Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sleepless in transit

It's now Wednesday and Emma from( The Trouble With Dragon's publisher) Bloomsbury and I are on another train, with a wifi signal dipping in and out of focus, on our way to a school in Ilkley ( Yorkshire) to talk to another 110 small persons. Yesterday was great - speaking to a whole school of children( ages from 5 to 11) about climate change, and about the Dragons, and watching their dear little open faces as they 'got' it. And it's such an important thing we're talking about that my voice breaks every time I talk about it, because I am so utterly convinced that we have to hurry up and DO something before we miss the window of opportunity for turning this whole thing round.

The soundtrack that runs through my head for the tour is Kate Bush's 'Ariel'. Songs that get stuck in your head are known as 'earworms' but this music is far too beautiful for such an ugly term. I am transported literally by the train, and metaphorically by the music, and the net result is a dreamy state of langour which seems to work well when I have to get up there and talk to hundreds of people. By the end of this week, I will have spoken to almost a thousand children, and I'm hoping that those thousand children go home and start asking questions of their parents, their teachers and each other. I'm hoping I've given them exactly the right amount of information about climate change, in a form that they can understand and remember. Hopefully presented in a way that will give them enough of an idea of the urgency with which we have to address the issue, and of the importance of doing so.

Otherwise we are going to sleepwalk our way to extinction.

All around us, financial markets are in turmoil, the US is obsessed with election fever and we appear to be taking our eyes off the most important issue of our age. Climate change gets a few column inches while the FTSE and Dow Jones steal the front pages. If we all lived on Tuvalu and were watching our homeland disappear under a rapidly rising sea, or if we lived in Bangladesh and were watching as our tiny vegetable gardens wilted and died under saltwater, or if we were Inuit people who could no longer dare to go fishing on the ice because the once solid whiteness beneath our feet had become treacherous slush or...if we were one of a billion people whose lives are going down the pan and not because their investments were failing, then I think we would no longer care about what the markets were doing.

Apologies. Not my most cheerful posting,this. I remain hopeful, but I also want to jump up and down and yell HURRY UP.

And being away from home without my fiddle has made me feel music-starved. If the craving gets the better of me, I can always go and find a music shop and pretend to be interested in buying a fiddle just so I can get my hands on one, but I'm still too shy to play in front of strangers, and besides, Emma would probably die of embarrassment at being seen out with an author with what I can only describe as fiddle issues. She undoubtedly would think fiddle music is boring as hell, and would be too polite to say so.

It can't be easy, going on tour with an assortment of authors and having to adapt to whatever their particular 'things' are. As a publicist, you're obliged to spend an awful lot of time with your author. Breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week, plus all the work and the in-between stuff too. Next time you're in a hotel, have a look at the couples having dinner. The ones where there is a young woman in the company of an older one - they're not all mother/daughter combos or even father/daughter ones, some of them are publicists with the people they're paid to look after. Their 'monsters'. I'm trying my hardest not to be too monsterish, and I think, apart from yawning non-stop due to sleep deprivation, demanding to be fed three times a day and ranting on about climate change, I'm not too bad, but you'd have to ask Emma.

But not right now, because she's grabbing a quick nap, the sensible woman. I've got zizz-envy - I'm too wired to sleep, probably due to the bucketloads of coffee I've already consumed and it's only mid-morning. On tour, I never sleep much which means that by the time I get to the end of a tour, I'm so spaced out I look like the unholy union of the marriage between a rabbit caught in headlights and Dracula's mother. Attractive, NOT.

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