Why J. K. Rowling
should stop

I was listening to J. K. Rowling on Radio 4 this morning. She was talking about her new book  –  a book for adults. She didn’t have to write it, she said. She had nothing to prove. And she didn’t need the money  –  the profits from Harry Potter mean that she never has to worry about paying the bills ever again. For some reason, this reminded me of Nigella Lawson and her new cookery series with accompanying cookbook. Here, again, is another very successful woman who a) doesn’t need to prove she’s a good cook, and b) doesn’t need the money. (Although obviously I am not privy to the secrets of her financial affairs. But I would be surprised if she had sleepless nights over the gas bill.)  All this leaves me to think  –  Joanna, Nigella, if you don’t need to prove anything, and you don’t need the money, could you give someone else a turn?  So lovely when those who are successful usher in new talent. Pass on the Olympic torch. Stop hogging the limelight. I could go on.

J. K. Rowling’s
new novel

I think J. K. Rowling may have lost the plot. Literally. According to the Guardian, her new novel for adults, a black comedy called The Casual Vacancy, is all about small town politics. Someone on the parish council dies and all hell is let loose. How utterly ridiculous. Who could possibly imagine that there would be anything comic about megalomaniacs seizing control of community initiatives?

A writer’s life

Whenever I turn the pages of the Guardian or the Observer, I am struck by the number of adverts for writing classes. For a moment, I imagine myself sitting in a small intense circle with other like-minded people, soaking up advice and inspiration from published authors. I can see us now, frowning with concentration as we sip fine espresso from white cups and nibble chocolate bourbons. Then my eye is drawn to the price of these creative indulgences. A weekend will cost you around £400. I stare, dumbfounded. Unless the cliché is entirely wrong and would-be writers are, in fact, eccentric millionaires, what struggling author can afford such incredible prices?

Because of this, I am thinking of suggesting to my book club that we set up an informal writers’ group in Fitton. I would, of course, be happy to discuss the success of my own book How I Seized Power: A Handbook For Leaders Everywhere which I believe will be snapped up, at any moment, by an ambitious publisher. I will happily divulge my writing practices (the peace and quiet of the early morning, Earl Grey tea, a background of Radio 3). I will explain that I was inspired by Tony Blair’s A Journey (what a modest title!). If there is time, we could spend a moment considering others’ fledgling attempts and try to work up a bit of enthusiasm for those who clearly don’t have a hope. Criticism, while necessary, will be moderated so that those with very little confidence won’t feel entirely crushed.

If you would be interested in joining such a group, please contact me by email as soon as possible. If there is a rush of applications, I will choose those whose appetite for culture most closely resembles the enthusiasm displayed by audience members of Radio 4’s Bookclub.

We need to talk
about Kevin

The DVD of We Need To Talk About Kevin is out tomorrow. As you know, I am not normally a ‘fan’ of new films. I am astonished by the explosions, the blood, the gore, the bad language and, of course, the nudity. But this film, I understand, is about the testing of maternal love. This is a subject close to my heart. I wait to be impressed.