It’s been an eventful week so I’m belatedly now getting round to posting about an absolutely wonderful event I attended last Monday.
Ages ago I’d pre-booked a cheap hotel (Travelodge at £19) in Portsmouth and bought a ticket for DJ and Chopper’s joint book launch party. When I booked, Mrs Troy wondered why I wanted to travel all that way to an event full of people I’d never met. However the wonder of blogging is that you already feel that you do know quite well the fellow bloggers you actively follow and do really want to meet them in Real Life. So I travelled down the A3 for the first time (marvelling why they had built a chicane called Hindhead in the road just to delay my journey) and finally checked in to the hotel about 6.30pm. I got a quick but tasty takeaway pizza from the nearby Pizza Hut then got changed and went in search of “Rosies Winebar, Elm Grove”. It looked straight forward on the map but I managed to get hopelessly lost in both Portsmouth and Southsea. I would never normally stop and ask for directions but as it was after 8.10pm I made an exception and thus turned up at the event at 8.19pm. Events were scheduled to kick-off at 8.20pm!
After a very hasty hello and hug from Denyse, I sat down next to Carol, Leigh and Helen. “Hello, I’m [real name]” and polite smiles were returned. “But you’ll know me better as Troy”, prompting huge grins and handshakes. Then a lady approached me and said “it’s £1 per strip”. Well I thought, this sounds like an interesting party, I can’t remember the last time a lady said that to me. I passed on these thoughts to Carol, Leigh and Helen which broke the ice! I’m normally very shy when meeting people for the first time. Then DJ did her introductory talk and introduced a very nervous Chris.
After a witty few words, Chris read the prologue to his book. Then Denyse did a really heart-warming talk about her Asperger’s Syndrome and how she struggles hard but generally succeeds in masking her symptoms in everyday life. She then read an excerpt from her book. I hadn’t read either book yet as the intention was to buy them at the launch, or, being from Yorkshire, first hopefully win them in the raffle!
Next up was a performance of “Shrek Rap”. Now the only time I’ve heard rap music previously it has left me totally cold so my thoughts were “this could be really dreadful but at least it will be short”. The performer Darren had some magical (or perhaps just technical) gadgets to build up live his backing tracks then he launched into the rap. Now I have a choice of words to describe the performance; Brilliant, Awesome, Outstanding, Inspiring; all these fit the bill. Afterwards I was able to read and marvel at the lyrics written by the talented Casdok. I encourage you to visit her blog for more background to this moving musical masterpiece.
Then the raffle was drawn and inexplicably tickets 111-115 were ignored. Still the £1 was for a good cause (charity not a strip). Then the book signing started although people leaving early to travel home got get their's first. This gave me the chance to chat further with Carol, Leigh and Helen. Now Leigh had previously commented elsewhere that she found the "Wordless Wednesday" captions written by “Who’s This Then” to be wittier than those of Troy (I know, unbelievable!). I was eager to put her straight on this matter and think ultimately I succeeded. We then all assembled for a group picture.
It was then my turn to buy THE BOOKS. First I sat next to Denyse and had a lovely chat with her whilst she wrote a nice personal message in her book for me. Photos were taken (see her blog). Then I was finally able to properly introduce myself to Chris (Chopper) and he too signed his book for me. What a delightful couple they make and I’ve subsequently learnt that since the book launch they have got engaged to be married. Truly they will be the King and Queen of bloggers.
During the course of this magical evening I also managed a brief chat with Lady In Red, Joe Stein, Darren Callow and the Crafty Gardener but have realised since, to my disappointment, that there were several other bloggers I missed getting to meet.
For all too soon there were only a handful of us left in the room. It was well past eleven o’clock and it was time to depart. Lots of nice hugs and smiles and fond farewells and then I was off into the night to find the hotel. Typically, the trip back there was easy and short, perhaps I ought to reverse my car to events in future (well not all the way from Ipswich!).
It just leaves me to thank Denyse and Chris for a truly marvellous evening. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and am so pleased to have met them, and everyone else mentioned in this posting, for the first, and hopefully not the last time in Real Life.