I was staying at the Penn club - the place where John Wyndham spent most of his working life in a single room with communal bathroom. I managed not to snag my last pair of tights (out of three), and soon was walking down Russell Street, Charing Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Picadilly and then St James Street to arrive at the club.
The club had a grand piano in the front window and from the outside the party guests looked like animated mannequins with young publishing assistants in glamorous dresses checking people in at the door. I took off my hat and tried to comb my hair flat with my fingers.
'No, author. Clare Dudman.' (I still feel slightly embarrassed about describing myself like this). But a swift check down the relevant list (and maybe my dishevelled appearance) indicated I was telling the truth. 'Yes, OK. Go ahead.'
Now the 'going in' bit to going to a party is always a challenge, I find. Sometimes I have to walk around the block a few times persuading myself not to walk away, and once or twice I have hovered at the entrance and almost given up before being dragged in with a small mob. But perhaps worse than the 'going in' is 'the entrance' where there are masses of people (when I always feel like the unsophisticated provincial) and then the undressing and the acquiring of a cloakroom ticket. I fumble fastenings, I drop things - and worst of all I giggle at nothing. I feel awkward and out of place and the only cure is alcohol administered as quickly as possible.
Then things get better. And I am happy to report that on Thursday I eventually managed to enjoy myself very well. In fact it was a great party - lots of dancing and lots of talking and some very interesting guests. At about one a.m. I realised that the place was almost empty and started my walk back to the club. However I was so hyped up by it all I couldn't sleep and lay in bed listening to the wind still screeching down the mostly covered fireplace and behind that the sounds of central London - ambulance sirens and soon some insomniacal birds.
I am still exhausted and hoping to return to normal life tomorrow.