Miraculously, the television that failed to function yesterday is now working. This seems to be because we have turned the aerial off – ours not to reason why. We set off for our first day at Who Do You Think You Are? Live. I cannot believe that I have neglected to bring any gloves for the long walk from caravan site to station. I wear gloves nine months of the year, what can I have been thinking? I am attempting to look vaguely smart, always an effort, so am sporting a new velvet jacket (once a child of the seventies…..). The downside of this is that I can’t carry the heavy lap top or bag over my shoulder without ruining the jacket. It appears that our trolley full of boxes of books will fit through the automatic barrier. Appearances can be deceptive and we get stuck with an alarm sounding. The trolley full of book boxes does not go down well with our fellow travellers either – well it is a commuter train. Disconcertingly the scrolling information in the train reads ‘we are now approaching Crystal Palace’ for the entire journey. Well, I hope not as we have just come from there. Ah this appears to be not Crystal Palace but Clapham Junction. We are warned of the VERY big gap between the platform and the train. They are not wrong. My partner in crime manfully hauls the book laden trolley across the gap. I can see that I am going to have some serious grovelling to do in gratitude.
Once at Olympia we catch up with friends. Very excited to see Putting Your Ancestors in their Place in print for the first time. I spend a couple of hours in the speed-dating scenario that is the ‘expert’s’ table area. The venue is about fifteen degrees warmer than it was last year; pity I have dressed for last year’s temperature. I hover outside the Celebrity Studio in good time for my presentation; that would be in VERY good time. I am following the keynote slot. The Celebrity Studio is only half full for that session so I am not expecting much of an audience for my own. Far from the crowd thinning as I expected more and more people pour in until there are very few empty seats. This may be because half the audience are desperate for somewhere to sit, undaunted I deliver my A to Z of sources presentation to the assembled throng. Speaking from the Celebrity Stage seems to involve staring into very bright spotlights. I am still wondering quite what I am doing in this arena – I am sure it is a mistake. Nonetheless I was pleased with the reception and there were some embarrassingly effusive comments afterwards – what lovely people. They even bought a box and a half worth of books – even better. Chris bravely juggled books, change and handouts whilst I devalued people’s purchases by signing them.
Then time for the home journey. Even on the platform people are approaching me to say how much they enjoyed my talk. Regular readers may remember that last year there was an incident when the wheel fell off the book carrying trolley. As we alight at Clapham Junction I notice that the trolley again has only one wheel. Even I know that this is one too few. Spectacularly, this time not only has the wheel fallen off but it has found its way on to the railway track. An obliging member of staff stops oncoming trains whilst he fetches a ‘picker’ to retrieve our wheel. The crowds on the platform opposite are hugely entertained by the proceedings. Now to affix the wheel back on to the trolley. Last year I conveniently had a nappy pin about my person (best not to ask), not so this time. We scour the station for a suitable metal spike like object in vain. Transport for London have done a great job on litter collection. So good in fact that there is nothing lying around that we could utilise. We somehow manage to keep the wheel in place without the aid of a split pin substitute and board our second train. Chris is eyeing up the fellow passengers to see if any look like they may have a handy spilt pin, or something that could be used as such, about their person. A lady with earrings that are adorned with large metal spikes is attracting his attention. We reach Gypsy Hill. Clearly the whole world lives at Gypsy Hill as the train empties rapidly. A final departing passenger has her hair restrained by hair grips. Well she HAD her hair so restrained until Chris persuaded her to donate one to the cause. In the unlikely event that you are reading this Madam, you can probably dine out for months on the story of the strange people that you met on the train but thank you very much. Sadly the hair grip does not last long and the wheel is again at serious risk of imminent departure. We manage somehow to get to Crystal Palace with two wheels not exactly intact but at least not in danger of being flattened by a train. I elect to sit with our possessions while Chris goes for car. That would be fine except that there are no seats. Maybe no one has come up with something sufficiently vandal proof for the populous of Crystal Palace. Our reputation has obviously preceded us as the station is crawling with police. It seems they aren’t looking for people who rashly attempt to get wheel-less trolleys on trains. One individual is sporting a high-viz jacket with ‘Revenue Protection’ on the back. What ever they are expecting does not materialise whilst I am waiting for Chris to return with the car.
I return to find that the Twittersphere contains numerous references to Putting Your Ancestors in their Place – aren’t people great. A lovely day and tomorrow we do it all again – minus the trolley.