I have done a good thing


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.

2 thoughts on “I have done a good thing

  1. Thank you, that was an enjoyable read.
    I can’t imagine not knowing Clive James! So many times I had to get off buses and trains, because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe; you learn not to take any of his books on public transport!

    1. She was at college, eager for recommendations. After all, he’s been off TV nearly twenty years. And I’ve lent a Clive James book to my Ops Manger who has similarly never heard of him…

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