Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Dear Ms Keith - Nicola Morgan

I have been patiently waiting till today. Well, not very patiently, actually. It's just that I really wanted to shout a little bit about that silly letter in the Observer. (Scroll down to the one from Ann Keith.) Many people have already objected to what was in it and my message feels a tad out-dated, but 11th January is my allotted date to speak out on ABBA, so I kept a lid on it. Now, I'd like to reply to Ms Keith and set her straight.

Dear Ms Keith,
You say, "The self-righteous and arrogant puffery of the assorted literati to whom you gave publicity in your headlines and articles on Bookstart really cannot go unchallenged." Well, nor can ignorance. Let me put you right on two aspects, since to tackle you on every point would take too long and I've got books to write, a veritable fortune to be made.

First, you refer to the "amount of money" made by authors and publishers and ask us to declare our financial interest. I would like to tell you how little I earned from the sale of books last year but a) I have lost my magnifying glass and b) I'd be ashamed. Last time the Society of Authors did a survey of members, the figures were shocking. More than two thirds earn less than half the national average, for example; half earn less than the statutory minimum wage. Since then, we've had a recession and enormous price-cutting, slashing author incomes for almost everyone. So, Ms Keith, "financial interest"? Don't Make Me Larf. You have no idea. You. Just. Have. No. Idea.

Second, who are these children "patronisingly thought to be in need" of books? All children are in need of books. True, some parents are less able to buy them - which is a fact, not patronising - and if there was a way to get books to those families, I'd vote for it. But the Bookstart scheme, by giving books to all children, is therefore so far from being patronising that I wonder what dictionary you used when you chose the word.

Maybe, Ms Keith, you should read more books. Would you like a free one? I can't really afford to do this too often but I'd happily make an exception for you. If that's not too self-righteous, arrogant, or patronising.

Yours sincerely,

Very Crabbit of Edinburgh




16 comments:

catdownunder said...

What has been said here cannot be said too often. Well said my favourite COB! (I was so infuriated by that first silly letter I sent an angry splattering of cat hairs all the way from Downunder.)

Nicola Morgan said...

Thanks, Cat! For some reason I failed to manage to register on the Observer/Guardian website so I couldn't leave a comment there but I saw yours. Well done!

Penny Dolan said...

Well said, well said! And well done all the others who bombarded the Guardian website. Think Ms Keith got a bigger response than she'd expected.

Book Maven said...

I emailed the Observer letters page too but they didn't print it. I was somewhat sarcastic about admitting my self-interest in making loads of gold out of the Booktrust scheme so that might be why!

Well said, Nicola and our favourite antipodean feline is right that it can't be said too often!

Leila said...

Well said, Nicola.

adele said...

You say it all, and in particularly sparkling crabbit fashion. Good on you. Someone will surely tweet this post and she will see it. I hope she does....

Gillian Philip said...

I expect her ears are ringing, dear Crabbit. Good work. Was there any response to Ms Keith in the paper-Observer yesterday? (I'm a Times girl).

bookwitch said...

That had been simmering for a while, had it not? Well said.

Nicola Morgan said...

Actually, I was mostly a) worried that I'd come to the party too late and b) proud of myself for being so restrained...

Yes, Bookwitch. And you should have seen the first version. Probably a good idea that I had to wait.

Gillian - I don't know. Also a Times girl though, to be honest, i find the Saturday papers keep me going all week!

Julie P said...

Hear hear!

Gillian Philip said...

Ah, Alan Gibbons got in a good riposte. I just found it on the website. Scroll down a bit.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2011/jan/09/letters-children-mothers-prisons?INTCMP=SRCH

Sarah Taylor-Fergusson said...

Hear, hear, Nicola. Please do print it out and post it to her.

AnneR said...

Well said, Nicola. Ms Keith is a librarian, which makes the whole thing even more bizarre.

Nicola Morgan said...

Gillian - so he did. Good.

AnneR - srsly?? how very very extraordinary.

Now, there's one library I may not be asked to speak in!

Stroppy Author said...

Probably not - they don't really do speaking: Cambridge University Library/Christ's College library.

Katherine Langrish said...

You couldn't make it up, could you?