The best place to be in a heatwave? Brighton seafront.
Yeah, you’d think.
Bless the Royal Albion Hotel, shambling sprawl of saggy Victoriana in which no self-respecting Steampunker would ever set boot – there’s something both familiar and comedic about it. But the names and faces of UK SF/F publishing have weathered the chalets of the SFX weekender and know no fear.
Brighton in the shimmering heat was ghastly – the heaving, sweating masses of sunburned and lagered up public massing outside, seething along the promenade and the beach. They cheered the endless mass of VW campers on Saturday morning, and dropped so much litter that the army of roadsweepers woke us all up at 6am on Sunday… when I went for a walk along the beachfront in the early and the cool, the garbage resembled nothing so much as post Fatboy Slim in 2002.
Seriously. How can people do these things?
Inside the hotel though, it was cooler and calmer than the sweating town of Brighton.
There were lots of questions about my forthcoming book – thanks particularly to Kari Sperring for her empathy, and to Mike Carey for extending a wonderfully unexpected hand of support. Thanks also to Tony Lee for spoiling my son, and to the legendary Brian Aldiss who, while signing in our room, joined Stephen Jones to serenade us with the chorus of ‘When You’re Smiling’ – a memory that will be making me smile for a long time to come.
We worked a long day, but a good one – Alex discovered a truly glorious cake shop, we indulged in fish’n’chips on the pier and free wine from multiple book events including those of our own Titan, the irrepressible Christopher Paolini and the new brand new Jo Fletcher Books.
A good time, as they say, was had by all.
My mother asked me recently, in fun, are you a ‘Geek’ then, Dan?’ with an intonation on the word that spoke volumes from the Daily Mail. My answer is now as always – ‘Yes, of course I am’. And all I have to do to understand my choice is to look at Brighton seafront on a sweating Saturday afternoon.
Long shift or no, I would rather be where I was than outside frying myself on the hot stones.
And, hell, as I passed Mister Rankin on my way back into the Albion, I guess I was wrong about the Steampunkers. Maybe it’s the perfect place for a little far-fetched fiction!