Last Tuesday Rhys and I went to see Neil Gaiman do a reading of Fortunately The Milk, courtesy of one of my lovely sisters who had bought him tickets for his birthday and instructed me to tell him they were tickets to 'a boring science lecture'. Needless to say I caved before I'd even finished the sentence and told him what we were actually going to see. The picture is of the Methodist Central Hall in London where the reading was held. I'm pretty sure I went there for an A Level Psychology Conference, but anyway!
So! Rhys and I set off from my parents house, leaving Benji safely ensconsed with his grandma and biscuits and headed up to Westminster. We arrived really early (4pm for a 6.30pm start) but thought we'd check out the place to make sure we knew where we were going. Having duly confirmed that despite the lack of signage, we were actually in the right place for the talk, we went off for a wander down the South Bank and I finally had my first experience of Wagamamas! It was pretty good, except that I remembered I can't use chopsticks and we didn't really have enough time for me to learn, so I had to be the person who asks for a fork.... Never mind. About 5.15 we got back to the hall to find that the previously unoccupied streets had become home to a massive queue, which we eventually ended up joining pretty much opposite the front door, but along the back wall. We were lucky, though, because by the time we got to the front door to be let in, the back of the queue had met the front! Next time we will just stay there at 4!
Rhys has some pictures of the venue from inside but he isn't here at the moment, so they will be in my next Gaiman related post, coming in a few days. We were sitting up in the balcony, but with a pretty decent view from the sides and it was full of interesting people. I was particularly impressed with myself for recognising Joanne Harris sitting a few seats away. Eventually, after all the people in the world had finished coming in, and after Rhys had abandoned me several times to go and get signed copies of Fortunately The Milk (for us) and The Graveyard Book (as a thankyou for my sister), and to go to the loo and left me defending his seat from potential invaders, the stage was taken by Andrew O'Neill, who was the MC for the night. He was hilarious and had the whole room doing that thing where you put your finger in your mouth and pop your cheek, mexican wave style. A very satisfying sound. After that some people sang some songs which involved many high kicks, and then Neil appeared, along with Chris Riddell, the illustrator of Fortunately The Milk, who drew as Neil was reading. After a bit of chat, the reading began, and it was pretty brilliant. With voice talent from various of Neil's friends, and a surprise appearance by Lenny Henry who then stayed to ask some questions people had tweeted. Finally, Amanda Palmer appeared on stage and sang a song about a ukelele. I feel that it would have been brilliant if I could have heard the words properly but it was great nonetheless.
If you want to read a much more coherent account of the event, you can read Neil Gaiman's here.
Basically, we both had a great time and can't believe we haven't been to more author events! This will be rectified in the future!
I can also tell you that Fortunately The Milk is hilarious and brilliant and full of aliens and pirates and wumpires (see if you can spot the veiled Twilight reference that had the audience in stitches) and although it's a children's book you should all definitely read it. The best bit was when Neil shouted 'aha' for some reason and a small child in the front row also shouted 'aha' about five octaves higher and incredibly enthusiastically. I will have to wait a while to read it and honestly part of me doesn't actually want to now for fear it will erase the amazing songs, dances and voices of Neil and his host of friends. From this experience my advice would be, if you get the chance to see Neil Gaiman, no matter where he is or what he's doing, take it. An amazing evening and so worth it even though all the books were pre-signed due to a wrist injury and there was no time for photos afterwards so we didn't actually get to meet him but we plan to change that in the future!