Our secret agent recounts the big event:
|The Big Sweep|
Loitering in Lime Street train station,
With newspaper and white carnation,
I was suddenly aware
Of a lady with pink hair
Approaching in great expectation.
At twenty-past five I duly set off for Lime Street with a newspaper tucked under my arm and a white carnation skewered ludicrously through my coat. Jen and Lee came along to help (and to laugh) and went in ahead of me to reconnoitre the ground and make sure I wasn’t about to be mobbed. I wasn’t. In fact, after loitering without intent for a couple of minutes, I was starting to think the whole thing might be a complete waste of time. But then – to my surprise and relief – a lady with bright pink hair looked very pleased to see me (first time I’ve been able to say that) and dashed over to recite the magic words and claim her prize. Tempting as it was to act dumb at this point, I congratulated her and handed over the books, which we’d tied in a nice gold ribbon, along with a few copies of The Reader magazine. Her name was (and still is) Wendi Surtees-Smith and she was (and probably still is) very, very excited. She’d been waiting since five o’clock, with a friend and small child, and couldn’t believe her luck. Neither could we.
Still, I felt we’d done our bit to celebrate and commemorate, in some small way, America’s greatest writer of detective fiction. And had a good time into the bargain. How many other hopefuls had been waiting and had left disappointed will almost certainly never be known…
But this Chandleresque assignation
Was not such an odd situation.
Quite the opposite, I’d say –
Just an ordinary day
At The Reader Organisation.