I am deeply disappointed to discover that BMI have stopped serving breakfast on their flights when I clamber on board first thing Monday morning. In fact they’re not even serving those nasty wee fake panini things they used to dole out to those of us flying in steerage class. Nor indeed is there any tea or coffee. Now, for our convenience and enjoyment, there’s a menu of highly priced doodads and whatnots. So if you’ve missed your turn at the new BMI / Serviceair lounge in Aberdeen airport (ooh, say because the traffic is BLOODY HORRIBLE) you’re stuffed. Especially if all you have on you is enough cash for the tube in from Heathrow and a new credit card you don’t know the pin number for. But I get my own back and have a pee, somewhere over Manchester (so if you were looking up some time around ten am and it suddenly started raining – that was me).
Lunchtime is much, much better: Agent Phil takes me out to lunch, so we can go over the strategy for Book Three, which I’ll be presenting to HarperCollins on the Wednesday. One day after the CWA Daggers and what I sincerely hope is going to be a wild night of debauchery. Or at least drinking. The highlight of lunch comes right at the end when we’re leaving the restaurant: the very pretty lady at the front desk gives me a wink as she hands over my jacket. Phil doesn’t get a wink, this wink’s just for me. She’s either bowled over by my beardy goodness, or thinks Phil and I make a cute couple. I’m hoping it’s the former.
After lunch it’s back to the Marjaq offices where I can huddle in the video game suite (Marjaq were the first agency in the UK to represent games developers – you know the new Wallace and Grommit game for the PS2? Marjaq clients did that) and type my individual plot/subplot mind-maps up into some sort of order, prior to slicing them up their constituent parts and integrating them into some sort of whole. Not the way I normally work, but then I’ve never had to present a book before: up till now the lovely people at HC have been happy to take whatever it was fell out of my head as a VERY rough guideline and then the finished book. But this time I want to do some slightly odd things in terms of structure and, being a good boy, want to let my editorialists cast their skilled eyes over it before I start.
And then it’s time to go to the hotel: the Kings Cross Travel Lodge. Wow. I got a family room when I booked it over the internet (well they were offering it for the same price and I always like to have a sofa in my room – makes me feel all bohemian) so that meant an extra half hour trying to locate my booking on the system. Boy was it worth it. One thing I had failed to take into account was the possibility that the lovely people At Travel Lodge would build their Kings Cross hotel on top of the bloody station. Every single train that goes past makes the room throb and vibrate with a clickity, clickity, clickity broooooom that seems to go on and on and on… And probably will do all night. I had thought the window was open to start with, but no: this is it at reduced volume. There is a cunning little plastic strip at the top of the window that lets you make it more noisy though. Ingenious these Travel Lodge people.
The rest of the room is quite inventive as well: you have to buy a card to use the telly. Even to get BBC1, not just the movies – everything. The phone requires a cred it card (and as Agent Phil discovers later can't receive calls from the outside world, or even reception) I think there must be some sort of additional cost for cleaning too. The bathroom has a pile of fusty fluff and sequins hidden behind the door and a faint, sour widdly smell coming from the shower. Mmm...
As I’m going to be alone this evening, I take in the delights of Kings Cross at quarter past nine at night. It takes about five minutes and ends up with a KFC, eaten at the counter, staring out the window, trying not to make too much eye-contact with the dodgy looking bastard hanging about on the other side of the glass drinking super-strong lager and grunting at passers by. He has prison tattoos all the way up his neck. He’ll make someone a lovely granddad some day. Then its time to PHONE HOME. Which should be easy, but isn’t. The phone box outside turns into a shoutarama as I try to hold some sort of conversation with She Who Must, over the sounds of traffic, trains and the emergency services. The phone box has been turned into a work of impromptu folk art: someone’s festooned it with postcards offering services to the ‘discerning gentleman’. Busty Susan offers S&M with spanking and caning; someone called Stephanie wants to tie me up and whip me; a genuine 31-year-old Asian babe wants to do something pretty adventurous with latex… But best of all is a little card next to the coin return slot that just says ‘Michelle loves her job!’ and a phone number.
I wonder what happens if you phone it – do you get some woman who works in accounting and thinks it’s just the best career ever? And isn’t Mr Marks, who works in the production office, just the nicest man you’ve ever met?
But such esoteric delights are not for me. Once the phone’s finished munching its way through my spare change collection it’s back to my Travel Lodge railway-themed echo chamber. The lift is spattered in fresh blood.
Oh to be in London, now that autumn’s here...
Someone’s decided that the best way to help everyone get a good night’s sleep is to batter up and down the corridor at half one in the morning, singing, shouting and laughing. Luckily I’m awake to catch the cabaret: the trains are still rattling the window every five minutes, so I’ve been sitting up reading John Connor’s ‘The Playroom’.
The performance troupe of elephants eventually gives up at two am, by which time the trains have stopped too. Ah, blissful sleep.