The Hermit

by joseph ridgwell

One night in a deserted London boozer, the Hermit spake. Everyone who was there listened in, the three of us, including the barmaid.

‘An interesting shift in the demographic of fame and modern celebrity has appeared on the scene or non scene as it were my friends. Anti-Fame, which first emerged amongst denizens of underground literature, and slowly spread like a moribund virus to other fields of the creative arts, now threatens to go overground.’

‘Yeah, so what?’ I hissed, as I was not overly fond of the Hermit, as he was not a regular.

Undeterred, the Hermit contiuned:

‘Small underground presses have begun to flourish and proliferate. It is to these artisan outfits that a new wave of writer, disgusted with such an outdated concept as fame, has turned to for publication. Anti-Fame has, for a small band of writers, become a desirable state of affairs.’

‘Who gives a shit?’ I jeered, ‘and just who are these publishers?’

‘They are typically independent, receive no funding, are oblivious to the vulgarity of marketing, and refuse to sell books through Amazon or any other major retailer. These new radical publishers will forge ahead and publish a series of limited edition books by unknown authors.

‘They sound like a bunch of losers,’ I heckled.

The Hermit frowned in such a way that I almost began to like him.

‘In some instances the books will be of such limited runs as to be almost impossible to buy. Many of the authors, dismayed at their fellow scribes self-promotional prostitution, will eschew social networking sites, public readings, and in some cases even deny authorship. This, my friends, is the philosophy of Anti-Fame, which I hearby label the Greta Garbo Syndrome.’

‘The Greta Garbo syndrome?’ I sneered.

The Hermit glared at me disdainfully, but also with a certain amount of self-assurance borne from living alone for nigh on fifty years on a rocky ledge in a cave by the sea.

‘As night follows day this phenomenon will infiltrate all other areas of public life. Names will be the first major casualties. No company or brand will associate themselves with anything or anyone that represents the old way of thinking. Major stars will be shunned. Membership of social networks will crash, the sites themselves becoming defunct, or surviving merely as curiosity pieces. Celebrities famous for being famous will emerge as tragic figures, with suicide amongst this doomed fraternity becoming commonplace. Magazines that cater purely for celebrity culture will go bankrupt, renounce their former ways, or simply disappear.’

‘And why are you telling us all this oh Hermit?’ I slurred.

The Hermit smiled like a saint.

‘Because you need schooling.’

‘Tell us something we don’t already know!’

‘The honey moon is really the hiding moon?’

‘Jog on and do one ya lemon.’

The Hermit looked as if he was about to cry, but instead wrapped his grey cape around his scrawny shoulders and departed the scene.

I turned to the bar fly nearest me.

‘Heard the one about Sean Connery and Petula Clark?’

The bar fly raised his two thirds empty pint of wife beater. ‘Na.’

‘It’s in the next Dirty Boozy Bastard column in the Tooting Free Press.’

‘An where’d I get that from then?’

‘Fucked if I know.’