I'm packing for the Romantic Novelists' Conference, which takes place in the salubrious surroundings of Greenwich this year. At least, I assume Greenwich is salubrious, or at least it is until I get there. I can lower the tone of an entire city, just by getting off a train. So. Me and my packing. Normally I'm a kind of anti-woman when it comes to packing. I'll just take a plastic carrier containing one spare pair of knickers (in case I get over-excited) and a toothbrush which will, on arrival, turn out to be the dog's. I've been known to brazen it out in quite posh company, changing my outfit by the expedient means of taking off my cardigan. There! Look! Completely different!
However. There is a dark and competitive side to Romantic Novelists. Look, here's mine. See? It's where I fell asleep in the sun reading 'Turning the Tide' and got burned all along the top edge. I bet it's worse than your sunburn.
And also, we like to compete with shoes.
Not like Stiletto-Wars, you understand, there's no actual fighting, well, not much, well, only a bit and no-one really gets hurt, well... only bystanders. Generally. But shoes are of the utmost importance to us Romantic Novelists. We take our shoes seriously. As opposed to sniggering at them, which, I understand, is the Sci-Fi Novelists approach. So. I must pack shoes. And you can't get shoes in a plastic carrier, despite what the bag-lady down the road might say. They poke out and kick people when you're walking along. So I must find a bag. And, since I am going to all the trouble of taking a proper bag simply to restrain my shoes, I might as well take some other clothes too.
What? Surely not, I hear you cry! Take more than one outfit to a Conference where there will be a Gala Dinner?? What's wrong with taking off your cardigan and slipping into your spare (dry) pants? I know, I know... but since this year the RNA is undergoing its fiftieth birthday celebrations (quite unlike your own dear blogger, my sweetings, who is but a youngling in comparison, for what do I know of fiftieth birthday celebrations - nothing, that is what!), one feels the need not only to push out the boat but also to launch the life-raft and drag the dinghy. And so, this is what I shall do.
You could have someone's eye out with one of those - if I aim right.
For this year I shall be taking not only the dog's toothbrush, but also my Quite Posh Frock, my Lesser Frock and two pairs of Plebian Trousers. Those of you reading this who were expecting to be able to track my progress through the Conference merely by smell will, this year, be disappointed. You will, however, be able to follow me by keeping one eye on the ground for discarded sequins and an ear open for the sound of snapping ankles.
If all else fails, head for the screaming.
Hope to see you there!
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