|English: Ian Dury in concert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Setting out to live blog a day when you're clearly in the poo for time and have a brand new Samsung which you don't know how to use and haven't yet downloaded key apps for was never going to be quite the breeze it appeared at 9am. Boy did I time out.
We had starters, mezze thingies and hot fatayer. I love mujaddara. Just saying.
Main course was a rich North African style lamb thingy with couscous and vegetables. I couldn't tell Rachel this for obvious reasons, principally the fact she had a cold shawarma at her side when I finally got back to her at 4.30 just as the ExpatWoman Festive Family Fun Fandango was shutting down for the day. She'd been too busy to eat lunch.
After the main course Lara got up and moderated. Liz talked. I talked. We answered questions from the audience. People bought books and asked us to sign them. I sold out of copies of Shemlan which was kind of nice.
For my part I talked about MECAS and Shemlan, the magic of Beirut and the shittiness of sectarianism, both in Beirut and in Northern Ireland, where my next book is set. And where Gerald Lynch the evil spy is more than comfortable because he understands the sectarianism that binds these two magical countries.
It was late in the afternoon as Gerald Lynch hopped along the uneven paving that lined Gouraud Street, the heart of Beirut’s bustling Gemayze area. He wore jeans and a leather jacket against the chill spring air, his hands in his pockets as he squeezed between the parked cars.
Gouraud’s bars, as ever, welcomed those who wanted to party and forget the woes of a world where violence and conflict were a distant memory but a constant worry. Orphaned by Belfast’s troubles, Lynch appreciated Beirut’s fragile peace and sectarian divides, the hot embers under the white ash on the surface of a fire that looked, to the casual observer, as if it had gone out. Lynch scowled as he passed a poster carrying Michel Freij’s smiling face, encircled in strong black script: ‘One Leader. One Lebanon.’
From 'Beirut - A Deadly Thriller'So, what with eating lunch and all that talking, the afternoon flew by and I abandoned Rachel like the low cur I am. I rushed back to the Ranches, but it was too late. We had a chat about our respective afternoons and wandered our respective ways home. We're doing it again at Repton, but more about that later. I missed The Goat, but appreciated his kind gesture in leaving behind a security camera picture of him emptying my cash tin.
I finish by driving home, exhausted and elated. Raucous: Blur's Caramel, Kaiser Chiefs' In My Life, Chili Peppers' Californication.
It's very odd to spend a whole day rushing around talking to people about your books and then taking money from them. But it's one of the best ways of spending a day I know of.
So a heartfelt thank you to the ExpatWoman team for hosting the Author's Corner and to Jane Northcote and the team at Dubai World Trade Club - and Lara, the moderator with the mostest.
And now to a Djinn and Tonic...
Going in for lunch now. It's all glittering tines and starched white linen around here. Chattering, unsuspecting audience members are having drinks poured. I'm trying not to think of the blazing sun and poor old Rachel flogging books to the hordes. I'm dealing with it.
Oh wow. Placebo's Bulletproof Cupid and Foo Fighters Burn Away seeing me on the pell-mell dash from the Ranches to the Dubai World Trade Centre. Dury's Apples still haunting the edge of what passes for my mind. Got here on time, bit sweaty and over-excited but I'm good and the calm, monied halls of the World Trade Club are taking the edge off the Hunter Thompson vibe.
Rachel's got a wee stock of signed books and I actually feel sorry for her (now I've sold a tranche of books) in the sweltering heat while I loll around talking to the leisurely classes in the air conditioned luxury of Dubai's oldest members-only club.
It's going to be fun getting back to the Festive Fair, it was packed as I left, parking spaces only available out as far away as Studio City.
And now to lunch...
I have to dash to Trade Centre now. Books have been flying out of the door, which is lovely. I've been teasing Rachel about how much more money I make per sale than she does and she's pointed out that she only has to write 35,000 words to finish one of hers.
I'm working out how to do for her. Seriously.
Golly but it's hot. The sun's out, the smell of BBQs in the air and the crowds are out, people milling around and much chatter. The catering's a disaster, grinning staff who don't understand the words tea or sugar makes for an interesting service experience. Dhs 10 for an Aquafina, 18 for a coffee. Rachel's sold thousands of books, I haven't sold a thing. I hate her but have to be nice to her because she's looking after the stall at lunchtime. When I get back this afternoon I'm going to kill her and hide her body behind the clubhouse.
Guy at the gate stops me. I announce I am an Expat Woman but he doesn't crack a smile. He tells me there are new rules and I can't have pets or feed the horses. That's fine, then.
I meet the team behind Eva Lilly and the Three Toed Snooch. They have t-shirts. Rachel has brought a big yellow pop-up stand with The Case Of The Exploding Loo on it.
I feel I am building well on my positioning as a serious author of Middle East spy thrillers.
I'm on the road, having wiped out ADNOC's cash reserves by emptying their ATM and then buying a bottle of Masafi. They're going to go bust now but I've got a cash float and I don't care. Spiritualised's Broken Heart helps to erase Dury's Apples but it's going to take more than that. Feeder and System of a Down, Placebo and then Blur. That's done the trick. The MBZ road is clear and I'm flying along - I'd allowed an hour for the drive and I'm at the Ranches by 9.30.
The idea of noting down the day comes to me. I've got Ian Dury's 'Apples' in my head and Sarah has just handed me a tin cashbox. It occurs to me that I'm actually going to handle money today. True to form, I've double booked myself. I'm selling and signing books at the ExpatWoman Festive Family Fun Fair AND I'm doing a literary lunch event at the Dubai World Trade Club. Kids' author Rachel Hamilton asked if she could pitch in a couple of weeks ago which was fine by me. And then I realised about the double booking thing, which made her my lunchtime stand-in. For two hours or so today she gets to be me and speak all gruff.