Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bob Dylan, Michael Palin, the auto-pen and me

What most intrigues me about the Bob Dylan’s automated signature story is the implication that resorting to the auto-pen is standard practice. 

I don’t have any doubt that a machine signs the American President’s name for them but I was taken aback by the idea that it was widely used by famous musicians, authors and the like. My modest adventures in book signing obviously have never taken into that region where the air is presumably very rare indeed.

However, in 2016 when my 1971 book came out, my publisher did a deal with Waterstones, as a consequence of which I was called upon to sign 500 copies. To do this, I had to travel out to the printers, which was in Suffolk. 

I was collected from the train by a local cab driver, who asked me why I was going to the printer. Feeling rather pleased with myself, I said “I’ve been asked to  sign 500 copies of my book.” Then I preeningly added “I’m going to be here all morning."

The driver left what he considered a decent pause and then said “I had Michael Palin in this car the other day. He was here for two days.”

You could hear the air going out of my self-regard as far away as Ipswich.

Now obviously the sainted Palin would never resort to the auto-pen, no matter how great the demand, no matter what a clearly embarrassed Bob Dylan might say.

While I’m here, if anybody wants to buy a copy of my Abbey Road book and get it authentically signed by the author I’ll be in
Foyle’s in Charing Cross Road tomorrow night, December 1st, and would appreciate the company.

1 comment:

  1. I’ve recently got a bee in my bonnet about bad signatures: ones that are just a scrawl that can be anybody’s signature, and worse initials.