Monday, 5 January 2009

How to get Published

So, in the paper last week was a FANTASTIC OFFER to book tickets for a Masterclass at the London Book Fayre in London (bizarre, but true) on 'How to Get Published - a Masterclass in 93 easy to follow parts.' Great, I thought. I'm a writer, I want to be published in order to justify my existence as a kept woman and this seems an IDEAL OPPORTUNITY to discover the secret of preventing my work from finding its way back to me with alarming regularity marked 'thanks but no thanks' (moving house seems a bit of an extreme alternative option). So I zip onto the appropriate website, carpe diem and all that and it said on the booking form 'If you wish to book more than one ticket please call the LBF booking line on 12345 54321 etc.' So I call the LBF booking line and am greeted by a recording of a nice young chap informing me that they're all out of the office at the moment recovering from Christmas and New Year excesses but will be back, bright and ready to go on 5th January between 9 and 5. Good job I don't still teach I think. I wouldn't be able to book tickets otherwise, not during those hours.

I tuck the details in my diary so I remember to call on 5th. I want to book 2 tickets - one for me and one for Andy. It is imperative Andy comes with me because a) I have no sense of direction and am bound to get lost as soon as I leave the end of our road b) I hate London, you have no idea how much it freaks me out and don't even get me started on the Underground c) I have recently been diagnosed as agrophobic and might need a slap if I get hysterical d) I like hanging around with him because he's great! And e) he will persuade me to eat all sorts of crap whilst we're out which, if I went on my own wouldn't happen because Matilda, my alter ego would be constantly on my case about not being able to do the splits on New Year's Eve if I eat that chocolate muffin and that's no fun, is it?

Today being 5th, I telephone the LBF number. A lady answers. She sounds a bit pre-occupied, like she is doing her nails or playing blow football with Maltesers. 'I'd like to book 2 tickets for the London Book Fayre Masterclass on How to Get Published,' I say in my best telephone voice. 'You can book them on-line,' she says. 'I know,' I say. 'But it says, on-line, that if I want to book more than one ticket, I have to call this number.' 'Does it?' she says. 'Yes,' I say. 'Oh, well, all you have to do is fill out the form twice if you want 2 tickets,' she says. 'It's just the same as we would do here in the office if someone telephones.' 'Oh, right,' I say. There is a bit of a silence. Call me old-fashioned but I was thinking, in the manner of good customer service that at this point the lady what answered would say 'Can I take your details, madam, and I'll see that 2 tickets are sent your way forthwith.' I even had my credit card ready in my hand.

'So, ' she says, ' are you okay to do that?' 'Do what?' I ask. 'Book on-line,' she says. I pause. 'I suppose so,' I say, a little hesitantly. 'Lovely!' she chirrups. 'Thank you for calling! Goodbye!' And then she hangs up!

I sit on the stairs clutching my newspaper cutting, my diary, my pen and my credit card. I don't know why, but I feel like crying. Instead I concentrate for a moment on the piece of carpet Tybalt favours for scratching his claws with which has become more fluff than actual carpet. And then I go downstairs and book two tickets, using two separate on-line forms to the 'How to Get Published Masterclass.'

'This had better be worth it,' I mutter, as two separate e-mails arrive to confirm that a not insubstantial amount of money has just been debited from my credit card twice and I shall receive my ticket pack times two in March. In light of my telephone experience I try to think of a clever phrase for the initials 'LBF'. Unfortunately, the 'F' is in the wrong place.

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