Last night it was The Friday Project’s Christmas drinks, and having just about recovered from their last party I went along to throw myself into the yuletide fun. And also to try and persuade them to publish more of my stuff.
Never a good idea. As their launch party proved, although at the height of a party Paul Carr will agree to publish my whole life, the next day he won’t have any recollection of our verbal contract.
This time round I was in the exciting position of having an opera to go to, so I was able to pop in for a few glasses of champagne with various assorted writers, then pop back after three hours of Puccini to view the carnage through relatively sober eyes.
But even watching Madame Butterfly stabbing herself to death hadn’t prepared me for what I beheld. Some people were conscious, few of them standing. Paul Carr stared at me with a glazed expression, then recognised me, threw his arms around me with a cry of “Lark!” and threw my scarf over the bar. The barman was not impressed.
Paul then told me I needed a drink, grabbed from the bar a glass of what looked like vodka and coke (neatly lined up with two others) and thrust it into my hand. I asked him who it belonged to. He said he wasn’t sure, then gestured in the direction of three huge, tough, suited men who were almost certainly in the mafia and said “I think they ordered them”.
I put the drink back.
I decided to escape in the direction of Clare Christian, who I felt was less likely to throw my scarf over a bar because she is, in fairness, less of a pisshead than Paul Carr.
Clare greeted me like Mary Magdalene greeting Jesus – I’m sure she was seconds away from breaking an expensive jar of oil over my head – and continued to cling to me while she struggled to explain to another writer who I was. Having essentially attributed me to every book in their output, she went on to ask me if I would accept Â£10,000 from a different publisher if they offered to publish a book I’d written.
She seemed genuinely distressed by my predictable response, and somehow I couldn’t make her understand that, like most other people, I’m essentially a mercenary man and wouldn’t even turn down Â£10,000 from Paul Daniels if he wanted me to appear on his magic show. (Except that he doesn’t have one any more – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)
Having achieved all that, I left. A grand evening, all in all.
The opera was nice, too.