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Time for Maya’s voice to be heard amid the non-tears

Posted on 9 February 2010 | 9:02am

It is modestly comic how some media saddos continue to imagine I somehow used my magical powers of spin to ensure publication of my novel, Maya, coincided with my appearance at the Chilcot Inquiry.

Never having been one of those ‘all publicity is good publicity’ people, I don’t quite buy the line that because I have been all over the telly and some of the papers on Iraq, people will rush out to buy the book. More important, poor Maya has barely been getting a look in amid the coverage of what I described as an emotional moment on TV, and yet which seems to have sparked a debate about whether it is ok for men to cry?

Interesting one this, and further revealing how they can never quite cope with things as they are, but have to take them to the next level, as football managers like to say. With my Mind Champion of the Year mental health campaigner hat on, may I say there is nothing wrong with men crying. Indeed, any reader of The Blair Years will know I am not averse to a good weep from time to time.

But Sunday morning on Marr was not one of them. So there, just for the record, I did not cry. I had a rather odd few seconds during which many things went through my mind, as I sought to explain on Richard Bacon’s Five Live Show yesterday, so if you want to know more, go to iplayer. Nice chap by the way. Hope that doesn’t harm him in Beeb upper echelons.

So Maya having been squeezed out, poor thing, what with her being an A-list movie star, I should put that right, by giving you an early taster of the kind of comments that might be appearing on the paperback. I won’t bother with the published reviews – for which many thanks to Times, Telegraph, Scotsman, Mail on Scumday, Mirror (book of week), Time Out (ditto) and others who have made excellent comments will be vying for the honour of appearing on the paperback cover later in the year.

But I think it only fair to record, for example, that Mr Bacon, despite being a busy man with a million twitter followers to look after, and a radio show to run, said he took it to bed on Sunday night and read it right through in one go. So that has to be an ‘absolutely, spellbindingly gripping.’ (BBC)

When I did Adam Boulton’s show on Monday, one of his producers confided to me ‘I’d love to be able to say the stuff on 24 hour news and how we handle breaking celeb stories is unrealistic. But I’m afraid you’ve got us down to a tee.’ Aka ‘chillingly, spine-tinglingly realistic’ (Rupert Murdoch Empire)

Janice Turner of The Times felt compelled during our interview to read the sex scene to me, in between telling me it was a real pageturner. ‘Sexy as hell … I read it again and again.’  (Janice Turner)

‘I loved the ending’ (Liz Grice, Telegraph) or maybe make that ‘you will love the ending.’

I have upwards of a dozen of these now, but in the interests of balance I should record that someone sent me a private message on twitter saying I was a piece of human excresence and he would not read my book for that reason. But even there, I wonder if he would mind if I said ‘I hate him so much I can’t read this book but if I did I would probably love it.’ No, maybe not.

I’m a bit confused about Simon Mayo’s reaction. He told me he liked it, and gave me that impression when I pre-recorded an interview with him for his Radio 2 show at 5pm tonight. But he tweeted earlier ‘once I put it down I couldn’t pick it up.’ He was clearly joking.

Anyway, am doing Loose Women today, is that doesn’t sound too dirty. My mum says I need to take care, because they can be a bit scary, but I think Carol McGiffin isn’t on today. She gave me a bit of a hard time for being so Labour last time I was on. Today  Lesley (a big Labour supporter), Lisa, Coleen and Kate (who will be if I do my Green Room schmoozing properly).

Meanwhile what bliss to be able to end the day with a midweek Burnley game in London, at Fulham. We are so full of confidence after winning at the weekend, and with Fulham suffering a real dip in form, I am buzzing with excitement at the prospect of us getting our first away win of the season.

Oh, and quite excited too that the Lord Ashcroft scandal finally appears to be coming to the boil. I don’t know if you watched Newsnight, but before the discussion of my ‘tears’ (not a single mention of Maya poor thing) there was a hugely embarrassed and embarrassing interview with Tory George Young trying to explain Ashcroft’s status, and later a second one with Michael Gove, who was also unable to give a straight answer to a straight question.

