Gurdeep's Column

Posted on April 15, 2007 in Uncategorized


As we head into the month of the London Book Fair, the Book Fair War of 06 suddenly sprang back into my mind. Well, that event, and the chocolate fountain at the LBF Thirty-Fifth Birthday Party that year. And the girl I’d definitely met before, but when I said that to her, she said ‘you’ll have to try harder than that, I’m afraid.’ Anyway.


The venerable institution was shipped to London’s Docklands, and situated next to a fair on beauty and beauty techniques/equipment. Cue lots of bedraggled and totally disorientated publishers smoking cigarettes in a packed lobby, surrounded by bemused and giggling girls with very, very straight blonde hair and cake-faces. It was truly a culture clash.


It was a sight to behold to, when the book fair masses descended on The Fox and proceeded to drink the place dry in a manner usually reserved for the most hard-pressed of travelling businessmen that find themselves on a late flight back out of City Airport back to the next sales ‘opportunity’.


PEN were out in force too, trying to convince us that Reed should be boycotted because of their involvement in the weapon’s industry. This particular issue has risen again this year and shows no signs of going away. Especially with Reed Elsevier’s extensive publishing arm and indignant journal editors.


So the Book fair this year is back in West London, handier for those fully committed to Heathrow and nothing else, but a little sad for me, as an East Londoner. The general reaction (and, I stress, informal) debate in the SYP last year seemed to suggest that back West is where it will stay, if the principle that the Committee folk are to be the future grizzled old publishers holds true. I personally think East London is a great place. At a party in Victoria over the Easter period, a policeman and his girlfriend had it in their heads that East London’s general deprivation compared to some other parts of London can all be put down the fact that ‘not enough people there pay council tax’. Of course, the other policemen wafflings about global warming being ‘generally a good thing, really’ because it was so warm in early April convinced me that I was right, and that East London wasn’t to be so quickly dismissed, especially not by someone with such a contentious set of opinions.


The SYP drinks and blagging got better and better: we got into the LBF birthday party on board a giant boat, we were invited to the IYPY drinks and at one point John Wiley started giving away huge bottles of Cobra Import for some reason. Alcoholism for Dummies was being launched, no doubt! Now there’s a slim volume. With the merger of Wiley and Blackwell, will we see such generosity this year?


For another month, then, I bid you adieu, but just want to add that yer boy has now been promoted! I will, as of May, be Commissioning Editor in English Language and Linguistics for Continuum, and will now reside during the days on the South Bank. I hope to hear from more of you too, so do send me an email at the usual address.