Well, it has been an extraordinary day. If you haven’t heard today’s Jeremy Vine Show, you can listen at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06qhhjt – I’m on from 01:39:56 – and I am so grateful to Jeremy Vine for giving such a ringing endorsement of my book – to such an extent that by the time I checked my email an hour after leaving the BBC studio in Norwich (more like a broom cupboard with a microphone in it) I had 600 emails, most of which were orders for the book. And it’s kept going, I’ve now had over 1600 emails, most of which are orders for the book and I’ve had to order a reprint and some very kind friends up here are mobilising to help me send out what I’ve got at the moment. And of course, as always I’ve had loads of people saying my exhibition should be at the Imperial War Museum – but as I've been told that’s not going to happen I’m still on the look-out for a venue in the UK.
I just came back from my latest visit to Ypres yesterday, having had a very good meeting with the folk at the Museum in Ypres. They are very happy with the exhibition (in fact on Sunday they showed a visiting party connected with the Museum at Loos, who insisted on having their photo taken with me amongst many exclamations of “Bravo!” and “Formidable!”), but have gone rather a lot over budget – in the end the bill is over 130,000 euros, even before the take-down and the return of the artefacts to the families. So I am not getting a fee – my aim was to get the exhibition to be the best it could be and I preferred the money to go to the exhibition rather than to me, and I will get some recompense from sales of the book and from putting on the exhibition elsewhere. As well as the book, I’m getting whatever can be salvaged from the exhibition (which is most things except the stickers of the photomontages etc that are stuck to the re-usable panels), including the 7 intro films and the new group photo video and of course the big banner of the group photograph at the beginning of the exhibition. They are paying for the van to bring that all back to the UK in January along with the artefacts for return to the families.
It’s now pretty quiet at the Museum – things are winding down for Christmas, but also the terrorist attacks have led to a big decrease in visitors, not least because a lot of coach parties from the UK have cancelled. Hopefully they’ll get a mini-surge of people who’ve heard about it on the Jeremy Vine Show. They deserve it – they took a risk on me when others wouldn’t and it’s been fantastic for all of us when we see the response of those people who have seen it for themselves. I’ve lived with it for so long that it takes seeing it through a new visitor’s eyes for me to remember how extraordinary the whole thing is.
It’s past half-past midnight, and people are still ordering the book! And I need some sleep to deal with the days ahead...