In the Fourth Email of Abuse he offered $250 in settlement of my $1000 invoice (which had already been reduced in the hopes of payment rather than argument). In the Fifth Email of Abuse he demanded a refund of the $500 he paid in advance for what was a month’s work. It begins:
You’re busted, you devious little popinjay!
He lost me at “You’re”.
The Fifth Email of Abuse ends:
I’d say you should be ashamed of yourself, but I suspect you are without shame. You are certainly one of the vainest individuals I’ve ever worked with. Typical small-town stuff. The minnow who sees a shark in the mirror. But murder will out...
So I posted this on Facebook:
UPDATE: Latest abusive email, #5 in a series, from this (so far unnamed) client who refuses to pay for my editing of his novel. He has already called me a rubbish editor, a liar, a megalomaniac and a drunk. Now he calls me a “popinjay”. I’m rather flattered by “popinjay”. Don’t know what it means but it sounds well-dressed at least.
Francis Wheen quickly chimed in with this:
Popinjay doesn’t get many outings these days. The last time I heard it used was in 2005, when George Galloway MP went to Washington and denounced Christopher Hitchens as “a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay”. Hitch wore it as a medal of honour for the rest of his life. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/may/18/usa.iraq
I never thought I would be able to boast of having anything in common with Christopher Hitchens but by golly I will boast about this. Popinjays of the world, unite!
Francis followed up with:
Incidentally, Stephen, haven’t you missed the deadline at which you were due to name and shame? Until you do identify the culprit I shall regard all male NZ-born authors over here with fierce mistrust, wondering which of them is the type to hurl the word “popinjay” at a blameless editor.
Francis is a journalist so notices deadlines. But I will keep the naming and shaming within the industry. I fear the author has mental-health issues so it would be unkind to name him on the internet. But I worry about all the other male NZ-born authors in England who will be regarded with “a fierce mistrust”. Though I think this is a sensible attitude to take with all authors.
But back to abuse. After popinjay, what insult will come in the Sixth Email of Abuse? Knave, varlet, scullion, rampallian, knotty-pated fool, coxcomb? I am rather hoping for coxcomb. I’ll keep you posted.
So here is Harlan Ellison on paying the man: