Caught the train at about 4.30 from Summer Hill Station. There was a guy on the platform wearing a top hat & tails, a purple shirt & a gold bow tie. He was going up The Rocks to do some spruiking. Another bloke complimented him on his get-up & then started ear-bashing a pregnant Englishwoman, with child asleep in pram. It was about the tragedy of growing up in this world. She humoured him for a while and then lost it: I'm not going to go home & kill myself because some stranger on a train tells me his troubles! she snapped. He barely missed a beat but later, walking down the platform at Central, admitted to me that She got me there. I was early, I dawdled down Broadway, past where Antiquarian Books used to be, thinking I might stop in at the Broadway Hotel for a glass canoe ... but it's now a boutique cafe serving only bottled, boutique beer, so I turned off into Shepherd Street and walked up past where Pergamon Press used to be to the pub on the corner & had a beer there instead, among the scruffy, pre-rock 'n' roll crowd, with the dusty sunlight slanting down through the windows & the traffic roaring outside. Although I've been in there often before - once even to hear The Drifters play - I couldn't remember the name of the pub until I was leaving it. The Lansdowne. The great cloudy glass balls on the Grace Bros. Buildings are held in place by griffins, I realised, for the first time, & regretted not including that detail in the book. Ah, well. Past the shop where I bought this computer, noticing a screen / monitor almost twice the size of my one & wishing I could buy it. I'm dreamy & vague now because of the beer so I nearly don't recognize Jane Macduff sitting with Lesley McFadyean at a small table outside Badde Manors. I go with Jane to look at the venue & also to drop off the 2 cds I've brought along, Mariza's Transparente & Tinariwen's Radio Tisdas Sessions. Fado before & Tuareg desert music after seems like a good idea. Then we go back to join Lesley for a coffee before returning to Gleebooks where we stand around outside as the first few people start to arrive. By half past six the room upstairs is filling up nicely, the fado sounds great, the Turkish pizzas & the wine & the beer are going down but I don't want to start because my kids haven't arrived yet ... just then they show up at the top of the stairs, Liamh without one of his front teeth, which fell out this morning. I ask Jesse if he wants me to say anything about The Evil Chicken, his book, but he says no. They dim the lights, turn the music off, close the bar. Jane gets up & introduces Roger, with praises. We're sitting either side of the podium on the stage. I haven't seen Roger for a few years, he looks both more handsome and more gaunt than he used to. His launch speech is nicely meandering, he wanders happily here and there through the book, which he extols in almost embarrassingly fulsome terms. I see Jesse signing to me from the very front row, he means that I can say something about The Evil Chicken after all. I've tuned out momentarily during our dumb show & when I tune back in, Roger is talking about something he found on the Net, how he didn't realise I'd been living in a town in Queensland where he has relatives & visits often, which is a pity, because we could have caught up ... what on earth is he saying, I wonder, I've never lived in Queensland, I've only been there twice, once to the airport on the way back from Fiji - we didn't even get off the plane - and the other time to a National Park, a bat cave just over the NSW border? Then comes the punchline, he's been reading the Q & A I did with Mark Young as if I were Mark ... not realising I was the one asking the questions. This is quite funny although also a bit disconcerting. Then it's my turn, I say a few things & then read the bit about seeing the convict ghosts in the street outside the old Darlinghurst jail that time. My last remark is about Katherine spilling wine over her copy ... & as soon as I sit down at the signing table, that's what I do, spill my wine, all over the table. Fortunately there are no books on it at that point, but the cloth is soaked & they whip it away, leaving behind a surface that reminds me of an old school desk from the 1950s. The kids all crowd around while I'm signing, Liamh jigging my elbow & grinning like a pirate with his gat tooth, Jesse taking e-orders for The Evil Chicken, which I've described as both shorter & funnier than my book. That it is. His mate Monty is there too. It gets a bit blurred then, people saying goodbye & leaving with their books, some crashing bore who was at my last launch telling me Luca Antara is really Antarctica & then we're all being shooed out. Last person I see is my ex who calls across the street & comes running over, to say what I can't remember, but she hadn't bought a book & it was a great pleasure to give her one from my stash, though whether it will be a pleasure for her to read is another question, since she's in it, albeit under another name. Fran, Jane, Morgan & I go up to the Toxteth where I remember I sent, in all innocence, Anthony off to the Friend in Hand, since that's where I thought we were going then. I call them up, hear his name being shouted through the bar, but no answer. We drink 2 bottles of Oomoo & eat meaty dishes with many toasts & lots of laughs. Later still, the cabbie who takes me home is a negro Buddhist from Sri Lanka who says, when he's not working, he plays with his five year old son. I love my son, he says. And, of his religion, that acts have consequences. You do something bad, it will come back on you. Even so, we can't be good all the time. After I pay him, we shake hands, which is nice. Then I come back up here feeling ... beached or launched, I can't decide which. Perhaps I'm beached while the book is launched? If so, it must be time to do some more beachcombing ... happy days.


Bernardus said...

Congratulations now it is afloat, somewhere out there, and to some degree, its own thing.

Mark/Martin, I had the same confusion for some time about the email interview. Maybe you should look again at it.

Martin Edmond said...

hey, Bernardus, where you been? & thanks ... Roger's confusion might have been partly rhetorical, he did go on to talk about Pessoa ... interview seems clear enough to me, I'm the guy in italics, right?