Sunday, May 03, 2009

Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are

I was in London again last week for a research trip (five days of intensive microfilm viewing at Colindale...both a pleasure and a torture, somehow).

I found the city to be -- as ever -- both quite enjoyable and rather frustrating.

It's that kind of place.

And I'm always grateful for the long train ride along the Rhine that brings me home to my small town.

Anyway, I had the pleasure of making a new acquaintance, for which I am grateful to Chris W (as for so many other things).

Some divine serendipitous gleanings from this research will be appearing here soon (as part of the 'historical bycatch' series), probably after we return from this week's travel to Montreal, where I'm giving a paper at a conference on justice and public opinion.

For the moment, though, as is my wont, I'd just like to register my disgust with something.

There I was, returning to my hotel from a hard day's slog in the archives. Having crossed the Worst Road in the World (i.e., Euston Road), as usual, I rounded the corner onto Upper Woburn Place where, as usual, I was assaulted by a paper-wielding thug handed a copy of one of London's various free papers, London Lite (Friday, 1 May 2009).

Given that we are in the middle of a panic (justified or not, who knows) about swine influenza -- otherwise known in the British press by the more catchy and economical 'pig flu' -- I was interested in reading the cover story, with the subtle title of 'Pig flu hell of London student, 22'.

I got as far as paragraph five when I ran across the following:

Max Clifford, who is representing the family, said: 'He's in a bad way and is suffering from awful sickness and vomiting.'

OK, not for a moment do I wish to condemn someone suffering from a potentially fatal illness.

But still, I had to think: Max Clifford. Max Clifford. A PR agent.

What: given 'awful sickness and vomiting' the first call is to the NHS, the second to a publicist?

Am I missing out on something? I mean, am I insufficiently prepared for the current Zeitgeist when I don't imagine that coming down with a bad case of the flu is the kind of thing that agent?

And this is not just envy speaking.

No, I've had several conversations with myself over the last three hours, and this this has nothing to do with the fact that I've spent the better part of a year and a half fruitlessly trying to interest publishing agents in a fascinating book I've written about a half-forgotten murder case from the past whilst receiving all kinds of lame excuses (when I receive any feedback at all) .

No. I am not bitter.


Except for when I think that instead of slaving away for two years on a sophisticated-yet-entertaining manuscript, I should have just hung around in places likely to generate the pandémie de l'année and sold my story when the projectile vomiting really got going.

Why do I keep missing out on these great opportunities?

(Title reference)


Dale said...

Well, the solution suggests itself -- tweak your manuscript to include copious references to pig flu, or your personal struggle with pig flu (real or imagined, who cares so long as it feeds the panic?).

Maybe add something in about Bernie Madoff too? And about that Scottish singing sensation, what's-her-face? It can't hurt. (Well, it can't hurt sales.)

Bon chance.

J. Carter Wood said...

Well...there was this one period during the research when I had a rather nasty cold.

I'm not sure that's going to be dramatic enough, though.

And the only way of adding these other elements would be to turn it into some kind of Dan Brown style global conspiracy....

Which I can't bring myself to do.

Kris said...

So someone with the flu is feeling unwell?

Whoever could have predicted that!

J. Carter Wood said...

Yes, it's not exactly surprising is it?

Still, the reality TV programme promises to be thrilling...