Publication Day

Stop me if I’ve said this before…

The village shopkeeper, font of all human knowledge, asked me when my latest tome was coming out.

Cobra?  It was released as an E-book on May 4th…”

“Ah.  Star Wars Day.”

“Star Wars?”

“May the fourth be with you.”

Well, it was new to me.

“…and the real thing, the Gutenberg version, comes out today.”

In fact, I’m waiting impatiently for twenty complimentary copies to arrive by courier.  Staring at a Kindle is all very well, but I need to caress my volumes.  Then I need to bite the bullet and do some marketing, which is something I’m not very good at.  It feels meretricious to walk into my local independent bookshop brandishing my tome, saying, “I am a local writer.  Please put lots of copies of this on your shelves, and organise a book signing event.”  But I’m going to brazen it out.  Some people think that self-effacement is more attractive than self-advertisement, but it’s not; it’s just easier. 

It’s a good week for publication.  In Cobra, a fiendish international criminal organisation hijacks a Trident submarine and extorts vast sums of money from the UK exchequer under threat of the annihilation of London.  Though it may not sound like it, Cobra is progressively a more and more absurd nuclear farce.  It’s topical, because the Holyrood election has just taken place.  Putting the question of political affiliations to one side for a moment, I was relieved that the complexion of the new parliament remains essentially unchanged, because that fits in well with my narrative.  And of course Trident, its proposed upgrade and expansion, remains a political hot potato.  I wonder if the subject will be raised if Mr Johnson succeeds in convening a “summit” (good Churchillian word) with the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland First Ministers.  Covid will ostensibly be top of the agenda, but I surmise the real agenda will be the hidden one, dominated by constitutional issues.  If Trident gets a look-in at all, it will be in “Any Other Competent Business”.  But it will be the elephant in the room.  You could imagine men and women of kind heart, good will, and good faith (even politicians) knocking their heads together and coming up with some compromise with respect to the complex interrelationships of the four nations, Europe, and the world.  But with Trident there is no conceivable compromise.  You either have it, or you don’t.  Mass destruction, like falling in love, getting pregnant, or dropping dead, is an all-or-nothing phenomenon.  You can’t inflict upon somebody a touch of annihilation.  Can I convince my local bookseller that this is a fitting subject for ribaldry?

Meanwhile, in England – not in Wales – the Labour Party has taken a drubbing.  It seems that political loyalties are no longer based on working class versus middle class, but rather on Brexit versus Remain.  The agony continues to reverberate.  Brexit is like phantom limb pain.  It occurs to me that all of these moderate Tory Remainers who were shunned and evicted from the corridors of power after the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union, might well now look at the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, and wish that that particular result had gone the other way.  If the EU, despite the pre-vote grandstanding, had welcomed an independent Scotland (as is the current mood music), rUK – no longer Team GB – might have been less inclined to set sail alone upon the high seas, Scotland would have kept Sterling as her currency, and there would have been no hard borders at Gretna, or in the middle of the Irish Sea.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the old-style Tory grandees would have preferred such an arrangement to the current, highly uncertain situation.  But who can tell?  The “retrospectoscope” is a notoriously unreliable instrument.               

Meanwhile my Cobra complimentary copies are quietly haemorrhaging away in the direction of friends and loved ones.  A phone call from the Isle of Skye last night, and a signed copy pledged.  Another call from New Zealand (Covid-free, God bless them), another signed copy.  Copies also pledged to Glasgow and Aberdeen.  I must take care to save a copy for that mighty organ, The Herald.         

But where the devil are my copies?  Has the express courier suffered a puncture on the Shap?  Mr Postman, look and see, if there’s a letter in your bag for me…

Die Post bringt keinen Brief für dich.

O well.  They also serve who only stand and wait.                 

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