Tuesday, October 23, 2007
A Simple Little Sketch Of My Angelic Features
That great humorist Alan Coren died last week and several of his obituaries described how he came to write his biggest-selling book. He claimed that a little research in bookshops revealed that the three most popular subjects of books at the time were golf, cats and the Third Reich. Thus he wrote a book called "Golfing for Cats" which prominently featured a swastika on the front cover. Instant success. I was in the local Waterstones at the weekend and I decided to conduct a similar piece of research. As Waterstones has a weakness for categories the task was made easier than expected. Before entering the shop my expectation was that "Mind, Body and Spirit" would win hands down and I had been mentally plotting something which would tick all the boxes in such a discrepant grouping. The secret fantasies of a one-legged Scottish whiskey distiller came to mind. But no, I was wrong. A new Waterstones category is in the ascendant, claiming a good twelve foot of shop floor and countless shelves for its own solemn anthem : Tragic Real Live Stories. The shelves were full of books with titles like "My Ten Year Fight With Cancer (and How It Failed"), "My Angel Goes to Heaven", and "Angie's Story : The Tragic Life Of A Ten Year Old Blind Prostitute". What was even more intriguing was that they all had similar covers : white background, some kind of semi-cursive typography and a sketch of a bedraggled-looking youngster. Recognising that publishing is a commercial business (and always being on the look-out for some kind of "edge" as a city broker would say), I suddenly saw the significance of my own recent brush with death. Granted the stroke diagnosis was withdrawn after a couple of days and even the doctors in my acquaintance have now downgraded it to a "migraine aura", but that bit about both me and my son being rushed to A&E at the same time has got some strong tragic elements. Who knows what might develop next. I am waiting with keyboard and pen at the ready. Keyboard to get the words down before it is (tragically) too late. Pen to run up a simple little sketch of my angelic features for the front cover.