“The question of why anyone agrees to be profiled by Lynn Barber is a curious one,” writes Toby Young who is under the interviewer’s scalpel in today’s Observer magazine.
The man who the magazine’s standfirst describes as “the shameless self-publicist whom the media world loves to loathe” got his retaliation in first in a page on his personal website. He calls it “My interview from hell with Lynn Barber.”
The answer to his question is easy. It is the end-note of the interview (curiously, not on the Observer website) which starts: “To order a copy of Toby Young’s latest book…”
His own explanation — “I naively thought I could charm the pants off her” — is different.
He starts his piece on the interview, posted on Thursday, with this exchange:
“So,” said Lynn Barber, sitting down opposite me and switching on her tape recorder. “Is it true you Google yourself every day?”
My heart sank. Whatever happened to lulling your victim into a false sense of security? I laughed a little too heartily as I uncorked a bottle of wine.
“Doesn’t everyone in our business?” I said, filling her glass to the brim.
“I don’t,” she replied.
Oh God, I thought. This could easily turn out to be the biggest mistake of my life.
The exchange is a little different in Barber’s interview:
Does he really, as he says on his weblog, look himself up every day on LexisNexis?
‘Of course. Don’t you?’
‘I’d never even heard of LexisNexis!’
‘I don’t believe you.’
He doesn’t have to Google himself, he explains, because he subscribes to something called Google Alert that sends him an email every time his name makes a new appearance on the web.
The man described by Barber as a “media tart” is obviously not too upset. A link to the Observer is the top item on his homepage. Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for pointing me towards this.