Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Bit of a Gaffe

Ooh, my favourite - a soiree at Probsthain's. It involves what a 'friend' of mine says I'm good at: shameless free-loading. It's true they put on a good supply of sandwiches and wine at the cosy shop-cum gallery opposite the British Museum. However, as I intended to review the book, 'China's Global Strategy' without pay, and as I even bought a copy, my conscience is clear.

At least, it's clear as far as the free-loading charge is concerned. Besides, one glass of wine and three thin triangles is hardly gluttony. Oh, and a lovely sausage roll that was more like a tiny cushion than a bolster.

But I should have done my homework about the author, Jenny Clegg. I did discover she lectured at The University of Central Lancashire in my home town of Preston. But when I received a denial from the namesake I picked out on Facebook, I went no further.

It was a refreshing change to hear a talk about a book with a positive attitude to China's political aims. It was later that I made the second mistake - mentioning my own book and blethering on about stereotypes in US films, such as the early Fu Man Chu, etc.

This morning I began to do what I should have done before. To my shame I found a list of the author's previous works on a website - including one called 'Fu Man Chu and the 'Yellow Peril': The Making of a Racist Myth'

So I'd been telling her something I'd read in her book, probably giving the impression it was my own idea. Even worse - not only did I find it in the bibliography of my own book this morning, it was even quoted in the text! No wonder she looked a bit strained when I asked for her signature on my way out.

It took me a while to find an email address to send an explanation and apology. Well, at least the book itself had made an impression on my failing memory - one of the more enjoyable reads among the weighty tomes.

Maybe in future I should save my breath to cool my porridge. In other words, apart from eating and drinking, just keep my trap shut.
Jenny Clegg's China's Global Strategy: Towards a Multipolar World :http://us.macmillan.com/chinasglobalstrategy


Pluto said...

Sheila: Many thanks for such a nice blog about our book launch on Monday - here's hoping that your readers will share your enthusiasm for Jenny's book, and buy it too! It's a great antidote to the normal dross on China!

Anne Beech (Pluto MD)

Pluto said...

For people in the UK who are interested in the book, its available here:


and of course from Probsthains bookshop!

Glad you had a good night Sheila.