Isn’t Ian McEwan just fab? At the Guardian open weekend, he was telling everyone that his son was set his prize-winning novel, Enduring Love, for GCSE. McEwan modestly said that he’d offered his boy a few pointers, but the poor lad had not done brilliantly at all – apparently the teacher was convinced that the stalker was the authorial moral centre of the book, whereas McEwan himself just thought he was a nutter. Proof that even if your parent wrote the book, you might well fall foul of teachers and exam markers. This struck a chord with me as Child One was told at her parents’ evening that she was trying to be too ‘different’ in her ideas. ‘Just stick to the obvious stuff – examiners don’t like too much originality,’ the teacher told her firmly as I looked on, jaw sagging.
Name dropping is terribly vulgar, as I was saying to the Queen only yesterday, but I did once interview Ian McEwan years ago. He was lovely and gave me a signed copy of one of his books, which obviously I’m hoping the girls will auction for huge sums after my death, as that’s pretty much all they can look forward to. He told me his greatest fear was running out of the special notebooks he wrote all his novels in. He’d bought up the entire supply but no more were being made …. I would have thought Atonement would have soaked up the last few but he seems to be bravely keeping on going. Maybe he’s twisted arms at Rymans. But charmingly, of course.
Isn’t it funny how names can either fall with a massive clunk to the floor, or inspire rapt attention in listeners? On BBC’s The Voice, the aptly-named Will I Am only had to open his mouth for a torrent of mega-star monikers to drop out and crumble into dust. No-one was impressed, perhaps as all he seems to have done recently, careerwise, is to ruin Cheryl Cole’s chances on the US X Factor. Tom Jones, meanwhile, managed to invoke Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and virtually everyone bar God himself, and we all loved him for it. Funny stuff, charm.