...from Martin Conaghan saying that nobody from Insomnia was going to the Expo after all. There was a story behind it which later turned out to be bullshit, but the upshot was that Martin and I would be there on our tods, and - with Martin at his day job and his baggage allowance maxed out - the only way we'd have any books to sell would be if I could somehow get some from Crawford that afternoon.
It's a good job I don't like flying.
As it happened, I was on my way into Glasgow to pick up a couple of things for the trip anyway; so a couple of hours and some phone tennis later, I met Crawford and Insomnia Business Manager Richard Murphy in the the Buchanan Galleries and took delivery of twenty copies of Burke & Hare, any proceeds from the sale of which they told me to split with Martin as a thank you for riding to the rescue. I didn't argue. Between the soulless atmosphere of the mall, the nondescript brown box and their haunted, hunted expressions, the whole thing felt like a scene from a low-budget conspiracy thriller, and all I really wanted to do was get out of there and go home.
I caught the London Sleeper that night, and on Friday morning in a Paddington internet cafe read the apology Crawford had emailed to the sixty-odd writers and artists who'd been waiting over a month for the chance to ask him face to face what the hell was going on. It wasn't very enlightening, and by the time I got to the bar of the Bristol Ramada that evening the rumour mill was grinding into action.
But the show went on. We sold a few books, and Martin and I managed to turn the erstwhile Insomnia table into an informal base camp where associated creators could hang out from time to time and leave their portfolios on display if nothing else. The most distressing thing for me was having aspiring artists turn up for the widely-advertised pitch sessions and telling all of them, no matter how talented, that I simply wasn't in a position to be any help at all. I had no idea if the company would even still exist by the end of the month - certainly it would be a different beast if it did, the way editorial people were continuing to quit as the weekend wore on. It wasn't the best convention I've ever had, but they can't all be. I used to work in marketing, and I was a self-publisher before that: I've manned exhibits alone or with minimal support before, and I'm quite sure I will again.
What made things really interesting was when Alasdair Duncan turned up on the Sunday...