After a long and varied career, during which I have done many things, achieved much, and have been generally recognised to be one of the ornaments of our fair city, little now gives me pause.
I must confess that, without false modesty, I am able to turn my hand to most things and indeed excel in them. But occasionally, just occasionally, I find myself in situations where I must confess to being somewhat, albeit temporarily, at a loss.
You might remember that in a moment of mental weakness I took on the task of promoting Jim Webster’s latest story for him. In all candour how difficult could this be. I spent an afternoon looking at modern media and mapped out a strategy.
First I would pour hundreds of these dollars people go on about into the many websites that claim that they have an almost infinite multitude of frustrated readers, panting to get their hands on tales of the quality I am now pimping. They all promise such excellent results it would almost be rude not to.
That done I would merely instruct Jim’s interns to write glowing reviews of his work under false names, these would find their billet in various, prominent places where all could see and admire.
With this process underway I would crank Jim’s wallet open a little more and start casting his largesse upon those who run the book review websites. Paying them that little extra they ask for to ensure, “Your book comes to the front of the queue.”
So I presented my plan to Jim and ran into immediate problems. He couldn’t bring himself to do it.
Initially I assumed it was merely some residual moral scruples which I could rapidly overcome by explaining the situation more rapidly and pouring him a stiff drink, but no; it was the problem of the budget.
Now I’m no stranger to budgetary difficulties myself, over the years I’ve seen them come and go, and occasionally to linger, unwanted and unloved, for months.
But no it wasn’t just that there were budgetary problems, there was merely one problem, there was no budget.
This I confess was something of a blow. When I saw the sad jest that he would acquire a euphonium which he would play outside the homes of potential purchasers until they gave in and bought a book, I had thought it was just a jest. But given the parlous state of the finances, it has to be said that it is one of the more viable options we have available.
The good news is that he cannot play the euphonium so doubtless can continue this form of selling for a considerable period with no chance that inadvertent improvement that might reduce the impact of the technique.
Eventually I made my way through the city to Nighbell Point and to the beaches further north where I could sit and ponder the problems in peace. As I wandered along I came upon and attractive young woman who was relaxing in the autumn sunshine. Seeing my harrowed brow and grim expression, she took pity on me and asked me what was troubling me.
Obviously I explained the whole situation, after all she might have some contribution to make, under the circumstances, her suggestions could hardly prove less useful than mine.
Instead she clapped her hands together with every sign of joy and said, “Oh good, I did so enjoy his previous stories, I shall have to buy this one as well.”
This did boost my spirits somewhat; after all it was most unlikely that she was his mother.