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Literary rambles

Published:  18 January, 2007

Was it Gordon Selfridge or Henry Ford who said that all publicity is good publicity'?

I must thank Malcolm Gluck, the wine writing trade's self-appointed court jester, for giving Destination Champagne the oxygen of publicity (A tale of woes', Harpers, 22 July). After all, it was surely Oscar Wilde who commented that there is no greater insult than being ignored. And if he didn't, well he should have done.

The traditional task of the court jesters was not just to amuse. They had to prick egos and so point out to their lords and masters that they were still only human. At this Gluck is a past master. He carries out his work with all the consummate skill of a topflight advertising copywriter - which is what he was - and in such an entertaining way that we all have to smile, especially those who are the targets of his well-honed barbs.

However, he should remember that there is a great divide between copywriting, with all its biased spin,' and journalism, which should be seeking after truth. There are occasions when Gluck's leaps of fantasy fail to bridge the gap. More often than not this is because he stops at the superficial and ignores the all-important substrate.

Destination Champagne is not just vanity publishing, even though it is self-published. This is because although a publisher did show interest in the book, it did not recognise wine tourism as a publishing sector. It also insisted on printing it on pulp paper, not including maps or colour illustrations on all the pages and refusing to sew-bind the book, preferring the cheaper so-called perfect binding', which is only a superficial gluing technique that falls apart after a few days of hard use. Its final ignominy was to suggest that, in the interest of economy, the book should be produced in China! I do not support the export of jobs, and the book was designed and printed in my own county of Worcestershire.

Although Decanter's reviewer may have damned the book with faint praise, excellent reviews from writers of the stature of Jancis Robinson OBE MW have helped propel it into the top of the category list for a short time. Sales both in the UK and in France, to English-speaking visitors, are starting to take off. This is because, or so I am reliably informed, there have not up to now been any proper wine tourism guides that enable casual visitors learn about a region and its wines. It is neither a wine book nor a travel guide, but is the first of its genre: a wine tourism guide. And if we can raise the necessary venture capital, it will be the first of a series of similar guides to those other wine-producing regions of the world that are destinations that attract tourists.

Perhaps I should explain the reason for the pseudonym Philippe Boucheron. He was created during the 20-odd years that I spent in public relations, and PR people are seldom seen as serious journalists. By the time I left the PR treadmill in 1987, Philippe was already recognised and it was far more simple to carry on working under his name than my own.

Nick Mendes M.CAM FCIPR rtd

Managing Director

Wine Destination Publications Limited

aka Philippe Boucheron'

via e-mail

Excellent! You are much too kind to me, my dear Philippe. You understand the nature of my review of your book perfectly. It will make your book notorious and shoot it up the best-seller charts. All part of the service to which I feel, like a Dostoyevskian Christian, I must dedicate myself to help those authors less fortunate than others.

Yours disrespectfully,

Andr Gide

PS: Didn't I tell you? It's time I chucked away my name and adopted something more mildewed, and so I thought I'd try that of the author of Les Faux Monnayeurs on for size. You will of course recognise, from my review, the reasons why such a nom de plume is so apt for me. Though, as with so much of what I write, hidden references, I suspect, go over the heads of all but the most perceptive readers.

Malcolm Gluck

via e-mail