Friday, March 31, 2006


Book of the Day, Lady of the Night...

Well I arrived safely in Portugal after an uneventful flight. The sky was cloudy all the way from London to Porto. It was pleasant to fly above the clouds and look down, but not so nice to land in the rain. The weather in Portugal on my first day was no better than in Wales -- rain and wind, and it was cold! That's not what I was hoping for!

Porto is a beautiful city, especially viewed from Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the river. Tall crumbling houses with red tiled roofs and iron balconies, lots of graceful churches and towers. The river is crossed by four amazing bridges, the most spectacular of which is the Ponte Luis I, one of Eiffel's projects from 1886. The last time I was here, two years ago, the top walkway was closed, but now it's open! This is definitely one of my favourite bridges in Europe.

I met Pedro Marques, my publisher, at the main train station. I arrived early and while I was waiting I was approached by a girl. We entered into conversation and began discussing the advantages and disadvantages of living in Portugal, the state of the weather, various other standard topics. Then she suddenly asked, "Do you want to sleep with me?" I was astonished for about one second before I realised she was a prostitute looking for work. I replied that I would have to pass on her offer because I was waiting for someone. Without a blink she continued the conversation where it had left off, the weather, politics, etc. My own view on prostitution is that it's a business like any other. All our appetites are commercial: eating, drinking, sleeping. Why not lust? And yet I am always caught by surprise when something like this happens! In Almeria it was simpler: the girls just left me a business card with a phone number on it and didn't try persuasion of any sort.

My publisher finally turned up and we went to a cafe to examine the Portuguese edition of my Infamy book. It looks fabulous! In many ways I actually prefer this to the American edition. Then I went for an interview with a journalist from Público, one of the biggest Portuguese national newspapers. The journalist (Andreía) is a gorgeous Brazilian woman who seems genuinely interested in my work and familiar with it. That's always flattering!

My book launch is tomorrow at 6:00 PM. I'm not sure what I'm expected to do there, but I'm rarely sure of my precise role at such events! I certainly can't read any extracts from the Portuguese edition of my book. At least not in a way that makes any sense to anyone!

Maybe you have to smash a bottle of booze over your book and then fire it from a trebuchet. It's what Goethe would have done.
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