I did a day in house for one of our clients recently – they’re a contract publisher, producing a variety of communications on behalf of their clients, and it suits the way they do things for us to proofread their material on site. It works for us, too.
Anyway, that’s not really the point. From the general chit-chat I picked up that the person sitting next to me was due to do an interview over the phone for a magazine piece. I didn’t pay it much more attention, and I wasn’t eavesdropping (and was still concentrating on my proofreading!), but I did gather that the interviewee was called Marcus. Obviously there are lots of Marcuses in the world, but it soon became apparent that this was Marcus Trescothick, the cricketer and author (with Peter Hayter) of Coming Back to Me, which won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year prize in 2008.
Marcus Trescothick is one of my heroes. He plays for the wrong county (Somerset rather than Gloucestershire) and supports the wrong football team (Bristol City rather than the Rovers), but I’ve always enjoyed watching him bat (one of my favourite days at the cricket was seeing him and Graham Thorpe biffing the South Africans all around The Oval in 2003), and his book is remarkable in the way that it talks about the mental health problems which eventually curtailed his England career. Most cricketers’ autobiographies don’t really achieve much other than boosting the player’s bank balance and the profits of the remainder bookshops where they end up; this one will have changed a few lives (and – given the relatively high rate of suicide among former professional cricketers – maybe even saved a few). Before his book, this was pretty much a taboo subject. Now, people talk about it in the same way that they do about a back strain or dodgy knee. It’s a problem to be dealt with in the appropriate way.
My temporary colleague seemed to be asking sensible questions – he obviously knew which end of the bat to hold – and from the pauses I could tell that Marcus was giving full answers, which didn’t surprise me. I’d have wanted to know Marcus’s reaction to Somerset’s win over Surrey the previous day which, as events turned out, saved them from relegation and, given his attachment to the county (there’s already a stand at Taunton which bears his name), probably meant a lot to him. But that wasn’t the focus of the interview, which was a charity bike ride in which he was taking part, no doubt of much more interest to readers of the magazine in question.
The big kid in me wanted to tap my neighbour on the shoulder and ask him to tell Marcus that I was a fan of his, and thought his to be one of the best cricket books I had read. This could have gone one of two ways: it might have been fine, maybe even given the interview a bit of a lift; or, calm though my colleague seemed to be, it might have completely thrown him, ruined the conversation, and resulted in me being marched off the premises and Accuracy Matters losing a valuable client. So, of course, the pro won out over the kid – but, in the highly unlikely event that Marcus reads this blog, here’s the tap on the shoulder.