Saturday, July 14, 2007

DFB party

My social life, as everyone knows, is a whirling carousel of coloured lights marred only by the occasional vague feeling of regret at not having refused that final glass of champagne.

So it was this morning as we wandered about Oxford. My wife took the above picture of students, all togged up for their graduation ceremony, as they passed beneath the Bridge of Sighs. Quite a spectacle, and under other circumstances one that might have held my interest a little longer, but I felt that what I really wanted to be looking at was a cup of coffee. Preferably in a shady corner. Somewhere well away from the bright sunlight and the pounding of the bells...

Fellow author, illustrator and musician Paddy Mounter was in the same reflective mood, and so we hid ourselves away in the coffee shop above Waterstones and got into a staring match with our Americanos. Our respective wives, Gina and Patsy, were bearing up rather better - quite cheerful in fact. I suppose that at some point in their lives they've both learned the value of that simple little sentence 'No thanks, I've had enough.'

We'd all been to David Fickling's 'Now We Are Six' party the night before - a celebration of six years of the DFB publishing imprint. It was pretty impressive. They held it in the lovely grounds of Worcester College - all lakes and cloisters and hallowed halls. The perfect setting for a publishers' bash. Some of David's team had put together a half-hour cabaret, and that was fun. Not often you get to watch your publisher and your editors singing for their suppers. Paddy and I did a couple of our Gents numbers. A young guitarist called Jake sat in with us, but he was far too brilliant for his own good, I'm afraid. We took him round the back of the marquee afterwards and broke his fingers for him - it's a rite of passage they all have to go through.

Philip Pullman came and told us how much he'd enjoyed it. He's a big jazz fan, and as knowledgeable about that as he is about everything else in this universe and the next. I asked him if it was true that he played ukulele, and he said yes it was. He favours the Martin, I gather. Might there be a chance of him whipping out his Little Martin and giving us a quick burst at some similar gathering in the future? Er...possibly.

So watch this space. If I can get Mr. Pullman singing 'Mr. Woo' to a champagne-fuelled audience of agents, authors, publishers, booksellers and caterers then it'll be worth feeling a whole lot worse than this the morning after.

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