by Ed West
Wednesday, 18
March 2020
Reaction
15:04

Cancelled by coronavirus

A giant rollercoaster of a novel in four hundred sizzling chapters

I long for those heady, happy days of 2019 when ‘cancelled’ innocently referred to someone being hounded out of their job by thousands of ideological fanatics because of their opinion; rather than its 2020 meaning of “being called off”.

Everything has been cancelled until at least June. Literally everything. Hundreds and thousands of weddings, holidays of a lifetime, sports events, plays, TV programmes, concerts; everything. I feel for them, even for those things that usually irritate. I’m not a fan of Eurovision, for example, but I can appreciate that so many people have put their everything into the event, and for many it will be a crushing blow.

I sort of empathise to some degree because I’ve been working on a book for years and years, hours upon hours, and which was finally finished around the last days of 2019. I put a lot of work into it, to the detriment of everything else. My father cut off his head and fried it in garlic in the hope of attracting my attention; I scarcely looked up from my work. Etc etc.

But just around the same time as those final corrections were being put in place, medical authorities in a Chinese city called Wuhan began noticing a cluster of pneumonia cases – and the rest is history. Now we’re in this strange new situation, and I’ve finally started to appreciate that cliché “like living in a bad dream”.

Like other authors, I cancelled my book launch because I didn’t want to spread the virus and risk more lives; all TV and radio interviews have been cancelled, and now Amazon will stop restocking books.

I don’t feel at all hard done by. Every author is in the same position and it’s far, far worse for people in other artistic industries; for playwrights and theatre producers it’s just heartbreaking. And, of course, this all pales compared to what medical professionals are going through.

While I was very anxious about the publication, of scathing reviews, terrible sales and general public humiliation, this crisis has at least had a small salutary effect, making me appreciate what’s important; if everyone I love comes out of 2020 healthy, I will consider it a good year for me. Besides which, not everything is in our hands and sometimes, for all our great abilities as a species, we’re still at the mercy of powers and forces greater than us.

When these dark times are over, we will also really appreciate normal life in a way many of us haven’t for some time — the freedom, the company, the prospect of watching the football or seeing a band, or enjoying a beer on a sunny day with friends. And that day will come. And when it does, you will all buy my book.

Comment


  • March 20, 2020
    Ah yes, the book about the death of Conservatism, published in the week when the Tories (according to Mathew Goodwin elsewhere on this site) hit 52% in the polls. When Trump is almost certainly on course to win again and Bernie Sanders' campaign ended in disaster. When three of the four most popular...

To get involved in the discussion and stay up to date, join UnHerd.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up