Thursday, January 25, 2007

Writer's Bleak

This is the view from my bedroom window this morning. It snowed last night. The interesting thing about snow is that you can’t hear it unless it’s delivered by a blizzard. The type of snow that fell last night did not come by blizzard but crept in and sprinkled itself about like the Easter bunny leaving eggs in the bushes for children to find. When you wake up in the morning after the first winter snow, the world looks different, as if a kindly old dame, perhaps one of our Oscar hopefuls, swept up all the bad people and binned them and said to all of us decent folk that are left, ‘Please start again, and this time, do try to get it right.’

It’s just as well I had the presence of mind to take this photo at 10am, (this so doesn’t usually happen), because by midday the snow had melted away, leaving no indication that it had ever been there. For about two hours, my world was fresh and untainted by the arrival of a much more frequent but equally silent phenomenon – bad news. There was the briefest of respites when I fantasised that this might be the day I finally reach the top of some slush pile in any number of locations in London, W1. And then the phone rang.

The nice man who was going to buy my flat has disappeared off the face of the earth, perhaps buried in snow, perhaps slitting his wrists after failing the audition for X-Factor, perhaps winning Euromillions and deciding to live in Gstaad – where the snow is obviously more reliable. Or he could have discovered that buying into a housing association estate is like using up all your airmiles on the handcart that will take you to hell - economy class.

Needless to say I did no work on my book today. I did think about inserting a massacre, to harness the passion that was brewing in my soul, especially after a conversation with dimwit No. 107 at the housing association. When I was growing up in Australia I used to watch a wonderful soap called No 96, set in a suburban apartment block. It was a thousand times weirder and wonderfuller than Prisoner (Cell Block H), the cardboard caper that captured Britain in the 80s. You could tell if the writers on No 96 were having a bad day because they’d unleash a terrorist attack on Aldo’s Deli or a shark to devour Eileen and Ian or, in the case of a total black dog, a shootout in Dudley’s bar could expunge ninety per cent of the cast. They don’t make them like that any more. I guess the scriptwriters on Coronation Street and Eastenders do a lot of Tae Kwondo to soak up their excess angst.

I probably would say this, wouldn’t I, since I’m at the bottom of the socio-economic pile, but I don’t agree with the concept of ‘leadership’. Out of 300 million people, George W Bush is the best that could be found to lead the ‘free world’? Was there no five year old with ADHD available? There is no greater argument than that, but closer to home, my experience of mentors runs the emotional gamut from, well, Me to Me - messianic (Thatcher) through mediocre (Major) to megalomaniac (Blair). Comparing them would be like mushing up apples, pears and peas and trying to chargrill it. Bon appétit!

My earliest working experiences were in cooperatives. When you’re young and fit, showing restraint while arguing with someone whose brain is a mixture of Marx and lentils is admittedly not easy, but uniquely character building. Not only do you learn a lot about socialist theory, you also gather up some very useful recipes. In these ecologically conscious times, they open cans of chick peas rather than doors, but one does what one can to shrink the ecological footprint. How I miss those days when you knew at least if you had the most powerful position and best argument, you could probably convince the rest of your fellow travellers that the song would sound better in 6/8, and no one would fuck you over, unless of course the engineer was more coked out than you’d anticipated.

Last year, in an attempt to try to organise my paranoia a bit better I instigated a weekly worry timetable, so that I could fret more systematically. For newer readers, here it is again.

  • Mon – Climate Change
  • Tues – ID Theft
  • Weds – World Poverty
  • Thurs – War on Iraq
  • Fri – Terrorism
  • Sat – Crime and the Causes of Crime
  • Sun – Binge Drinking (not mine by the way although the choice of day might tend to indicate a problem on my part – couldn’t be further from the truth – until today at least)

You will see from the above that Wednesday is devoted to concern about world poverty. As much as I would love to have passed the day agonising about the developing world, I am afraid I have rather selfishly frittered it away going spare about how I am going to survive on the tiny amount of savings I still have left. Please pray for my holy slush pile items. I have today bought the cheapest bottle of Sauvignon Blanc it is possible to drink without dying or entering the Guinness Book of World Records for years spent sneezing, and a lottery ticket. Do I really need to ask, unless you have one yourself, in which case good luck (sniff), truly?

Looking at my photo and marvelling at my presence of mind in capturing it on the Kodak, I know that, buyer whereabouts aside, I won’t ever again be able to afford an absolute water frontage and a view like this. I know - it’s a totally English thing. They don’t like to be near the water. They can’t swim you know, AND they’re really scared of sharks, and carp apparently. I will miss this kind of morning. Maybe snow will happen again tomorrow, and who knows, my buyer might come back, battling through the blizzard like Dennis Quaid in The Day After Tomorrow… OK. Now you know I’ve totally lost it, don’t we all feel so much better now?


Ms Melancholy said...

I'm glad you don't lose your sense of humour, however bad it gets. I work as part of a co-operative and it is a constant source of amazement to me that I have yet to strangle someone with their suitably ethnic silk scarf. I left a meeting recently muttering under my breath 'does anyone round here do anger management?' A colleague replied, 'that'll be you, I think.' We're all screwed. I pray for you that you reach the top of someone's pile, and they see just how good a writer you really are.

That's so pants said...

Wonderful Ms M - Thank you so much. No candle burned for me will ever be wasted - and it will shed a lovely light as well.

MrZhisou said...

Nice photo. Nice view.

I think the scriptwriters on Coronation Street and Eastenders do scriptwriting on Coronation Street and Eastenders to soak up, and pass on, their excess angst.

Very robust argument against leadership: George W Bush.

Good luck with book, you're writing is terrific.

I haven't used the word "terrific" for several years.

Reading the Signs said...

well yes, as it happens I do because of the way you write about it all. So funny, so rich, the way you weave in all the different elements. I've had 3 looks at this post to see how you do it but - 'tis your style. I am adding my candle.

The view from your bedroom window is much better than mine - made me wonder (microsecond) if I should be moving back to Hackney.

nmj said...

Hey Pants, I love your description of that just snowed feeling, the bad binned and the good getting a chance to start anew. Hope you get a buyer for your flat soon. And as for the writing, I am hardly the one to offer advice, but be glad you are still passionate and still writing! That is half the battle (I think).

Queen Minx said...

I am English and proud to say 'I am not scared of sharks'.

small print:-

shark must be proven to be:-
a) dead
b) artificial
c) alive: in Sea World (or other marine type zoo place of interest)
d) alive: on T.V./Film
e) alive: in Australia/other countries apart from England.

See. Me = English = Not afraid of sharks!


That's so pants said...

Dear Mr Zhisou - My apologies I didn't hit the 'publish' button before reading through your comments properly so missed the amendment requst. For the record - Mr Zhisou is highly literate and knows the difference between 'your' and 'you're' and, very probably 'yaw' although he doesn't specifically say so. He does everything too quickly. I hope my mismanagement of his comment in no way compromises his use of the word 'terrific', which I think is a very good word and can be very powerful in the right context. This was indeed that context.

Hi Signs - it so happens I know of a flat for sale.

njm - thanks. Passion somewhat dimmed. The sauvignon blanc effect was as fleeting as the snow.

Welcome Queen Minx - I stand corrected. There are clearly some English people not afraid of sharks provided certain conditions can be met by the shark.