Tuesday 15 July 2008

Contemplating my final boat race

14st 0lb; 2.3 units of alcohol yesterday; precisely 1,300 days left; Limbo.

I slept well enough but woke early. In the ensuing period of doziness, before my entirely hypothetical alarm clock went off, I had a series of bizarre dreams in which I was on a ferry with one of my oldest school friends, and lost my temper with him because he failed to get his belongings together in time for us to disembark at the correct stop. Later the two of us were sharing some lodgings which I found thoroughly disgusting. No doubt this all foreshadows our imminent journey across the Styx and the sub-standard accommodation lined up for us in Hades.

Months ago I was persuaded, against my better judgement, to return to London on Thursday to have dinner with a former client and one of my ex-colleagues in the increasingly glamorous world of financial public relations. I said that I would do so only if I received a cast iron guarantee that the event would not be cancelled at short notice, as it was the last time I arranged to make the trip. Yesterday I received a mildly annoying e-mail asking me to make the final choice of restaurant, deciding between one I have always wanted to visit, but which was booked for a two hour slot at a not altogether user-friendly time; and another which I know very well. I was too tired even to think about it yesterday, but reluctantly plumped for the second option this morning. No sooner had I e-mailed my decision than I received a follow-up message to say that the ex-client had cancelled. The ****. I cannot abandon my trip to London as I have arranged a lunch on the back of the dinner engagement, but I could at least return to Northumberland the same day. Except that a look at the National Express website quickly confirmed that the cost of altering my train ticket to do this exceeded by some margin the saving I would make on overnight accommodation.

Still, some things are going surprisingly right. For a kick-off, when I got back home yesterday I found that I had received another reply to the spoof advertisement for a wife or girlfriend I placed on my other website four years ago. The first response came in April this year, when the Less Tall Cheshire Brunette e-mailed me about her attractive friend and it all went horribly wrong (from her point of view) and she ended up going out with me herself. Very spookily, the second e-mail is also from a woman writing on behalf of a friend, who has the same Christian name and whose surname starts with the same letter of the alphabet as the lady with whom the LTCB was trying to fix me up. At least this one attaches a picture. Her friend looks very nice. Why do things like this only start turning up when one is happily attached? Another fine example of Sod’s Law in action.

I have also been engaged in an entertaining (to me) e-mail correspondence with the Radio 4 newsreader and continuity announcer Kathy Clugston, who unsurprisingly took exception to some of the comments I have made about her in this blog. I must say that I was mortified when her initial witty remonstrance turned up, as it had never occurred to me that she might read my comments. It’s amazing the things that turn up if you try Googling yourself, which sounds a bit like a sexual practice now I come to think about it. I’d still rather have my news read by an Englishman with an RP accent, ideally dressed in a dinner jacket and called something like Alvar Lidell. But at least I now regard the lady herself in a warm and friendly sort of way, as I know that she has an extremely good sense of humour.

It demonstrates once again the value of a PR tactic which I have recommended to many clients over the years: don’t harbour resentments or seek retribution when people are rude about you in the media. Just ring them up and ask them out for a drink or a coffee so that you can explain your point of view. I don’t recall it ever making matters worse, and in a number of cases it has converted sworn enemies into unlikely and enduring friends.

Now, of course, I have the challenge of finding someone else I can be rude about instead, to release some of the venom from my system in the first instance; and then, with a bit of luck, to obtain an introduction to them when they write to me to complain. I fear that I must conclude this posting so that I can go and conduct a Google search for Page 3 girls and lingerie models who might be suitable to slag [sic] off.

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