Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Why Henry James can't self-google

When I booked into the hotel on Sunday, the receptionist (attractive, Eastern European, twentyish), looked at the voucher thing lastminute.com give me to print out and hand over, thus avoiding all unnecessary human contact, which is a good thing. Then she looked up at me.
'Mister James... Henry?' she asked.
'Yes,' I said.
'The writer?' she said.

And for one ghastly half-second I gaped at her, about to ask if she was a regular JATBC reader, and if so what CB-radio style 'handle' she went under, and then I realized what she meant.

'Well not that one, obviously, because he's Victorian, and his name is mine backwards (or mine is his backwards, whatever) and he's dead." I said.
'Same name!' she said, smiling.
'Almost, yes,' I said, and then I went up to my room. I passed her later, on my way out, and had half-planned on asking her if she was doing an english lit course or something, when I remembered that I don't actually know anything about Henry James the dead Victorian novelist other than what's in that sentence, apart from a vague rumour that he only had half a penis following an accident with a horse*, but this wouldn't necessarily translate. Also, she might ask, as someone once did, 'which half?' at which point I tend to find myself, aha, stumped. So instead I waved casually, and she waved back, which was nice.

Anyway, I'm going back to that hotel tomorrow night. I shall try to think of a Victorian novelist-related quip. It's a long journey, so I'm bound to think of something.



*I just looked that weird rumour up (thus joining the elite group, the creme de la creme of those who have put both 'half a penis' and 'horse accident' into Google), and it seems more likely that he in fact injured his testicles on a fence as a junior fireman, an assault he referred to in his memoirs as a 'horrid even if obscure hurt', although I suspect that's not what he said at the time.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

so, uh, where in the 5th episode of green wing are you?

james henry said...

Nowhere, it turns out (this is a reference to the bearded ladies blog in case anyone's confused). I think it's the sixth episode I was thinking of. I'm sitting behind Martin in the excam scenes, wearing a white shirt and scowling furiously. I did have a go at the 'flatmate interview' bit, but was rubbish, so I got cut out. Apparently staring right at the camera is what's known as a 'no-no'.

Herge Smith said...

Oh yeah, the old 'fence injury' excuse... bah! you stick it in a horses mouth, and sooner or later...

Kalista said...

Really James? I'll have to dig the tape out and witness your acting! When is the dvd planned for? or is that 'top secret-we'll-chop your hands off if you tell 'em on the blog' info?

james henry said...

Herge - yes I did wonder what exactly he'd done to the horse to cause such an accident...

Kalista - no news on the release date yet. They might know by Friday - I'll say if they do.

cello said...

I don't want to know the real story because 'stumped' is just too good.

Scribbler said...

Oh, this made me laugh!

Except for the rumour about HJ - that's quite disturbing...

Perhaps this is an example of why writers with common/popular names choose to use pseudonyms. Although it seems like everyone's doing it now.

Shari said...

Well my initials are S L T S M Smith. Doesn't really have the same ring as J K Rowling does it?

I was once telephoned by British Telecom and asked how to pronounce the name Sltsm.

My dad did laugh at that one.

strangeumbrella said...

Just looked and blimey, there you are indeed in a nice white shirt. Sadly not really any close-ups, but your right hand has quite a starring role.

james henry said...

Yes indeed. See that biro moving? That's method, that is.

Steve Dix said...

I once had an interview for a job at IBM, with Boris Pasternak.

Not THE Boris Pasternak, apparently...

shiny rainbow fish said...

i now have a burning desire to watch the 6th episode! dvd, dvd, dvd, dvd, when when when when whennnnnnnnn?!

Anonymous said...

Somebody said October.
Blah di Blah di Blah...
The last ep is on tonight. What am I going to do till then?????? I'll only have two eps taped!

Kalista said...

I've seen it too now! Are you a method actor James? Did you train for hours beforehand, as your manic writing/scowling technique is superb. The shirt is nice too. Have you still got the beard?

james henry said...

I'm afraid that's my natural pen-holding expression. I do still have the shirt, and the beard, although my hair is bit swishier now.

Kalista said...

I was unsure of beards for a while, thinking that it was bizzare to want to hide your lower jaw from the world. But now I quite like them. It makes you look rather dashing James dear!

james henry said...

That's just the clever lighting - three pounds twenty well spent...

Kalista said...

nice to see a man who can take a compliament : )

£3.20, my my, they are splashing out on production budgets nowadays, you'll be telling me that you have an assortment of biscuits provided!