Sunday, November 9, 2003

Neil's in London now, and about to embark on a short signing tour. Sadly, he's not coming to Bournemouth, I'm too skint to be able to afford the train to go see him in London or Bath, and his visit to Leeds totally fails to coincide with my visit to Leeds. Oxford, Bristol and Dublin are also beyond my reach.


It's so not fair!! I can't think of any author I admire more than Gaiman. It's not just his books, or his comics, or the fact that on documentaries he looks like the Dutch word 'knuffelbeer' (lit. hugbear) was invented for him, or his love for black clothes, subtly dry wit or encyclopaedic knowledge of myth and legend. It's all of that combined with the fact that by keeping a blog he allows us, a whole bunch of complete strangers, a little glimpse into his life.

That's what I find most fascinating about blogs, not the techie stuff or the links, but the tales of people's lives, of running the New York marathon, of being lead astray by a satnav system, of a trip to Cambodia.

And that's what Gaiman gives us, a little window onto a part of his everyday life: trouble with kittens trying to climb up his nose at night; his laptop failing to connect to the internet from a hotel somewhere in Europe; not getting enough sleep on the plane; losing a long weblog post because his browser crashed.

All the minutia of normality, except Gaiman's normality isn't quite as normal as, say, my more mundane existence. It's as if he takes really normal normality and twists it through a few degrees so that it becomes something more interesting, something more fascinating. It's the same way Dirk Gently slips behind a molecule in St Pancras' Station and finds himself in Valhalla.

So you start to feel as if you know Neil a little, (which is fine if you're a nice, psychologically balanced person like me, but possibly a bit worrying if you've stalkerish tendencies, which I don't. Obviously), not just through assumptions gleaned from years old interviews, but from the day-to-day stuff he posts on his blog, the stuff that makes him just like us, but clearly not.

To his credit, I think Neil would say that he actually is just like us, but I think we all know that would simply be modesty speaking.

When I worked as a music hack I got kinda used to meeting 'stars', and discovered that if you start talking to them about mundane things, like whether Pet Rescue was better than Animal Hospital, they start treating you like a normal human being rather than either as a fan or (worse) a journalist. I used to remain cool, calm and collected around most of the bands I worked with, hardly ever turning a hair.

I'd love to think that if I ever met Neil it would be with that same calm aplomb, but I suspect that it would much more like the time I spoke to Gruff Rhys and my usual composure deserted me – I stared at my feet like an idiot, stuttering and blushing my way through what I wanted to say. He was gracious and generous and has a smile that makes the rest of the world fade away, taking your embarrassment with it.

Well, I guess we won't find out any time soon. But I shall continue to read the blog and will have to make do with getting only Neil's side of the story. I just hope that next time he comes to the UK, I'll have the readies to take up my place in the queue and, along with a few hundred other people, get the chance to mumble something incomprehensible at him as I hand over my chosen book for signing.

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