Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dropout letters

Dropout is the term favoured by the printer to describe the L's and K's missing from the proofs. I circle the gaps where the letters used to be. It takes hours. Not one of us can offer any plausible explanation: I am stumped, the designer rechecks all the files for clues, even the printer admits how mysterious it all is. [Nothing personal, but I'd been hoping not to hear from him again until after the book was printed]. The closest anyone gets to working out what has gone wrong is M, who suggests the letters L and K have been over-used, and that we may now be facing a global shortage. B OODY FUC ING MARVE OUS...

Monday, August 28, 2006

So many passwords, so little time

When I woke up after said booklag, I'd forgotten the magic words to get into my blog. All I got was: "Username and password do not match". Maybe it will actually be a relief when they bring on fingerprint recognition, in some ways. Anyway, things are moving along, the printers sent back all the lasers for me to sign off. Like lawyers and bankers, printers are big on actual hard copy signatures, I can't just email and tell them it's all fine... So I better reread them tonight. They want them back by tomorrow, which is a bit keen. Today is a bank holiday. (How did they know I'd even be in work?)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Putting it to bed

A phrase that was bandied around a lot when I freelanced on monthlies. Everyone canes it coming up to press day; then when it's over, they go down the pub to celebrate "putting the issue to bed". Now, though, it's me that gets put to bed. I've been working earlies and lates, it's been intense. After dinner I lie down on the sofa for a nap, and dont wake for 15 hours. Sleep of the dead. Booklag, I love it!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Unquotable quotes

An author has looked at the proofs and says he will provide a quote. Great, but Pulp Net's chair isn’t wild about it:

"Dido, Tony Blair, over-zealous traffic wardens....not everyone in Islington is a total c--t, as this collection adroitly illustrates."

I think it's funny, Alstair suggests using it with the U and N reinstated. But will it help sell the book? We have no way of knowing. Anyway, it is use it or lose it; a quick decision is needed. We go with another of his quotes instead.

Also waiting for one from Jenny Eclair, but it may be too late when it reaches us...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Over, or not?

The whole book is in art now. Almost out of my hands. The printers want hard copy of everything, so we must slow down and stop wanting everything done same-day. It will take at least 3 weeks, maybe more (someone there is on holiday, this may slows things further). Will post a finish date when it’s agreed.

Notable Mentions

Some last minute hoo-ha between Charlie Mayor and me over Sir Hugh Myddleton (statue with the melty face on Islington Green, + man in charge of building the New River, which brought water to London in the early 1600's). Did he die rich or poor? A fog of competing histories surrounds him. Charlie changes a few words, leaving options open for multiple variants of the Myddleton saga.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Did I write that?

About the "few small edits and tweaks" I mean? Because I didn't finish until half nine, and it ain't over. T works on the web a lot so for the him the idea of a print job — an actual good old-fashioned book — is mysterious and exciting, and he's working hard on getting it right. The downside is, add his perfectionism to mine, and we may never pass a single page, we'll be in proofs forever. At least that's how it feels right now... It's like the inertia you get just before moving house when, despite the fact that all around you everyday items are being swallowed up by cardboard boxes, you somehow stop believing the move will ever happen...
When I finished, I locked up and walked home along back streets in the dark, a little jumpy as I passed the place where the murder signs were a few months back. Too much coffee, I expect.

A time to work, a time to blog

How do other people find time to blog? If it is choice between getting stuff done and making a blog entry, the book has to win right now. All the authors who need to come back have done so, I think. Spent yesterday in meetings with designers. Have reprinted it for "one final read" -- a few more small edits and tweaks to make.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


An author who has approved his pages gets back in contact to say his name was mis-spelled. Ouch. But there are other hold-ups too, so it is not a problem to make the change.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Researching a little intro or outro to the book, I turn over a quote attributed to former Islington based writer Douglas Adams: "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." Which sets off a big WHOOOSH of recognition. I started writing this at half six this morning aiming to finish by 9am and it's now after half eleven. This should be done! I decide NOT to find out which exact part of Islington Arthur Dent was in when he went to the party where he met the girl... If I need to know, someone will mail it in as a comment.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hello printers

Time to remind the printers we exist. Once the last bits have been tidied up (which includes making contact with one or two renegade writers), the job will finally be ready to go. The page count is longer than they quoted for earlier this year, so I guess the cost will push up a little... and there always seem to be more little bits that need adding: biographies, an introduction if we do one, logos, a barcode, blah blah blah. I'd really like to get it off to them this week.

Ancient tech

Get some help from Jorge at LAAC (London Asian African Caribbean Centre) because my computer has no floppy drive, hence no way of picking up text files from Peggy (The Island) or Nigel (Holloway Road). How does new technology become old technology so quickly? Wonder how many writers out there have work on floppy drives that they will one day find they can no longer access?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Leaving the Angel

Take a train and boat to Dublin for a few days. Despite the fact no passport is required, find myself in a very different country. Even from the open sea, cranes are visible, and evidence of the building boom is everywhere. Lots of things seem better than before, and there certainly seems to be more of everything. Except Bewley’s cafés. Ah, but it all costs more too. Two ladies in Ringsend are scandalised when a half [sorry, a glass!] of Guinness costs over 2 euros. Later a friend wants to meet at a pub off Grafton Street and prices take a sudden hike to nearly 3 euros a glass. Sure, when was it ever different?

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Shaun comes back with a few changes to his Down the Angel story, and three possible new titles, which we narrow down to one. And he says he wasn't nudging me at all, that he's not that subtle. I like the way his story is all dialogue, like a little radio play for two actors. Must ask him if he has someone who wants to read it with him. It's going to be a rush trying to fix readings as well as get the book printed, but a good kind of rush, I hope.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tea and floppy discs

The area around the old Arsenal football stadium often confuses me. Something about the way the streets make odd angles instead of forming a north-south, east-west grid like much of Holloway. Anyway I manage to get lost between the office and Peggy's place, which is less than ten minutes away. But eventually I find her and discover that like lots of writers with a deadline, she has had problems. She was up very late last night re-doing her story. She suggests I switch on her computer to double check everything is on the floppy disc, and we end up writing her bio straight to screen. There's a lot to fit in, 84 years, and I tell her jokingly that she is entitled to extra space if she needs it. Peggy tells me how every room of the house was painted brown when they moved here just after the war, so that her mother sat down and cried the day they moved in, and said they would never stay. And here is Peggy, sixty years later, still going strong. We drink tea from little china cups, and it's quite hard to drag myself back to the office.