My heartfelt thanks again to everyone who came to the Feb 28th Brighton launch of Seoul Survivors – publication day itself, and also my birthday party. The omens were all good – as guest of honour Julie Lee told me en route from Edmonton, to have both a flood in my flat and a gas leak the day before the launch was an excellent sign for the book. I am certainly not one to argue with Korean-Canadian wisdom!
And truly, the gas was back on in time for me to bathe (in the tub, not the flood), and it was a gleaming Seoul train of an evening, missing only the presence of my publisher, the fabulous Jo Fletcher, and her assistant Nicola Budd, who sent their apologies and will meet the juggernaut later at its London stop, date and venue TBA. The train pulled out smoothly at Brighton & Hove’s lush and labyrinthine City Books, where I discovered that a surefire cure for pre-reading jitters is to blow up three bags of blue and silver balloons! Guests drank wine kindly discounted and delivered by another venerable local independent business, Butlers Wine Cellar, and poured by my wonderful volunteers Iain McLeish, Elizabeth Bonner, Susi Aichbauer and her friend Bee. After many luvvie smooches and much prancing about in my bonkers Klein Blue dress – which some people insisted on calling violet* though being the hostess I didn’t argue with them at the time – I started to become anxious that Julie – the night’s only guest from my Seoul salad days – had got lost on her way from the frozen prairies. So I summoned a circle of mystics and poets to chant her name – and lo, she burst through the door.
Cue massive hugs and squeals, followed by the author standing on a wheelie stool and reading from her novel to the chrome-screamed, traffic-scarred accompaniment of electronica soundtrack artist Richard Miles. Thanking Paul and Inge of City Books for a marvellous hour, the party then moved across the road to The Paris House for more wine – my flimsy excuse being that French painters seemed to like Seoul – and then over to Preston St for a meal at Binari, Brighton’s only Korean restaurant. I had bibimbap, always my favourite in Seoul for the wild mushrooms, spinach, radish, and hot ceramic bowl, and as the birthday girl was treated to a glass of warm plum wine by the staff. (And yes, some very sweet people sang . . .)
A brave cadre then ploughed on through the cold to The Cube and ended the night dancing and wearing silly masks, just like old times in Hongdae! Julie came back to my place and we had a hysterical laughing fit at the sight of the gas works and torn tarmac outside my door: Seoul, city of eternal streetworks, had made its final stamp on the night.
I have Julie to thank for all these great pix of the night, which, if you care to, you can peruse while listening to the spoken word/electronica piece performed on the night, kindly mixed up after the fact by Richard Miles. The file was naturally too big and world-shattering to upload, but should open in a Soundcloud window here. Pix are captioned, if you hover over them long enough . . .
*Ok. I am willing to accept ‘blue violet’. But violet is purple, and that is all there is to it!