Say it how you like: when it comes to contemporary politics, I keep my head under the parapet, my flag in the cupboard, my hair under my hat, my pigeons on the roost, my slippers under the carpet, my blood beneath my skin and my heart safely ensconsed below my lungs, ribcage and a thickly-knitted sweater. I am not especially proud of this stance, but it is so. More often than not, my reality lies within the pages of a book of nineteenth century folktales. Should politics enter a book, I will of course consume it merrily. Otherwise I shall not prod, poke, tap or touch it.
Still, I cannot afford, alas, to be absolutely ignorant. Though talk of the ever-coming, disappearing, re-appearing and essentially ever-present ‘recession’ bores me more deeply than a Jon Gvennersson anecdote, I would be a fool to eschew it absolutely. After all, economic hard times tend to hit the small people harder than the big folk – and as these things go, I’m securely on the tiny side of things. My publishing house – Upside-Down-Then-Backwards– has always kept going on very little, if any, profit, relying heavily on the goodwill of writers, readers and people who sell staples. For this reason, people have been claiming ever since its birth that it has, or will soon go spiralling down the proverbial pan. ‘Upside-Down-Then-Backwards: Defunct?’ read a recent headline, supporting a sensational article based on the firm foundation of zero facts. ‘If it Wasn’t Dead Before, It Must Be Now’, read another, similarly fallacious scarehead. For the truth is that, credit crunch or credit crunch, Upside-Down-Then-Backwards is very much alive.
I take that back. Very much alive is, perhaps, over-egging the pudding. Upside-Down-Then-Backwards is not dead. There – that should do. After all, I wouldn’t like to give you the impression that we are about to throw caution to the wind and toss ourselves into the tidal wave of economic gloom with an ambitious new publishing project. This has never happened before and won’t be happening now. What will be happening, however, is much of what has been happening before. Which is to say: quiet but beautiful progress.