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Joanna Lumley(2)
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Joanna Lumley
February 9, 2007

Dear Jo,

I don’t know if you spotted the coincidence, but you and I both had pieces in The Independent on the same day, both on the subject of cruelty to turkeys.

Not only that, but both pieces were identical word for word. I am therefore instructing my legal team to sue you for millions of pounds on the grounds of plagiarism, mental cruelty, and locking me up in a small, desperately untidy room to make me write my pieces…

Fantasy takes over again. Actually, it is quite a heart-warming thought to think that there might be a body called the RSPCW. The Royal Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Writers…

“The door with some difficulty was broken down. The investigators broke through into the inner space, then recoiled with a gasp of horror. The conditions were as bad as anything they had ever seen. The carpet was entirely hidden in paper, an ashtray gave off the lethal fumes of a smouldering cigarette, several unfinished mugs told their hideous history of caffeine overload, and at the desk the writer himself seemed unaware of their entrance.

‘Poor Devil, said one. ‘It may be too late. He showed no auditory or visual reaction to our arrival.’

‘How can a writer do this to himself? said the other.

It was then that the writer looked up and registered their presence. He looked at them for a moment.

‘If you’re from the Inland Revenue,’ he said, ‘you can piss off. I’m skint.’

‘Poor fellow,’ said the first one. ‘He’s hallucinating…’

‘Come on,’ said the other. ‘We’ve got to get him out of here and into the fresh air. I wonder if he can walk unaided. Or has he lost the use of his legs?’

‘I don’t usually lose the use of my legs till about ten at night,’ said the writer. ‘Where were you thinking of taking me…?’ etc etc etc etc.

Mmmmmm… I think we have the makings of a piece here. Thank you, Jo. Tricky ground we are on here, of course. Am I allowed to copy a letter I have sent to someone else, or will I be guilty of plagiarizing myself?

How are you both? Our little boy Adam (six foot one, bigger than me, 19 yrs old) has gone off to South Africa to do a bit of gap year stuff. Every time we hear from him he is EITHER swimming all alone on a golden lagoon OR travelling in a mini-bus taxi with twelve black people, all of them debating in the native language which one should mug him first.

Right. I am taking part in a new competition. It’s called “Let’s see if you can get through the next fortnight without hearing any Tchaikovsky at all.” I don’t know if Stephen knows this, but I once wrote a play called “The Death of Tchaikovsky- A Sherlock Holmes Mystery”. I also acted in it. There were two of us in it. Sometimes we played Holmes and Watson, sometimes Tchaikovsky and Madame von Meck. It went to the Edinburgh Fringe. It came back. In retrospect, I should just have written, not acted.



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