In my customarily prolonged hypnopompic condition on Saturday morning, I became aware that there was a government "initiative" about passports. It was all about proving we are who we say we are. This is overambitious. Tony Blair wouldn't get a passport, as he plainly isn't who he says he is. And don't get me started on Gordon Brown. Also, after a long, bad Friday, I was feeling sensitive about the matter of identity.
You see, Elixir - a magazine "totally devoted to the huge interest in anti-ageing products" - was being launched. Various bits of the BBC - the Breakfast show, Today on Radio 4 and Radio 5 "Live" - wanted me to discuss this with its editor. My qualification and reason for accepting is that I have just published a book about the pursuit of immortality. Entitled How to Live Forever or Die Trying, it is available at good bookshops and Waterstone's.
The Breakfast TV green room was a broom cupboard with a big flat screen playing the show. The picture was astonishingly bad. Since we were only yards from the studio, this seemed a touch sloppy. In the event, it was a perfectly pleasant discussion, once I had recovered from the anchors' make-up. Then one of the thin young men with clipboards that seem to run the BBC told us Radio 5 couldn't fit us in, so we sat in a much bigger green room - with perfect radio reception and "pastries" - waiting to go on the Today programme. Then back on Breakfast. "Groundhog Day," I muttered to the anchor. The audience changes completely after 9am, so we did the whole thing again. I am now the sort of person who repeats himself on television and knows about life extension.
What's in a name?
I had lunch with the über-blogger Guido Fawkes at the Quality Chop House in Farringdon Road. They didn't have any booking under his real name, Paul Staines, so he tried Fawkes. Still no luck. I now know two people with two names. In the case of the other one, it's a matter of life and death and I live in fear of using the wrong name in the wrong context. It's not so critical with the blogger, but I found I couldn't call him Paul. Guido it is.
One "Peter Hitchens" had been posting comments on Guido's site. This is not the Mail on Sunday columnist and brother of Christopher, but somebody not even called Peter Hitchens. In blogspeak such fakers are called "sock puppets". The real PH had become increasingly irate, as the comments were not quite his style. The scuffle had reached a climax with the real PH visiting the fake PH, who, in a state of panic, phoned Guido to say that "Peter Hitchens has just cycled up my drive". He didn't answer the door. It's all been settled and fake Hitch now seems to have his own blog.
Mrs Appleyard is a bloke
In the evening, my wife had her purse stolen in a crush at Oxford Circus. The guy - she saw him briefly - then successfully convinced some gullible cash machines that he is Mrs Appleyard.
There's a bloke who was or is secretary of the British Buddhist Society called Bryan Appleyard. People sometimes ask me about Buddhism. I reply in depth and at length. Also my favourite character in my favourite TV show, Scrubs, is an Alzheimer's patient who periodically flings himself at people screaming, "Who am I?" At the rehearsals for the Brit Awards on Wednesday, I come close to doing that. I have become the sort of person who sits in Earls Court watching pop bands warm up and eats steak sandwiches. Who am I?
There was a startling lack of boys among the Bournemouth journalism students I lectured on Thursday. The boys that were there seemed uninterested. The girls were fiercely enthusiastic, pouncing on me after the lecture demanding contact numbers, email addresses. Bryan Appleyard, quack Buddhist, is also Grand Old Hack. In fact, on Monday, a very nice interview by the conscientious Ian Burrell - he records everything AND takes it down in shorthand; I just use two recorders - in the Independent had formally anointed me as a grandee. So that's me, out there, a Buddhist grandee surrounded by people who aren't who they say they are.
Identity used to inhere in our bodies. Now it's dispersed, uncertain. "I" is a sock puppet.