Schoolgirl Milky Crisis is published today in the United States, three mystifying days ahead of the British release date. But since the book was printed there, I don’t suppose it does any harm to let the Americans at it before the British.
The first time I ever went to America, it was seven days after 911, so I’m not sure that everyone was behaving normally. My trip lasted for a fateful week, from the time that George Bush announced the upcoming Operation Infinite Justice, until the moment it was discreetly rebranded Enduring Freedom.
It was Anime Weekend Atlanta (or Animal Weekend Atlanta, as the hotel notice board typotastically preferred), and I’d expected to see a sea of Confederate flags. Instead, every vehicle was flying the Stars and Stripes, every building had one draped from the window or flying on the lawn. Messages of condolence and revenge flashed on the billboards and ad hoardings – from the Coca Cola Company to the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Even the Mousetrap Titty Bar was offering Support for Our Boys, though presumably of a different nature.
Tony Blair was in America at the same time as me. Not for the convention, though. That would have been weird.
“America has no truer friend than Great Britain,” observed George Bush on the news that night. I stole his line when I addressed the Opening Ceremony for the convention, and added that I supposed that means the drinks are on them.
Backstage, where miked comments were inaudible, but audience reaction was all too obvious, the applause apparently sounded like the Nuremberg rally. Helen McCarthy asked me what I had said, and I told her that I’d promised the crowd she would come out and play the Star Spangled Banner on the spoons.