Sadly, this year’s Chengdu Literary Festival is now over. I had a great time talking about Dead Unlucky and the second book in the Harry Hart series, good girl, bad girl, dead girl, which will be published this August. It was also fun to chat about crime fiction, publishing and the enjoyment of writing. The audience at The Bookworm was superb, really knew their stuff and we had plenty of laughs together.
Everyone’s looking forward to next year already.
David has written four novels, two non-fiction books and numerous newspaper and magazine articles. His books have been translated into around twenty languages and earned as many awards. His first novel, Legend of a Suicide, sat around for twelve years because no one wanted to publish it. Then it won a small competition, got noticed and published and received terrific reviews. His latest book, Goat Mountain, is also highly acclaimed.
David’s novels tell stories of families struggling to form relationships with each other or the larger world. They reflect his own harrowing experiences as a boy and make for an enthralling and stimulating read.
David himself is absorbing company and fun to be around, a guy who had the audience both laughing and crying. It was a real pleasure spending time with him and having the chance to chat to him.
I suppose if a car was called a Rolls Boyce, it couldn’t really be described as a fake. But it would be a bit sneaky nevertheless, giving it a name so similar to the real thing and hoping that the shopper would be conned, or perhaps subconsciously enticed by a label so close to the genuine article. The subterfuge, of course, doesn’t stand a chance of working in that case but there are certainly more subtle attempts which may have better luck.
There’s a camera manufacturer in Asia which calls itself ‘konka’, with the two parts of the ‘k’ just managing to touch. If you didn’t probe closely, like with a microscope, it could even look like ‘konica’, a Japanese company that used to make cameras and film. It’s an amazing coincidence that konka chose a name which was so similar.
But why anyone would want to mimic Great Wall wine is surely one of the oddest mysteries in marketing. It’s actually not a bad tipple, but aping it is akin to pretending your company is Ryan Air and expecting the connotation to have customers handing over their dosh in droves. Greet Wall is simply an awful concoction, although Garnet Wall is unique, unlike any other wine I’ve drunk; it surely presents a danger to a person’s internal organs and central nervous system on a par with cyanide mixed with bleach.
It doesn’t matter whether the lazy Susan is spun clockwise or anti, the same food keeps on reappearing. And that’s the problem with the whole contraption. I actually like Chinese food, I think it’s great. As long as it’s eaten as a takeaway in front of the telly or seated in the Golden Dragon in the High Street. In China itself, it loses its appeal.
The photo shows a speciality of Sichuan province, the hotpot. And this is a posh restaurant, where each diner has a pot placed on an individual electric stove. On the right partition inside the pot is a broth for those who like their innards spiced up, on the left a more subdued flavour. So lazy Susan revolves on her never-ending journey and we take off the portions we fancy as they appear, and pop them into the brew.
And the practicalities of the system are great. Unfortunately, what lets the procedure down is the portions themselves. If they don’t look at you as they spin towards you and away, then they come from somewhere deep inside the animal. I’ve had a hotpot containing four different kinds of stomach. Gizzards and intestines also feature. And there is always someone who’ll tuck in to the pig brain. But it’s never me. Of course, it’s a cultural prejudice that stops us eating various foods and those of us who are prepared to tuck in to anything that orbits into their paths are certainly less wasteful than someone picky like me. But whatever the food is like, this is a sociable and fun way of sharing it with friends. So, although I’ve never enjoyed the food, I’ve always loved the meal.
That’s how late the flight was getting into Chengdu from London a couple of weeks ago. At least Etihad did have the courtesy to put me up in a hotel for the day and I managed to get a look at the magnificent Grand Prix track in Abu Dhabi. I would have appreciated an email from the airline afterwards apologising for the hassle, so I wasn’t too happy to be bombarded with adverts extolling their alleged virtues.
Nineteen hours isn’t a personal record as I was once stranded in the Emirates for six days. The flight from London to Dubai was on time so I was mystified when the check-in desk to Bangkok was deserted. It turned out that protesters had invaded the airport in Thailand and no one could get in or out. After nearly a week I got a flight to Kuala Lumpur and travelled to Bangkok by bus. It was an adventure, but one I could have done without.
The oddest airport experience occurred in India when I attempted to check in to an internal flight only to be told the plane had already gone as they had decided to send it off early. I was assured this wouldn’t be repeated on my return and a nice gentleman emphasised the certainty of this fact by stamping my ticket ‘confirmed’ with an authoritative gusto. When I reappeared at the airport two weeks later for the flight to Mumbai the check-in desk was uninhabited …