My last night in New York was very New York. I meet up with Adrian to grab some beers after he gets off work and end up staying out past 3am. It’s good to spend a solid evening with him, making a new friend, getting down to swapping stories about our families, dreams, hopes, aspirations. One thing to say about Adrian Mukasa is that he has the gift of the gab. There isn’t a pretty girl in New York he can’t strike up a conversation with, which means we both end up on top of somewhere called Bar 13 drinking with students.
It’s completely bizarre. This is the sort of crowd I would never have seen in my own student days – the ‘take lots of drugs because we haven’t worked out what to do with out brains yet’ crowd. They’re smart, well-spoken, sparky and out to get completely caned. The resident drug-dealer is a forensic psychologist. I’m a curio here and have a number of conversations with students who approach me in various stages of cognitive disarray. I don’t whether it’s because I’ve spent a year traveling and meeting a wide range of thinkers, but I’m not uncomfortable, which I would have expected to be. (I’ve always found drugs very, well, icky). Somehow I’ve switched into travelogue-observer mode. I’m interested in what’s going on, but detached from it, which is a strangely nice feeling. I feel like I’ve stepped into one scene of a play, whose end I will never see. Suddenly I’m glad I’m older. Really glad.
Today I meet with my US editor Rachel Holtzman, ‘my’ promotion and publicity team at Penguin (Lisa, Beth and Jessica) as well as one of the head honcho’s in Penguin, publisher Bill Shinker. They’re lovely people, sparky, interested, interesting and, I’m glad to report, keen on the book. We have a long, good-natured discussion and it feels funny to think this group of people will be promoting my work. I wish I’d taken them all chocolates. Bill tells me my publication date, 5th February 2011 – which means around that time I’ll be back in the states doing heavy rotation on publicity, which I’m looking forward to.
After the meeting I head to Washington DC on the train. Washington is a kind of a culture shock out of New York. It’s clean, has a modern metro (with sensible maps) and the people seem, well, shiny. Beyond that of course there is the city’s famous architecture and monuments and I spend a barmy evening wandering to the White House, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, feeling like a proper tourist. But I’m not here for tourism, I’m here because tomorrow I’m to meet someone who helped invent something extraordinary…