"Before I sign, tell me where you stand on the M-debate...?"
What a tremendous turn-out! What tremendous support! What a tremendous experience! The U.S. launch - staged in my adopted home-town of Washington DC (Saturday, November 21) was a day to remember. Not only for me - but for all those folk who not only turned up at the 'elevenses-into-brunch' event and bought a book but actually dared to take their first taste of the mighty-M. It was offered in the most traditional way: on buttered toast. Husband Gary - he of 'Tar-in-a-Jar' fame - was the toast-master. And although he cannot abide the stuff, he valiantly encouraged the Marmite novices to have a go - instructing them to spread it sparingly. At least for the first go around. Mini-bagels were also offered - as well as as: Marmite Hit Egg Salad, and thin-link sausages cooked in a Marmite marinade. The latter were scoffed in record time - and voted 'top-taste', even by those who wanted to spit out the unadulterated Marmite! It cannot be reported that the cake - broken up sponge mixed with equal parts of marmalade and Marmite, and topped with an icing of melted butter and M and grated Cheddar - went down well. But a few brave souls tried it, with several of them voting it 'fantastic'. (I agree with them. The following day I had some heated in the microwave and have to reveal: it was totally 'moreish'. If it was served without the ingredients being identified I think everyone would rave about it!)
The best 'first' tasting story came from a woman who tried it tentativly, then - before diving into it with relish - declared it 'great'. Telling me this, as I prepared to sign her copy, she admitted she had no sense of smell. And wondered if this had helped her get it down. I could hear the 'hate' camp roaring - 'yes'!
Happily, for the extremely timid, two thoughtful friends, Lynn Campbell and Margaret Starkey, produced a delicious salmon mousse and a yummy pumpkin bread. I resisted telling them that they might have both been enhanced by a dollop of M. Only kidding!
Amazingly, the number of books sold exceeded the total sale of all four signings in Britain. The reasons for buying reflected all the marketting targets. Many were bought as gifts for American relatives/friends living 'over the pond'; quite a lot for British colleagues and friends, both here and there; one guy bought for the British golf pro at his club and the Brit who coaches him in 'real tennis'; several bought for themselves as a memory of time spent in Britain, when they acquired a taste for the black-goo; and some because they 'love' me and would have forked out for a copy even if it had been the most boring book in the world. A big thank-you to everyone! Especially to Margaret (she of the pumpkin bread) who collected the cash. And to Lynn (of the salmon mousse) who ran the errand to the bank to get a fistful of fivers, to ensure there was change. It would have been impossible for me to have signed and taken care of the money. At times there were a eight or nine people in line. Eat your heart out Sarah Palin! A sign of the signing mania was that my pen ran out of ink - and I only had one cup of coffee during the two hour session.
The event was on Capitol Hill and kindly hosted by the American Legion Post 8 - in its wonderful space on 3d and D St, SE. The good sales meant the Legion ended-up with a decent donation. After all the excitement a few of us celebrated in the Legion bar with Bloody Marys, made with a dollop of M instead of Worcester Sauce. Believe me - after you've perfected the knack of getting it to mix in - it's the Bloody Mary way to go.
But nothing about the event would have been a 'go' without my pal Barbara Rich. She arranged the space, she spread the word, she raced around town getting party supplies - while I...? Well, sat around practicing my signature! And on the day she was the 'foreman': setting up the room, keeping the coffee pot filled, making tea, greeting people - then organised the packing-up of everything, while I....? Chatted away to Washington Post reporter John Kelly. To see what fun he had with the whole Marmitey affair, see: 'A Post About the Post'.