At first I was determined not to cry and not to upset my dad. But that made it impossible to find an extract to read, and everything I thought of to say sounded superficial.
Nicola introduces the evening.
And then, a few days before the launch, the words of that song, 'It's my party' began to play in my head. It's so weird how that happens, that you realise you've been humming a song that is absolutely appropriate to whatever you've been thinking about, as though a DJ in your head is rummaging through all your old records for a soundtrack.
'It's my party and I'll cry if I want to. You would cry too if it happened to you.' And it was true. What had happened to my family was sad. And you would cry too if it happened to you. I decided that if I cried, I cried. That left me free to say whatever I wanted to.
Lucky I'd made that decision, because I was crying before I even began to speak. I hadn't counted on being so moved by the words spoken by Nicola my editor, who emceed the proceedings and Clare who launched the book so beautifully.
What touched me most? That Emma had arranged everything so perfectly, and even offered to pick me up. That so many people made such an effort to come and then said such lovely things. Some people had read the book already and wanted to tell me how much it had touched them. Others bought several copies, confident that they'd love it. Friends, relations, fellow writers, acquaintances I haven't seen in years - Readings was crowded.
I felt overwhelmed by gratitude. My daughter K had baked delicious chocolate chip cookies; my daughter M brought me fresh herbs and vegetables from her garden; my daughter E gave me wonderful advice, her skirt to wear, a card that made me cry, and a keepcup for when she buys me takeaway coffee on the weekend; and my daughter A rang, texted and emailed from San Francisco where she lives.
Readings sold out of books and all the cookies went. All in all a very successful evening.