July 12, 2012

The 2012 London Olympics are almost upon us.  I heard the comedian David Baddiel say on TV that sport is probably the only human endeavour at which you can say someone is truly the greatest.  That is true in respect of a person’s technical ability but the hype that surrounds it can be out of all proportion.

If British competitors fail to get more than five gold medals then many might say for the United Kingdom it has been a failure and there will be a clamour for our sporting authorities to get back to “grass roots” and search for future sporting champions.  The recent failure of Andy Murray to overcome tennis champion Roger Federer at Wimbledon is a classic example.  Prospects for a great victory ran high and the fact that he broke down after failing to best arguably the best tennis player of all time is sad.  The pressure to succeed was immense.

There has to be a sense of proportion.  The Australian cricketer and World War II fighter pilot Keith Miller summed it up for all sports when he said, “Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not”.  The sheer enjoyment of competing for your country, with and against other people must be the over riding purpose.  The result should not matter too much.  It is truly satisfying to identify that a team or competitor is the best but it is not paramount.


July 9, 2012

I was watching a re-run of a series on TV called The Agency.  Some of the story lines were controversial but the acting and the stories were very good.  Then came an episode when the heroine and hero were both in a perilous situation and it looked like they might be killed.  I waited for the next episode.  It did not come.  I thought I missed it so I shrugged and got on with other things, watched and read other stories.

Then the TV channel decided to run the series again giving me a chance to catch up with episodes I had missed.  When it came to that last episode I knew what was to happen so I skipped it and eagerly waited for the next.  It did not come.

I googled the programme name, “The Agency” and found out that the episode was the last in the series.  The TV Company had decided to axe it.  I deduced that the writers wrote the ending hoping that there would be such a clamour from the public wanting to know what had happened it would return for another season.  This is not without precedent.  Conan Doyle had tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes but such was the outcry and demand that he lived on.  It may be that the writers of The Agency thought the Company would ask them to make more episodes but the way commerce works means that this did not happen.

So I was left with what I thought was an unsatisfactory ending.  Many of us readers, listeners and watchers have experienced this.  A classic example can be heard in an old Tony Hancock sketch called the Last Page in which the final page of a paperback “Whodunit” was missing.  Only yesterday on Radio 4 I heard that Hemmingway was so undecided about the conclusion to “A Farewell to Arms” he wrote forty-seven different endings.

Recently, a friend commenting on my novel “Victim of Compromise” told me he liked it but found the ending unsatisfactory.  I thought about what he had said and mused whether I should have made the ending more of a climax.  However, I felt that the story had reached an appropriate conclusion whether satisfactory or not.

No one really likes endings.  It is the story that matters.  A good story means that everyone wants to know what happens next and that is the way it is with life.


Book Art

July 3, 2012

A book with its cover, contents and the advertising campaign that surrounds it is a complete artistic experience.  The author that produces it can have complete control when self publishing.  The downside is that the self publisher will have to bear the mistakes and the costs.  However, the pleasure at producing a work of art can more than compensate.

Books can be viewed in the same way as music albums.  The cover, the texture and the notes on the jacket can bring pleasure in themselves.  Vinyl records of 60s, 70s and 80s added visual and textural appeal to the music inside.  The smaller CD and the digital download have greatly lessened the effect.  It is still there but the influence of the complete package has decreased.

Digital ebooks have suffered the same.  However, the short-run paperback version can bring back the glamour previously shown by pulp fiction.  Shelves of nicely jacketed books can enhance its décor and bring interest to a room.

In the same way the video can promote interest, the book trailer can have the same effect and a well produced book trailer video can be a piece of art in itself.  Thus the book, its jacket and video trailer becomes an artistic composition of which the self publishing author can be proud.


Click here to view trailer                       Click here to view trailer

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