01 January 2010

PD James

'Owning' Beeb boss Mark Thompson

I would meet Baroness James of Holland Park at various book events and a formidahble lady she is, to be sure. Not one to suffer frippery faffers like me

As I read this report of her razor job on BBC Director General Mark Thompson, I could hear her measured rasping grilling and his stammered scurrying for cover.

Read it, not for this particular coal-hauling but as a model task-taking of any bloated swinging big dick who's forgotten his duty.

I was introduced by her publicist of the time at some book event. I edited the review page in some trade mag and was thought 'important'.

I kept myself short and to the point and her basilisk scrutiny never left me - reminded me of Enoch Powell's disconcerting laser gaze.

What, she was interested to know, did I think of the 'portrait' that had recently appeared in a booksy mag?

I confessed that it had drained somewhat of credibility when I saw that her Adam Dalgliesh was spelled throughout as 'ei'.

This seemed to let me thru to the next round and she asked me about my flamboyant MD and how one went about promoting the likes of Carlos Fuentes, Saul Bellow and Gunther Grass.

I replied that one didn't, one simply fielded the countless requests for interviews and tried to choreograph them in order of importance down so that none of the big beasts backed out in pique at being double dated.

I turned to PDJ's publicist, "Much like *your* job, I suspect." Toady flannel ooze.

I then dutifully trotted off to fetch something preferable to the aspro plonque, and that was my famous encounter, one of the few I've been sensible enough to leave unembroidered.


Simon Baddeley said...

Weber said technology represents crystallised social relationships. Broadcasting is an ageing technology, but because new things are not seen for what they are until after they have passed their lustiest growth, so broadcasting's replacement can only be seen in symptoms of its dilapidation - and the confused rhetoric of its more prominent agents. Those who's understanding of broadcasting is based on sixty years of its supremacy (say from 1923) may not see that it is being replaced by something whose form is no more distinct than the that of radio, let alone TV, was in the thirties. New forms tend to grow rapidly and profusely but parasitically inside the what they will eventually replace. The only way we know that something very different is evolving is through its debilitating impact on its host. Mark Thompson heads an institution harbouring a voracious tape worm. It can be seen, if not recognised until history gives it form, emerging and growing in front of us. Those most familiar with the grammar of older media are often most aware - in sensitive, even neurotic ways - to the diverse and confusing impacts of this erstwhile parasite emerging from the decay it has brought about. It as though we were watching refugees floating by us on a raft. Then - abruptly we see it is us who are drifting, and those who seemed to be bereft are now standing on new ground.

Busker said...

Egad! Good one. I really *must* subscribe to this blog - RSS-filter the comments and do without the roobish original content

Simon Baddeley said...

You're welcome on Democracy Street...especially as I know you know that 'democracy', to paraphrase Churchill, is only marginally better than totalitarianism. It requires constant tweaking to keep its beneficiaries focused on its ideals; that waging peace (my subtitle) reveals no less heroism and cowardice than war. The tests are less obvious; the trenches more shallow, and like modern war, the front-line's everywhere.