Shamefully, I have remained silent online for a little while. As usual, and like most politicians, I have a defence (I can already see the pitchforks, clubs and swords of my massed fans coming over the horizon.......OK, there's a woman walking past my house with an umbrella....). Firstly, my wife has been sick for a while – nothing serious, but debilitating nonetheless – and finding time to blog isn't easy when I have my day filled with carrying trays of food, hot tea, honey and lemon and soothing salves and poultices to and from the bedroom (some of that – in fact almost all of it – may not be entirely truthful).
Secondly, I've been working ridiculous hours at work – not a ridiculous amount of hours, you understand, but more like hours arranged in a way to clinically – some may say cunningly - shut down almost every grey cell in my tiny, walnut-sized brain. This, too, makes blogging a less than straightforward (or satisfying) task to perform, as most of my cognitive powers have been engaged in successfully negotiating tricky jobs such as walking in straight lines, chewing my food sufficiently to allow me to swallow it, and not stopping breathing.
Finally, I too have been sick (courtesy of my recently equally sick but nevertheless gorgeous wife) of late. I'll spare you the grisly details (although I'm not sure why, since I usually take a grim - if great - delight in passing on the ways in which my decrepit body toys with my mood), but suffice it to say that I was laid low with the dreaded crusticles of the alveoli. Don't ask me what that means; I only just made it up and haven't thought about it properly yet.
Over the last couple of weeks, one issue did grab my attention (if not my crusticles). I read a news item out of Italy describing how an enterprising 'journalist' (spelled l-i-t-t-l-e-s-h-i-t) had managed to ascertain and then disseminate the identity of a well-known and hitherto anonymous (she had been writing for many years under a pseudonym) author under the guise of providing a public service to the readers of her books. The pathetic excuse was that the readers had some kind of entitlement to know more about the author, since they had been kind enough to buy her work (and, I suppose, even more kindly, to have enjoyed it. The journalist tried his hardest to summon up some degree of righteous indignation about the author's wish to remain enigmatically anonymous. How dare she, after all, wish to retain her privacy?
Needless to say, I'm appalled. Firstly, I'm appalled not to have sold enough books to feel in any way threatened by this piece of crap, but never mind that (I can sit in my darkened room and become increasingly morose about it later), but mostly I'm disgusted by the journalist's attempt to justify exploding into a private citizen's life in such a way. Obviously, the argument is specious and without merit of any kind, but the idea that it can even be put forward as an excuse is rather disturbing. That anyone may agree that an author has no right to privacy from their readers is alarming (if not utterly deranged). Does, by comparison, the person who buys a loaf of bread have an entitlement to know about the private life of the baker? Do I have the right to find out more about the person who attached the upholstery to the seats of my car? Hmmm...let me think about that for a nanosecond.
Of course it's ridiculous – preposterous, even. But it does make me wonder if the ice has been broken...