On Saturday night I went to Cally's book launch. It was invitation-only and I felt very flattered to be invited. My lovely mentor Debi came as my 'plus one' and it was the most marvellous night.
Leigh met me at the station, we went to the pub where we met up with Jen. (We'd also been hoping for Helen's company, but sadly she couldn't make it.) We drank Pinot Grigio and ordered food - when I saw that fish and chips were advertised as being served with 'pea puree', I knew I was in the poncy south! I predicted mushy peas, which turned out to be spot on.
We'd been there for an hour or so when Cally arrived, looking gorgeous as usual. We chatted with her for a while and then went upstairs to the very nice function room: wooden floorboards; big windows on two sides; a well-stocked bar; comfy leather sofas; plenty of chairs and tables; and a floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree.
It wasn't long before people started turning up. Cally's parents were there, looking as if they might burst with pride. People came who she'd befriended at school; on holiday; via the Internet; all sorts of places. Several people had travelled quite a distance. Even Cally's agent came, managing to combine glamour and approachability, intelligence and friendliness, in a way that would have made me want to spit with envy if she hadn't been such a nice woman. She also had a handsome boyfriend in tow, who turned out to be a professional jazz singer, and gave us a wonderful a capella version of Cheek To Cheek (you know - the one that starts 'Heaven, I'm in Heaven...' - geddit?). Cally's agent made a lovely speech, telling everyone all about Cally's sales (three reprints! 11,000 copies!! Eight translations and counting!!!), and that Cally was a terrific writer who was going to go from strength to strength. Well, we all knew that, but it was good to hear it from one of the people who is helping to make it happen. Cally thanked them both, and everyone else, and then had to stop talking because she was welling up, so we gave her a round of applause and got back to the serious business of drinking and eating (lovely buffet, mmmm) and gossiping and talking about writing.
Every time I looked at Cally, she was signing another copy of her book and grinning like a loon, so I reckon she had a good time. I had a great time, catching up with various mates and making new ones. So did Debi, who kindly took me home and put me up for the night, as well as providing me with copious breakfasts the next morning. Altogether, it was absolutely the most fun I've had in ages.