Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(95) Hartston broadcasting on unread manuscripts

Over breakfast on June 9th 1993 I was musing on how people always tend to think that their own coincidences are more remarkable than others’: that’s human nature.
I had heard Caroline Watt refer to it in an address on Synchronicity she had given at a Society for Psychical Research Psi/Synchronicity workshop (see Entry 94) where she spoke of "mine Vs yours".

Roderick Main had made a half hour exposition of some of mine at the 1992 Society for Psychical Research annual conference, but that had prompted little response.

I began recording them out of personal interest. I most emphatically did not then have publication in mind. As I note, my first reviewer, W.R. Hartston, had a powerful coincidence whilst reading it.
And then we discover that he is the first person named in the sub-section of Stan Gooch’s 1978 book The Paranormal.
As I explain (see Part Two: The Narrative, Epilogues and Appendices ) my choice of him as first reviewer was not wholly arbitrary.

But, as Hartston himself observed, "I don’t know what you are going to do with all this." I myself was also unsure, although I had a vague notion that it might have some kind of proselytising impact.

A series of errors and unplanned events got me to Moorgate Underground station in London at about 10:10 a.m. on June 9th 1993. I was already then ten minutes late for work, when I spotted William Hartston.

This was fortuitous for two days earlier I had, at long last, gotten around to posting off to him some annotations to a chess game which he subsequently published in The Independent on Sunday newspaper. I had been meaning to post them for several months previous.

He greeted me, thanked me for the annotations, and whilst writing out a cheque for them mentioned that "I had an outstanding ‘Plaskett’ recently."

He explained that he had been in Vermont to make a (radio!?) programme about a library comprised entirely of unpublished or rejected manuscripts.

It had been decided, for reasons of atmosphere, to do part of it in a local bookshop.
There he had spotted a book of essays by Umberto Eco. Leafing through it he saw that one of them was comprised of a selection of imaginary rejection letters for authors from publishers. All of the manuscripts were of bestsellers and/or masterpieces of literature. The first such letter was for The Bible!
The rejection note mentioned unacceptable levels of violence, sexism, that it was too long and that perhaps just the first five chapters would do by themselves.

Having concluded that morning that whatever I had put together was, of itself, insufficient, it seemed not insignificant that its first reviewer should recount to me this coincidence about unread or rejected manuscripts as we happened to meet and he wrote out for me a cheque for something that I had written for him to publish on my behalf.

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