Friday, July 23, 2010

So, what have I been up to?

Well, I've been a bit absent from this blog as I've been mad busy the last few weeks. Two weeks ago was the RNA annual conference, and last week I popped my festival cherry at Latitude. Both of these required large amounts of preparation and both were utterly exhausting, requiring much recovery time!

Added to which, every time I've attempted to escape to my computer during the last week I've been forced to do something 'useful' like reorganise my wardrobes or clean windowsills. But hey, it's not like this writing lark is my job or anything!

Oh, wait...

(click below for more. I'm trying out this 'below the fold' thing. What do you think?)

Anyway. Time to talk about the RNA conference. This being the 50th anniversary of the Association's founding, the RNA went all-out and chose the spectacular location of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Knocks the socks off any other campuses we've been to!

Arriving early on Thursday, I met Jean Fullerton and a group of other early-birders for a tour of the Thames Police Museum, which was tiny and fascinating. The Thames River Police are the oldest police force in the country, preceding the Met by a good thirty years. Our guide, Joz, a former policeman himself, had amassed and organised a lot of the artefacts in the museum himself, as well as researching an incredible amount into the force’s history. I think my favourite moment was when one author asked him how long it would take a body to resurface in the Thames, and he immediately responded, “What time of year?”

(The answers were autumn and ten days, if you’re interested)

Then on to the conference proper, which as usual was a mad whirl of socialising, learning, and drinking. I like to think I did my fair share of all these things, especially the latter, especially at the Friday night Gala Dinner at the Trafalgar Tavern. From the outside, this place looked like a riverside pub, but upstairs was a large and beautiful ballroom. The only thing it lacked was air conditioning, and even with the river breeze it was like a sauna. Still, saunas are good for you. Probably helped me sweat out some of the alcohol.

The ballroom of the Trafalgar Tavern.

The lovely ladies of Flat 20, displaying our excellent taste in shoes (and our spectacularly bad sense in attempting to walk in them).

Given that on Saturday I was both presenting a workshop and meeting with an editor, I probably shouldn't have imbibed so much champagne the night before. But champagne, you see, is cold, and the ballroom, as I've mentioned, was very hot, so it only seemed sensible at the time. Therefore on Saturday, nervous, hot and not at all hungover, I decided that even if my workshop was a shambles and my editor appointment an absolute shower, at least I might look fabulous, especially at foot level.

Thankfully, the Queen of Hearts shoes did their good work and both sessions went well. I ought to thank Liz Fenwick, my co-presenter, at this point, as she did an awful lot of work for the presentation and I don't think I could have done it alone!

My editor appointment was to talk about a book close to my heart, so close in fact that I'm not going to get wildly optimistic and start planning publication parties in case it all comes to nothing...but she was very enthusiastic about it, so my fingers remain crossed.

Saturday night was a barbecue in the splendid courtyard of the Queen Anne building, at which Katie Fforde announced the winners of the conference in-house competition for the Elizabeth Goudge trophy. As detailed below, I received an honourable mention, which I'm very proud of, and if you want to read my entry, just look at the next post where there's a link to it.

Sunday brought the end of the conference and a pub quiz at which my team in no way disgraced ourselves (no really, we did quite well!). And that was it, all over bar the journey home (my thoughts on the sprawling unsignposted mess of Stratford station best left hovering in the air there--which was turned blue as a result).

And then it was on to preparations for Latitude...


  1. I'm never very keen on the 'click here for more' posts. I like to see the whole thing laid out in front of me fight from the off.

    Was a damn good conference, though.

  2. Well, I'm trying it out; I can write some incredibly long posts and they take up half the page!

  3. I'm with Jan, I like to see what I'm in for as soon as I log in.

    But, oh, Greenwich...where even the ants were polite and refused to run up my skirt.. What a great time was had by all.

  4. I like to see it all too. Ahem. But I can understand its usefulness if a long post is planned.

    Fantastic photo of the Traf. dinner. Did you take it? Excellent shot.


  5. You always have the BEST shoes! Love the dots!

  6. I took lots of pictures at the Trafalgar dinner, Jane, but some came out better than others. For some reason quite a few of them were a bit fuzzy. Can't possibly have been the fault of the wine; must have been my camera.

    I probably won't use the 'read more' function a lot. But occasionally I post some really long, long posts, or excerpts, so I might bring it out then. If I can remember how.

  7. Sybir, I took seven pairs of shoes. Not counting the ones I was already wearing. It was ludicrous. Next year I'll just wear sneakers all weekend...

  8. It was a GREAT conference, and so nice to meet you and everyone else! :)