Most of the media have been utterly useless on this, as they have given Cameron the easiest ride of any party Ieader in our lifetime. But Newsnight suggested to me this one is not going away. Cameron had better get some clearer answers than the non-answers he has given so far. Because this is one of those issues that can explode during an election, and if he had any sense he would get it sorted before then. However, the fact he hasn’t sorted it already says to me that for some reason he can’t. Houston, he has a problem. Can’t wait for take off.


  • Harry Pearson

    Heard you on Bacon show while driving to a sale. Really good interview. Good questions and he let you answer. Nice to hear you calm after Sunday. My wife was worried for you! She is a fellow sufferer

  • Gina Preston

    You may say all publicity is not good publicity. I would probably have got your book at some point but as it happens I got it on Sunday on the back of seeing you on the news. I am up to the bit where Steve goes to Maya’s dad’s house and I am gripped. He is not exactly likeable but there is something compelling about him. Will let you know if I agree with the lady from the telegraph

  • Paul Freestone

    Newsnight was hilarious. Both the Tories were asked a straight question and could not answer it. If this was a Labour issue they would not be allowed to get away with it. I agree this will grow until they have to tell the truth, which they clearly fear. Btw Guardian today has a page on their previous efforts to answers qs on this. pathetic. Also John Crace digested reads is Maya!!! Quite funny. Not sure if you will like the cartoon – you having a clinch with hairt chested Tony B

  • Patrick O\’Gara

    I look forward to reading Maya. From what I gather, you (or someone) decided to sex it up a bit. Always a good idea.

  • Patrick O\’Gara

    .. and now I see Tone was on Fox News. A marriage clearly divinely inspired. And he didn’t mention Maya once. Ungrateful bastard. It’s enough to bring tears to one’s eyes.

  • leo

    I agree that George Young was wobbling like a jelly in a high wind but then Ben Bradshaw went from rottweiler to pekinese when Lord Paul’s name came up. Labour and Conservatives as bad as each other – again. Surely the point is that there is an overall issue to be resolved concerning non. dom. political donors? Ashcroft’s position may be the most serious but it is not isolated and focus on it detracts from the big picture which is cross party.

  • Mark \’Elvis\’ Wright

    Great interview with Richard Bacon. Always liked him ever since The Big Breakfast. Glad he’s been promoted to Drive. He asked all the questions Marr should have done and let the interview evolve. A broadcaster in the truest sense of the word.

    And I disagree with you that the novel is being overlooked. If anything, bearing in my mind Chilcot and an impending election etc, I’m surprised how *much* attention is being given to your novel and to you as a novelist.

    Whether you like it or not Mr Campbell you are being subtly ‘re-branded’! One day you may even give an interview with not a single question about Iraq!

    Looking forward to picking up a copy of ‘Maya’ at the Elvis event.

  • Patrick James

    I’m very glad that the Ashcroft business is getting some press attention.

    There is a funny side to it, imho, which is William Hague.

    The thought of him sliming around Cashcroft, doing his bidding, is really amusing.

    There was an advertisement yesterday at for Labour which was very good. Can’t see it today but I hope it will be back. I think targeted online advertisements are a very good idea.

  • Alan Quinn

    There was a big spread on the Ashcroft question in the Grauniad today as well as an excellent article by your better half on the tories plans to make education a disaster zone. No mention of Maya though in Fiona’s article though.

  • Tony

    3 – 0 .What Bliss – going down down down you’re going down ( with Brown!)

  • Patrick O\’Gara

    Paul Freestone 2010-02-09 10:00:51
    Newsnight was hilarious. Both the Tories were asked a straight question and could not answer it.

    I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mr.Freestone, which is a pity – since to post the comment above on this particular website indicates an exceptionally keen sense of irony.