3. Danny Wallace
There’s no way this series isn’t going well. The first instalment back in (I think) September 2010 featured Alexis Petridis and Neal Butterworth and definitely wasn’t shit. This is the second instalment and might be a bit shit. Might be. For a start Danny Wallace isn’t really a journalist, but he has written whimsical pieces for a handful of broadsheets and has a regular (whimsical) column in Shortlist and I do want to kick the you-know-what out of him so he’ll have to do.
So, Danny Wallace. I want to get away. I need to get away. I’m broke, going mad and drinking too much and I’m hoping that going away will magically sort all of this out – that somehow being somewhere that isn’t here will make me less broke, less mad and less reliant on alcohol to get me through the day. It will won’t it? Just say yes.
Which brings us slightly clumsily back to Danny Wallace whose second book, Yes Man, I found myself reading in Boscombe library yesterday. I read it – or rather, I read some of it – as a mistake. It was among the travel books (I need to get away) and I remembered someone saying to me once that my writing was a lot like Danny Wallace’s so I picked it up and read a hundred or so pages and wanted to cry.
For those of you who don’t know, Yes Man is about Danny Wallace saying ‘yes’ to stuff instead of ‘no’ to stuff and finding himself in all sorts of hilarious, improbable and probably falsified situations. His first book, Join Me, was an hilarious, improbable and probably falsified account of him “accidentally starting a cult”. This is the kind of caper that he gets up to. He wrote a travel column for (I think) the Guardian about going around Australia with his (probably) lovely wife and visiting big tomatoes or something. He can write about anything now. He’s in a situation where he can go to his agent or publisher or a newspaper editor and say: “I’d like to do something where I go around the world talking to fish who wear hats” and they’d say yes. Or: “How about a column in which I document my crazy decision to wear ONLY red trousers with yellow shirts or ONLY yellow trousers with red shirts. And I do this for a year. Don’t worry, I can make most of it up.” Or: “Maybe I should just say “Ooohh” for a whole year, or eat my underpants for breakfast, or fuck all of the truck drivers in Leeds…” and people who commission this stuff would say yes yes yes.*
This is what I want (perhaps not the truck drivers) and I’m jealous and the reason behind this vitriol is I know that if Danny Wallace had come up with the idea of Pitching the World he would have made a success out of it, would have landed a book deal and column and television series. What have I landed? I’ve landed night terrors, crumbling self-esteem, a growing problem with addictions and eczema on my hand. The idea behind this project is good, but the execution has been woeful. Perhaps I should lie about stuff more, like Danny Wallace does.
Danny, if you’re reading this I don’t really want to kick the fuck out of you. The main reason I don’t want to is that if you did happen upon this you’d probably take it to your agent and he’d say: “Do it. But write a column and book about it and we’ll sell it for loads” and you’d write about your training and make it quite funny and use loads of exclamation marks but you’d get pretty fit and punchy as well whereas I’d just sit in my Nan’s dining room and chainsmoke and drink. About two days before the big fight I’d do some press ups and give up after about nine, thinking “Fuck this, I’ll just get drunk and smack him” and I will get drunk and try and smack you but I’ll miss and you’ll smash my stupid yet once handsome face to bits and you’ll make a million pounds from it.
Next up: Dave Gorman. And probably Johann Hari.
Danny Wallace, earlier
* Jesus, after writing that I looked at his Wikipedia entry and read the following:
“On 16 December 2008 he presented his second episode of Horizon on BBC2, Where’s My Robot. In it, Wallace travelled the world to meet roboticists and ask them, simply: “Where’s my robot?””
You couldn’t make this shit up. He could, but you couldn’t.