There was a launch party in London for my new children’s science fiction books, Children of the Night and Dark Visitor. Guests enjoyed Casillero del Diablo Chilean pinot noir from Casablanca Valley, Dona Dominga, a Chilean chardonnay/semillon blend, and an assortment of English ales with names like Tanglefoot, Old Speckled Hen, Spitfire, and Hobgoblin among others. The food included a selection of sandwiches and fruit, and some jam doughnuts (which are probably called ‘jelly donuts’ in the US). In my brief speech I pointed out that on that same day 44 years previously, President John F Kennedy had stood up in Berlin and declared himself to be a jam doughnut. He’d intended to say “I am a Berliner,” but by adding the ‘ein’ he’d actually said “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which means “I am a jam doughnut.” In honour of that occasion there was a tray of jam doughnuts laid out, and guests happily tucked into them.
On the same day 210 years previously, I pointed out, Charles Newbold had patented the cast-iron plough. Although it was initially rejected by farmers, who thought that the iron might poison the soil, it eventually caught on. Naturally I said I hoped for a similar cast-iron success for my new booksâ€¦.