Monday, May 15, 2006


...I sent the second draft of the next novel off to Hodder & Stoughton today. There comes a point when you just can't switch round one more sentence without going totally gaga. The second draft is 40 pages shorter, has three changes of character names, a couple of extra scenes, one moderately enhanced plotline and several location references double-checked in the nick of time, as were a few details about how motorbikes work (don't ask!). The writing - I hope - is somewhat improved.

Yesterday, book picnic on Richmond Green was a big success as well as lots of fun. 5 local authors including muggins, interviewed by the chairman of Richmond upon Thames Arts Council in the May Fair marquee on Richmond Green (amazingly it didn't rain - apparently it usually does) while an audience of devoted locals dined royally on picnics. Fascinating to meet the others: a marvellous novelist, Lee Langley, whose latest book 'A Conversation on the Quai Voltaire' I can't wait to read; Anne Sebba, a celebrated biographer who is currently chronicling the colourful life of Winston Churchill's mother; Sandra Hempel, a medical journalist whose first book charts the eradication of cholera in Britain; and Ellie Updale, creator of the Montmorency series enjoyed by adults and kids alike ("how do you and JK Rowling manage that?" asked our chairman, Clive Bradley. "I don't know how JK Rowling does it - wish I did!" quipped Ellie.).

I felt very much the new kid on the block, but think I managed not to put my foot in my mouth excessively.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jurowski to be principal conductor of LPO

The London Philharmonic Orchestra announced today that 34-year-old Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski is to take over as its principal conductor as from the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall in 2007. Much jubilation ensued.

Seriously good news, I reckon, as Jurowski is the most exciting young conductor I've come across. There are some excellent chaps out there, but his performances have been head & shoulders above the rest. Vladi is currently the LPO's principal guest conductor and his presence on the podium transforms the atmosphere into something collaborative, young, upbeat and not only a little thrilling. More details shortly.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hildegard? Moi?

Tickled pink this morning to discover a new fan, and a nice new blog too, at least new to me, in Australia: A Beautiful Theme, here. Nice to be compared, in a roundabout kind of way, to the Labeque sisters and Hildegard of Bingen, but there the resemblance ends (to Hildegard, anyway!).

On a different and less beautiful theme, does anybody out there understand the workings of Le Loi de Sod? Why is it that whenever I have to give a talk, the day before it I come down with a throaty/chesty thing that goes directly to the voicebox?! I LIKE giving talks. I never get nervous for them - nothing scares me except playing the piano, in fact - and positively look forward to every instance. But here we go, tomorrow is my first Kingston Readers' Festival event this year. And guess what. Along comes the bug. All you singers out there, depending on your voices for your livelihoods, do you have this problem too?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A busy month ahead

I'm about to clock into a few weeks of fairly busy book promotion. Here are a few of the events:

4 May (this Thursday), Kingston Readers' Festival: What makes new music new? I'll be chairing a discussion on this dynamic topic with two marvellous profs from Kingston University, pianist Robert Taub and composer David Osbon. Coombehurst Music Studio, 7.30pm.

14 May, Sunday lunchtime: Book picnic in the marquee on Richmond Green. I will be one of five local authors appearing to chat about their new books. Bring a picnic & arrive early (12.30 for 1pm) to be assured of a place. £10 entry fee including a glass of bucks fizz.

22 May: Kingston Readers' Festival: will be appearing with literary agent Sara Menguc and Hodder & Stoughton publishing director Carolyn Mays to talk about the thorny process by which a first novel finds its way into print. Borders, central Kingston-upon-Thames, 7.30pm.

Further details of all these are available on my permasite news page.

Monday, May 01, 2006

If you hated that, just try this

Lots of comments came in expressing varying degrees of frustration with the controversial views Norman Lebrecht expressed on British music the other day. But if you think that didn't quite cut the mustard, just try this stuff from the Daily Telegraph about composers' lives & works...

Is the author the same Graeme Garden who used to be a Goodie? (remember? "GOO-DIEEEESS...a-goody-goody Yum Yum" went the jingle... for those not in the know, THE GOODIES was a popular TV comedy in the 1970s, totally off-the-wall, starring G Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor. I liked the one where they got swallowed by a tyrannosaurus rex.) The terrible trio's motto was something like 'We do anything, anywhere, anytime'. Apparently, that now includes writing daft articles about classical music. For all I know, his show may be absolutely brilliant and I may be doing the poor man a great injustice, but I can't say this piece makes me want to rush off to see it.