Lots and lots of lovely people made it to the launch party for the 2009 Screenwriters' Festival at the Channel 4 building on Horseferry Road on Tuesday.
As I stumbled along a dark road near St. James Park tube, squinting at my google-map print-out, who should loom out of the shadows like zombies but Messrs Arnopp, Barron and Clague. It was a mite scary, I can tell you, but also wonderful: it seems no longer possible for me to turn up to any kind of writing do and have to network alone. How good is that?
And as we arrived at the venue, ho - isn't that Mister Beckley, and with him, the Stackster? And Ms Lipton? Oh yes. I hadn't got in there yet, and already I was part of a veritable posse.
Inside, I met up again with Tony Keetch and Elena Fuller, non-bloggers but pitchers extraordinaire. They were both involved in the onstage pitching competition at last year's festival. Indeed most of the ten 2008 pitching finalists made it, including the fellow that later on in the evening won the raffle for a free ticket to SWF '09 (that's two years' running he hasn't had to pay, the lucky thing).
During the pre-talk convivials, I also met David Turner who's pitching this year, and bumped into (and yet again failed, alas, to have a proper conversation with) the wonderful David Lemon and Rachel (next time, I will talk to them, properly and find out Rachel's surname so I don't have to introduce them like a magic act).
Also - as far as I remember, someone correct me if I'm wrong - there was free wine.
After that, were the official talks: Mister Arnopp and David L have both summarised that stuff, so I don't have to strain to remember the details. The message boiled down to this: SWF 09 needs everyone's support to keep going in these difficult economic times, so buy a ticket as soon as you can to help their cash flow, if you want to go ,and if you care about the thing continuing. Fair enough. Sadly, because of a new production I'm involved with - which at the moment is top secret, but I shall post about it when the time comes - it is very unlikely that I'm going to be able to go to Cheltenham this year. There is only one way now open to me that I can see: become swiftly and prominently interesting and important enough to be invited onto a panel. Hey! It could happen...
Anyway, after the talks there were more opportunities for nibbles and a bit of networking and a soupcon of celeb spotting. Most exciting for me was that Michael Wearing was in the house - but I didn't get to talk to him. I'd spotted the tanned, white-haired fellow earlier on and had almost gone up to speak to him. Good thing I didn't, as at that point I thought he was Andrew Davies.
And - I may be mistaken, but I think I'm right on this - there was free wine again.