Certainty level: 100%
The article reproduced below was penned by Bernard Levin for the Features section of the Times on 21 September 1991. To my mind, it described the situation at the time and in particular a recent meeting with a friend, during which I for the first time admitted to someone other than my GP that I had been subjected to a conspiracy of harassment over the previous year and a half.
There is a madman running loose about London, called David Campbell; I have no reason to believe that he is violent, but he should certainly be approached with caution. You may know him by the curious glitter in his eyes and a persistent trembling of his hands; if that does not suffice, you will find him attempting to thrust no fewer than 48 books into your arms, all hardbacks, with a promise that, if you should return to the same meeting-place next year, he will heave another 80 at you.
If, by now, the police have arrived and are keeping a close watch on him, you may feel sufficiently emboldened to examine the books. The jackets are a model of uncluttered typography, elegantly and simply laid out; there is an unobtrusive colophon of a rising sun, probably not picked at random. Gaining confidence - the lunatic is smiling by now, and the policemen, who know about such things, have significantly removed their helmets - you could do worse than take the jacket off the first book in the pile. The only word possible to describe the binding is sumptuous; real cloth in a glorious shade of dark green, with the title and author in black and gold on the spine.
Look at it more closely; your eyes do not deceive you - it truly does have real top-bands and tail-bands, in yellow, and, for good measure, a silk marker ribbon in a lighter green. The paper is cream-wove and acid-free, and the book is sewn, not glued.
Throughout the encounter, I should have mentioned, our loony has been chattering away, although what he is trying to say is almost impossible to understand; after a time, however, he becomes sufficiently coherent to make clear that he is trying to sell the books to you. Well, now, such quality in bookmaking today can only be for collectors' limited editions at a fearsome price - £30, £40, £50?
No, no, he says, the glitter more powerful than ever and the trembling of his hands rapidly spreading throughout his entire body; no, no - the books are priced variously at £7, £8 or £9, with the top price £12.
At this, the policemen understandably put their helmets back on; one of them draws his truncheon and the other can be heard summoning reinforcements on his walkie-talkie. The madman bursts into tears, and swears it is all true.
And it is.
David Campbell has acquired the entire rights to the whole of the Everyman's Library, which died a lingering and shameful death a decade or so ago, and he proposes to start it all over again - 48 volumes this September and 80 more next year, in editions I have described, at the prices specified. He proposes to launch his amazing venture simultaneously in Britain and the United States, with the massive firepower of Random Century at his back in this country, and the dashing cavalry of Knopf across the water, and no one who loves literature and courage will forbear to cheer.
At the time this article was written I had believed for some time that columnists in the Times and other journalists had been making references to my situation. Nothing unusual about this you may think, plenty of people have the same sort of ideas and obviously the papers aren't writing about them, so why should my beliefs not be as false as those of others?
What makes this article so extraordinary is that three or four days immediately preceding its publication, I had a meeting with a friend, during the course of which we discussed the media persecution, and in particular that by Times columnists. It seemed to me, reading the article by Levin in Saturday's paper, that he was describing in some detail his "artist's impression" of that meeting. Most telling are the final sentences, when he writes, "The madman bursts into tears, and swears it is all true. And it is." Although I did not "burst into tears" (he seems to be using a bit of poetic licence and exaggerating) I did try hard to convince my friend that it was all true; and I am able to concur with Mr Levin, because, of course, it is.
At the beginning of the piece Levin reveals a fear of being attacked by the "irrational" subject of his story, saying "I have no reason to believe that he is violent, but he should certainly be approached with caution". This goes back to the xenophobic propaganda of "defence" against a "threat" which was seen at the very beginning of the harassment. The impression of a "madman running loose" who needs to be controlled through an agency which assigns to itself the mantle of the "police" is also one which had been expressed elsewhere.
In the final paragraph of this extract, his reference to Everyman's Library as having "died a lingering and shameful death a decade or so ago" shows clearly what sort of conclusion they wish to their campaign. They want a permanent solution, and as they are prevented from achieving that solution directly, they waste significant resources on methods which have been repeatedly shown to be ineffective for such a purpose.