Being at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018
The first thing I did when I arrived at my hotel in Frankfurt – there was no need to stay longer than three nights, and two nights would have been enough – was find out where to eat. The hotel staff told me there was a restaurant ten minutes’ walk away, and they could order from its menu for me – copies of which they produced – and of course, they would be delighted to have it delivered to my room. So I made the most of a bit of down time, surfing the satellite channels on the TV, quietly amused that I can watch UK channels that I can’t get at home. (Too late, I realised that the satellite dish that used to sit against a nearby external wall of our flat was not merely decorative.)
Up early the next morning, I dressed very casually for breakfast – I won’t tell you what I was wearing beneath my cover-all fleece – and found plenty to choose from, even for a near-vegan-who-has-issues-with-sugar like me. Grateful that the odours of a full cooked option of bacon, sausage, eggs etc etc would not cling to my newly washed hair, I ate a modest breakfast, which the following morning I would bulk up a bit more – walking certainly takes energy – and got a taxi to the fair, which I shared by chance with two ‘proper’ businessmen from Saudi. (And no, I did not initiate a discussion with them about the alleged assassination of a Saudi journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, though, actually, given the nature of book fairs, and the realisation that these forums are bound to raise questions about journalistic freedom and the dangers of the Trump effect, perhaps I should have…)
Arriving soon at the main entrance to the fair, I was very courteously kitted out with a badge (and my baggage was not once checked, for which I am grateful) and immediately swallowed up in the excited realisation that I was wandering in among thousands of people, all intent on their business, while I simply marvelled: at the scale of the organisation – and please, let us here resist any allusions to ‘Germanic efficiency’ – the pleasant venue, and the amazing weather: balmy, warm temperatures, blue skies and lots of room to roam… which I did, for the best part of two-and-a-half days, marvelling at my freedom, beyond impressed by being there.