Wandered into Soho this afternoon with Harry in search of camera shops (yes). Checked out The Photographer's Gallery and loved the Bert Hardy exhibition. Meandered here and there, each step a gesture of defiance to my hangover, and then, in an attempt to find a particular camera shop, found that we'd retraced our steps and were in Bury Place, near the British Museum.
In Bury Place there is, of course, a fine bookshop - no less a place than the London Review book shop. Never able to resist bookshops, especially ones that sell proper books, I declared to Harry and my hangover that we would enter.
I had in mind buying a collection of Flann O'Brien's short stories for Caroline, but once inside couldn't help but wonder: would they have Flack's Last Shift in stock?
I approached the table of new hardback fiction and scanned its offerings. Flack was not among them. C'est la vie, I thought, because I always think in French whenever something I've written is not where I'd like it to be. On y va, I said to myself, because it's the only other French term I know.
Soon enough, I'd found some O'Brien short stories and also spotted Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin. I'd heard of this book a long time ago and was happy to add it to O'Brien. And then, as I approached the counter, what did I see but Flack's Last Shift on the very same hardback fiction table I'd scoured earlier, but atop a display tower, beaming proudly toward any and all-comers?
Needless to say my hangover apologised for making me so blind and I mentioned that I'd written the book to the booksellers, Claire and Charlie. I offered to sign it, too, assuring Claire that "I really am me". How could she doubt such a concrete demonstration of selfhood? No one could, it would be as futile as trying to fire a cannonball from a spud gun.
And so I signed the book, and asked Harry to capture Flack at the top of the stack.
It's been a great 24 hours or so in London. Tomorrow I'm heading to Monocle 24 to chat about Flack, and then it's back to Wiltshire to see Caroline and the two beauties pictured here.
The connection between calf injuries and a writer's ability to produce a half-decent novel is so well-known that I need not restate it here. Suffice to say that picking up a calf injury in Tuesday night's footy struck me as a sign, or, if you like, an omen - or maybe even a harbinger - of doom.
Yes, I thought, my novel Flack's Last Shift - published today - is surely The Worst Book In The World.
This feeling was accentuated by my performance on the field, itself rendered anonymous not just by a knackered calf, knackered body, old age and general lack of ability but by food poisoning on Monday night.
I put in an undistinguished shift summed up by the following exchange:
"How did you think Alex played tonight?" said a player, after the game.
"Don't be a fool - he wasn't there," said the other.
"Yes he was! But then again, hang on, you're right - he wasn't."
In vain did I stand before them, nursing my calf.
Having achieved such real, genuine and meaningful anonymity, it was with mounting apprehension, not to say invisibility, that I got to today, this very day, the day Flack's Last Shift is in bookshops and on Amazon. And then, out of the blue, Al Mackinnon turned up. Catching up with one of life's good people was long overdue and Al generously revealed a lifetime of photographic tips to my son Harry, as I battled to finish all my work so that I can set off from Cornwall in about an hour and enjoy the launch party for Flack tonight at a do in Soho.
As Edward Fennell puts it in today's Times:
The joy of being a law firm outside the institutionalised City legal elite is that you can relax and kick out a bit. That’s why I like the style of Soho’s Simons Muirhead & Burton, which tonight hosts the launch of legal thriller Flack’s Last Shift (Blue Mark Books) by lawyer and writer Alex Wade. The story focuses on the behind-the-scenes intrigues and chicanery of life as a top newspaper’s “night lawyer”. It’s like The Night Manager — but involves putting the newspaper to bed rather than guests.
Just over a week to go and then Flack's Last Shift is unleashed on a world that is as unsuspecting as it is indifferent. That sounds self-defeating but, in fact, it is the best way to gear up for having a novel hit the streets. I.e, as good old Seneca tells us: expect the worst, and then anything else is a pleasant surprise.