Saturday, September 1, 2012

Penguins, Pelicans & Puffins

This afternoon I dragged the Liz and the girls to the opening of an exhibition of Penguin book cover designs in a gallery in what was once a temple. Beautifully installed with hundreds of first edition books under glass, more on the walls, activity packs for children (yes!) and Penguin branded cupcakes (double yes!). It was partly my fault. The exhibition had been at the V&A several years ago, as part of the Penguin 70th anniversary celebrations, and over a beer I'd innocently asked Penguin China's Jo Lusby what had happened to it. "It's in storage in Bristol University". Could it come to China? Yes it could. 
The girls were intrigued by the presence of Pelicans and Puffins. Any other birds beginning with P? "Peacock !" Yes, that would make a good coffee table imprint. "Pigeon!" Yup, cheapo editions. "Is partridge a bird?" Yes, maybe for Christmas specials. I suggested Ptarmigan. "That doesn't begin with P!", said Naomi.
Continuing the literary theme, the novelist AS Byatt arrived in Beijing today. It was touch & go whether she'd make it as she had a fall a week ago, but nothing would deter her and here she is, with affable husband Peter in tow. I took them out for dinner. A colleague had booked a Japanese restaurant for some reason but it turned out to be an inspired choice. They loved it. Her only other visit to China was in 1988. It's changed a lot since then.  

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