Yesterday I did a panel with Richard Price, and then I signed for (according to the newspapers)about six hundred people for five and a half hours. Normally I try very hard to be as nice to the people who've been waiting for hours as I was to the people at the beginning, but I think I may have been ordering the people at the back of the line around a bit just to make sure I finished before the Tom Stoppard talk started at seven. (I finished with 25 minutes to spare.)
The crowd was lovely, and all amazingly good-humoured given how long they were standing around.
Anyway. Five and half hours, which is about five hours and ten minutes longer than anyone else here, which meant that I was suddenly peered at suspiciously, as if revealed as some kind of odd alien being, by other writers with whom only that morning I was sharing jokes and food. I think they have now forgiven me.
[Edit to add, that was a joke, and the other authors were remarkably nice about it all. Tom Stoppard, who stopped in during the signing, thought it hilarious.]
After the Stoppard panel, which was marvellous, like a master class, (I'm typing this on the computer in the hotel lobby, and was just tapped on the shoulder by a Newspaper photographer who wanted me to come and pose for some shots, and seemed a bit baffled when I pointed out that I was working) -- one of my favourite moments was when asked how he would direct a Hamlet, and he took the (odd) question and talked about what he wants from actors, "Clarity of utterance." Then I went to dinner with one of my Brazilian publishers. I hadn't really eaten since breakfast over twelve hours earlier, and I discovered that when you are given a very large passionfruit caipirinha after a five and a half hour signing and on an empty stomach, you know it's working because your feet go numb. Possibly the feet simply went away. Luckily, my feet returned before I had to walk back to the hotel, but it was extremely odd.
Today it's the end of FLIP and the Desert Island Books panel, and I will read a bit from James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks.