Well, another steamy evening in London and this time I took R with me as we were seeing No 1 son for his 25th birthday for dinner afterwards, and meeting his new girlfriend. So up town, we drove all the way through Knightsbridge, Piccadilly, Holborn, Clerkenwell which was great fun, the old place looking shiny and new and actually some of it IS shiny and new in the 15 years since I left. What's with this new 'Crossrail' thingy carving up Tottenham Court Road? Anyhoo, Hoxton was our destination, and the Hoxton Hotel our crash pad. An area I've never been before, so it was like a real city break.
Anyway, to the Sh!Womens Store, pink-painted sex shop extraordinaire in Hoxton Square and down to the basement, adorned with paddles, handcuffs, tutus, creams, lotions, hen party gear, and of course some great books, to listen to some erotica authors I hadn't met before but chatted to a lot on Twitter: Justine Elyot, Kristina Lloyd and Ms Taylor, extremely worthy winner of the recent Daily Mail/Black Lace short story competition. Also K D Grace was there from the last In The Flesh reading I went to, and on her blog kdgrace.co.uk she has written her own great account of the same evening.
I am still getting used to the friendliness, support and mutual nervousness of a writers' gathering. There's always a great welcome, smiles and enthusiasm. And I think I may have put my finger on why it feels so comfortable. It's because you're suddenly with people who speak the same language, rather than friends and family who listen politely but tend to glaze over when you talk of inspiration, deadlines and royalties... I wonder if it's the same rapport in a room full of accountants, interior designers, or plumbers?
Anyway, inevitably some writers look more confident than others, but there's a certain fragility placing yourself in the face of a rapt audience and fellow authors as we start to read the work that for months has been created in the silence of our own heads, and our own homes.
Because Kristine was caught up in traffic, the lovely Joanna who runs the sex shop asked if me or K D would like to read, and because I genuinely happened to have a copy of The Silver Chain with me to give to my son's girlfriend later, and was maybe fuelled a little by the lovely champers, I agreed to read a few pages before Kristine could arrive and hit us with her full-on blow job scene!
Justine read a piece about some amateur dramaticists which was wonderfully funny, reminding me that erotica doesn't always have to take itself so seriously (note to self: RELAX!), and then Ms Taylor, shaking with nerves, read her stunning debut story about forbidden inter-racial love and lust. What an eye opener, and a great new talent, and bless her she was TOTALLY unfazed by an interruption by a rather mad-eyed pair who came charging down the stairs and who we didn't realise until later were shoplifters - trousering a vibrator, no less - who chose the wrong evening to mess with Renee who saw them off quick-smart while Ms Taylor continued calmly reading downstairs! Let's hope that vibrator gives that shoplifter some seriously unsexy experiences!
There was champagne and cupcakes and a quietly attentive audience, and then it was time for R and I to slip away, back into the narrow streets full of hipsters, and into the roaring den that is The Tramshed for meat, chicken and my lovely son who was tickled pink to introduce his girlfriend to 'my mother, the eroticist!'
I took a picture of ten pink paddles, hanging on the wall, but can't seem to upload it, so here is a sexy red rose I took for my photography portfolio instead!