Important milestone to log at the start of Day Four: I finished reading one of my books last night before bed. The Kennedys by Peter Collier and David Horowitz, first published in 1984, which means the saga ends just as David Kennedy dies. He was one of Robert Kennedy’s 11 kids. (Did you know the Kennedys were Catholic?) It’s been a rip-roaring read and I recommend it to anyone who’s interested in Camelot but doesn’t necessarily want to read lots of conspiracy theories about who shot JFK and RFK. It’s about the family, first and foremost, and the effect the deaths had on the family are what Collier and Horowitz are interested in.
Before the day begins, I am up very early and uploading a few CDs onto my laptop which I have managed to get from 6 Music: Submarine EP by Alex Turner, Grinderman 2 by Grinderman and Witchhazel by Matt Berry (I’m meeting him later when he guests on Roundtable).
Now I have to stop writing this and start writing a) five Films Of The Day for Radio Times (I usually split these duties with Barry Norman, but he’s been pressed into service memorialising Elizabeth Taylor, so I’m doing his), and b) some jokes for 7 Day Sunday. These must all be done and delivered by lunchtime. It’s another of those days where I split my day fairly evenly between writing and talking. These are the two main things that I do for money.
Please note, whoever it was who said they found this week of blog entries “creepy” and foreboding – possibly because of my black t-shirts – that I am wearing a bright green stripy top today.
Phew. I’ve been out and about a lot this week, with no clear days, so have only passed through the British Library sporadically and for short shifts. I completed the five Films Of The Day for Radio Times before I left the house: for the record, Wanted, Donnie Darko, Just Friends, The Kingdom and High School Musical 3, as we aim to please a wide audience with our choices and terrestrial premieres are automatically shunted to the top of the pile, for self-evident reasons of public service. If I have my own reservations about any of the choices, I am allowed to express them, and I made clear that you have to be child of a certain age to enjoy High School Musical, and I am not a child.
I sent my Radio Times copy through at 08.57 and travelled up to King’s Cross to write all my topical gags for 7 Day Sunday at the Library, sending those through, completed, at 11.24, and that’s my urgent work done. Incidentally, I seem to have been having more success logging on to the Library’s free wi-fi this week – it has been playing me up since before Christmas and despite their best efforts, the dedicated IT Support people couldn’t crack the reason why. Maybe they have fixed something at their end using all the information I gave them, including my AirPort ID number. It’s still not 100% efficient, but after that nightmare patch during which I couldn’t even log in and was forced instead to resentfully use up the monthly capacity of my dongle, I’m grateful for anything.
That said, I couldn’t get a network at all when I needed to send off my work, so I was forced into Costa in St Pancras (the station itself, paradise that it is, has free wi-fi). Here, I cashed in the chips on my loyalty swipe card for a £2.45 medium soya latte – unlike the other chains, they do not charge extra for soya – and completed my business. I can’t work out if it’s the Library or my ageing MacBook that’s the problem, but if the AirPort picks up St Pancras wi-fi instantly, it can’t be me, can it? I found myself at the centre of an uninvited commotion in Costa when, having picked up my coffee and paid, the metal rack where they display some cakes fell off the counter and onto me. It crashed to the floor, and I heard myself exclaim, “Fuck!” It must have been pretty precariously balanced to fall off the counter, but my first thought was to apologise to those in the queue behind me for saying, “Fuck!” “Sorry for swearing,” I said, which I hope was appreciated.
The Costa staff, whose rapid response was admirable, asked me if I was OK. I was OK. I was more worried about a) swearing in mixed company, and b) the wasted cakes. Maybe they put them back in the booby-trapped display rack and sold them. They were certainly picked up within the boundaries of the Five Second Rule.
Anyway, here’s a picture of me in the Piazza outside the British Library to calm me, and you, down.
(If you look in the bottom left-hand corner behind the woman’s head, you can just make out one of the seven yellow signs that read CAUTION: STEPS.)
Another achievement: yesterday, I finished reading almost every word of last week’s New Yorker, which included a great expanded book review about Major General William “Wild Bill” Donovan who was put in charge of America’s Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War, a lyrical overview of Abbas Kiarostami’s films, a hilarious memoir by Tina Fey about her time as head writer on Saturday Night Live, a review of a New York revival of Jason Miller’s play That Championship Season and a nice piece about the father of gerontology, G Stanley Hall. Add that to the BP oil spill epic and you’ve got what counts as a vintage issue of the magazine. I don’t usually read all of it. The new issue has arrived to replace it, and there’s one piece I fancied on first flick through, something about writer’s block in Hollywood. Could be a bit heavy with roughage, this one. We’ll see.
My next stop is a studio in Central London where Mr Blue Sky is being edited, and where the new scene I have written will be recorded. Enjoying the Grinderman album, by the way.