Saturday, October 18, 2008

So, the last survivor of the Titanic disaster, Millvina Dean, has sold her mementoes for £30,000, to fund her twilight years in a care home. Doubtless the items have gone to people who will love and cherish them, but would it have been too much of a stretch for those who've done very nicely out of the whole Titanic thing, among them James Cameron, to see her right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Congratulations to Atlantic on their Booker success with The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. As one of their non-Booker-winning authors, I do hope it doesn't make them all unbearable.

Back in my days on Publishing News, party small talk around this time of year always began with "What do you think of the Booker short-list?". This would then be followed by vague mumblings, designed to give the impression that the answerer had read even a paragraph of one of the novels. It was one of those situations where you really could have had your opinions handed to you on a crib sheet.

Unless, that is, you were me or a colleague. I was always scrupulously honest and admitted that I had no idea, not being much of a one for fiction. This was always sure to produce a Bateman cartoon response, even though the person asking me almost certainly had no more of a real clue than I did. Once, a publishing type pressed further and said "Come on, you must read some fiction", at which I confessed to a penchant for PG Wodehouse. "Oh," came the reply. "Old books. Don't you read anything new?". "Yes, AI (advance information) sheets mainly," feeling almost 99% sure that this person's opinion of modern writing came from the same source and reviews. M'colleague's response was far subtler, bordering on genius. He'd simply reply "Another good year for fiction". Then, in the pregnant moment while the questioner was trying to work out whether he was expressing surprise that so much fiction should make it through to the short list of a fiction prize, or whether he was saying that he liked all of the books on the list, m'colleague would change the subject.

I've always fancied the Whitbread myself. Apparently Abdul Abulbul-Amir presents the winner with a case of Best Bitter. The runner-up gets 4 cans of Trophy, "the pint that thinks it's a quart".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Following on from the previous post, about Peter Kay's laugh-an-hour 'satire' of talent shows, here's something that crams more actual jokes and proper digs at the whole genre into 10 minutes than he managed in 2 hours. And it was for charity, too, which means that it didn't actually need to be any good*. Oh, and it's 7 years old. Now, children, can you spell 'zeitgeist'?

* Joke
In the interests of remaining well-informed, I sat through the whole two hours of Peter Kay's Britain's Got the Pop Factor-wyllantisiliogogogoch. It looked perfect, but it didn't make me laugh once. As a satire (and some listings billed it as such), it was toothless, with Pete Waterman, Nicki Chapman and Dr Fox (who is, in the words of Lee and Herring, neither a real doctor nor an actual fox) all desperately trying to show how good they are at taking a joke and thus improving their own profiles in the process. As comedy, it was lazy. It seems that they'd spent so much time and effort getting the set right that they had no time to write any actual jokes. Still, we shouldn't be too surprised. Has Peter Kay been any good since he parted company with Dave Spikey and Neil Fitzmaurice?

Anyway, I can just about tolerate the existence of bad comedy, but on Monday, 'The Winner's Song' was released as a single. Extensive enquiries have brought forth no indication that the single is a charitable venture. So, it would appear that Channel 4 paid Peter Kay to make a two-hour promo for his own single, the profits from which will be going to buy his mum a bigger garden for her bungalow - I'm told she's got her eye on a little place called Lancashire. If so, am I being hopelessly old-fashioned to think that the whole setup stinks? Even the useless Ofcom must take a dim view of this sort of corruption.