Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Sits Vacant - a physical description as much as a column heading.

I must firstly apologise for the hiatus since my last post. Normally tradition would dictate that I explain it away by citing pressure of work, but the eagle-eyed among you will know that I cannot claim such.

For those who haven’t read or heard, I was recently made redundant from my post as literary editor of The Lady magazine. Sadly it was a shorter-lived position than I’d imagined and I’m really very sad not to be still in harness there, as the book pages that I had instigated seemed to find great favour with readers. Still, such are the vicissitudes of commerce, not to mention office politics and personal taste.

My reasons for not having posted anything for a while are thus to do with the troublesome issue of finding work and it is this ticklish matter that is exercising me as I write this.

I’ve just returned from an author tour with Anthony Horowitz, helping him launch the eighth Alex Rider novel to excited fans up and down the country. It was a fun tour, wonderfully organised by Walker Books and both the Walker team and Anthony himself were surprised to find that I’m, now what’s the term? Ah yes, that’s it, redundant. Ugly word. Ugly situation. They are not alone.

Many kind people who know what I do and how I do it, have been kind enough to say generous things about my ability to chair events, host a radio show, empathise with authors and enthuse readers. It’s lovely to hear such compliments of course and I’m grateful for them but the problem is that they don’t pay the bills. Such is the parlous state I find myself in that I’ve even taken the extraordinary step of posting a notice in the Eye Need column of Private Eye in the hope that some kind benefactor will take pity. It feels a bit like pan-handling in the street only slightly warmer and more anonymous. (until I wrote that line, that is)

When Oneword Radio died there were those who assumed that I’d be snapped up. I’d interviewed over 1600 authors, many of whom so enjoyed the experience they were more than happy to return. The audience loved the show and it played no small role in the station winning the Gold Sony Award for its category no fewer than two years running. It had led to my being asked to chair innumerable events at innumerable literary festivals here and abroad. They're hard work and great fun to do, but no replacement for a proper job. But no offers came. It seemed that the world of book broadcasting is a small one and a yet smaller number of names have it all sewn up.

The Literary Editor job was the result of many months of lobbying and despite having no magazine experience, let alone in a weekly publication, was one that I relished. Recommending good books to readers and supporting and encouraging authors and publishers I admire has after all been my mission for the last ten plus years. However as I’ve explained, it was not to last, despite my having been described by some as ‘taking to it like lamb to mint sauce.” Sacrificial lamb in this case.

So then I post this by way of an SOS. If anyone has any ideas how I might exercise what little talent I am possessed of do let me know. If you own a TV station, radio station or magazine so much the better! Failing that if anyone needs quality content for a website or radio station then I’ve an archive of 1600 interviews with the great and the good that I’ll happily trade for root crops!

Yours (in need of a canoe, let alone a paddle)