The launch party was going well. Enough people had turned up to make the Sloan’s ballroom look busy and there was the happy chatter of old friends reuniting or strangers making new connections. Lyn and Laura from Lunicorn Press (my publishers) had arrived earlier in the day to make sure that the wine and orange juice had been sorted and that there was a big enough table for the Waterstone’s people to stack copies of my book for people to buy and for me to sign. I turned up just after five having driven from Inverness with a detour to Uddingston to pick up two dozen boxes of chocolate teacakes, kindly donated by Tunnock’s. I didn’t eat a single one in the drive into Glasgow. Honest!
Comedian and radio presenter, Julia Sutherland, our host for the evening, arrived despite battling a slight lurgy and then other guests started to trickle in: My son, my daughter, my niece Amanda, Innes Smith and Colin Edwards (creators of the Franz Kafka Big Band), Rob Waller (Radio Clyde News), Karen Bartke (Officer Karen from the TV show Scots Squad) Drew McAdam (mentalist and mindreader), Austin Lafferty (lawyer, artist and all-round good guy) comedy producer Gus Beattie, James McGuire from Capital Radio and so many former colleagues from my days at the BBC – Lisa Summers, Linsday Hil – and from my life before the Beeb. It was great to see, Claire MacLean (former Clyde colleague) and Kath Caskie, from our student magazine days … and to put faces to names when meeting Sunday Post writer Janet Boyle and book blogger Mary Picken. So many others too, but I’ll have to name and shame them in future posts.
Julia hosted the night in splendid style, quizzing me about the origin of the book, the reaction of my old bosses, my thoughts on the future of radio and on the soon-to-be launched BBC Scotland TV channel. She then invited me to read a short extract from my book and I had chosen a section from the Brainwaves chapter, detailing my ill-fated attempt to come up with a quiz format to rival Who Wants to be a Millionaire? People laughed in the right places, which was a relief.
In the question and answer session, Kath Caskie asked the most difficult question about the difference between the written word and the spoken word. I waffled . Richard Melvin, meanwhile, set me up with a question about my decision to ban Santa’s a Scotsman, (a festive favourite of Ken Bruce on Radio 2) allowing me to feign outrage for a moment before revealing the true story of our joint attempt to drum up publicity for his Christmas single.
After that, the Waterstone’s men cleared a space on their table for me to sign books and I have to admit that this was the point of the evening when I felt most foolish. Signing books for friends and colleagues like I was a real author or something! I managed to come up with a personal and pithy comment for about half of the time and only once did I manage to get someone’s name wrong and have to grab a fresh book from the pile to start again.
Those Waterstone’s boys don’t miss a trick, though. They insisted I pay for the book I had ruined. Still, it was only £8.99. A bargain, I tell you, a bargain.