Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Article excerpt

I have got a computer! After all those years swearing that I wouldn't, too. I've written ten books over the past 20 years bloody brilliant ones, if I do say so myself - on a succession of, basically, toy wordprocessors, and have always laughed off the jeers of jealous journo chums by pointing out to them that, although their machines may enable them to download the new Limp Bizkit record, book their holidays in Cambodia and play Mortal Kombat with their friend in Kosovo, they've actually seen precious little active service in the way of creating anything remotely resembling an actual book. Writers are well known for their susceptibility to displacement activity, when almost anything - a little light dusting, talking trash on the phone for hours, and/or drinking oneself insensible - seems more urgent and attractive than the job in hand. A sophisticated computer simply provides numerous windows of opportunity to avoid real work even further, while giving the shirking scribe the appearance of actually buckling down to it. It seems to me that more books have not been written because of computers than have, but, as there are too many books about anyway, this is probably a good thing. So anyway, my story is that I bought my computer by default, simply because my old fax machine broke and the new one I was sold by BT turned out to have more temperament than Dusty Springfield, necessitating its swift return. The Christmas post is unreliable and, for some reason, the stingy types I work for seem to object to sending messengers from London to Brighton and back again. So a computer seemed the only option. Nevertheless, I maintained to my now smugly approving friends - `It'll change your life!' - what sort of sad, silly little life could be changed by a computer? If I figure my life needs changing I'll simply dump my nearest and dearest and run off with a young sex-pot to another town, same as I always have. The computer would only be used as a combination typewriter and fax machine. The optional extras could go hang. Especially, I vowed, I would not be one of those sad little people who spend their life and their savings on the Internet - usually feeding some fetid little fetish which previously they would have been too embarrassed to pursue in the real, face-toface world. Yet within 20 minutes of getting my beautiful, shiny, pristine new iBook out of its box, I was typing `sex with dogs' into the search engine. Sometimes I think I'm not very nice.

Apparently Dawn French is getting a bathtub specially made because she can't fit into her old one any more. I'm sorry, each to his own and all that, but I think that's disgusting. And, to make it worse, aren't French and her hubby Lenny Henry just exactly the sort of meddling, holier-thanthou luvvies who are always popping up on TV to tell us how greedy the West is and how the Africans haven't got any water? That's hardly surprising, is it, considering the amount Dawn French must use every time she fills up her new trough. Because Dawn French and I are both fat, we're supposed to be buddy-buddy, but I've never seen the logic in this and took great delight in snubbing the approaches she made to me during the Eighties. When she asked me to take part in a South Bank Show about how great fat women were and how vile thin women were, I'm afraid I sent her a very rude note telling her that I could think of nothing worse than looking at her big fat mug in the flesh every day for three weeks, so I wouldn't be joining. …

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