Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How not to write a book

Right now I should be battling my way through the difficult third quarter of my third novel. This is always a tricky point in the plot - how many operas, for example, founder exactly there? I'll save that topic for another day. Suffice it to say that I've been resorting to unfortunate displacement activities, and the latest I've discovered is the BBC Radio 3 Message Boards, onto which I had previously failed to venture.

I was amused by a discussion that had a good dig at's news section, which was a little slow at the Schwarzkopf obituary starting post. Readers commented on how annoyed they were that the site had posted next to no news for two weeks in July (er, was someone on holiday, perhaps?). Cue a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek contribution from BBC Music Mag editor Oliver Condy, inviting the said annoyed readers to try his online news section instead, and with a dry charm that few could resist. I think he won...

...You see how easy it is to get sucked in to this useless fun. You just pop a few details into the form, pick a user name (obscure composers are popular: in one sitting I found both 'Charles Valentin Alkan' and 'Sorabji'), click a response to the confirmation email they send you, and away you go. Did I come out better informed than before? Not sure. But I managed to while away a perfectly pleasant hour that should have been spent more productively elsewhere on my computer.

Still, with broadband it works out cheaper than your average 'Sex and the City' fan's retail therapy. And it's less fattening than chocolate.