I didn't ask to be a celebrity. I never wanted to appear on The Adrian Lush Show. And let's get one thing straight right now the world would have to be hurtling towards imminent destruction before I'd agree to anything as dopey as The Thursday Next Workout Video.
The publicity surrounding the successful rebookment of Jane Eyre was fun to begin with but rapidly grew wearisome. I happily posed for photocalls, agreed to newspaper interviews, hesitantly appeared on Desert Island Smells and was thankfully excused the embarrassment of Celebrity Name That Fruit! The public, ever fascinated by celebrity, had wanted to know everything about me following my excursion within the pages of Jane Eyre, and since the Special Operations Network have a PR record on a par with that of Vlad the Impaler, the top brass thought it would be a good wheeze to use me to boost their flagging popularity. I dutifully toured all points of the globe doing signings, library openings, talks and interviews. The same questions, the same SpecOps-approved answers. Supermarket openings, literary dinners, offers of book deals. I even met the actress Lola Vavoom, who said that she would simply adore to play me if there were a film. It was tiring, but more than that it was dull. For the first time in my career at the Literary Detectives I actually missed authenticating Milton.
I'd taken a week's leave as soon my tour ended so Landen and I could devote some time to married life. I moved all my stuff to his house, rearranged his furniture, added my books to his and introduced my dodo, Pickwick, to his new home. Landen and I ceremoniously partitioned the bedroom closet space, decided to share the sock drawer, then had an argument over who was to sleep on the wall side of the bed. We had long and wonderfully pointless conversations about nothing in particular, walked Pickwick in the park, went out to dinner, stayed in for dinner, stared at each other a lot and slept in late every morning. It was wonderful.
On the fourth day of my leave, just between lunch with Landen's mum and Pickwick's notable first fight with the neighbour's cat, I got a call from Cordelia Flakk. She was the senior SpecOps PR agent here in Swindon and she told me that Adrian Lush wanted me on his show. I wasn't mad keen on the idea or the show. But there was an upside. The Adrian Lush Show went out live and Flakk assured me that this would be a 'no holds barred' interview, something that held a great deal of appeal. Despite my many appearances, the true story about Jane Eyre was yet to be told and I had been wanting to drop the Goliath Corporation in it for quite a while. Flakk's assurance that this would finally be the end of the press junket clinched my decision. Adrian Lush it would be.
I travelled up to the Network Toad studios a few days later on my own; Landen had a deadline looming and needed to get his head down. But I wasn't alone for long. As soon as I stepped into the large entrance lobby a milk-curdling shade of green strode purposefully towards me.
'Thursday, darling!' cried Cordelia, beads rattling. 'So glad you could make it!'
The SpecOps dress code stated that our apparel should be 'dignified' but in Cordelia's case they had obviously stretched a point. Anyone looking less like a serving officer was impossible to imagine. Looks, in her case, were highly deceptive. She was SpecOps all the way from her high heels to the pink-and-yellow scarf tied in her hair.
She air-kissed me affectionately.
'How was New Zealand?'
'Green and full of sheep,' I replied. 'I brought you this.'
I handed her a fluffy toy lamb that bleated realistically when you turned it upside down.
'How adorable! How's married life treating you?'
From Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde. Copyright Jasper Fforde 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher, Penguin USA.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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