thank people. What’s been the nicest bit of hosting the event is how kind everyone has been. Here are my thanks, in the order of generosity.
I have a number of skill-voids – but chatting-up isn’t one of them. I made eyes at Moray-based arts outfit Culture Cafe – Karl and Kresanna. They support artists to host forums; events to make connections between local artists and art bodies and eat good food. A Culture Cafe is always well-organised – I thought it would give me something to aim towards. They very kindly gave me the budget.
Angus was my food hero. He lives in a sleek wooden /glass pad that he converted from a horse-box. He makes buildings, he child cares, he caters and does it silently and swiftly. I asked if he would like to cater for me. He said Yes. He also said he would do it for nothing. He just needed the food he would use and a donation to charity. This is a real man, he is not animatronic.
Moray Art Centre agreed (in their blind optimism) to be venue. They rented me two rooms – I used the entire ground floor, including the exhibition space.
Entertainment thanks. I really didn’t (and don’t) have the guts to let my book (and me) stand on the stage on its (my) own. I needed (still need) back up. Luckily I’ve managed to retain the friendship of a girl called Jo Hamilton who is talented, patient and willing – and also very well managed. She came up from England to sing. Her manager Jon flew north for just ten hours in total before rushing home to record the Swingle Singers. The two of them have shot straight back up to the top of my ‘fab-uliser’, a totem pole in my head that measures exactly how incredible specific people are.
Seb Jones is a guy who has set up, from scratch, a brewery – Speyside Craft Beer in Forres. Seb is the brewer, the bottler, the labeller, the driver, the warehouseman, the admin, PR and CEO. He’s only 25, looks like Mark Lamarr, wears a waist coat and yellow trousers. He was on the receiving end of my dumbest moments. Somehow he managed not to yell and still hasn’t billed me for the amazing beer he brought.
(Update, posted 5th March 2013. Speyside Brewery HAS billed me. It was a big bill).
North of Scotland Marquee hire lent me trays for free. And then patiently nodded (on the phone – at least I think they were nodding) as I upped the order to – 50 glasses. 100 glasses. 150 etc
Lossie Seafoods gave me 20 kilos of amazing smoked salmon. A free veggie box the size of a fridge came via MacLeods Organics. By the time (and it was late in the evening) I reached MacBeth’s Butchers in Forres and they just handed over two giant haggis free of charge, I was close to clutching the entrail-and-oat stuffed stomach bags to my chest like two greasy oscars and howling with the emotion of it all. ‘Why are people so KIND’? I sobbed at the fixed, patient smiles of the butchers.
I knew the bestest cheapest wine comes from Aldi and with my budget in my paws, the manager gave me a private trolley and his undivided attention. But then he drew the line at discount. I would like to thank Aldi kindly for their generous offer of Sale or Return.
All of the amazing folks mentioned above made the event a success. But most of all, I wanted to get the opportunity to give a big party-shaped hug to all those people who have loved, supported and guided me through life. I got to see my nursery school friend Thurza chat to Rebecca from Channel 4 and Charlie the fish expert tell stories to Angus the Cromarty writer.
Here are the things that this correspondent did not do so well on.
Remembering to bring a bucket and ice for the champagne. Thanks for rushing to Tesco, Ianto, and for not allowing one twitch of annoyance to show on your face.
Realising I needed a guitar for Jo. Which saw me absconding from my own book launch, rushing through Findhorn Village in a ballgown and hammering on doors. And returning with a guitar in glory. And spending the night with trainers below my long skirt.
Failing to bully the printer into making sure the books were there on the night, not the morning AFTER the night.
Taking photos. People know I’m annoyingly snap happy. Many of my friends are photographers. But if you ply people with drink and bite-sized finger food, they have nothing left to go click with.
So above is an artist’s impression of how things looked on the night.
The party flew – everyone had a good time and no hamsters died in the making of it.