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A long day out

Yesterday I went to Manchester, principally to see Jasper fforde talking aobut his new book, and to meet up with some of the old fforumites I haven't seen in a while.

Got to the station in good time and was pleased to find edywaiting for the same train. We sat together and had the chance for a nice chat. The Transpennine train we were travelling in was a nice, modern one, clean and pleasant.
 Unlike the Metrolink I used to get from Manchester Piccadilly to Deansgate. It was old, rattled a lot, and was frankly rather dingy. The seats are moulded to fit a size 12 bottom, so if you're much larger, they must get pretty uncomfortable. There didn't seem to be any spaces for prams or wheelchairs. It didn't appear to do request stops, so must stop at every halt regardless of whether anyone wants to get on or off, which must get irritating. Altogether nothing like as nice as the Supertram.

From the Deansgate station, I wanted to find Deansgate street and locate the bookshop where Jasper would be doing his talk in the evening, so I could be sure they had my ticket, and so I'd know where to find the shop later. I had an A-Z borrowed from Asha, but Manchester is a badly-labelled city and for some time I wasn't at all sure I was on the right road, or going in the right direction to find the shop. Was most relieved when I did find it, as I'd had to stop for a short rest once already. 

The desk on the ground floor had tickets set aside in white envelopes, but not mine, so I got sent up to the first floor to customer services. They initially looked puzzled, and said all the tickets should be downstairs. I insisted that I had paid for it and that I'd seen it as an item on my statement. After consulting the computer, they found the transaction and produced a ticket. Hurrah !

Now, I had planned to spend the afternoon in the Science and Industry Museum, returning to Waterstones for the talk However, the musuem was now further away than I'd planned for - not far, but far enough - and my leg was already aching. I just didn't fancy walking there, walking around the museum and walking back. I was in a three-floor bookshop, with sofas and a coffee shop. So I spent the afternoon there. I perused various books, and at one point picked up 'Year of the Griffin' by Diana Wynne Jones to read while sitting on the sofa in sci-fi. Mistake. After about three pages I knew I had to buy it.

Come the evening, there was a good crowd waiting to hear Jasper talk, including the friends I had been looking forward to seeing, like sloopjonb. Jasper was in good form, talking about his new book, 'First Among Sequels', and answering questions. Afterwards, he signed lots of books, stamping them with the Acme logo, adding postacards (I got the Three Thursdays card) and the missing footnotes. Poor Jasper doesn't have a great memory for names, and utterly forgot mine, even though we had lunch last year, and I'm his pulp western research correspondant. He forgot Jon's too, even though Jon's been his Official Stalker.

Afterwards, the fforumites went to a nearby pub, where we were soon joined by Jasper and the publisher's publicity person. I only stayed a few mintes, as I had to catch a train. I did however, tell Jasper about the Rhubarb Triangle, and suggest that it might be somehow related to the Bermuda Triangle. I do hope Jasper's demented fertile imagination gets to work on that idea. It could well be something for Thursday and her ex-Spec Ops friends to investigate.

Got home very tired, and opted not to pop out and see Jasper here in Sheffield this lunchtime, as I need the rest, and time at home. Busy day tomorrow too.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
13th Jul, 2007 20:51 (UTC)
Nice to see you again. Jasper's name-retention is nearly as bad as his spelling!

You''ll be glad to know the Metrolink is being taken over by Stagecoach, who will doubtless want to bring it up to their Sheffield standards. Although, actually, you shouldn't have caught it: there's a free bus from Piccadilly station that drops you off right almost right outside Waterstones ... and another could have taken you to the S & I and back. See here for future reference:

13th Jul, 2007 23:33 (UTC)
What are the Rhubarb Triangle and the Official Stalker?

I read the first Thursday Next book and loved it. I shall order more, and I also need to read more Diana Wynne Jones. So many books and so little time...
14th Jul, 2007 10:33 (UTC)
As the very first Official Stalker, may I say it is an honourable but not very onerous post. Basically, it was one of Jasper's gags, after he and I had corresponded somewhat (mainly about my Annotations for his first two books); I got a badge and a T-shirt (which, um, no longer fits) appointing me Official Stalker. I was very good at being a stalker, apparently .. he's only seen me twice :-)
14th Jul, 2007 21:11 (UTC)
Ha! I can imagine Fforde doing that!

I got most of the references, but I'm bookmarking your annotations because things like Startright passed me by and I knew it meant something. And also, they're witty anyway.
14th Jul, 2007 00:02 (UTC)
Both sloopjonb and nextian-cutie on my friends list can tell you more about being an Official Stalker, as both have held the position.

In the fourth Thusday Next book (Something Rotten), Thursday discovers she has an Official Stalker, Millon de Floss. "The whole stalker thing was licenced by Spec-Ops 33, the Entertainments Facilitation Department, which had drawn up specific rules with the Amalgamated Union of Stalkers as to who was allowed to stalk who. It helped to regulate a historically dark business and graded stalkers according to skill and perserverance."

Jasper picks a fan to be his official stalker for a year (or so), and sends them an official badge. As I said, his official stalkers can tell you more. (I get a credit in the back of 'Something Rotten' for Pulp Western research - Jasper mentions 'Darrow's Law' there too, bless him.)

As for the Rhubarb Triangle, it's explained at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/working_lunch/4685636.stm
14th Jul, 2007 21:13 (UTC)
Thanks! I am about to order the second book, :-)

Huh! We grow rhubarb outside; in fact my mother used to grow it. I never knew it came from Siberia though.
14th Jul, 2007 23:31 (UTC)
It moved to a better climate.
19th Jul, 2007 09:02 (UTC)
It was very nice to meet you (again). Jasper does give great talks, doesn't he?
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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