I’ve just returned from a whirlwind week in the United Kingdom, promoting the UK edition of Marley & Me, which was released there July 3. I flew out of Newark on the night of July 1 and arrived in London the next morning, a Sunday, which I spent catching up on my jet lag and walking around my very charming West London neighborhood running along — I’m not making this up — Marylebone Street. And yes, they pronounce it like “Marley Bone.” It seemed fitting.
I spent most of the week doing radio and television interviews and visiting bookstores to meet booksellers and sign their stock of Marley books. In the evenings, I was mostly free to explore, sample pints of the local ale and read the local newspapers.
It was a rough week for the Brits — they got knocked out of the World Cup, watched Andy Murray’s incredible run come to a disapointing end at Wimbledon, heard David Beckham resign in tears as captain of the England football team, broiled through a stifling heat wave and, on July 7, paused in respectful silence to mark the one-year anniversary of the terrorist underground bombings — a somber rememberance that brought back vivid memories for this post-9/11 American.
Late in the week, I flew to Dublin for a 24-hour visit to do interviews with the Irish media and visit some bookstores. The last time I was in Dublin was with Jenny in 1991 (described in the book). The city then seemed depressed and dour…and very quiet. I had heard it had changed as the Celtic Tiger economy took off, but I wasn’t prepared for just how dramatically it had changed. The place was hopping, vibrant. Live music was everywhere…young people filled the sidewalks…street entertainers drew huge crowds…and, or course, the Guinness flowed freely. My hotel was in the Temple Bar nightclub district, and I had a great time.
My publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, did a great job drumming up interest in Marley & Me (and making me feel incredibly welcome and at home). I learned that some things are universal, and the way humans love their dogs is one of them. The British and Irish and Australians seemed no different to me than Americans on that front. They told me the funny stories about the mischief their dogs caused, and they shared the pain of saying goodbye to their pets, too.
My visit seemed to pay off. Marley & Me is #1 on the Ireland bestseller list and #2 on The Times of London bestseller list. Meanwhile back at home, Marley popped back up to #1 on The New York Times nonfiction list this week and will be at #1 again next week.
England and Ireland were great, but it’s good to be home. I’m looking forward to a sleepy August with my family. The purple coneflower and cosmos are in bloom, the pears and apples are swelling on the trees, the garlic ready to be harvested, the zebra grass nearly as tall as I am. There’s been record amounts of rain so everything is emerald green..come to think of it, not unlike the Irish countryside. Summer in Pennsylvania…it’s a lovely time.
Over and out for now…. John