Last Thursday, I attended a very special birthday party in honour of Mills & Boon and their 100 anniversary. It was held at the Wallance Collection. The Wallace Collection is housed in Hertford House, formally Manchester House. The rooms are labelled -- back state room, dining room, billiards room and are filled filled with fantastic French 18th century paintings and object d'art.
Expectations were high, particularly with the rumour of Butlers In the Buff appearing in the Observer books column, but would reality live up to expectation?
The train was late but other than that, the journey painless. Earlier Julie Cohen, Biddy had agreed that the best solution was for Julie and I to make our way seperately to the party and then Biddy would appear shortly after nine and we would go out to dinner.
So I mooched around Jermyn Street and had a bite to eat and a cup of tea at Fortnam's before the party. Basically I figured that it was best to have SOMETHING as the drink would flow. I then changed in the Ladies Powder Room and made my way to the Wallace Collection.
It took far less time than I planned and I got there early. However, like Wellington, I figure if I get somewhere early, I only waste my own time. I sat on a bench, talking to a lovely lady who did something with data processing. The editors arrived and I went in with them. I then slipped into my silk coat and my strappy sandals to complete my outfit.
The party began with the Bolli Darling Fabulous Flamingos going outside to greet the guests. The Flamingos were people on stilts with feathers. They made walking on stilts seem easy and how they got through the front door of the Wallace Collection, I do not know.
We were then ushered into the artrium which was lit with pink light. In the corners stood a candy floss stall, and an ice cream stall. Waiters were stationed with champagne and bellinis. The bar boasted an array of drinks.
It looked wonderful but where were the butlers in the buff? I concentrated on seeing Carol Townend, Linda Sole (Anne Herries). Then Liz Fielding came up.
They are here, she exclaimed in surprised delight. Look around you
I turned and saw that several of the waiters had undone their ties and several buttons of their shirts. Liz Fielding was the woman to be with as the waiters kept coming up to her. She ended up being photographed several times. Once, a waiter motioned to his friends and she was surrounded. I dare say they will provide inspiration for hero material. After all, a woman has to do something.
.The tenor Atilla crooned as the Butlers handed out red roses. Then Alan Titchmarsh gave a lovely address of welcome. He also gave advice about the roses. 2 inches off and plunk them in water.
Guy Hallowes, the Managing Director gave a brief history of Mills and Boon. He also showed the very first copy of the very first book M&B ever printed. He pointed out how M&B is going from strength to strength and is well placed to continue delvering on its promise for the next 100 years. Then Donna Hayes, the CEO of Harlequin Enterprises gave the closing remarks. Donna praised M&B and how well it was currently doing. She is the ultimate Power that is and a truly lovely lady with a razor sharp mind. The buck stops with her. Her speech should put to rest any lingering rumour about the London office closing. The reason why editorial is in London is that they have proven and continue to prove that they are excellent at their job. The editors know how to fulfil the promise that is made to the readers. They are in charge of the most successful lines in the organisation and going from strength to strength.
After that I had to go and get my photo taken for The Sunday Sun along with other authors and editors from the North East. We shall have to see what the photos are like...
Then I went back in and enjoyed the party. The authors had to have their photo taken -- all of us crammed on the stage. It was quite a gathering. (Or should we say cleavage of romance authors)
I had a lovely chat with my editor, and discovered that yes -- doing another Viking was fine and then I can do some more Victorian/Regency.
Eventually Biddy found Julie and I. We departed with our pink and white party bags.
It was the sort of party that I dreamt about going to when I first wanted to become an author. Indeed, it was a party worthy of gracing the pages of a Presents. Total glamour. But for it was made all the more special by the authors and editors who were there. People who have become friends. And as Julie Cohen remarked -- the editors of M&B always have the best shoes.