Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Swapsies

I met up with Stephen Fry today. I popped along to a signing he was doing at Hatchards in Piccadilly (established in 1797 and reportedly the oldest surviving book shop in London). He's a very busy chap is our Stephen and he must meet hundreds of thousands of people a year so it was quite flattering that he not only recognised me but called me by name, warmly shook my hand and asked me how the writing is going. We did a swap, as you can see in the photo; he got a signed copy of Joined-Up Thinking and I got a signed copy of his new book Stephen Fry in America. I suspect I got the better end of the deal. We parted with him congratulating me on the book and wishing me every success. What a nice man.

A couple of strange things happened to me in the shop. I was mooching around the crime novels when a familiar voice behind me said 'Excuse me, old son, can I squeeze through?' A chap dressed in a coat and with a hat pulled down over his face then looked up and down the titles, made his selection and walked off. Sir Michael Caine reads crime novels apparently. A short while later, I saw one of the staff walking past talking to a colleague. I only heard the tail end of the conversation but it went like this:

' ... I haven't seen anyone fitting that description ... I hope I don't have to Rugby-tackle him to the ground ...'

Michael Caine? Or some stalker who'd turned up for Mr Fry? We'll never know.

16 comments:

Debby said...

Nothing so nice as getting that chance to bask in the glow. First of many, I hope. Enjoy!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Debby - I am floating in a bubblebath of smugness and contentment.

Debby said...

Ooh. Pardon me.

*quietly steps out closing door*

Stuart Peel said...

These are some of the rewards, enjoy !

Stevyn Colgan said...

Cheers Stu - I will! I also enjoyed the company of Mr Soanes afterwards. But apart from that, a great day!

Janet said...

Wow - now that's VERY cool! (And a terrific photo, too.)

We enjoyed Fry on "The One Show" last night. The fact that he had toured all 50 states in America (something *I* certainly have never done...although it would be fun to figure out just how many I've actually been to visit...) had completely escaped me. So I knew nothing at all about his book. Of course it is now on my wish list as well. I throughly enjoyed his descriptions of America last night, as he chatted to the two One Show hosts.

MEANWHILE, isn't tomorrow the BIG DAY????? Where will you be for the official first-day-of-sale day?

Janet

Stevyn Colgan said...

Janet - Sadly I missed the One Show (and your curious opening credits dance as I recall) as I was still in London but I'm sure he was his usual jovial, erudite self. Did he still have that amazingly loud tie on? As for tomorrow ... yes, it is the big day but I suspect that it will be rather downbeat. I'll be at home for most of it doing some radio interviews by phone. But I may pop into the local branch of Waterstones with my camera later ... just for the ego-trip!

John Soanes said...

Oi!
...Actually, fair comment.
J

chris hale said...

You need to adopt the J.R.Hartley approach with the book; bombard all your local bookshops with phone calls. "I don't suppose you have a copy of..." And don't forget to approach people who look like they're about to buy a copy and ask them if they'd like it signed.

Good luck for the big day. Treat yourself to a teeny dry sherry.

Debby said...

Gees, my computer is giving me fits today, but here's what I wanted to ask: Do you have a picture of the exterior of that bookstore? That is an impressive history. I'm being nosy. Sorry. It's my nature...

Stevyn Colgan said...

Chris - Hopefully I won't need to. All of the major bookshops have said that they want to have the book as part of their aggressive Christmas stocking filler campaign so there should be quite a few posters and front of house displays (woo hoo!). Plus, the Bookseller (trade magazine) named it their Top Title ... so I'm queitly confident that I won't have to dress in tweed, dye my hair white and bimble about in bookshops smelling of wee.

Debby - I found this rather nice one on FLICKR: http://www.flickr.com/photos/snapshotlondon/835215573/ If that doesn't satisfy your craving just do a Google image search on Hatchards, London. x

Debby said...

I never remember google until someone points it out to me then I feel like an ass.

DO NOT bimble about in books shops smelling of wee. I do not see how wandering about unbathed could POSSIBLY help book sales.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Debby - I should expain ... Chris's 'J R Hartley' reference is to a famous TV commercial from the 1990s in which a wizened old octagenarian waddles from book shop to book shop in search of a book called 'Fly Fishing by J R Hartley'. The commercial then showed how you could save time by using the Yellow Pages. The punchline was that the old gimmer turned out to be the said J R Hartley. Ho ho. Chortle Chortle. The commercial was such a success that a publisher actually did produce a book called 'Fly Fishing by J R Hartley'. Most bizarre. And very British.

chris hale said...

I'd love to see what an aggressive Christmas stocking filler looks like...perhaps you could draw one!

Persephone said...

Gee, Stephen Fry, Sir Michael Caine, and the prospect of viewing a rugby tackle. Things never get that exciting when I visit a bookstore. Mind you, this morning, we had a rip-roaring discussion, whilst clustered around the cash-register, about Alan Rickman, the autism spectrum, and whether Estonian or English is the hardest second language to learn....

Stevyn Colgan said...

Chris - I may just do that ...

Persephone - Your world actually sounds more interesting than mine! After all, that was just one unusually extraordinary day yesterday. And the answer's Estonian I reckon. English is quite easy to learn as a spoken language. It's when you have to write in English that things become all complicated and chaotic.