Through a set of circumstances too personally humiliating to relate, I was in Manchester this morning and paying my earliest ever monthly visit to Pizza Hut.
After chowing down my meal, I was rrelaxing before the bill came and reading the book I had on me. A young waitress, after showing a couple to their table, next to mine, craned her neck, then asked if I minded her asking what I was reading? She is a literature student, and always wanting to know what people are reading.
I showed her the cover. It was Clive James’ collection of critical essays, The Meaning of Recognition. She said she’d never heard of him.
I was taken aback by that, but after a few moment’s thought, realised I shouldn’t be. She was, after all, about a third of my age, and young enough that most of James’s television career was before her time too.
So I explained a bit about all the different things he’s been into: lyrics, television criticism, novels, literary criticism, poetry. She was particularly interested in the poetry, so I said a bit about the recent books, the collections published in the knowledge of his leukemia. And I suggested she tried Sentenced to Life. She was genuinely pleased at the recommendation. Who knows if she’ll appreciate it? If I see her on my next visit, I’ll try to remember to ask.
But at least I’ve done one good thing today.