Friday, 4 April 2014

London Book Fair

Next week, from Tuesday and Thursday, Marcia’s agent – Dinah Wiener – will be attending the London Book Fair (on Table 8b, as it happens).

This book fair sprang from the loins of the Small and Specialist Publishers’ Exhibition which was a librarian’s trade show held in the basement of an hotel. It was the idea of Lional Leventhal, founder of the publishing house Arms and Armour Press. The first exhibition was held in 1971 and twenty-two publishers attended, their titles being displayed on tables.

Six years later it changed its name to the London Book Fair and in the mid 1980’s was bought by Industrial and Trade Fairs. It had become one of the most important international book fairs in the world, attracting over five hundred exhibitors. Present day statistics are impressive: over 1,500 exhibitors from around the world with about 25,000 people attending from over 100 countries. Naturally, it is no longer held in an hotel basement but rather in the impressive surroundings of Earls Court.

Dinah will, I have no doubt, be talking about her new book to people from all of Marcia’s overseas publishers (and, I have no doubt, other possible publishers from even more countries) and so has been preparing a “blurb”. Dinah is very good at these – Marcia is hopeless and I fall somewhere in between the two. This is the agreed text.


Retired knight of the stage Sir Mungo always enjoys visits from his old friend Kit Chadwick. This time Kit brings a letter from her first, and only, love Jake. Twelve years together, and Kit always reluctant to commit. Eventually Jake returned to France, turned to another, married and had four daughters. They met only once, but always exchanged birthday cards. Now Jake is a widower and has written to Kit asking if they could meet again. The reunion between Kit and Jake is the core of this incredibly human and moving novel. But life in the peaceful valley is not what it seems, contrary to aspiring novelist James’s impressions. Many years ago Sir Mungo had played host to another dear friend and acting partner, Dame Isobel Trent, and tried to console her over the breakup of her relationship with cruel Ralph. Izzy’s death, and the loss of her unborn baby, is never far from Mungo’s mind. Also living in this peaceful valley are Emma and her two small children. Emma’s husband is serving in Afghanistan and she is on the verge of an affair with a brother officer when she realizes he is a dangerous man. With Mungo’s help she ends the relationship in such a way that her marriage can’t be threatened. Finally, Mungo’s brother Archie, who owns the land, fears he may have to sell the family house. Mungo is determined to prevent him but, in order to do this, secrets kept for nearly 40 years now have to be revealed. Will the relationship between the two brothers ever be the same again?

Talking about Earls Court has made me realise I have absolutely no idea as to why it has that name. So I Googled it to find out.

The name is, as you would expect, an ancient one. This was once a rural area to the west of Kensington under the lordship of the Earls of Oxford. They held the manorial court near near to the spot now occupied by the Earls Court Underground Station – hence the name of the road (Earls Court Road) and of the exhibition centre built alongside it in which was opened in 1887, rebuilt in 1937 and is now scheduled to be demolished to give way for residential properties. I think that makes me feel quite sad. When I worked in London (many, many years ago and for a few months only as, being a country hick, I found the place intolerable) I shared a flat in the Earls Court Road.

Now for some photos (although none of them have anything to do with any of the above).

Spring has certainly arrived as witness the flowering cherries in the Courtyard at Dartington Hall
Spring means that the jackdaws are thinking about nesting but these two are seriously frustrated by the wire mesh that now covers the chimney stacks (and makes it look as thought the picture is out of focus).

The trees on the east bank of the River Dart just as the sun began to set.
And then, looking to the west, we had a wonderful sunset. Too small to show up but in that blue bit of sky is a wonderful new moon.

This week's Blog Dog, a lurcher who answers to the name "Barney", has been in the wars. It seems he rushed through a hedge and came out with blood pouring out of his leg. His owner, Will Cooper, rushed him to the vet where he was duly stitched up and bandaged. Nevertheless, he is still feeling a bit sorry for himself.