I found myself cursing Uncle Ben’s yesterday. Not because of the news that they’re about to undergo a name change. I’d bought their Spicy Mexican rice not realising that I wanted “Mexican-style” rice. The difference is sweetcorn, a substance that was put on this earth simply to torture me. I’m not sure why it exists and I’m even more confused why anybody would put it in a food. The insides are pure statch but the husk is indigestible. The native Americans used to process the stuff by soaking it in alkaline water. That’s called ‘nixtamalization’ and makes the stuff easier to digest but most of the time it isn’t.
I am, however, happy that the name is changing. It seems long overdue when you consider how front-and-centre this remnant of America’s slave culture has been. There was a time when this would irritate me. Part of my Asperger’s is that I hate change. I love routines – such as writing a blog around 11am every day – but in some ways I’ve learned to adapt. It’s odd but I found myself feeling like this ever since I reconciled myself to the fact that James Bond would never be the same again.
I grew up watching Bond films and, like most kids, was as big Bond fan. I probably remained a fan because after one of my degrees, I was bought a signed photo of Connery as Bond, which now hangs above my desk next to my signed photo of Sparks (another gift). When I got older, my love for Bond split. In one part of my brain, I learned to enjoy the campness of the Moore years; the kinds of films that you could watch on a rainy cold Saturday and simply find yourself cheering along to the bad jokes and his looks to camera. I might be the only person who loves A View To A Kill and For Your Eyes Only. Don’t @ me. I can’t explain why, either.
In other part of my brain, I still love the Fleming novels, as well as the one non-Fleming novel written/finished by Kingsley Amis. Beyond that, however, Bond was becoming something I just didn’t recognise. Much as I liked Daniel Craig’s portrayal as the burnt-out spy, his body battered and bruised just like the Bond of the novels, he simply wasn’t Fleming’s Bond. He felt almost as bad as the terrible Bond of the Jeffrey Deaver novel. When people started to talk about Iris Elba as a replacement, I figured why not. Bond was gone anyway. We’re a postmodern people. Let’s embrace new narratives. Let’s have fun again.
Uncle Bens never meant a fraction of what Bond meant to me growing up. I’m not sure if people are going to protest, stand guard around the rice section in Tesco, but I remember the controversy around Robinson’s jam when they got rid of the ‘golly’. People said life would never be the same and that a “fine tradition” was being lost in the name of political correctness. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever missed it. Didn’t buy Robinson’s jam and more or any less. So long as Uncle Ben’s in its new guise can clearly label which microwavable rices have bloody sweetcorn in them, it really doesn’t matter to me.
In other news: read through my entire book again last night. I don’t know how it happened except I was enjoying it too much. Another read – a few fixes, a few added jokes – and I feel so much better about it. It’s pretty good for what it is.
In the process of uploading it to Amazon, I wondered about creating an ‘Author’s Page’ to bring all my books under one place. In the process, I accidentally looked at the star rating for my first book, which made my stomach lurch. I’ve always been proud of the Stan Madeley letters. People I know loved it. People I didn’t know loved it. I’d had so many 5* reviews that I’d stopped looking so I wouldn’t be disappointed. Last night, I think it was down to a 3 or 4, which is awful. I’d had some 1 star reviews through Amazon’s Vine system, where people get books free in order to review them. It was a dumb stunt played – I assume by my publisher at the time – giving books to people who would never buy comedy.
Still, took a bit of hit in the confidence jubblies with that one.
Today, I’m writing about John Bolton and then I’m going to get the book finished so I can stop boring you all with it. I want to add one drawing to the first story and then I’m done. The book can then re-enter circulation never to be read and ignored forever, which I guess is better than more 1-star reviews.
Mmm… Last word on that. Star systems are crazy. I’ve never liked them. It’s the pure expression of the wisdom of the crowd which, as you might know by now, I doubt is a reasonable system for critiquing anything except perhaps kitchen utensils. A friend I record a podcast with keeps telling me that my work is too clever for most people. I never know how to take that. All I know is that it’s the stuff that entertains me and I hope will entertain people like me. I really don’t care about the rest. Except, of course, when they rate me. Then it just hurts.