Sour grapes or apathy?

21 Mar 2023

People here are very flattering about what I write – but Moodscope provokes such a wide range of issues – most blogs and posts lead to a train of thought. Writers can take a lot of flattery. Loved it when I would go to the Doctor and somebody would say ‘I always turn to your article first in the local rag.’ Then writing for church magazines here and in UK I’d find people were sending to far-flung friends to read my articles (world-wide, religious, social). People here often say I ought to write a book – where the problems arise, who on earth for?

I have written two historical novels, in English translated to French. I’ve approached publishers – usual reply, no historical novels, no new authors. People who have read the books (self-published) have loved them and ask for the next. Also in the same way have written about our ‘work’ and visits to India. So, sour grapes? Yes. Publishing and marketing books is an expensive business. The ‘Vet’ books (All Creatures Great and Small) were very popular. I found the last ones a re-hash. But by then the content did not matter. Everybody bought Auntie a Vet book for Christmas, assured market. Now, anybody who is a ‘name’ however briefly or notorious will get published, because even if the book is rubbish and badly written it will sell. Prince Harry is the latest and, to me, the worst – but English Royalty IS the number one best seller.

So, that’s sour grapes, Apathy? Because, this you may not believe, I hate selling myself. Mr G used to push me go get my books published. Articles were different, writing regularly for known editors. During Covid, looking for an occupation, I did start an ‘autobiography’. It was extraordinarily deep – with all the reference material. Now I am going through 60+ years of papers I have led a life of contrasts. But not saleable as a book, I am NOT a name. Working for my father was unique, he was the only private importer of exotic birds. The fact that I have cared for anything from toucans to humming birds is of little general interest.

One ‘section’ was on Sicily. I took my children and stayed in our workers’ houses in the mountains, never met anybody else who dared such a thing. Language, life style and finding we were in a Mafia barony were exciting, but not epoch making. My early life and parents’ marriage was of psychiatric interest, but so are millions. We have been extraordinarily lucky in having a son who worked in the Far East, so we visited places not visited by tourists on organised packages, they played safe. 

I think my ‘forte’ would be via memories, archives and press cuttings, tracing seven decades of change round London – then the sea change from being a farmer, going to university and becoming a historian, changing countries into the bargain. My only sure-fire winner is close encounters with snakes, stops all conversation. Any un-fulfilled ambitions out there? 

The Gardener

A Moodscope member

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