John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


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


Blogger Nicola1983 said...

Hi John,

I know you have probably heard this a million times over now but last night I finished Marley & Me, I have just taken a week's holiday in Spain and picked up the book whilst on my way from Manchester.
It's not very often that a book gets my undivided attention so I felt I had to contact you to let you know how much I loved this story.
I came to the end last night and I cried so much, it brought back loving memories of my own family's golden retriever Sam whom similarly suffered with arthritis in his later days, when I was about ten my parents decided it was for the best to put him to sleep. I never shed a tear for my dog.
I don’t know why I just never felt the need to, but I think all my emotions were let loose whilst reading about Marley's life last night.
It wonderful to think that a story like this has touched so many people, I only wish my parents would allow me to get another so I could relive all those wonder moments, maybe one day.......

2:27 AM  
Blogger Shorty said...

You should see Arkansans in the snow. It's much like Londoners. Everyone rushes to the grocery store at the first mention of winter weather. I have found myself literally fighting my way through crowds of winter-crazy people several times during my young life... and for what??

I laugh about it because even the 12-14 inches of snow we received last March (which is incredibly unusual) only lasted a day before the sun came out and it all melted. Luckily my Dad grew up in Chicago, so he taught us not to worry about Arkansas.

I hope you're enjoying Ireland. I dream of visiting it one day too.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Connie said...

Sounds like you are having a great trip! Snow is always best, especially when you don't have to shovel! :o)

10:09 AM  
Blogger deborah said...

In Dublin's Fair City-ah to drink the ale of the rhyme and to talk the story time

5:16 PM  
Blogger renu said...

hi john,
i'm a journalist based in india. saw the movie marley and me based on your book. went home and hugged my labrador. i had a pet called laika who died of intenstine failure after sharing her life with us for 9 long years. We had to put her to sleep. and the movie brought back memories i'd buried long back, but it was a release. it purged me of the burden i was carrying for so long. when i came out of the movie hall, i saw almost all of the viewer's eyes bleary. and i realised that love for one's dog is one of the deepest emotions human beings of all age, caste and gender experience. This prompted me to do a story for my newspaper and i'm writing to you for the same.
What is it about dogs that makes them so special to human beings? what distinguishes them from other pets? Why do human beings invest so much time, energy and money in their dogs, more than they do even for their fellow human beings? Other than the unconditional love and support they provide, what makes them such an important part of our lives? do you believe that they have a sixth sense that helps them sniff our state of mind?
i was hoping i could get some insights from you. do write back to me, would be delighted to get a response from you.
thanks and regards,
renu dhole (
feature writer
sakaal times

3:47 AM  
Blogger Adelita said...

Ahhh...Dublin! That's one place I would love to visit! Especially since, being the American that I am, my lineage takes me three different directions - one of them being Irish!

So, hooray for you!!

Sending you a big hug and thanks for creating a wonderful story to share to the entire world.

I loved this story and film because it gave a TRUE example of what getting a dog is all about. Nothing can compare to having a best friend for life - being there to share your triumps, your losses and everything in between. This is a genuine story about love, loss and life and is experienced everyday by dog owners in some way, shape or form.

And I must tell you that I was lucky enough to contribute my training advice and funny stories to the "Dog Training" portion of the Blu Ray disc.

I would love to hear from you once it is released! (March 2009 for the US) This is my website: My best, Adelita

12:22 PM  
Blogger Jaqueline_BR said...


HOW ARE YOU??? I never touched or saw snow!!! I live in Brazil, a tropical country, and probably I never will touch and see snow here!!! I read "Marley & Me" and saw the "Marley & Me" movie and now I forward to read the book "The Longest Trip Home" in portuguese!!!!!!!!
You are welcome in Brazil, have many people like your book "Marley & Me"!!!

I hope you are enjoying this tour in UK!!!

Thank You,

2:39 PM  
Blogger May said...

I am a Canadian living in London and quite enjoyed the snow day you described from a couple of weeks ago - in fact I caught you on the BBC morning chat show doing your promotional tour because I was at home! I too scoffed at the pitiful amount of snow that stopped everyone in their tracks - but then proceeded to slip and slide walking to work for the whole week subsequent to that "snowstorn".

And to be fair I think more than 50% of the Underground is actually above ground and subject to weather conditions!

I just finished reading Marley and Me, and just want you to know that even without having ever owned a dog, the story really touched me. Thank you for sharing it with us!

6:12 PM  
Blogger Kathy W said...

I read Marley and Me about 2 years ago. As I was coming to the end of the book my two labs, Bailey, a yellow, block head, stocky English Lab and Cassie, a black, American Field Lab, rested at my feet. As I proceeded to cry and mourn for Marley both tails began to wag incessantly and then they were comforting me.
Well, we have come full circle, Bailey, (named so for Bailey's Irish Cream - that is what he looked like) died this morning. I think he too suffered from the same ailment that Marley had. I felt totally helpless and am now trying to cope with the loss of a magnificent friend.
He was so much a part of our family, my daughters who attend college three hours away are currently driving home - so we can all mourn this huge loss together. I told our youngest son that he would be fine and to attend his school activity and not worry, knowing full well I was lying to him so he wouldn't worry.
We will move forward as human nature does but there will always be a spot on the king sized bed for the 110 pound lug that we all loved so darn much!!!!!
Thank you for your book - it helped to know that there are other labrador lovers out there that can't understand why we love these dogs with their uncanny personalities.
Enjoy the UK - would love to travel there myself some day!
Erin Go Bragh!

7:31 AM  
Blogger MsLadylike said...

Good afternoon, Mr Grogan

I just had to say how much I'm looking forwrd to your new book. I loved Marley and me so, so very much, and I'm sure that, like a very few special reads, it will look like it's been dragged through snow and worse as I will read this lovely work again and again. You have a very gentle way with words and a fantastically dry sense of humour; if only more 'writers' were like you. You have great talent. Best wishes for you and your family.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Hikerduke. said...

I lost my nine year old Border Collie four years ago and have never been able to recover from the experience. I plan to read Marley and Me but I am afraid it will be awhile before I am able to do so. Duke changed my life so I know what you went through, John. I will not be writing a book but I have been composing a poem in my mind and maybe someday I will be able to write it down

5:13 PM  
Blogger Luciane said...

Hi Jhon. My my name is Luciane and I live in Brasil. My housband and I read Marley and I. We have a Labrador to. Her name is Gaia. She has a 3,5 years and we identify with yours historys about Marley and you e your family. Gaia is a very special friend for us and often she dance "Marley Mambo" in this case "Gaia Mambo"!

10:40 AM  
Blogger phoenix777 said...

Hi John,

having finished reading Marley and me i found out they were releasing the film, now that i have watched the film I really must say that it doesn't do the book justice althrough it still made my wife cry and most of the audience. Both the book and the film made me cry which happens to be a very rare thing to happen. the last time it snowed here in Britain remotely like it did in january was in about 1983 before I was born in 1986. Over we just don't store the quipment to deal with this kind of weather as it would cost to much to maintain for how often it would be used. I am looking forward to puchasing and reading the rest of the books and have recommened the books to everyone I know. You are very popular where I work at USAFE/RAF Fairford here in wiltshire. You should come to the Royal International Air Tattoe here one July. Keep writing those books :-) Edwin

8:25 AM  

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