We bloody did it! In the days before Christmas we posted over 700 parcels, and now people all over the world are reading books and watching films, and I’m a bit taken aback, in a really good way. I realise that I thought everyone was buying them out of kindness and would probably mostly use them as attractive doorstops, so having people open them and read the whole tale, with gusto, is quite something.
I love the unboxing photos people have been posting on Facebook and Twitter. Our creations which at our end of their journey were stock – 18 boxes of identical books, each an unliftable 25kg, and great slippery landslides of DVDs – magically became treasure by the other end of their journey. They were stamped and signed and labelled and sent off with love, but in such vast stacks that it seemed quite unreal. Long stints at post office counters, casting shifty glances at the urgent Christmas queue behind us as we passed the parcels through the slatted glass and said “This pile is all UK, these ones are Canada, then here we’ve got Barbados, Mexico, Israel…” One went to The North Pole, Alaska. We couriered three boxes to America where my lovely friend Gerelyn posted them on, carrying them down to the post office in pushchair loads. Rhys’s visiting émigré sister carried a dozen Australia parcels back in her luggage, to find that it’s almost the same price to post something across that vast red country as to post it from here.
Mum and Rhys were the excellent taskforce, wrapping in long shifts, radio on, mince pies and satsumas keeping us fuelled, fish and chips and fresh air breaks in the warm December drizzle. We struggled to keep the romance of a big communal shipping operation going despite me leaking stress into the atmosphere thanks to battles with the headstrong home printer and unreliable spreadsheets.
Then they slid through letterboxes, and suddenly they were individuals – the story arriving in houses, read on public transport, watched on Christmas afternoon. It is still completely mindblowing! A few really fast readers polished the book off in a few days, one person with a cold made the most of her confinement. Some people got in touch to ask if they should go film first or film second. Lots of books are waiting their turn on stacks in bedrooms; at least one has been in the bath.
Several people expressed surprise that it had been quite so hard – either admiration at my patience or puzzlement at my perseverance. Rhys hasn’t read it yet, but when he does he will definitely wonder why I made such a meal of it in print – he didn’t find it anywhere near as hard. It wasn’t that the responsibility sat less heavily on him – perhaps it was just that he could come and go. Or that it was my big, exposed, sobbing face on the screen.
The next big delivery
As people get to the end of the book, several messages have come through saying “And the next adventure?” I actually know the answer – it was sewn in June. It’s an increasingly uppity parcel, the reason I couldn’t carry the 25kg boxes of books. It is made of mince pies and satsumas, but wriggles and squirms at the screaming sound of parcel tape. It’s been much less effort in the making than the book or the film, so far, but I expect that’s unlikely to last, once it’s unwrapped. The next great delivery is due within the month.
It turns out that Chico was a bit of a gateway drug – get your head around one dependent, and the next seems a little less scary. Sometimes. If I don’t think about it too hard. I’m hoping there will be lots of transferable skills.