Where to fuckin begin?
OK, so before I even get to WFC, I'm on Cloud Nine. I arrive in on Monday morning from Glasgow on my Continental Airlines flight, thanking my lucky fucking stars that the inflight movie was not, in fact, the advertised ELF (ye gods, kill me now) and hey-hoing, humming and hawing -- well, it's better than fuckin ELF
-- that it was the moderately amusing (if constantly interrupted and shown on a dodgy all red and orange video screen) MR AND MRS SMITH. A brain out, sponge in movie. Perfect for air travel.
So. I arrive at Newark and make my way through the stringent security of Liberty International Airport, getting stopped at customs of course, being a long-hair disreputable-looking motherfucker and on my own, and kinda nervous over the address I should put on my green visa thingy (Well, I'll be in New York for a few days, but then I'm off to Madison, but I can't remember the hotel name, and the details are in my luggage, so, ah fuck it, I'll just put down the New York address... "So you're staying in New York?"... "Well, I'll be in Madison for a bit"... "Come this way, sir."... "OK").
Anyway, I make it through the customs without getting shackled and deported for having a beard or wearing a Peace badge, and get picked up by my chauffeur. Heh. A fuckin chauffeur. Yep, Del Rey, bless 'em, clearly knowing what will tickle me pink send a car from Music Express to pick me up at the airport, so I get to smoke a quick roll-up in the back of a plush Lexus (or whatever the fuck it was... my knowledge of cars generally runs to "it was a black one".) We drive into Manhattan, me bouncing in the back with glee as the driver asks me if I've got a gig out in Madison, and I get to imagine I'm a rock star. "So who've you had in the back?" is, of course, my first question. "Bono. That guy, the Edge" says the driver. And so on.
Coooooooooool, I think.
I check into my plush hotel (the Warwick) and have time to freshen up (well, actually, time to wander round the room thinking "sweeeeeet!") before phoning round to Del Rey to let them know I'm on my way. Then it's a few blocks walk through Uptown Manhattan with a spring in my step despite the whole "what time is it? where am I?" dislocation thing, and then I'm in the foyer of the NEW YORK FUCKING PUBLISHING GIANT. And then I get to meet the Most Excellent Mr Minz and my publicist and native guide, Coleen Lindsay aka LaGringa -- who both, I quickly learn, are very much my kinda people. And I'm getting shown round the offices and shown cover images for the book and page design stuff and, hey, you should meet this person and, hey, you should meet this
person and, and, and, and -- oh look there's a monkey!
Well, OK, it wasn't a real monkey -- just someone getting into the Halloween spirit by wandering round the offices in monkey costume, complete with organ grinder on the other end of the leash. But, suffice to say, any NEW YORK FUCKING PUBLISHING GIANT where you can dress up as a monkey on Halloween is alright by my books. Fuck the advance. From now on I wanna know, do you let your staff dress up as monkeys at Halloween? Well, OK, then; let's make a deal. So: lunch with Jim Minz is followed by another little tour, a grazing for free books and then a short respite in the hotel before Coleen takes me out on the town. A meal in Soho. The Halloween parade in the West Village (with Book Slut, who's a hoot, and her friend who I remember simply as the Urchin for her gaiman qualities -- a wee scelf, a wee slip of a lass, as we say in Scotland). Guinness in the East Village (I think). Some dodgy singing of Rocky Horror tunes. Anyway. Kid in a fucking candy store, that's me.
I arrive back at the hotel, sated with sights and sounds, and I sleeeeeeeeeep. Lovely lovely sleeeeeeep.
The next day, Tuesday, I check out, drag my luggage and my sorry ass down to the Del Rey offices and after a proper meeting about schtuff
(which mainly consists of me saying "Really? Really
? Coooooool!" quite a lot), Jim Minz and meself head out to lunch with Jim Killan, SF Buyer for Barnes and Noble (SF Buyer for fuckin Barnes and Noble!). Great conversation. Great Indian food. I think I did actually manage to get past the "I'm doing a business lunch in Manhattan!" fuckin-hellery of it with the help of beer, but I'm not entirely sure I wasn't just a blithering bag of jetlag and excitement. Either way, it all ends up with me, after more meeting and greeting, on the train back to Jim's home out in the wilds of New Jersey where I'm staying overnight. I get to meet his charming wife, Sondi, and his insufferably
charming daughter Rachel (she's just at that wind-up toy stage of crawling where they zip across the floor this way and that -- sweet as a fucking button). John Klima and his wife, Shea, come over for beer, chat and a Western movie, giving me the chance to pass on the rare gourmet foodstuffs I've brought for them (Walkers Crisps -- I only brought them because John quite rightly referred to them as crisps
. Had he said "potato chips" I would, of course, have said, No! I know not of what you speak, in this strange barbaric tongue of yours!
And then, being jetlagged to fuck, and one absinthe to the wind, I curl up in the Minzes' spare bedroom and surrender myself to more of the blessed slumber.
Cause after all, tomorrow is Wednesday and we're heading off to Madison... and I know sleep is going to be a precious fucking commodity there.