Saturday, November 05, 2011


Went on the occasional pilgrimage to Bluewater Shopping Thingy a couple of days ago.   Our visits usually consist of Mrs. Snopper going off with a steely determination to get what we came for, leaving me to pass the allotted time having a browse in the bookshops.   I used to go and have a coffee but it`s got silly - the cups are enormous, the coffee`s awful and the price is exhorbitant;   I`m guessing, but I suspect it`s one of those things one must `do` to be seen to be `doing` it, rather than for the enjoyment of the dubious`refreshment.`

Anyway, back to the books.   Over the last few years there has been a sharp rise in the number of `biographies` and `autobiographies` of so-called celebrities, possibly to the detriment of those for whom such tomes are more justly warranted.   There are, of course, biographies and biographies.  But some of the most compelling are of figures either from history or modern times who have lived extraordinary lives or achieved great things.  I have enjoyed and profited from reading the lives of, say, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Harold Larwood John McDouall Stuart.  Not every one`s cup of tea maybe but still infinitely more substantial than some of those currently on offer in the pre-Christmas bonanza.

And so it was with an air of shrugging resignation that I noticed the `authors` who were due to turn up at Waterstone`s in Bluewater to sign copies of their volumes for an expectant gaggle of admirers.   The pneumatic Katie Price, whose claim to fame seems to be that she is, errr, Katie Price. The insolence that is James Corden, who is one of the ranks of modern day `comedians` who peddle the notion that if you are offensive and loud then you are automatically funny.   Couldn`t be more wrong.   And the third `author` billed to arrive is one Tinie Tempah.   No, I`d never heard of him (or her) either.

Now it`s one thing for these and a whole host of other self-publicising nonentities to make a few bob on the back of their counterfeit status (and who can blame them for that) but it`s quite another to realise that they might actually represent the popular culture of modern day Britain.  And even more sadly, those who will make the journey, queue up, buy the books, have them signed and go away thinking they have acquired something of value and with it some status of their own, says it all really about the  way we are these days.  

 I`ve been told that Claire Tomalin has a new biography out - of Charles Dickens who, despite being born in Portsmouth, seems to fall well within the category of being both extraordinary and achieving great things.   I quite expect to get far more from that than I ever will from the combined ghost written ramblings of Price, Corden, Tempah and the rest.

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