It wasn't easy getting back to London recently for The France Show. In fact, it took three days and three attempts and I missed the first seminar on the Friday. The day before I was supposed to leave, I set off to drop Biff with Eileen and Wally, the owners of La Grande Galerie but had to turn back as the roads were so slippery. The following day, I missed my Eurostar - probably a good thing as it was via Lille and it was a Brussels/Lille train that broke down in the tunnel - but I delivered Biff to La Grande Galerie, by doing the 60km round-trip at 25mph all the way. (I'm beginning to see the point of 4WD's.)
On Friday, I managed to drive to the station and get on a TGV to Paris, not even sure if the Eurostar was running. But the E/star staff were brilliant, changing my ticket, pas de probleme, and allowing me to take the next train.
And so to the seminar, the first day of which was terrifying. I followed on from Kate Mosse and Carol Drinkwater who both spoke seamlessly and without notes for 45 minutes. I hid behind a lectern and delivered some general observations on life in France with frequent references to my prompt cards. It didn't help that I was drowned out by Jean-Christophe Novelli, extolling the merits of slow-cooking on the stage behind me; and had, at various points, to compete with the stirring strains of the can-can.
It also put me off kilter that three of the audience walked out in the first five minutes. ( Carol Drinkwater told me later that this is normal in exhibitions, but I think she was being kind.) On the second day, Sunday, I changed tack, ditched the cards and just spoke about how I came to find myself in France. This seemed to go down a lot better (at least no-one walked out.)
The good news is that I wasn't talking to an empty room (about 40 people showed up to each seminar), Tout Sweet sold out at the bookshop and I met some lovely people, including a fashion designer who had come all the way from New York to attend the show, and who is also thinking of moving to France. (See, everyone is at it!)
Now I'm back home. And I've realised that I'm much happier in front of a computer than an audience .