Every week I see famous folk sit on programmes at the Beeb and talk about their latest book. I turn to my wife and assure her its ok they’ll be doing a special feature about my book(s) tomorrow. But as you know tomorrow never comes. I decided to do something about it instead of moaning all the time. I shall write to a book programme at Beeb I thought. So I prepared this letter:
To “Open Book, BBC Radio 4, Broadcasting House, London W1A 1AA
I am an artist/author and have recently written, illustrated, designed and published a new book, The Shrewd Idiot. I would like to have it considered for a slot on your book programme. Below are two blogs about its launch in Colchester Arts Centre. I shall be doing another (London) Launch at the Book Art Book shop near Old St station on 26 January 2018
The first blog is about the launch gig:
This second one has some great photos of the gig but you’ll have to skip all my mention of a Van gig I went to see in Birmingham. I live near Colchester so can get into London easily if anyone wishes to see my book(s).
Then I went on th’Internet to get the email of someone I could send it to. Their page politely informed me that they don’t review books but I could join a writers group and write to a title then submit it to see if I could gain a commission for a play or drama etc. But that’s not what am interested in. I’ve done the writing, laid out the pages and published the book to my own high expectations and I just want a couple of minutes on The One Show or Graham Norton to talk to the viewers about my efforts and the books’ contents and the beautiful (I think) art in them. But like you, I know it’s never going to happen.
*[I know, you know, we all know my chances of getting ‘exposure’ in any institutional outlet; galleries, TV, radio, shops etc is about as possible as hens growing teeth…and I mean big teeth like a lions! But I like to embarrass them by having the temerity to arsk to be let in. In fact I have had considerable ‘success’ over the past 50 years since I began my work as a thinking adult and am not complaining.]
And The Tate too!
Each time I publish a book with an ISBN number I show it to reps of the Tate bookshop, the most recent being of course The Shrewd Idiot the guy got back to me and said, “I can see great effort has been expended but it’s a pass from me I’m afraid.” I can understand his reluctance because afterall they wouldn’t sell at Tate cos am not famous. It’s not just Tate that’s hard to get a foot in the door to. It’s most all of them, I know, I have tried for 50 years. I had to learn to do without them. I survived. I already had more than 21 solo exhibitions in my adopted homeland, Essex. In some quarters they call me Burnley Pete. But I only lived in Bly for 15 years, 1954-69 and I have lived in Essex since 1973, that’s 44 years and counting. However you can take the boy out of Lancashire but you can’t take the Burnley out of this lad. I still speak in th’dulcit tones of ma home town and am proud to have spent my formative years there where I learned a lot.
I do have some good news, Rough Trade. Rough Trade have taken a copy of The Shrewd Idiot into their Brick Lane shop and placed some stuff about it on their website. Here’s a link to it: https://roughtrade.com/gb/books/the-shrewd-idiot
The story in The Shrewd Idiot predates the start of Rough Trade’s trading (1976) as the book’s about my days between Burnley & Exeter & Bournemouth between 1969-73. And I have it on good authority that the book takes you back to the early 1970s, like a time machine.
After my gig to launch the book at Colchester Arts Centre I had a debrief with the Honorary Doctor who runs tha place and he said I should cut it to 20 minutes and he’ll consider finding it a slot sometime. That gives me incentive to go back to my drawing board and tighten the whole thing up. I learnt a great deal doing it there and I know what not to do next time and what I’d aim to do to improve it.
Talking Colchester there’s an exhibition of work by the members of The Colchester Art Society on at the Minories and I had two prints accepted and hung. They did not hang my surreal portrait of John Atkins talking about UFOs with Ken Campbell cos it was rather big, which is a shame, cos John was one of the town’s favourite authors ever. The bloke smoking is the ghost of Dylan Thomas who John used to play darts with in London when he was editor of Tribune. Here’s the obit I helped prepare for the Guardian.
Ken appeared at Colchester Arts Centre several times and was one of the HonDoctor’s favourite ever performers. They’re both up in the clouds now talking to their hearts’ content. Bless them both, I loved them both.
Someone else we loved, Pauline, a friend for most of the years we’ve lived in Essex, (who used to teach in the Maldon area before moving to Colchester), died last week from the effects of cancer. Pauline was renowned for her dry wit and for ‘calling a pot black,’ because she pulled no punches when commenting on hypocrisy and false values… she also called her black cat Boudicca. Sadly she won’t be able to go to her second daughter’s wedding in a few weeks’ time, which she was hoping to do, but she was there to help her daughter choose the dress. Bless her too. She’ll be watching from a safe distance.
That reminds me of a lovely story about the great physicist Richard Feynman. He had married a woman who was the love of his life but she contracted a life shortening condition whilst still quite young. Feynman continued to communicate to her after she died and eventually sent her a parcel on which he put, ‘Address unknown’. Saying,
“My darling wife, I do adore you.
I love my wife. My wife is dead.
PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.”
That’s beautiful, like Feynman was too. He makes science seem possible, he enthused me to look at science AND he played bongos. On that bong I shall finish.
And as the snow takes over throughout Britain, if you find yourself hunkering down with not so much to do, why not go back to look at this blArt I did summarising my year of 2015 in which I became an OPA (Opsimath Performance Artist). https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/lookin-back/