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Thursday, October 06, 2005

On deadline

Tuesday noonish: I look in on the Review to collect a brace of Ms Liu's article on my boss.

"And might there be a chance to kiss the editor's ring?" I inquire.

"On deadline," I'm informed with charming and steely smile.

How I would have given for a portcullis keeper like that.

During my minion days in London publishing, Tuesday morns would be my *absolute* deadline for book jacket copy or adverts.

Even knowing this, any 'name' author - Tom Sharpe, David Lodge, Angus Wilson, Bellow, 'Dutch' Leonard - my adorable assistante would let them thru.

"Chris, guess who's just popped in ..."

Not that I left things to the last minute, but like most folks I worked for a genius boss.

In good time, I'd test copy on one and all and, like a good boss, El Supremo would leave it to us.

Nay, he would sometimes *write* the copy.

During a meeting, he'd deliver some gem that he'd say, "There you are, Chris, your jacket copy."

Brilliant, we'd all say, to which he'd smirk and say, "I don't know why *I* have to do all your jobs."

Just before deadline, I'd show him the final proofs.

"Dear boy, I don't hire a pack of hounds to bark m'self."

Just before the 11¾th hour, as I passed the final FINAL proofs to the printer, he'd ask, "By the way, let me see what we're running for the Fuentes/Oz/Böll, Grass/whatever".

On showing, he'd proceed to rewrite the lot.

Familiar?

"But, David, these are your own words!"

"Nonsense, dear boy, a tyro at J Walter Thompson would be fired for such puerile gibberings."

Fume.

The first time it was too late to change, I drafted my resignation note.

Next week, a note to El Boss from the author - "Marvelous advert. Please congratulate Chris."

Reply from the guv'nor (cc me): "Will do. In fact, I caught it at the last minute, so the hand was mine."

Grr.

Where was the firmly "On deadline" babe when I needed *her*?

Mr Crist, sir - large latte for your gatekeeper.


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