Wednesday, October 25, 2006

George Nicholson at the OXO Gallery

George a dear friend, fine photographer and chairman of the Borough Market Trustees talks at the private view for his new exhibit at the OXO gallery.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Emmanuel and Henrietta

The third member of our merry band is Emmanuel. He too has a theatrics and drama background at ABU. He is handling a lot of the background research.

Henrietta and Nelson

Nelson, known to his friends as Mandela, has joined our team. He has a degree in geology and mining, he digs the idea of joining our project. He was a teacher of maths at the school in Karu where story story is recorded.

That's not cricket

Well i wasn't stumped for something to do on sunday. An invitation to play cricket at the Abuja national stadium proved to be a most enjoyable outing. A lengthy stint batting in the middle earned me the man of the match accolade. In truth i think it should have gone to the American recently converted to cricket who bowled magnificently.

Tasteful breakfast buffet display

This tasteful display carved out of one hundred percent genuine polystyrene greets guests in the spacious Rockview restaurant. The dolphin carries a tin of tuna in its mouth (beak?). Dolphin free presumably.

Millennium stadium relocated

In a bold reverse scam the british government has succeeded in selling off the great white elephant, the millennium dome, to Abuja.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fabulous Vanessa

One of the many joys of coming to Nigeria is Chi Chi's adorable daughter Vanessa. When I last visited she was toothless, now she sports a gorgeous set of gnashers.

Money Money Money

Changing currency is an interesting experience in Nigeria.

Most money is not exchanged at the banks or hotels, unless you are desperate, but through money men who can be found either under trees or in small rooms in the various shop arcades around town.

The drivers here have generally sussed out the best rates in town.

Friday, October 13, 2006

From Rockview to Rockridge

What a curious coincidence. My former roommate and dear friend Jim Pire (the Dude) emailed this picture to me today of an event that took place at least 12 years ago in the house we shared in the Berkeley, California hills (Rockridge district).

The man with the tongs is Chris, one of my dearest friends in the world and former business partner and co-founder of the publishing company we founded in America: Compass American Guides (now wholly owned by Random House). Nest to him is his lovely wife Ben.

We ate many lobsters and dungeness crabs in that kitchen and share some great memories.

Breakfast Day 2 Rockview Hotel

Another large buffet at the Rockview. Beef stew is still on the menu. Actually, I fear it was yesterdays. A variety of other foods are on offer from yams to french toast. The centrepiece however is this rather large crustacean.

It is a gastronomic journey I am enjoying here as well.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's not all about food

My first evening and we are off to my favourite eatery in Abuja, the outdoor Fish Bar. Here large freshwater Crocker Fish are barbecued over red hot coals. The fish are heavily spiced with hot chillies and other condiments and served whole with chips. The fish are about two feet long and one digs in with one's fingers and a Gulder beer or two on the side.

The fish has a lovely white fleshy texture and is truly delicious.

Producing the goods

I have been assigned a producer to help me on the legacy publications project. Henrietta is one of the many success stories to come out of the BBC WST work here. A graduate who responded to a BBC WST talent search, she was taken on as a trainee just over a year ago and now works as a producer on Story Story series 9.

Why am I here in Nigeria?

I am out in Abuja helping the country director for the BBC World Service Trust Nigeria (Jaldeep Katwala - pictured here) develop some legacy publications to support their immensely successful and popular radio soap opera: Story Story.

This is proving to be not just a fascinating journey for me into an entirely unknown world - West Africa - but an inspiration as well.

The work that the BBC World Service Trust is accomplishing out here in HIV awareness building, and other good works is staggering. Lives are being changed and quality of life improved. It is proving to be a joy working with a wonderful group of people. All under the steady hand of Jaldeep here in Abuja and Karen Merkel back in London HQ.


Driving around Abuja is not unlike taking part in a NASCAR race, or as I have now dubbed it the Nigerian Automobile Stock Car Association Race.

Regrettably it does all end in tears as the next picture shows, two minutes down the road.

Breakfast at the Rockview Hotel

My first day in Nigeria starts with an elaborate buffet breakfast. Including this appetising "beef stew". Unfortunately the lack of sleep, need to rush and the effects of the anti-malarial medicine has left me with a decided loss of appetite.

Armed Guard

Arriving into Abuja at 4:30 in the morning is quite an experience. I am greeted in the morning dark by Ibrahim, my assigned driver, from the BBC and his trusty side kick with side arms. Apparently whilst a machine gun is often weapon of choice a handgun is handier in the confines of a car.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Flight BA 083 to Abuja

Well ready for take off. Only six hours which means no sleep of any consequence.

However, I do have the whole row to myself and will at least be able to lie down.

Red light congestion

Am off to Nigeria for my BBC gig and at the present rate the trip to the airport will be longer than the flight to Abuja. Nothing but see tail lights stretching out ahead of me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The good life gets better

Gold fever strikes Eye Books.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Back in the UK

Frankfurt is over and am back in the UK enjoying a pint with renowned book designer Lawrence Morton.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Meet the Ponies

The Sugar Cubes ponies are a bunch of friends who live together at The Sugar Cubes Stables Riding School. There are 12 of them altogether. There's Midnight, the Icelandic horse, who lived out wild all year round so has no idea about manners. Thistle, the Highland pony, who�s self-conscious because she has a big bum and won't go last on hacks or wear horizontal stripes. There's Jacques the Camargue, a breed famous for their hardy feet and never need shoeing. And that's just three of them. Different breeds, different characters, different likes and dislikes, there's lots to find out. Who's friends with who and who annoys who, what they get up to, secrets, tricks and pony talk. Then there's the wobblies and fidgets—the ponies' names for the children who come after school and weekends, especially 'Sat-on-all-day', for their riding lessons.

