I’m back from my second London trip – and what a trip it was. On Saturday I came into London to beautiful summery skies and a sense of possibility. The photo above shows where I ate my lunch before heading to be interviewed for the Paperchain Podcast with fellow writer and alumna of the University of Glasgow’s CW PhD Gillian Best (author of The Last Wave). We sat in Fabrique, where you can get cardamom buns, in good strong light and shadow, watching hipsters come and go with their coffees. The podcast featuring us will go up in a couple of months I think, when the second season of the podcast begins (links when that happens, though you can enjoy yourself now with the entirety of season one, and I recommend it!). The Paperchain Podcast is interesting in that each guest has to write a piece exclusively for their interview, based on a prompt from another guest. Gillian had ‘Cake Flamenco’ (provided by the last guest of last season) while I worked from hers – Jeff Goldblum. I did indeed write a story based on the man, myth and legend.
After the interview the day was free – so I met up with C, who was kindly hosting me. We took an easy night of it in her lovely, plant filled flat in North London but at around 11.30pm the news hit of the terror attack at London Bridge. C checked around with her friends, while I didn’t even think to check in with others – sorry if I frightened anyone. We stayed up late, listening, submitting to the scrolling 24 hour news, the mis-reported bits, the vagueness. The night wore into Sunday.
Wincing slightly, I made my way with C through London. Some snapshots of the strange, uplifting things we found:
This clown was just down from Snowman House – don’t be alarmed! He said hello, and was quite cheery. He was sitting outside of a party supply shop, and just down from that, a man was stuffing an improbably number of inflated balloons into his small red car. I wondered briefly if it makes it any lighter. C pointed out it would probably be hard to see properly while driving. We carried on our way, stopping in a Japanese supermarket for snacks for later, and in Tiger, which is one of my favourite ‘everything’ shops. It’s like a cross between Ikea and Woolworths (RIP). Then it was off to a video interview with Naomi Frisby, of the amazing The Writes of Women blog. The whole blog is great, but especially worth a visit for her monthly roundup of notable articles, interviews and essays by women. Gillian Best was being interviewed too, but separately this time. I for one had a grand time with it, and thought Naomi’s questions were really insightful and incisive. When the interviews go up, I’ll post links here.
After that, Gillian and I wandered around London. The streets were busy, the air a little cooler. We wandered into bookshops, had dinner with C, and then the three of us headed for The Barley Mow, a Shoreditch pub, for the Listen Softly London event. We heard readings from poets who explored urban landscapes, bad relationships, the language of flowers, and poignant thoughts of the stars that are overhead always through even city light pollution.
On Monday I had the day to myself before the flight home, so I wandered London, going into bookshops, an all-gluten-free bakery called beyond bread, and the Moomin shop (it was everything I hoped for) and meeting with my friend J, before almost missing my flight home after the train to Stansted was stopped (a fire alarm at the airport) and my bags were double searched (a misplaced aerosol can) and my bag burst. But I made it!
Today the rain is falling steadily and I have work to catch up on. What a weekend to have lived through. Thanks to everyone who hosted me, palled about, offered me an interview, answered my bookish queries, bought my novel, came to hear me read and generally made this trip so great.
Lastly – a reminder in case you’ve missed it or not entered yet, Freight is giving away two copies of Flesh of the Peach on Goodreads. You have until the 13th to enter (it’s free and very straightforward). The giveaway is open to residents of the UK, Canada, US and Australia. If you’re not a fan of risk and would like to read it, the novel is available on Book Depository for a tenner with free shipping.