How not to start a conversation at a party

This evening was the Debutantes party at Bloomsbury Publishing’s offices on Bedford Square, and I was invited because The Valley will be my Bloomsbury debut in April next year. I don’t go to many publishing parties, and often spend the first part of the evening feeling that I am not saying or doing things that I ought to be, and could be on the verge of a faux pas. Tonight relief comes with a conversation with Kathleen Farrar, the Group Sales and Marketing Director, one of those people whose easy conversation makes you feel fluent and even witty yourself. We are laughing about the silly social rituals of parties when a man attaches himself to us and asks what we are talking about. He is not wearing a name badge, so I playfully flick his chest with my finger and say, ‘You’re ruining everything here you know, by rebelling and not wearing a badge.’

Kathleen interjects. “This is Nigel Newton, Richard, she says. ‘He’s our founder and chief executive.’