I’d read the book, Tickling the English, a few months ago and simply loved it. Not just the clever repartee and jokes but the history lesson delivered from what Dara learnt about the country whilst on tour. Fancy that I thought, it takes an Irishman to come over to England to teach us our own history.
I loved it so much that despite my new policy to borrow books rather than buying, having given all but a few special ones to charity whilst packing for the New York adventure in 2008, I felt I wanted to buy this. I resolved to put it on my birthday list for this year, along with the two others that have fell into this category in the last two years; Edward Rutherfurd’s ‘New York’ – possibly the best and longest novel I have ever read – and John McEnroe’s ‘Serious’. The latter I thought I had bought – having given it to my boyfriend for Valentines but he turned out to be an ex-boyfriend so that has to be bought. Again.
I read a tweet from Dara announcing a book signing in Birmingham on Wednesday. Unfortunately it was a day when I was out of town training and scheduled for 1pm so no chance of me getting back in time. Thereafter, a chain of events took place in the next 36 hours that changed everything.
On Monday afternoon, I find out that the trainer I had booked to deliver the health & safety course for my delegates (long story) was not qualified as his license had run out. After much thought, I realised the only way forward is to postpone that to a later date and bring my Wednesday training forward to Tuesday.
In the meantime, I had learnt that Dara’s book signing was at 5pm, not 1pm. Ordinarily, I still would not have made it back into the city in time but despite me stretching the last days training to a day and a half (a day was pushing it quite frankly) I could make it back for that!
Excited didn’t even cover it. I have never been to a book signing before – never had the inclination – but somehow this series of events made me feel that this was meant to be and I was meant to go.
So I arrive at 5pm and grateful to see a line outside, join the queue, before realising that wasn’t the end, that was several metres away so Dara in fact had a very respectable queue waiting in what now what had developed into rain. With no idea of book signing protocol I immediately strike up a conversation with the last lady in the queue and between her and the Waterston’s queue monitor, I realised I needed to go in and buy a book first. Luckily for me the lovely lady fan agreed to save my place. Inside I realised the book was in a 3 for 2 offer and I wished I’d researched and arrived earlier as there could have been books I would have liked to buy in paperback without too much guilt of space being taken up.
I couldn’t see any on first glance and re-joined the queue with my single purchase and by this time, there were two chatty chaps behind us and the four of us never stopped talking until we made it to the front, some 35 minutes later. It’s amazing how much you have in common just because you like the one person or that particular book.
I wish I’d at least got their names and although the lady waited whilst I’d got the autograph before leaving and I did the same, we well went our four separate ways and I’m left wondering if our paths will ever cross so gloriously again.
Dara? Yes he was as pleasant, charming and witty as you see him on TV or no doubt on stage. I explained he was my first and that I had to enquire after the protocol. Protocol? He said. Yes, I thought the books would be on the desk and I’d get it signed and then pay for it.
A quick witty repartee and my passing shot of ‘have a good show’ and that was that, the guy behind me was having not one but 2 autographs and a photo and my time had finished.
In the excitement I had forgotten the most important comment, to tell the author to his face that I loved the book so much that I wanted to own my own copy.
Me and one of the chaps behind me decided that my new policy should be to only buy the book if it’s autographed. So I really should have bought that autographed copy of ‘New York’ when I saw it in that lovely Montreal book shop at Christmas. And made more of an effort to bump into McEnroe seeing as I was living in his neighbourhood and not just kept it as my daily ‘step out the door, will today be the day?’ fantasy.
What did Dara write? “Lovely to be your first”