A few days ago, it was reported that Macmillan Children's Books had signed one Geri Halliwell for a six book deal.
Ms Halliwell, formerly known as Ginger Spice and then "the one who left and released that bloody awful single and stopped eating", has a website about her forthcoming fiction debut, to render us all breathless with excitement at the prospect of the release of the Ugenia Lavender series and, if that were not enough for our delectation, a song to accompany the series.
On this website, there is an extract from Ugenia Lavender to whet our appetites.
Or, I fear, not.
I would dearly love to be able to say that the publisher has chosen this work because of its crackling writing and unparallelled quality and that the fact that it is written by a celebrity is irrelevant. Unhappily, being of an honest nature, I cannot.
This extract is the most appalling example of utterly dreadful writing I have had the misfortune to stumble across since I once accidentally read half a page of Heat magazine. The heroine's name puts one in mind of an unfortunate bladder infection, and the general standard of the prose is mind-bogglingly poor.
It is a travesty that Macmillan have published this, and all because it is accompanied by the name of a celebrity. At least, one can only presume that to be the reason, because according to the extract on the Ugenia Lavender website there are no other redeeming features to recommend it.
Is Geri really so self-delusional that, like the contestants of the X Factor who shriek like a thousand cats on fire and still expect to be the next...well, Geri Halliwell, she believes that she has a talent for writing fiction that will be enthuse the nation's children to become prolific readers? It is more likely they will decide never to pick up a book again on the basis of it; and who could blame them? Are Macmillan out of their minds? Or do they also prefer the name tag of a celebrity in favour of quality when they choose which books to publish? Can we assume that as Macmillan have chosen to publish this substandard work, they don't believe that children deserve or need reading material of quality and originality? How very insulting to the young.
The UK become so obsessed with the mindless celebrity culture that an Emperor's New Clothes phenomenon has been created. One can only hope that as these books are written for children that those children will, with the unpretentious and unbiased honesty of youth, point and laugh at these books and declare them to be naked of talent and merit.