The Book of Your Enemy Has Been Compacted

Oh mine enemies, here is your moment of sublime schadenfreude: this morning at exactly 10.15 a.m. I was awoken by the sound of a large truck rolling up at my house.

The Moment of Death had arrived.

I pulled the duvet over my head and tried not to listen, but it was no good. I could hear the hearty comedians of waste disposal hefting the trembling volumes. I could hear the giant engine of Armageddon munching my words. Yes, my books were fed into a compactor. Yes I could hear Danny’s screams as he was crushed in iron jaws. All 1,290 of him (we kept two boxes).

Oh the tragedy, oh the pain.

We tried everything in the months beforehand to avoid this waste, but after many disappointments (at one time Healthy Planet was going to take them and give them away in shopping malls throughout Britain; oh joyous escape, that was, sadly, dashed), we had to admit defeat and arrange for them to be pulped.

To add further indignity to this miserable story of dashed hopes and broken dreams, we had to PAY £75 to the council for said comedians to destroy my work, figuratively, right in front of my face. Or at least within my hearing.

I am going to sit here and lick my wounds, but to all my enemies who have worked their damndest to get DANNY, and me, banned in as many places as possible, I dedicate this poem. My (books’) fate may have been worse than that of Clive James’ enemy, but the sentiments remain the same.


THE BOOK OF MY ENEMY HAS BEEN REMAINDERED

By Clive James


The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered.
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy’s much-praised effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
One passes down reflecting on life’s vanities,
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one’s enemy’s book—
For behold, here is that book
Among these ranks and the banks of duds,
These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.


The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I rejoice.
It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legion
Beneath the yoke.
What avail him now his awards and prizes,
The praise expended upon his meticulous technique,
His individual new voice?
Knocked into the middle of next week
His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys,
The sinkers, clinkers, dogs and dregs,
The Edsels of the world of movable type,
The bummers that no amount of hype could shift,
The unbudgeable turkeys.


Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapper
Bathes in the glare of the brightly jacketed Hitler’s War Machine,
His unmistakably individual new voice
Shares the same scrapyard with a forlorn skyscraper
Of The Kung-Fu Cookbook,
His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed in by others,
His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretence,
Is there with Pertwee’s Promenades and Pierrots—
One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment,
And (oh, this above all) his sensibility,
His sensibility and its hair-like filaments,
His delicate, quivering sensibility is now as one
With Barbara Windsor’s Book of Boobs,
A volume graced by the descriptive rubric
‘My boobs will give everyone hours of fun’.


Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
Though not to the monumental extent
In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out
To the book of my enemy,
Since in the case of my own book it will be due
To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error—
Nothing to do with merit.
But just supposing that such an event should hold
Some slight element of sadness, it will be offset
By the memory of this sweet moment.
Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am glad.


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