Magazine article The Spectator

Problem Page

Magazine article The Spectator

Problem Page

Article excerpt

So my spiffing mother in law didn't sink the Bismarck after all. Ah well, at least I now know that Ludovic Kennedy (Letters, 13 February) reads my column, which is ample compensation. I know it's sad and pathetic of me but I always get terribly excited when I discover that famous people read my stuff. It almost makes me feel that my life so far hasn't been a total waste. Almost. But I can't pretend I'm terribly happy with the way things are going at the moment. A month ago I was absolutely convinced that this would be the year when I became incredibly rich and famous. But now everything has gone pear-shaped.

Problem number one is that my thrilling shark novel, fin, isn't going to come out until summer 2000. And I know I should be delighted that I'm being published by the ineffably cool Picador and that Peter Straus is actually going to edit the book himself, but all I can think is `Bugger! I've got to wait until the year two bloody thousand until I become the hot new literary sensation. If I'm not dead by then.'

Problem number two concerns my aspirant television career. I recently auditioned for this job presenting a new BBC food programme and I reckon I would have been brilliant. Annoyingly though, as soon as I went in front of the camera for my screen test, I turned into this horrible grinning, cheesy TV-presenter-type monster like the sort of people you see on Home Front (BBC 2). Whereas what they were looking for, I think, was me as I am normally. So I didn't get.it.

Problem number three concerns my fivebedroom Georgian town house with a huge garden. I don't have one. So what I thought would be nice is if another famous reader, say the Sultan of Brunei, could bung me a million quid to help me out. If there's any change, I think I'd also buy a casa in southem Spain - near Gaucin, say - because I've just spent the last week there and I find it very simpatico.

Which brings me neatly on to television. Because I was away I asked my lovely editor Liz and her delightful deputy Emma to order me up some tapes for when I got back. Unfortunately, only one of the tapes contained a programme broadcast this week and it really wasn't much cop.

The programme was a Cutting Edge (Channel 4, Monday) about the people who hang out on Clapham Common. …

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