My kids are addicted to The X Factor.
There, I’ve said it.
I tried, really I did. I fed them organic pieces of cardboard...sorry, rice cakes, I read them poetry. I even played Classic FM on the school run.
Alas, they now settle down each Saturday night with a packet of crisps and the remote control, discussing whether Cheryl Cole is the most beautiful woman on the planet and whether Simon Cowell waxes his hands.
Worse still, I have been sucked into my children’s world.
Yes, I am now an avid watcher of the darn show. I won’t say I’m a fan but must admit to an unseemly interest in the whole spectacle.
One of the things that fascinates me most is the constant commentary from the press and public as to which candidate is ‘the complete package.’
It transpires that it’s not enough that Joe McElderry sings like an angel. The guy will never make it, apparently, until someone fixes his teeth.
Similarly Stacey Solomon gains more column inches for her giggling than her undoubted talent for belting out a song. How, the public asks, will she ever give interviews when she’s clearly bonkers.
Have these people never heard of David Bowie or Kate Bush?
I must confess it makes me slightly uncomfortable, not least because this idea that an artist must be all things, ‘the complete package’, is gaining pace in the publishing world.
Nowadays, it’s simply not enough to pen a good story. A writer needs to be able to engage with radio DJs, write pithy features and lead creative workshops in schools and libraries. All of which require skills that may not be part of the average scribbler’s make-up.
I’m currently doing the publicity rounds for my latest novel and have been told, with indecent rubbing of hands, that I have a terrific back story.
‘You’re such an easy sell-in,’ said my PR gal.
Well, of course I’m pleased about that. And I actually enjoy chatting about work and craft. I’m naturally loud and opinionated and I have a terrific arse for radio.
I don’t even mind being asked for my views on being a working parent, or whether Olly Murs is the new Robbie. My commitment is to my book and I will do whatever it takes to help it reach an audience. And I’ll do it happily.
And yet...I do worry that the idea of being a personality is taking hold. And that like the poor contestants of The X Factor, being great at what you do will never be enough.
I worry that good writers won’t cut it because they couldn’t do the whole publicity thing.
A friend asked me today, why the hell I care, when I’m like a pig in the proverbial.
The answer, in truth, is I’m not sure.
Maybe I’m just being old fashioned.
But, you see, I love books and I love reading and I would hate to be dnied a fantastic author just because they needed a brace, or couldn’t dance.
Oh ignore me.
As my kids never tire of telling me, I’m just showing my age.