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'In today's climate, you are very much expected to do your own marketing as far as possible. People who draw a salary from marketing want to know what marketing you are doing for yourself while importuning you to tell them what they ought to do.'
'There are male writers who think being a writer will impress the ladies, which it more or less literally never does. Best say you’ve recently been invalided out of the Royal Marines. I once told a young barbershop trainee I was a fairground safety inspector. '
'I was bundled into a double-act with the late Howard Marks, international drug trafficker turned memoirist. The performance amounted to Mr Marks giving his usual drinking and spliffing stage turn, interspersed with me reading successive passages.'
'I was once drowsing through a press brunch at Claridge’s in my days as a consumer journalist, when the late Dame Barbara Cartland arrived. For a second, it was possible to imagine the maturity of one’s own career being a matter of grand arrivals.'
'There are exceptions to the somewhere-else rule... I wouldn’t like to work in a coffee-shop, as many do, with the raucous spurting of the espresso machine, the ambient chatter, and the need to part with another £2.50 every four hours.'
'A couple of years ago a machine assessed my three chapters in two and a half hours, and sent me a heartfelt middle finger, with best wishes for placing my work with another machine elsewhere.'

Catherine O'Flynn is surprised by the dearth of literature about car boot sales, the ideal place to take your internal apocalpysometer for a spin.

Stuart Walton recalls the Pleasureland Fairground, home of ‘The Rides’, an experience that grew with him and his sister throughout their youth.

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