Monday 26 March 2012

Repeatable Moments of Acute Embarressment Number 1

In which John Cleese and I do an Involuntary Recreation of the Classic Cheese Shop Sketch in the Covent Garden Branch of Waterstones

I was recently criticised for a failure to be emotionally forthcoming in my social media. "You never tell us about yourself," someone said. "You need to write more about yourself, your hopes, your fears and the emotional moments from your past."

To that end I now provide the first of a series of the embarrassing moments from my past that I deem to be repeatable.

For those of you who have never sampled the delights of this sketch it can be found here on YouTube.

I'm not very good with celebrities, I often don't recognise them beyond a vague sensation that I should know them from somewhere which has given me an unwarranted sense of superiority over the star-struck common ruck of humanity. I'm a trendy Londoner, I say confidently to myself, I don't fall for all that faux celebrity glamour. I'm as good as any man!

So you can imagine it was acutely damaging to my self-image when I looked up from Till One (where I was working) to find oh-my-god-it's-John-fucking-Cleese-oh-my-god looming over me and immediately burst into a sweat.

Mr Cleese approached the till and explained that he was in the area and decided that what he fancied was a book and that he had spied our emporium of the literary arts and hurried in. He didn't really but if he had at least I would have been forewarned.

He requested a book, I'm not going to say the title because the confidence between a customer and a bookseller is a sacred trust, let's just say it was a perfectly reasonable book to ask for. I looked it up on the computer and found that we didn't have it in stock. Regretfully I informed Mr Cleese of our deficiency and he said "No matter," and requested a second book.

We didn't have that either and I think you all know where this is going. By the fourth non-available book I was just waiting for the question - "Are you sure that this a bookshop?" to which I would have been forced, by statute(1), to reply; "Yes sir, finest in the country." I dread to think what would have happened next.

Fortunately I was saved by the intervention of my manageress who took over at the till and allowed me to flee at the first opportunity.

(1) Compulsory Repetition of Monty Python Quotes Act (1979)

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Signing on Saturday

I shall be signing my books at Waterstones Enfield from 1200 to 0100 on Saturday 24th of March.

Here is a map to the garden spot of North London....

View Larger Map

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Les Rivières de Londres - On Sale Today

The three of you who read this blog have probably noticed a French theme creeping in the last couple of weeks. This is not a coincidence. Because Les Rivières de Londres, which means Rivers of London in your actual French, is now available to buy in all good Francophone book shops.

I'd like to thank my editor at J'ai Lu, Thibaud Eliroff and the translator Benoît Domis for giving me this opportunity to inflict my work on an unsuspecting nation.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Currently Reading: A Book About the French

Recently I had to renew the Evil Monster Boy's passport and that prompted me to renew mine and as I did I realised that for the first time in six years I was finally affluent enough to afford a holiday.

Boating on the Canal du Midi perhaps?
So having decided on that it was of course crucial that I try to relearn my French. If only so I could confound the expectations of my hosts.  

As part of my preparation I bought myself a copy of Stephen Clarke's Talk to the Snail - a book that promises to provide understanding and ridicule at the same time. Who could ask for anything more?

Monday 5 March 2012

The Last Ever Fictional Character Race Assessment

My friend has just flat out refused to do another month and I think we have enough data to answer our main question if only we could remember what the question was. This February I will be answering a question from much closer to home namely - Do London stories dominate the national news agenda? I say 'no' grumpy northerners say 'yes' - we shall see.

Back to racial representation on American TV and the question of whether non-white non-regulars are more likely to be portrayed as criminals? The answer is yes! Plus... they're massively under represented in the first place by a significant margin.

Month     nw%     wc%     nwc%
December 21% 34% 50%
January 19% 30% 40%
February 21% 30% 34%
Overall 20% 31% 40%

 nw% = percentage of non-white non-regulars.
wc% = percentage of white non-regulars who were criminals.
nwc% = percentage of non-white non-regulars who were criminals.

As you can see the actual proportion NW characters remains consistent over the 3 month period as does the percentage of white characters who are portrayed as criminals. It would have been nice to see whether  the percentage of NW criminals continued to fall  but some people lack the mental toughness to carry on(1).

But Ben what you've got to understand is that black people are a minority in the US and so the shows are bound to reflect that.
You're absolutely right Straw Man but according to the US census (via Wikipedia) non-white people constitute 27.6% of the total population so 20% is an undershot by 7.6%.

Yes but... all the TV industry is based in California and so it's bound to reflect the ethnic mix of that state rather than the country as a whole.
Okay California's non-white population is 25.5%...
I meant Los Angeles, duh, obviously I mean they're not making TV in Sacramento are they?
Well Los Angeles has 49.2%...

But the shows are set in specific regions so some are bound to have more ethnics in than others - right?
But you said....
Never mind - moving on. It just so happens I have a break down by region.

Show nw%
Setting nw%
Prime Suspect 41%
New York City 56%
Hawaii 5.0 37%
Hawaii 75%
Person of Interest 33%
New York City 56%
Law and Order: SVU 22%
New York City 56%
The Closer 19%
Los Angeles 49%
Justified 19%
Kentucky 19%
Unforgettable 17%
Queens 59%
CSI 17%
Las Vegas 23%
Leverage 17%
Boston 36%
Burn Notice 16%
Miami 27%
Blue Bloods 16%
New York City 56%
The Mentalist 14%
California 26%
Castle 10%
New York City 56%
Once Upon A Time 10%
Maine 4%
Supernatural 9%
United States 28%
Grimm 8%
Portland 22%

Look see - Once Upon A Time and Justified have more black people than there are in the state. Obviously it all balances out in the end.
Really, you're going with that are you?
Nope I'm going to ask whether British TV is any better and even if it was you'd still be speaking German if it wasn't for us - so there!
I'm certainly not going there with you Straw Man but for the sake of completeness I'm going to post the final show by show break down.

Show nw% wc% nwc%
Prime Suspect 41% 30% 48%
Hawaii 5.0 37% 28% 37%
Person of Interest 33% 37% 33%
Law and Order: SVU 22% 27% 24%
The Closer 19% 28% 86%
Justified 19% 64% 78%
Unforgettable 17% 21% 33%
CSI 17% 27% 33%
Leverage 17% 42% 64%
Burn Notice 16% 43% 50%
Blue Bloods 16% 28% 29%
The Mentalist 14% 25% 50%
Castle 10% 20% 0%
Once Upon A Time 10% 2% 0%
Supernatural 9% 30% 0%
Grimm 8% 32% 14%

So next month the question will be; London centre of the Universe or merely the most logical choice for the Capital of the World?

(1) Apparantly it was the prospect of another 4 episodes of Law & Order: SVU that tipped the balance.