If I enjoy a book or a film or a piece of music, I often find that I want to sample more product by the same creator. I’m sure this is quite normal behaviour, but more often than not, it results in crushing disappointment. This has been happening quite a lot lately. The most recent works by Jonathan Coe and David Mitchell fell flat, the former because of the clumsy addition of a bit of metafictional self-reference in the closing stages; the latter, conversely, because the book was entirely lacking in the structural cleverness which made Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas so compelling, and ended up like a cross between a textbook on economic history and Shogun. I also finally got round to watching ‘What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?’, the final, un-broadcast episode of Secret Army, and soon realised that the reason it was never broadcast was not because of its virulent anti-Communism, but because it was crap. And then there was The Illusionist, which wasn’t crap, but because it was directed by Sylvain Chomet (director of The Triplets of Belleville), and based on a script by Jacques Tati, whose Les vacances de M Hulot is still one of my top 10 movies of all time, it should have been astounding, a combination of deadpan surrealism and existential melancholy and a bit of slapstick, Gilliam meets Bergman meets Keaton. And it was quite good, which really isn’t good enough.
OK, let’s throw this out to the people formerly known as the audience. Is there an author or film-maker or musician or tennis player or pastry chef or masseur who has never, ever disappointed you? Or is there someone you keep going back to, despite the fact that his or her mojo clearly stopped working years ago, and you know it’ll never come back, and you’ve no idea why you still bother but, hey, it’s Woody Allen or Jeanette Winterson or The Wurzels and for the sake of the old times you just can’t let go?