The book fair officially started at nine o'clock this (yesterday) morning but for many of us it is our third day inside Earl's Court. Our book fair started at 8am on Saturday morning in the empty confines of a large, gaping space that is the Earl's Court arena. Stands go up and posters, pictures and books start to decorate them. There are always two certainties every year, firstly that some part of the furniture package will be missing and secondly that despite carefully indicating where the shelving should go, it is never in the right place.
Having said all that the transformation of an empty space on Saturday morning to a hall packed with brightly coloured stands, flying the company livery and boasting the exciting new publications, never ceases to amaze and to thrill me.
For the vast majority of people the nine o'clock start time signals back to back appointments until close of play, with no time even for lunch. The initial adrenaline burst carries you halfway through the morning but excited as I am by our list, and in awe as I am of my own voice, even I start to tire of hearing the same phrases about the same books. I always ask lots of questions about the local markets because it is interesting and because it creates a conversation rather than just a straight presentation.
The great thing I find about book fairs is that national characteristics are stood on their heads. The Germans were late for an appointment, the Italians on time and the day flies by.
At the close of business there are any number of little drinks to go and join. I, however, went to the Canadian stand where our author Hamida was having a drinks reception. A milling throng and a lot of interesting people. I was very thirsty and attempted to drink Canada Dry. I am not sure if I succeeded but I certainly feel better after the food, which was absolutely exquisite, and the wine!