Great speeches and eggy bagels

It has been a fun week, full of book launches, new beginnings and egg mayo stains all over my jeans!

It has been a fun few days, and I feel proud-as-punch.

On Tuesday evening, I snapped up a last-minute ticket for an event at favourite haunt, Daunt Books. The Marylebone High Street shop is my favourite book store in London. It is owned by James Daunt who is also involved in Waterstones. I was reassured by one of the clerks working there that it’s in safe hands and financially secure. Thank G-d. I love the generous shelf-space dedicated to every sidebar of history. It is hard to feel anything but a child-like glee in the lower basement, with its metres of shelf-space dedicated to Asia, Africa and the Americas, every inch dusted down for travel literature and travel non-fiction.

This time of the year is when the Booker Prize gets announced. Unfortunately, Turkish author, Elif Shafak didn’t win. She seems extremely talented and full of grace. I value her insights on the rising nationalist sentiment of her homeland, and of course, elsewhere.

Simon Sebag Montefiore new books
New Sebag Montefiore book on Voices from History

Compulsive book-buyer that I am, I was keen to buy the new book of Shafak’s in contention for the Booker prize, ’10 minutes 38 seconds’. But Simon Sebag Montefiore was giving a talk on his new book at the back of the store – on some of the greatest speeches from history – so I hopped further inside. And I wasn’t to be disappointed. Well, the event got off to a good start. I was allowed my pick of two glasses of wine.

I was interested in the historian’s choices. There were the obvious picks (Hitler and Churchill among them). There were some tokenistic nods to modern audiences (no doubt encouraged by the publishers): think Greta Thunberg.

And there some less obvious picks, but stirring and significant speeches nonetheless. I was struck by Simon Sebag Montefiore’s choice of a speech by Himmler, who I am reading a lot about, in Richard Plant’s superb ‘The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals’.

Hanging around at the end of the event, with a wagging tail, I queued to purchase another book of his (Simon Sebag Montefiore’s), this one not on speeches, but on Stalin. It was pretty much just him, me and the team from Daunt Books, and he seemed a nice bloke. Remarkably, his next project? A history of the world, he divulged to someone who asked!

I am still in the foothills when it comes to fulfilling any of my own writing aspirations. Okay, that’s a lie. And a gross exaggeration. I haven’t even started packing for the journey. But I was thrilled my first travel feature for a UK publication (Jewish News) was printed this week. Earlier this morning, I went to Golders Green to pick up a few copies and I was so proud to see my feature on Tallinn, Estonia, previewed on the front page. After a bit of self-promotion, I had an even bigger bounce when the Estonian Embassy and the Estonian Ambassador to the UK retweeted the article!

Scruffy cakes
Lovely scrummy and sugary cakes at Carmeli’s

It was back down to earth for me when, juggling these papers and a few bagels I bought from Carmelli’s, a traditional deli on Golders Green High Road, I took a greedy bite from the first bagel, stuffed full of salmon, cream cheese and egg mayonnaise…and the contents of the bagel squelched all over me.

All the egg and onion dripped out; my jumper just out of dry cleaning now in definite need of another clean! My jeans covered white-and-yellow.

Not so glam! But anyway, I have my first few column inches!



If you are interested in reading more of Andrew's blogs and other published work, do take a look here.