Mick Hartley links to a Times report of a “serious” novelist suing the proprietors of a neighbouring factory because the fumes it produced so affected her concentration that she was reduced to writing genre fiction. It’s not just a funny hook for a news story; it’s a delicious illustration of how class and status in Britain both is and isn’t about money.

It also made me smile because, for most of my adult life (and to the complete non-surprise of anyone who reads this blog regularly), I’ve believed that the one novel I have in me is a gonzo comedy thriller that hangs on a soon-to-be-invented piece of technology1. But every time I sit down to write this, what comes out is exactly the kind of portentous, fancypants campus novel calculated to win awards and certain to make me groan the moment I turn over the cover in Borders and read its jacket blurb. Who do I sue?2

  1. Unfortunately, the emergence of this particular technology would have unavoidable philosophical and moral implications. []
  2. Perhaps my dad, the retired teacher of English language and literature, who is wishing as he reads this that I’d written “whom”. []