Just two days to go to the Jarrold launch of my book, Norwich: A Shattered City, and the nerves are beginning to kick in. At least I’ve now received some copies of the book itself. It’s always useful to have seen the book that you’re launching! Anyway, I was both relieved to have the book in my hands, at last, and pleased to see that the many magnificent photographs from the Archant and George Swain Collections have reproduced so well. Just hope the words do justice to the pictures.
I had an interesting session yesterday with Nick Stone, Norwich’s ‘ghost blitz’ photographer, at the Norwich Arts Centre where we were discussing the event we’re jointly involved with on March 16 that will help to launch an exhibition of photographs to mark the 70th anniversary of the Baedeker raids. Having spent so much time emailing one another about our mutual interest it was good to finally meet up with Nick. If you haven’t seen any of his pictures yet, then you don’t know what you’re missing. His images are breathtakingly good. I can’t think of anyone who has done more to make the city’s wartime ordeal more relevant to a modern generation.
Meanwhile, I have been astonished by the number of responses I’ve had about the book already, many of the calls coming from people who have read the edited extracts which have appeared these past two days in the good old EDP. The newspaper where I worked for so long has certainly done me proud, so thanks to Pete Waters, Trevor Heaton and the team for all their support. And thanks also to Derek James for featuring the book across two pages of the Evening News yesterday.
Having had 45 minutes on the Stephen Bumfry Show on Radio Norfolk this afternoon, fielding all manner of blitz and non-blitz questions, including a googly about what dangerous activities I was allowed to get up to as a child (I couldn’t think of any. I obviously led a far too sheltered life), I feel slightly more prepared for what might come my way when I appear on Future Radio tomorrow morning when I should have my very own blitz eyewitness with me for company – my dad!
After that it’s just a case of steeling myself for Thursday night at Jarrold (and, by the way, there’s still time to grab a ticket from Jarrold’s, just check out their website for details). I’ll be trying to hang onto the thought given me yesterday by Mike Butler, the amiable head of the store’s books department, who said: ‘Just remember it’s a celebration of all your hard work and you’ll be with friends.’ And if all else fails, I suppose I could do worse than follow the advice given in that still famous wartime poster campaign: ‘Keep Calm and Carry On!’