What a launch! Martin Goodman, friend, mentor and Founder of Barbican Press (publisher with the balls to back a novel partly inspired by an obscure Latin insult and an even more obscure Coptic manuscript) and I were delighted that Gay’s the Word Bookshop was up for a party. Rufius was very excited to be launched in London’s oldest gay bookshop – although it’s taking him a little bit of time to understand the modern sexual paradigm. He’s still insisting he’s not gay – he’s a cinaedus.
There was a queue outside the bookshop that set off butterflies in my stomach. Rufius was in lights in the window and I heard his voice again, the voice I’ve come to think of as a friend (the type who gate-crashes all the best parties, is a terrible influence but masses of fun): “Oooo, an audience! We’ll give them a show, by Bacchus!”
Olivier award-winning actor, costume chameleon and the first Rufius, Christopher Green (aka Tina C & hip hop grannie, Ida Barr) would step into Rufius’ toga for tonight’s reading. Martin, Chris and I agreed the order of play in a café at the end of the street over a quick gluten-free dinner. Stomachs lined, off we went to Gays the Word.
Animal-free Circus Ringmaster, Richard Peacock greeted me with an enormous bunch of tangerine roses and I had a taste of what it must be like to be a superstar. I felt a little over-whelmed by all the attention, but like Rufius I’m no stranger to playing the hostess. I felt held as friends piled into the little shop as well as members of the public. Uli and Jim were wonderful and so supportive. What a perfect location to host the launch of a novel about the destruction of the Ancient Library of Alexandria – surrounded by what those bishops would certainly consider heretical books. Being a published novelist has been a dream since the age of 13 years of age. Nothing will replace the thrill of holding Rufius in my hands for the first time last year. If that was the birth, this was the christening … which Rufius reminded me comes from pagan origin, possibly a Babylonian ritual.
Rufius was as delighted to see the Petrie Museum crew arrive with Egyptologist John J Johnston at the helm, followed by the ever glam Helen Pike and delightful V&A fashionista, Daniel Milko. Leslie who I’d staggered up Vesuvius with after far one glass of wine too many the night before arrive next, grabbing a handful of copies and demanding signatures. Rufius was in his element – I signed from both of us! Then the cameras were upon me as The Love Shaman, my dear friend, Katuishka Borges played camera woman. I wasn’t sure she’d make it as she’d just arrived back from six months in the Amazon filming the tribes who are losing their land to corporate greed. I introduced her to James Thornton, CEO of Client Earth, the law company with just one client: Earth.
The funniest comment of the night had to be from digital consultant and diver, Diane who I worked with on Digital Identity at the Cabinet Office:
“I thought you’d written a management book – but this is far more interesting!”
Well, I guess that’s the thing about identity – digital by day, ancient papyrus by night is a bit confusing! Although the internet and the Ancient Library of Alexandria have more in common than meets the eye. The internet is the only store of knowledge since the Great Library of Alexandria that has a mission to be fully comprehensive. Let’s hope it stays that way and doesn’t fall foul to fascism and selective dogma as did the libraries of the post fourth century ancient world.
After wine and nattering squashed tight amidst the shelves of so many authors I admire, Martin gave the cue to hit the stage.
After Martin’s fine introduction, I stepped on to the little stage at the front and looked out across the packed room. So many faces, so many friends – I was filled with gratitude to know such a wonderful bunch of talented, kind, fun people. It was a delight to see eminent economist and Director of The Quest, Alan Mulhern at the back of the room who has been a huge support. Novelist and one of my PhD examiners, D.D.Johnston had come up from Gloucester University where he is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing (for writers, his Online Writing Tips Video Blog is brilliant). It’s always a joy to see him. For laugh-out-loud-funny and erudite, read DD’s novel THE DECONSTRUCTION OF PROFESSOR THRUB. It’s one of my favourite books.
I gave a swish of my tango tailfin – dress designed by Phoebe Serenity Brown from BlackKat Creations – and told the tale of the inspiration for Rufius.
Rufius was getting impatient (as he’s always the star of the show) and so I introduced Christopher Green. WOW! What a performance. Watch Chris Green as Rufius YouTube
An enormous heartfelt thank you to Uli and Jim at Gay’s the Word, Chris Green, Barbican Press, BlackKat Creations and everyone who came along – you’re beyond fabulous!