Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is a nightmare. I went to the International Book Fair for a series of meetings with overseas publishers and agents. Had to queue about 5 times before finally getting to the right part. Even trickier was navigating between floors – it was surprisingly difficult to find the stairs.
The whole set up is a bit like speed dating (I imagine!). Appointments are made for half hour slots, so you have to make a good impression fast and then rush off to the next one. I saw publishers from Korea, Japan, US, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands during the morning. And I wasn’t envious of my agent Sara Menguc, who had to keep on going for the full three day event.
My next meeting couldn’t have been more different. Jules Peck, who heads the Quality of Life Policy Group (www.qualityoflifechallenge.com) strolled towards my al fresco lunch spot at the Lido on the Serpentine. Beautiful sunny day with tourists playing around in boats and wading in Princess Diana’s Memorial Fountain, despite signs saying that this wasn’t allowed. I’ve only seen negative publicity about this water feature but I rather liked it.
Arriving at Slaughter & May’s offices I noticed the very bare reception – only decorated by two large vases of long stemmed roses. I wasn’t struck by their beauty – rather the opposite. I wondered why the company chose decoration with such a high carbon footprint – and probably an extremely toxic one too. It would have been far more impressive to commission an imaginative and beautiful piece of artwork that wouldn’t need replacing on a daily basis. And probably cheaper too.
My email news service tells me that flower exports from Ecuador has led to a dramatic expansion of the international airport in Quito, with better cold storage facilities and direct flights to London. Frankfurt airport too is adding another 25% to its floor space, so it can handle the steady growth in fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and flowers flown in from around the world. I think we should be cutting out air imports wherever possible – and cut flowers has to be a good place to start. They’re hardly a necessity….
My reason for being at Slaughter & May’s offices was to meet Catriona Oliphant. She works there part time and spends what’s left of her time setting up a new digital radio production company called Chrome Radio (www.chromeradio.com) She was fizzing with ideas for novel approaches to ‘intelligent listening’. The last time we met was over 25 years ago, as we both went to the same school – St Mary’s Calne in Wiltshire – and we had no problem recognising each other.