Delays, delays and more delays. I keep thinking that the publication of The Red House On The Niobrara is imminent - and then come across further hurdles that must be crossed. Today I called the Internal Revenue Service in the US of A to obtain an EIN, or Employee Identification Number, in order that amazon.com may ensure that tax is deducted at source (in the US) from any earnings on the e-book. I have to have an EIN rather than the usual TIN because I am an employee of my own company. That was all relatively simple, as it happened. I called the number, listened to some elevator music for nine minutes, and managed to retain a grip on my sanity until I reached a soft-spoken guy called Archie, who took me through the procedure and assured me that I would receive what I needed within ten working days.
So far, so painless. I must admit to succumbing to all kinds of fears at the very thought of going through all this. Having written a book - any book - my first impulse is always to run and hide, and hope that I can reap all the financial rewards while attending to my next project.
Encouraged by my success with the IRS, I turned to item two on my agenda. ISBN numbers. I remembered that when I published Yesss!!!! United In Defeat, back in 1998, I not only obtained a number relatively easily but was, I seemed to recall, granted a wad of them. I wasn’t mistaken. The lady at the Nielsen UK Book Agency took approximately ninety seconds to locate me in the register, tell me what I had published fourteen years ago and inform me that I had been allocated ten numbers, nine of which were still available - and would reach me within the next day or two.
I celebrated with a large fried breakfast and treated myself to an hour or so watching highlights from the Easter programme of football games. York City had a mixed weekend. Saturday I watched them lose 1-0 to champions-elect Fleetwood Town. It was always on the cards that the guy who scored 38 goals for us in 2009-10, a big lump named Richard Brodie whom we sold to Crawley for £275,000, who in turn loaned him out to the Cod Army, should come on as a second-half substitute, waltz past three defenders in the penalty area and score the game’s only goal. He never did that for us: I mean beating defenders. Mostly he fell over his own feet. (I should note that the Cod Army is a reference to the fishing-fleet which once plied its trade out of Fleetwood.)
That was Saturday. Monday York took 700 supporters to Alfreton, who had just won seven games out of eight, played them off the park and won two-nil, securing a rather tighter grip on a play-off position.
I wasn’t at Alfreton. I was at Hartlepool with my old school-friend John and his son. They follow Brentford (average attendance 5,000) all over the country from their West London base. When I was growing up there were three great certainties in life: Death, Taxes… and Hartlepool filling one of the bottom four places in the lowest of the four divisions. They were a byword for under-achievement, an absolute laughing-stock. In recent years, however, they have managed to cement a place in the middle reaches of the third division. They have reduced season-ticket prices to levels that a working man can afford, and consequently play to crowds twice as large as they did in the bad old days. Their ground is neat, fully covered, and generally close to being full. However… none of the above stopped Monday from being the kind of experience I would’ve expected had I been sent to the Victoria Ground forty years ago. It was freezing cold and windy; it rained; the quality of the football was dreadful, and there were no goals. So why did I enjoy the day? Good company, the fact that I have now visited 45 different grounds around the country - and the half-time cup of tea, which was pretty darned good.
Onward… to a marketing scheme for the new book - although Mike Pannett will be back from his Greek holiday on Thursday and will doubtless be on the old dog and bone (phone) with schemes and ideas and bucket-loads of enthusiasm. No, that wasn’t me sighing; just breathing out, slowly.