For LONDON FIRST NIGHT, see the Globe and Mail blog at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/atwood-on-tour/. This is LONDON SECOND NIGHT. The pictures show: Roger Katz from Hatchard’s and Fiona; Diana Quick and me, Roger Lloyd Pack and me, Lucy Briggs-Owen and me, Rosa Bosch and me, full cast including Rosamund Hine and Daisy Marsden, designer Louis Price and me, me and the light-up Fairy Ball (from Mathmos, www.mathmos.co.uk. ), me narrating. For cast bios see Performer Bios at www.yearoftheflood.com.
The morning of September 3 dawned in some way I don’t recall, but by 8.45 I was blathering away over the phone to the Sunday Times’ My Week column’s Emily Bearn, after which I hobbled over to Waterstone’s for a TV interview with Matt Cowan of Reuters. (http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=110861&videoChannel=1.) Matt is a new Twitterpal I met through Tweeting; he turned out to be – to my view – very young, and he has a new little toddler. Pictures of her having been viewed, we did the interview on the roof of Waterstone’s –not in a roof-level room but actually outside on the roof, as Matt wanted a sweeping view of London in the background. By this time there was a brisk wind, and my hair whipped around in it like seaweed in a powerboat backwash. That frozen expression on my face is accurate. I warmed up somewhat with an organic coffee from Waterstone’s, who have brought organic coffee in as part of their greening effort. Who knew!
Looking like the Tin Woodman before he’s been oiled, I creaked my way down the stairs, pausing briefly in the stairwell to do a pre-show talk with The Forum of BBC World Service, scheduled for Thursday. Then it was into the Waterstone’s boardroom for a BBC World Service interview, and then a sprint across to the Haymarket for a reception at the Curtis Brown agency, who handle the UK and Foreign Rights for my work. Everyone there looked fetchingly sixteen years old – the pulchritude level was high – and one of the CBers had a line from a poem of mine tattooed on her thigh. Discreet peeks were taken: it says, “Permit me the present tense.”
After an exceptional CB lunch at St. Albans – you can find vegetarian items on most restaurant menus now – it was a brisk walk back to the Royal Overseas League for an interview for The Australian, with Alyssa McDonald. Then off to St. James Picadilly, just down the street, for the photo call for Night 2 of the YOTF Event. (I don’t know what came out of this photo shoot, but I did get an email from a newspaper-reading pal that said, “Shoot the photographer!” Hint: sometimes it’s not the photographer. Sometime you really do look like the cleaning-rag bag. “It’s all in the lighting,” I mutter to myself.)
The backstage atmosphere this second night was more relaxed. Roger was lying on the floor with his straw hat over his face, and Daisy and Rosamund were teaching Lucy a high-spirited jig. Thing I Didn’t Know: Daisy and Rosamund told us that in Shakespeare’s day everyone in the cast, dead or not, would come out and dance a jig at the end of every performance. Guess the curtain call is a muted version… Diana was wrenching branches off her gold twig – they’d been snagging on things. Rosa Bosch was doling out chocs, and Irina was marshalling the light-up fairy balls and doing some general bustling. Orville and the Pink Singers were warming up in another room with Abba songs.
In the performance itself, Diana was head-kickingly ferocious, Roger forcefully pious with a slight hippie note, Lucy sparkling and tremulous, and Daisy and Rosamund versatile and fresh. I noticed a few of those jig steps getting in as they pretended to be a whole parade of children. The night ended happily, with hugs all round – what troopers! Such good sports, all involved.
The RSPB was out in force, though not with coin-collecting robins, as in Manchester. After all the Waterstone-supplied books had been signed, we walked over to Canada House on Trafalgar Square, where the post-event party kindly thrown for cast, FOMGs (friends of Margaret and Graeme), VPPs (Virtous Publishing People), and High Commission guests was in full swing. Brendan Griggs had put it together. The Acting High Commissioner, Claude Boucher, made a lovely speech, as did Nigel Newton of Bloomsbury, who presented me with the # 1 copy of the Bloomsbury Special Edition of YOTF, printed on wood-free, acid-free paper with silver edges and with a stunning cover design. (www.bloomsbury.com/Books/details.aspx?isbn=9781408803592.) We did have a bit of trouble clawing through the shrink wrap, but one of the Pink Singers leapt forward, pen-knife in hand.
The food and drink was all organic. Simon Anderson – who sourced and coordinated the event – confessed that this was their first organic venture, then stated that from now on they would follow this policy. “But we always use Canadian wine,” he said. “That could be a snag.” “There IS Canadian organic wine,” said I. Canadian organic wine producers, here’s your chance! Go for it!