So, Wednesday. I spent most of the morning preparing for the afternoon, which was when I was booked to do a television show called Before the Booker, in which four talking heads, a chair and a studio audience discuss the four nominated books of a given year, which might be anything from 1800 to 1969 when the Booker actually started. My year was 1954 and we were discussing Lord of the Flies, Lucky Jim, Doris Lessing's A Proper Marriage and the book I was there to defend, The Two Towers.
Now, this was something which felt a bit like a set-up, since you know what literary folk mostly think about Tolkien and modish journalist/politician/media folk are much worse, because they are less amenable to argument. On the other hand, one of the things I know about my colleagues in the trade is that most of them are lazy and do little research. I spent a couple of hours checking out the opinions of my fellow panellists, which meant that I knew a little bit about the buttons to press.
Now, there is telling lies, which I never do, and there is spin, which I don't have to, because my reasons for going on liking things tend to be interesting and complex. So, my presentation of Tolkien as a poetic novel about the destruction and recuperation of the natural world, inspired by the experience of the trenches and imbued with a redemptive homoeroticism about the chaste love of comrades was not actually in any way untrue. That really is, when you come down to it, why I like it now.
Tactically, I let the boy from the Torygraph and the evil but charming Douglas Hurd (Thatcher's Foreign Secretary) snark about the Lessing and formed a PC alliance with Yasmin Alibhai Brown, righteous lefty journalist with not much sense of humour and a slightly improving view of art, to go after the Amis. Because the Amis is a lot less good and less invulnerable than people think. The thing is, you don't make the PC points - the character of Margaret is a disgusting lampoon of Larkin's mistress Monica Jones - you make the literary point - the plotting gets lazy in the ways it makes Margaret the villain, possibly because Amis was more concerned with inflicting pain on an individual than making a plausible character - that gets you the PC votes on the audience without alienating the literary ones. In the end, Lord of the Flies won, as I always knew it would, but I managed to make Two Towers come in a close second. It says bad things about my character, but I love doing television. Apparently I was impressive on this show and maybe that will get me some more work of this kind. Ah, careerism.
Trouble is, it will go out on BBC3 and no-one will see it. I don't even know the transmission date yet.
Then I dashed off to Trafalgar Square to join the vigil outside South Africa House about the distribution of HIV drugs and the policies of the drugs companies and the scientific obscurantism of President Mbeki. It was being addressed by Zachie Achmet, the man who is refusing to take his retrovirals until the poor can get them, a saint and martyr whom I met once at a dinner party in Islington. It was also being addressed by Gillian Anderson, who had just turned up - the X-files went off, but what a star she still is! And then I went off to Ian's to watch Chosen, which I am still brooding on. I will not post until I see it a second time.
I loved it absolutely to pieces though. And Cassie told true - she did tell him.
Then I got food_poisoning from greenroom sandwiches and spent yesterday being ill. Sweetie brought me home a stuffed mammoth to join the dinosaurs, dragons and dodo - she is a honey.