Friday, November 17, 2006


The publishing industry broke into a new and undoubtedly fertile seam of sleaze the other day with the publishing of a biography, or possible an autobiography, of O.J. Simpson.

I don’t know about you but, if I had got away with murder, my inclination would be to put as much distance between myself and the scene of the crime as possible, shave off my beard and wear dark glasses.

Former celebrities are made of sterner stuff it seems. Unable to forego the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd, they bounce back into the limelight at every opportunity. Simpson had performed one of my suggested ploys by removing himself from the West coast to the East coast of America, although personally I would have gone a bit further. Possibly he didn’t have the fare then but he now has a lucrative publishing deal for his book, in which he theorises how he might have perfumed the gruesome murders that put him in court some ten years ago. I think that now he should book an onward single ticket. He can’t do much about the beard other than to grow one, but I’m sure he has the dark glasses. All celebrities do.

His trial and acquittal held most of the world that had access to television, spellbound. As you will probably have guessed, I was not among their number, handicapped by not having the foggiest idea who O.J. Simpson was. My investigative skills led me to the conclusion that he was a one-time football player who had achieved fame by leaping over suitcases in an airport. A strange kind of talent to be celebrated, I felt. I was forced to watch a good deal of the court proceedings since they was displayed almost continuously on the television screens around my local bar (I was living in the West Indies at the time), and came to the conclusion that American justice was a funny thing, that the Los Angeles Police Department were a funny lot and that having a tag team of over-paid attorneys was a funny thing to do if one was innocent.

Colombo, Matlock or even Barney Fife would have had little difficulty in sorting things out, and the case of the missing glove would have been cleared up in a trice if they had just called upon 221b Baker Street. That sort of clue was meat and drink to Sherlock. Agatha Christie would have been able to contribute a few points but no, the prosecution failed to engage such experts and F. Lee Bailey, for once, emerged victorious from a courtroom, something that he was signally unable to accomplish in his private life.

Now the publishing of O.J. Simpson’s version of just how he might have done it, however questionable the ethics and morals of the matter might be, will undoubtedly reap him and his publisher (a subsidiary of Harper Collins – remind me to buy some shares!) a modest fortune and at the same time lower the bar for publishers to the standard of the “Penny Dreadful” peddlers of earlier days. These specialised in gruesome descriptions of the crimes and punishments of the time – but, as far as I can see, none ever printed a retrospective quasi confession. Once again, new ground has been broken by a major publishing house. No doubt, were they able to find him, they would have Jack the Ripper signed up tomorrow.

I believe that it is not possible to try someone twice for the same offence, but such a book must surely lead the police to take a closer look at the affair. And perhaps the publishers should take a closer look at their own standards – the only justification for such a book is that it will no doubt be read by a salacious public and therefore generate profits for them. But it will most certainly not be in the best interests of the victim’s families, even if Mr. Simpson manages to pay them the sums they were awarded, amounts that he pleads poverty over.

All a bit distasteful in my view. But if any of you reading this have a skeleton in your closet (preferably an unsolved murder) you’d like me to write about – hey, I’m your man.

We can always sell it to Harper Collins.


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