My Baby Done Gone, 2005 Edition
So here we are again. Where? Here. Where we were a little more than a year ago. In the land of post-partum depression or separation anxiety or what do you think this is, a hotel?. In short, we’ve finished another book. Your well-meaning if surly and inelegant hosts have written another book, which includes the process of finishing writing another book. We have put words down on screen, one after another, patiently piling Pelion on Ossa, except on those days when we opted to pile Ossa on Pelion; one after another, I tell you, until after awhile, after a week or two or three, we had a whole paragraph. Then hey! no sooner had we caught our breath than we were off for the next height. On it went, on and on, while the leaves flew off the calendar, and the flowers bloomed and then withered, the rain fell and the wind blew, the snow piled high and then thawed, the cat threw up and the dog slept, until finally, lo, the land was still and hushed, and there was a great calm upon the waters, and all creation held its breath, and then – in that moment, O best beloved – Jeremy pressed ‘Send’ –
And that was that.
Got that? We done written another book. We’ve finished. We finished today – just now – a couple of hours ago. Therefore soon – i.e. early next year, which is not exactly ‘soon,’ but these things are relative, and I don’t want to go to the damn lighthouse anyway – soon there will be another book with our names on it that people can read and make fun of. It’s not the same kind of book as the last one. Not satirical. Not ironic, not even zany madcap. Although it does have moments – quite a few, actually – where if you look very hard in a strong light, you can just make out a sneer.
But basically it’s serious. (Oooh, serious. Yes very droll, now go away.) It’s called Why Truth Matters and its subject is how to raise angora rabbits.
Which raises an interesting issue, actually. Because my colleague is famed far and wide (meaning, from Cheam to Sutton and back again) as a liar. Everyone who knows him (which is in the high one figures, which is a lot more people than know me) falls to the floor laughing when told that he is writing a book about truth. ‘You! writing a book about truth!’ they exclaim, sobbing with hilarity. ‘How can you write a book about truth when you’re such a liar?!’ Then they call to other people who are in the vicinity, and share the joke with them, and pretty soon the room is filled with people sprawling about positively shrieking with laughter. My colleague takes it all with quiet dignity, as is his wont. He doesn’t allow mockery and incredulity to deflect him from his chosen path. No, he simply wedges a chair under the doorknob so that no one can get in, and carries on putting down words on the screen, just as he ought to.
I don’t have that problem, because I am known far and wide as honest OB, because of that time I gave a guy his glass eye back. Okay that’s an old W C Fields joke, and I tell quite a few whoppers myself, but people are too afraid of me to mock the way they mock my colleague. They know damn well I’d shop them to the committee, or else sneak up on them and kick them when they weren’t expecting it, so they mind their manners.
It actually is called Why Truth Matters, and its subject matter is pretty much what you’d expect the proprietors of B&W to write about – only more so. It’s good, actually. Somewhat to my surprise. It’s very various, despite being thematically unified; it goes in a lot of directions, but also ties together; it has some new ideas, and it deals with interesting subjects. Okay I never said I was modest. Honest, and frightening, yes, but not modest. But no actually it has to do with the material, as well as with our undeniable talent. The material just is interesting – as you all know, because why else are you here? Unless of course it’s because you’re afraid I’ll sneak up behind you and kick you if you try to leave. I might, too.