Snow Falling on London
Sunday, February 08, 2009
I'm writing this from Dublin at the halfway point of my United Kingdom/Ireland book tour to promote "The Longest Trip Home," and also the Marley & Me movie, which opens here on March 13. Of course, nothing is simple in life, and so when I arrived in London from the U.S. a week ago today, the snow soon began falling. It snowed and it snowed. Snowed like it had not done in London for, depending on whom you asked, 18 or 25 or 40 years. All evening and night it came down. The next morning when I opened the curtains of my hotel room, it was still falling, and the streets of London where an uninterrupted snowscape. Not a plow or salt truck was anywhere in sight.
The British react to snow with roughly the same level of calm that the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz reacts to fire. What back home in Philadelphia would have been the cause of some rush-hour tie-ups and a two-hour delay for the schools, here was a major national emergency. All the trains and buses were canceled, and the airports and schools closed. Even the Underground was mostly shut down -- and that's, well, underground. Without being too smug here, this snowbelt Michigan boy must confess to being pretty damn amused by the whole scene. Let's put it this way, it's a good thing a hostile foreign army did not pick this particular day to invade because they would have overrun the entire country in a matter of hours. But it was totally charming to see Londoners of all ages out playing in the snow, making snowmen and having snowball fights and sledding. For many children and teenagers, it was a first-time experience. The city was gorgeous. Just when I thought London could get no more beautiful, the snow proved me wrong.
My good friends at Hodder, my UK publisher, had a tightly choreographed publicity itinerary mapped out for me, but it quickly fell into disarray. Quite miraculously, my intrepid and can-do publicist, Kerry Hood, showed up at my hotel in an AWD car and got me to the BBC television studios in time for a live appearance. Good show, Kerry!
A screening of Marley & Me that evening was canceled, but somehow we made most of our other media and promotional commitments. The following evening, I did a talk and reading about an hour north of London and had a full house there despite the bad weather. It was my first time appearing live in front of a foreign audience, and the crowd made me feel very welcome, and even laughed at my bad jokes. Whew! Thank you to everyone who braved the elements to come out and make me feel so at home.
Since last Wednesday I have been in Dublin, where snow has continued to fall. But that's another story, and another blog entry.
Meanwhile, let me issue a correction: In my last entry, I stated that I was in London last year for the British Book Awards. Um, how time flies. It was actually two years ago, in March 2007.
I don't think anyone will blame me now if I sign off in order to go quaff a pint at J. Grogan's pub down the way. I'm not making it up! More later...
posted by John Grogan at 9:35 AM