1. I seem not to be reading at the moment. I absolutely hate it when this happens as my head becomes progressively messier and messier. The reason I am not reading (I think) is that I have several new projects to start, and because I can’t decide where to begin, I am rushing about in a state of confusion, not actually doing anything. I need to start on one and focus, and frankly any one will do. I don’t know how I can manage to be so busy and yet achieve nothing; it’s a complete mystery to me how easily this happens.
2. Mister Litlove told me about a stirring speech by Armando Iannuci, given at the BAFTA television awards. Iannuci is the creative force behind programmes such as The Thick of It and its American counterpart, Veeps. He argues that the system in the UK for commissioning new television programmes is dysfunctional; the relationship between the people holding the money and those with the creativity is all wrong in its power imbalance. Money rules, leading to what he terms ‘a culture of caution and compliance’. In other words, too many programmes are made to order, based on previously successful shows, spawning that irritating rash of clones, and pared back to the bone economically, all of which strangles the proper creativity that could actually produce exciting new television. You can read the lecture here. I think it’s perfectly applicable to publishing at present, too, and it’s good that someone important is speaking up about it. It pains me that creativity, one of the very best human assets we have, is so beleaguered and undervalued. On a different note, when I asked Mister Litlove to give me the details of this story again, he had just taken a bite of lunch and so I thought the guy’s name was Amanda, which was very confusing. Once we’d sorted that out, I asked for the surname again. But he’d taken another bite and we could both see the wisdom in giving up at that point.
3. Last night the bookshop where I work had a party. This was perplexing to all the people walking by on the street who could see the lights on and the staff milling about but couldn’t get in the locked door. It was a very pleasant evening, although I wasn’t in a party mood. I’d sat down in the chair at a quarter past four and the next thing I knew I was waking up at six, and all evening I had that feeling of not being fully conscious. I do work with some amusing people, though. When I arrived, it was to find the manager and one of the most senior volunteers sizing up whether to have another glass of wine (or at least persuading themselves that they could). ‘Now that I’m past 70,’ said the senior volunteer, ‘I find the chances of having a really wild night out are few and far between.’ That made me laugh.
4. Mister Litlove was also telling me about a new kind of predictive text that analyses your messages and starts to make suggestions for words before you have typed anything at all. I call that plain presumptuous. He told me about this after I’d described texting on my ancient phone under the benignly contemptuous gaze of my son, who marvelled at the inconvenience of it beeping with every key I pressed. But at least it is not so rude as to claim to know what I’m going to say before I’ve even said it. It made me want to take the app on, just to prove to it that there would be some people whose messages it could never guess. It makes me want to shout: Resist these attempts to curtail your individual uniqueness! I really do not think I am the prime recipient of new technology.
5. This weekend. Clear head. Finish books that have been hanging around for ages. Fresh start. I don’t even want to suggest titles of books I might read next. I feel the need to surprise even myself. What’s everyone else doing?
6. Oh and I forgot! I happened to catch this blog on technorati, where it turns out I’m in the top hundred book blogs. I found that really cheering as I usually do dreadfully on league tables. So that was a good thing. I must remember now never to check it again, and thereby avoid the inevitable disappointment.