09 January 2009


I let slip about a PR gaffe with the great Gore Vidal and my sharpest commenter goes "Oh do tell."

Fair 'nuff.

It was back in my book publicist days and must have been in the mid 1970s because that's when I was involved with Heinemann PR hackery.

I can't remember the exact title involved and it doesn't matter because Gore was Gore and everyone wanted to interview him and to hell with what he'd actually written. The ideal author to plug: lie back, think of England, and choose which media to favour.

So there we were in the Heinemann boardroom, Charles Pick, Nigel, Tim et al dancing attendance, beautiful editorial gels keeping our glasses freshed as the great man regaled us with that day's publicity grilling.

Some prefect offered toadily that "Gosh, Gore, you were a real trouper ... they were all over you." to which GV replied in his patrician tones, "And they certainly got their pound of flesh." Laughter.

Up chirps Holmes, "Now you know how the Queen feels."

Now why did I say that? I was young, I wanted to inject a reminder that the PR drudge had just a leetle say in the various press coups over which we were slapping each other on the back.

But 'how the queen feels'??

Dead silence. Then Gore, with whom I'd built a good relationship as I hawked him up 'n' down the country ... he looks round, sensing his moment to kill:

"Yes indeed. [Killer pause]. I just wonder if Christopher is really cut out for public relations."

Laughter breaks the tension, I blush and stammer "What I meant ..."

'Dear boy, we *know* what you meant.'

But it's ok because the fatted sacrificial lamb had been de-throated and the managers are safe.

Later by the drinks table, his voice in my ear, "Did I crucify you back there"

"Mr Vidal, to be 'crucified' by you is tantamount to being canonised by any mere mortal author."

"Mister, is it now? That'll teach me to pick on the one man in this room who's made all this mahvelous publicity possible.

Yes, Charles, with you in a moment. I'm just checking with Christopher that you're treating him nicely and that he'll stay put for my next book." Strained smiles.

1 comment :

Ashley said...

He was a student of my great-grandfather's. Strange, small world.

Your majesty is like a dose of the clap.


I wish I'd said that.

You will, Oscar, you will.