This is an e-mail interview that was conducted with a representative of a Canadian newspaper chain in March 2007. Alas, when printed my replies were cut almost to nothing, perhaps to make room for coverage of exciting new developments in the moose-herding industry. Ulli

Tell me about yourself.
Are you in a relationship?

I live with my terrapin Jetta but we are just platonic friends. I was married for a short time but alas this ended in divorce as the woman found some of my interests alarming and sadly accused me of mental cruelty when I tried to share them with her.

Occupation, when not writing?

I work in various jobs in banking or office work but I tend to get dismissed for I am given to daydreaming about certain things and they do not like me to bring my terrapin. I trained to work in catering but alas was dismissed from catering college for sundry reasons.

Is your writing art, humour, a social experiment or something else?

I do not wish to speak boastfully. As your Leonard Cohen is saying art is a verdict and not an occupation! However if people's verdict should be that my work has changed their lives or provided them with a reason for living then I must humbly accept that.

I do not know about social experiment but one could say that all art can be a form of social engineering. A world where everyone wished to wrap Roy in Clingfilm would be a very peaceful and happy place, although perhaps for Roy a rather demanding one.

How many people see it as humour versus those who see it as serious?

I am not aware of anyone seeing it as humour. I venture the occasional joke or puckish remark in my work as relief from the sensuality and romantic lyricism, and if people laugh that is nice, but I do not think my fans would class me as a humorist in the way that you would, say, Dan Brown.

When did you start your website, and your writing of Mr. Orbison?

The website is since 2003 but I have been writing of Roy in Clingfilm for some years before that.

Why Roy Orbison? When did you become a fan? And why cling-wrap? And when did you become a fan of that product? What's the draw, and, in fact, how did you connect the two - film-wrap to a famous musician?

Who can say? These are deep questions and no man can plumb the mysteries of the human heart. No man can predict what will excite us, sensually or artistically, or why. All we know is that when the muse bites us we must jump. You as a journalist must know this for you must have felt it yourself. I am sure some days the spittoon boy? (I do not know the word) may come running to you and say 'Mr Burnett, come quick, the hospital is on fire' and you politely stifle a yawn and say, 'I am sorry, I can do nothing with that, that story does not inspire me.' But then there is a story of a monk stuck up a tree and you say, 'Oh, now my juices flow' and you are inspired to write about it. So it is with me and Roy and clingfilm. That is my monk up a tree.

So I will try to be helpful but really I cannot say. I have been a fan of both Roy and clingfilm all my life. Roy, I cannot say why, perhaps just because he has a mysterious and enigmatic quality. Clingfilm has always fascinated me from a small child, it is supple and sensuous, clinging and yet transparent. To put the two of them together just seems to me at once the most natural and the most desirable thing in the world. Something in Roy seems to call out to me to be wrapped.

Now in trying to be helpful I have just now tried to think of the first time I felt this urge, and it seems to me I remember what must be my earliest memory, when I am a very young boy. I am playing with clingfilm, as young boys will, and Mr. Roy Orbison comes onto the television set. Without knowing why I totter towards him on my foal-like legs and I stretch my clingfilm across the screen and proceed to wrap the television set in clingfilm. It gives me great joy to do so.

Why did I do this? Was I fated to do this? If Petula Clark had come on the television and I had been playing with a slinky would the effects have been quite different? Who can tell?

Did you ever meet him?

Alas no, but I hope to one day. Perhaps he will see this book and write to me.

What do friends and family think of your passion?

Sadly my family are alarmed by it and I think somewhat disappointed in me. I was written from a will because of it and my parents moved away and will not speak to me or tell me where they are.

However thanks to the internet I now have people all over the world who, if they are not quite perhaps friends, at least will not report me to the social services. And a man need never be lonely who has a terrapin.

Does it include other celebrities?

No, absolutely not! It must be Roy Orbison. For me, maybe it's OK for other people, I do not judge but I find it odd. Some person sent me a story about Tom Petty in clingfilm and I deleted it. I do not get that, I try to be broad-minded but who would possibly want to wrap Tom Petty in clingfilm? There are strange people in the world.

What kind of fan mail do you get, and how many people write you stories about celebs in cling wrap?

The fan mail is enthusiastic and encouraging. So many people sent stories that I ran out of space for them on my site and someone started a livejournal where they are now posted. I am pleased to say almost all the stories are of Roy in Clingfilm, although there is the occasional oddball who writes about other celebrities.

When did you publish the book? Is it new?

It came out just in February and is brand new, featuring the stories from my site and some brand new ones and also a novel of Roy in Clingfilm which no-one has ever read before.

How is it sold? And how many have you sold?

