The 'signings' - well, the ones in Britain - are over. And what a blast they've been. Have been to quite a few in my time. But never thought I'd ever do one. Have to admit, loved every minute - of all four of them.
The first one was Sunday afternoon, November 1st. I was at the Red Brick in Batley, Yorkshire. The Redbrick is a wonderful retail space, in a beautifully converted woollen mill. A Bond Street of the North! The signing was in the library coffee shop, Barca Caffe. Owner George Alexander was not only taken with the book but the fact that I started work (not counting how many years ago) down the road at the Dewsbury Reporter. Book-buyers (even non-buyers) not only enjoyed a mighty-M snack, but met my great niece, 10-year-old Ellie - who was happy to tell everyone that she did not agree with the you either love it or hate mantra. "I can take it or leave it," she pronounced. The afternoon also reunited me with one of my friends from school. I was knocked-out when Jean Overend (or, Bolton, as I knew her) turned up - with our 1954 form photo! The terrific boost for us both was that I reconised her right away, she did me - and Ellie picked us both out on the photo!
The next signing was in Newcastle, at the Blackwell Bookshop, the legendary bookshop chain, in the city centre. It was from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on November 6th. Marmite and I were up against stiff competition. The Queen was in town! At the newly-vamped museum, just down the road - which was blocked off for a while. Even so did quite well. And had some interesting exchanges with people. One young woman bought it and gave to her boy-friend over lunch. He is not a fan but she wants him to be because she can't live without it. Later she came rushing back into the store to tell me that his initial reaction to the book was that he loved it. Got a kick out of it. And said he would try to take the message I'd written to heart. It said: 'Try harder to like it!' Another buyer was an elderly gentleman, a retired French professor - who taught at Newcastle University and has lectured at Yale. He had a quick flick through the book and declared: 'I've got to have this. I'm not a particular Marmite fan but this is fascinating information.' And the message I got repeatedly was: 'That's one Christmas present solved.'
The next stop was the Saltaire Book Shop, between Bradford and Bingley, on the evening of Thursday, November 12th. The shop, an independent run by Yvonne Woodhead and David Ford, has a wonderful atmosphere - with its easy chairs, sofas and coffee-tables laid out with best-sellers next to off-the-wall offerings, like Mish-Mash! It was a terrific, fun event - thanks to the people who turned out in the most awful, wet and windy, weather. A highlight was the 'What Do You Know About Marmite?' quiz. After I'd finished chatting, we had an informative and entertaining (just like the book) Q & A session. I was extremely chuffed when one woman said: "I had no idea there was so much to Marmite." Then they were put to the test. We had a quiz. The prize was a book (of course) - but the winner was not decided until after a three-way tie-break question.
Then last, but of course by no mean least, it was the turn of the Whitby Book Shop - on the evening of Saturday, November 14th. The three of us were there - moi, illustrator Dave and cover artist Rex. It was a lively success. Obviously I was delighted - but also for manager Sue Keates, who has been remarkably supportive - both during the writing of the book and now it's a reality. Marmite fans were lured into the 'signing' by a spread of mighty-M infused goodies, similar to the ones that prompted such enthused reactions at the launch party. Maybe the wine helped too! A couple of days later I crossed 'the pond' - to do it all again. In America!