This year Puffin's Annual Summer Party moved from its traditional venue - the Roof Gardens, High Street Kensington - to the Orangery at Kensington Palace, a venue that does have its own open grandeur but, in the view of most of the guests who ventured comment, is not as party-friendly as the more sheltered outside courtyard at the roof gardens, where guests can mingle on all sides and down the middle and thereby spot one another more easily.
It wasn't just the venue that felt different this year. Compared with the days of Philippa Milnes-Smith and Anthony F-W, this year's event seemed somewhat low-key, especially given that this is a rather special anniversary year for Penguin. Francesca Dow gave her speech in front of a brick wall, with a mysterious and perhaps emblematic number 3 at her shoulder.
Elaine McQuade was there but, understandably given her impending move to Scholastic, kept lower profile than usual (I don't think she appears in a single ACHUKA photo, but we shall see). I missed Rebecca McNally, who was there only briefly, as her special event is rather imminent. Tellingly, I wasn't buttonholed by a single Puffin editor, publicist or marketing employee, eager to introduce me to a new author or illustrator or talk about a recent acquisition, and this must be the first time this has happened, or rather not happened, at such an event.
On reflection, this may have been something to do with the fact that it is a year since I was introduced to the author of How I Live Now in just such a way, and then went on to be highly critical of the book. Or maybe it had something to do with the light linen suit I was wearing (jacket �25, trousers �10 Primark), described by the only person who commented on it, no doubt ironically, as Gatsbyesque. Maybe I should revert to arriving at parties in my deputy head garb.
The pictures show many of the expected faces, but also highlight many absentees. The two authors I was most hoping to meet, Nigel Hinton and John Sedden* (whose novel Mudlark I am in the middle of and greatly enjoying), were not there. Late in the evening Joanna Galvin, Marketing, told me that a department colleague, Matt, shared my enthusiasm for both Mudlark and Time Bomb, but I had to leave and catch my train before she could introduce me to him.
*I have since learnt that John Sedden was indeed there, although he left early, having been attacked by a squirrel.