No, really. I've never seen Star Wars, but that’s not quite what I mean. Forgive me if I’m preaching to the choir here, but I don’t know which radio shows have crossed the Atlantic and which are still well-kept secrets over here.
OK. The lovely BBC has a show called I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, in which minor celebrities (usually the kind who actually have a personality; it’s a good show) are asked to do several things they’ve never done before and maybe would never have thought of doing, then give each activity a score out of ten. For instance, the witty, erudite editor of a satirical magazine baked a cake from scratch, without benefit of packet mix; and an even more erudite and not-easily-pleased TV anchorman known for refusing to suffer fools read The da Vinci Code.
They usually surprise themselves, and with that in mind, it’s possible that my own personal I’ve Never Seen Star Wars moment last week doesn’t quite qualify. But I choose my new experiences carefully these days, so it could be the closest I’m going to get.
I went to a big arena rock concert.
Give or take a couple of teenage pop concerts (remember Johnny Tillotson? The Four Pennies? No? OK, so I’m even older than Jeff. You wanna make something of it?) in which the music was drowned out by screaming thirteen-year-olds, until last week I had never been to any kind of rock concert, much less the kind that fills a 12,000-seater arena and blasts you with sound for two hours straight so that it takes three days for your hearing to recover.
I thought I’d left my rock music days behind decades ago, and there’s not much modern so-called popular music that appeals to me; but one band has stayed with me ever since I first encountered them in the sleepwalking weeks after my daughter was born, and again a decade and a half later when they had their biggest revival and she discovered them herself. I admit it freely, with no shame; I’m a Queen fan.
I am not a joiner-in. I don’t sing along with the Last Night of the Proms, or clap the rhythm of the finale of a popular musical. But that night I stamped, clapped, yelled, ‘We will, we will rock you!’ and sang along to We Are the Champions; heck, I even did the Mexican wave for Brian May’s stereoscopic selfie. I couldn’t help myself; it just came naturally. And I’m here to tell you, Adam Lambert who came second in American Idol is as close as they’ll ever get to a singer like Freddie. Not that anyone will ever replace Freddie, of course.
So what does any of this have to do with crime fiction? Absolutely nothing; I just wanted to share.
But how about this? Are you listening, all those people in Erin’s post who wouldn’t be seen dead reading a crime novel, in case it messes with your credentials as Serious Intellectuals? No, of course you’re not, but if you are listening and know one or more of those people, why not choose a crime novel to recommend to them, without telling them it’s a genre novel, of course, and ask them to give it a score out of ten when they’ve read it?
My choice would be Reginald Hill’s The Woodcutter. I still have no idea why that book didn’t win every fiction award in sight, crime and everything else. Well, maybe not science fiction and fantasy, but everything else.
And just for the record, the TV anchorman I mentioned several aeons ago in this post not only read The da Vinci Code and gave it nine out of ten for page-turning; he sat up all night to finish it.
The cake apparently tasted OK too.