It’s been a while I took a late night cab home from Bath and yet there I was waiting for a taxi in the early hours of this morning. Why was I returning in the middle of the night? Had I been whiling away the evening in a public house? No. Had I been tripping the light fantastic at a glitzy nightclub? No.
I had been in a queue to get a book signed. For over three hours. And it was brilliant.
I had been to see Neil Gaiman appear in Bath at the beginning of his The Ocean At The End of the Lane tour, organised by Topping Books. As expected, Mr Gaiman was engaging, warm and inspirational in his interview.
One was my favourite moments was when he said that horror writers are some of the happiest people he’s ever met, full of the joys of spring. Why? Because they have the ability to take all the darkness out of their heads, put it on a page and send it out into the world to ruin other people’s lives.
And after he’d finished, after all the questions had been asked and wittily answered, after the readings had been read and the applause had been given, it was time for the books to be signed.
The Queue for The Ocean at the End of the Lane
This is where the fun began. The Forum in Bath seats a lot of people, all of who wanted their books signed. Cue exceptionally long queues. I waved goodbye to chums Jonathan Howard and Desiree Fischer, and stood with Lou Morgan, Gav Pugh (of Gav Reads fame) and Emma Newman and waited. And waited.
As time when by, as it always does, 9 o’clock became 10. Emma had to leave, to be picked up by her hubby. 10 became 11. Gav had to rush off for his train. Lou and I stayed, inching forwards, step by step. For a long time.
And on the stage, Mr Gaiman carried on signing books.
But you know what? We had fun. We chatted, gossiped, laughed and made plans to write X-Men: The Musical. OK, I admit we were getting somewhat hysterical by then. Which is probably why by the end of the evening John Barrowman was playing Magneto (with magnetic jazz hands), Nightcrawler was surprising the audience is a unique way (don’t ask) and the finale was set to take place in Ancient Rome, with elephants and dancing Spartans (I don’t know why. It seemed the right choice at the time).
Finally, some time after midnight, we made it on the stage and presented our books to the man himself. He smiled, he joked, he drew pictures in our books. He must also have felt that his hand was about to drop off, but he didn’t complain. In fact, he looked as if he was loving every minute and even went so far as to thank us for waiting around.
As if we would have left…
Update: Gav has posted his own report of the evening, with a run down of some of the facts he learnt about the book too. Worth a read, Gaiman fans…