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Coming together…

Things are coming together nicely. Yesterday I was asked to be the festival critic for Humber Mouth 2004, Hull’s annual literature fest, which has switched to the summer and takes place in June. I said yes. The way it’s going there’s barely room for anyone else in the programme. Maggie, the festival organiser, was late for our first meeting because she was “bathing a dog”, which sort of sums up my importance in the scheme of things!

Anyway, ramblings that are destined for a newspaper column I write illustrating that I just keep regurgitating the same old rubbish (and thanks for the inspiration, Mark Haddon readers)….

Why is it that people insist that you do exactly the same things as them? There’s nothing quite as bad as hearing the dreaded words, “I saw this great film last night, and you’ve really got to see it. You’ll love it.”

Really? Yes, you might have enjoyed it – but how do you know that I’m going to find it a pleasant experience? You know the kind of people: They think that they’re the fonts of all cultural wisdom, that they have their finger so far on the pulse of contemporary life that they could have written every hit film, best-selling book, game, and CD in the last five years. Just keep your views to yourself, smart arse, and let everyone draw their own conclusions.

I’m not averse to enjoying stuff that’s popular. It’s just that the minute it comes with additional baggage – say, a novel that’s won the Booker Prize, or a piece of music that’s garnered five star reviews in the way that a rolling stone gathers moss (has anyone ever witnessed that? No, didn’t think so) – then I just feel inclined to shun it until all the fuss has died down.

But I’ve started caving in. Having heard that Mark Haddon’s book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was the must-read of the decade and, according to, ‘the big read of 2003’, I promptly ignored it for as long as I could. Then two friends of mine bought half-priced copies and persuaded me to give it a go. And I quickly realised that my stubborn refusal to buy it at the time meant that I missed out on a life-affirming literary experience several months ago. Similarly, with everyone shouting about Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double CD, I’ve opted not to listen to it, despite the fact that a copy is kicking around the house. Until now, that is. As I write this, it’s playing in the background, and I’m fast coming to the conclusion that it’s a classic.

The next few days offer a tough choice. Do I succumb to the crazy ramblings in every magazine I pick up that Simon Pegg’s rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead is the greatest and funniest Brit-flick for years? Or do I stay in, eat a Pot Noodle and complain that this country is full of sheep that would move en masse to anything providing the know-it-all in the office mutters “you’ve really got it see it!”? I get the feeling that the answer might be…baaaaah.

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