Today is the official launch day – but the party was on Tuesday. It was held at the Wheatsheaf just off Charlotte Street, a small pub with a proper 1930s atmosphere. Apparently it is where Dylan Thomas and Caitlin first met, so it is quite possible that Larry and Nancy met there also. Plus they have a delightful upstairs room.
It was the coldest night of the year – what is it that book launches have in common with moving house? They seem to prompt either extreme weather conditions or transport strikes. However, despite Siberian temperatures outside, it was a really great party – a lovely mix of people from all different bits of my life. My fear had been that everyone would stay with who they knew, but in fact there were all sorts of unexpected meetings and links.
Lennie Goodings of Virago raised a toast to the book, I gave a speech which lasted all of 30 seconds and was really just to introduce the two actors both of whom Penelope and I had known since the 60s. They read two very short bits of poems: Shirley read the section of the poem The Prayer Wheel which gave me the title for the book, and then Ellis read the poem which Larry wrote after Nancy left him and never published.
And they were wonderful – often I find actors too stagey for poetry, but Shirley and Ellis gave the words their full weight – perfect.
Meanwhile, Judith and Zoe from Virago, highly professional publicist and editor, turned barmaid to make sure glasses were kept filled.
Some guests couldn’t wait to start reading.
Meanwhile Sebastien Sandys of LXV books displayed the copies brilliantly
And sold out!
After which, the author and her agent were free to relax …