It’s Thursday. I’m in Manchester. And my mood is as filthy as the weather which is already hot and thunderous.
Later today I have to EasyJet my way back to London where I will film an episode of Richard&Judy without the right side of the ampersand who is currently recovering at home, her knee raised high on a cushion as she sits in front of the TV eating Ferrero Rocher and rewatching her Richard Gere DVD collection.
I am having a less pleasant time (or more pleasant if you feel the same way as I do about Richard Gere). So far, the midget population of the city has refused to come out to greet me and my Nanus Count stands at a fat but empty 0. However, there have been interesting developments around my groin. On Manchester Piccadilly Station, at approximately 7.49AM this morning, I was smacked in the testicles by St. George in bright green tweeds carrying a golfing umbrella long enough to slay a dragon, probably by smacking it around its testicles.
I have known better starts to my day.
It is in this mood of slightly bewildered misery that I have decided to introduce a new policy here at my Appreciation Society. It’s been a while that I’ve been thinking of doing this but I think that the time is now so ripe that it’s almost swollen. Some might call the following a rant but I like to think of it as a forthright expression of my incalculable rage.
From now on, any recently published writer emailing me to ask if I’ll promote their stunning new novel (‘it’s just so perfect for your club!’) will earn a special prize: I will post their email, in full, here on my blog so the world can see these insufferable bores for what they are. No flattering phrase or self-seeking hint will go unnoticed by the blogging community. Let their entrails be picked over by Nige’s owl until they are a laughing stock and one more miserable novel can be taken from the shelves to make room for more worthy authors such as men called Madeley.
Before I begin to purge the world of their kind, I’d like any eager young things wise enough to be reading my blog today a chance incur my considerable wrath. I know they are out these because yesterday I had three (yes, three!) different people emailing me to ask if I would help promote their books. Well, now I can help them. I have condensed all the begging letters I’ve received in the last year into one easy-to-use template which the budding writer need only copy, paste, and then enter in the details of their book and published name. This way, they too can get their name in lights. Or if not in lights, at least ridiculed on this blog.
Dear Richard, [The classic opening, though some people think it’s polite to skip the pleasantries]
Love your show... [But surely you love the book club more?]
I think you’re wonderful/witty/wise/gorgeous/kind... [Yes/undoubtedly/maybe/unbelievably/ often not always...]
I have a book about to be published... [Now there’s a surprise!]
by Unknown Press... [So it’s either vanity publishing or will be issued as an ebook... Damn you for your success!]
and my friends keep telling me... [get ready...]
that it would be perfect... [here it comes!]
for your book club. [BINGO! You win first prize and the million pounds!]
Cheers, [Indeed, I’m very cheery despite emails such as this one.]
Arthur Jalopy [A name to remember if not enter into the annals of literary greatness.]
You think I’m being harsh and you’re damn right. I am. I’m also in an indescribably foul mood this morning due to the unwarranted use of golfing umbrellas in city streets and a lack of manners in the nation’s undiscovered novelists. There are so many desperate hacks who want to have their work recognised that it’s wrong to mock them. However, too many of these people write to me after spending approximately three and a half seconds reading my blog. That’s how long it takes them to home in on my email address and send me their poxy little demands. They can’t be bothered to spend a minute to read what I’ve written but they want me to read and promote their bloody books! If they had cared to click on anything other than the button marked ‘Click Here So Richard Can Make You A Millionaire Novelist’ they might have read a few things that might save them the trouble of pestering me. They might, for example, know that I write the odd thing myself.
‘Heavens!’ they say. ‘You’re a writer? But what could that mean?’
‘It means,’ I reply, ‘that despite all my good looks, my way with words and huge influence in the world of UK publishing, I’ve had zero books published. In case you don’t believe me, let me just recount... Yep. Zero. Nil.’
‘Surely not, Richard!’ they say in return. ‘Not a man of your profound wisdom and considerable style and flair for comic prose! Even Rory McGrath has had a book published!’
‘But I am not Rory McGrath,’ I answer. ‘I came close this year. Two months before my novel was due to be published it was cancelled. Of course, I considered leaping from a tall crane. I didn’t but there you go. There’s never a tall crane around when you need one. I chose the coward’s way out and continued to write 250,000 words of blog posts in the last twelve months. But hey! Let’s not talk about my publishing woes. I was only writing comedy which nobody cares about these days or wants to publish. Please tell me more about your deathly little story about a woman with Parkinson’s having an affair with a man with a lisp whose daughter lives in Portugal who happens to be having dreams about a Turkish tobacconist who is the living reincarnation of Suleiman the Magnificent and how they all decide to go around the world in a yacht, only it’s not a yacht but a flying saucer and the whole thing is really a metaphor for the imperialist actions of American in Iraq.’
‘So... Any chance...’
‘Listen,’ I tell them. ‘It might just be the case that if I could influence the workings of the Richard&Judy Foundation, who decide on what books go into the book club, I might be a slight chance that I’d have had one of my own novels published by now... As it is, I write too much, promote myself too little, and remain unknown. Read into this what you like but I beg you to bother me no longer. Fear the owl!’
Only this is too much for these earnest young writers to expect or understand. Instead, they want to send me free copies of their novels about penniless paupers in Ireland, books about Churchill’s cigar maker and his miserable life as a Camden transvestite, or the biography of some nonentity whose only claim to fame was that he invented a new variety of tartan (which, I’m told, is sure to sell well in America where everybody is called ‘McSporran’).
If these people would care to read my blog, I might not feel so utterly repelled by their utterly lifeless prose, their unctuous resort to flattery, their bestial willingness to grovel before me and demand that I make them a millionaire. Theirs is a baseless hope that theworld joins up in easy patterns and that one new writer plus a man with a book club equals dreams made forever and ever. I hate to be the one to tell them this but: it doesn’t.
In future, I’m not going to write any more polite and encouraging replies where I explain that I’m unable to help them but I wish them well, despite the fact they haven’t bothered to read my blog. I will be forwarding all their posts to Elberry who I am now employing (on an ad hoc basis at £20 a letter) to write them replies more suited to their overactive imaginations, limited talents, and utterly craven desire for fame ahead of any kind of literary merit.
If they still don’t get the message, I’ll be hiring Nige to train his owl to seek them out and drop dead mice in their cafe lates as they sit in Starbucks and pose the pose of all undiscovered geniuses.
It’s about time somebody stood up to these people. They are giving new writers a bad name.