01 March 2008

Forth Bridge

As is often the case with reference books (as I fail to remember each time I agree to take on a new one) the job of putting the book together is only the beginning of an endless task of updating and revising, which ends only when the book goes out of print or you drop dead, whichever comes sooner. Hence, for example, my mention on this blog a couple of days ago of our first 'second edition', the updated UBG for 8-12s. This will be followed by a second edition of book two, and then presumably a second edition of book three; and then quite possibly by a third edition of book one (which by then will again be frustratingly out of date) and so on. You see how it works.

Publishers will insist on publishing new books (a moratorium, anyone?), and as long as they do, we'll have to keep running just to stay in the same spot. Hence our frequent allusions to the painting of the Forth Bridge - that proverbial task that you finish only to discover that it's time to start from the beginning all over again. Updating the UBGs is now our lifelong 'painting the Forth Bridge' job. It's a nice metaphor.

So you can imagine my distress to read the anouncement last week on the BBC site that the FB painting job is scheduled to end in 2012. To end! Yes, the Forth Bridge will be painted, and not just in a perpetual state of being in the process of being painted. 2012, around which time by my estimate we'll be publishing UFBG2 and delivering UBG3 and contemplating UTBG3. So yes, even The Proverbially Endless Job will be done before we are. Next we will see headlines announcing the imminent freezing over of hell, the forthcoming blue moon and the expected arrival of those homecoming cows. Leonie, Susan and I, meanwhile, will still be at it. And while there's something to be said for job security, when people talk about a 'job for life' this isn't perhaps quite what they mean.


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