I’ve been feeling pretty chipper of late, so thought it was high-time I balanced things out with a healthy dose of crushing literary rejection. With the trusty writers & artists year book in hand I suppressed my flat-vowelled midland vernacular with the received-pronunciation of a BBC newsreader and set about calling agents to enquire as to whether or not they were taking on any new protégés…
‘I’m sorry,’ came the (first) exceedingly plummy response, ‘not for 7 years now.’
Stifling a bemused chuckle I apologised to the woman in question for wasting her time, wished her a good day and rang off. Almost immediately she rang back.
‘I don’t normally do this, but you sounded so forlorn I thought I’d take a punt. What’s the book about?’ Cursory details were exchanged, at which point she added, ‘Don’t send me a synopsis or a covering letter. I’m 65 – Haven’t got time for any of that ole shit – the first 3 chapters should suffice. Don’t expect a response before the end of the week. I’m reviewing Rodriguez’s new book on imperialism. I’m sure you have some appreciation of how tetchy he can get…’ Evidently I was expected to know who she was talking about, so took a stab at empathising ‘…Having said that, his last few offerings have been more than a little slap-dash. If he thinks I won’t fire him he’s living in a dream world…anyway ta-ta.’
A little over a week later she phoned back to say that the first 3 chapters had aroused her interest and that the full manuscript would now be appreciated. I duly obliged. A further week passed whereupon I received another phone call. Without introduction she proceeded thus:
‘No, no, no. Your antagonist arrives far too late, your main character should be Jewish and…’ barking noises halt her assault ‘Roy…ROY! I’m sorry – I have 3 dogs and am married to the politician Roy Hatterley – ROY! Get the dogs out…and I’m going to have to pass I’m afraid…ROY! May I suggest Bogdanivich as a surname…as in the film director…keep up the good work. Thank you good bye.’
Though technically a knock-back I was strangely buoyed by the conversation as it marked the furthest I had yet reached in pursuing a literary career.
The agent’s cryptic comments reminded me of a long-ago work debacle where, in discussion with a Jewish 3rd party contingent, an overenthusiastic colleague had described his three-pronged business strategy as ‘Blitzkrieg.’ Whilst the Nazi’s no doubt considered simultaneous air, land and sea attack to be an impressive feat, the comparison was less than appreciated by the suppliers whom we were destined never to see again.
Later that evening I was still pondering the bizarrely one-sided exchange when there was a knock at the door. As I drew near I heard my elderly neighbour utter the immortal words, ‘I know that @!#$er’s in there. I saw him go in,’ to which her husband replied ‘This is the final straw. I may do something I’ll regret.’
The list of inane and petty matters this harmless but deeply annoying pair have complained about over the years includes rogue ivy, the length of my lawn and not liking the colour of the house (to which my subsequent attempt at humour (calling them racists) had bombed spectacularly). Without even the remotest interest in finding out what tedious crap they’d come to rant about I stood motionlessly until I was sure they’d buggered off…
…None of which explains why my lead character should be Jewish!
In an entirely different vein I’ve added a new page ‘Music’ with links to some of the songs I’ve recently released:
I thank you…