Team Conan against the Toffs

Saturday 16 Jan 10

So let me get this straight.  Some news shows' ratings had dropped dramatically because people were changing channels away from Jay Leno (and thus the news shows) and so in order to allieve these complaints, NBC fires Conan, and then venerates the very person whose failings were the origin of this whole debacle!!  I have never heard of such a thing!  I think Conan has been treated so shabbily and I think there should be an immediate Leno Show (Late or otherwise) embargo.

 In the name of justice and decency and truth, and against bullying, toadying and the supremacy of the mediocre!

Also, I am very pissed off with Penguin books today.  Last year they asked me to write an introduction to Love In A Cold Climate, as part of a series of new editions of Nancy Mitford novels.  I did, they liked it, la la la. Then on Friday, they told me that they had only just received the commments of the Mitford estate, and they had demanded quite a few cuts from my piece.  And I was informed I had one hour to approve the cuts before the deadline for publication. 

Now, this is obviously not what you want to hear when you are about to walk out of the door to go to work for the first day of a new filming job. I remonstrated with Penguin and they told me the Mitford estate had had the introduction since early December but had only submitted their comments today.  I asked why nobody from Penguin had followed up with the estate to ensure that any changes could be discussed and implemented with more than one hour's notice, but they didn't seem to know the answer.

Then I looked at the piece to see what they had asked to be cut, and I was horrified to discover that it was essentially anything remotely negative about the story, any of the characters and the author. I felt so compromised!! This was not the piece I had written, but I would have no time to reshape it or make other suggestions or even argue against the cuts in sixty minutes.

So what were my choices?  Ask for it to be pulled and then begin a stressful few days of back and forth between Penguin, the estate, my agents and me, with that stomach-churning process of pleading, manipulating and compromise so that something, anything, would be printed?  Or just tell Penguin how utterly appalled I am to be treated so shabbily and to be compromised in this way, then say 'print the fucking thing' and walk away and never have to deal with them again?

I chose the latter.  I wish I had the time to argue but I just don't, nor do I have the desire or the energy.

What my introduction touched on that they objected to so much was the way in which Nancy Mitford managed to write like an outside observer, whilst at the same time never actually straying from the very center of that exclusive little group that, above all else, looks after its own: the English aristocracy.  I also mentioned how the Upper classes closed rank when anyone or thing threatened them. Sound familiar?

The Mitford estate and Penguin' Books' behaviour has just demonstarted to me that all I suspected is true, and some things never change.