Alert regular readers of this monthly column, will I’m sure have noticed that it recently celebrated its third anniversary.
Now, I know that compared to the Arab Spring..the US elections the civil war in Syria and the nuclear threat posed by Iran, not to mention a few rude remarks shouted at some congregants on their way to shul on Yom Kippur; this perhaps might not rate very highly on the scale of world events; and I must admit it does seem to have passed largely unnoticed by the vast majority of the British Public.
“You probably don’t buy the Jewish Chronicle religiously every Friday.’I say to my non Jewish friends..”but you don’t have to be Jewish to read the JC “-in my effort to boost the circulation even higher.
OK, so my efforts to date have met with only limited success: I’ve only converted one- into a subscriber. But it’s the first step that counts: Todays JC reader- tomorrow’s Chief Rabbi.
But I’m pleased to report that this important anniversary didn’t escape the eagle eye of our editor, Mr P. -and so you can imagine my delight when the JC editor. yes the ‘big man’ himself. came to have breakfast with me in a leading hotel.(all right it was Claridge’s.) last week.
“I’ve lost two stone ” he announced as he sat down at the table for our annual meeting. “I can see it !..I can see it!” I said. Congratulations!
-Or rather I can’t see it.” I said..” “Where did it all go?l
“As soon as you walked in, I thought what has he done?'”
I know how to talk to the man in whose hands rests my whole journalistic future.
“Well the truth is I’ve put a stone back on – but its only temporary.” he said as he buttered the toast and ordered the smoke salmon and scrambled eggs.
“So..what have you been doing? Anything exciting ?” he asked.
I thought about this for a moment.
“I had a colonoscopy last Tuesday.’ I finally said.
“Thank you for telling me.” he said.
“Oh yes.. good news..all fine.” I said.
“The Doctor sent me the photos..in colour”- I added .” I might use
them as my Chanucah card.”
“Had one before ?”he asked.
“Oh yes, I have them regularly”.-I said..” Whenever I’ve got a spare moment.. I just pop in and have one.” I said. “Fills in the time.. you know.”
Well, I’ve got some more good news for you.” he said .”.
“Really?” I said.
“Good news?– as in you’re going to double my fee per word for the column?”
“No, ..not exactly.” he said.
He put down this knife and fork.
‘This must really be serious’
“The good news is that you are now a regular JC columnist!
I digested this surprise news for a moment, as I spooned my cornflakes into my mouth -missing by no more than an inch.
“Stephen,..tell me how long have I been doing this column? What do you think it’s been?.over three years?..Oh yes, it’s definitely been over three years” he said.
So, I’ve been a regular JC columnist for quite some time really havent I ? Let’s see thirty six monthly columns ..that’s what?.three years? One a month isn’t it?..every four weeks..I would call that a pretty regular column, wouldn’t you?”I said.
“You have a point I agree ..but anyway, the good news is that you are now ‘officially’ one.” He said sitting back from the table. “I see, so I’m an official one now?” I said.
” Well, that’s really marvellous news. What extra benefits does that give me exactly?” I said.
He thought for a second.
” Well, your picture will be up on the JC website.” He said.
“You mean I’ll be up there next to luminaries like Aaronovitch Freedland ..Melanie Phillips.!?..even the legendary Geoffrey Alderman!? ” “Yes you will ..in fact ..yes you are!” he said.
“Already!?.,That’s really good news .” I said.
l didn’t like to remind him that a year ago when I’d asked him why I still wasn’t up there on the site as a regular columnist after two years…he’d told me it was because the bloke who did the website had gone off and nobody knew the code to get into the site to change things.
“Actually, I’ve got some good news for you too.” I said ..as he forked yet another helping of scrambled egg into his mouth.
“I’ve got my first book coming out next March”..it’s a ‘How to /How not to’ memoir called Talking to Strangers , subtitled the Adventures of a Life Insurance salesman.”
“Congratulations.” he said.
“Am I in it?” he asked.
“Not exactly ‘in it’- no”. I said “But you can be ‘on it'”
“‘On it’?’ what do you mean by on it.? you mean ‘in it’ don’t you?”
“No not ‘in it’..but you can be ‘on it'” I said.
“You see, the front cover is going to be a week taken from my diary… meetings with 30 people…and you can be one of them !.What do think of that? On the cover ..alongside people like Spielberg..Kissinger .. Lech Waleska,.. Deepak”
..”Who’s Deepak? ….the Indian President ?” He asked.
“No, he’s my plumber.” I said.
“Who else is going to be on the cover?”
“Well there’s Francisco di Carlo.”.I said.
“Otherwise known as ‘Frankie the Strangler’ di Carlo; He was a mafia hitman I once sold life insurance to.”I said.
“Look Ed.” I said..”You’re lucky I’ve even thought of you.” I said.
“Yes, I realise It’s a great honour .”He said.
“All you have to do to get on the cover is buy 50 copies!..wholesale, naturally.
It will make a great Chanucah or birthday present….a book with your
name on the cover!- .. And I’ll sell some books!:
It’s a win win situation for both of us! What do you say?”
He put down his coffee cup and took off his napkin.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll wait for the sequel.” he said.
As soon as I got home that evening. I clicked on the jC website..
Comment page; Regular columnists….David Aaronovitch..Jonathan Freedland..Melanie Phillips…Geoffrey Alderman.
I wasn’t there.
Clearly’ the website man must be on holiday again,’I said to myself.. Anyway, it’s good for my humility.. I can handle it.
-after all I once held a party to celebrate something, and invited two thousand of my closest friends: -and only three people turned up -and one was a drunk who had wandered in off the street. I survived that, so not seeing my name up there alongside David, Jonathan Melanie.and Geoffrey is just a walk in the park.