Two recent experiences have demonstrated to me that we now exist in a very different world media-wise from that to which I have been accustomed in half a century of the inky trade.

The first came in an attempt – and failure – to secure a review copy of David Cameron’s autobiography For the Record, which is published –though it pains me to say so – by William Collins at £25.

It may have been thought – certainly this would traditionally have been the case – that the publisher would have sent a copy to The Oxford Times. We are, after all, the principal organ of record for a county in which Mr Cameron is a long- term resident and which he represented – a good chunk of it at least – for 15 years until the unfortunate events of 2016.

But no book was sent. So I asked for a copy, contacting the William Collins publicist through the HarperCollins website.

I wrote, on September 25: “Hello Nicola [the name of the publicist listed], I am keen to write about the book in my Oxford Times column and wonder if you would be kind enough to send a review copy.”

While this communication went unacknowledged, I felt confident that the next few days would see the arrival of the book.

Instead, on September 27, I received the following email from Katherine Patrick, William Collins’s publicity director, in which I was told – in the most caring way, as Dame Edna Everage would say – to get lost.

“Dear Chris,” it ran. “Many thanks for your email requesting a review copy of For the Record. Due to the high demand of requests for review copies however, we have now closed the review list, we are sadly just unable to honour every request we have had, especially now the book is out. Apologies.

“Best wishes, Katherine.”

This brush-off was as unexpected as it was ludicrous. I write to a publicity director with an offer to publicise the product she is paid to promote and I am told “thanks” (as you will have seen) but no thanks.

I recall no such rebuff ever before in my career. That it should have come over a book of such obvious Oxfordshire interest makes the situation the more amazing.

Why Ms Patrick takes any point from the fact that “the book is out” I can’t imagine, unless she thinks there has been publicity enough.

Does she not see that my interest will be in what no other journalist is bothered with? To hell with Brexit and all that stuff; my concern is with Witney and its citizens, with the Chipping Norton set perhaps, and what he might say about them.

Observations from me concerning such matters would likely have shifted a few copies locally. They won’t be shifted now.

I replied to Ms Patrick’s email: “Thanks Katherine. I shall mention your kindness to David next time I see him. Good wishes, Chris Gray.”

It is by no means certain I shall be seeing Dave any time soon. Could I therefore ask his friends who read this article to point out that his book is being ‘promoted’ by a publicist with a weird notion of the nature of her vocation?

Little space is now left for an account of my second eye-opening experience of recent weeks.

In brief, I was taken to task for failing to name-check all the members of the cast in one of my theatre reviews. I was told: “I am trying to work out the rationale of mentioning by character and name nine out of the cast of 11. Surely . . . you should either mention three or four characters or all of them? Those who have not been mentioned feel excluded and are wondering why.”

I replied: “Thanks for getting in touch, and allow me to compliment you on the originality of your question. In fully 50 years of writing about theatre, I have never before been asked such a thing.

“It happens that reviews are written for the benefit of the readers rather than to massage the egos of cast members.

“I am amused by your idea that there should be some sort of ideal number of actors named. You say that I named nine out of eleven. In fact, I named seven. However, since it is only a matter of a moment to add to the online review, I have now caused this to be done. All the players have now been treated equally.”

It hardly needs saying that in the course of adding those four names I noticed that one surname was shared by my correspondent.