Monday, 23 May 2011

Reasons Why I Shouldn't Go to Longreach

Firstly, do you see what I did there?

1. There is nothing in Longreach. It is a ghost rural outback town. All I would do there would be go to the motel, have a shower and sleep. There is more to do in Brisbane, it being an actual place with actual people.

2. I got about two hours sleep in very cramped train conditions last night, next to an old man who sang in his sleep and in front of a woman who called her young teenage daughter a 'bitch.'

3. There is absolutely no guarantee that I would get a window seat.

4. In 24 hours there and 24 hours back, I could pop to St. Albans by plane, have dinner with my parents (for free!), probably see a lot of my friends, sleep in my own bed and get back to Australia in time for my tour from Sydney to Cairns. This thought makes me sad.

5. I get to see the outback on the Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Perth, which is three days and actually has proper reclining seats, unlike the train to Longreach which is basically exactly like a plane only with no films or television.

6. All the stuff I would have done on the train to Longreach (reading, daydreaming, writing an epic novel, god knows) I can do in Brisbane only with more leg room.

7. The Brisbane hostel is really nice, the weather is lovely, the food is expensive but yummy and I actually get to sleep in a bed, which is a nice bonus.

Also, I shouldn't go to the BAFTAs, because I have nothing to wear, I've got out of the habit of wearing make-up, and the camera would cut to me and I'd be asleep, headfirst, in the bangers and mash. I was so tired this morning that I accidentally left my passport at reception (they returned it to me safely) and then had a shower without a towel and had to dry myself on my new t-shirt.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

More Books and Stuff

I met young adult author Cassandra Clare today, although I feel that we did not form the in-depth, close personal relationship I definitely had with Morris Gleitzman and Garth Nix. This is because my shift was over, and I was no longer wearing my bright orange t-shirt with the word 'volunteer' on the back. I was just an ordinary member of the public getting my book signed and lining up for her talk, which meant I got to overhear some great things in the queue. For example:

"I went to the Melbourne festival last year, and Joss Whedon was there but I missed it. I missed Joss Whedon."

"Some people queue up for book signings for thirteen hours. Would you queue for thirteen hours to get your book signed by J. K. Rowling? I'd just follow her round the supermarket and steal her receipts."

(This is because in Australia when you buy things they give you the choice between putting in your pin number or signing. I reckon J. K. Rowling would choose pin, personally.)

And then, my personal favourite:

"She's so weird. She had to leave university early to go and paint her TARDIS."

Anyway, Cassandra Clare was funny and interesting and at the book signing me, her and an Australian girl had a very brief conversation about the fact that the world is supposed to end today and whether we're safe as it's already evening in Australia.

On Monday I have a twelve hour train journey to Brisbane, arriving at six o'clock in the morning, then twelve hours in Brisbane before a twenty-four hour train journey to Longreach, a night in Longreach and then a twenty-four hour journey back. Then one night in Brisbane and a twelve-hour train journey back to Sydney. This is completely mental, but luckily I have my iPod (which will inevitably run out of battery), a blank notebook, four pens, and five books that I have not yet read. Hopefully I won't be sitting next to someone weird, because the other day on the train I was next to a woman reading the Bible who tried to convert me to Christianity, and that would not be fun for twenty-four hours.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Backstage at a Rock Concert

No, of course I didn't go backstage at a rock concert. I went backstage at the Sydney Writers' Festival Primary School event in Penrith while volunteering. More or less the same thing. The second I arrived at the Performance Centre where the event was being held I had a conversation with Morris Gleitzman the children's author without realising he was Morris Gleitzman the children's author until he mentioned that he would be signing his books.

My job was to usher primary schools into the venue along with another volunteer, and then write children's names on post-it notes so that the authors (Morris Gleitzman and Deborah Abela) would be able to spell their names correctly when signing autographs. This was mostly easy (Sophie, Sam) but then other times confusing (Mikhayla, Kyprian, the fact that nearly every Australian boy is called Lachlan.)

I was then officially allowed to leave, but I found out that Garth Nix was on next with another author called Sean Williams with whom he co-wrote a book. I hung around outside the stage door like a groupie until they came out, then said 'Garth Nix?' at both of them, not sure which was which. Then I got Garth Nix's autograph for April (I seem to remember her being a big fan of his books, it would be a bit awkward now if I was confusing her with someone else.) He gave me a couple of free signed bookmarks, then we had a conversation about the St. Albans Waterstones and the fact that nearly every Australian boy is called Lachlan.

Tragically, my stalkerdom meant that rather than leaving I was asked to do post-its for all the kids wanting their copies of Sabriel signed, but I didn't really mind, even when I had to run to the mall to buy extra post-it notes and even though I spent the entire day wearing a bright orange t-shirt. I hope whatever shift I am doing tomorrow involves being backstage with authors, although I hope I don't make an idiot of myself in front of Markus Zusak.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


I have been spending a lot of time in the bookshop. I have also been spending a lot of time in the bar, which every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night transforms into a nightclub.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like socialising. I love getting a little bit dressed up to go out in St Albans with some people who I've known forever, where we have a few drinks and sit on the sofas in Lloyds. Clubbing, however, is not really my favourite thing in the world.

I couldn't really make less effort here short of going out in my pyjamas. Whenever I go out I'm wearing a t-shirt, jeans and flip flops with no make-up. Occasionally I might really go to town and actually brush my hair, but not very often. Due to budget, I only buy the five dollar cocktails, and the most I've had in one night is three. I have been out a lot over the past three weeks, because the bar is next door and it's a good way to meet people. It was fun at first after a couple of months of conservation work, but I'm beginning to get a little bit tired of it.

For example, I have heard that song 'Price Tag' by Jessie J so much that I think I know all the words. And that song where Rihanna talks about how much chains and whips excite her, and 'Firework' by Katy Perry, which is actually alright, and 'On the Floor' by Beyonce, and that really annoying one that's just a beat and some words which make no sense. Normally I have absolutely no idea about any music unless it is either on my iPod or played in the background of a film I just watched.

Not only have I listened to a lot of music which I don't really like, I've also met a lot of weirdoes. Or, possibly not even weirdoes, just the kind of people that really, really enjoy nightclubs. Yesterday, with some trepidation, I went to the bar by myself for the first time in the hope that I would make friends there. I did, but then a guy put his hand on my thigh before introducing himself. I don't know about anyone else, but I prefer to say 'Hi, I'm Anne, who are you?" before I grope people. (That makes it sound like I frequently grope people. I really, really don't.)

It is impossible to cross the dance floor to go to the bathroom without being felt up a little bit and having beer spilled all over my shoes. Last night I refused to let someone buy me a drink in case he spiked it with anything (I did let a nineteen year old geography student from Birmingham buy me a drink last week when he bought everyone a round, but that was a little different.) While he was off buying a drink for himself, I was sitting alone, and a guy who was probably in his mid-twenties came up, pointed at me, pointed at himself, and then made dancing gestures followed by kissing gestures. Devastatingly romantic though this undoubtedly was, I mimed 'sorry but no.' And that's another thing, no-one can hear you say no, you just have to mouth it while making pushing-away gestures like you're a traffic controller.

Now I hate to sound like a boring person, but recently I have had beer force poured down my throat, watched a guy swallow a tampon whole (yes, really), been offered sex in the lift, and had two people making out against me while I try and maintain a straight-faced conversation with someone about the Sydney Powerhouse Museum of Science and Design.

I think I might just go to the bookshop.