To check out which pony matches your star sign come to the Can of Worms stand in Hall 8.0 E947 for a free poster.

Sugar Cubes Ponies

The wonderful Sugar Cubes Ponies created by Hazel Burton have attracted interest at the fair. Here Harcourt author, Rosi McNab, who will be writing a number of the Sugar Cubes chapter books and other titles in this exciting new programme meets, the ponies.

In the pink

It's saturday at the fair, things are pink at Can of Worms. The end of Friday saw a very positive arrangement with a Chinese publisher who would like to take him into China, and not jsut the first three books but all nine in the series simultaneously.

Saturday has started well with the Japanese showing interest in Boing-Boing. The Graphic shakespeare series continues to attract attention and it remains intersting to see how different people and cultural backgrounds react to the illustration sensibilities and styles.

Today I am hoping to see more people taking up on the Sugar Cubes.

Sourcing books

Sourcebooks acquisitions editor Lyron Bennett and Ginny stop by and open a can of worms. It is always nice to have an enthusiastic response to the publishing programme.

Friday, October 06, 2006


The stripes on this shirt are not quite as nice as those on an ISBN bar code but they fulfilled my obligation to sport stripes today. Back in the pink tomorrow.

Boing-Boing Goes to China

Boing-Boing the Bionic Cat looks set to go to China. Can of Worms Kids Press has so far published the first three titles in the scheduled series with another six written. It looks like Can of Worms has opened the kitty on a deal that will see all nine titles published in China in dual Mandarin and English text before the end of 2008.

Publishing News News

Can of Worms received a nice mention in Friday's Publishing News for its new acquisition: Each Day a Small Victory.

Ice cream Brinkmanship

Adrian Brink enjoys the fruits of a good Friday.

Focus on Bonny

Bonny smiles all round from Focus.

Black Dog & Leventhal

Black Dog & Leventhal have just published two of the titles from Can of Worms' Graphic Shakespeare series: Macbeth and King Lear. Black Dog & Leventhal has a wonderful and eclectic publishing programme developed by its eponymouse owner: J.P. Leventhal.

Lemon zest

Today's shirt is lemon. Tomorrow I have been asked to wear stripes.

Beautiful hosts

Simon and Tamsin organised what hopefully will become an annual dinner at one of Frankfurt's fine restaurants: Garibaldi. We were served a delicious anti pasti to prepare our palettes: parma ham, artichoke hearts, roasted fennel, tomatoes and courgettes, calimari and tonnato limone. For our main course we all shared in a selection of pasta: tagliatelli con truffalo bianco (OK I don't know my Italian but it was pasta with shaved white truffle - delicioso) gnocchi in a tomato sauce and ravioli with spinach and ricotta. Seven bottles of a fine Pinot Grigio and some desertwein and espresso and we were all most pleasantly satiated. Joining us among others in the dinner were: Boris Joh Passacantando who has illustrated the lovely A Secret Promise for Beautiful Books and his partner, Cinzia Da Alberti who is a fine artist and illustrator in her own right.

Garibaldi Restaurant

The smiles are all mine in anticipation of fine italian cuisine at this top ten ranked eatery courtesy me my friends at beautiful books. See next picture.

Tie to Die for

Edward Milford of Earthscan sports a fine tie, for which this picture does not give credit, at the IPG drinks party.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Where's the Grub?

Anne Dolomore of Grub Street is all smiles at the IPG drinks party. Grub have just published Great Modern British Recipes by Sarah Freeman. Sarah has just finished writing the Borough Market Cookbook which Can of Worms will be publishing through its Civic Books imprint in November.

To the Max

Max Scott of Stacey International will always put a smile on your face.

It's Thursday Night - IPG Drinks

Carolyn Vassallo does the honours at the annual IPG drinks do.

Synergy for Zymergy

My friend Martin Ellis dropped by the stand to report a successful sale of his Spanish Civil War book, To Make The People Smile Again, to a German publisher. They were impressed to hear that it is being dramatised by the BBC World Service in the New Year. She read the first chapter and said there is no way we can publish this but I would love to buy a copy for myself to read.

Each Day A Small Victory

Can of Worms Press is thrilled to announce the signing of British Comedy Award winner Chips Hardy and renowned animator and illustrator Oscar Grillo for their first collaborative published work: Each Day a Small Victory described as All Quiet on the Western Front WITH FUR.

Chips and Oscar are represented by Piers Russell-Cobb of Media Fund. More to come.

Korea move

Yesterday Can of Worms entertained a lot of interest from Indian publishers. Today it is the Koreans who are showing extreme interest in translation rights for the graphic shakespeare series with one publisher wishing to make a preemptive bid. To see some interior spreads from these titles go to

Kids Can Press can

One of my favorite publishers at the fair is the Canadian publisher Kids Can Press. They produce wonderful and beautifully produced books.