I have just (happily) given an award to someone who wants to put me out of work. The Publishers Publicity Circle annually convenes a panel to reward the year's most successful book promotions. A principal trophy in this year's HypeFest went to the campaign aimed at convincing a reading public gorged on self-help gurus to buy Andrew Weil's plan for Eight Weeks to Optimum Health (Little, Brown). Now, the deeply sane and sober Dr Weil has no strange fads or gimmicks to offload (that's the point of him); but he does advise disciples to try a stress-avoiding "news fast". By the eighth week, you should be shunning the vexatious media altogether. Well, thanks (but no thanks), Doc. Presumably, he would make an exception for all those nourishing plugs given to his own work.

It would gladden Andrew Weil's serenely beating heart to know that plenty of writers still treat public exposure as (at best) a necessary evil. I lazily imagined that most professional scribblers had, by now, made themselves over into media-savvy, glad-handing, baby-kissing smoothies. Far from it. Reading between the lines about PR blitzes thwarted by the sheer cussedness of their stars, it seemed that one gong was missing from the PPC's list: a medal for conspicuous gallantry under fire from the Author from Hell.

Let's pass quickly over the person who penned one among the many recent tales of private trauma, and who struck its publicist as "still pretty disturbed, emotionally" when it came to selling the book. Instead, imagine shepherding Edwina Currie around the nation. Halfway through her bookshop tour, La Salmonella unleashes her secret hype-seeking Exocet - the fact that she has just dumped hubbie. After that, the coverage "became rather negative". Rather.

As you can see, the alleged mistresses (and the odd master) of gush in fact have a fetching line in understatement. The lucky soul entrusted to push Lynne Franks's memoir reports that "there are still many print journalists who feel that she is slightly mad". (Many more, I'm sorry to say, wouldn't bother much with adverbs.) As for the team that guided Dickie Bird on his triumphal progress, they had to admit that the emperor of umpires - who famously arrived four hours early for his first Test at Lord's - "was a terrible worrier, unnecessarily". Yes, and Hamlet dithered a bit.

Still, it's not all detonating divas and world-class fusspots in the publicity business. Pity the officer in charge of securing tabloid attention for the umpteenth gung-ho SAS yarn. The Sun informed him that the paper "would only do another SAS story if Prince Charles joined and shot someone". But who exactly? Make it Edwina Currie, and you surely have the ultimate PR coup.

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