Magazine article The Spectator

Status Anxiety: Toby Young

Magazine article The Spectator

Status Anxiety: Toby Young

Article excerpt

Credit: Toby Young

I went to a meeting at Penguin earlier this week to discuss 'publicity opportunities' for my forthcoming book. Chance would be a fine thing, I thought. It's essentially a guide to what's in the new national curriculum, how it's likely to be taught at primary schools and what parents can do at home to supplement it. Surely, not a single radio or television producer will be interested in that ?

No, no, no, said the crack publicity team at Penguin. You're quite wrong. This book's going to get a ton of media attention. There are two reasons for this, apparently. First, the book is called What Every Parent Needs to Know and no one considering whether to cover it in their programme is going to bother opening the book or finding out what's inside. They won't even read the dust jacket. The mere fact that it's got something to do with parenting -- it really doesn't matter what -- will be enough for them to pick up the phone to the Penguin publicity department.

When I was told this, I immediately had a panic attack. What will I say when Holly Willoughby turns to me on ITV's This Morning and asks me what age parents should start potty-training their children? Or how many hours of television a day is bad for them? Or whether it's ever acceptable to smack them? Before I've had a chance to collect my thoughts, Katie Hopkins, who'll be next to me on the sofa, will jump in with some inflammatory remark and I won't even be a bit player in the ensuing Twitter storm. It'll be caught-in-the-headlights time with me feeling like a complete fraud.

But it turns out I needn't worry, which brings me to the second reason the book is going to get shedloads of publicity -- my co-author Miranda Thomas. I've known Miranda since we were undergraduates together at Oxford and she's everything I'm not. Where I'm frivolous and shallow, she's serious-minded and clever. I pursued a career in the media while she became a physics teacher, and whereas I've spent the past five years upsetting almost everybody in the educational establishment, she's quietly been getting on with chairing the governing body of her local primary. I think she even votes Labour.

'I wouldn't worry too much about having to juggle media appearances yourself, Toby,' said Penguin's publicist-in-chief. …

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