My Douglas Adams book-signing story

This is a story of jumping the queue at a Douglas Adams book signing.

I happened to be visiting the science fiction bookshop called "Forbidden Planet" in London when it was still located in Denmark Street off Charing Cross road. The shop was quite empty, but to the right of the bookshop from the entrance, they were setting up a book signing for Douglas Adams books as he had just produced one of the Hitchhiker books. I think it was "Life, the universe, and everything".

When the book signing started, I was surprised that there was only a very short queue of people, a few people were waiting with copies of his books under their arms. This was at the height of Adams' popularity, so I was expecting a huge number of people. I hadn't gone there for the book signing, so I didn't have any books, but I thought I might as well get a signed copy of "Life.." so I picked one off the stand-up book stand thing which was next to the book signing booth, and went to the back of the queue. Nobody said anything or looked at me. The person in front of me was a young man with shoulder length hair and a denim jacket, who didn't look at me or anything but just stood quietly waiting.

Because there were so few people, it didn't take long to get to the front of the queue. I thought Douglas Adams would be some kind of obnoxious exasperated arrogant person with no patience for book signings, but he was very friendly. He signed the book (which I hadn't even bought yet), and stood up and shook my hand, he was smiling. I thought he might have been pleased that I only had one book for him to sign, unlike everyone else who'd brought their entire collections. Adams was very tall, taller than me, and I'm quite tall. When I looked around, surprisingly, there were suddenly many more people in the queue behind me, although I'd been at the very end of the queue before.

I then went to the register to buy the book and some other thing. When I left the bookshop, there was this unbelievable gigantic queue of people outside, all the way down Denmark Street, right around the corner, all the way up to Centrepoint. At least a hundred people had been waiting for Adams, and I'd jumped the queue because they were only letting in ten people at a time.


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