It is sold online and also can be ordered in bookshops. I am working now to sell it to bookshops so people will be able to walk in and find it on the shelves. I do not know yet how many I have sold as I will not get a sales report from the distributor for some time yet.

What did/do you hope will come of it?

Riches and fame and literary awards are really only a by-product for any serious writer. The most lasting result will be a world in which anyone who wishes to wrap Roy Orbison in Clingfilm will know he is not alone. We are a very low-profile minority at the moment and so far as I know there is not a single member of parliament anywhere in the world who has openly admitted to wanting to wrap Roy Orbison in clingfilm. That must change.

On a shallower level, a film might be nice. Perhaps starring Roy himself. I would be very interested in watching such a film.

Will there be others?

I cannot tell. I have worked very hard to make this the definitive work on wrapping Roy Orbison in clingfilm, but who knows? I am sure I will always continue to write stories of him being completely wrapped. They come to me at all hours of the day and whisper for release. Only last week I was washing some dishes and I thought, 'What if Roy Orbison was forced to wash some dishes? There would be a danger of his clothes being splashed. What could be more logical than to wrap him in clingfilm to prevent this?' So it goes.

Is this sexual/sensual?

I have mused on this conundrum but I do not know. Perhaps it is sexual in a broad sense but in North America I think perhaps you are too much hung up on the penis/orifice paradigm when there are other things that are fun to do too. On the other hand perhaps we are all too hung up with reducing things to sex. Where does eros become art and longing become prayer? Who can say?

But it is definitely very, very sensual.

I'm sorry, I've missed something, including in your reply to me. You mention your terrapin Jetta. Forgive me, I just know of terrapin from the reptile or in shipping - other than a Grateful Dead album title. Is Jetta a dog?

No no, Jetta is my terrapin, who features in many of my stories. Perhaps you do not know terrapins in Canada or have some other name but they are like unto turtles or tortoises

How widespread is your love of clingwrap and Mr. Orbison?

I have received mails from all over the world if that is what you mean. For some reason I am particularly big in Nigeria. I have received many touching mails from Nigerians offering me huge sums of money, but so far I have not taken advantage.

How long will it last?

If you mean my love of clingfilm and Mr. Orbison, it is eternal.

If you mean, how long will the phenomenon of my stories being popular last, as a writer I must be realistic and humble. The sad fact is that my stories will probably not remain in the western canon for longer than a million years or so. For by that time the language will have changed and many of my nuances will be lost. This grieves me. Still, who can tell?

I think I asked how many copies of your book you've sold but how many do you hope to sell?

It seems to me the sky is the limit for the Roy in Clingfilm demographic has never previously been catered for.

Do you consider your topic to be weird?

What is weird to me is that there are not more books on this topic. However as a writer I suppose it is exciting to have virgin territory to explore. I was very impatient while waiting for the book to be printed, you know, for fear someone else would publish a book on Roy in Clingfilm before I did. Because it is an idea that has been staring everyone in the face. I remember I read an interview with Gunter Grass just before my tome was delivered to the printers, and he talked of his forthcoming book and said that it was the best thing he had ever written, and I thought Oh no! Gunter Grass has had the idea to write a book on Roy in Clingfilm too! I will only be the Buzz Aldrin of this genre. And I can laugh with relief now as his book turned out to be some boring thing about the Nazis, but at the time this obsessed me, and I considered examining his dustbins and so forth to find out. Perhaps I should not admit this but I actually rang his agent of literature and pretended to be a reporter and asked 'May I enquire, who are Herr Grass's favourite musicians?' but he only mentioned people like Rush and Hawkwind so I knew it was OK.

If not, what topic for a book would you think would be off the wall?

Tom Petty in clingfilm! But I do not judge. Or a book about wrapping some celebrity in tinfoil, that would be in poor taste I think because they could not see out.

Thanks in advance. I'll be curious to get your responses back. And do hope you can include a picture of yourself. I'd ask you again to at least send a head-shot of yourself. Unless people see a real human, they are less likely to believe a story - especially given your unusual subject matter.

I am still not sure if I want to for not everyone approves of this and my family have been embarrassed enough. If people do not believe your article they are free to read my stories or buy my book and besides the believing of people based on whether they show you a nice headshot of themselves is what led to Hitler.


(PS, Mr. Kelly wishes me to note that, despite unverified statements made in the finished article, the book has nothing to do with any publishing house and was brought out entirely by his endeavour and expense. This is so. If I had been able to obtain an established publisher, or indeed if Mr. Kelly had not been such a skinflint, the book would undoubtedly have been printed on vellum and bound in gold-tooled leather as I originally desired. And of course, wrapped in clingfilm so as to last for the ages. Ulrich)

Back to my Roy Orbison in Clingfilm website