Or as TS Eliot had it: these fragments I will shore against my ruins. I was just thinking about this time a year or so back when I mentioned to these mates from Stoke about how I’d done this reading to promote a new publication and how useless it was, no one had come and we hadn’t sold any books.
‘What do you mean, “reading?”‘ the first mate asked.
‘You know,’ I said, ‘You go to a Waterstones and read a bit of your new book to the audience and then there might be a few questions and you sign copies.’
There was an embarrassed silence. Then the son of the first mate said, ‘What, and people go out of their houses for that?’
‘Not many people go out of their houses,’ I said, ‘That’s why the thing is so bleedin’ useless.’
‘You can’t blame them for staying at home though can you,’ said the third mate, with due feeling. ‘Bloody hell, what a waste of time. And what’s Waterstones, anyway?’
I was sort of expecting them to slap me on the back at the end, as if to say, ‘C’mon thickso, we were only taking the piss, we know what a literary promo reading is, we weren’t born yesterday.’ But they never did. The reactions were quite genuine. If I’m ever feeling miserable I just think of that scene; it never fails to make me chuckle.