There was a man called Geoffery Sparks. Although his name was unknown for most of his life, his familar face confused people up and down England for many years. He, it was, who appeared in a suit and tie with the England world cup winning team on the pitch at Wembly Stadium after they’d won the final in 1966. He, it was, shaking hands with the Queen as she congratulated the performers at the Royal Command performance. He, it was in the group of politicians with the chancelor who held up the 1969 budge briefcase. His face was everywhere. Geoffery Sparks was an interloper. An imposter with the balls to look like he belonged in all these places and it was only afterwards that people looked at the photos and asked, ‘Who is that with the Beatles?’ When he was seventy he announced to the world who he was and staged a traveling exhibition of his photographs.
I am foreign guest of honour at the Bouchercon Mystery Writers convention in St. Louis. It is, of course, a great honour. It’s just a step down from being crowned the Great White Overlord of the Universe. I flew into St. Louis on Wednesday and have been drinking ever since. I managed to stay sober long enough to attend the Honoured Guest panel on Thursday. There were three other Great White Overlords: Robert Crais, Val McDermid and Charlaine Harris. It was there that I recalled Geoffery Sparks. I saw people nudge their partners and mouth, ‘Who is that?’ After an hour in that company I was asking the same. Once Val had brought down the house with her penis-choking joke I knew I would be way out of my depth for the next five days.
There was a good turn out for the S.J Rozan Colin Cotterill one-on-one. They let me show photos of jimm Juree’s home town. It distracted people’s attention away from the fact that I have lost the ability to speak in public. After fifty minutes or umming and ahing I found a long line of people wanting me to sign books. That’s when I first learned that some people had traveled across the country JUST to see me. I might travel a couple of hundred miles to meet Lucy Liu or see the Victoria’s Secret Road Show, i doubt very much whether I would drive overnight to see me.
Night in the bar. Drinking to forget…my performance.