The Art of Poncing

Brendan phoned me last night. I’ve known him longer than Laughing Boy had hair. ‘It’s me,’ he said. ‘Brendan.’

    Neither of us use our mobile phones much. I don’t know where mine is (it’s just beeped somewhere behind me, because it’s out of charge, and that gives me a clue).  So we’ve got to explain who we are when we phone.

    We did the usual how’s it gaun? flung back and forth between us, until he got down to why he was phoning. ‘I’ve got £20 for your book,’ he said. ‘I’ll drop it off.’

‘Nah,’ I said.

And I never refuse free money or beers. Even if I’ve got four pints of heavy sitting undrunk on the table in front of me, I imagine I’ll get round to it, but usually fall asleep – to get nudged awake and fall asleep again- first.

I had to explain to him that he had to go online and type into the search engine, Unbound, Jack O’Donnell and Lily Poole.   

‘Take the £15 option,’ I told him, ‘because they add on £4 quid postage and packaging. ‘It’s a bit like VAT. They tell you one price and when you’ve bought it whack on a higher price.’

Neither of us like that kind of hassle. Most folk don’t.

‘Uhu,’ he said and hung up.

We live in a world of algorithms. I need to keep spitting into the wind to get noticed. Need to keep selling myself. Need to continually bombard people with images and words to remain in the public eye. I’m on Facebook more than Carla! The Facebook algorithm of course garners metadata about her behaviour and mine. It notes that when grumpy dad is offshore broccoli florets and asparagus tips are binned and trips to McDonalds and Burger King are more prevalent. It registers the repetition in many of my posts and notes it comes from three (or four) different http sites that share data on Facebook and Twitter. This can be annoying. But I’d ask you to make it even more annoying. One of the practical things you can do to get me to shut up is to share the link to the book:http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole

My Facebook page is not your Facebook page. My Twitter is not your Twitter.  It’s like one of those Russian dolls with one inside the other. If enough people notice me the book gets funded. If I become a blip on the Google network then funding is guaranteed.

Poncing was a lot easier in the old days when you only had one master to please and that was God or the Devil. Google Bartolome Bermejo’s St Michael Triumphant Over the Devil. Track down and you’ll spot a little man in a black hat kneeling next to the angel. That’s Bermejo’s patron. I did the same thing. I sold the name of a main character in the book – thank you, the man in the black hat,  Brian Smith.

Trying to sell the main pledge (£500) has been more difficult. Guardian Unlimited, for example are offering writing course are £4000 and you need to book early. This has been a marketing problem, because there is an audience out there.  I’m offering something one-to-one tuition. But with Christmas coming, who knows, someone with a manuscript on their hard drive might get an unusual gift.  

I’m more of a Stephen King than William Shakespeare man, but in terms of unusual gifts, dedicating his latest work The Rape of Lucrece to his benefactor in language so servile it would have made Smithers dedication to Mr Burns in The Simpsons seem understated, Shakespeare sure knew how to make their relationship clear.   

Pope Julius II had the right idea. Oi, he said, to Michelangelo that sculpting games for bums. I’ve got a roof of a chapel that needs painting. Get it done and no back chat or I’ll have you hung, drawn quartered. Then I’ll excommunicate you and you’ll go straight to hell.    

I’m not painting the Sistine Chapel, or even my living room, but who knows? If the pledge is the right one I’ll disappear off Facebook and Twitter and disappear back into the ether.  

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