Thursday, October 06, 2005
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.
"But, David, these are your own words!"
"Nonsense, dear boy, a tyro at J Walter Thompson would be fired for such puerile gibberings."
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."
Where was the firmly "On deadline" babe when I needed *her*?
Mr Crist, sir - large latte for your gatekeeper.
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