I had "An Evening with Emily Barroso," as Waterstone's Hampstead billed it, last night. I was so tired having been kept awake all night the night before by mini-sprog, that I might have been someone else. My new friend from over the road did my make-up, so I looked like someone else. I was forced through the Northern Line after many delays, and with so many people, that I felt like an inside member of a clogged artery and not myself at all. When I arrived, my out of body experience continued, I was ushered upstairs by a bookish fellow into a room, where I was seated and given a large glass of wine (good for de-clogging arteries) which I necked as I was feeling rather nervy at this point, as everything, apart from me, had come over all professional. I was briefed on what I needed to do: discuss 'After the Rains,' take questions from the audience and then answer them (presumably in a way that made sense). Had they mistaken me for someone else? I thought I was going to read from my book, have a few laughs at my own expense and then whizz off to the pub sharpish.
As I waited for the audience to be seated downstairs and the evening with myself to begin, I eyed the books on the bookshelf. 'Winging it,' and 'Disgrace,' were at the top of the pile. Soon, the booky Waterstone's man returned and I was taken downstairs clutching my glass of wine. I was warned the alarms might go off unless he went through the downstairs door first. I made a quip about Bob Mugabe and the Wailer's and then had to explain it. He made a joke about the Queen (clean) and didn't have to explain his. Before long I found myself seated in front of the audience and reading (in regional accents) from my book. Who was I kidding? Emily Barroso. I discussed the birth of the novel (painful) the labour (elephantine) and so on, I discussed Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and managed to plug the Zimbabwe projects of hope.hiv.org, the charity I support through my books, and generally made sense in a rambling rather than a sprint sort of a way, after which I signed books with my spider scrawl, and the kind folk who had bought them pretended to comprehend what I had written - just as well I used a word processor for the rest of the book. The evening with myself ended as it had begun, with a glass of red wine at the pub across the road, where I settled back into my body for a spell before squeezing myself back up the Northern Line to come home to my frazzled husband and three children all still awake. And it was only half past ten.