Now that I’m alive again, I took myself on a little outing this evening.

This being the Internet Age and all, I listen to podcasts, even though I tend to think of them as ‘OMG my computer’s being a radio!’ [The wireless internet thing Reed's husband installed Did Not Help. I'm trapped in the mind of a village idiot - Ed]. And one of my favourite podcasts is Answer Me This, presented (presented? Narrated? Spoken? Bickered?) by Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann, with the assistance of Martin the Sound Man.

Basically, the General Public email or telephone and leave queries (usually not particularly serious-minded ones), and Helen (who is wise, has GoogleFu, and knows who Herodotus was (I have a teeny tiny girl-crush on Helen Zaltzman. Sorry, but I do)) and Olly (cheerfully lunatic, with inventive line in doolally theories), answer them. Or attempt to. Or get wildly off the subject and have an interesting discussion about something else entirely. Luckily they are very funny, so we none of us mind. And occasionally Martin the Sound Man, lugubrious and/or scabrous, depending, interjects.

(I have a bone to pick with Martin the Sound Man, incidentally. S [Reed's husband. Yes, even the Reeds of this world get married. Unlike the Editors], a long-term Answer Me This fan, had decided to formally introduce me to the gang, as it were, and had loaded up his iThing with episode after episode to play on a car-trip across Blighty. [It was Answer Me This BOOTCAMP]. And as we were parking in the (ridiculously expensive) carpark in Worcester, Martin the Sound Man (damn me sideways if I can remember apropos of what) used the unforgettable phrase ‘skull-fuck in the brain-hole’ [And this from a man with a doctorate in quantum physics]. Being emotionally aged about twelve, I promptly dissolved into helpless giggles. And then I solemnly paced around the magnificent cathedral, looking composedly at the stained-glass window commemorating Edward Elgar, admiring the painted ceilings, inhaling the chill, musty gloom of ages in the Norman Crypt, and I did not snigger at all, no I absolutely did not, even though my inner adolescent kept leaping up to shriek ‘skull-fuck in the brain-hole! Tee hee hee!’ at me. And I damn near burst a blood-vessel repressing it. So).

Helen and Olly have written a book, so I went along to the gigantenormous Waterstones on Gower Street (eheu, I knew it when it was still Dillons. I am old. And my knees creak when I squat). They’d set up a table for signings next to the cook-books, and a large clump of youngish persons were milling about therein, so having bought my copy of said book, I amused myself by reading the backs of all the new Christmas celebrity how-to-Yule photographic extravaganzas. Alas, this also meant that some of us were trapped out of sight behind the bloody shelves when the authors turned up, but as Olly said, it was just like listening to a pod-cast, only from behind a shelf in Waterstones rather than in the comfort of our own living-rooms.

The amusing duo read out a selection from the book – it’s very much a ‘book to keep by the loo and dip into’ sort of book – and we all chortled appreciatively (muffled behind Nigella’s Festive Tits, sorry, Tips. I hope they could hear us[The tits or Helen and Olly?]). And then Waterstones’ jolly Christmas Helpers corralled us into a neat queue, and we all got to exchange a few words with the fantastically polite and cheerful pod-lebrities as they signed our books. After which I shuffled off into the damp November murk, thinking, variously,

  1. Yes, I still have a teeny-tiny girl-crush on Helen.
  2. I think I smiled too widely. [Yes. As I told you at the time, any wider, and the jolly Christmas Helper is going to get urgent on her radio mike and then the entire security team of the shop will be sitting on your head shouting 'medic!'. And trust me, there's no dignified way back from that.]
  3. The book is a collection of best bits from the pod-casts, with added jokes, diagrams, and pie-charts. And a very, very good John Cage joke, which I particularly appreciated because I catalogued John Cage’s book only last week. [Obscurantist Reed, you are being annoying now].
  4. I asked for my copy to be inscribed for S, who could not be there despite being the household Fan-In-Chief, and whose birthday is next week, and I have been recorded in perpetuity on the fly-leaf of said book as being ‘lovely’. So there. [*eyeroll*].
  5. I must tell more people to listen to the podcast. I mean, obviously, now I am aglow with vicarious book-signing ‘seen in person’ enthusiasm, but tomorrow I also think I that shall think that I ought to tell more people to listen to the podcast [No goods, payment or personal services were received in exchange for this unseemly display of gushing. I hope.]
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3 Responses to Fan-girl

  1. phil55494 says:

    I used to enjoy losing myself for an hour or two in the Gower St Waterstones (or Dillons as it was) when I worked in the university building across the road from it. There were some advantages to it, one it was nearer than the university library and two it usually had a bigger selection of newer books on the subject I needed to look up.

  2. phil55494 says:

    After the post comment button is pushed I remember that I was going to add another thing. We have a book with a very very good Arvo Part joke in it. It was what made us buy the book (a comedy set of famous composer biographies) because it has us both laughing out loud in the shop.

  3. Have listened to the most recent podcast, and spent most of the time chuckling. Thanks for the recommendation!

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