34: One Chapter Ends, Another Begins

17 July 2011

The day the first books were delivered it was rain, shine, rain, shine. Filled with emotion, I took the afternoon off and caught a train to Manor Park. I was on the edge of tears by the time the Olympic Stadium glided past. A vortex of nervous energy. A once-in-a-lifetime moment. Tingling.

I texted my review team. Mark Snare texted back: “Calm down, centre yourself and relish it. Make a moment you can take with you for the rest of your days.”

Disembarking at Manor Park, I stepped back from the turbulence of my thoughts. An intercity shot past. The distinctive smell of the station. The faint whiff of trees. Feel the moment. Meditate on the now. That feeling of being alive.

I got home, cleaned up and waited. The guy delivering them called after 30 minutes. He was stuck in traffic in the West End. I did the washing up and turned on the telly. The news was reporting the world’s first synthetic organ transplant. They grew the patient a new windpipe in the lab, then coated it with his stem cells. The operation was a success. This next millennium is going to be an interesting one for the human race.

Then the books arrived. My first view of the product was in batches of 40, wrapped in white plastic. The delivery fellow drove a blue van and was oblivious to the fact he was witnessing a watershed moment in my life. I held it together until he left. Pull off the plastic. There it is. Gulp. I couldn’t relax until I’d checked every page. All good.

The first call I made was to Sara, my production manager. Well done, Sara.

An hour later – 500 copies of my first book stacked in the middle of our living room – I was jumping about and punching the air to pounding techno music. Then SidThe Jolly Pilgrim’s editor – rocked up.

I spent that evening with the members of my review team who live in north London: Tony, Mark and Sid. Tony cooked sausages and mash, then we turned the party dials to ‘disco’ and got absolutely smashed …

The following week and a half were intense. I signed a lot of books. Si and me visited the venue for the book launch. He added several items to my to-do list and gave me a stern lecture: “If you don’t practise your speech then you’ll definitely screw it up.”

“Yes Si. You’re right Si. I’ll practise Si.”

Too much to do. Too little sleep. By this point the day job was seriously getting in the way. On Thursday I worked until 10 pm, clearing my inbox and desk. Then, on Friday, I had my final day in the City before starting a sabbatical. I’ll be spending the rest of 2011 working on book things. I left the office with all my loose ends tied up and my head held high.

Woke up on Saturday morning, mildly hung-over but very happy. Made a cup of tea, then called my sister and Dad.

I did it. Here comes the next bit.

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. – George Bernard Shaw.


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6 Responses to “34: One Chapter Ends, Another Begins”

  1. Lindy Says:

    Well done Pete : ) x x x

  2. Peter Baker Says:

    Thank you!! First reviews are coming in. Quite satisfying.

  3. Mark Snare Says:

    Only 90 million books a year? You’re gonna need a bigger printing press.

  4. Jane Mostyn Says:

    loved it, fantastic – here’s a selection of the poncy texts I was moved to write whilst reading it….

    Conciousness doesn’t make us important – it just makes us think we are.

    Purple flowers on Australasian gunmetal towers – “Morning Glory”, a hallucinogen known as “love in vain” in the Victorian language of flowers.

    That would also imply I’M right about everything……Part 8……Cue Panpipes.

    Application of ideas on p279 – could you be implying that the nature of the way human brains and therefore hunman culture evolves is intrinsically iterative and scientific?!??! I second you.

    I would go on but there’s only so much room for brilliance in this world and that Baker’s pinched it all.

  5. Joanne Taylor-Horne Says:

    I’m saving myself for a copy at the book launch! I’m genuinely thrilled….totally lived the moment through your words! Thank you! xxx

  6. Mark Snare Says:

    “edge of tears” what a bender.

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