Thursday, 13 February 2014

Peel me a grape, or how Greg plans the saddest book launch ever known to man – or woman, i.e. me.

God, I'm so stressed. It's publication day, and here I am – not luxuriating in a bubble bath and ordering minions to peel me grapes – but sitting at my desk and listening to Greg telling me how useless at book marketing I am.

(I don't know why I assume other authors lie in baths with grapes flying at them in all directions on the days their books are published, but I just do. That's exactly the sort of delusional thinking that got me into this mess.)

Anyway, now Greg's going on about what he calls my "utter failure" to organise a launch.

"How the hell can I have a book launch, when you're the only person who knows about the bloody book?" I say. "It'd be even more poorly attended than whatshername's was - you know, that poet you were in love with last year?"

"The name of that poet, as you call her," says Greg, glaring at me,"was Jessica, as you very well know. And she was an exceedingly good poet – and masseuse. Her particular form of poetry was just too specialised for the masses to appreciate."

That's one way of putting it – and Jess could be an excellent masseuse, for all I know – but she also encouraged Greg to write everything in rhyme for the six months they were together, so I shall never ever forgive her for that. I doubt any of the usual suspects will, either.

Anyway, I decide not to wind Greg up any more – on the basis that it's unwise to fall out with the only person who'd still be talking to me if news about my book ever got out – so I make him a coffee without being asked, in an attempt to maximise his loyalty.

I even make Joan a cup, as faffing about in the kitchen stops me fretting, for all of five minutes. I've been on tenterhooks ever since I woke up this morning, especially whenever an email or a text arrives – in case it's from Max.

It'd be just my luck if he suddenly decided to take up reading, and went to Waterstones at lunchtime  to browse for books. (Then he'd be bound to notice mine and go ballistic, not least at the suggestion that he'd ever wear pyjamas like the ones on the cover.)

Or The Boss might spot a copy in WH Smith when he buys today's papers (to check he's made it into all of them), and then he'd sack me on the spot – and mean it, too. And what about if Johnny sees it – or Dad? Or Dinah? Oh, my God.

I'm having one of those anxiety-fuelled hot flushes now. Honestly, if I keep this up, I shall be in a right state by the end of the day, even if no-one's found me out by then.

"You already look like a madwoman, " says Greg, when I tell him why I'm so agitated. "You need to calm down, and enjoy the experience of being a published author."

I raise my eyebrows at the total impossibility of that suggestion, but Greg just sips his coffee (which he hasn't even bothered to thank me for), and then adds:

"I know, we'll hold an event ourselves – just me and you. I'll phone the Star of India and see if they've forgiven us yet."

He's the only one they need to forgive, but they haven't, anyway – somewhat unsurprisingly, given what happened last time we went – so now we have a booking at the Jewel of the Orient, for 7:00pm.

I love Chinese food, but I bet I'll be starving again by the time I get home – that is, if I can go home. I could be the first MPs' staffer to live at the YWCA, if Max is the one who catches me out.

"Doesn't the "YW" stand for 'young women'?" says Greg, who urgently needs a refresher course in handling the vulnerable.

I can't get him a place on one today, though, despite the fact that it's an emergency – so now I'm going to swig Joan's entire bottle of Rescue Remedy and then have a lengthy lie down.

I'll be on the sofa in the Oprah Room if anyone wants me – anyone who doesn't want to talk about the book, that is. You can tell them I've left the country.

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