Difficult second book

Monday sees the launch of my difficult second book, or my booky-wooky as I may have called it were I a former heroin addict and alcoholic who had been introduced to prostitutes by my father at the age of 17 and since gone on to be strangely omnipresent. Life would, I guess, have turned out rather different, but I do have one thing in common with Mr Brand, which is that both of our books appear to be remarkably self-obsessed.

Hence, here’s some stuff about my easy first book. I can’t claim to have written even half of Access in London, 1996’s guide for people who have problems getting around our beloved capital, but I spent a large amount of time wandering the galleries, churches, shops and stadia of the golden streets, tape measure in hand, and at one point I knew every entrance, exit and step free passage in every museum in London.

All of which actually made a difference to the lives of rather a lot of people. Not only did people buy the book, but attitudes challenged by my fellow researchers, regardless of their own capacity to walk, certainly contributed to a changing London. One in which the Crown Jewels were moved to the ground floor, tube maps have accessible symbols on, and in which it became acceptable to see a wheelchair user in a pub (at the beginning of the research in 1995, there were only four pubs in London with both step free access and an appropriately adapted toilet).

All of which makes me remember that my difficult second book, Murder on the Darts Board, won’t really change anything. It may make someone laugh, and it may contribute to someone else’s decision to give up their job, do something fun, and be happier. Which would be good. But at the moment what it makes me wonder is whether Russell Brand ever sits at home pondering whether he should do something more useful in life.

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