I hardly knew anyone there, but I'd talked with a few of the people on Twitter and was super-chuffed when I met @Coxxy - whose real name is Sarah Yewman - who had made a little mini-me with her six-year-old daughter! Her daughter was very precise with what she wanted: my polka-dot boots from the Hay Festival, tortoise-shell specs, Superkid green outfit and a netted hat. Excellent.
I was hit fairly instantly with the realisation that I would come home with this big stack of cards and have NO IDEA who any of these people were. I have the worst memory of anyone I know (which is partly the reason I blog). We did this sort of speed dating thing, chatting for three minutes, then swapping when someone hit a gong. So I tried to take a photo of the people I talked with, holding their card.
Top row from left: Bimpe Alliu, Louise Haworth, Hannah Hall, Rosa Doherty;
Second row: Holly Walker, Gemma Greany, Jade Anouka;
Third row: Georgie Rogers, Eda Giray and Rosie Beard
Presenting the lovely planning team! Here's telly Production Manager Shanna Baynard, author of the Darcy Burdock books Laura Dockrill and Tamsin Ace, who's Performance & Dance Programmer at the Southbank Centre. It was great meeting Shanna, who'd done most of the e-mailing. I'd met Laura before as a co-curator at the Pop Up Festival and worked with Tamsin at the Imagine Festival. The name they gave the evening (and the TWitter hashtag) was #NotAFeministTribe; and while I'm pretty sure we are all feminists, we weren't ranty or anything, just getting to know each other, and Laura made sure we started by talking about our jobs, not feeling we had to chit-chat about other stuff first. Great idea.
One of the evening's highlights was running into Sophie Lording, who used to run the children's part of the Hay Festival. She's now living in London, works at the BBC and is working her way toward being a radio producer. She'll get there, I have no doubt; the woman is awesome and supremely well-organised. And, of course, glamour shots with totally new people (looking fab, Gemma Greany)! Thanks so much for a great evening, ladies! The team are hoping to make the meetings a regular thing, bringing in new women. Thank you, Southbank Centre, Red Bull and Bare Minerals for sponsoring.
Speaking of awesome women, I was reading The Bookseller over breakfast and saw another interview with new Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman. Great to see she's put in another plug for comics! (Or 'graphic novels', as some people prefer to call them.) I was talking about Malorie to one person during the evening, and she said her son loves comics, but his teacher's always trying to discourage him and make him read other kinds of books. But she's fighting back, to let her son read what he loves. Which is the best way to keep a kid in love with reading, good mum.