Tuesday, 7 June 2011
Bill Bryson and train lag
If it’s possible to have jetlag from trains, by last Friday I had it, having spent nearly every day on a train journey. Though I suppose that would be train lag.
Molls and I took the train up to see mum in Devon on the Tuesday and spent Wednesday with her, thankfully nowhere near a train. On Thursday I got the 8.30 am train to Paddington and apart from a points failure at Reading, the journey was uneventful. Except, of course, that I was on a rather Tight Schedule and it meant we were 15 minutes late arriving at Paddington.
I therefore had 19 minutes before I was due to meet Bill.
“How long will it take to get to Langham Place?” I said as I threw myself into the taxi.
“Should be about 20 minutes, ma’am,” said the cab driver. (I can only assume he called me Ma’am because I was wearing my Smart (Wedding) Jacket. Normally people call me ‘love’.)
“I’m interviewing Bill Bryson at 12,” I said. “Can you get me there for then?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” he said, and pressed his foot on the gas.
14 minutes later we arrived at the hotel, I shot up in the lift to the top floor, hurtled out of the lift and told the maitre d’ who I was meeting. “He isn’t here,” he said helpfully.
I stared at him, muttering silent expletives and looked around. No Bill. Or no one that looked like Bill, but then I’d never met him before. What did he look like in the flesh? I was just pulling my phone out to ring Polly from Transworld, when she and Bill stepped out of the lift. Phew….
From then on it was fine. He’s a lovely man to interview – very self effacing and ironic. Taller than I expected, and quieter. The sort of voice you could listen to a lot. Very intelligent in an interesting way. Of course we all know about his sense of humour. And he came out with some great one liners – such as, “I wouldn’t like to talk to me!”
All too soon it was over and we said our goodbyes. I hurried into the Ladies and sampled their posh hand cream, made use of their mouthwash (?!) and relished a glimpse of How the Other Half Live. Aren’t I lucky, I thought, to do this for a job. (Not so much fun at the moment as most freelancers I know, including myself, are having rather a Lean Time, but still.)
It was good to go to London, it was a privilege to meet Bill, and apart from a hellish train journey back home, last week was good for me.
Those are the sort of interviews I love doing. Need to try and rustle up a few more….