At 6pm I walk from The Riverside Rooms towards the west end to Foyles Bookshop on Charring Cross Road. Unfortunately for Foyles Borders bookshop (across the road) is in a liquidation sale. But Foyles is an independent bookshop on fine form. It’s busy. I get in the lift to the quiet third Floor gallery were Caroline Bird is pacing. At the side of the room a table’s laid with wine and water. Another table has Caroline’s book Watering Can. And in
the centre of the gallery the empty seats are lined up facing a podium and
microphone: Sparkling water for me and a hug for Caroline.
It’s dark outside. Winter is coming. But there is so much light in this room. Slowly and surely audience arrive and the room fills with conversation like warm air. Sensing the temperature to be correct “Right shall we get on” Caroline says quietly clasping her hands together. I walk to the podium, unfold my script and begin my written introduction with this quote by Edgar Allan Poe taken from his poem A Common Spring From Childhood’s hour I have not been/As others were: I have not seen/ As others saw;
And the introduction ends “It is both an honour and a pleasure to introduce to stage on the publication of her third book Watering Can, Caroline Bird.” Caroline’s reading is breath taking. There are gasps as she reads and
applause. Nobody is left untouched. Caroline is by far and most certainly the brightest star of her generation. After the reading I notice Sir Ian McKellen clutching Watering Can and quietly walking out. I get home to ackney fulfilled and with thirty minutes left in the day – there’s nothing like a reading.