About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ashfall, Part 2

Window Shopping at the Louvre
So when we left off on this here, Eddie and I were collapsing in our hotel rooms after a very long day full of unexpected surprises on the way to London Book Fair.

One bank
I got a pretty decent night's sleep, and I had one goal for my morning in Paris before we headed off to catch the Eurostar. I wasn't in Paris if I didn't go to the Seine, which looked close enough for a round trip walk if I kept about my business. Down by the big department store and the opera house, stop at one chocolatier that's been around for 80 years then on next block see one that's been around for 90 years and realize you picked the wrong one. Down to the Louvre, walk along both banks of the Seine because I don't want anyone to think I'm slighting the left or the right bank or vice versa. Emerge near big old buildings and think "gee, I bet Benjamin Franklin visited some of these."

Another bank
It was a wonderful and delightful morning, in part because of the unexpectedness of it.

We then found our way to Gare du Nord and checked in at the mobbed counters for the Eurostar, with all services booked until some time the next day or day after at this point because everyone was trying to take the train. It was while reading newspapers in the departure lounge that some of the joy of the experience started to fade, as it became clear that the ash cloud which diverted us wasn't just a one day thing, and that I'd gotten a lot of chocolates to give away at our table at London Book Fair to people who might not be coming if things didn't resolve themselves pretty quick like. This did not make me happy.

Tilt your head; my luxury "tip up" seat between cars on the Eurostar

But there wasn't much time to mope with my eagerly anticipated first ride on the Eurostar about to begin. But we were in for a surprise, which explained why we had to go through a staffed check-in gate instead of the automated. Our very expensive first class seats weren't seats in the actual train. No, we were luck to get "tip-up" seats, the jump seats in the entry vestibule between cars. Kind of like being told that your first class seat on an airplane was the jump seat next to the galley door. It wasn't quite as bad as all that, because we did get to sit in actual seats for the first leg of the journey to Lille, where more people would be getting on and we'd be getting the boot. And it was a very nice meal service. And it certainly made for a train ride to remember.

Eddie enjoying the meal service on board the Eurostar in our first class accommodations
I've always been a fan of high speed rail in theory, and I loved partaking of it in practice. The train moved slowly until right around DeGaulle airport when it finally heads off on its own dedicated tracks, and then it speeds along, my does it speed along. In the US we're lucky to match the speed of cars on the interstate, here we just zoom by. The countryside was beautiful, the French landscape as full of churches as the British landscape can be of castles. And churches.

Peter V. Brett signing at London's Forbidden Planet
Alas, the Book Fair ended up being pretty much the debacle I'd started to fear it might be when I was reading newspapers at Gare du Nord. Peter V. Brett had come up a little before us, he was one of the last planes to land at Heathrow before it was shut down and we got to Europe just before the European airspace closed pretty much completely. My second employee Jessie Cammack was supposed to come out the next day and never made it. All in all, two thirds of our appointments cancelled. And we got to sit around the Fair during the downtime wondering if/how we might ever get home.

Thanks Emma/HarperUK for getting us the artwork and John Berlyne at Zeno Agency for designing these nifty signs, which more people will see on blog than at the ash-interrupted London Book Fair
Because Peter was out in support of the UK launch of his Desert Spear, which we knew would be big, and because the book has in general been quite big on a global basis, we decided to show the flag by taking out some signs in the Rights Centre, and also by having a meet and greet for our sub-agents and Peter's publishers in attendance at the Fair to meet with Peter at a Russian restaurant a short walk from the Fair. Hardly anyone to look at the signs, and we had 12 people for our big event instead of 35, which was very deflating. But those who attended had a very good time, and I would recommend Nikita's in London to anyone looking for some good Russian food and drink.

In the end, UK airspace reopened in time for Peter, Eddie and I all to return on time on our originally scheduled flights, but in ways good and bad it was a week to remember.

1 comment:

Maria said...

I'm rather worried about all that chocolate you bought...you just let me know if you need a place to ship it!!!!

It would be a huge sacrifice, but I'd gladly accept it rather than let it go to waste...or to your waist...