Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less’

I recently received an invite for a discussion of Jeffrey Archer’s Paths of Glory at the Taj President. At first I thought of declining. I mean, the Taj President! It’s 30 kms away! But then two things clinched it for me. The fact that my publishers were going to be there and the words ‘cocktails and snacks,’ printed in bold letters on the invite.

Accordingly, I called a cab (did I mention there was going to be booze?) at 6.30 p.m. It takes about two hours to travel from Andheri to town and I didn’t I didn’t want to be a loser and arrive at the dot of 8 which is when the event was scheduled to begin. Of course, that was the day traffic decided to let up and I ended up reaching at 7.56 anyway.

So, trying to look all dignified, I made straight for the concierge and asked him where the Library Bar was, like that was where I had wanted to go in the first place. He looked at me strangely and said the Library Bar had closed down some four years ago and there was a new lounge in place called the Wink. The Wink! Man, they need more imaginative planners.

Anyway, I ordered a beer and tried to linger over it. But habits of a lifetime die a hard death and I found myself glancing anxiously at my watch every two minutes. Till I heard an unmistakably English accent. An educated English accent. The voice was coming from somewhere to my right. I peered into the dark recesses and noticed an elderly Englishman sitting there with two Indians. Was he…? And then he mentioned the name George Mallory. Yup, he was Jeffery Archer all right.

So I relaxed, sipped my beer more leisurely and listened to ol’ Jeff crib about Indians’ time management skills. “What is with Indians? I mean, they arrive for a 3.30 meeting at 4.30 and if you ask them the reason for their tardiness they look all surprised and say but it’s only 4.30!” I found that quite funny and managed to snort beer into my nostrils while trying to laugh silently.

His talk was quite well-graphed. I guess it helps when you’ve sold millions of copies and have done this often. He knew when to make the audience laugh with his anecdotes – “a ten year old in Chennai told me that he’s read all my books and even thought one or two quite good” – and he knew when to insert a serious point, like the impressive sales figures of his books, notably Kane and Abel and Not a Penny More….

He made fun of the famous English snobbery and, in the same breath, betrayed his obvious pride in being an Oxford man himself and in being titled. Subtly, of course. As in recounting something someone had said to him. “And then he says to me, ‘Lord Archer, you do realise that save for two premises, your book has no validity.’ And he’s absolutely right!”

During the q&a session people asked him the usual stupid questions like advice for aspiring writers. Why would people ask him that? He’s been a bestselling author for over 30 years! He’s forgotten what it is to be a struggling writer. Ask him what he does with all the money.

And then the booze flowed…I don’t remember what happened afterwards.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »