Maybe you’d like to see more of my work, perhaps in a convenient paper form that’s easily stored in a vertical position on pieces of wood that you’ve cunningly attached to your walls.
Yes, I’m talking books. I’ve written plenty of them but only two have been published. Yes, it is a crying shame.
The first was called ‘Second-Class Male’ and that is me pretending to be Stan Madeley, the UK’s top Richard Madeley lookalike. It was a spinoff from a mildly notorious website I created and wrote for a couple of years, The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society. Before you ask, no, I wasn’t a Richard Madeley fan. It was meant to be a comment on celebrity culture and the way that people project value on work when they think it’s created by a celebrity. The whole thing became a bit of a nightmare, if I’m honest. I’d get emails from people, telling me I was a genius and the rest. Once they realised I wasn’t Richard Madeley, I became a sad arsehole who should get a life. That experience is very sobering and makes you realise how much of the world is a sham.
The book belongs to the Henry Root tradition in that I wrote to lots of famous (and not so famous people). I was also lucky to be published by the legendary (well, in my mythology, at least) Michael O’Mara, who had known and published William Donaldson (Henry Root) as well as other letter books. I believe the results speak for themselves, though I never understood the lack of sales (though I have some dark theories about that!) Honestly, it’s a book that I occasionally go back and read, only to find myself creased over with laughter. I still can’t believe it was “me” writing it. Click on the link to take you to Amazon. There might still be copies.
My next book was actually a sequel to Madeley but it wasn’t published. It was going to be called The Hollywood Letters. I have some amazing souvenirs from that work, hand written letters from some of the biggest Hollywood names. What I discovered was the odd fact that it’s easier to get replies from megastars than it is from crappy UK celebrities. Somewhere in a box, I have handwritten letters from Martin Sheen, David Hyde Pierce, Roman Polanski (book if you must), Karen Allen, John Landis, Bob Newhart, and too many to list. Would have been a good book.
Of course, I didn’t get a reply every time. Sometimes I just got a signed photo but it does mean I have a drawer full of pictures like this. Loved Don Rickles.
So, where was I? Okay. Books that I couldn’t sell. There were a few before The Secret Lives of Monks which, despite the title, is a book aimed at and atheists.
Why monks? I’ve only been to London about five times in my life (including once when I went to meet Michael O’Mara to sign the Madeley contract and the one time in my life when I got to feel like a real writer). One of the other occasions was when I happened to fall fortunate and land myself an unwanted return ticket to London. I had no reason to go to London except I knew there was a Ralph Steadman exhibition at The Cartoon Museum. My plan was to jump on the train, go to the museum, worship at the Temple of Steadman, jump back on the train and come back North.
Except, when I got there, I walked in to find Steadman sitting in the gallery. He was going to do a signing. Cue hours of anxious doubt. Should I/shoulnt’t I? In the end, I did and eventually got to exchange brief words with him, which was me being a gormless idiot and him telling me what I’m sure he tells everybody: throw ink on the page and see where it takes you. Well, that’s not easy. I don’t generally use ink (far too expensive), but I tried it once. I got a splotch onto which I drew a triangle like a nose. It looked like a monk. About 300 cartoons later, I had enough good ones to make a book.
Well, that’s how I remember it. Click the cover to take you to Amazon. There might also be copies available (and please avoid second-hand sales until you really can’t afford it. I make nothing from those!)
I have other books, variously out there under a variety of fake names. You might be able to find them. I even wrote one book of fake-erotica which still amuses me but perhaps wouldn’t amuse everybody. There’s probably only so many times you can read about somebody sucking on somebody’s heptic cusp before it stops being funny.
My next book? I still hope it might be The Snoot, a 160-page poem about the adventures of a runaway nose. I finished that last year. It was inspired by Edward Gorey’s books and is suitable for children ages 35 and up, though probably also suitable for younger children too. This is the cover. There’s no point clicking. It doesn’t exist beyond a few copies I had printed. I was in the process of looking for a publisher when Coronavirus hit…