Monday, 15 March 2010

The Launch Party

There’s a Mexican phrase: No hay nada que no se puede arreglar con tequila – There isn’t anything you can’t fix with tequila.

For the launch party of The Mango Orchard, I take this advice to heart and order several gallons of the stuff. And just in case the tequila doesn’t do the trick, there are cases of wine and several hundred bottles of Corona beer, kindly obtained by the Mexican Embassy.

Whether or not it’s the tequila that does the fixing I don’t know, but all seems to go swimmingly. The night passes a blur of flashbulbs, handshakes and hugs in front of my eyes. As well as publishing and media people, there are friends and family from all over the world, some of whom I haven’t seen for the best part of twenty years.

The speeches go well, despite my reservation about looking a bit like a dictator, speaking from a flag-dressed balcony. Shortly afterwards, arriving out of nowhere, I hear the familiar sounds of a Mariachi band. They had been organised secretly by some of my friends. It’s a touching gesture.

My only real fear before the party was having sudden amnesia when signing books.
“Who would you like me to dedicate the book to?”
“To me.”
“How are you spelling that?”

All goes well however, until I see Trevor, my publisher, approach with a tousle-haired chap clutching a copy of my book. Oh crickey, who’s that? Is he an old school friend I’ve erased from my memory? Is he a relative I failed to include in the book? Is he that bloke who helped me in the National Archive, whom I forgot to thank in the acknowledgments? I’m stumped.

Trevor cuts through the crowd. “This is Steve,” he says when he reaches me.
I still have absolutely no idea who he is but hope that my lack of recognition goes unnoticed. “Help yourself to a drink,” I say as I hand the signed book back to him.

Trevor finds my discomfort amusing. “I found him outside,” he says, when Steve has disappeared. “He was just walking by. I told him about the book, so he came in to buy it.”

Steve, whoever you are, I hope you enjoy the book. And if for any strange reason you don’t, have a tequila.

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