This may be tempting fate, but the great thing about the Olympics is the Big Smile that seems to have settled on London. Last Thursday afternoon the torch was carried down the Fulham Road and as it was only about 100 yards from where we live I felt I just had to make the effort and find out what all the fuss was about.
I could see immediately what it was – it was about shared happiness. The whole street was packed with smiling faces. “It’s just wonderful,” said a very old lady, tears in her eyes. “I haven’t seen anything like this since the end of the war.”
She wasn’t talking about the torch but the people who had come out to see it. A contagion of smiles, politeness and generosity of spirit seemed to have caught hold. It was there all weekend, too, as people flocked laughing in the pouring rain to see the women cyclists.
Mass emotions are always interesting. Sometimes sad, as when Princess Diana died, and sometimes frightening and dangerous. But with no riots or looting, no rival fans in fights, no drunkeness this mood is more than welcome. Let’s hope it continues until the end of the Games.
There’s endless talk about digital publishing at the moment, as no-one seems to know what to charge for an eBbook, and self-publishers are starved of the oxgen of marketing. My self-published “Ray Connolly Beatles Archive” sells steadily on Amazon, but I’ve just been surprised to see Bloomsbury have reduced the price of “Stardust Memories”, a collection of interviews that were mainly written for the Evening Standard over thirty years ago, to 0.99 pence. The result? It’s my best selling Kindle book.
Exciting? Well, let’s see. As I get 35% of the retail price that means I’ll be earning just under 0.35p per book sold. Sell five and I’ll be almost able to buy a cup of coffee. Who says there’s no money in publishing!
Talking with the son of a friend this week I was surprised to be told that he’d always thought I was from a very poor Northern working class background.
“Not really,” I said, amused, though, I’m afraid, my poor late mother would have been horrified.
As the generations march on, it seems the old Southern perceptions of the North are still with us. Namely that anyone from the North probably grew up with coal in the bath.
It wasn’t quite that grim. Honestly.