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2000-Dec-13: Paul book-signing - a report

An eye-witness account of proceedings at the book signing of "Paintings" by Paul at Waterstones book shop in Piccadilly - by Graham Calkin (gcalkin@chelseafc.net), http://www.jpgr.co.uk  
(interspersed with some snapshots made by the webmaster)

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I arrived at 9:30, for the signing due at 13:00. This was the earliest I could get there on the day, with travelling. Some people had camped out at the front of the queue overnight, and the guy at the very front had in fact been there since Monday ! The queue went from the front entrance along Piccadilly in front of three adjacent shops, then down an alleyway between the shops, and the church of St. James (designed by Christoper Wren, the same architect as for St. Paul's Cathedral). When I joined I assumed I was about 150th. Workers from the bookstore came around at about 10:30 and took our names, and gave us a number ... I was in fact 208th. 207th was a pleasant older lady (Cathy) who had travelled up from Rochester in Kent, and 209/210 was a young couple who were not born during Paul's biggest successes. The bookstore staff also laid down "rules", Paul will NOT be signing memorabilia, NO photographs, you MUST buy the book, only ONE per person, and that is what Sir Paul will sign. Some people clutching carrier bags of their cherished belongings left the queue.

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In talking to the staff of Waterstones (who I must say were very friendly at all times), they were optimistic that up to 250 people could get to meet Paul. By now the queue was over 400 strong and still growing.

Paul arrived about 12:30, I could not see him from my position, but word filtered through the queue.

At a little after one o'clock the queue started to move ... at first quite quickly. I turned the corner out of the alleyway, which was about half-way, at about half the time Paul was booked for. I was still hopeful. The Waterston'e people were still optimistic. Still we moved closer and closer to the front entrance.

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Sadly at 2 o'clock, exactly on the allotted time, Paul left. Luckily he left by the front of the store to his car parked right beside me, (Car no. 900 MPL) so at least I caught a glimpse amongst the throng, and took some pictures (not yet developed).

Clearly people around and about had seen the endtime and collected together for his leaving, and it was very busy, but press reports of 5,000, I believe are exaggerated.

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The Watersones people said there were "some" signed copies of the book left, but I left at this time, as the signature would not be the same without meeting Paul.

I was a bit sad (and annoyed) that Paul didn't stay a bit longer than the scheduled time, but perhaps this is because I was so close to being next. I was told that he had signed about 140 copies, so there were 140 VERY lucky people, unfortunately I was not amongst them this time.

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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