The Friday Night Christmas Gala

I’m babysitting tonight. Yup, babysitting. I haven’t done this since I was 16. But, they’ve been good kids, and it’s all gone alright. Brought my laptop along, and I’ve gotten them off to bed. So, it’s blogging time.

Last night was the MNM Christmas gala. It was a beautiful night. The room in the hotel felt nothing like a ballroom or conference room. It was relatively small (still plenty of space for 100 mingling people and a small jazz quartet) with big lounge chairs, sofas, and a huge fireplace with a crackling fire. It was decorated with holy, poinsettias and loads of white candles. It felt more like we were in someone’s house than in a hotel.

The food was absolutely delish. All the Christmas fare: mince pies, logroll, mini-roast on mini Yorkshires. It was like Christmas dinner in miniature. And Boobs and Goatee decided that an open bar might be too costly, so they opted for staff circulating with wine, champagne and juice.

There were a few people from the Edinburgh party last weekend. I was so worried that they wouldn’t remember me, but as soon as they entered the room they greeting me with double kisses like we were old friends. Unfortunately, MyAuthor couldn’t make it, but there were several authors I’ve talked to in email, and it was great to put a face with a name. Everyone was so gracious. You know that old stereotype about authors being uncomfortable, reclusive, drunks? Yeah, it’s so not true. Everyone there was so gracious and chatty.

While the room felt full, a lot of people couldn’t make it to the party. In fact, we have a lot more authors on our books than could come along. But then again, it’s the holiday season and it’s a busy time of year. Plus, a number of our authors live in rather remote areas of Scotland.

But, if I were published, I’d make sure and come along to an event like this just so that they don’t forget my face. I mean, we’ve got so many books to push, if I were one of our authors, and I wanted my books promoted by my publishers, I’d make a point of keeping contact. But there are loads of MNM authors I’ve never spoken with and I never see. I guess in that sense, some authors are reclusive and uncomfortable.

On another note, I’m really proud of myself on the networking front. Unlike the Edinburgh party, Goatee was working this one, so he couldn’t take me around and introduce me. Plus, this wasn’t just a party. This was work. So, I made a strong point of circulating and introducing myself. When I met someone I would reference their work. For example, we had someone from the Arts Council in attendance, and recently they’ve introduced a Book Award (in conjunction with other entities), so I made of point of discussing the author who had been given the award. This lead to a wonderful conversation about the changes in Arts Council funding, and by the end of the conversation I made a good contact, and I think I made a really good impression. I’m quite impressed with myself.

Unfortunately, the whole evening didn’t go this smoothly. I was having a really interesting talk with an agent from London. She was up meeting with a new small epublisher in Fife, and we got to talking about whether it was viable for an agent to pursue small publishers. She was telling me that, in the past, she may have ignored such publishers because rarely did they stay in business long, but now with epublishing the small publishers are doing quite well, and they may very well be the future of publishing. 

Then NFEditor comes up. She interrupts the agent mid sentence and tells me to bust dishes and glasses. I politely said that the hotel staff ‘were on top of things.’ She laughs, leans over so that she is now between the agent and me, and says to the agent, ‘This is our intern. She thinks she’s too good to start from the ground up. Just lazy.’

I was so embarrassed. First, I hadn’t introduced myself as the intern. I simply said, ‘Hello. We’ve talked on the phone before.’ I said my name then added, ‘I mostly work front of house and in Non-Fiction’. I’m not ashamed of being the intern, but I don’t know if I’d be taken as seriously as a regular member of staff.

I stood there for a moment, and NFEditor barks ‘Work!’

I shuffle off to collect glasses. I then notice that Inter2 is following NFEditor around, and every time she puts down her glass of wine he takes it from her and passes it to hotel staff to take to the kitchen. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was on NFEditor patrol. Boobs had given him the task of ensuring that NFEditor doesn’t get drunk. No short task.

Speaking of Boobs, I finally met her husband. I was shocked. You know how you expect someone to have a certain ‘type’. Like no one is surprised that Katie Price’s type is kickboxers, and that Posh’s type is footballers. I thought the same would be true of Boobs. I thought she’d go for tall fit men: a nice set of muscles, stylish and a tan. I could not have been more wrong. Mr. Boobs is short, fat, balding and not very stylish. He was wearing a suit, but it didn’t sit on him right. You could tell that he would have been happier in a football jersey, and wanted to be anywhere other than that party. Luckily for him, HarryPotter was also extremely uncomfortable. They spent the whole time in a corner talking to one another. They didn’t introduce themselves to anyone else, and they barely looked up from their conversation. Poor shy things, but at least they had each other. 

One person who wasn’t shy was Goatee. Women were flirting with him like mad. There was touching of arms and throwing back of heads laughing, but happily he didn’t fall for it. He remained professional and smiled, but didn’t flirt back. Every time he passed by me, he’d casually brush his hand across my bum. Once he came up and whispered in my ear, ‘Are you wearing any knickers? I can’t feel  panty lines.’ I whispered back, ‘That’s because I’m wearing a thong.’ I actually heard him shutter a little.

Later on, when I was bringing empty glasses to the kitchen, he pulled me aside and tried to get me to join him in a janitor’s cupboard. I politely declined and reminded him how embarrassing it would be to get caught. To this he said, ‘That’s why it’s fun.’

We stayed until everyone was gone, and much to my delight, when that agent left (the one NFEditor had embarrassed me in front of) she gave me her card and said, ‘Ring me when your placement is up.’ I had the biggest smile on my face.

We didn’t get back to Goatee’s house until 3am. I was so happy that Goatee was too knackered to have sex. I just wanted to sleep.

This morning Goatee’s friends rang. Remember the couple who threw the dinner party last weekend? They had plans for tonight and their sitter cancelled. Since I’d gotten on so well with their daughters last weekend, they thought I could babysit. Goatee volunteered me without asking if I had plans, but I didn’t mind. They are good girls, and we had a fun evening of baking cookies. They went to bed on time, and I have the rest of the night to myself. Originally, I was hoping Goatee could come along and help me babysit, but he had plans to watch the rugby with some of the neighbourhood boys. Although now, I’m glad he didn’t come. I haven’t had a house to myself in a while, and I kind of miss the quiet.

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