The mission: Matthew Sweet tries to give away copies of Simon Bates's autobiography. Scarily, one man takes two

There he was, sandwiched between

Roland Barthes and Alexandra

Bastedo, his little eyes twinkling from behind an enormous pair of Reactolite Rapides. Simon Bates, My Tune: an Autobiography, Virgin Books, pounds 14.99. Or in this case, Bargain Books, 99p. But was it possible to give the book away? This was the object of my mission. And after buying 25 copies, I will now be able to ask for haemorrhoid cream at the chemist in basso profondo. "You'll need a box for those," ventured the shop assistant. "Are you in the fan club?" she enquired, as I staggered out on to the street with 16lb of Batesiana. "Is there one?" I asked, brightly.

The title, of course, refers to Simes's "Our Tune" slot on Radio 1, in which listeners sent in accounts of their private miseries and innermost torments, and urged him to read them out on air to 11 million listeners. In his Hush Puppies-and-brown-Dralon voice, he would retell stories of Strindbergian agony, his narration souped up by the "Love Theme" from Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet: "Jean died of bowel cancer on Christmas Eve, but Gavin knew in his heart that she was a special kind of lady. And now here's 'The Final Countdown' by Europe." That was the kind of thing. It was the last word in coffee-time lachrymosity, and a broadcasting phenomenon.

Unfortunately, My Tune was less successful. It's not a terrible book, exactly. Its author comes across as a likeable man at ease with his own lack of obvious talents. "I have never been, nor want to be credible," he says, touchingly, on page 17. His story is about as interesting as you would expect from a man who's spent most of his professional life playing Crystal Gale records in a windowless room.

As for getting rid of these books, two possible strategies presented themselves. I could try the Hare Krishna method, and stand outside the Virgin Megastore making quiet advances towards impressionable types. Or I could walk up to Oxford Circus and hawk my wares with the counterfeit perfume sellers. I tried the noisy method first, laying my cardboard box over the top of a litter bin, holding two copies of the book above my head, and going into barrow-boy mode - being careful to make that Chas and Dave noise at the end of every sentence.

Get your complimentary Simon Bates autobiographies-ah. Completely free of charge-ah. There was no response to this. So I went into more detail. I assured passers-by they would gasp at the story of how he was accused of knocking a "lady newsreader" unconscious while having sex with her in the bath. They would laugh at his side-splitting anecdotes about Tommy Vance and Ed "Stewpot" Stewart.

After an hour, I hadn't a single taker. And not too much eye contact, either. It was time to try the transcendental sales technique of the Baghwan. So I popped down to the Tottenham Court end of Oxford Street and scanned the streets for people who looked like they might tick the "don't know" box on forms. "Hello," I beamed, at a likely candidate. "Would you like a free book?" No reaction. But after 20 attempts, a friendly looking Dutch tourist finally acknowledged my existence.

"Is it Vishnu, or something?" she asked.

No, it's Simon Bates. The popular disc jockey.

"Is he a cult?"

Well I've heard it said ...

"What's the catch?"

You have to promise to read it.

"OK, I'll take one."

After this first success, I managed to find homes for a further 18. Even a few native English speakers agreed to take a copy. A man in a T-shirt - bearing a picture of someone sticking his head up his own anus, exclaiming "I know that curry's in here somewhere" - walked off with two. Some of them smiled. Some of them promised to read it. Some of them, I think, might even have meant it. It was like the holy light of Krishna Consciousness breaking in upon me. I probably imagined it, but above the traffic noise, I thought I heard the "Love Theme" from Romeo and Juliet.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

    £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

    Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

    £20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

    £8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

    £14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable