My first book introduced me to the ins and outs of literary PR.

It certainly did me no harm that publication coincided with the 250th anniversary of Johnson's magnum opus. I even made it on to the BBC's breakfast TV show, where I caused some bewilderment by using the phrase "paradigm shift" before 9 AM. To my embarrassment, after coming off-air I neglected to remove the make-up that had been liberally applied to my face.

By this time I'd also been introduced to the opaque protocols of book jacket design. When I saw the cover for the UK hardback edition, I was a little surprised that it showed Johnson at a well-ordered desk, sitting on an elegant chair in smart clothes and with a neatly arranged wig. Compare the text: "Johnson presided over the scene from an odd three-legged chair; traumatized volumes lay all around..."