Monday, April 9, 2012

Beers, cheers and Book Launch

I was up at 6.30am on Saturday, with it being an early kick off at Rugby Park and the knowledge that Glasgow Central would be pandemonium, added to the fact that I was meeting Mike Boyd from Chicago who was flying in, I didn't get much sleep the night before given the importance of not sleeping in.

I got up to the bus station in Edinburgh in plenty time but we almost didn't get away as a woman asked the driver if he had time to go to the toilet, she did, but still stood for five minutes berating the driver in case he did leave her. FFS. Still we got to Buchanan Street bang on time and not long after I got a text from Mike saying he was on a bus to Glasgow Central, which I had just arrived at and already there were about 1000 people waiting on the 10.12 to Kilmarnock. We all crammed on and the journey was uneventful save for a stop at Stewarton where a lone currant bun stood on the platform opposite and was treated to a huge rendition of "The huns are going bust"

Arriving in Kilmarnock we met up with @aupaceltic @brummiebhoy @joebhoyhiggins, Jim and crew. Arrangements were made for post match and the Book Launch and we all made for Rugby Park via the odd saloon. I was on my own at the game but it didn't matter. The Celtic Family was at it's very best as a spine-tingling atmosphere made for the performance of the season in a 6-0 win that saw a few tears shed as our manager, the wonderful Neil Lennon, got his hands on the trophy that bombs and bullets denied him last season.

A sharp exit from the Moffat stand saw me up the road and catching the 14.27 from Kilmarnock. Which no one else did. I only caught it by three seconds to be fair. Texts went around, meetings were arranged, and Mike and I were in the The Admiral for around 3.45, 5pm start for Launch,  and were quickly joined by @pauloneil1874 and girlfriend Steph, then Evan appeared asking whose round it was. There was no sign of @aupaceltic and @brummiebhoy who were the main organisers and I'd probably say at this point was the only point I had any doubt in my mind that day, I'd never been in the Admiral, there didn't seem to be anyone here for the Book Launch and whilst making small talk, I looked at the clock nervously.

In a flash, all that changed. The first beaming face through the door was @joebhoyhiggins and the then the rest of the crew followed. As we all embraced @marcaddy came up and introduced himself and asked me what my plans were? I said "When folk starting showing up, will head downstairs" upon which he informed me there were around 60 people donwstairs already and the final scores weren't even in.

Holy shit.

As I went downstairs, the greeting was incredible, overwhelming in fact. More and more streamed in and as I turned there was @pmacgiollabhain standing there beaming. I only knew that morning he was going to be there and had told no one but as soon as folk were aware Phil was in the building, they were, obviously, all over him as well. A real honour for Phil to travel from Donegal I must say, very, very humbling.

The crowd kept coming, probably peaking at 150, which was about 100 more than I had predicted would be there. The Rebel MC @aupaceltic kicked things off with a very funny opening, poking plenty fun at me, which helped relax the crowd big time and then Phil took the stage. I must admit it was a bit of an out of body experience for me as when he talked it took me about five minutes to register that he was actually talking about me. He ended by asking me to write the introduction to his next book, and I'm sure you can guess what the subject is..., which is easily one of the greatest honours of my life.

After that I took the stage to talk about the book and I am incredibly appreciative that folk listened.

Then there was a raffle, prizes were a signed cue by John Higgins, an Albert Kidd signed polo shirt and some original Celtic programmes donated by @chibchenko . Sellers were @lauren_mcclos and @leeanne2912 who can take pride in the fact that their selling skills on Saturday ensured that today 12 children in the Sudan will be fed for the next five years with the money raised. Hope that makes you sleep even easier girls, you've a lot to be proud of.

A cash donation had already gone to CHAS on Thursday as my pal @kenny_millar did a splendid walk from Loch Lomond to Hampden. No mean feat given that being a Hibs supporter, it would not have been easy to find...

As for the rest of the night, it was bliss. I met lots of the Twitterarti who included @fultybhoy @thesammcleod @shoegirl81 @celticnetwork11 @krys1888 @gaffney67 @nicolamcginley1 @hobbesghirl @machrie72 @maxibhoy @teammcguire_bob @celticparanoia and countless other wonderful people whose Twitter names I can't seem to locate on my phone the noo...;-)

By the end of the Launch folk were in full party mode, The Amadans band immense, with a huddle when rangers die and then a conga out the door. I'd say it went well.

Afterwards a few of us decanted to a bar with a karaoke. It was rough and ready but good fun and I ended up giving a few licks of Forever In Blue Jeans which, even though I say so myself, brought the house down...

@krys1888 then belted out Mack The Knife, fitting given that the other recepient will be The Tommy Burns Skin Cancer Trust.

By about 10.30 Mike, Evan and I were done. It had been a long day, fuelled by the black stuff but I honestly can say I could have floated back to the hotel such was the good vibe I had. Not just from the Launch but it was easily the best celebraton I've had after a Celtic league win.

I've probably forgotten a few things, as I say the black stuff was in full flow, but I'll never forget @daveross67 and his staff, @aupaceltic and @brummiebhoy who made it all happen @iceltic for the poster, @btwcelticshow for sponsoring the Launch, and @pmacgiollabhain who made me so happy.

The next day I was up early, wished Mike farewell and headed home. The reaction online was great, and that made happy that folk enjoyed themselves. The last week has also made me think, as Phil and @kevtic did too, that for my next project, which I already know what will be, I need to keep the same writing style, but let the professionals in to edit it, that is the way ahead folks as the next book I do, similar to my last ones, will be the biggest and bravest ever, soon as you hear the title, you'll see why....

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