I feel I'm a bit late writing this, a full 13 days after the Day itself, but since I didn't get home to the USA until the 23rd, and have had a lot to catch up on, it can't really be helped. But anyway...
I was staying at a hotel in Reading during the first week of my holiday in England, and since Twyford is just up the road from there I was able to check out the location of Loddon Hall beforehand. So I was there on Friday 12th May, snooping about, looking for secret passages into the place so I could hide in the rafters and eavesdrop on Tony while he prepared for the Day. Alas I found no secret passages at all, so resigned myself to just turning up on the Saturday like everyone else.
Saturday came at long last, and I drove into the car park in my dad's Skoda (just thought I'd mention that it really was my dad's car, and not mine, and certainly not one I chose to hire). My wife and two-year-old seemed oddly unexcited as we entered the building, but then again, my American wife had never even heard of Enid Blyton before I met her. So while I gasped with wonder at the array of Blyton books around the hall, she merely rolled her eyes and wandered off with Lily to the playing field outside, where she stayed until a friend of ours came by to pick her up as arranged. (Once she was gone, off shopping in Reading, I felt I could relax and enjoy myself without worrying about her being bored!)
The first familiar face/name I met was Tony. The Great Man Himself! One of the first things he did was to present me with his four illustrated bibs, a gift for the work I'd put into the EBS site. I was dumbstruck, and over the moon! Still am - the books are excellent, and a must for any Blyton fan. I had planned on buying them anyway, but now I don't need to. Tony also gave me a CD containing around 500 book cover images, and these will be on the site in the near future - so on the one hand a gift for the work I'd already done, and on the other hand a CD containing more
work. Heh. Nicely done, Tony.
Then I met Anita, who had her nose buried deep into the bookshelves, with daughter Hannah by her side. Anita was/is exactly as I imagined her, a delight to talk to. I've always been impressed with her infinite knowledge and excellent reviews/articles, so it was a struggle to refrain from bowing and grovelling at her feet. (She assured me she'd been practising a curtsey just in case I did
I bumped into Nigel next, and instantly saw that he was not the mad old duffer I thought he was. Well, maybe he is. Yes, on second thoughts, he really is. Maybe not "old" though - he's looking pretty youthful and cool for a 50-something-year-old! This must be the Blyton Effect in action.
I also met Noddy13 (Prabhu), Viv of Ginger Pop (and her mom Rosie), and of course George@Kirrin (Zoe). Prabhu is about as polite and gentlemanly as you can get, and one of those people who manages to integrate himself into everything that's going on without coming across as anything but a really nice guy who you're glad to have around. I think we were instant pals, and he's going to be doing some reviews for enidblyton.net over the next few months (if I can drag him kicking and screaming into the age of computers).
Viv is a go-getter, a no-nonsense organizer and leader - and well she should be with all those tours of Corfe Castle. "Take a picture of this map I drew for the Round Robin," she demanded, and of course I hopped to it with a mumbled "Yessum, boss." But I don't take orders from just anyone. Viv is instantly likeable and makes a lot of sense, so I'm happy to obey.
And Zoe! What a nice, down-to-earth policewoman she is. Knowing full well that she could easily moderate this post, I'd better not mention that she asked Marcus Harris to sign her Famous Five t-shirt, and when Marcus asked where, she said, "Anywhere." My camera leapt to hand in an instant, and I swear Marcus went red. But, being the gent he is, he signed in a fairly respectable place. But I took a picture anyway, and will post it... if Zoe agrees, that is.
I met others too, and it was my great pleasure to talk to Gillian Baverstock (once I'd plucked up the courage to bother her with silly questions she'd probably been asked a million times already). But she was ever so friendly, as was Barbara Stoney, who'd actually heard
of me via Tony. Imagine my delight! Barbara's new biography, a revised edition of the 70s version, should be available in paperback later this year, so I'm told. I believe she said November, all being well.
Lots more to talk about, but I don't want to ramble on too long, so that's all for now. Maybe I'll add some more comments about more general things on the website when I create the Enid Blyton Day page.
After the Day ended, a bunch of us went off to the pub to talk about the Round Robin
... and then I dropped Anita and Hannah off at Twyford station and delivered Prabhu to his hotel. But Prabhu suggested a drink in the bar, so we chatted for another hour or so before I finally returned to my own hotel. Thanks for the drink, Prabhu, as well as the nachos and chips!