What’s in a name? Everything when it’s the title of one of your favourites of your own books – and a mega-selling author brings one out using the same title.
I’m referring to my 2002 book Mad About the Boy – and Helen Fielding’s new sequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary, which she’s called the same thing.
It’s made me feel rather cross and churned up, as you can imagine, and I can’t decided whether I’m bitchily pleased Ms Fielding’s book has fewer stars than mine on Amazon – or is that a bad thing because people might confuse the poor reviews with my book?
And where will it leave the film project of my book, which someone has bought the rights for?
So I’ve decided the only way to deal with this odd situation is to stick to my general philosophy of life which is to accentuate the positive – as per the marvellous Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters song, which I first heard in The Singing Detective.
It’s used ironically in that extraordinary series by Dennis Potter (one of the best things ever shown on television, in my opinion), but I do vehemently believe in its basic sentiments.
If you go around life nursing all your little hurts and resentments, stroking and nurturing them like little baby hamsters, it just eats up all the energy you could be using to get on with exciting new things.
This is why I try never to bear grudges and always to be nice to people, even if they’ve been less than lovely to me. I have a quote from Dr Johnson at the top of my To Do list to remind me about this: ‘Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not…’
I also reflect on an old Serbian proverb my husband told me: ‘If people throw rocks at you, throw bread back.’
I don’t do this in a soppy, meek, victim way, but entirely out of self-interest, as I’m certain it bring me a happier and fulfilled life. So instead of feeling bitter about Helen Fielding’s book, I remind myself of all the lovely things its publication has prompted people to say to me on Twitter.
Here are some of them:
@TobyFlaneur ‘Mad About the Boy even more enjoyable the 3rd time around. I must get tickets to Sydney. Loved the Uncle!’
@sandraom ‘Will undoubtedly read latest #bridgetjones by Helen Fielding but seems silly she didn’t realise ‘Mad about the boy’ is a novel by @MaggieA’
@jcmumma ‘such a great book, all the characters are fantastic! Uncle Perky is my fave!’
@khamaeilon ‘To @GuardianBooks Nope. There is only one Mad About The Boy and that’s by @MaggieA One of my all time favourite books and opening paragraphs.’
So a massive thanks to all those tweeters – particularly Helen Ducal for the last one. And here is that opening paragraph:
‘I’ve got nothing against gay men – some of my best friends are homosexuals. I just didn’t expect my husband to be one too.’
If you haven’t read my Mad About the Boy and would like to meet Uncle Percy – my favourite of all my characters, I’ve ever invented – here’s where to find it.
This is the Penguin Australia site, with a longer extract from the beginning of the book.
In the UK it’s available here, as an e-book.
Also available, from Amazon.
As you will see from those links, the book has many different covers in it’s many different editions – it was a best seller in the UK and Australia and was translated into loads of different languages.
And if you enjoyed that clip from ‘The Singing Detective’, here’s another of my favourite scenes. To give it some context, it was an autobiographical piece, inspired by Potter’s experiences of suffering from a very acute form of psoriasis, all mashed up with his obsession with the work of Raymond Chandler (Phillip Marlowe, private eye, The Big Sleep etc…) and the music of his 1940s childhood.