Lost in translation on trip from hell
I must say, I find the word “angry” very inadequate at times. “Angry” might as well be a meadow full of fluffy bunnies because it doesn’t really do justice to what I have been experiencing of late. Let me run you through my week so far:
• Miss flight to Frankfurt
• Miss several important meetings/piss off boss
• Get cab to Gatwick airport—takes same time as it would to walk to Germany.
• Scream at Neanderthal at check-in who says I don’t have flight booked
• Told by Forrest Gump (my assistant Chloë) that she booked me on a flight from Stansted.
• Have to apologise to Neanderthal at check-in, and run away before security arrives
• Then remember have no idea where Stansted is
I finally got back to central London by train (I mean, I know) and just stood outside Victoria Station with tourists and commuters disgorging on to the platform around me, the Evening Standard billboards shouting of job cuts, credit crunch and meltdown.
My BlackBerry buzzed again—Chloë said she had secured a third flight and that if I legged it to somewhere called Luton I could just make check-in and get to Frankfurt in time for the Hamburg Book Guild and Reader’s Digest Condensed Books Fork Supper and Oompah Jamboree at 6 p.m.—followed by dinner with our Korean sub-agent.
“Okay, okay, it’s 1.30 now, what time is the flight?” I said. “1.55,” she replied, with ebbing confidence. “Oh, and that novel you love has been turned down by six publishers this morning, thought you should know.”
Like I said: “angry”, a stupid, pointless word. So then I did something unprecedented—I switched off my BlackBerry (didn’t actually know it had an off switch but apparently it does, quite exciting) and hurled it in my bag. I would rather eat my own eyes than schlepp all the way to Germany to take part in a game of “Let’s pretend”, namely: “let’s pretend we are all one big happy publishing family”, “let’s pretend we think all our books are breathtaking”, and “let’s pretend that we are not teetering on the brink of a recession”. Frankfurt could do without Miss Daisy Frost this year—maybe forever.
It’s time for me to turn my back on publishing, I thought. I am going to commit the rest of my life to worthy causes, I’m going to go to India and work in the slums with children who can only afford to eat dust. First, though, I’m going to go to my mum’s. Then Calcutta.
Nine hours later, fed, watered, freshly laundered and daydreaming about being surrounded by cheering orphan children as we get hilariously sprayed with water by an elephant, my mum switched on the “News at Ten” as they crossed live to the Guildhall for the announcement of the Man Booker winner. As Aravinda Adiga stood at the podium, newly anointed and enriched, I sat there with total indifference to the whole stupid publishing world. It all seemed so very far behind already.
And then I remembered something: Aravinda didn’t have an agent. Aravinda, his £50,000 cheque and imminent surge in book sales, had no one to look out for him . . . Where the hell was my BlackBerry?