As I think I may have mentioned once or twice, I work in a bookshop. I started working there with the innocent delusion that I would be serving people who, like myself, enjoyed good writing on a variety of intelligent topics. I did find myself doing that, sometimes - but more often than not I found I was providing people with some pretty questionable material: lurid true crime books about dysfunctional serial killers or thuggish cockernee gangsters, self-help books that seem to me to be patent charlatanry, and a bewildering array of porn. But as much as I find these things personally dislikable, I respect people's desire to buy them. It's their business, and they deserve to be treated with the respect accorded to any other customer.
There's only one thing I hate selling to people, and that's Britain's most hysterically right-wing newspaper, the Daily Mail .
I hate selling it to people because an awful lot of those who read it seem intelligent, personable and respectable. But they're buying a paper which, far too often, offers succour to foaming-at-the-mouth bigots like Richard Littlejohn . I feel the way I imagine Gillian Mckeith feels when she sees someone eating a cheeseburger, or Richard Dawkins when he walks past people going to church. I want to slap them about the face, grab their shoulders and shout 'look! Stop doing this to yourself! Read the Guardian! Yes, it's left-wing liberal pinko crap but it won't make you so angry! You will actually live longer if you read it, because you won't be flooding your body with stress hormones when reading badly-written crap !'
None of my business, of course: people have a right to read what they want to. I just wish the paper they read would actually do some decent reporting more often, instead of lazy, bigoted churnalism .
What's that? They have? Well, I'll be darned...