The news came through just after my last class on Friday. Waterstones had chosen “The Venetian Game” as their “Thriller of the Month” for March.
I was, of course, honoured, thrilled and more than a little surprised. I took it in an appropriately dignified manner; which is to say I bounced around the staff room burbling away in hybrid Italian-English and trying to hug random people. Then I made my way to the Marciana library with the intention of spending the afternoon writing, fighting the impulse to embrace passers-by or break into a spontaneous song and dance routine en route.
I made my way halfway there, stopped for a celebratory spritz, realised that no productive work was ever going to be done, and made my way home again.
Coincidentally, we were both heading back to Edinburgh the following week, which gave me the opportunity for a stock signing at Waterstones on Princes Street.
We arrived to find the city under a blanket of snow and in the middle of a blizzard. It didn’t get any better. On the morning of March 1st, the city ground to a halt. The roads were blocked. There was no public transport, with the exception of the much-maligned tram system, and the airport bus service, ferrying passengers to an airport that was never going to open.
But, somehow, Waterstones had received their consignment of books. The sensible thing to do, perhaps, would have been to wait for a couple of days. But no. It was St David’s Day 2018 and the first day of Thriller of the Month. We were going to walk there through horizontal snow and biting, icy blasts of wind. Through a semi-deserted Edinburgh with snow and ice; a blasted landscape resembling Tarkovsky’s Stalker. We were going to get to Waterstones, and I, damn it, was going to sign books.
And we did.
The staff were lovely and Euan, the events manager, sat us down in the cafe with a trolley full of books to sign, and some coffee in an attempt to restore some movement to our limbs. I do apologise to those who buy the earlier copies I signed, before my hands had started working properly again : my signature is rather more of a scrawl than usual, but perhaps that makes them more of a collector’s item?
All too soon it was time to leave. Back out into the snow and the howling wind. I do not think I have ever been so cold in my life. I also know it was worth every last freezing minute.
With thanks to the brilliant staff of Waterstones, Princes Street. You are, of course, utterly mad for coming in to work on a day like that, but I love you for it!
And apologies to those people we didn’t manage to meet up with. The weather banjaxed everything. Hopefully we’ll be back later in the year.