Thankfully Mona blew out the match (see previous post) and we all had a good cry. It seemed that Mona Farthingdale’s crime had been less treason than lack of reason, coupled with an appalling sense of direction. She had confused the address of her literary consultancy with that of a high security naval dockyard, after a night of heavy drinking, during which she accidentally disabled Google Maps while falling into a defunct jacuzzi or ‘ditch’, as she later confessed.
‘Arson in a naval dockyard is still on the statute books as a capital offence you know,’ she said, lighting a fresh cigarillo from the dog-end of the last, ‘but as I explained to the judge, I had just received the report on my novel from a well-known lit consultancy. I’ve been writing it for fifteen years, and it’s the only thing that keeps me sane. The report was not so much a critique as a post-mortem, in which I was advised to give my novel a proper burial.
People think that ghost writing is a breeze; it isn’t, it’s very stressful indeed. Just prior to the event, I had simultaneously been writing, ‘Robin Van Persie on Erasmus’ and ‘Yeah Bitches!’ – The Authorised Biography of Andy Murray’s Border Terriers’.
I explained to the judge that my original intention had been merely to raise a point or two with the lit consultancy. It had never been my intention to sink two Frigates and partially singe a Destroyer, but the challenges of conveying Van Persie’s view on Renaissance literature coupled to forming a narrative from some pretty intemperate celebrity barking, had tipped me over into a paroxysm of desolation.’
‘I say’, said the judge, ‘that would make a cracking title for one of those Booker type efforts wouldn’t it? I can see the cover now; The Paroxysm of Desolation by Mona Farthingale! Splendid! I bet you anything you could win with a title like that. Let me write that down.’ The Judge then quickly wrapped up the case, instructing the jury to take into account the mitigating circumstances. I had suffered injustice at the hands of the ‘Get Published Industry’ and therefore should be found guilty on a much lesser charge.
I found out in a letter he later sent me, that the judge himself had experienced a very similar humiliation, when he had paid an exorbitant fee to have lunch in a select Bloomsbury restaurant and simultaneously ‘pitch’ to an agent. His novel was crime fiction, based on a crooked judge and his links to the underworld, but some ‘chit of a girl who claimed to be an agent’, had told him that his story ‘lacked all credibility’. So, he had legendary gangster Carlo (The Mouth) Carpaccio turn up at her next book launch and eat every single one of the canapés, hoovering them in while he amused the waiting staff with a few light threats. The book subsequently garnered very little publicity and the agent suffered a bad case of ‘client list die-back’, even her photo disappeared from the agency’s website. Honour had been served.’
This story cheered us enormously and Mona handed round the cigarillos while we partook of several ‘Buttworth Litbombs’. (Three parts home-distilled potato vodka to one-part Echinacea, Zinc & Vitamin C) These fabulous cocktails had been the brainchild of a food writer called Pinky Dauphinoise, who had arrived at Buttworth shortly after having been dropped by her agent. It appears that this had happened only half an hour before she was due to sign a contract for a TV series with three book tie-in. It eventually transpired that the agent had been leant on by Mary Berry’s heavies.
‘I went mental’, said Pinky, re-charging our toothmugs with the health-giving distillation (None of the writers had suffered a cold since Pinky’s invention)
‘I tried everything, but people warned me that you must never cross Mary, she always fights dirty, that’s why I’m here.’
We looked to Pinky to tell us what had happened, but she merely shook her head hopelessly,
‘Never mind Pinky,’ hiccuped Stephanie, ‘her cheesecake once brought me out in dreadful hives and besides I think there’s a very good case for marketing the Buttworth Litbomb, I’m sure that you could build an empire even greater than hers.’
We all agreed that it was important to think positively and that there must be a way to turn our situations to an advantage.
‘It’s true’, drawled Mona, ‘for instance my judge turned out to be a bit of an old darling. We are thinking of collaborating, he says that with my writing talent and his connections to psychopathic criminals, we might, at last, be able to crack publication for both of us.”