Every geek needs a hideout - somewhere to go when they feel like they are the only person in the world who‘s bored of the indeterminable wait until L.J.Smith brings out the final instalment of her Nightworld series (cummon woman… it’s been 12 years), or when none of your friends are excited about this week's developments at CERN. In those moments you need a retreat, somewhere filled with Sci-fi books, Star Wars toys and tee-shirts with mathematical “comedy” printed on ‘em. For me, that place is Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue - it’s conveniently close to work and I always get chatted up by some geek boy based purely on the fact that they didn’t previously realise that there are girls in the world, or that some of those girls read David Gemmell. So you can imagine my excitement when, this January, I discovered Jasper Fforde was doing a book signing there. I was like a kid who’d just been told Mickey Mouse was coming to visit their tree house.
It was my first book signing, and I was a little nervous about etiquette, but, hell, if you can’t be socially inept in Nerd-Mecca, where can you be? So I thought, bugger it, I’m going, and I’m going with bells on. Or in my case, socks. Not on my feet, oh no, how boring would that be? - socks in my arms - socks refashioned into Dodo form (It’s a Ffordian thing. You won’t get it unless you’ve read The Eyre Affair… and if you haven’t, why not?)
So I made Peggotty, to give to Jasper (Mr. Fforde? His Ffordy-ness? Lord Fforde? What’s the decorum when meeting one of your favourite authors?). Peggotty is a version 1.24 Dodo, as sanctioned by the Goliath Corporation, and Peggotty, like most Dodos, loves marshmallows.
I toddled off to swap a flightless sock bird for an autograph, and even managed to drum up a couple of friends (they’d been trying to hide their inner geek, but I found them out) - arriving, in standard Noodle-fashion, ridiculously early, so having to wander around pretending to be interested in Trudi Canavan’s latest release - normally I can happily kill whole weeks browsing in Forbidden Planet, but I was kinda on edge, so thought I’d heighten that by going to consume caffeine.
Upon my return I found I was still very near the front of the queue, but without having to face the embarrassing concept of actually being first, so I could observe the behaviour of other fans and tailor my own to match. Now, I have nothing to compare to, but Jasper seemed very charming (although it must be said a bit older than he is in publicity photos - I suppose vanity (or Photoshop) gets to even the best of us) and polite despite my rather awkward and star-struck attempts at interaction. He kindly signing my beloved copy of the Eyre Affair, as well as my shiny new hardback Shades of Grey (which I very highly recommend - it’s his best work to date by far). He admired Peggotty briefly before handing her over to his little girl Tabby (who was there alongside a lady I presumed to be her mummy). Tabby correctly identified Pegotty as ’Dodo,’ so I guessed I wasn’t the first to offer similar gifts -a fact Jasper confirmed, siting one particular life sized Dodo which they had difficulty transporting home. Oh, and (she says, nonchalanty) he then mentioned me - by name - in his blog, with a photo of Peggotty (Check out the 18th Jan entry).
Anyway… why am I posting about this now, when it happened 9 months ago? Well, because this weekend is the Bookcrossing UK Unconvention, and since it’s in Swindon (the real world setting of the Thursday Next novels) we’ve managed to persuade Mr Fforde to come along and do a signing for us - I think he’s just about the biggest ‘name’ author we’ve ever managed to get, and excitement amongst bookcrossers is pretty high so it has been suggested that I make up some instructions for making your own Dodo - I’ll be giving out packs of socks to craft with at the Uncon, but in the mean time a tutorial is going up here in the next couple of days. Oh, and (she says, nonchalanty) jasper mentioned me - by name - in his blog, with a Photo of Peggotty: Check out the 18th Jan entry.
Until then, I better get registering coz I’ve got a lot of books to set free…
how to make your own dodo instructions here