Well, thanks to the volcano, the London Book Fair was a quiet affair; the focus was South Africa this year and of the 47 South African writers who were due to come over, only 12 made it. This left the British authors who’d been buddied up with them having to attend various functions alone, like white mice that have been turned into coachmen only to find Cinderella hasn’t shown up.

Still, someone had to drink all that free alcohol, and I met some interesting people: journalists from South Africa and Sweden, publishers from Canada and the US and a British crime novelist. There was talk of making South Africa the focus of next year’s Fair, but it’s supposed to be Russia’s turn…

My agency was celebrating its tenth birthday and held a party. As usual it was full of unreasonably glamorous people. I really do think there should be some kind of regulation to prevent lovely young publishing assistants standing too close to shabby old authors at events like these. Never mind all these e-book readers – why doesn’t Steve Jobs put his mind to inventing an app to deal with this situation? As soon as one of the L.Y.P.As bore down on a middle-aged female author (and some male authors too, although for different reasons) it would throw up an invisible force-field that would cause her air-kiss to bounce harmlessly off and the dusty scribe would be left to grow morbidly drunk in peace.

On this occasion I gave up trying to make conversation over the relentless boom of the music and slumped at a table where I was joined by a gentleman from New York. I experienced a brief Woody Allen moment as I talked to him, entirely failing to realise that he was an eminent publisher. My agent is on the move again, setting up on his own this time, and I’ll miss the Conville and Walsh parties…

Went to the launch of my friend Jocelyn Page’s poetry collection, Smithereens, which is published by tall-lighthouse. Poetry readings are different from other literary events – there are few, if any, Lovely Young Publishing Assistants, for one thing – and everyone seems to be there because they genuinely love poetry. Perhaps this is because there is even less money to be made from it than from other forms of writing, but, perched on a stool in the basement of Oliver’s Bar in Greenwich, it felt to me as if the atmosphere would have been the same – apart from the cigarette smoke – if we were transported back 40 years to a reading in a cafe in Paris or New York. The same could not be said for most book launches.

I admire poets more than writers in any other form as I think it’s by far the hardest, both in terms of difficulty of execution and the way the poet is exposed to the audience, usually without characters to hide behind. I can’t understand why so many people imagine poetry is easy just becaue it’s short – I certainly can’t do it.

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